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 said Monday that he doesn’t like “Pinocchios,” referring to the Washington Post’s metric for pointing out politicians’ lies in fact-checking columns. Minutes later, he delivered a whopper of an untruth.

“We’ve signed more bills — and I’m talking about through the legislature — than any President ever,” Trump said at an event the White House called the “Made in America product showcase.” “For a while Harry Truman had us, and now I think we have everybody, Mike. I better say ‘think,’ otherwise they’ll give me a Pinocchio, and I don’t like Pinocchios.”

Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post’s Fact Checker columnist, implied there was an easy fix for Trump’s aversion to fact-checkers (tell the truth).

Yet, several minutes later, Trump cited a number close to one that was repeatedly knocked down by multiple fact checks, including from the Washington Post.

“In Pennsylvania, two weeks ago, they opened a mine, the first mine that was opened in decades,” he said. “Opened a mine. And you know all the people that were saying the mining jobs? Well we picked up 45,000 mining jobs in a very short period of time, and everybody was saying, well, you won’t get any mining jobs. We picked up 45,000 mining jobs.”

The White House did not respond to TPM’s request for comment on the source for Trump’s claim. But it closely resembled a similar claim by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in three separate interviews on June 4: Some variation of, “[s]ince the fourth quarter of last year until most recently, we’ve added almost 50,000 jobs in the coal sector. In the month of May alone, almost 7,000 jobs.”

In reality, depending somewhat on how you count it, the coal industry added around 1,000 jobs during the Trump administration, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Kessler linked to the Post’s knockdown of Pruitt’s claim (it received Four Pinocchios, the worst assessment): 

The Post’s analysis noted that, even judging by the most generous interpretation of Pruitt’s remarks, only 33,000 mining and logging jobs — not just coal mining — have been added since January. Accounting for increases in June, according to preliminary BLS data, there have been 42,000 jobs added across the mining and logging sectors. From January through preliminary data for May, 21,000 mining and logging jobs added were “support activities for oil and gas operations.”

This post has been updated.

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White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that the White House stood behind Marc Kasowitz — the lead attorney on the team defending Trump in matters related to the various probes of Russian election interference — after he threatened a private citizen who criticized him.

“Can I ask about counsel — about Marc Kasowitz?” a reporter asked at an off-camera press briefing Monday. “He was reportedly, he exchanged emails with a private citizen with a number of threats and profanity-laced comments. Does the White House and the President still have confidence in Mr. Kasowitz to speak for the administration on this Russian matter?”

“Yes, he does, and I know Mr. Kasowitz has issued an apology in that matter,” Spicer said before moving on.

ProPublica published screenshots of emails Kasowitz sent on Wednesday to a private citizen who had criticized the attorney over email.

“F*ck you,” Kasowitz wrote in one. “I’m on you now,” he said in another. “You are fucking with me now. Let’s see who you are. Watch your back, bitch.”

A spokesman for Kasowitz relayed a statement to ProPublica from the attorney after the story was published: “The person sending that email is entitled to his opinion and I should not have responded in that inappropriate manner,” Kasowitz said. “I intend to send him an email stating just that. This is one of those times where one wishes he could reverse the clock, but of course I can’t.”

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Informal Trump adviser and CNBC contributor Larry Kudlow criticized Republicans’ latest Obamacare repeal bill draft as being too liberal in keeping Obamacare’s taxes on some investment income.

“They’re all wusses,” Kudlow told the Wall Street Journal in an article published Monday. “How is it possible after all these years of studying the capital-gains tax? How is it possible that they don’t know that [cutting] it promotes growth?”

Kudlow appeared to be referring to the 3.8 percent tax on some investment income for high-income earners that is among the most disliked aspects of Obamacare for conservatives. Senate Republicans’ revised Obamacare repeal bill also keeps a 0.9 percent payroll tax on high-income earners.

Republican leadership included the taxes, and eliminated a tax break for insurance executives, in a revised version of their Obamacare repeal bill released July 13.

Shortly after Trump’s election, Kudlow was floated as a possible chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. In April, Trump nominated Kevin Hassett for the role, though he has yet to be confirmed.

