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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

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that revelations that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee partly funded the creation of a research dossier against him “a very sad commentary on politics in this country.”

The dossier, parts of which have reportedly been corroborated by the intelligence community, was created by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele. He had been paid by Marc Elias, an attorney representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, the Washington Post reported Tuesday. The work had previously been funded by Republican sources.

“Well, I think it’s very sad what they’ve done with this fake dossier,” Trump told reporters before boarding Marine One. “It was made up. And I understand they paid a tremendous amount of money. And Hillary Clinton always denied it. The Democrats always denied it.”

Trump alleged that “only because it’s going to come out in a court case, they said yes, they did it, they admitted it.”

“And they’re embarrassed by it,” he continued. “But I think it’s a disgrace. It’s just really — it’s a very sad commentary on politics in this country.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday evening called the Post’s reporting “the real Russia scandal,” and Trump quoted Fox News commentary on the Washington’s Post’s reporting early Wednesday.

Multiple sources told the Post it was “standard practice for political campaigns to use law firms to hire outside researchers to ensure their work is protected by attorney-client and work-product privileges.”

Later, Trump told the assembled reporters near his helicopter, referring to the continued investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, “This was the Democrats coming up with an excuse for losing an election.”

“They lost it by a lot,” he added later. “They didn’t know what to say, so they made up the whole Russia hoax. Now it’s turning out that the hoax has turned around and you look at what’s happened with Russia and you look at the uranium deal and you look at the fake dossier. So that’s all turned around.”

Trump also suggested he had a hunch about who was originally behind the dossier.

“Well, they say it began with the Republicans. I think I would know but I won’t say. It will be determined. It will be determined,” Trump said of the Republican originator of the research funding, adding: “It might have starred with the Republicans early on in the primaries. I think I would know but let’s find out who it is. I’m sure that will come out.”

“I have one name in mind,” he said. “It will probably be revealed.”

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The Interior Department has proposed raising entrance fees at 17 of what it called “highly visited national parks” — including Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park and others — only two years after a similar increase in fees at parks across the country.

The proposed increase, for which the department announced a 30-day comment period on Tuesday, was flagged by CNN on Wednesday.

According to a fact sheet published by the department, annual park pass prices would increase to $75 at the 17 parks, up from $35-$60 currently.

The increases would also create so-called “peak season” prices at the 17 parks, a five-month period during which per-person entrance fees would rise to $30, up from $10-$15 currently, and per-vehicle fees would increase to $70, up from $25-$30.

The $80 annual pass that permits entrance into all federal parks would keep the same price tag.

The department said the fee increases would likely raise entrance fee revenue from $199.9 million to $268.5 million annually. “80% of the money will remain in the park where it is collected,” its fact sheet noted. “The other 20% will be spent on projects in other national parks.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told CNN: “The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration.”

The department did not respond to TPM’s questions.

Interestingly, Zinke supported a White House budget over the summer that would have cut his department’s budget by roughly $1.6 billion, saying “this is what a balanced budget looks like.”

Theresa Pierno, the CEO of advocacy group National Parks Conservation Association, told CNN on Wednesday: “The administration just proposed a major cut to the National Park Service budget even as parks struggle with billions of dollars in needed repairs.”

Admission prices at certain national parks across the country increased in 2015 after a six-year moratorium on fee increases, PBS reported at the time.

On Tuesday, Zinke also bragged in a press release of the “largest oil & gas lease sale in U.S. history”: “76,967,935 acres in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.” A counselor to Zinke, Vincent DeVito, acknowledged in July that the department was “aggressively” cutting regulations on private industry in order to generate revenue. 

Read the Interior Department’s fact sheet on proposed fee increases below, and submit comment on the increases by Nov. 23 here. Mail written comments to: National Park Service, Recreation Fee Program, 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346 Washington, DC 20240. 

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A spokesperson for President George H.W. Bush apologized to actress Heather Lind on Wednesday, responding to allegations from Lind that Bush sexually assaulted her four years ago.

“President Bush would never — under any circumstance — intentionally cause anyone distress, and he most sincerely apologizes if his attempt at humor offended Ms. Lind,” Jim McGrath, a spokesperson for Bush, told USA Today. McGrath did not respond to TPM’s questions about what “attempt at humor” was in reference to.

In an Instagram post on Tuesday, which she has since deleted, Lind referred to a recent photo of all living former Presidents at a benefit event for disaster relief.

