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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

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson batted away rumors of his imminent departure in an interview with the Wall Street Journal Thursday, but acknowledged his differences with President Donald Trump.

“I see those differences in how we think,” Tillerson told the Journal. “Most of the things he would do would be done on very short time frames. Everything I spent my life doing was done on 10- to 20-year time frames, so I am quite comfortable thinking in those terms.”

“Look, I’m my own person, I’m a serious person,” he added separately. “And I’m not of any use to the President if I’m not that. If I try to be anything other than that, I’m no use to him.”

One solution, Tillerson told the paper, had been “[d]elivering the incremental wins.”

He added: “Incremental progress is taking you toward the ultimate objective, which is, as I say is eight, 10 years down the road.”

Tillerson held a press conference on Oct. 4 to refute rumors of his clashes with Trump. NBC News had reported that Tillerson called Trump a “moron” in a meeting with senior national security officials over the summer after Trump had suggested a dramatic increase in the United States’ nuclear arsenal.

Tillerson hasn’t specifically denied that story, but he did say in the press conference that “my commitment to the success of our President” was a strong as the day he started.

He maintained a similar attitude in his interview Thursday: “Who in the world is telling you that stuff?” he asked the Journal, referring to rumors of his resignation.

Trump has largely ignored the secretary of state’s role as the country’s lead diplomat, leaning more heavily on the military staff that surrounds him in both national security capacities and as senior White House officials, including his chief of staff, John Kelly. Long-term State Department staffers have reportedly complained of Trump’s sidelining of the department.

Tillerson told the Journal he would stay in the job “as long as the President thinks I’m useful.”

The Journal’s reporters, Michael C. Bender and Felicia Schwartz, captured what was perhaps a telling moment:

Asked Thursday if he believed Mr. Trump should be re-elected, Mr. Tillerson paused for a beat, then said, “Well, of course.”

“I mean, I don’t think about it, quite frankly, right now,” he said. “We’ve got these things we’re dealing with, but yeah.”

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Fox News on Thursday retracted a story about a man claiming to have been a Navy SEAL and veteran of the Vietnam War — claims which were proven to be false.

On Oct. 8, Fox News aired a story about John Garofalo, a glass artist and supposedly decorated retired Navy SEAL who’d created a giant presidential seal made of glass as a gift to President Donald Trump, according to the Washington Post, who flagged the story Friday morning.

“Garofalo is used to working under pressure,” Fox News’ Bryan Llenas had said in a voice over in the original segment. “The Vietnam War veteran served seven years as a member of the nation’s first Navy SEAL team. He was awarded 22 commendations, including two Purple Hearts.”

He called Garofalo a hero in an interview.

“I don’t like to hear that,” Garofalo responded, wiping tears from his eyes. “Heroes are the ones that didn’t come home.”

The retraction came 11 days later.

“Garofalo claimed he was a Vietnam veteran, a member of the first U.S. Navy SEAL team, and a decorated war hero who was awarded two Purple Hearts,” the network said in a post on its website. “Unfortunately, all of Garofalo’s claims turned out to be untrue.”

Llenas addressed his story’s inaccuracies on air Friday:

According to Navy Times, Fox News’ video had been viewed more than 1.5 million times by Thursday. It has since appeared to have been removed.

Viewers took note immediately, according to Navy Times: Don Shipley, a retired SEAL himself who has experience revealing cases of stolen valor, told the publication that he notified the Fox News reporter the day after the story ran about Garofalo’s phony claims. He posted a short video on Oct. 9 saying Garofalo was “a total phony.”

Garofalo is a veteran of the Navy, but he did not serve in Vietnam, nor is not a retired SEAL.

“It got bigger and bigger,” Garofalo told Navy Times. “What I did I‘m ashamed of, and I didn’t mean to cause so much disgrace to the SEALs.”

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In an impromptu appearance at a White House press briefing Thursday, White House chief of staff John Kelly defended President Donald Trump and attacked Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), who he said “listened in” to the President’s call to a grieving military wife. Read the White House’s transcript of the full briefing below:

MS. SANDERS: Catch you off guard when we’re on time. Good afternoon.

As you all saw, earlier today the President met with the Governor of Puerto Rico this morning to discuss the ongoing hurricane recovery efforts. The administration is working tirelessly to help our fellow citizens recover and rebuild, and we will stand with them throughout this process.

