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 and on Twitter @mattshuham.

Articles by Matt

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but DHS denied having offered Clarke a job and a spokesperson for the then-sheriff eventually said that Clarke had “rescinded his acceptance of the agency’s offer to join DHS as an assistant secretary.”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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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said Wednesday that “nobody knows” if Republicans’ tax bill, which would overwhelmingly benefit corporations and the wealthy while adding more than $1.4 trillion to the deficit, would pay for itself.

“Are you saying that the growth you’re going to get from this tax cut will equal the amount it would cost on the deficit side, so that it’s a wash?” Savannah Guthrie asked Ryan in an interview Wednesday. 

“Nobody knows the answer to that question, because that’s in the future,” Ryan said. “But what we do know is that this will increase economic growth.”

The CBO estimated in late November that the tax bill would add more than $1.4 trillion to the deficit over 10 years.

Ryan also said, incorrectly, that “every study under the sun” showed that Republicans’ tax bill would spur economic growth.

He specifically cited surveys from the National Association of Manufacturers, an advocacy group, which he said showed “the vast majority of businesses are going to do just what we say: reinvest in their workers, reinvest in their factories, pay people more money, higher wages.”

The question of higher wages, Ryan said, was not a question of “if” but “how much.”

He was responding to an op-ed from Michael Bloomberg, cited by Guthrie, which read: “It’s pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth.”

In fact — as highlighted by an embarrassing video from a Wall Street Journal event for CEOs but also in a survey from a Bank of America Merrill Lynch strategist John Shin, reported in Bloomberg in November — corporations will likely use their massive tax windfalls to pay down debts and buy back shares, boosting their stock prices and pleasing investors.

You can point to these anecdotes, but I will just tell you, every study under the sun shows us, you lower the tax rates, make us more competitive, you will see faster economic growth in America,” Ryan responded to that criticism.

The National Association of Manufacturers’ survey, incidentally, allowed respondents to choose more than one answer for what they would do with their saved tax dollars, including “increase capital spending,” “expand your business” and “hire more workers.” “Buy back shares” wasn’t an option.

Several of America’s largest corporations — including what would be the tax bill’s largest beneficiary, Apple — have not indicated they intend to expand their hiring or raise wages as a result of the tax bill’s likely passage.

Ryan noted separately that, in addition to Republicans’ tax cut bill, “we’ve got to control our spending. That, we have more work to do.”

“We clearly have to go after spending control.”

Watch below via NBC:

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The chairmen of the House committees on government reform and the judiciary wrote to the Department of Justice on Tuesday demanding that three FBI officials be made available for interviews.

Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Chief of Staff Jim Rybicki and counsel Lisa Page should be available for interviews starting Thursday, the letter said.

Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) (pictured above) and Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the leaders of the Judiciary and Government Reform committees, respectively, wrote: “Among other things, the Committees are investigating the circumstances surrounding the FBI’s decision to publicly announce the investigation into former Secretary Clinton’s handling of classified information, but not to publicly announce the investigation into campaign associates of then-candidate Donald Trump; the FBI’s decision to notify Congress by letter of the status of the investigation both in October and November of 2016; the FBI’s decision to appropriate from DOJ the decision-making authority with respect to charging or not charging former Secretary Clinton; and the FBI’s timeline with respect to charging decisions.” (Read the full letter below.)

Politico, which wrote about the letter Tuesday, reported that some unnamed Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have said that Goodlatte promised to subpoena the officials if they refuse to voluntarily testify.

Republicans recently obtained hundreds of text messages between Page and a now-former member of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team, Peter Strzok, some of which were critical of Trump (and others of Democratic politicians). Democrats have separately called for an investigation into the release of the text messages.

McCabe, the FBI’s deputy director, testified before the House Intelligence Committee for at least seven hours Tuesday, CNN reported. Some Republicans have charged that he has shown bias in that position because his wife, Jill McCabe, ran for Virginia state senate in 2015 and received financial support from a political action committee associated with then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), a Clinton ally.

Read the letter below:

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday dodged questions about how Republicans’ tax bill would benefit the richest Americans, including President Donald Trump himself.

Trump stands to gain from a variety of provisions in the bill, including its lowered top tax rate, doubled estate tax exemption and rate cut for pass through businesses.

The carried interest loophole, which allows hedge fund managers to earn fees at a much lower tax rate than normal income, is something “the President promised again and again and again to close,” Fox News’ John Roberts said during a press briefing Tuesday. “Why did the President not insist on getting rid of that?” he asked.

“Look, the President was focused and he laid out what his four biggest principles were, that he wanted to make sure we are part of any piece of legislation,” Sanders responded. “We feel that the piece of legislation, where it is now, certainly answered and addressed that. That has been our focus all along, and what we’ve continued to talk about consistently here and every time we’ve talked about taxes.”

“The President has said that this tax bill is going to cost him a fortune, it’s actually not the case,” ABC News’ Cecilia Vega said. “How does he figure this is going to cost him a lot of money?”

“Look, we expect that it likely will, certainly on the personal side, could cost the President a lot of money,” Sanders said, making a claim for which the White House has offered no evidence, including releasing the President’s tax returns.

“Again, the President’s focus hasn’t necessarily been at all on himself,” she added.

Vega pressed: “But he stands to benefit from pass through deductions, top rate tax deduction, estate tax exemption has doubled, he’s going to make money on that?”

“Again, this is a tax plan that we hope benefits all Americans,” Sanders said. “Priority number one is middle class Americans. That has been this administration’s focus. We feel like that is certainly addressed.”

Later, a reporter returned to Roberts’ question: “How is keeping the carried interest loophole, or at least a portion of it, good for the middle class?”  

Sanders didn’t answer.

“Look, the big priorities we had, I’ll go back, were ‘make it easy,’ ‘make it fair,’ ‘win again,’ and ‘bring it home.’ We feel like this tax legislation certainly does that.”

When a reporter pressed later on Vega’s line of question — that Sanders didn’t “disagree” that Trump will benefit — the press secretary let slip some acknowledgement that he would.

“I said that in some ways, particularly on the personal side, the President will likely take a big hit,” she said. “But on the business hit he could benefit, but the biggest focus for this White House has been to make sure all Americans are better off today after this tax package passes than they were beforehand.”

CNN’s Jim Acosta tried once more as the briefing ended.

“The President did say that this tax cut bill would cost him a fortune. That was false, right?”

“No, because on the personal side this actually could impact the President in a large way,” Sanders replied.

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