Matt Shuham

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously associate editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at and on Twitter @mattshuham.

Articles by Matt

Former FBI Director James Comey “deviated” “clearly and dramatically” from FBI and Department of Justice norms during his probe of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, the Justice Department inspector general found according to an excerpt published by Bloomberg.

Bloomberg obtained a copy of Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s highly anticipated report on DOJ and FBI activity before the 2016 election.

One passage published by the outlet reads:

“While we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on Comey’s part, we nevertheless concluded that by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice.”

Read More →

An undocumented Honduran woman says her children was taken from her in the middle of breastfeeding, an attorney who’d spoken to the woman told CNN.

The woman, whom CNN did not name, told attorney Natalia Cornelio of the Texas Civil Rights Project that she was subsequently handcuffed after resisting. The Honduran woman had been detained and placed into criminal proceedings as part of the Trump administration’s new policy of criminally prosecuting anyone caught illegally crossing the border.

Because children cannot be held in criminal detention, the new policy necessitates the separation of children from their parents.

A public defender for the Southern District of Texas in McAllen told CNN that, according to an unofficial count in his office, roughly 500 children have been separated from their parents since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the new policy last month.

Read More →

Republican Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) said Wednesday that he wants to talk to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt about his management of the agency.

The Washington Post reported the news following an interview with the senator.

Inhofe said he planned on asking Pruitt about his “spending and management decisions,” in the paper’s words. Earlier Wednesday, the Post reported that Pruitt had a top aide contact Republican donors to help look for jobs for his wife Marlyn.

Pruitt, Inhofe told the Post, would be “in a very awkward position not to answer to me, and to answer me truthfully.”

Despite telling conservative radio host Laura Ingraham earlier Wednesday that one option for Pruitt would be “for him to leave that job,” if he doesn’t get his act together, the paper noted, Inhofe held back on calling for Pruitt’s resignation.

“I’m keeping my powder dry until I talk to him, which would be Monday at the very latest,” the senator told the Post.

Inhofe also told Ingraham that Andrew Wheeler, the former coal lobbyist and current deputy EPA administrator, “might be a good swap” for Pruitt, telegraphing his unhappiness with his fellow Oklahoman.

“I would say this, that there’s a guy behind him, Andrew Wheeler, who’s really qualified, too, so you know we could, that might be a good swap,” Inhofe said.

Read More →

A Republican state representative in Arizona earlier this week lamented that “there aren’t enough white kids to go around” in public schools in the state.

Sixty percent of public school children in the state of Arizona today are minorities,” freshman state Rep. David Stringer told the Yavapai County Republican Men’s Forum on Monday, according to video posted online Tuesday night by David Schapira, a Democratic candidate for superintendent of public instruction in the state. 

“That complicates racial integration because there aren’t enough white kids to go around,” Stringer said.

The Phoenix New Times picked up the story on Wednesday. Though the video was apparently originally published on Stringer’s Facebook page, it’s since been removed.

According to a 2016 campaign website, Stringer is “currently enrolled in a graduate program at Arizona State University leading to a Masters Degree in teaching English as a Second Language to Arizona’s large non-English speaking population.”

Stringer didn’t get any better as he went on. The New Times transcribed his comments: 

Sixty percent of public school children in the state of Arizona today are minorities. That complicates racial integration because there aren’t enough white kids to go around. And when you look at that 60 percent number for public school students, just carry that forward 10 or 15 years. It’s going to change the demographic voting base of this state. And that’s what’s going on around the country. Immigration is politically destabilizing. President Trump has talked about this. Immigration today represents an existential threat to the United States. If we don’t do something about immigration very, very soon, the demographics of our country will be irrevocably changed and we will be a very different country. It will not be the country you were born into. 

Stringer’s office told TPM he’s not giving interviews about the remark but said the representative would be posting a statement on his Facebook page sometime this afternoon.

Watch Stringer’s comments below, via Schapira:

Read More →

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) retweeted a neo-Nazi on Tuesday morning. He has faced no consequences for the tweet, and the leaders of his party have so far remained silent.

Mark Collett, whom King retweeted, isn’t quiet about his beliefs. According to HuffPost, he’s called himself a Nazi sympathizer, expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and was the subject of the 2002 documentary “Young, Nazi and Proud.”

A year ago, he joined former KKK grand wizard David Duke for an hour-long discussion on, per Duke’s website, “the massive violence that continues to be inflicted on the world by the Jewish dominated left.”