Lind said the photo “disturbed” her, because, “when I got the chance to meet George H. W. Bush four years ago to promote a historical television show I was working on, he sexually assaulted me while I was posing for a similar photo.”

The actress wrote that Bush didn’t shake her hand, but rather “touched me from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side. He told me a dirty joke. And then, all the while being photographed, touched me again.”

Former fist lady Barbara Bush, Lind said, “rolled her eyes as if to say ‘not again,’” and Bush’s security guard “told me I shouldn’t have stood next to him for the photo.”

Read Lind’s full Instagram Post below, based on screenshots published by AOL and the Daily Mail:

I was disturbed today by a photo I saw of President Barack Obama shaking hands with George H. W. Bush in a gathering of ex-presidents organizing aid to states and territories damaged by recent hurricanes. I found it disturbing because I recognize the respect ex-presidents are given for having served. And I feel pride and reverence toward many of the men in the photo. But when I got the chance to meet George H. W. Bush four years ago to promote a historical television show I was working on, he sexually assaulted me while I was posing for a similar photo. He didn’t shake my hand. He touched me from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side. He told me a dirty joke. And then, all the while being photographed, touched me again. Barbara rolled her eyes as if to say “not again”. His security guard told me I shouldn’t have stood next to him for the photo. We were instructed to call him Mr. President. It seems to me a President’s power is in his or her capacity to enact positive change, actually help people, and serve as a symbol of our democracy. He relinquished that power when he used it against me and, judging from the comments of those around him, countless other women before me. What comforts me is that I too can use my power, which isn’t so different from a President really. I can enact positive change. I can actually help people. I can be a symbol of my democracy. I can refuse to call him President, and call out other abuses of power when I see them. I can vote for a President, in part, by the nature of his or her character, knowing that his or her political decisions must necessarily stem from that character. My fellow cast-mates and producers helped me that day and continue to support me. I am grateful for the bravery of other women who have spoken up and written about their experiences. And I thank President Barack Obama for the gesture of respect he made toward George H. W. Bush for the sake of our country, but I do not respect him. #metoo

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that “it’s probably a good move” that Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) will not seek re-election in 2018.

Flake announced his resignation shortly before the White House press briefing in which Sanders made the comment. Flake said in a wide-ranging speech from the Senate floor: “I will not be complicit or silent.” 

Sanders said she hadn’t spoken directly to Trump about Flake’s announcement, “but I think that, based on previous statements, and certainly based on the lack of support that he has from the people of Arizona, it’s probably a good move.”

A reporter asked about Flake’s remark during the speech that “It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end.”

Sanders referred to both Flake and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), another senator critical of Trump who recently announced he would not seek re-election: The problem, she said, was them, not President Trump.

I think that we support the American people on this one,” Sanders said. “I think that the people both in Tennessee and Arizona supported this President and I don’t think that the numbers are in the favor of either of those two senators in their states, and so I think that this is probably the right decision.”

“The voters of these individual senators’ states are speaking in pretty loud volumes,” she added. “I think that they were not likely to be re-elected and I think that that shows that the support is more behind this President than it is those two individuals.”

Flake told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he had “no response at all” to Sanders’ comments.

At one point during the briefing, a reporter noted Sanders had previously called Flake “petty” and asked, “What exactly of Sen. Flake’s speech did you find to be petty?”

“I thought that his attacks and a lot of the comments that he made — I don’t have a read out in front of me, but as I was watching it, I noticed a lot of the language I didn’t think was befitting of the Senate floor,” she said, moving on without responding to the reporter’s request to provide a specific example.

Flake told Tapper, responding to that criticism, that “no I don’t” think any of the language of the speech was inappropriate, and invited those who thought otherwise to inspect the text.

Limited polling out of Arizona showed Flake trailing significantly behind a Republican challenger significantly more loyal to the President, Kelli Ward, a state senator. Trump has expressed his support for Ward in the past.

This post has been updated.

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Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) chided Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) on Tuesday when asked about the recurring war of words between the senator and President Donald Trump.

“Bob Corker, I think, is going a little too far out there talking about World War III, failed presidency, et cetera, I don’t quite understand where he’s coming from with that,” Kinzinger said in an interview with CNN’s Kate Bolduan.

Earlier in the interview, the congressman joked: “Nothing like a good Republican food fight in front of the nation and the world.”

Corker, who announced his retirement from the Senate last month, has emerged as a vocal critic of the President, though he has still voted for White House-approved legislation the overwhelming majority of the time.