It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to share a letter to the President from the podium, and I have one today that I think you’ll all enjoy.

This one is from Mackenzie of Dalton, Georgia. Mackenzie is seven years old and is in the second grade. And she wrote:

“Dear President Trump, I’m writing to tell you how much I appreciate all you’re doing. I think you’re an awesome President. In fact, I voted for you in my school election. My mom is bringing me to D.C. on spring break this year, and I’m very excited. I’ve never been there before, and I can’t wait to see everything.

I am most excited to see the White House. My mom said we have to write someone to ask to come in, and I hope we can. I know you’re a busy man, but if you could meet me, or at least see your office, it would make my day. And I would love to shake your hand.

You’re our leader, a hero, and a great man, and I can’t wait to see you and help make America great again. Sincerely, Mackenzie, you’re biggest fan.

P.S. If you would like, I can bring something to eat when I come. I’ve always heard food brings people together.”

Well, Mackenzie, I had the opportunity to share your letter with the President earlier today, and he said he would love for you to come and visit us here at the White House during spring break. I’ll give you a tour personally, and if the President is here, he’d love to meet you as well.

Finally, you’re very right about food bringing people together, and so the press staff would like to invite you to have lunch here in the Navy Mess downstairs in the West Wing. We look very much forward to your visit and hope that you’ll be in touch so that we can make sure that that happens.

On a more serious note, we’ve had a lot of questions come in, and I certainly addressed quite a few of them yesterday, and thought today it might be more appropriate to have the Chief of Staff address some of those questions specific to outreach to Gold Star families. He’ll address questions on that topic, and if you have other questions throughout the day, the press staff will be here and happy to answer those after the briefing later this afternoon.

Thanks, guys.

GENERAL KELLY: Well, thanks a lot. And it is a more serious note, so I just wanted to perhaps make more of a statement than an — give more of an explanation in what amounts to be a traditional press interaction.

Most Americans don’t know what happens when we lose one of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, our Coast Guardsmen in combat. So let me tell you what happens:

Their buddies wrap them up in whatever passes as a shroud, puts them on a helicopter as a routine, and sends them home. Their first stop along the way is when they’re packed in ice, typically at the airhead. And then they’re flown to, usually, Europe where they’re then packed in ice again and flown to Dover Air Force Base, where Dover takes care of the remains, embalms them, meticulously dresses them in their uniform with the medals that they’ve earned, the emblems of their service, and then puts them on another airplane linked up with a casualty officer escort that takes them home.

A very, very good movie to watch, if you haven’t ever seen it, is “Taking Chance,” where this is done in a movie — HBO setting. Chance Phelps was killed under my command right next to me, and it’s worth seeing that if you’ve never seen it.

So that’s the process. While that’s happening, a casualty officer typically goes to the home very early in the morning and waits for the first lights to come on. And then he knocks on the door; typically a mom and dad will answer, a wife. And if there is a wife, this is happening in two different places; if the parents are divorced, three different places. And the casualty officer proceeds to break the heart of a family member and stays with that family until — well, for a long, long time, even after the internment. So that’s what happens.

Who are these young men and women? They are the best 1 percent this country produces. Most of you, as Americans, don’t know them. Many of you don’t know anyone who knows any one of them. But they are the very best this country produces, and they volunteer to protect our country when there’s nothing in our country anymore that seems to suggest that selfless service to the nation is not only appropriate, but required. But that’s all right.

Who writes letters to the families? Typically, the company commander — in my case, as a Marine — the company commander, battalion commander, regimental commander, division commander, Secretary of Defense, typically the service chief, commandant of the Marine Corps, and the President typically writes a letter.

Typically, the only phone calls a family receives are the most important phone calls they could imagine, and that is from their buddies. In my case, hours after my son was killed, his friends were calling us from Afghanistan, telling us what a great guy he was. Those are the only phone calls that really mattered.

And yeah, the letters count, to a degree, but there’s not much that really can take the edge off what a family member is going through.

So some Presidents have elected to call. All Presidents, I believe, have elected to send letters. If you elect to call a family like this, it is about the most difficult thing you could imagine. There’s no perfect way to make that phone call.

When I took this job and talked to President Trump about how to do it, my first recommendation was he not do it because it’s not the phone call that parents, family members are looking forward to. It’s nice to do, in my opinion, in any event.

