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Matt Shuham

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

Articles by Matt

Michelle Bachmann, the former Republican congresswoman from Minnesota with strong ties to the Evangelical Christian and Tea Party wings of the GOP, said last week that she was considering running for resigned Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) Senate seat.

Bachmann resigned from Congress amid an ethics investigation and tough re-election chances. So what’s she been up to since then?

Well, a lot, as it turns out. After leaving her government job in January 2015, Bachmann has stayed active on the conservative speaking circuit, taking on a decidedly more apocalyptic tone until President Donald Trump’s election in November 2016.

Here are a few highlights.

Obama Purposefully Destroyed America With The Iran Deal

In a Facebook post in March 2015, Bachmann compared President Barack Obama’s deal with Iran to Andreas Lubitz, a pilot who had recently deliberately flown a passenger flight into the French Alps.

With his Iran deal, Barack Obama is for the 300 million souls of the United States what Andreas Lubitz was for the 150 souls on the German Wings flight – a deranged pilot flying his entire nation into the rocks,” she wrote. “After the fact, among the smoldering remains of American cities, the shocked survivors will ask, why did he do it?”

The Apocalypse Is Coming, So Convert As Many Jews As You Can

In a November 2015 interview with Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, Bachmann reflected on a recent trip they had taken together to Israel.

“Events are speeding up so quickly right now, and we see how relevant the Bible is, and we’re reading our newspaper at the same time we’re learning about these biblical events, and it’s literally day by day by day, we’re seeing the fulfillment of scripture right in front of our eyes, even while we’re on the ground.”

“We recognize the shortness of the hour,” she added, “and that’s why we as a remnant want to be faithful in these days and do what it is that the Holy Spirit is speaking to each one of us, to be faithful in the Kingdom and to help bring in as many as we can — even among the Jews — share Jesus Christ with everyone that we possibly can because, again, He’s coming soon.”

Trump Surrogate To Evangelical Christians

Bachmann initially supported Ted Cruz’s bid to become the Republicans’ presidential nominee. But she eventually threw her support behind Trump, serving on an Evangelical advisory board the campaign put together and, according to her, advising Trump on foreign policy.

Trump, Bachmann said, understood that Americans feared “unmitigated immigration” and “radical Islam.”

And she rallied Evangelical Christians to the cause: “Believers in Jesus Christ, the believing community across the United States, statistically, will be the voting block that chooses who the next president of the United States is,” Bachmann said at the Values Voter Summit in September 2016.

“It will either be Donald Trump or it will be Hillary Clinton, one of the two,” she said. “And just like the book of Deuteronomy teaches us, ‘I have set before you life and death.’ Which will you choose?’”

Trump’s Bragging Of Assaulting Women Was ‘Bad Boy Talk’

Perhaps Bachmann’s most public moment as a Trump surrogate came in October 2016. She defended him in the wake of the “Access Hollywood” revelations, in which Trump was seen to have bragged during a television taping that he could kiss and grope women without their consent.

“This is bad boy talk, and of course that’s what [Hillary Clinton] wants everybody to talk about,” Bachmann told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, joining a chorus of committed Trump defenders dismissing the tape as “opposition research,” despite the Washington Post having published it.

She repeated the phrase elsewhere. “The Clinton campaign had to change the conversation because she had a lot of really bad news this week,” Bachmann said on CNN. “And so this 11-year-old bad boy locker room talk, this is how she wanted to do it.”

‘I Believe This Is The Last Election’

Advocating for Trump seemed to focus Bachmann’s apocalyptic flair. In September 2016, Meet the Press highlighted some alarming remarks she’d made during an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network.

“I don’t want to be melodramatic, but I do want to be truthful,” Bachmann said. “I believe without a shadow of a doubt, this is the last election. This is it.”

“This is the last election when we even have a chance to vote for somebody who will stand up for godly, moral principles,” she added separately.

Hillary Clinton, Bachmann said, would “change the demographics of the United States so no Republican will ever win again.”

Pressing For Deportations, ‘Allegiance’ From Immigrant Communities

Bachmann spent 2017 pressing the Trump administration to support the right wing policies she’d come to expect after his nationalist candidacy, often by targeting Muslims and immigrants directly.

She told the Pioneer Press in July that Trump should deport individuals “who are unwilling to bear allegiance to the United States.”

Too many people who are being afraid of being called racists, bigots, Islamophobes,” she added. “I’m not afraid of it, because what we’ve got to do is talk about the truth of the problems that are going on in Minnesota.”

“This is a failed multicultural experiment that is killing people and destroying the future of the West,” she told the far-right website World Net Daily the same month, referring to Minnesota’s large Somali population.

