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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

The big news in the Trump-Russia story came Friday, when special counsel Robert Mueller’s office released an indictment of 13 individuals and three organizations related to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian troll farm that sought to sow division and meddle with the US election process starting in 2014. It made clear that IRA’s efforts to interfere in the election were far more extensive than had previously been reported, including, for instance, efforts to push the false claim that voter fraud was rampant in the US, a claim Donald Trump also made during and after the election.

Friday also saw the release of a plea agreement for a previously unknown-to-reporters individual named Richard Pinedo. Pinedo pleaded guilty to identity fraud; court documents released by the special counsel’s office suggested Pinedo used stolen identities to set up bank accounts that were used by Russians.

Before the Friday afternoon news dump, there were hints that Mueller might have another cooperating witness. Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is reportedly nearing a plea deal with Mueller’s team—a move that would pressure Gates’ longtime boss Paul Manafort to do the same.

Steve Bannon found himself in the hot seat this week, enduring some 20 hours of interviews with Mueller’s team over multiple days. Bannon also finally responded to the House Intelligence Committee’s subpoena, returning to Capitol Hill for an interview on his tenure in the presidential transition and Trump administration.

Yet his answers were reportedly inadequate; Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said he refused to answer “all but 25 questions concerning his time after the campaign,” and that the responses were drafted by the White House. Legal experts say this sort of broad invocation of executive privilege would not fly with the special counsel. The House panel is now considering holding Bannon in contempt.

White House Counsel Don McGahn is also facing new scrutiny: A Washington Post report this week revealed that, last year, McGahn asked a top DOJ official to push former FBI director Comey to publicly state that President Trump was not personally under investigation. He did so at Trump’s command—a fact that could be yet another building block in Mueller’s obstruction of justice case.

The Democrats’ rebuttal to the memo put out by Rep. Devin Nunes remains in limbo after the White House refused to release it last week, claiming that it contained too much classified information. Democrats are working with the FBI on a new draft that ensures no intelligence sources or methods would be revealed to the public.

Most of the U.S. intelligence chiefs denied any involvement in discussing the declassification of either the GOP or Democrats’ memo at a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee this week. The exception, understandably, was FBI director Christopher Wray, whose agency’s activities are central to both memos. The intelligence chiefs also released a written assessment asserting that Russia will continue to use “propaganda, social media, false-flag personas” to “exacerbate social and political fissures” in the U.S.

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Republicans on the House Intel Committee killed their Russia investigation this week, concluding that there was “no evidence of collusion” with the Trump campaign. Days later, news broke that Special Counsel Mueller has issued subpoenas to the Trump Organization, suggesting that the active federal probe has more questions about the Trump family’s business dealings.

The special counsel got a nod of support from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who said Mueller was not an “unguided missile” and that there was no “justification” to end his investigation. In an odd development, George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman who is cooperating with the probe and had multiple meetings with Trump campaign officials on behalf of the U.A.E., was revealed to have a 15-year-old pedophilia conviction in Europe.

Democrats on the House panel are pressing on without their GOP colleagues, releasing a list of the witnesses (Reince Priebus, Stephen Miller, KT McFarland) and entities (Deutsche Bank, Twitter) they still want information from. One outstanding area of interest: ties between Russia and the NRA. Former NRA attorney Cleta Mitchell on Friday adamantly denied reports, which appear to be leaked to the press by congressional investigators, that she expressed concern about whether the NRA was helping to funnel Russian money to Trump’s campaign.

Overseas, Russia continues to disrupt international affairs. British police and Prime Minister Teresa May have determined that Russia is behind the recent poisoning of an ex-spy living in England and may be involved with the strangling of a London-based Russian businessmen. The attacks were condemned as the work of Russia by U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Rex Tillerson, one day before Trump sacked him as Secretary of State.

While Trump continues to waffle on Russia’s bad behavior, the U.S. government has taken other steps to check the Kremlin’s influence. The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on 19 Russians for allegedly meddling in the 2016 election, including 13 indicted by Mueller for using fake social media accounts and ads to push pro-Trump propaganda.

The Trump administration also accused Russia of a concerted, ongoing effort to hack and spy on the U.S. energy grid and other infrastructure.

Russia is threatening retaliation for these steps, and President Putin told NBC last weekend that he “couldn’t care less” about his country’s alleged interference in the presidential race. In a new anti-Semitic twist, he suggested that some of the indicted Russians could actually be “Jews” with Russian citizenship.

