Mshuham2

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 mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

Articles by Matt

British Prime Minister Theresa May voiced her support for London Mayor Sadiq Khan Monday in response to questions about President Donald Trump’s blunt criticism of him after a terrorist attack in the city. Still, May never directly criticized the American President for his statements following the attack.

Fielding questions after a campaign speech at the Royal United Services Institute in Whitehall, according to the Daily Mail, May was asked several times about Trump’s attacks against Khan.

After the attack, Khan told Londoners not to be alarmed at the increased police presence in the city. Trump quoted Khan out of context in order to attack the mayor politically.

Trump later tweeted another criticism of Khan:

“I wondered if you’d like to say anything at all about the way that Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, has handled this crisis, and whether you have any views on the interventions of foreign world leaders in this issue so soon after an attack?” one reporter asked May, to laughter in the room.

“I think Sadiq is doing an excellent job,” May answered, detailing her emergency response committee’s coordination with London’s mayor and city hall.

“You just praised the work that Sadiq Khan has been doing as mayor,” another reporter asked. “Donald Trump responded to the attack by mocking Sadiq Khan. Would a period of silence on his part now be welcome?”

“As I’ve said, I’m very clear that — I’m very clear that Sadiq is doing a good job as mayor of London,” she said before moving on.

“What would Donald Trump have to say for you to criticize him publicly?” a reporter asked, addressing the issue more directly.

“I’ve been very happy to say that I think President Trump is wrong to have taken America out of the climate change agreement, out of the Paris Agreement,” May said, adding: “So I’m not afraid to say when I think President Trump is getting things wrong.”

“Is he wrong on Sadiq Khan?” another reporter asked.

“Sadiq Khan is doing a good job,” May said, somewhat exasperated. “I’ve said that. I think Sadiq Khan is doing a good job and it’s wrong to say anything else. He is doing a good job.”

Khan is London’s first Muslim mayor. Last year, he criticized Trump’s proposed blanket ban on Muslims entering the United States. In 2015, Trump wrote on Twitter: “The United Kingdom is trying hard to disguise their massive Muslim problem.”

Donald Trump Jr. similarly used a months-old quote of Khan’s out of context in order to attack him in March, after a separate terrorist attack in London.

Watch May answering questions about Trump’s attacks below, compiled by YouTube user Stream Video:

Read More →

White House aide Kellyanne Conway argued Monday that the media and the American public should pay less attention to what President Donald Trump posts on Twitter, including his attack against London Mayor Sadiq Khan in the hours immediately following a terrorist attack in that city.

“Just a matter of taste and judgment and accuracy,” NBC’s Savannah Guthrie asked Conway in an interview on “Today” Monday morning. “Does the President owe the London mayor an apology for tweeting a political attack in the hours after this terrorist incident, and also misleadingly quoting him. Was that a mistake?”

Trump quoted Khan out of context — the London mayor was urging residents not to be alarmed at the increased police presence in the city, not the terrorist attack that had just occurred.

Conway said that Trump’s tweet “wasn’t a political attack,” and added later: “You want to make this about something other than what it’s about.”

“He’s the one who tweeted it,” Guthrie replied.

Conway accused Guthrie of focusing on the wrong stories.

“For every time you said ‘Russia,’ imagine if you said ‘ISIS,'” she said. “Every time you say ‘Twitter,’ imagine if you said ‘terrorists.’ Maybe we’d have a different type of vigilance.”

“In fairness,” Guthrie interjected, “he’s setting the agenda. He’s the President. He speaks. The reporters cover what he says.”

Guthrie acknowledged that Trump had called British Prime Minister Theresa May, but noted that, based on his Twitter account, Trump had been overwhelmingly focused on political matters.

In the hours after the attack, Trump used it to argue against restrictions on firearms and for his travel ban from several Muslim-majority countries. Judge Derrick Watson of Hawaii cited Trump’s tweets when he temporarily blocked the President’s revised travel ban in March.

Conway said that the administration had reached out to British leadership to offer assistance and condolences.

“This obsession with covering everything he says on Twitter, and very little of what he does as President — ”

“That’s his preferred method of communication with the American people,” co-host Craig Melvin said.