She asked, referring to a Somali-American police officer, Mohamed Noor, who had fatally shot 40-year-old Justine Damond, whether Noor was “acting like the Muslim religious police, maintaining strict adherence to keeping women’s bodies covered when he shot Justine? Was he acting from a cultural instinct?”

She added to WND:  “[I]t’s prudent to ask whether police officer Noor shot Justine due to a Somali/Shariah mindset.”

“Deport the 40 percent of illegal aliens who are here on visa overstays,” she argued separately in an October interview with Breitbart, adding that she would “pause” America’s refugee resettlement program, too.

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The acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Tuesday advocated for the arrest of local and state government officials who don’t cooperate with federal immigration agents.

“This is a victimization of the American community,” Thomas Homan told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto. “This isn’t the America I grew up in. We’ve got to take these sanctuary cities on. We’ve got to take them to court, and we’ve got to start charging some of these politicians with crimes.”

While there’s no strict legal definition a “sanctuary” city or state, Homan, who President Donald Trump has nominated to serve as ICE’s formal director, was responding to California’s SB54, which went into effect on Jan. 1.

The law, like many on the local level nationwide, limits police officers’ ability to detain suspected undocumented immigrants on federal agents’ behalf. The bill’s author, Senate Leader Kevin de Leon, said it would put “a large kink in Trump’s perverse and inhuman deportation machine.”

On Tuesday, Homan said that transnational drug cartels “are using this sanctuary state law as a selling point.”

“We’re going to vastly increase our enforcement footprint in the state of California,” he said. “We’re going to be all over the place, and we’re going to enforce the law without apology.”

He continued: “What I’m also doing is working with the Department of Justice. For these sanctuary cities that knowingly shield and harbor an illegal alien in their jail and don’t allow us access, that is, in my opinion, a violation of 8 U.S.C. 1324, that’s an alien smuggling statue. I’ve asked the Department of Justice to look at this. Are these sanctuary cities — Can we hold them accountable, are they violating federal law?”

“What if they do just that, what do you do?” Cavuto asked.

“I think we charge some of these sanctuary cities with violating federal law,” Homan said. “I think if they knowingly harbor and shield a known illegal alien, a public safety threat, in a jail and won’t give us access.”

He added later in the interview that the Department of Justice should withhold funding from sanctuary jurisdictions. But the federal government’s ability to act on that threat has been tied up by various courts in recent months. In November, a District Court judge in California became the latest to block enforcement of an executive order by President Donald Trump that would prevent certain federal funds from reaching sanctuary cities.

And Texas’ SB4 — which, among other things, threatened that public officials could face arrest or financial penalty for refusing to cooperate with federal immigration agents — has only partially gone into effect as a lawsuit from several Texas cities proceeds in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Homan said President Trump “absolutely” shared his position.

Watch the interview below:

H/t The Hill

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders assured reporters Tuesday that it was not the White House’s official position that the Justice Department was part of a “deep state” plotting to sabotage the Trump administration — at least, not the “entire” Justice Department.

Sanders also said the President had called for longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s arrest, despite the lack of any charges against her, because he “wants to make clear that he doesn’t feel that anyone should be above the law.”

At a press briefing Tuesday, a reporter asked about Trump’s tweet earlier in the day, in which he personally targeted Abedin and ousted FBI Director James Comey for arrest:

What did the President mean when he said the ‘Deep State Justice Department?’” ABC News’ Cecilia Vega asked. “And does this administration believe that the deep state is a real thing? That there is this shadow government out there actively plotting to sabotage him?”

“Look, the President finds some of those actions very disturbing,” Sanders said, without specifying further. “And he thinks that we need to make sure, if there is an issue that it is looked at, but if there was anything beyond that I would refer you to the Department of Justice.”

Vega pressed: “Does he believe the entire Justice Department and its more than 100,000 employees are part of this deep state?”

“Obviously, he doesn’t believe the entire Justice Department is part of that,” Sanders replied. “One of the things that the President has done is appoint Christopher Wray at the FBI because he wants to change the culture of that agency and he thinks he’s right to do that.”

“Is the President requesting that the Department of Justice investigate Huma Abedin?” Politico’s Matthew Nussbaum asked later. “How did he reach the conclusion that she should be in jail given she hasn’t been indicted or convicted of any crime?”

“Look, obviously, the facts of the case are very disturbing and I think the President wants to make clear that he doesn’t feel that anyone should be above the law,” Sanders said. “In terms of any investigation, that would be something the Department of Justice would need to decide. 

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Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s Twitter account was temporarily suspended following tweets that implied threats of violence against the media, according to multiple reports.

CNN and Business Insider’s Natasha Bertrand reported that the suspension came as a result of a tweet in which Clarke promised to punch the “LYING LIB MEDIA […] in the nose & MAKE THEM TASTE THEIR OWN BLOOD.”

