Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

We have what seems to be the big news of the day: Michael Cohen’s lawyers are leaving the case. But there are conflicting accounts of just what that means. ABC News kicked the story off by breaking the news of the lawyers’ imminent departure and that Cohen is “likely to cooperate with federal prosecutors in Manhattan”, according to sources who spoke to ABC.

Other organizations followed but with less clarity on cooperation. The Journal confirmed that the lawyers are leaving but that Cohen “hasn’t yet decided whether he will cooperate with prosecutors in the case”, though his desire “to hire a lawyer with close ties to the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office” seems like a pretty good indication of where things are going. Meanwhile, the Times again confirms the lawyers’ departure but references sources who claim the issue is “primarily over payment of the legal bills of one of his lawyers, Stephen Ryan.”

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The list of these seems all but limitless.

From The Wall Street Journal, January 18, 2018. The reference to “around the same time” is summer 2017, just after President Trump met with Vladimir Putin in Hamburg at the G-20 Summit.

Around the same time, Mr. Trump had an idea about how to counter the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, which he got after speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin : If the U.S. stopped joint military exercises with the South Koreans, it could help moderate Kim Jong Un’s behavior. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis used an approach that aides say can work: “He says, ‘Your instincts are absolutely correct,’ and then gets him [the president] to do the exact opposite of what his instincts say,” said one person close to the White House. Mr. Trump dropped the idea, although he has ordered aides to give the exercises a low profile, eliminating press releases and briefings about them.

Very mixed opinions on today’s AT&T verdict. While the specifics are complex, this is another move toward allowing more monopolies in the US economy, especially in the information economy. Monopolies are already a big problem, especially in the digital and tech platforms.

But fundamentally I think this is a good decision because there is no question in my mind that this happened because President Trump wants to punish unfriendly press coverage. CNN has plenty of problems. It’s hard to call it ‘independent’. It’s part of a huge mega-corporation and it’s about to be folded into an even huger mega-corporation. But fundamentally this is about a lawless President using his presidential powers to exact an economic cost to criticizing him. That fact should trump the specifics of AT&T’s market power. In any foreseeable future, major media is controlled by big corporations. If the President can get away with exacting a big economic price for not following the Fox News line, we’ve lost a big part of the fight.

I’m very curious about this. I’m interested in hearing from anyone who knows more.

The BBC correspondent in Beijing and the BBC Bureau Chief for North America say that China (specifically, the government spokesman in a daily briefing) announced that the US had agreed to suspend military exercises with South Korea before President Trump announced it in his press conference. In other words, they knew in advance.

Based on only the latter’s account I wasn’t certain whether the timing was right – timezone differences and whatever other possible confusions. But Stephen McDonell’s account from Beijing seems pretty open and shut. It’s still possible there’s some misunderstanding here. But it seems unlikely. What’s going on here?

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There’s a lot in this exchange with George Stephanopoulos (emphasis added)…

GS: What other kinds of security guarantees did you offer, did you put on the table?
Trump: Well, we’ve given him, I don’t wanna talk about it specifically, but we’ve given him, he’s going to be happy. His country does love him. His people, you see the fervor. They have a great fervor. They’re gonna put it together, and I think they’re going to end up with a very strong country, and a country which has people — that they’re so hard working, so industrious. I think if you look at South Korea, someday, maybe in the not too distant future, it will be something that.

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President Trump showed Kim Jong-un a fake movie trailer about their mutual greatness. The trailer begins: “Seven billion people inhabit planet Earth. Of those alive today, only a small number will leave a lasting impact. And only the very few will make decisions or take actions that renew their homeland and change the course of history.” President Trump went on to tell Kim about the opportunities for luxury real estate developments: “They have great beaches You see that whenever they are exploding the cannons in the ocean. “I said, ‘boy, look at that view. That would make a great condo. I explained it.’” Watch the faux-trailer here, along with denial from the guy who allegedly made it that he made it.

We have a dramatic relaxation of tensions between the United States and North Korea. That is an unambiguously good thing. The summit yesterday was basically a photo op. I expected little and there was even less than I’d expected. The diplomatic communique was basically diplo-speak for “be excellent to each other” — a non-binding agreement to work towards “denuclearization” — while accepting that both sides define the term in dramatically different ways.

North Korea has made immense sacrifices to achieve a viable nuclear deterrent. Yesterday’s summit was more than anything else a testament to the power of that achievement.

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Larry Kudlow, President Trump’s economic advisor, has reportedly suffered a heart attack and is at Walter Reed Medical Center. It’s been reported broadly. But all reports seem to work off the President’s tweet from roughly 10 minutes ago. There doesn’t seem to be any additional reporting on his condition or other details.

Interesting information here. Reservations for ad runs show where the parties at least think the battle for control of Congress will be fought.