“That’s not true,” Conway replied.

“Well he hasn’t given an interview in three weeks,” Melvin said. “So lately it has been his preferred method.”

After the interview, Trump kept attacking London’s mayor on Twitter.

Later on Monday, Conway responded to criticism of her comments:

Watch the exchange below via NBC:

This post has been updated.

Read More →

President Donald Trump requested an extension on his 2016 tax return, according to multiple reports.

NBC News’ Kristin Donnelly first reported the news, citing an unnamed White House official, followed by ABC News and CNN, each also citing an unnamed White House official.

An extension would give Trump until October to file his return.

The President has consistently refused to honor his campaign promise to release his tax returns, breaking with a presidential tradition that had been honored consistently since Richard Nixon’s presidency.

He has frequently changed excuses for why he will not release the returns.

In an interview with The Economist in May, CNN noted, Trump said he doubted he would release his tax returns in exchange for Democratic support for his tax plan. He added: “Oh, at some point I’ll release them. Maybe I’ll release them after I’m finished because I’m very proud of them actually. I did a good job.”

However, White House did release summary information on Trump’s 2005 taxes immediately before DC Report’s David Cay Johnston published summary pages of Trump’s tax returns from the same year, discussing them with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on her show.

Among other things, Johnston reported, Trump would have saved $31 million that year if the Alternative Minimum Tax had been abolished. 

In a summary page outlining its promised tax plan in late April, the White House proposed repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax, calling it a “simplification” of the tax code.

Read More →

After repeated dodges and non-answers from various members of the Trump administration, the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said Saturday that the President believes “the climate is changing and he believes pollutants are part of the equation.”

At least five members of Trump’s administration — EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn and White House press secretary Sean Spicer — repeatedly declined to say in recent days whether the President believes the science supporting climate change.

“I just want to be clear on this,” CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Haley in an interview set to air Sunday, but which CNN released a portion of Saturday. “You’re not willing to acknowledge that calling climate change a Chinese hoax is just a big box of crazy?”

“President Trump believes the climate is changing and he believes pollutants are part of that equation,” Haley responded. “So that is the fact. That is where we are. That’s where it stands. He knows that it’s changing, he knows that the U.S. has to be responsible with it. And that’s what we’re going to do.”

She defended the President’s decision to withdraw the United States from the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, the voluntary accord by which nearly every nation on Earth set voluntary emissions goals, by adding: “Just because we got out of a club doesn’t mean that we don’t care about the environment.”

The Trump administration has been aggressive in rolling back environmental protections, especially those instituted during the Obama administration.

On the campaign trail and as a private citizen, Trump repeatedly called climate change a hoax and said that other countries had invented the science supporting climate change in order to disadvantage the United States economically.

In his speech Thursday announcing he would withdraw the United States from the Paris accord,  Trump struck a similar chord.

“This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States,” he said. “The rest of the world applauded when we signed the Paris Agreement. They went wild. They were so happy, for the simple reason that it put our country, the United States of America, which we all love, at a very, very big economic disadvantage.”

As RollCall later pointed out, the President never used the term “climate change” itself in the speech.

Read More →

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) wrote Saturday that he wished he had been “quick enough” to condemn comedian Bill Maher when the host of HBO’s “Real Time” used a racial slur during an interview the previous night.

In a one-on-one interview, Sasse appeared to chuckle before suppressing a smile after Maher used a derogatory term for black people.

“We’d have to have you work in the fields with us,” Sasse told Maher, referring to his home state.

“Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house nigger,” Maher responded. “It’s a joke,” Maher chided the in-studio audience, who applauded in response.

“You’re still working in the fields out there?” Maher asked again.

‘Yeah, we want our kids to suffer,” Sasse said. The interview continued without a beat.

Maher apologized in a statement mid-day Saturday, as quoted by several outlets: “Friday nights are always my worst night of sleep because I’m up reflecting on the things I should or shouldn’t have said on my live show,” he said. “Last night was a particularly long night as I regret the word I used in the banter of a live moment. The word was offensive, and I regret saying it and am very sorry.”

