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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

I’m pretty skeptical it will come to this. But I think TPM Reader TB makes a good point that is worth keeping an eye on.

I can’t avoid the conclusion that Barr will now inevitably be fired because (as you have pointed out) Trump sees everything through the lens of a domination ritual, and Barr attempted to be the dom on TV just now by saying it’s impossible for him to do his job with Trump’s constant tweeting. The commentary about how Barr just wants Trump to shut up so he can keep doing corrupt things for Trump with a veneer of legality or acceptability is irrelevant, is too complex a thought for Trump, and is not a game that Trump has the patience to play. Trump must win every domination ritual, and the only way to reestablish dominance in this situation is to fire Barr. My guess is it will happen after a period of weeks.

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There’s far too much water under the bridge for me to consider John Kelly a good guy. But even deeply compromised individuals have their limits. The point he makes here about the Alex Vindman situation is right on point and cuts to the core of our national crisis. As Kelly reminds us officers are trained from the beginning and throughout their career not to follow illegal orders and to report them when they occur through their chain of command. “We teach them, ‘Don’t follow an illegal order. And if you’re ever given one, you’ll raise it to whoever gives it to you that this is an illegal order, and then tell your boss.’”

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The Democratic primary race looks more upended and chaotic than at any point so far. I don’t think the exact reasons for that have gotten sufficient attention.

The standard primary campaign model is that one candidate notches early wins. That creates momentum, earned media, money all of which then compound the strength from those early victories. This all allows the winning candidate to build on their margins in state after state. As that happens, also-rans see their money dry up and chances dwindle. They drop out adding to the process. Soon enough you’ve got your nominee.

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My colleagues are covering the details of the emerging DOJ scandal tied to the sentencing of Roger Stone. I want to note a pattern, which seems critical. Famously, the day after Robert Mueller testified before Congress Trump was on the phone with President Zelensky of Ukraine, trying to bully him into opening those investigations. The plot had been going on for months – but Trump was largely in the background, letting his henchman speech for him. It was on July 25th when Trump grabbed the plot with both hands and communicated directly to Zelensky. He followed up by shutting down the military aid pipeline.

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From TPM Reader AL

I completely agree that Bloomberg’s ads are very persuasive. I also feel something is missing from the discussion on your blog. If we have a billionaire nominee because that person was the best individual in the primary, well so be it. I would prefer if the nominee was not a billionaire, but in that situation the best candidate won and I certainly don’t think billionaires should be barred from running.

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Update: Tierney Sneed now has a full report on this news.

We’ll have more in a moment. But this Stone story just got bigger and worse. The lead prosecutor in the Stone case has just submitted a notice of withdrawal from the case. And a footnote to that one sentence notice says he is resigning as an Assistant US Attorney in DC effective immediately. Aaron Zelinsky was acting as a US Attorney in DC but his permanent position is as US Attorney in Baltimore. And according to CNN, the Baltimore US Attorney’s Office says he has not resigned from his position there.

Ed.Note: My initial post wasn’t clear on whether this was resigning for DOJ or from the DC assignment, which stems from the Mueller probe. It appears to be the latter.

TPM Reader BB on the rise of Bloomberg and the impatience to go after Trump …

Just wanted to respond to this, because it SO accurately describes my experience:

Quoting from this Editors’ Blog post: “Bloomberg’s ads ignore the entire primary process. They focus on Bloomberg himself and increasingly on bashing Donald Trump. I see them a lot on social media. They’re good. Even if you’re a Sanders supporter you’d think they’re good, even if you despise Bloomberg. For a lot of Democrats right now, watching the primaries unfold is highly dispiriting. Bloomberg is already running against Trump, running ads that land hard punches on Trump. If you’re a Democrat, the Democratic primary race is exhausting and demoralizing and the ads bashing Trump get you pumped – just because a lot of Democrats are so focused on driving Trump from office and want to get on to running against him.”

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Usually I publish single emails. But in this case I asked for a follow up with TPM Reader LS

Josh, your next-to-last paragraph REALLY speaks for me (except I’m not supporting Bloomberg, just FYI). I just DGAF, especially after the impeachment farce last week. All the debates and primaries seem like worthless folderol. For me, the primaries are over. I just want to get on with beating this cancer of a human being and ending his crime spree masquerading as an administration once and for all.

I replied …

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We’ve now seen what appears to be the second example of the Department of Justice intervening to assist Trump associates facing sentencing. We appeared to see it with Mike Flynn, when prosecutors shifted gear and said they were okay with no jail time after Flynn attempted to tear up his guilty plea and publicly claim to be the target of a witch hunt. I don’t think we knew it directly in that case. It just seemed like the most logical conclusion.

Here though we appear to have DOJ leadership intervening out in the open to protect a friend of the President. And not just a friend of the President but a criminal who was convicted for crimes intended to keep the President out of legal trouble.

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