Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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Okay, this is pretty hilarious. Did Trent Duffy really expect his pal John Roberts was going to read this on the air? And who knew there was an official certified short-list?

This from this morning on CNN. We start with host Miles O'Brien speaking to CNN's John Roberts ...

Let's get back to Scott McClellan, John. Reading the tea leaves on what you just talked about, I gather he's leaving under his own steam. But by the same token, Josh Bolten was very vocal in leaving the door open and suggesting if you're high ranking and you're thinking of leaving, do it now, or there might about few nudges. Was is a combination of him wanting to leave and him, perhaps, expecting to be nudged out?

ROBERTS: I expect that Scott was part of the overall changeover. I really don't think he wanted to go. He really enjoyed the job, and I don't think it really was in his heart of heart's of desires to leave the White House.

I think Josh Bolten -- and this is just speculation on my part -- but I think Josh Bolten probably came to him and said, Scott, we've got to make changes. Bolten has said to various Republicans that we've talked to that communications was big problem at the White House, and that the communication shop was probably going to have to be revamped some.

In terms, by the way, Miles, of who could possibly take over for Scott, just got an e-mail from my old friend Trent Duffy, who was one of the deputies, saying, thanks a lot, man. Please include me in the...

M. O'BRIEN: Don't forget me!

ROBERTS: Don't forget me. Please include me in the list of people as "The Washington Post" and others are. So, yes, Trent Duffy is a name that's under consideration there, though we're not sure at this point who's going to get the nod on that one.

M. O'BRIEN: Obviously, Trent doesn't need his own press secretary. He's doing his own work behind the scenes in realtime.

ROBERTS: Well, if he could do as good a job for President Bush as he's doing for himself right now, maybe he gets the job.

M. O'BRIEN: He might have just gotten the job, I don't know.

ROBERTS: Sorry, Trent. Didn't mean to embarrass you so much.

Somehow I don't think Duffy did himself any favors. But he is sure is eager.

You've probably seen the reports that the FBI is trying to get access to the late and legendary muckraker Jack Anderson's papers and to confiscate any classified documents contained in them. Apparently the FBI agents on the case even stooped to going behind the back of Anderson's son, who's an attorney and official custodian of the papers, to trick Anderson's elderly widow into signing a release allowing them free rein to the papers.

I'm still trying to get my head around whether or not taking the policy portfolio from Karl Rove really means anything. But unless I'm missing something, this 'shake-up' has yet to see anyone actually penetrate the Bush White House bubble. Isn't that right? I have to imagine they'll pick someone from the outside for press secretary. But two of the three mentioned for the job are former administration press secretaries -- Dan Senor and Victoria Clark. The third, Tony Snow, is also a White House communications hand, only he's seconded to Fox News.

In all seriousness, I think the real story here continues to be that things are so bad at the White House, the level of denial and secrets to be kept, the self-bamboozlement and bad-faith so profound, that they just can't manage to bring in any new blood.

With Rumsfeld, or any other cabinet secretary, there's a related problem -- the importance of which has, I think, not been fully appreciated or aired. If Rumsfeld goes, you need to nominate someone else and get them through a senate confirmation. That means an open airing of the disaster of this administration's national security policy. Every particular; all about Iraq. Think how much they don't want that ...

Finally, can they find anyone on the outside who wants in? This, remember, seems to be the problem with Treasury Secretary Snow. He has already, in essence, been fired. But they can't come up with anyone crazy enough to take the job.

Giuliani reaches out to the corruption wing of the GOP, headlines fundraiser for Ralph Reed. That and other news of the day in today's Daily Muck.

Okay, this is pretty funny.

Fox is reporting that Fox's own Tony Snow may be Scott McClellan's replacement as White House press secretary.

Isn't that more like an interdepartmental transfer than a job change?

Curt Weldon, who's yer daddy?

Watching the explanation for this one should be entertaining.

Over at TPMmuckraker.com, Paul Kiel has been walking you through the Russian energy/'security services' thread of the Abramoff scandal.

In short, two executives for the energy company Naftasib (Alexander Koulakovsky and Marina Nevskaya) were spreading money around Washington in the late 1990s looking for friends and favors. They hired Jack Abramoff. Abramoff then acted as the pass through by which Koulakovsky and Nevskaya bankrolled the sham nonprofit, the US Family Network, Tom DeLay's then-Chief of Staff Ed Buckahm set up while he was still on the government payroll. Buckham later used the US Family Network to kick start his lobbying firm Alexander Strategy Group. To make this all a little more complicated the Russian money was funnelled through front outfits in the UK and the Netherlands.

I know the trail of money and the details are rather byzantine. But suffice it to say that these foreign energy executives with what newspapers usually delicately refer to as 'close ties' to Russian security services were pumping millions of dollars into the Abramoff-Buckham-DeLay syndicate. And they were getting a lot in return.

You'll also remember that one of the quids Rep. Bob Ney (R-Toast) was trading for Jack Abramoff's quos were encomiums and hatchet-jobs slipped into the congressional record, for Abramoff's pals and enemies, respectively.

So with all that as background, here are remarks Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) inserted into the Congressional Record back on February 4th, 1999 ...

Now, Weldon does fancy himself something of a Russia hand. Indeed, his daughter, when she was only in her late 20s, set up a lobbying firm that seemed to specialize in getting fat contracts from Russian and Serbian interests which ended up getting favors from her dad. Indeed, one of them was Itera International Energy Corp, another Russian energy outfit with ties of various sorts to Russian government officials.

But I digress.

Whatever the deal with Itera, what was Weldon's thing with Koulakovsky? This guy was funnelling millions of dollars into the DeLay machine. His shenanigans and deals with DeLay, Abramoff and Buckham are a central part of the on-going federal corruption probe. Weldon seems to have thought he was a really, really great guy.


Safavian to Abramoff, April 30th, 2002: "My gut is telling me to take the GSA job before joining up with you and your band of merry men." More of the courtship here.

Let me tell you about a new project we're working on and will have up online sometime next month.

If you were reading TPM a year or more ago, you know that we did very granular and detailed tracking of where key members of Congress were on the Social Security issue. Most political news outlets were focused on that debate in late 2004 and early 2005. But we focused on a slice of the debate that we had unique access to because of our readers in different districts. We heard what the members were sending in constituent emails; we got reports from town meetings; details that were showing up in the local press, and more.

We're going to employ that model to follow this year's mid-term elections. We'll be picking thirty to forty House and Senate races. Mainly, we'll choose the ones that seem genuinely in play, though we'll also probably feature a few that are just inherently interesting, even if the eventual outcome appears fairly clear.

We're setting up a special tabbed blog at TPMCafe, which will run live right through the November election. And there we'll provide wall-to-wall coverage of every race we're tracking -- every poll, every detail about fundraising, who's getting paid what, what's getting said at town meetings, who's running away from their old positions, bamboozling the press and so on. Everything you, the political junkie, need to keep your finger on the pulse of all these races.

The site will be run by our in-house staff and our crop of summer interns. But mainly we'll need you -- folks in the districts, reading the papers, attending the meetings, letting us know about mailings, telling us what you hear. A lot of it we'll do like I did the Social Security stuff, getting your emails, passing on key details to readers. But we'll also be posting reader reports as well.

Are you watching a race you think we should follow? Let us know. Are you in a district or state with a closely-watched race and interested in sending regular reports? Let us know that too.

Like each of our projects, it's an experiment. We're excited about this one. Stay tuned.