“Nothing gets a bully like LYING LIB MEDIA’S attention better than to give them a taste of their own blood,” he wrote above a photoshopped image showing him in a wrestling ring, kicking the CNN logo as President Donald Trump holds “CNN” in place.

That tweet has since been deleted. CNN reported the suspension was also the result of two other tweets, also since deleted, though a number of posts referring to violence are still available on Clarke’s page.

Clarke’s anger was triggered by new reporting that the FBI had sought a warrant to search a Gmail account belonging to him, in order to investigate whether he had used his office to improperly detain a man who had shaken his head at Clarke on a plane.

In response to the stories about the warrant, Clark told reporters that federal prosecutors ultimately decided not to pursue charges against him. But Dan Black, the man who shook his head on the plane, has also sued Clarke. That suit is still pending.

Clarke is best known for the brutal conditions in his facilities — he resigned as sheriff on Aug. 31 — and for his outspoken support for Donald Trump’s presidential bid. He’d claimed over the summer last year to have been offered a position at the Department of Homeland Security, but DHS denied having offered Clarke a job and a spokesperson for the then-sheriff eventually said that Clarke had “rescinded his acceptance of the agency’s offer to join DHS as an assistant secretary.”

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President Donald Trump on Tuesday demanded that the New York Times’ new publisher enforce more positive coverage of his presidency and end the paper’s use of unnamed sources, though Trump and his administration regularly go off-record and cite unnamed sources themselves.

The Times’ new publisher, A.G. Sulzberger, formally took over the role from his father on Jan. 1. The “apology” Trump mentioned presumably refers to a November 2016 open letter to readers from the Times’ then-publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., and Executive Editor Dean Baquet. They didn’t actually apologize — though Trump characterized the letter as such — but rather asked: “Did Donald Trump’s sheer unconventionality lead us and other news outlets to underestimate his support among American voters?”

The Times responded to Trump on Tuesday by posting an existing note from its new leader:

The President recently delivered a one-sided interview with the Times’ Michael Schmidt, in which he asserted, among other things, that the media would conspire to tilt the 2020 presidential election in his favor because “[w]ithout me, the New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times.”

Trump has often cited unnamed sources to support his own claims, and during his days as a tabloid star and real estate developer called reporters pretending to be his own spokesperson — “John Miller” or “John Barron,” reporters and editors told the Washington Post — offering juicy personal news.

White House officials regularly insist on giving news outlets — including TPM — information on an off-the-record or background basis.

As recently as late December, Mother Jones’ Rebecca Leber noted, “senior administration officials” hosted a lengthy conference call with reporters in which they praised the President’s accomplishments during his first year in office. They refused, when asked, to attach their names to the praise.

This post has been updated.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Thursday that Senate Republicans would “probably move on to other issues” rather than attempting again to fully repeal Obamacare in 2018.

In an interview with NPR, McConnell said Republicans’ overhaul of the tax code — which repeals Obamacare’s crucial individual mandate, in addition to showering corporations and the wealthy in tax breaks — “takes the heart out of Obamacare.”

Without that provision, which penalized individuals who did not have health insurance and also did not qualify for a fee waiver, experts have estimated that costs on Obamacare’s individual markets will skyrocket, especially for those with higher medical expenses. The Congressional Budget Office estimated in November that repealing the individual mandate would leave 13 million more people uninsured by 2027 compared to the status quo.

“We obviously were unable to completely repeal and replace with a 52-48 Senate,” McConnell said, before referring to the election of Sen.-elect Doug Jones (D-AL) earlier this month. “We’ll have to take a look at what that looks like with a 51-49 Senate. But I think we’ll probably move on to other issues.”

Separately, the majority leader said “[w]e want to steady the insurance markets if we can … and I think we’ll probably be addressing that part of healthcare sometime next year.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) originally conditioned her vote in support of Republicans’ tax bill on three provisions to stabilize the insurance market: First, temporarily restoring subsidies to insurance companies ended earlier this year by President Donald Trump; second, establishing a temporary national reinsurance program; and third, preventing deep cuts to Medicare triggered by the tax bill’s huge expense. 

She eventually settled for McConnell and Trump’s promised future support for the measures, though House Republicans have said the first two are dead on arrival. The House voted Thursday to avoid the Medicare cuts by including a waiver for the Pay-As-You-Go Act, or PAYGO, in the continuing resolution they approved to fund the government. 

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reiterated Thursday that President Donald Trump had no intention of firing special counsel Robert Mueller, whose investigation she called a “hoax.”

In an interview on Fox News, host Bill Hemmer asked about a remark from Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, who said Wednesday from the Senate floor that Trump removing Mueller, shutting down his investigation or pardoning “key witnesses”  would be “a gross abuse of power and a flagrant violation of executive branch responsibilities and authorities.”