This week saw a number of instances of the U.S. government and even elements of the administration breaking with the President’s soft-ball stance on Russia. With a staff shakeup rumored to be coming any day now, we may see less of that as we move further into 2018.

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With the 2018 primaries looming, the ongoing court battles over voting district maps in Pennsylvania and North Carolina continue to chug along.

In North Carolina, civil rights groups on Wednesday filed a new lawsuit in state court challenging the state House map in Wake county, which has four state House districts. The Supreme Court previously sided with Republicans in halting the implementation of a new map, drawn by court-appointed expert Nate Persily, in Wake and Mecklenburg counties. Voting rights advocates are now turning to state courts to request that Persily’s map be used in the 2018 election. The latest lawsuit comes after a state court rejected an effort — part of a separate lawsuit — to implement the Persily map. The new lawsuit alleges that lawmakers violated the state constitution by redrawing the districts in Wake mid-decade without a court order requiring them to do so. Typically districts are drawn every 10 years.

In Pennsylvania, Republicans last week turned to the Supreme Court yet again, their latest attempt to preserve a map that is gerrymandered in their favor through the 2018 election. Conservative Justice Samuel Alito already once rejected the GOP lawmakers’ request to intervene in their state’s redistricting battle, in which the state Supreme Court said Pennsylvania’s congressional map violated the state constitution and must be redrawn. The state GOP’s latest request to the U.S. Supreme Court, filed Wednesday evening, comes after Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) rejected a replacement map that Republicans had proposed, and after the court sought to adopt a map drawn by Persily (the court appointed expert here too) instead.

Beyond these incremental developments, there are a couple of long-term trends I am keeping my eye on. First: Concerns that the 2020 census will be used to tilt the next decade’s maps in Republicans’ favor. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder penned an op-ed in The New Republic highlighting those concerns. He’s leading a group that more broadly is focused on drawing fairer maps in the next decade.

My colleague, Allegra Kirkland, meanwhile reported on a push by Republicans in Arizona to overhaul the independent commission that draws that state’s districts — a system that has been widely praised. The overhaul — which critics say would allow Republicans to inject more partisanship on the commission — will be a state ballot initiative if the GOP-dominated state legislature approves of it.

Finally, The Nation shed some light on another tactic that Republicans have been using in recent months: refusing to hold special elections for vacancies where Democrats have a good chance of winning seats that were previously held by Republicans.

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As I mentioned in last week’s sum-up, former Attorney General Eric Holder is leading a group focused on redistricting issues on the state legislative level. The group, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, last week filed a lawsuit in Wisconsin targeting Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s refusal to hold special elections in two state legislative districts.

As my colleague Allegra Kirkland detailed, Walker’s move is part of a larger trend: Republican officials around the country are putting off holding special elections for legislative seats that were previously held by Republicans. Walker’s office is justifying his decision by saying it’s about saving taxpayer money, but it comes after a Democrat won a special election for a reliably red state Senate seat in December. There will be a hearing on the Dem lawsuit later this month.

Republicans in Alabama — where a special election last year handed Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ U.S. Senate seat to Democrat Doug Jones — are taking the tactic to the next level, by pushing legislation that would eliminate special elections altogether in certain circumstances. On Thursday, the state’s GOP-dominated Senate passed a bill that would end special elections for legislative vacancies where two years or less remain in the term.

Litigation continues in Pennsylvania over GOP-drawn U.S. congressional maps that the state Supreme Court recently threw out. Pennsylvania Republicans have again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in, and Justice Samuel Alito is calling for responses from the other participants in the case by Monday afternoon to the GOP request that the Supreme Court intervene to preserve the old map. Alito had rejected a previous request by state Republicans to get involved in their case, and in that instance Alito also called for responses to their request before rejecting it.

On the flip side, there have been a number of recent moves in state legislatures to expand voting rights. Washington’s legislature passed a bill last week aiming to make it easier for communities to establish districts that better represent minority groups. New Jersey Democrats last week introduced a bill that would give voting rights to prisoners and those on probation or parole. And California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill on Wednesday that pre-registers to vote 16 and 17 year olds when they obtain their drivers licenses or a state ID card.