HBO released a statement as well, saying to various outlets: “Bill Maher’s comment last night was completely inexcusable and tasteless.  We are removing his deeply offensive comment from any subsequent airings of the show.”

A few hours earlier, in a series of tweets Saturday, Sasse called himself a “1st Amendment absolutist” but said that freedom came with a “responsibility to speak up when folks use that word.”

This post has been updated to include Maher and HBO’s statements.

Read More →

The director of the Office of Government Ethics on Friday pressured the Trump administration for more information about certain ethics waivers that did not include dates or signatures in a recent disclosure.

OGE Director Walter Shaub Jr., who has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump’s business and ethical practices, told the Washington Post that “[t]here’s no such thing as a retroactive waiver” and “[i]ssuing a waiver after the fact won’t fix the problem” if White House officials violated Trump’s January ethics pledge before being issued a waiver.

On Friday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer was asked about one White House aide in particular, chief strategist Steve Bannon, and a waiver for all appointed White House staff, exempting them from Paragraph 6 of Trump’s ethics pledge, which reads: “I will not for a period of 2 years from the date of my appointment participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts.”

The undated, unsigned waiver in question reads: “I am issuing this memorandum retroactive to January 20, 2017 to provide a limited waiver to the restrictions found in paragraph 6 of the Ethics Pledge for all appointees in the Executive Office of the President.”

Both Bannon and an employee of Brietbart News — the conservative outlet he used to lead — have acknowledged communication between Bannon and the news organization, which the progressive watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington pointed out in a complaint to White House Counsel Don McGahn in March.

Spicer said Friday that Trump was “the ultimate decider” on his ethics pledge, but he did not specifically answer charges that some of the waivers may have been retroactive.

He added: “What we discovered was that several individuals on staff had previously worked for media organizations, and in order to continue having those discussions and advancing the President’s agenda and priorities, it was important to make sure that all individuals had the opportunity to be able to speak to the media about what the President was doing to make the country stronger.”

The White House only released its list of waivers — of which there were an unusually high number, Vox noted — after a stand-off with OGE.

Budget chief Mick Mulvaney wrote to Shaub on May 22 that his request for copies of the White House’s ethics waivers, which the Obama administration regularly released to OGE, “appears to raise legal questions regarding the scope of O.G.E.’s authorities.” Shaub persisted, and the White House ultimately released the waivers on May 31.

However, the undated waivers, Shaub told the Post Friday, raise questions “as to whether they were issued before or after the recipients participated in prohibited matters.”

“It would help to know when they were issued,” he added.

Read More →

The Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee requested that spy agencies unmask the identities of individuals and organizations related to President Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the Washington Post reported Friday. The committee’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), has accused Obama administration officials of abusing the same power toward political ends.

The Post reported, citing unnamed current and former officials, that a tally of U.S. spy agencies found that Nunes’ committee requested “five to six unmaskings of U.S. organizations or individuals related to Trump or Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton between June 2016 and January 2017.”

Unnamed officials familiar with the matter told the Post that the unmasking requests “focused on the identities of U.S. organizations that had been hacked by the Russians in 2016.”

Though the officials did not specify who in the committee made the unmasking requests, nor what their party affiliation was, the Post noted that Nunes would have had to sign off on any such requests from the committee.

In April, Nunes stepped aside from the committee’s investigation into Russian election interference and possible Russian collusion with the 2016 Trump campaign after it was revealed that he had secretly received information from the Trump administration that he later used to accuse Obama administration officials, primarily former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, of politicizing the unmasking process.

The House Ethics Committee launched an investigation into Nunes’ handling of classified documents. Intelligence experts and officials have repeatedly emphasized that Rice was well within her right to request the unmaskings that she did. She has vociferously denied any political motivation.

“This notion that there are these politically motivated unmaskings is just nonsense,” one unnamed official told the Post Friday, referring to both congressional and White House unmasking requests.

Nunes has continued to focus on unmasking as a potential abuse of power, to protests from Democrats. Despite his recusal from the Russia probe, Nunes’ committee, without informing committee Democrats, issued subpoenas Wednesday to the National Security Agency, the FBI and the Central Intelligence Agency, demanding to know why some Trump associates’ names had been unmasked in some reports.

