Josh Marshall

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Articles by Josh

The extremely open (indeed bragging about it) joint impeachment trial planning between the President and Senate Republicans is a good opportunity to restate a point I’ve made several times recently in a slightly different context. The Senate trial is nominally a trial of Donald J. Trump. But in fact, his guilt is obvious, proven by an overwhelming body of evidence. Senate Republicans themselves know this. But this is the point. It’s not really Trump who is on trial. It’s Senate Republicans. The question is whether there is any level of criminal conduct from President Trump they won’t accept. We already know the answer to that. There’s none. Democrats’ trial strategy should be to make this point over and over and over again. It’s as simple as that.

Let me preface this by saying that politics is unpredictable. I don’t know what will happen in next year’s election and I don’t know for a certainty what the political impact of President Trump’s impeachment will be. What I do know is this: for the last twenty years there has been a deep elite press consensus that impeachment carries a big risk of boomeranging on the party that impeaches a President and can actually bolster support for that President. This is flatly wrong. So I want to explain why it is wrong.

The evidence is pretty clear.

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My view of yesterday’s UK election is that if your party literally takes no position on the great issue of the day (Brexit, in this case) and has a party leader considered toxic by a significant swath of the electorate, you’re probably going to have a pretty bad election outcome. The fact that Labour was also running significantly to the left of the country as a whole and you have a good recipe for a near catastrophic election result, which is basically what happened.

But what interests me more is that the result makes it highly questionable whether there will even be a United Kingdom in the next five or ten years, at least one with its current borders and constituent nations.

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Over the last three days we’ve witnessed a furious debate over just how and why the Russia probe (“Crossfire Hurricane”) began and whether political “bias” played a role in that decision. You will note that even in his statements and report, Inspector General Michael Horowitz stated that while he found no evidence of political or anti-Trump bias he could not rule out that it had played a role. Meanwhile Bill Barr suggested that Horowitz simply didn’t have the tools or perhaps sufficient aggressiveness to unearth it. Like the force of gravity that remains unseen but clearly forces all matter to fall downward, not finding any visible evidence doesn’t mean it’s not there. But the whole conversation assumes that there is a problem or deficiency that must be explained when in fact that whole premise is simply absurd.

What was eventually proven about the Trump campaign’s actions may remain a matter of controversy. But the idea that there wasn’t enough evidence or “predicate” to start the probe is simply bizarre and only makes any sense in a climate of long-term distortion, gaslighting and organized lying. It is important to shake those off and see the matter in a clear light.

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Today federal prosecutors asked a judge to revoke the bail of Giuliani associate Lev Parnas. A main reason was that he had not disclosed to prosecutors that in September he received a million dollars from a bank account in Russia. This is certainly enough to make your ears prick up. But it’s a mystery at this point just what this money represents.

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As I noted earlier this morning, three years on Michael Horowitz still claims he’s going to get around to the probe that predates any of these other investigations he’s released to great fanfare. This is the probe into whether anti-Clinton agents at the New York City FBI field office forced James Comey’s hands in sending that possibly election turning letter in the final days of the campaign. Well, he got asked and he says, yep, he’s still working on it. Just seemingly taking a super long time. It’s the Horowitz pattern, don’t ask any questions or push any probes that could yield findings that will make President Trump mad.

One thing I hear from many of you is that while you understand that we now restrict some of our posts to members only you’d still like to share them with friends or colleagues who are not members. That totally makes sense – both for you and also for us since we want to bring new readers into the TPM world. We hope to make it one of the features we add to your membership next year. Let me explain some of our thinking.

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Shortly after James Comey sent his notorious letter to then-Chairman Jason Chaffetz a week before the 2016 election, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz was charged with investigating whether or how anti-Clinton bias and leaking out of the FBI’s New York City field office may have driven the decision to send that letter. More than three years on, Horowitz has still not found time to conduct that investigation. Through each of these other probes we’ve been told it will either be included in this investigation or the next investigation. Those who credited these claims have again and again been disappointed. On the other hand we’ve had numerous probes into the origins of the Russia probe itself.

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From TPM Reader EH

We gave the Democrats power in 2018 in order to use it. I’m not in the mood to quibble at the moment. The nation will go home for the holidays with an impeached President. A President who was, remains, and will be a threat to national security and our democracy. The Democrats did their job and the nation owes an immense debt of gratitude to the whistleblower. I’m willing to leave all the rest for next year.

For all the chatter, remember: had Democrats not won control of the House last year, this entire story would have been covered up and not only would we never have known what happened it almost certainly would have succeeded, with potentially large impacts on the 2020 election.