Josh Marshall

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Josh Marshall is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of TPM.

Today in GOP Weirdos Prime Badge

Today in Republicans, we find that there seems to be at least signs of a real race for RNC chair, a contest that three-term incumbent Ronna McDaniel has seemed to have locked up. I suspect McDaniel still has the votes. But today Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, most recently seen with his poll numbers falling against ex-President Trump, has told far-right luminary Charlie Kirk that he’s backing Harmeet Dhillon, McDaniel’s top opponent.

“I think we need a change … I think we need to get some new blood in the RNC.”

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Lighting Money on Fire in California? Prime Badge

In general, I’m of the mind that it’s not really “wasting” money to spend a lot in one place when the money is better spent elsewhere. If Dems are burning money on a hopeless race in Kentucky just because they despise Mitch McConnell it doesn’t mean that money was really on offer for a sleeper race in another part of the country. I also think campaign dollars are fairly elastic. That person who’s given candidate A $100 probably has another $100 they can give to candidate B if that other candidate catches their fancy. But TPM Reader HS makes a decent point about a possible bonfire of Dem campaign dollars about to be spent in California.

I don’t think it’s too soon to warn TPM readers away from picking a candidate for the Feinstein seat.  Democratic Party activists are about to waste tens of millions of dollars (hundreds of millions?) on the Porter/Lee/Schiff race that really doesn’t matter, they all would be more than adequate. 

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The Great Mystery Prime Badge

Here’s a tweet thread by Tim Snyder, the Yale history professor whose expertise both on the borderlands between Russia and Germany (Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania et al.) and democracy and authoritarianism have put him at the center of numerous public discussions over the last half dozen years. The thread basically looks at The Long Trump-Russia Story in the context of the arrest of Charles McGonigal, the high-ranking FBI counterintelligence agent.

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House GOP Going Wobbly? Prime Badge

Are House Republicans going wobbly on debt-ceiling hostage taking?

Roll Call reports that House Republicans are now considering passing a series of short-term “clean” debt-limit suspensions in order to create more time for negotiations with the White House over the debt limit and all the spending cuts House Republicans are demanding.

There’s a lot of jargon here. So let me explain what this means.

The House would pass a series of short term laws “suspending” the debt limit. It wouldn’t create a higher debt ceiling but empower the Treasury to simply ignore the debt limit for a period of time. The point is that the crisis seems to be coming sooner than House Republicans want. Generally, the side that wants to free up more time for “negotiations” isn’t on the winning side of the engagement.

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Let’s Not Forget Prime Badge

Ginni Thomas’ testimony before the Jan. 6 Committee kind of got buried in the avalanche of material the committee released before the end of the last Congress. But it deserves a closer look and Frank Wilkinson takes that deep dive right here. Fascinating stuff. Check it out.

Santos Now Identifies as Straw Donor Prime Badge

There’s always been a strong Wile E. Coyote vibe to George Santos’s arc across the American political landscape. If he just keeps pretending everything’s fine and nothing matters maybe he’ll never fall off the cliff? But on Tuesday he appears to have taken a step toward falling off the cliff.

At the center of the Santos story from the beginning has been the question of how he went from being a chronic deadbeat making $50,000 a year in 2020 to making millions just two years later from his company, The Devolder Organization. He made so much that he could loan his own campaign almost three-quarters of a million dollars. Now finally we may have an answer. That money he loaned his campaign? Well, it wasn’t actually his money.

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‘Imminent’ Prime Badge

Just to note that at that hearing today in Atlanta, County DA Fanni Willis told the court that the special grand jury which had been investigating Trump’s election meddling in Georgia for months recommended multiple indictments and Willis’s decision on whether to bring those charges is “imminent.”

There’s a Difference Prime Badge

As you’ve seen, CNN reports that classified documents have now been found at the home of former Vice President Mike Pence. This certainly upends the media narrative of recent weeks and probably spurred a round of guffaws at the White House. But there’s a more important issue here which reporters have done too little to explain for readers. “Classified” material covers a huge range of material, from simple briefing papers that may only barely require classification to Top Secret documents. There’s compartmented information that almost no one can see unless they have a specific need to see it.

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Some of the Big Questions about the McGonigal Case Prime Badge

I want to draw out a few points I mentioned last night about the arrest of Charles McGonigal. When I first heard about the indictments, I understood them to be one (D.C.) that dealt with events while McGonigal still worked at the FBI and one (New York) that dealt with events after he worked at the FBI. But as I noted last night, it’s not that clear cut. The relationship with Oleg Deripaska and a reputed former Soviet/Russian intelligence officer, Evgeny Fokin, began when McGonigal was still at the FBI.

The New York indictment is elusive about just what it’s suggesting about McGonigal and Fokin in 2018, when the former still worked at the FBI. It is also unclear about whether McGonigal was compromised by a foreign power or was simply building a relationship with Fokin and Deripaska for money he would make after he left the FBI.

Was he compromised by Russia? Or was he just compromised by Deripaska? Needless to say, there’s not necessarily a bright line separating these two scenarios.

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Some Notes on the New York FBI Agent Indictment Prime Badge

Needless to say there’s quite a lot in these indictments of former FBI counterintelligence agent Charles McGonigal et al. There are a number of points I want to note. But let me start with this one.

A fair amount of this information has been public for a long time. I was surprised to see the September 2022 Insider article on the investigation that Josh Kovensky linked in his write up. But I also found this Twitter thread from independent journalist Wendy Siegelman from December 13, 2021. She flags and discusses a November 29th, 2021 FARA filing which actually details a number of the basic relationships if not the specific crimes set forth in today’s New York indictments. Indeed, if you read the FARA filing you can easily identify a number of people in the indictment. People like “Agent-1,” for instance, who appears to be Yevgeny Fokin. I was surprised to see so much of this revealed in a FARA filing more than a year ago.

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