Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

One of the oddities of the Nunes Memo drama is that it has focused on Carter Page, someone who seems to have had a legitimately tenuous connection to the Trump campaign and has enough dirty laundry to make almost anyone run for cover. As just one example, he was on Laura Ingraham’s show last night as some sort of martyr/conquering hero. Whether this is irony or foolery or a high stakes gambit to conceal more information I’m really not sure. But there’s a good chance Trump and his associates will rue the day they bear-hugged him as their showpiece victim of Deep State treachery.

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The biggest impact of the Nunes Memo – and the accompanying wave of propaganda – is that conventional news and commentary is incapable of handling willful lying in the public sphere. This is a pattern we’ve seen again and again. It’s one of the hallmarks of this political age. It’s worth saying it again: conventional media is not equipped to deal with willful lying in the public sphere.

Let’s consider the coverage of the Nunes Memo.

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Last week we introduced you to our first reporters’ Sum-Up, our weekly summaries of all the critical information you need to know on a major subject area as of that date from our lead reporter on that beat. Health policy is our first sum-up and here’s our second installment from Alice Ollstein.

These Sum-Ups will be published on a fixed weekly schedule, with an emphasis on concision and breadth. Our purpose is to provide you with one quick read to ensure you are up to date on every significant development in the given topic area. We plan to introduce new Sum-Ups on voting rights/democracy and the Russia probe in the coming week.

The Times is reporting that the President’s personal lawyers are recommending that he refuse to be interviewed or questioned by Robert Mueller’s investigators under any circumstances. Let’s be candid about what this means. The President is pleading the 5th while trying to avoid saying that’s what he’s doing. Let’s call it the de facto 5th. The constitutional law is clear cut. It’s not at all hypothetical. A sitting President has no blanket right to refuse to cooperate with a criminal investigation. Different dimensions of this question were litigated under Presidents Nixon and Clinton. The Courts were clear each time. The President has to comply with the law and with criminal investigations just like everyone else, though there may be certain areas of privilege. Presidents have been interviewed by special prosecutors, special counsels and independent counsels in numerous cases. The President is obviously guilty of obstruction of justice. He’s likely guilty of criminal conspiracy with a foreign power, though what if any statutes this would implicate is not clear to me. It makes perfect sense to refuse to talk. Perps do that all the time. It’s their right.

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On the House side (and to some but a much lesser extent in the Senate) congressional oversight has been entirely focused on protecting President Trump. With so many key questions ignored and evidence covered up, that leaves an ample to do list of necessary investigations if the Democrats retake control of the House of Representatives in January 2019. Here’s another for the list – it’s about Committee Chair Rep. Devin Nunes and his probable collaborator in the White House.

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The national press is now sifting over just what triggered the original Russia probe in the summer of 2016. Ironically the Nunes Memo appears to confirm something Republicans have been at pains to deny: that it was the Australian intelligence tip about George Papadopoulos that triggered the initial probe in July 2016. But if we look at, or for, one single trigger I think we will miss a major part of the story, maybe the story itself.

Going back months before summer 2016, the FBI had been investigating a series of cyberattacks on the DNC and other political committees. This in itself was not that surprising: hacking for intelligence gathering is a part of intelligence work. It’s not welcome. But it’s part of the routine cat and mouse of modern intelligence gathering. But certainly, some people at the FBI’s counter-intelligence division must have noticed in March when Trump announced that a man the FBI had surveilled for years as a possible Russian agent would be his top advisor on European and Russian affairs. That’s Carter Page.

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I’d say we need to know more about. Quickly.

From a South Korean paper, flagged on Twitter by The Washington Post’s Tokyo Bureau Chief …

Indeed, White House National Security Council senior director for Asian affairs Matthew Pottinger was reported as saying in a recent closed-door meeting with US experts on Korean Peninsula issues that a limited strike on the North “might help in the midterm elections.”

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