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Lawmakers see the omnibus budget that must pass Congress in the next two weeks as the last opportunity to mitigate some of the damage that has been done to the individual market over the last year — both through the administration’s regulatory actions and Congress’ repeal of the individual mandate. But it’s far from a sure thing that the omnibus will pass. Conservative groups are railing against health care-stabilization bills, the White House is demanding that poison pills be included, and legislation relating to a bunch of other hot-button issues — from immigration to gun control — is threatening to drag the omnibus down. Prospects are grim even for policies that would save the government money and bring down insurance premiums.

As the federal government continues to throw up its hands over Obamacare, states are moving rapidly to make their own changes.

Idaho, the state pushing most aggressively to roll back the Affordable Care Act’s protections, got a somewhat surprising rebuke from the Trump’s administration, which said in a public letter that Obamacare is still the law of the land and the state can’t simply authorize the sale of skimpy, discriminatory plans that don’t comply with ACA rules. However, the Department of Health and Human Services encouraged Idaho to pursue the same goal through other means, such as making full use of the newly allowed short-term insurance plans under which insurers can charge people higher premiums if they have a pre-existing condition, refuse to cover basics like emergency room visits and prescriptions drugs, and reject people altogether.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, the top official deciding what Idaho and other states can do with their health laws, continues to face scrutiny over potential conflicts of interest. The government transparency group American Oversight sued Verma on Friday because she has been stonewalling Freedom of Information Act requests. The group has questions about her involvement in major Medicaid decisions by state governments that she previously worked for as a private consultant. It wants Verma to turn over her communications with those states to reveal whether or not she violated her recusal from those cases.

As that lawsuit heads to court, several states — including both those who have, and those who have not, expanded Medicaid under the ACA — are eagerly taking advantage of the Trump administration’s green light to implement Medicaid work requirements, which would reduce Medicaid enrollment. New Hampshire’s state Senate passed a bill last week to impose a work requirement on its expanded Medicaid program.

A number of states that never expanded Medicaid, including Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, and Utah, are also looking at work requirements as a means of further cutting coverage.

Legislators in deep-red Wyoming, however, bucked the trend, voting down a bill that would have implemented work requirements. The Wyoming Hospital Association and several health care advocacy organizations lobbied hard to kill the measure, saying it was premised on false stereotypes about poor people and would hurt single mothers and other vulnerable groups.

ok perhaps so far so good. What else we got?

https://twitter.com/PuppyPaIace/status/948660267788926977

This is the end

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Sed aliquet risus a tortor. Integer id quam. Morbi mi. Quisque nisl felis, venenatis tristique, dignissim in, ultrices sit amet, augue. Proin sodales libero eget ante. Nulla quam. Aenean laoreet. Vestibulum nisi lectus, commodo ac, facilisis ac, ultricies eu, pede. Ut orci risus, accumsan porttitor, cursus quis, aliquet eget, justo. Sed pretium blandit orci. Ut eu diam at pede suscipit sodales.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer nec odio. Praesent libero. Sed cursus ante dapibus diam. Sed nisi. Nulla quis sem at nibh elementum imperdiet. Duis sagittis ipsum. Praesent mauris. Fusce nec tellus sed augue semper porta. Mauris massa. Vestibulum lacinia arcu eget nulla. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos.

Curabitur sodales ligula in libero. Sed dignissim lacinia nunc. Curabitur tortor. Pellentesque nibh. Aenean quam. In scelerisque sem at dolor. Maecenas mattis. Sed convallis tristique sem. Proin ut ligula vel nunc egestas porttitor. Morbi lectus risus, iaculis vel, suscipit quis, luctus non, massa. Fusce ac turpis quis ligula lacinia aliquet. Mauris ipsum. Nulla metus metus, ullamcorper vel, tincidunt sed, euismod in, nibh.

Quisque volutpat condimentum velit. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Nam nec ante. Sed lacinia, urna non tincidunt mattis, tortor neque adipiscing diam, a cursus ipsum ante quis turpis. Nulla facilisi. Ut fringilla. Suspendisse potenti. Nunc feugiat mi a tellus consequat imperdiet. Vestibulum sapien. Proin quam. Etiam ultrices. Suspendisse in justo eu magna luctus suscipit. Sed lectus. Integer euismod lacus luctus magna.

