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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

An utterly remarkable story this morning in the Post. Reporters got hold of a series of retainer contracts that were being negotiated early this calendar year. It’s not clear whether they were finalized or money changed hands. But they involved Rudy Giuliani agreeing to represent the former top prosecutor in Ukraine, Yuri Lutsenko, both as an individual and in his role as top prosecutor for combined sums of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Just so we’re clear, this is the guy who he was working with to manufacture damaging information about the Biden family.

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We’ve known for months that Rudy Giuliani held some of his Ukraine-related meetings in Spain. What wasn’t clear was what client or work had brought him to Spain in the first place. The Post reports this morning that he was staying at the Spanish estate of a Venezuelan energy magnate facing a money laundering and bribery probe in the US. There’s not anything illegal or even inappropriate about this in itself. But it underscores a clear pattern: Most of Giuliani’s business of late has been has been finding foreign oligarchs and plutocrats with legal trouble in the United States and getting paid to use his connection to Trump and the DOJ to get them off the hook.

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Here are a few interesting data points from the just-released CNN poll on impeachment. The topline is pretty bad for the President. 50% of Americans believe the President should be impeached and removed from office. 43% disagree. Slightly more encouraging for the President is that those are the exact numbers CNN/SSRS found in mid-late October, prior to the public hearings. The President’s approval stands at 42% with 54% disapproving. In other words, the numbers are bad. But the hearings didn’t move anyone. We can also note that his approval is basically identical to the number who oppose removal from office. It’s like perfect polarization. You either support President Trump or you think he should be removed from office.

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Along with Josh Kovensky’s big scoop about Trump world lawyer Bud Cummins and the SDNY, there’s been a flurry of news over the last 48 hours about the tangle of corruption connecting Trump and Ukraine, largely but not exclusively through Rudy Giuliani. Most of these stories – and the criminal or semi-criminal networks they’re about – get hard to follow: Ten names you haven’t heard of involved in a corrupt enterprise in a country where corruption is endemic and commonplace. This tends to obscure the real pattern which is most important from a US perspective.

Let me try to explain what that is.

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Great exclusive here from Josh Kovensky who’s been working this story for several weeks and has more coming on this front. Another Trump-aligned attorney — actually a former U.S. Attorney, Bud Cummins — was pushing the Southern District of New York on investigations of Joe Biden based on clients he was working for in Ukraine. He was trying to serve as an intermediary for Yuriy Lutsenko, the crooked prosecutor who later hooked up or was already working with Rudy Giuliani. Yesterday, Giuliani published a letter to Senator Lindsey Graham, offering new purported evidence for Graham’s investigation into the Biden family. This is what he was talking about.

The big picture here is that when you have a crooked President who puts out word that he’s looking for foreigners to take out his political rivals, a lot of shady people come out of the woodwork — unsurprisingly.

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It seems our former AUSA Reader was on to something when they pointed to the logic of trying to deal with subpoenaing recalcitrant witnesses at a Senate trial rather than getting slow rolled for months in the courts and possibly, ultimately getting nothing. You’ll remember that Chief Justice Roberts acts as judge in a senate trial and under Senate rules he makes all decisions on questions of evidence, relevance, subpoenas witnesses – though he can be overruled on those judgments by a majority of the Senate.

Chairman Adam Schiff appeared this morning on both the State of the Union and Meet the Press and he seemed to confirm that this is his thinking too.

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A few years back I remember talking on the phone with a skeptical media reporter explaining that over the next two years we planned to build our membership to 20,000 subscribers. Today as I write this we are 51 subscribers short of 32,000 members. 32,000 is our goal for this year’s membership drive. Our whole team would like to thank you for subscribing to TPM and becoming a member. If you haven’t joined us yet, please consider doing so right now.

The last two plus months has been the kind of breakneck torrent of news that is what this organization and the machine of its news reporting was built for. We’ve heard from many of you thanking our team for the coverage they’ve provided over this period. So let us thank you because your membership makes it all possible.

I read through this a number of times before deciding to publish it. But I strongly, strongly recommend it to you. The author of the email is a former federal prosecutor. When I first read it I confess I found it all a bit loopy or improbable. But as I thought about it and read it again I eventually found it quite compelling. Whether this is actually the House strategy I don’t know. But I think the author is correct about the dynamics involved.

I should add that I don’t think this relies on any great civic virtue on Justice Roberts’ part. As I read it, if he wants to shut the whole thing down he’s entirely capable of doing that through the conventional appellate process ending up at the Supreme Court. This just means ruling on these decisions quickly and in the spotlight.

A majority of the Senate can also overrule his rulings. But that means owning overruling a Chief Justice strongly identified as a conservative and a Republican.

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TPM Reader SS has a good question …

This is a question I really haven’t seen addressed which given how obvious it is I’m really surprised that no one has addressed it. We know from Cohen that Trump makes a point of never getting himself directly involved in situations that could be illegal or unethical enough to cause himself problems. Instead, he prefers to use intermediaries, and even then he often uses opaque enough language to give himself lots of wiggle room to avoid taking direct responsibility for what happened.

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