The committee’ ranking member, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), characterized Nunes’ subpoenas as unnecessary and an attempt to distract from the congressional and federal probes into Trump associates.

Read More →

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that presidential aides had been granted a blanket waiver from the President Donald Trump’s ethics pledge in order to speak to news organizations “to continue having those discussions and advancing the President’s agenda and priorities.”

At a press briefing Friday, Spicer was asked about one aide specifically, Steve Bannon, and the news outlet he led before working for Trump, Breitbart News. Spicer answered without mentioning either specifically.

“Did White House have Steve Bannon’s communications with Breitbart News in mind?” one reporter asked of the ethics waiver. “Was that applied retroactively to address those communications?”

The reporter added: “And any response to Director [of the Office of Government Ethics Walter] Shaub’s claim that if you need a retroactive waiver, you have violated a rule?”

“There’s two pieces to that that are important,” Spicer responded. “One is, remember, this didn’t have to do with the law or regulations. This had to do with the President’s pledge. His ethics pledge. He is the ultimate decider on that. This isn’t with respect to a law or regulation.”

He didn’t directly address Shaub’s criticism that the waiver had been retroactive. The White House’s disclosure did not say when it was granted.

Spicer continued: “What we discovered was that several individuals on staff had previously worked for media organizations, and in order to continue having those discussions and advancing the President’s agenda and priorities, it was important to make sure that all individuals had the opportunity to be able to speak to the media about what the President was doing to make the country stronger.”

In March, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), an transparency group, argued that Bannon was violating the pledge by “repeatedly communicating about official matters with Breitbart News.”

The White House’s disclosure shows presidential appointees were granted a waiver from Paragraph 6 of Executive Order 13770, signed in Trump’s first week, which read: “I will not for a period of 2 years from the date of my appointment participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts.”

Read More →

A day after President Donald Trump announced the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt again added his name to a long list of administration officials who refuse to say whether the President believes the science behind climate change, dodging the question Friday. Sean Spicer dodged the question as well.

“Just hoping you can clear this up once and for all,” ABC’s Mary Bruce asked Pruitt Friday, the first question he was posed at a press briefing with White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

“Yes or no, does the President believe that climate change is real and a threat to the United States?”

“You know, it’s interesting, all of the discussions we had through the last several weeks have been focused on one singular issue, is Paris good or not for this country?” Pruitt answered, moving on without answering on Trump’s behalf.

NBC News’ Kristen Welker followed up later: “You’re the EPA administrator,” she said. “Shouldn’t you be able to tell the American people whether or not the resident still believes that climate change is a hoax? Where does he stand?” 

“As I indicated several times in the process,” Pruitt responded, visibly annoyed, “there is enough to deal with with respect to the Paris Agreement and making an informed decision about this important issue. That’s what our focus has been over the last several weeks. I’ve answered the question a couple times.”

Spicer followed up when he took the podium: “I have not had the opportunity to have that discussion,” he said, asked about Trump’s beliefs on the science behind climate change.

“Don’t the American people deserves to know” what the President believes? a reporter pressed.

“I think Administrator Pruitt pointed out that what the President is focused on is making sure we have clean water, clean air and making sure we have the best deal for American workers,” he said.

Spicer has consistently dodged that question. Top White House aide Kellyanne Conway has refused to answer the question as well, as has the director of the National Economic Council, Gary Cohn.

Trump has said “I’m not a believer in global warming. I’m not a believer in man-made global warming.” And he has called climate change a hoax created by the Chinese in order to economically damage America.

In his speech announcing that the United States would withdraw from the Paris accord Thursday, Trump used similarly conspiratorial language, saying, “A cynic would say the obvious reason for economic competitors and their wish to see us remain in the agreement is so that we continue to suffer this self-inflicted major economic wound.”

However, if Trump’s decisions on climate policy are driven by his disbelief in the overwhelming scientific evidence supporting man-made climate change, his White House doesn’t want to admit it.

Read More →

LiveWire