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President Donald Trump on Monday acknowledged a meeting between his son and a Russian lawyer who a family acquaintance promised in June 2016 would provide damaging information on Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to aide Trump’s campaign. Trump said “most politicians” would have accepted such a meeting.

The endorsement of the meeting comes after months of Trump saying the entire story of Russian interference in the election, including possible coordination with his campaign, was a “hoax.” Multiple members of the Trump campaign, including Trump himself, frequently denied that anyone from the campaign met with any representatives of the Russian government, a claim that has since been proven false not only by Trump Jr.’s meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, but also from multiple campaign officials’ meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. 

Then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump’s son-in-law and campaign aide Jared Kushner also attended the meeting with Veselnitskaya. Multiple outlets reported Friday that former Russian counterintelligence officer Rinat Akhmetsin was also in the room. And CNN reported Friday that a representative of the powerful Russian family that asked publicist Rob Goldstone to arrange the meeting was also present, as well as a Russian translator, bringing the total attendance to eight.

When Trump Jr. released “the entire email chain” leading up to the meeting on Tuesday, and in a subsequent interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, he acknowledged only five attendees — himself, the two campaign aides, Goldstone and Veselnitskaya.

The President’s claims have shifted in recent days regarding what he knew about the meeting, and when. His support of his son, however, has remained constant despite growing evidence that Trump Jr. was not fully forthcoming about the meeting, which he originally said only addressed adoption issues and not dirt on Clinton.

After the Hannity interview, the President called his son’s performance “open, transparent and innocent.”

He’s since taken his frustration out on Democrats and the media, who he’s said are pushing a “Russian hoax story.”

A member of the President’s legal team, Jay Sekulow, even wondered aloud on Sunday why, if the meeting was so “nefarious,” the Secret Service would allow the Russian visitors in to Trump Tower to attend it — though that fundamentally misrepresents the agency’s role.

To some, Trump’s statement Monday read as an acknowledgement that his son agreed to a meeting in which he intended to collude with a foreign power to influence the election.

Asked about the meeting, Trump’s nominee for FBI director, Christopher Wray, said in a confirmation hearing Wednesday that “any threat or effort to interfere with our election from any nation state or any nonstate actor is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know.”

This post has been updated.

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The Department of Homeland Security will release Mar-a-Lago visitor records as part of an ongoing lawsuit from three watchdog groups.

In a statement on its website, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said it would make the records public “upon receiving them by September 8th.”

On April 10, CREW, the National Security Archive and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University sued the Department of Homeland Security for visitor records to the White House, Trump Tower and President Donald Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club, which frequently hosts official business including diplomatic visits by foreign leaders.

The suit, filed in the Southern District of New York, cited multiple Freedom of Information Act requests that it alleged had been ignored by the Secret Service.

According to CREW, the DHS has said that it has no visitor records for Trump Tower, Trump’s New York City home base that was vaulted into the news yet again last week when Donald Trump Jr. revealed he met with a Russian lawyer and others there after being promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to aide his father’s campaign.

The lawsuit for the White House’s visitor records, the group said, was ongoing.

“The public deserves to know who is coming to meet with the president and his staff,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in the statement on the group’s website Monday. “We are glad that as a result of this case, this information will become public for meetings at his his personal residences—but it needs to be public for meetings at the White House as well.”

“It’s a promising first step that the Department of Homeland Security has agreed to release information on Mar-a-Lago’s visitors, but what might be in these disclosures is a mystery,” Alex Abdo, senior staff attorney at the Knight Institute, said in a statement. “The government does not appear to keep regular records of presidential visitors to Mar-a-Lago or Trump Tower, and it continues to argue that it need not disclose more formal records of visitors to the White House. In our view, the Freedom of Information Act requires the government to make this information – which relates to who exerts influence over the president — available to the public, and we intend to fight for its release.”

CREW sued the Obama White House for the same records, resulting in the administration releasing that information on an ongoing basis beginning in 2009.

The Trump administration announced in April that it would stop releasing White House visitor data.

Read the latest court order below:

This post has been updated.

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A threatening note was “discovered near the door” of Sen. Dean Heller’s (R-NV) Las Vegas office on Sunday.

In a statement to TPM, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said an alarm company representative called the police just past 9 a.m. on Sunday, reporting a potential burglary. Though police did not find evidence of a burglary of Heller’s office, nor the building in which it is located, the statement said: “[A] threatening note addressed to Senator Heller was discovered near the door to his office.”