Quisque cursus, metus vitae pharetra auctor, sem massa mattis sem, at interdum magna augue eget diam. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Morbi lacinia molestie dui. Praesent blandit dolor. Sed non quam. In vel mi sit amet augue congue elementum. Morbi in ipsum sit amet pede facilisis laoreet. Donec lacus nunc, viverra nec, blandit vel, egestas et, augue. Vestibulum tincidunt malesuada tellus. Ut ultrices ultrices enim. Curabitur sit amet mauris. Morbi in dui quis est pulvinar ullamcorper. Nulla facilisi. Integer lacinia sollicitudin massa. Cras metus.

Sed aliquet risus a tortor. Integer id quam. Morbi mi. Quisque nisl felis, venenatis tristique, dignissim in, ultrices sit amet, augue. Proin sodales libero eget ante. Nulla quam. Aenean laoreet. Vestibulum nisi lectus, commodo ac, facilisis ac, ultricies eu, pede. Ut orci risus, accumsan porttitor, cursus quis, aliquet eget, justo. Sed pretium blandit orci. Ut eu diam at pede suscipit sodales.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer nec odio. Praesent libero. Sed cursus ante dapibus diam. Sed nisi. Nulla quis sem at nibh elementum imperdiet. Duis sagittis ipsum. Praesent mauris. Fusce nec tellus sed augue semper porta. Mauris massa. Vestibulum lacinia arcu eget nulla. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos.

Curabitur sodales ligula in libero. Sed dignissim lacinia nunc. Curabitur tortor. Pellentesque nibh. Aenean quam. In scelerisque sem at dolor. Maecenas mattis. Sed convallis tristique sem. Proin ut ligula vel nunc egestas porttitor. Morbi lectus risus, iaculis vel, suscipit quis, luctus non, massa. Fusce ac turpis quis ligula lacinia aliquet. Mauris ipsum. Nulla metus metus, ullamcorper vel, tincidunt sed, euismod in, nibh.

Quisque volutpat condimentum velit. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Nam nec ante. Sed lacinia, urna non tincidunt mattis, tortor neque adipiscing diam, a cursus ipsum ante quis turpis. Nulla facilisi. Ut fringilla. Suspendisse potenti. Nunc feugiat mi a tellus consequat imperdiet. Vestibulum sapien. Proin quam. Etiam ultrices. Suspendisse in justo eu magna luctus suscipit. Sed lectus. Integer euismod lacus luctus magna.

Quisque cursus, metus vitae pharetra auctor, sem massa mattis sem, at interdum magna augue eget diam. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Morbi lacinia molestie dui. Praesent blandit dolor. Sed non quam. In vel mi sit amet augue congue elementum. Morbi in ipsum sit amet pede facilisis laoreet. Donec lacus nunc, viverra nec, blandit vel, egestas et, augue. Vestibulum tincidunt malesuada tellus. Ut ultrices ultrices enim. Curabitur sit amet mauris. Morbi in dui quis est pulvinar ullamcorper. Nulla facilisi. Integer lacinia sollicitudin massa. Cras metus.

Sed aliquet risus a tortor. Integer id quam. Morbi mi. Quisque nisl felis, venenatis tristique, dignissim in, ultrices sit amet, augue. Proin sodales libero eget ante. Nulla quam. Aenean laoreet. Vestibulum nisi lectus, commodo ac, facilisis ac, ultricies eu, pede. Ut orci risus, accumsan porttitor, cursus quis, aliquet eget, justo. Sed pretium blandit orci. Ut eu diam at pede suscipit sodales.

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The full statement is worth reading and rereading — it’s copied in full at the end of this asdfpost. But the gist is that Bannon is a mentally unstable, selfish, destructive bit player in Trumpland. It dismisses Bannon’s claim to have masterminded Trump’s 2016 victory (vastly understating his role on the campaign even as it correctly knocks down his self-aggrandizement), and erases much of the reflective power that Bannon still held from his stint as a top Trump campaign adviser and his White House chief strategist.

Bannon had settled back in at his Breitbart media empire after being forced out of the White House late last summer, and was using that website, nascent efforts at a super-PAC funded by the billionaire Mercer family, and a direct line to Trump to keep his reflected glory glowing bright.

Trump stuck by Bannon even after he was fired last summer

The level at which Breitbart and Bannon depend on Trump was displayed in the site’s awkward handling of the president’s attacks on its leader. The site initially ignored Bannon’s reported comments — but finally posted both Trump’s attacks and Bannon’s alleged comments in un-bylined stories that led the website Wednesday afternoon.

Bannon may survive this yet.

ok perhaps so far so good. What else we got?

This is the end

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