He asked me about previous Presidents, and I said, I can tell you that President Obama, who was my Commander-in-Chief when I was on active duty, did not call my family. That was not a criticism. That was just to simply say, I don’t believe President Obama called. That’s not a negative thing. I don’t believe President Bush called in all cases. I don’t believe any President, particularly when the casualty rates are very, very high — that Presidents call. But I believe they all write.

So when I gave that explanation to our President three days ago, he elected to make phone calls in the cases of four young men who we lost in Niger at the earlier part of this month. But then he said, how do you make these calls? If you’re not in the family, if you’ve never worn the uniform, if you’ve never been in combat, you can’t even imagine how to make that call. I think he very bravely does make those calls.

The call in question that he made yesterday — or day before yesterday now — were to four family members, the four fallen. And remember, there’s a next-of-kin designated by the individual. If he’s married, that’s typically the spouse. If he’s not married, that’s typically the parents unless the parents are divorced, and then he selects one of them. If he didn’t get along with his parents, he’ll select a sibling. But the point is, the phone call is made to the next-of-kin only if the next-of-kin agrees to take the phone call. Sometimes they don’t.

So a pre-call is made: The President of the United States or the commandant of the Marine Corps, or someone would like to call, will you accept the call? And typically, they all accept the call.

So he called four people the other day and expressed his condolences in the best way that he could. And he said to me, what do I say? I said to him, sir, there’s nothing you can do to lighten the burden on these families.

Well, let me tell you what I told him. Let me tell you what my best friend, Joe Dunford, told me — because he was my casualty officer. He said, Kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1 percent. He knew what the possibilities were because we’re at war. And when he died, in the four cases we’re talking about, Niger, and my son’s case in Afghanistan — when he died, he was surrounded by the best men on this Earth: his friends.

That’s what the President tried to say to four families the other day. I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning, and broken-hearted at what I saw a member of Congress doing. A member of Congress who listened in on a phone call from the President of the United States to a young wife, and in his way tried to express that opinion — that he’s a brave man, a fallen hero, he knew what he was getting himself into because he enlisted. There’s no reason to enlist; he enlisted. And he was where he wanted to be, exactly where he wanted to be, with exactly the people he wanted to be with when his life was taken.

That was the message. That was the message that was transmitted.

It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred. You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore as we see from recent cases. Life — the dignity of life — is sacred. That’s gone. Religion, that seems to be gone as well.

Gold Star families, I think that left in the convention over the summer. But I just thought — the selfless devotion that brings a man or woman to die on the battlefield, I just thought that that might be sacred.

And when I listened to this woman and what she was saying, and what she was doing on TV, the only thing I could do to collect my thoughts was to go and walk among the finest men and women on this Earth. And you can always find them because they’re in Arlington National Cemetery. I went over there for an hour-and-a-half, walked among the stones, some of whom I put there because they were doing what I told them to do when they were killed.

I’ll end with this: In October — April, rather, of 2015, I was still on active duty, and I went to the dedication of the new FBI field office in Miami. And it was dedicated to two men who were killed in a firefight in Miami against drug traffickers in 1986 — a guy by the name of Grogan and Duke. Grogan almost retired, 53 years old; Duke, I think less than a year on the job. Anyways, they got in a gunfight and they were killed. Three other FBI agents were there, were wounded, and now retired. So we go down — Jim Comey gave an absolutely brilliant memorial speech to those fallen men and to all of the men and women of the FBI who serve our country so well, and law enforcement so well.

There were family members there. Some of the children that were there were three or four years old when their dads were killed on that street in Miami-Dade. Three of the men that survived the fight were there, and gave a rendition of how brave those men were and how they gave their lives.

And a congresswoman stood up, and in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there and all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President Obama, and on that phone call he gave the money — the $20 million — to build the building. And she sat down, and we were stunned. Stunned that she had done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.

But, you know, none of us went to the press and criticized. None of us stood up and were appalled. We just said, okay, fine.

So I still hope, as you write your stories, and I appeal to America, that let’s not let this maybe last thing that’s held sacred in our society — a young man, young woman going out and giving his or her life for our country — let’s try to somehow keep that sacred. But it eroded a great deal yesterday by the selfish behavior of a member of Congress.

So I’m willing to take a question or two on this topic. Let me ask you this: Is anyone here a Gold Star parent or sibling? Does anyone here know a Gold Star parent or sibling?

Okay, you get the question.