“Officers took a report for Threatening or Obscene Letters or Writing (NRS 207.180),” the statement continued. “The LVMPD has an on-going investigation into this incident.”

Citing the investigation’s open status, LVMPD did not disclose the note’s content.

The Nevada Independent’s Jon Ralston, citing an unnamed law enforcement source, reported that the note “was from someone asserting that he would lose his health care if the key senator voted for the repeal bill and that he would die if that happened and would take Heller with him.”

Widely seen as a potential dissenting voice on Senate Republicans’ Obamacare repeal bill, Heller has faced constituent pressure in recent weeks to block the bill from receiving a vote in the Senate.

H/t KLAS.

This post has been updated.

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The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee said Friday that reports that a former Soviet counterintelligence officer joined a June 2016 meeting between a Russian lawyer and members of the Trump campaign “adds another deeply disturbing fact about this secret meeting.”

“Today’s report that a former Russian counter-intelligence officer was also present during the meeting with Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, if accurate, adds another deeply disturbing fact about this secret meeting,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said in a statement.

He added: “Similarly, reports that Jared Kushner had to twice amend his security clearance forms, only recently acknowledging this pivotal meeting, should cause his clearance to be reviewed — and if he was not perfectly candid — immediately revoked.”

The former counterintelligence officer to whom Schiff referred is Rinat Akhmetshin, now a lobbyist, who confirmed to the Associated Press Friday that he was in the meeting with Veselnitskaya, Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort. NBC News first reported Akhmetshin’s attendance Friday, but did not name him.

According to emails released by Trump Jr. on Tuesday in anticipation of a New York Times story on the same messages, he and the top Trump campaign aides attended the meeting after being promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to help his father’s campaign.

In an interview with MSNBC Friday, Schiff added that Akhmetshin “provides yet another conduit back to the Kremlin.”

Read Schiff’s full statement below:

“Today’s report that a former Russian counter-intelligence officer was also present during the meeting with Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, if accurate, adds another deeply disturbing fact about this secret meeting.  Donald Trump, Jr.’s denial of any such meetings, his misleading initial representation that it dealt only with adoptions — a statement evidently approved by the White House — and his later admission that the whole purpose of taking the meeting was to receive the support of the Russian government in the form of damaging information about Hillary Clinton paint a portrait of consistent dissembling and deceit when it comes to the campaign’s meetings with Russian officials and intermediaries.

“Similarly, reports that Jared Kushner had to twice amend his security clearance forms, only recently acknowledging this pivotal meeting, should cause his clearance to be reviewed — and if he was not perfectly candid — immediately revoked.

“Finally, whether the additional party or parties present during the meeting with these top Trump campaign personnel at the time Donald Trump had seized the nomination were connected directly with Russian intelligence or not, it is clear the Kremlin got the message that Donald Trump welcomed the help of the Russian government in providing dirt on Hillary Clinton. This was true not only because Donald Jr. said he would love such help, and, even if we are to believe his account of the meeting, expressed great dismay that he didn’t receive the damaging information he was promised, but also because candidate Trump himself made very clear his desire that the Russian government hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, saying they would be richly rewarded.  Indeed that has proved all too true.”

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Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) said Friday that “there’s nothing wrong with” Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 after being promised dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to aide his father’s campaign.

“I don’t have an issue with it,” he told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. “Let me take a step back, Alisyn. In politics, if I meet with — whether it’s a citizen or a non-citizen and they give me information or an idea or talk about policy, there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s not a crime.”

“So to have a potential meeting where this source might give you evidence that the DNC was taking money from Russia or that Hillary Clinton was committing a crime, and then once you find out this is a bogus meeting and after 20 minutes you kick them out of the office, I have no problem with what Don Jr. did,” Duffy continued. “And I don’t think any prosecutor would either.”

Multiple complaints to the Federal Election Commission allege the Trump Campaign illegally solicited a contribution from a foreign national — in this case, damaging information about Hillary Clinton — by accepting the meeting.

Friday brought multiple reports that more people were in attendance at the meeting than Donald Trump Jr. has claimed.

