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A Few More Notes on Israel and Iran

Let me return to add a few more thoughts on what happened between Israel and Iran. Iran launched a massive fusillade of drones and missiles, but virtually none of them got through. A few days later Israel retaliated with a much smaller volley, which was apparently just a handful of drones that were launched from aircraft just outside of Iranian airspace. They were targeted at Isfahan, which is where Iran’s nuclear facilities are located, but were aimed apparently at a drone factory there. Iran not only hasn’t responded but has mostly pretended that it didn’t even happen, at least for domestic audiences. So Israel responded but at least for now they seem to have been able to do so and have the Iranians call things even.

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Is A Republic Possible?

I hope you get a chance to read Josh Kovensky’s trial report from yesterday. He gets at a really good point which is that Trump’s attack on the very concept of the jury system is of a piece with the central conceit of Trumpism — that civic space, the idea that work on behalf of the republic which is not strictly a partisan exercise, is an impossibility. That is narrowly advantageous for Trump since he’s on trial and wants to discredit the process that could put him behind bars. But it’s not a momentary opportunism. It’s a premise, an attack on small-r republican government, which is at the center of his movement.

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Is It the Simplest Explanation?

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I’ve been having an ongoing exchange with a TPM Reader and friend about the simple question: Why is Mike Johnson doing this? Like YOLO Johnson, sure. But why? He’s been kind of dragging along for six months and yeah, it’s kind of embarrassing, but it’s always been embarrassing. Why the “Let’s Be Legends” vibe now?

My friend asked if I thought it might be some sudden shift in the intelligence about the situation in Ukraine. Maybe, I said. But that didn’t seem right to me. Far more likely it was that the parliamentary dynamics simply hit a breaking point, perhaps spurred on by the sudden pressure to move Israel aid. If you’ve got one foot on the dock and another on the ship and the ship starts to pull off you have to make a choice. Stay or go. Equivocate and you fall in the water.

But this article from Politico suggests that new intelligence actually did play a key role.


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Israeli Retaliation Underway

12:57 a.m.: It’s hard to know the precise significance of Israel’s retaliatory strike or how Iran might respond. So far Iran seems to be downplaying the attack internally, basically saying it was no big deal and showing video of Isfahan as if nothing was going on. And the attack does seem to have been fairly limited. But what jumps out is that the Israeli drones or at least most of them were able to hit deep within Iran without much problem. I assume that was the message of the strike: that Israel can strike deep within Iran basically at will, unlike Iran’s experience having virtually every one of its missiles and drones shot down. The Israeli target was a drone facility Isfahan. But that’s also where Iran’s nuclear facilities are, which were not targeted. As best I can tell, that’s the message: our missiles and drones get through.

10:55 p.m.: Unclear what’s happening yet. But there is clearly a major Israeli retaliation underway over the skies in Iran. Flights are being diverted. Airspace closed. Here’s the list I’m watching on Twitter if you’re still on Twitter. CNN says the attack is on non-nuclear targets. Presumably they are getting that directly from the Israelis or what the Israelis told the Americans. Apparently the Israelis gave the U.S. a significant heads up that this was coming.

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Listen To This: Trump V. Manhattan

A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is live! This week, Kate and Josh discuss the beginning of the New York hush money trial, arguments at the Supreme Court that could affect a different Trump trial and Mike Johnson’s newest woes.

You can listen to the new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast here.

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House Installs New Speaker: YOLO Johnson

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House Installs New Speaker: YOLO Johnson

I don’t pretend to even understand the moving parts of how this is supposed to work. But almost out of the blue Speaker Mike Johnson has decided to go all-in on an aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. As this started to come into view over the last two or three days, I’ve had a number of TPM Readers write in to say, why is this happening? What’s the catch? Or, why is he walking the plank like this? What is he sacrificing his Speakership for? And I don’t have a really good answer.

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Candidate in the Dock in the Final Stretch

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Candidate in the Dock in the Final Stretch

Now that we’re getting a view of the dynamics of Donald Trump on trial — not indicted, not awaiting trial, not the first of this or that, but actually on trial — with the requirement to be there and, well, be on trial, it’s worth revisiting where we may be this fall. As we know, SCOTUS decided to do Donald Trump a massive solid by first refusing to take up Trump’s immunity appeal without it first being heard by the DC circuit court. Then they really piled on the favors by agreeing to take up the case in full after the circuit court emphatically shot it down. SCOTUS oral arguments are next Thursday and realistically we may not get a decision until June or July. That puts the beginning of the trial in late summer at the earliest and quite possibly into September.

Set aside for the moment that the appeal itself is baseless and out of sync with American law, and that few think there’s any chance of Trump actually getting any relief even from this Supreme Court. It’s been treated as a scandal that the Court has taken upon itself to delay the trial anyway from four to six months. It very much is a scandal and not one that can be explained by any sort of apolitical weddedness to procedure or practice. But sometimes getting what you want may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

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The Dominating and The Dominated

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The Dominating and The Dominated

Commentators have been going for months debating the merits of the New York/“hush money” prosecution of Donald Trump. Is it “serious”? Is it serious enough? How does it match up against the three other criminal prosecutions still looming over him? Does it lower the average level of seriousness when the independent seriousness of each is added together and divided by four? In the most general sense the entire conversation is an example of what we might call the Trump Reality Distortion Vortex. One of Trump’s great powers is that he is like a heavy magnet of distorted thinking. When he comes into proximity people start thinking stupid things, asking stupid questions. What opinion should we, who are not prosecutors, have toward a chronic lawbreaker who is charged with breaking the laws he broke? Will it make him stronger? Were the laws broken enough?

On the simplest level the first question has always seemed easy to me. People don’t just go to jail for crimes like this. One of Trump’s accomplices literally already went to jail for this specific crime. Indeed, he did so on charges brought by the Trump Justice Department. That speaks for itself.

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INSIDE ….

Finally, Supreme Court Will Weigh In On Big Trump Case

  • Kate Riga previews what to expect ahead of the SCOTUS ruling on Donald Trump’s attempt to knock out the whole Jan. 6 case on the basis of his supposed presidential immunity, coming next week.

Constitutional Sheriffs Are Back And Ready To Do Trump’s Election Disruption Bidding

  • TPM reporter Khaya Himmelman attended a livestream of the Constitutional Sheriff movement’s latest elections event — focused on how exactly they intend to disrupt things in 2024 — so you didn’t have to. 

General Flynn’s Magical History Tour

  • Hunter Walker checks in on Michael Flynn during his “Deep State Wall” tour.

Bunga Bunga

  • After the former Italian prime minister was mentioned by a prospective Trump trial juror this week, TPM’s publisher Joe Ragazzo explains why “Loro,” an Italian film about Silvio Berlusconi, explains the Trump approach to politics better than any American media.

PODCAST

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Ep. 320: Trump v. Manhattan

Kate and Josh discuss the beginning of the New York hush money trial, arguments at the Supreme Court that could affect a different Trump trial and Mike Johnson’s newest woes.

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