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

President Donald Trump tweeted at length on Saturday and Sunday in response to a New York Times report that White House counsel Don McGahn had cooperated “extensively” with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, sitting for at least 30 hours of discussions over three voluntary interviews.

Trump appeared to object to the Times’ reporting that he may not know the true extent of McGahn’s cooperation, and to the Times’ reporting that McGahn “told people he was determined to avoid the fate of the White House counsel for President Richard M. Nixon, John W. Dean, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice in the Watergate scandal.”

The President also compared Mueller to Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI), a strange analysis, given that Trump and McCarthy shared a lawyer, Roy Cohn, and given that, unlike McCarthy, Mueller has made almost no public statements about his work outside of court.

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Trump supporter and Republican fundraiser Elliot Broidy is under investigation for alleged attempts to sell influence with the Trump administration, the Washington Post reported Friday citing three unnamed people familiar with the probe.

In recent weeks,” the Post reported, “prosecutors with the Justice Department’s public integrity section — which examines possible political and government corruption — have sought documents related to Broidy’s business dealings.”

Among the subjects of the investigation are Broidy’s alleged plan to persuade the Trump administration to extradite exiled Chinese dissident Guo Wengui back to China, per two of the Post’s sources, and an effort to have the Justice Department drop an embezzlement probe into a Malaysian investment fund, for which Broidy and his wife allegedly sought $75 million.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators asked at least one witness about Broidy’s activities, according to one unnamed person familiar with the matter.

The casino magnate, former GOP finance chair and alleged sexual harasser Steve Wynn’s lawyer confirmed to the Post that Wynn “is completely cooperating with the investigation,” though the lawyer noted Wynn “has no reason to believe that anyone acted improperly in anything he knew about or was involved in.”

The Post noted that the New York Times and Wall Street Journal previously reported on Broidy’s Malaysian and Chinese dealings.

The same Elliot Broidy is currently the subject of a lawsuit from ex-Playboy model Shera Bechard, who alleges he improperly called off a promised $1.6 million payment — which Trump fixer Michael Cohen arranged with Bechard’s lawyer at the time, Keith Davidson — to her after others leaked details of their affair in violation of a nondisclosure agreement. Broidy resigned as deputy RNC finance chair after news of the payment broke.

An extensive Associated Press report in May revealed in detail Broidy and George Nader’s work with leaders in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, part of an effort to promote anti-Qatar policies to the Trump administration.

Broidy blamed Qatar and a former CIA operative and his partner, who’d both just opened an office for their consulting firm in the country, for leaking the hacked emails that formed the foundation of the AP report. The Journal and Times’ stories on Broidy’s Malaysian and Chinese work also cite caches of emails.

“Elliott Broidy has never agreed to work for, been retained by nor been compensated by any foreign government for any interaction with the United States Government, ever,” an attorney for Broidy told the Post. “Any implication to the contrary is a lie.”

Read the Post’s full, much more detailed story here.

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White House counsel Don McGahn has spoken to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators for at least 30 hours in total over three voluntary interviews, the New York Times reported Saturday, citing “a dozen current and former White House officials and others briefed on the matter.”

The Times said that although Trump’s legal team initially offered no objection to McGahn speaking with investigators  Trump’s former lawyers John Dowd and Ty Cobb pursued an “open-book” legal strategy, encouraging White House staff to cooperate with the investigation “It is not clear that Mr. Trump appreciates the extent to which Mr. McGahn has cooperated with the special counsel.”

McGahn, the Times reported, was initially suspicious that Trump’s team’s openness to having him talk with investigators was a sign Trump planned to blame McGahn for future legal troubles. So McGahn and his lawyer “devised their own strategy to do as much as possible to cooperate” with the probe, in the Times’ words. 

With the first meeting occurring in November, the Times reported that McGahn provided information on “the president’s most intimate moments with his lawyer”:

Among them were Mr. Trump’s comments and actions during the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and Mr. Trump’s obsession with putting a loyalist in charge of the inquiry, including his repeated urging of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to claim oversight of it. Mr. McGahn was also centrally involved in Mr. Trump’s attempts to fire the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, which investigators might not have discovered without him.

Later, the article details the discussions further:

Mr. McGahn gave to Mr. Mueller’s investigators, the people said, a sense of the president’s mind-set in the days leading to the firing of Mr. Comey; how the White House handled the firing of the former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn; and how Mr. Trump repeatedly berated Mr. Sessions, tried to get him to assert control over the investigation and threatened to fire him.

McGahn, the Times said, told investigators about how Trump had tried to “ensure control” of the investigation.

“The president and Don have a great relationship,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the Times. “He appreciates all the hard work he’s done, particularly his help and expertise with the judges, and the Supreme Court” nominees.

The Times reported it wasn’t clear whether Mueller’s team and McGahn have spoken “about whether Trump associates coordinated with Russia’s effort to influence the election.”

In January, the Times reported that McGahn had threatened to quit after Trump ordered him to have Mueller fired the previous summer. Trump subsequently backed down, only to later ask McGahn through an aide to publicly refute the Times article detailing the stand-off. (McGahn had to remind Trump that he had indeed asked him to instruct Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein fire Mueller.)