“You’re saying, if you got an e-mail saying this comes from the highest level of the Russian government, we have some information for you, you would take that meeting before you called the FBI?” Camerota asked later in the interview.

Duffy, who said there was nothing wrong with the meeting seconds earlier, wavered.

“There’s two distinctions,” he said. “One, there is politics, and legality. I think politically I would go, well, you know what, I might have someone else take that meeting. I might not take that meeting myself. But I might still want the information.”

“You have a family, the Trumps, who have been wildly involved in business in New York,” he continued. “But these aren’t politicos. These are people who have not been involved in politics. And I think you’ve seen through the course of their campaign there’s been some political stumbles. This would probably be one of them.”

“But I don’t think it’s a bad act on the part of Donald Jr. at all,” he concluded.

Watch below via CNN:

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressed frustration Thursday at the “fragmented” decision-making processes in the Trump administration, noting the government was “not a highly disciplined organization.”

Tillerson made the comments to pool reporters on the plane ride home from a multi-day trip to the Middle East and Europe, including an attempt at opening discussion between Qatar and other Arab states who accuse it of funding terrorism, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“Well it is a lot different than being CEO of Exxon because I was the ultimate decision-maker,” Tillerson told the reporters, adding: “We had very long-standing, disciplined processes and decision-making — I mean, highly structured — that allows you to accomplish a lot, to accomplish a lot in a very efficient way.”

The Times noted that Tillerson said he didn’t meant to criticize the government, but that “it’s largely not a highly disciplined organization.”

“Decision-making is fragmented, and sometimes people don’t want to take decisions. Coordination is difficult through the interagency [process].”

He also noted that his job itself used many of the same skills he developed leading the enormous oil and gas corporation.

“Engagement with the rest of the world is actually very easy for me,” Tillerson said. “None of it is new to me. It is more difficult, it is more difficult, because of just the elements we talked about.”

Various reports have suggested the Trump administration has “sidelined” the Tillerson-led State Department, including with proposed massive budget cuts. Tillerson has himself been criticized for shutting out the press from foreign trips and press conferences.

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White House aide Kellyanne Conway accused critics of the Trump administration of moving the goalposts on the ongoing investigations into possible coordination between members of the Trump campaign and Russian nationals.

The goalposts have been moved,” Conway told “Fox & Friends” Friday morning. “We were promised systemic — hard evidence of systemic, sustained, furtive collusion that not only interfered with our election process but indeed dictated the electoral outcome. And one of the only people who says that seriously these days is still Hillary Clinton and nobody believes it.”

However, authorities investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election have long asserted that there is no evidence votes were physically changed as part of the effort.

Conway’s analysis came in response to coverage of Donald Trump Jr., who admitted to meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 after being promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to help his father’s campaign. Campaign manager Paul Manafort and top aide Jared Kushner were also in attendance.

The Associated Press reported Friday that Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist, was also at the meeting — contradicting the Trump administration’s boasts about transparency in acknowledging the meeting. NBC News first reported Akhmetshin’s attendance, but did not name him.

“Would people call you up all the time and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got some dirt on her,’ and would you take a meeting with them?” Steve Doocy asked.

“No,” Conway said. “No.”

But she hedged when Doocy reminded her that the President said the meeting was the type of thing that, in Doocy’s words, “happened all the time.” 

“Sometimes people want to aggrandize their own positions,” she responded in part. “Sometimes they wish to be helpful. Many meetings end up as a bust that aren’t particularly meaningful, consequential or helpful.”

And Conway hedged again when asked why everyone in Trump’s orbit wouldn’t just lay their hands on the table, and extensively list any exchange they had during and since the campaign with Russian nationals.

“Every single colleague I know here at the White House and in the administration, in the campaign, even if they don’t serve here, ladies and gentlemen, have said they are willing to cooperate,” she said. “They are willing to share whatever they know.”

“People would argue that’s not true,” Fox’s Ainsley Earhardt replied. “Because that meeting happened a year and a month ago. And so people are wondering why Don Jr. just didn’t come forward and say that right after it happened?”

“Well, in terms of those who work here, who have been asked to cooperate, they have made very clear through their attorneys that they are willing to cooperate,” Conway said, now making no mention of people in Trump’s orbit who don’t work at the White House, which would include Donald Jr.

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