Q Well, thank you, General Kelly. First of all, we have a great deal of respect — Semper Fi — for everything that you’ve ever done. But if we could take this a bit further. Why were they in Niger? We were told they weren’t in armored vehicles and there was no air cover. So what are the specifics about this particular incident? And why were we there? And why are we there?

GENERAL KELLY: Well, I would start by saying there is an investigation. Let me back up and say, the fact of the matter is, young men and women that wear our uniform are deployed around the world and there are tens of thousands, near the DMZ in North Korea [sic], in Okinawa, waiting to go — in South Korea — in Okinawa, ready to go. All over the United States, training, ready to go. They’re all over Latin America. Down there, they do mostly drug and addiction, working with our partners — our great partners — the Colombians, the Central Americans, the Mexicans.

You know, there’s thousands. My own son, right now, back in the fight for his fifth tour against ISIS. There’s thousands of them in Europe acting as a deterrent. And they’re throughout Africa. And they’re doing the nation’s work there, and not making a lot of money, by the way, doing it. They love what they do.

So why were they there? They’re there working with partners, local — all across Africa — in this case, Niger — working with partners, teaching them how to be better soldiers; teaching them how to respect human rights; teaching them how to fight ISIS so that we don’t have to send our soldiers and Marines there in their thousands. That’s what they were doing there.

Now, there is an investigation. There’s always an — unless it’s a very, very conventional death in a conventional war, there’s always an investigation. Of course, that operation is conducted by AFRICOM that, of course, works directly for the Secretary of Defense.

There is a — and I talked to Jim Mattis this morning. I think he made statements this afternoon. There’s an investigation ongoing. An investigation doesn’t mean anything was wrong. An investigation doesn’t mean people’s heads are going to roll. The fact is they need to find out what happened and why it happened.

But at the end of the day, ladies and gentlemen, you have to understand that these young people — sometimes old guys — put on the uniform, go to where we send them to protect our country. Sometimes they go in large numbers to invade Iraq and invade Afghanistan. Sometimes they’re working in small units, working with our partners in Africa, Asia, Latin America, helping them be better.

But at the end of the day, they’re helping those partners be better at fighting ISIS in North Africa to protect our country so that we don’t have to send large numbers of troops.

Any other — someone who knows a Gold Star fallen person.

John?

Q General, thank you for being here today and thank you for your service and for your family’s sacrifice. There has been some talk about the timetable of the release of the statement about the — I think at that point it was three soldiers who were killed in Niger. Can you walk us through the timetable of the release of that information? And what part did the fact that a beacon was pinging during that time have to do with the release of the statement? And were you concerned that divulging information early might jeopardize the soldiers’ attempt to be (inaudible)?

GENERAL KELLY: First of all, that’s a — you know, we are at the highest level of the U.S. government. The people that will answer those questions will be the people at the other end of the military pyramid.

I’m sure the Special Forces group is conducting it. I know they’re conducting an investigation. That investigation, of course, under the auspices of AFRICOM, ultimately will go to the Pentagon. I’ve read the same stories you have. I actually know a lot more than I’m letting on, but I’m not going to tell you.

There is an investigation being done. But as I say, the men and women of our country that are serving all around the world — I mean, what the hell is my son doing back in the fight? He’s back in the fight because — working with Iraqi soldiers who are infinitely better than they were a few years ago to take ISIS on directly so that we don’t have to do it. Small numbers of Marines where he is working alongside those guys. That’s why they’re out there, whether it’s Niger, Iraq, or whatever. We don’t want to send tens of thousands of American soldiers and Marines, in particular, to go fight.

I’ll take one more, but it’s got to be from someone who knows — all right.

Q General, when you talk about Niger, sir, what does your intelligence tell you about the Russian connection with them? And the stories that are coming out now, they’re —

GENERAL KELLY: I have no knowledge of any Russian connection, but I was not, in my position, to know that. That’s a question for NORTHCOM or for — not NORTHCOM — for AFRICOM or DOD.

Thanks very much, everybody.

As I walk off the stage, understand there’s tens of thousands of American kids, mostly, doing their nation’s bidding all around the world. They don’t have to be in uniform. You know, when I was a kid, every man in my life was a veteran — World War II, Korea, and there was the draft. These young people today, they don’t do it for any other reason than their selfless — sense of selfless devotion to this great nation.