McGahn, in the summer of 2017, recused the entire counsel’s office from Mueller’s probe, given that many of the lawyers working in his office were “significant participants” in matters central to the investigation, Cobb said in June.

Mueller is reportedly in possession of a Feb. 15, 2017 memo written by McGahn and two deputies that “explicitly states that when Trump pressured Comey [to let the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn “go”] he had just been told by two of his top aides — his then chief of staff Reince Priebus and his White House counsel Don McGahn — that Flynn was under criminal investigation,” in the words of a New York Reivew of Books article.

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Joel Arrona Lara was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents while driving his wife to the hospital to deliver their child, CBSLA, Univision and other outlets have reported.

Maria del Carmen Venegas, Arrona’s then-pregnant wife, drove herself to a San Bernardino, California hospital for her own Cesarean section Wednesday after ICE arrested her husband at a gas station on the drive over.

The ICE agents asked him to step out of the vehicle after he was unable to produce identification, despite the couple protesting that they lived nearby and could go get it, Venegas said.

“The last thing he knew was that I was here in the hospital,” she told Univision.

Arrona Lara has never been in trouble with the law, she said.

But, beginning early in the Trump administration, ICE announced that it “no longer exempt[s] classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,” meaning even law-abiding undocumented people face the constant threat of deportation.

Update: More than a day after the first reports of this arrest surfaced — and days after the arrest itself, which occurred on Wednesday — ICE released a second statement Saturday afternoon, claiming that “Mr. Arrona-Lara was brought to ICE’s attention due to an outstanding warrant issued for his arrest in Mexico on homicide charges.”

“Using the name and date of birth, we couldn’t find anything saying he was in any criminal proceedings,” the family’s legal representative, Emilio Amayo, told NBC News in response.

See ICE’s original statement to CBSLA, which made no mention of these charges, below:

“Mr. Arrona-Lara, a citizen of Mexico illegally residing in the United States, was taken into custody Wednesday by ICE Fugitive Operations Team officers in San Bernardino, Calif. Mr. Arrona-Lara is currently in ICE custody pending removal proceedings with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).

“ICE continues to focus its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security. ICE conducts targeted immigration enforcement in compliance with federal law and agency policy. However, ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.”

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Former CIA Director John Brennan was defiant Friday night in response to President Donald Trump’s revocation of his security clearance, and to Trump’s threatening to revoke the clearances of several other former intelligence and national security officials who’ve become harsh critics of his.

“I think this is an egregious act that it flies in the face of traditional practice, as well as common sense, as well as national security,” Brennan told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. “I think that’s why there’s been such an outcry from many intelligence professionals.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Wednesday that Brennan’s clearance had been revoked, tellingly accusing him of making “outrageous allegations” about the administration. Trump later told the Wall Street Journal that the revocation was the result of Brennan’s involvement in the Russia probe.

“A number of lawyers have reached out to say that there is a very strong case here, not so much to reclaim [my clearance] but to prevent this from happening in the future,” Brennan told Maddow, asked if he was considering legal action against the administration.

Some groups, including the ACLU, have alleged that revoking Brennan’s clearance in retaliation for his criticism of Trump, as the White House said was the case, was a violation of the former CIA director’s First Amendment rights. Trump appeared to respond to the MSNBC interview the next morning, now citing new reasons for the revocation. 

Brennan repeated his accusation that Trump’s Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir was “nothing short of treasonous.”

And he said a Washington Post report that his clearance revocation had been timed “to divert attention from nonstop coverage of a critical book released by fired Trump aide Omarosa Manigault Newman” was “just another demonstration of [Trump’s] irresponsibility.”

“The fact that he’s using a security clearance of a former CIA director as a pawn in his public relations strategy, I think, is just so reflective of somebody who, quite frankly — I don’t want to use this term, maybe — but he’s drunk on power.”

Brennan wondered: “What else is he going to do in order to distract attention?”

He ultimately charged congressional Republicans with reining in the President.

“So, again, how desperate is he going to get?” Brennan asked. “And do the Republicans really want to have to clean up after a disaster or do they want to stop this before it becomes disastrous? It’s their choice. And if things become disastrous, it’s going to be on their shoulders, on their conscience.”

Watch the full interview below, or read a transcript here.

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Work in the White House? Take a discount at Trump’s golf club.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, just weeks after proposing to kneecap the Obama administration’s borrower defense rule, now seeks to erase punishments for for-profit colleges that weight students down with debt. A department spokesperson joined the list of Trump administration press representatives to get unnecessarily and unusually personal.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s interim director, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, thinks members of the military don’t really need the CFPB to proactively guard against financial fraud.

The President can whine all he wants about Amazon, it’s still getting billions from the federal government for rented server space. The Pentagon is shopping around for a new vault for its virtual information. It just so happens that its request for proposals “contains a host of technical stipulations that only Amazon can meet.”

“Environmental terrorist groups” are to blame for California’s historic forest fires, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says. Humans are certainly to blame for the unprecedented intensity of this year’s fires, but not how Zinke means.

