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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

A few more points about Assange.

First, Assange’s lawyer in the U.S., Barry Pollack, now says “the factual allegations against Mr. Assange boil down to encouraging a source to provide him information and taking efforts to protect the identity of that source.” That’s clearly false.

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Let me start by saying what is likely already clear to you. I see Julian Assange as a loathsome, destructive, megalomaniacal figure. These tendencies, apparent from the start, have undoubtedly been accentuated by years in self-imposed captivity which started and for many years was an effort to escape a legitimate sexual assault investigation. But I think we should be highly skeptical of his arrest and extradition to the US.

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I think this is a very plausible read. Barr uses his smarts to help Trump attack the rule of law with a fig leaf of deniability and pared back enough to avoid triggering a new crisis. From TPM Reader JO

I think we can see where this “investigation” is going with Barr. I imagine that Trump wants Barr to prosecute individual FBI team members for illegal spying. Barr is probably offering Trump an alternative: instead of creating a political crisis by focusing on the personalities who started the investigation (Comey, etc.), instead focus on discrediting the legal basis on which the FISA warrants were issued, as well as the “improper” FBI/DOJ policies and procedures that gave rise to opening the investigation in the first place. After all, Barr’s power is at its apex in setting (or rescinding) DOJ policy, and he can dress up a change in the DOJ’s discretionary exercise of authority as a formal, legal repudiation of Obama’s DOJ/FBI regime. He’s not a judge, but as we saw from the Mueller report letter, he knows how to act like one.

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I want to show you a couple clips from Bill Barr’s testimony today. You’ve heard the headlines but the full language is pretty key.

When Barr said he believed there was “spying” against the Trump campaign he explicitly compared that to spying on civil rights and anti-war activists during the 1960s. In other words, while saying he simply needs to ‘look into it’, he is quite consciously validating Trump’s claims of ‘Deep State’ spying going back two years. This is conscious, intentional and the grossest form of bad faith, pretending concerns about illegal surveillance of domestic dissidents while actually seeking punitive expeditions against people the President has targeted as enemies.

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Bill Barr basically openly embraced the President’s discredited claim that the Obama administration “spied” on his campaign. He later seemed to partly backtracked and then tried to suggest that by “spying” he might just mean court approved surveillance as part of a counter-intelligence investigation. But that’s really just caviling. He’s embracing the President’s conspiracy theories and pushing ahead with what can only be called a retributive new investigation of the origins of the Russia probe.

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The President appeared a few moments ago before leaving the White House. The gist: he “won” the Mueller investigation. He doesn’t care about the report. And the investigators are guilty of “treason.” Video after the jump.

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As I wrote last night, with dark humor but very seriously, the iron law of 21st century Israeli politics is that in the final analysis Netanyahu always wins and becomes the next Prime Minister. As indeed, he has. Another fairly fixed rule is that Israeli election nights end better for the right than they begin. This goes all the way back to 1996, with Netanyahu himself.

The simple fact is that there is a not terribly large but hard and durable rightwing majority in Israel. The Israeli Knesset has 120 members. So you need 61 seats to form a government. Recent elections have all gotten just a bit over 60. Yesterday’s election appears to have netted Likud and its ‘natural partners’ 65 seats.

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We’re getting the first exit polls out of today’s election in Israel. And they are showing unexpected strength for Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party over Netanyahu’s Likud. It seems clear Gantz’s is doing better than expected. But it’s less clear whether he’s ahead. And if he is ahead the coalition of the right still seems larger, even though a number of parties on the right appear to have come under the electoral threshold. If this seems hyper-cautious, I’ve learned over time, Netanyahu always ends up winning. It’s a law of nature. But things look to be turning out at least a bit differently.

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