Josh Marshall

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Former prosecutor TPM Reader captures this pretty nicely. In fact, it leaves quite a lot out.

Stunning news out of federal court this afternoon: that mystery million dollars that Lev Parnas got from abroad was money from Dmitry Firtash, the former Manafort business partner and Putin-aligned oligarch who is currently fighting extradition to the United States to face bribery charges. We’ve had a lot of hints to date that Firtash was the guy funding Rudy’s team in Ukraine. But this seems to confirm it. Where’s the money for all of this coming from? Why is Giuliani working for free? Why did his fellow Trump lawyers and Fox news regulars DiGenova and Toensing get over a million for a few months of legal work for Firtash. This news tells us what many have suspected: the President’s legal defense – Giuliani, Parnas, Fruman, DiGenova and Toensing and the rest of the collusion squad – is being funded by Firtash.

David Kurtz made this point to our editorial team today and I wanted to share it with you. It’s a key reality check without which it’s impossible to make sense of the news of the moment. Much of our understanding of the current situation is framed around the idea – clearly not actually the case – that the Ukraine conspiracy happened in the past and that the nation is now seeking to litigate whether the President is guilty and how he should be punished if he is guilty. Let’s think of it as a Watergate model, offense followed by cover-up and investigation in tandem.

But clearly this gets the essence of the situation wrong. It’s not something in the past at all. It is an active and on-going series of events. It’s a crime in progress.

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Here is some interesting new information. We take it as a given that supporters and opponents of impeachment are basically locked into their positions. All the available evidence supports that conclusion. But there are small exceptions or nuances to that reality when you zoom in close.

There appears to be some disagreement between Senate Republicans and the White House on the length of a trial and calling witnesses. Senators just want to end things with a vote. Perhaps you’ll get a restatement of the case from both sides and then a vote. But it’s the same difference since we know what the arguments are. Little will come of that we don’t already know. There’s very little that is unpredictable or new. We have already seen over the last couple weeks that once we’re into pure partisan haggling, as opposed to unknowns and new facts, people tend to tune out.

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I confess I don’t get this either. I guess perhaps they just don’t want the hassle of his generally meritless claims of attorney-client privilege. But he is truly central to the whole conspiracy. From TPM Reader JB

I’m wondering what the case would be for not calling Rudy Giuliani as a witness at the Senate’s forthcoming impeachment trial

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There is a lot of remarkable reportage in this new New Yorker article by Adam Entous. But I want to flag one particular quote from Rudy Giuliani, apparently from an interview in November: “I believed that I needed Yovanovitch out of the way. She was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody.” This isn’t terribly surprising. We know Giuliani was the key player driving this. Admitting to so openly remains jarring. He won’t quit his criminal activity, even after getting caught. He also won’t stop confessing to his crimes.

All of these high crimes and in quite a few cases statute crimes, he claims, are fine as part of his zealous defense of his client, Donald Trump.

I flipped on the TPM video machine this morning to get this clip I mentioned in which Chuck Schumer was asked whether the House should hold up sending its articles of impeachment to the Senate if the Senate won’t agree to hold an actual trial. But when I was doing that I happened on this moment when Mike Barnicle asked Schumer: “how do you explain the lack of fervor for impeachment among ordinary working Americans?” This was only moments after the panel was discussing a new Fox poll which found that 54% of voters think Trump should be impeached and 50% think he should be removed from office.

Let me point your attention to Sen. Schumer’s letter and proposal to Sen. McConnell about the upcoming Senate trial. In essence, he proposes the Senate adopt the trial rules adopted unanimously for Bill Clinton’s trial in 1999. Note that in 1999, Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. So they had a fairly free hand to run things as they chose. Not to be snarky but those rules really amount to no more than holding a trial – equal time for both sides to present a case, a reasonable time limits on prosecution and defense, ability to call witnesses, etc.

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There are a bunch of polls out today about impeachment. One that is getting a lot of attention is the Fox News poll that shows 50% support for impeachment and removal versus 41% who oppose impeachment. The fact that it’s Fox gets a lot of attention. But as we’ve discussed before, the Fox News poll — as opposed to Fox News — is a rightly respected poll. We should see it as separate from Fox News.

The real story is that support and opposition to impeachment remain remarkably, remarkably stable.

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This evening I turned on MSNBC and watched Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland express deep concern about whether his Republican colleagues were going to keep an open mind as jurors in the Senate trial of the President. At one point he went as far as to say that Mitch McConnell had “raise[d] serious questions whether he will be objective in carrying out the responsibilities of the Senate or whether he’s going to try to stack the deck in favor of the president.”

My point here is not to pick on Ben Cardin. This is one example of rhetoric you can hear from many Democrats and most Senate Democrats. It’s just the example that is ready at hand. But it is terrible and completely pathetic.

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