On Tuesday, the senator said of Trump: “I think at the end of the day when his term is over, I think the debasement of our nation is what he’ll be remembered most for, and that’s regretful.”

Trump, predictably, responded in kind.

“I wish he would tone down some of the personal stuff,” Kinzinger said of Trump. “This isn’t helpful for tax reform. It’s not helpful for our reputation in the world, and especially as Bob Corker is the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, those are some big issues coming in front of him.”

But Kinzinger stopped short of endorsing Corker’s assertion that Trump “has great difficulty with the truth.”

“There’s obviously some times when he says things that are untruthful,” Kinzinger said of the President. “That happens frankly everywhere in politics. I don’t want to necessarily get into the middle of this Corker versus Trump fight because I think, frankly, it’s not good, not just for our party, but I think for the country.”

“The President is actually doing a lot of good things internationally,” Kinzinger said, praising Trump’s “unpredictability on Twitter” as “actually beneficial.”

Kinzinger said he disagreed with Corker’s assertion that “Trump’s leading us to World War III,” in the congressman’s words.

“I think that’s way overly dramatic, and I think the President has great people around him that are kind of tempering his— whatever he would do internationally, giving him good advice, et cetera.”

“I don’t think he’s unstable, and everybody’s sitting around, going, ‘Oh, he’s unstable and we just can’t say it because we’re running for re-election,” Kinzinger said, referencing another of Corker’s criticisms.

The congressman acknowledged that Trump “needs to lay off some of the emotion on Twitter.”

Kinzinger said he didn’t think Trump’s term was “a failure,” Bolduan’s characterization of Corker’s comments.

“And this is, again, where I have massive disagreements with Sen. Corker,” Kinzinger said.

I’ve seen the President rise to a lot of occasions,” he added, praising Trump’s order of a missile strike on a Syrian air field. “He’s risen to the occasion on ISIS,” the congressman added, without specifying further.

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Musician and Michigan native Kid Rock said definitively on Tuesday that he would not run for U.S. Senate in his home state.

“Fuck no, I’m not running for Senate,” Rock told Howard Stern on Stern’s SiriusXM radio show, the Detroit Free Press noted. “Are you kidding me?”

“Who couldn’t figure that out?” he continued. “I’m releasing a new album. I’m going on tour too. Are you fucking shitting me?”

“It’s the worst advice I ever gave myself, but it’s been the most creative thing I’ve ever done,” Rock added, according to the Free Press. “And I’ve gotten to see everyone’s true colors.”

He said even some people close to him were convinced of his bid for office. Rock said he told them: “No, we’re not doing it, but let’s roll with it for a while.”

The comments seemed to put to bed the months-long “Will he? Won’t he?” that has captivated a very specific slice of the political world. Rock, the tough-talking rock-rapper who advertises his support of President Donald Trump, announced a new website, kidrockforsenate.com, in July.

However, while he continued to advertise “Kid Rock for Senate” merchandise on the website and make mock political speeches at his concerts, Rock never registered a campaign with the Federal Election Commission, nor did he collect the required donation information of individuals buying political merchandise, raising concern of legal violations.

If he is selling campaign merchandise to raise funds, he should have a disclaimer on the solicitation stating the money is being raised for his campaign and is subject to limits and prohibitions of federal law,” Larry Noble, general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, told TPM in an email in July. “He has to ensure that none of the merchandise is being bought using money from corporations or foreign nationals (only U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens may contribute). I don’t see where he addresses any of that.”

“If it is a knowing and willful violation, it could be prosecuted by the DOJ as a criminal matter,” Noble added, “though they would likely not take any action unless it was very serious and a lot of money was involved.

Eventually, Rock added a disclaimer below his merchandise: “All proceeds go to voter registration efforts. This is not a political contribution.”

Echoing the President, Rock took a combative stance toward members of the media seeking clarification on his political overtures.

“I am starting to see reports from the misinformed press and the fake news on how I am in violation of breaking campaign law,” he wrote in September.

“#1: I have still not officially announced my candidacy. #2: See #1 and go fuck yourselves.”

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Former White House adviser and self-proclaimed terrorism expert Sebastian Gorka on Monday said that “black Africans” in Chicago were killing each other “by the bushel.”

In a round-table discussion on gun violence aired by WJLA — the Washington, D.C. ABC affiliate that was purchased in 2014 by the conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group — Gorka attempted to make a point about the legislative effort to ban so-called bump stocks. The gunman behind the shooting massacre in Las Vegas on Oct. 1 had several bump stocks, which mimic the firing speed of automatic weapons, in his hotel room.