We don’t look down upon those of you who that haven’t served. In fact, in a way we’re a little bit sorry because you’ll have never have experienced the wonderful joy you get in your heart when you do the kinds of things our service men and women do — not for any other reason than they love this country. So just think of that.

And I do appreciate your time. Take care.

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White House Chief of Staff John Kelly defended President Donald Trump and harshly criticized a Democratic congresswoman on Thursday, in a lengthy and emotional statement from the White House Briefing Room podium that included a mention of his son, who died when he stepped on a landmine in Afghanistan in 2010.

At the White House press briefing Thursday, Kelly said he was “stunned” that Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) listened in on Trump’s call to the widow of a fallen soldier earlier this week. Both Wilson and Sgt. La David Johnson’s childhood guardian said that when Trump called to offer his condolences to Johnson’s widow, he had said that Johnson “knew what he was signing up for.” Wilson said Johnson’s widow had tearfully observed after the call that Trump didn’t know her fallen husband’s name.

Wilson said everyone in the car heard the call with Trump, as the soldier’s widow, Myeshia Johnson, had set her device to speakerphone.

Kelly attacked Wilson for relaying the contents of the call to members of the media.

I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning, and brokenhearted at what I saw a member of Congress doing,” he said. “A member of Congress who listened in the on a phone call from the President of the United States to a young wife.”

“John Kelly’s trying to keep his job,” Wilson told POLITICO on Thursday. “He will say anything. There were other people who heard what I heard.”

Kelly said he saw Wilson’s listening into to Trump’s call with Myeshia Johnson as part of a pattern in the degradation of certain “sacred” parts of American life: “Women,” “life,” “religion,” and “gold star families,” the latter perhaps being a reference to the Khan family’s outspoken criticism of Trump during the 2016 campaign, which was met with attacks from Trump.

“You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country,” he said. “Women were sacred and looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore as we’ve seen from recent cases. Life, the dignity of life was sacred. That’s gone. Religion. That seems to be gone as well. Gold star families, I think that left in the convention over the summer. But I just thought the selfless devotion that brings a man or woman to die on the battlefield, I just thought that that might be sacred.”

Kelly continued, referring to Rep. Wilson: “When I listened to this woman and what she was saying and what she was doing on TV, the only thing I could do to collect my thoughts was to go and walk among the finest men and women on this Earth. And you can always find them, because they’re at Arlington National Cemetery.”

“John Kelly’s trying to keep his job,” Wilson told POLITICO on Thursday. “He will say anything. There were other people who heard what I heard.”

Most Americans don’t know what happens when we lose one of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines or coast guardsmen in combat,” Kelly had said at the top of his remarks to reporters. “So let me tell you what happens.”

Kelly described each step in minute detail, his voice trembling.

“They are the very best this country produces, and they volunteer to protect our country when there’s nothing in our country anymore that seems to suggest that self service to the nation is not only appropriate but required,” he said. “But that’s alright.”

Trump ignited the firestorm on Monday, when he was asked why he had not yet publicly mentioned the deaths of four Green Berets in an ambush in Niger on Oct. 4. In making his first public statement about the four deaths, Trump accused former presidents of not sufficiently comforting the grieving families of fallen service members. The following day, he told Fox News Radio’s Brian Kilmeade that the media should ask Kelly if Obama had called him when his son died.

Kelly said Thursday that he had told Trump Obama had not called him when his son died.

“That was not a criticism,” Kelly said. “That was just to simply say, I don’t believe President Obama called. That’s not a negative thing. I don’t believe President Bush called in all cases.”

Kelly also suggested Trump had gotten his line that Sgt. Johnson “knew what he was signing up for” from him.

“And he said to me, ‘What do I say’” Kelly recalled Trump asking him, before calling the families of those lost in Niger.

“I said to him, sir, there’s nothing you can do to lighten the burden on these families,” Kelly continued. “But let me tell you what I tell them, let me tell you what my best friend, Joe Dunford, told me, because he was my casualty officer.”

“He said ‘Kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1 percent.’”

Watch the full press briefing below:

This post has been updated.

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President Donald Trump on Thursday gave the federal government’s hurricane response in Puerto Rico “a 10” out of 10.

Answering reporters’ questions in the Oval Office for more than 30 minutes alongside the island’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló, Trump repeated the phrase often, and even attempted to draw similar praise from the governor.

