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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

I want to share with you some notes I’ve been keeping about Tom Barrack, the man who is supposedly one of the President’s closest friends and confidantes as well as a friend of Paul Manafort. He had a big speaking role for Trump at the convention. He organized the inauguration. He’s a big person in Trump World. But the first thing to know about Barrack (pronounced ‘bare-rick’) is that he is the guy Donald Trump pretends to be: he is a fabulously successful and fabulously wealthy investor, developer and manager of real estate properties on a global basis. He operates what is essentially a private equity firm called Colony Northstar (formerly Colony Capital). This is what supposedly makes Barrack such a valuable sounding board for Trump: he doesn’t need Trump or his money. Trump is surrounded by clowns, frauds and phonies. But Barrack is, when it comes to global real estate/investor titans, the real deal.

For these reasons, it’s always seemed to me that Barrack doesn’t need in on any of Trump’s rackets. But he’s also been just in the background of a number of the big developments in the Russia story. This occurred to me again when I first learned about his ties to Rick Gates, which I’ll describe below.

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This is quite the photo. (Click the headline of this post to see full sized image.)

Dan Scavino (L), White House Director of Social Media, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (2nd L), Johnny DeStefano (2nd R), Director of the Office of Presidential Personnel, and Keith Kellogg (R), Chief of Staff of the National Security Council. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

When I first heard the alert that Mueller had indicted a group of Russian nationals for crimes tied to interference in the 2016 US election, it to me seemed relatively unremarkable. We know, or think we know, this happened. We know there are potential crimes connected to the interference. So my first thought was that Mueller was simply checking this box as part of the process of building out his case. Of course, the indictments contained a great deal of information than I suspected, much of which you can see discussed in our team’s coverage over the course of the afternoon.

I annotate these documents when I read them, to try to make sense of them. So I wanted to share with you passages that struck me as particularly notable or ones that suggested more was afoot than was included in the indictment itself.

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In case you’re wondering, I’m slowly making my way through the indictment itself.

Our team is moving more quickly here.

A few months back I got into a minor public spat about the failings of so-called “data journalism.” I erred to the extent that I spoke loosely about data journalism in general as opposed to misuses of it or sloppy and lazy uses of it, which the example I noted clearly amounted to. One might generally describe this abuse of the form as clever people using numbers to lecture people about elements of human experience the clever lecturing people either don’t understand or think their cleverness gives them a pass on trying to understand. One element of that example was a study that showed that mass shootings account for only a very tiny subset of the total number of deaths in this country from firearms every year. This is true (probably obvious to almost all of us if we give it some thought) and also largely beside the point.

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