“I want to be very clear and make sure that I address Sen. Warner’s concern for the one thousandth time,” Sanders began.

“We have no intentions of firing Bob Mueller. We are continuing to work closely and cooperate with him. We look forward to seeing this hoax wrap up very soon.”

“We think that it is just further evidence that the Democrats have no plan,” she continued. “They have no agenda. They have nothing to talk about other than attacking this President.”

Hemmer also asked about Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who joined some Republicans Thursday in positing — based on anti-Trump text messages that one of Mueller’s former investigators sent an FBI lawyer, though some texts were critical of Democrats, too — that officials in the intelligence community and the Obama administration could have conspired in attempt to prevent Trump from winning the presidency.

“We’ve had this investigation about Russian collusion, maybe we need an investigation about high-ranking Obama officials colluding to try to prevent Trump from being president,” Paul said. “That’s more serious than even Watergate.”

“I think it’s something that certainly should be looked at,” Sanders said, responding to Hemmer characterizing Paul’s position. She added later: “The senator, if he feels that there is something to be looked at, we absolutely should be looking at that.”

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President Donald Trump on Thursday congratulated the hosts of “Fox and Friends” for being named the most influential people in media in 2017 by the website Mediaite.

“Fox and Friends'”s “formula for success” may be hard to emulate: Mediate said the show’s hosts had won the top spot because “[t]he President of the United States regularly starts his day watching Fox & Friends and then tweets about whatever they cover, and however, they cover it.”

“He promotes their show, tags them by name, and sings their praises,” the write-up continued. “That alone makes Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade, and Ainsley Earhardt three of the most influential media people not just in the United States, but in the entire world.”

Perhaps proving the website’s point, Trump tweeted about the award 40 minutes after White House adviser Kellyanne Conway brought it up in an interview with the “Fox and Friends” crew Thursday morning.

“I have to take a point of personal privilege, folks, and congratulate you,” Conway said around 7:05 a.m. ET. “I don’t know if you’re too humble to tell your viewers.”

“We have not mentioned this,” Steve Doocey said.

“I have to do it, I’m sorry,” Conway continued. “Roll the tape, please, the three of you were ranked the number one most influential media figures, number one on the list.”

“Influence and impact are important because we’re just trying to get our message out here, and we appreciate the platform,” she added. “Even though you’re very tough.”

“That was from Mediaite,” Doocey clarified.”

Trump has claimed he doesn’t have time to watch TV, despite reports on his insatiable consumption of cable news. The New York Times reported recently that Trump’s mornings generally begin with TV, and that the President watches hours of news a day.

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A spokesperson for Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) told TPM on Wednesday that Franken plans to resign on Jan. 2.

Sen.-designate Tina Smith (D-MN) is scheduled to be sworn in on Jan. 3, the spokesperson said. 

Franken, who announced on Dec. 7 that he would resign from his office in the face of multiple allegations of unwanted kissing and groping, said earlier Wednesday that he would “leave the Senate in a few weeks.”

“When I leave the Senate in a few weeks, I will continue trying to be an educated citizen and an advocate and an activist,” Franken said from the Senate floor, before detailing a series of speeches on policy issues he’ll deliver before his departure.

Some Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) have said they think Franken’s departure is premature, given a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into his conduct announced on Nov. 30. 

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Several racial justice, social justice and other advocacy groups wrote to Sen.-elect Doug Jones (D-AL) Tuesday urging him to interview and hire people of color to staff his Senate office, especially in senior positions.

Jones was elected in a shocking upset over Republican Roy Moore on Dec. 12 to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat, in large part due to incredibly high turnout among African American voters.

Seventeen groups, including the NAACP and the National Urban League, asked Jones “to commit to making diversity a priority in hiring by doing the following:

1. Embrace the Rooney Rule and interview at least one person of color for every senior position in your office;

2. Commit to hiring diverse candidates throughout your offices to ensure that the demographics of your office reflect the demographics of Alabama and America;

3. Commit to hiring at least one person of color for a senior staff position in your Washington office, defined as chief of staff, legislative director, and communications director.”

The letter cited a study from one of its signatories, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which found that just 7.1 percent of senior Senate staffers — as defined in the third point above, plus the role of committee staff director — were people of color.

The Washington Post, which reported on the letter, published a statement from Jones in which he said he is “absolutely committed to having a diverse staff including in top posts in my Senate office. I plan to hire a diverse staff that reflects the people of Alabama.”

The Post noted that minority leaders in both chambers of Congress, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), have asked their caucuses to follow the so-called Rooney Rule, named for the late Dan Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who promoted the practice for hiring coaching and management positions in the NFL.

H/t Washington Post.

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