Last month, Duke joined Collett for the 50th episode of a YouTube chat show Collett hosts, “This Week on the Alt Right.” Collett addressed Duke’s critics on the show: “Are they going to sacrifice everything to try and save their race, like David Duke has? Because that is the measure of a great man.” In 2016, according to a Daily Mail report, Collett campaigned for Brexit in the UK alongside his swastika-tattooed girlfriend, Eva Van Housen.

And yet the Republican Party maintained its silence Wednesday: TPM’s requests for comment to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the National Republican Campaign Committee and the Republican National Committee all went unanswered. None have commented publicly on King’s retweet. King’s office did not respond to TPM’s questions.

The amplification of a neo-Nazi is the latest in a years-long stream of similar actions from the Iowa congressman. In December, he tweeted “Diversity is not our strength” and attributed a quote to the right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban: “Mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but a lower one.” Following President Donald Trump’s January State of the Union address, King told TPM “the Congressional Black Caucus took a knee nearly all night.”

In March of last year, King was able to garner a rare response from his Republican colleagues when he tweeted “[Anti-muslim Dutch politician Geert] Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

“I don’t think that statement reflects what is special about this country,” Speaker Ryan responded the following night in an interview with Fox News’ Brett Baier. He added, though: “I would like to think — and I haven’t spoke to Steve about this — I would like to think he misspoke, and it wasn’t meant the way it sounds, and I hope he’s clarified that.”

Nope: Hours earlier, King had stood by his comments in an interview with CNN.

Three days later, King told The Hill: “My colleagues have generally been coming by and patting me on the back. And a surprising number have said that they pray for me. And, meaning they support me and they agree with me, a surprising number.”

Read More →

The Department of Health and Human Services is considering building tent cities to temporarily house migrant children, McClatchy reported Tuesday, at least one of which would have the capacity to house between 1,000 and 5,000 children.

HHS is responsible for taking temporary custody of so-called “unaccompanied alien children,” when either they cross into the United States without their parents, or, in accordance with a new Trump administration policy, they are separated from their parents.

In the coming weeks, unnamed officials told McClatchy, HHS will visit Fort Bliss, an Army base near El Paso, to inspect one possible location for a tent city. Several outlets reported last month that HHS was considering housing migrant children on military bases, as it did in briefly in 2014.

Unnamed HHS officials confirmed to McClatchy, in the publication’s words, “that they’re looking at the Fort Bliss site along with Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene and Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo for potential use as temporary shelters.”

The report noted that HHS’ shelters for undocumented immigrant children are 95 percent full; 10,000 children are currently in HHS custody as they wait to be paired with sponsors with whom they’ll live as their cases proceed.

Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new policy of criminally prosecuting everyone caught crossing the border illegally. Because children cannot be put into criminal detention facilities, the new policy requires that the government separate children from their parents. 

Read More →

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein plans to call on the House to investigate the conduct of House Intelligence Committee staffers, CNN and Fox News reported Tuesday.

The second-ranking Justice Department official will “request that the House general counsel conduct an internal investigation of these Congressional staffers’ conduct,” both outlets reported, both citing an unnamed Department of Justice official.

“The Deputy Attorney General never threatened anyone in the room with a criminal investigation,” the official added, apparently citing what House Intelligence Committee staffers said felt like a “personal attack” from Rosenstein, as reported by Fox News Tuesday, during a meeting earlier this year.

“The Deputy Attorney General was making the point — after being threatened with contempt — that as an American citizen charged with the offense of contempt of Congress, he would have the right to defend himself, including requesting production of relevant emails and text messages and calling them as witnesses to demonstrate that their allegations are false,” a DOJ official said in identical statements to CNN and Fox News. “That is why he put them on notice to retain relevant emails and text messages, and he hopes they did so.”

Read More →

A career Department of Justice attorney resigned the morning after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the DOJ would refuse to defend Obamacare against a 20-state lawsuit, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Joel McElvain, the Post reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, submitted his resignation Friday. An unnamed DOJ spokesperson told the paper the resignation would take affect in early July. 

After Republicans in Congress repealed Obamacare’s individual mandate, 20 GOP-controlled states sued over the law, saying it was unconstitutional as a result of the mandate’s repeal. 

Just before 6 p.m. Thursday — shortly before Sessions’ announcement — McElvain and two other career DOJ attorneys withdrew from the lawsuit. A DOJ spokesperson told TPM the attorney shake-up was due to “personnel issues.”