The EPA has a new proposal on the way to replace one of the Obama administration’s crowning environmental achievements, the Clean Power Plan. Essentially, they’ll tell coal power plants: Do whatever.

Read E&E News’ thoroughly-reported tale of the Trump administration checking off an endangered coal plant’s regulatory wish list, item-by-item.

Vanity Fair picked apart Stephen Miller’s shadow-darkened anti-immigration effort, while Miller’s uncle called him out for quarterbacking policies that would have condemned Miller’s own Yiddish-speaking great grandparents to religious persecution.

As expected, after the announcement of a recent change of sorts in its procedures, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is collaborating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and is now acting more like a law enforcement agency than ever.

The National Park Service said Thursday it was a “misstep” to refuse access to the Statue of Liberty to a couple wearing “Abolish ICE” t-shirts.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was, in a meticulously-researched report, accused of criminal conflict of interest by a watchdog group. If you’re a true Trump Swamp fan, read the whole complaint and let me know what you think.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders just made some stuff up Tuesday when she asserted that former President Obama created three times fewer African-American-held jobs in all his eight years than Trump has in 18 months. In reality, she was comparing two totally different sets of data, and, even in her sorry-not-sorry correction, blamed Obama for three months of George W. Bush job losses.

But anyway: Obama began his presidency at the height of a historic recession. And the bigger picture: Presidents can’t be directly credited (or blamed) for jobs numbers, and they especially can’t be considered to have “created” jobs “for African Americans,” as Sanders said. And the bigger picture still: Sanders brought all this up in the first place to change the topic when asked if the President had used a racial slur. The exhausting and shameless bad faith is itself corrupt and improper.

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Fox News on Thursday apologized “to Aretha Franklin’s family and friends” for putting a picture of Patti LaBelle in the background of a graphic showing the late “Queen of Soul,” who died Thursday.

The network made the mistake earlier Thursday. This graphic showed on air a few minutes after news broke of Franklin’s passing, showing LaBelle on the right:

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Trump 2020 campaign staffer and presidential daughter-in-law Lara Trump responded Thursday to former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman releasing a recording of a conversation the two of them had  just days after Manigault Newman’s White House firing. 

“Woman to woman, I shared a connection with Omarosa as a friend and a campaign sister, and I am absolutely shocked and saddened by her betrayal and violation on a deeply personal level,” Lara Trump said in a written statement. 

Manigault Newman’s recording, one of several recorded conversations with Trump insiders she’s released in order to promote a new book, included Lara Trump offering her a $15,000 monthly salary to join the 2020 campaign.

Trump sounded concerned on the recording that Manigault Newman could become a critic of the President, or release damaging information about him to the press, otherwise. 

“Everything, everybody positive, right?” Trump asks at one point in the recorded call.

In her statement, Trump made no mention of a hush money payoff to Manigault Newman. 

Instead, she wrote that her family “was concerned” about Manigault Newman after her firing by White House chief of staff John Kelly “because we had no idea about the basis of her dismissal.” 

“We still wanted her on our team because we cared so much about her personally,” Lara Trump wrote.

Read the full statement below:

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Omarosa Manigault Newman released another secretly-recorded conversation with someone in President Donald Trump’s inner circle on Thursday, the latest in a series of such clips she’s published to promote a new tell-all book.

In the recording, Lara Trump — the President’s daughter-in-law and a top staffer on his 2020 reelection campaign — is heard offering Manigault Newman a $15,000 monthly salary to join the campaign.

“It sounds a little like, obviously, that there are some things you’ve got in the back pocket to pull out,” Lara Trump is heard saying at one point, possibly referring to harsh comments or damaging information Manigault Newman could release to the press about the President.

“Clearly, if you come on board the campaign, like, we can’t have— We’ve got to— Everything, everybody positive, right?”

Manigault Newman has claimed that the $15,000 salary carried with it a requirement to sign a strict nondisclosure agreement, and Trump campaign staffers have confirmed that they signed NDAs on the 2016 campaign.

The White House has even acknowledged requiring staffers to sign NDAs covering their government work, which experts say are unenforceable and unconstitutional.

The recording of Lara Trump and Manigault Newman’s conversation does not include any explicit discussion of an NDA.

MSNBC’s Craig Melvin said the conversation took place on December 16, 2017, days after Manigault Newman’s firing from the White House. He said the New York Times article Lara Trump mentions, by Maggie Haberman, appears to be “Omarosa, Leaving the White House, Suggests the Show Will Go On,” published on December 15.

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President Donald Trump’s military parade is estimated to cost $92 million — a whopping $80 million more than an earlier estimate, according to an unnamed “U.S. defense official with firsthand knowledge of the assessment,” CNBC reported Thursday.

In July, CNN reported that the parade would cost approximately $12 million, according to three unnamed U.S. defense officials. In February, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told Congress the parade would cost between $10 million and $30 million.

CNBC reported Thursday that the $92 million figure would be split between the Pentagon, $50 million, and the Department of Homeland Security and other “interagency partners,” $42 million.

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