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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

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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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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