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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

One notable thing is that at least as of a few minutes ago, the White House had not released an embargoed version of the speech. That means that in most cases even though the text doesn’t get posted all the anchors and reporters know what’s coming. The point of the speech is to create some sense of drama and anticipation, whether the President is normal or not. So leaving some surprises actually makes a lot of sense. Of course, there’s the danger there could be some terrible, dangerous surprises. So who knows?

The new developments in the McCabe story look like they’re moving in a very, very dark direction. We’ve heard murmurings over the last 24 hours that McCabe’s sudden departure from the FBI might be tied to an ongoing Justice Department Inspector General’s probe. Just this hour the Post published a story giving us our first clear understanding of what this is about. Big picture: the decisions about how to handle those Huma Abedin emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign now appear to be in the process of being repurposed as bad acts on the part of Andrew McCabe. A bit bigger picture: the Comey Letter, which roiled the campaign during its final week and has the best argument to be the single event which turned the course of the election, now appears to be in the process of being repurposed as a way to discredit the FBI and provide President Trump cover on the Russia probe.

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There were hints earlier today that President Trump was going to have something ‘surprising’ about North Korea in the State of the Union and that it might be surprising on the conciliatory side. That would be surprising. More recent reports suggest that Trump will make some dramatically confrontational statement on the topic, which is of course very bad but not terribly surprising.

Now comes word that the proposed Ambassador the White House announced late last year, to generally positive response, won’t be nominated after all. He didn’t toe the White House’s antic, war-mongering line. So he’s out.

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Here’s another one of those developments which is both jaw-dropping and somehow entirely predictable. You’ve likely seen the reports that the Trump administration violated the spirit though probably not the letter of the new Russia sanctions law by simply deciding not to impose any sanctions. But the law also mandated that the administration produce a list of “senior political figures and oligarchs” in Russia. These individuals were not to be sanctioned themselves. But the list is meant to impose some stigma and, more importantly, serve as an implicit signal about which individuals might be sanctioned in the future.

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I want to introduce you to a new feature we’re going to be regularly publishing. It’s one that I’m very focused on and stems from thinking I’ve done about how heavy news consumers, particularly consumers of news about politics and public policy, read news. The feature is called a Sum-Up and it’s purpose is to give you a brief yet comprehensive update on news on a particular topic on a fixed schedule once a week.

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Before more time goes by, I wanted to flag this item from Jonathan Swan’s Axios newsletter. An item entitled “White House Perjury Panic” explains that the President’s aides and lawyers are terrified of his doing an interview with Robert Mueller or his investigators. That seems wise. But in the piece there’s this passage …

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President Trump has been out bragging that “because of my policies” the African-American unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest level ever. This appears to be technically true. But I thought it made sense to give some context for the nonsensical nature of this claim.

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Last week was a tremendously consequential week in the Trump/Russia investigation. This was so not simply because of the number of revelations but because each new revelation layered upon the previous one to confirm one overriding, consequential reality: a pattern and practice of obstruction of justice and abuse of office that didn’t end with the firing of James Comey on May 9 but continued right down to the present day, touching almost everyone in President Trump’s inner circle and beyond.

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Buried deep in Ashley Parker et al.’s Saturday Post story on Trump and the Russia probe is this paragraph …

And that same month, Trump did, in fact, order McGahn to fire Mueller, a directive first reported Thursday by the New York Times. But McGahn told West Wing staff — though not the president — that he would quit before carrying out Trump’s directive, and the president ultimately backed down, people familiar with the events said.

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