Josh Marshall

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New breaking news episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast. Kate Riga and I talk to TPM’s Josh Kovensky about what we’ve learned on the Ukraine/Whistleblower front over the last 48 hours and how it connects up with Josh’s reporting going back months. If you’re interested in understanding this story I strongly recommend it. Listen here.

The lede in this new Journal article pretty much tells the story.

President Trump in a July phone call repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden ’s son, urging Volodymyr Zelensky about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, on a probe, according to people familiar with the matter.

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Over the last 24 hours, in emails and tweets, I’ve heard people say some version of ‘Hey, it’s a twofer. Maybe this new scandal will take out Trump and Joe Biden!’

Let me say that there are lots of reasons for Democrats not to support Joe Biden – ideology, mass incarceration, age, it not being his time, politics, just qualities as a campaigner. But even though these comments are semi-flippant this is a temptation Democrats should resist. This really is no different from claims that Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster or Barack Obama was born in Kenya, though obviously there’s a racist component to the latter canard. In terms of being in touch with reality or not, it’s no different. Democrats are prone to being manipulated in this way. They really need to resist the urge, just as Clinton’s opponents should have resisted rightwing and Russian efforts to sow divisions among them in 2016.

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President Trump has just gotten his first crack at responding to last night’s news. Asked whether he discussed Joe Biden in his conversation with the President of Ukraine, he replies: “It doesn’t matter what I discussed” and says “someone out to look into Joe Biden.”

We’re going to be focusing on this story throughout the day. We’re actually going to record a special episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast with our lead reporter on the story, Josh Kovensky, which you can download this afternoon. But I wanted to give you a basic overview of what’s transpired over the last 48 hours, what we know and where this might be going.

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Josh Kovensky predicted this afternoon how this story in fact unfolded this evening. Given the gravity of the news, I’ve taken Josh’s piece out from behind the Prime paywall. You can read it below or at this link.

Okay, it comes into focus. Josh Kovensky was prescient. This whistleblower thing is about Ukraine.

9:53 PM: I’m working my way through the video of Rudy Giuliani tonight on CNN. It’s a wild interview. He sounds like someone in deep panic. He is all but admitting that President Trump blackmailed the President of Ukraine, threatening to withhold military aid unless Ukraine went after Joe Biden.

Here are some representative video excerpts from the interview …

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With 98% of the vote counted, Benny Gantz and Blue and White have slightly expanded their lead over Likud. The count is now B&W 33, Likud 31, Joint List 13. More telling is a move that really seems to be Netanyahu giving up the game. I’ll note that people I follow who are closer and better informed about Israeli politics don’t seem to see it that way. But I’ll share my take nonetheless.

Netanyahu today has been saying he wants to form a broad national unity government and he’s invited Gantz to come talk about it with him. Gantz has replied, rather obviously, that he thinks that’s a great idea. But he’d be Prime Minister, not Netanyahu.

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I mentioned in the note below that a number of big things happened around the time this complaint was filed. We don’t know they’re connected. But as we’re piecing this together I wanted to line these events up in chronological order for future reference. I stress again: We don’t know they’re connected.

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Let me detail here a few observations and questions raised by this whistleblower story.

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