McElvain submitted his resignation the next morning, the Post said.

In deciding not to uphold the law, the Trump administration had determined its “dislike for the Affordable Care Act outweighed its respect for the rule of law,” University of Michigan law professor Nicholas Bagley told USA Today last week.

Read More →

Following his summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un Tuesday, President Donald Trump told reporters that he had shown Kim a bizarre fake movie trailer promoting the restoration of normal diplomatic relations between North Korea and the rest of the world.

Seven billion people inhabit planet Earth,” began the trailer, which the White House played for reporters before Trump answered their questions. “Of those alive today, only a small number will leave a lasting impact. And only the very few will make decisions or take actions that renew their homeland and change the course of history.” (Watch and read a transcript of the trailer below.)

Trump said he’d shown Kim “that tape” in an effort to convince him that opening up North Korea to international investment would be worth it. 

“They have great beaches,” the President said. “You see that whenever they are exploding the cannons in the ocean.”

“I said, boy, look at that view. That would make a great condo. I explained it.”

At one point, the trailer even shouts out a production company: “Destiny Pictures presents a story of opportunity: A new story, a new beginning, one of peace.”

But the man behind a real Hollywood production company that shares the same name, Mark Castaldo, told TPM he had nothing to do with it: “We had no involvement in the video,” he said in an email. He separately told The Blast: “It’s not something I would have done or wanted to have been a part of.”

According to his biography on, Castaldo “began a professional career in the casino business working 10 years as a croupier in Atlantic City and Las Vegas” before relocating to Los Angeles, “where he currently resides to pursue his passion of telling stories.”

TPM has reached out to the White House for comment.

“[Kim] looked at that tape, he looked at that iPad, and I’m telling you they really enjoyed it, I believe,” Trump said. “Okay?

The trailer’s narration contains no less than 17 open-ended questions, including buzz about a “sequel” to the Korean War. 

“What if a people that share a common and rich heritage can find a common future?” the narrator reads. “Their story is well known, but what will be their sequel?” 

Watch (via the Guardian) and read a transcript of the trailer below:

Seven billion people inhabit planet Earth. Of those alive today, only a small number will leave a lasting impact, and only the very few will make decisions or take actions that renew their homeland and change the course of history.

History may appear to repeat itself for generations—cycles that never seem to end. There have been times of relative peace and times of great tension. While this cycle repeats, the light of prosperity and innovation has burned bright for most of the world. History is always evolving, and there comes a time when only a few are called upon to make a difference. But the question is, what difference will the few make? The past doesn’t have to be the future. Out of the darkness can come the light. And the light of hope can burn bright.

What if a people that share a common and rich heritage can find a common future? Their story is well known, but what will be their sequel?

Destiny Pictures presents a story of opportunity: A new story, a new beginning, one of peace. Two men, two leaders, one destiny. A story about a special moment in time, when a man is presented with one chance which may never be repeated. What will he choose? To show vision and leadership? Or not?

There can only be two results. One of moving back, or one of moving forward. A new world can begin today, one of friendship, respect, and goodwill. Be part of that world, where the doors of opportunity are ready to be opened—investment from around the world, where you can have medical breakthroughs, an abundance of resources, innovative technology, and new discoveries.

What if? Can history be changed? Will the world embrace this change? And when could this moment in history begin? It comes down to a choice. On this day. In this time. At this moment. The world will be watching, listening, anticipating, hoping. Will this leader choose to advance his country and be part of a new world? Be the hero of his people? Will he shake the hand of peace and enjoy prosperity like he has never seen? A great life or more isolation? Which path will be chosen?

Featuring President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un in a meeting to remake history. To shine in the sun. One moment, one choice, what if? The future remains to be written.

This post has been updated.

Read More →

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday congratulated President Donald Trump on the “major step” he took in meeting with North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un in Singapore. But, speaking from the Senate floor, McConnell hedged any optimism about the summit.

“Resolving this 65-year-old international challenge will take a great deal of hard work,” the Senate leader said.

“I support the goals contained in the joint statement, and I remain supportive of the administration’s stated position,” he added, of “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Should North Korea “not prove willing to follow through,” he said, “we and our allies must be prepared to restore the policy of maximum pressure.”

“Today I congratulate the President on this major step, and share his hope that it will begin a process that leads to an historic peace.”

Earlier Tuesday, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) tweeted an article detailing Kim’s human rights abuses, as “a reminder of who we are dealing with.”

Read More →