“The biggest problem we have is not mass shootings, they are the anomaly,” he began. “You do not make legislation out of outliers.”

“Our big issue is black African gun crime against black Africans,” Gorka said. “It is a tragedy. Go to Chicago. Go to — the city’s run by Democrats for 40 years. Black young men are murdering each other by the bushel. This is a social issue. Allow the police to do their jobs and re-build those societies. Legislation will not save lives.

“I assume what he’s talking about is African-Americans,” one panelist said after Gorka finished.

“Yes,” the former White House official replied.

“Well, that’s not what you said,” the panelist responded. “I couldn’t figure out who these African— “

“African-Americans,” Gorka said.

Chicago is a favorite political scapegoat of the Trump administration. The President has frequently threatened to send federal agents into the city, often seemingly as a blunt political jab.

Gorka has a documented history of connections to far-right groups and made a name for himself, under the shingle of “counter-terrorism expert,” as fiery speaker on the supposed dangers of Islam.

The director of Islamic studies at Duke University told TPM in February that Gorka “opines on everything from the Koran to Mohamad to jihad to Islamic history to contemporary politics but does so in a way that is inaccurate, sloppy, superficial, bigoted and ideological.”

Before joining the White House staff, Gorka was an editor at the far-right outlet Breitbart News.

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Former Fox News Host Eric Bolling said it was “beyond inappropriate” for his former colleague, Bill O’Reilly, to have told New York Times reporters that his son had died as a result of reporting about him.

O’Reilly brought up the death of Bolling’s son, which occurred hours after Fox News announced Bolling was leaving the network following sexual harassment allegations, in an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday. The Times published audio clips of the interview on Monday in its “The Daily” podcast.

“I urge you to think about what you put in your newspaper. Eric Bolling’s son is dead,” O’Reilly told the Times reporters interviewing him. “He’s dead because of allegations made — in my opinion and I know this to be true — against Mr. Bolling.”

In a statement to the Times’ Emily Steel, Bolling said “I believe it is beyond inappropriate for anyone to bring in the tragic death of my son Eric Chase Bolling.”

“Just as Bill O’Reilly had wanted to shield his children from the allegations against him, I hope he will honor my request and avoid any future mentions of my son,” he continued. “My parting from Fox News was in no way connected to the tragic news of my son’s passing.”

The New York Times reported Saturday that O’Reilly had reached a $32 million settlement with a former Fox News analyst, Lis Wiehl, who made allegations against him including, in the Times’ words, “repeated harassment, a nonconsensual sexual relationship and the sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material to her.”

O’Reilly told the Times that the settlement was meant to protect his children from the intense media scrutiny aimed at him.

And he charged on Monday that the Times had published “a hit job to get me out of the marketplace.”

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The Department of Education on Oct. 2 rescinded 72 policy guidance documents related to students with disabilities, some decades old, saying they were “outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective.”

The Washington Post reported on the rescinded guidance documents on Saturday, noting that the Education Department’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services had published a list of the 72 guidelines the previous day.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education told TPM Monday that “[s]tudents with disabilities and their advocates will see no impact on services provided.” The spokesperson also provided a list of the rescinded guidelines that included the reason for each rescission (see below).

The Post reported the change was part of President Donald Trump’s charge to executive agencies in February “to lower regulatory burdens on the American people by implementing and enforcing regulatory reform.”

The documents clarified students’ rights under two laws, according to the Post: the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

Disability Scoop reported that such guidance documents are “typically used by the Education Department to clarify how existing laws or regulations should be implemented in schools.”

In a statement to TPM, Education Department spokesperson Liz Hill said “There are no policy implications to these rescissions,” adding: “Students with disabilities and their advocates will see no impact on services provided.”

One of the more recent guidance documents rescinded on Oct. 2 clarified in 2012 that so-called “least restrictive environment” (LRE) requirements applied to pre-school students, as well.

LRE, codified in the Individuals with Disabilities Act, states that students with disabilities ought to be placed in the classroom setting that best meets their needs. The law aims to keep disabled students in classes with the general student population, including by utilizing supplementary aides and services.

The Department of Education said Tuesday that the 2012 “Dear Colleague” letter had been superseded by a more recent one, from 2016.

The Post reported Saturday that disability rights advocates were still analyzing the potential impact of the rescinded documents.

See the Department of Education’s stated “Reason for Rescinding” each of the 72 guidance documents below, in the rightmost column.

This post has been updated.

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