“Did the United States, did our government, when we came in, did we do a great job? Military? First responders? FEMA? Did we do a great job?” Trump asked the governor.

“You responded immediately, sir,” Rosselló said, failing to match Trump’s self-congratulatory tone. The governor listed a series of obstacles that he said disaster relief personnel on the island had had to overcome.

“The response is there,” he said. “Do we need to do a lot more? Of course we do. And I think everybody over here recognizes there’s a lot of work to be done in Puerto Rico. But with your leadership, sir, and with everybody over here, we’re committed to achieving that in the long run.”

Trump unwound his arms, tightly-crossed through much of the meeting, to point to his FEMA administrator. “Brock?”

Brock Long listed FEMA’s efforts “from the Virgin Islands to California,” and affirmed that, yes, Mr. President, “it’s been a tremendous effort.”

“This is actually bigger than anything we’ve seen,” Trump said, somewhat defiantly. “And yet I think our response was better than anyone has ever seen.”

Officially, 48 people have died on the island as a result of the storm, but the real count is likely much higher. According to the Puerto Rican government, the vast majority of the island is still without power, and clean drinking water is still a rarity in some areas.

In the wide-ranging question-and-answer session, the pair discussed everything from reports of local corruption to, briefly, Puerto Rican statehood. “You’ll get me into trouble with that question,” Trump told an inquiring reporter. At one point, the President congratulated members of the military who had become deputized truck drivers, filling in for truckers on the island who had lost everything.

“They’re not supposed to be driving trucks,” he said. “It’s not even their aptitude.” 

Much of the press availability, however, consisted of a terse back-and-forth between a governor overseeing a devastated island and a President who complained just days after Hurricane Maria made its chaotic landfall that Puerto Ricans “want everything to be done for them.”

Rosselló thanked Trump for his support for investments that he projected would make the island a “model of sustainable energy and growth towards the future.”

Trump countered: “You are talking about some substantial numbers, and I guess you knew that.”

“I know you were talking about rebuilding your electric plant long before the hurricane, you’ve been wanting to do that for a long time,” Trump continued. “So maybe this is a reason that we can do it and we’ll help you and we’ll all do it together.”

Perhaps predictably, the President returned to his obsession with Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. In 2016, Congress signed into law the so-called PROMESA legislation, which turned control of the island’s debt over to a federally-appointed financial oversight board.

Once, Trump implied that the island’s debt would be forgiven as part of the hurricane relief effort. His budget director quickly clarified that the President meant no such thing. On Thursday, Trump sounded like he wanted to issue even more debt to the island — and to prioritize the government’s position as a debt collector.

“We’re going to be coming before — meaning far before — any existing debt that’s on the island because as you know, the island has massive debt,” he said cryptically, adding: “Any debt that’s put in, we’ll be coming before that debt. We want to make sure that we put in debt, and that debt is absolutely protected.”

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The governor of Puerto Rico on Thursday said that residents of the island “need equal treatment” as those of Texas and Florida when it comes to the federal government’s disaster response.

Speaking to reporters before a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said, “We’re all in this together: U.S. citizens in Texas. U.S. citizens in Florida. U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. We need equal treatment. We need all of the resources so that we can get out of the emergency, and of course, the resources to rebuild stronger than ever.”

Earlier, a reporter asked what grade Rosselló would give the disaster response effort in Puerto Rico, one month after Hurricane Maria made landfall on the island, leaving devastating infrastructure damage in its wake.

“There has been a lot of work done, and we’ve recognized that,” Rosselló said. “But there’s still a lot of work to go ahead. There are things that we need to surface from the emergency.”

He added: “In these emergencies, things might have the appearance that they are stabilizing at one point, but you always have future problems that can arise such as public health emergencies and otherwise.”

President Donald Trump has been dismissive of the ongoing crisis in Puerto Rico.

Ten days after the hurricane made landfall, he complained that disaster-struck Puerto Ricans “want everything to be done for them.”

By that point, Trump had already begun obsessively commenting on the island’s debt crisis. And less than two weeks after the storm made landfall, he complained that Puerto Rican truck drivers — many of whom were dealing with their own personal crises, let alone badly damaged roads — weren’t sufficiently helpful in distributing supplies across the island.

“At a local level they have to give us more help,” he said of the devastated islanders.

A week ago, Trump said that the federal government could not stay in Puerto Rico “forever,” drawing yet more outrage for a comment it would be unimaginable to consider him making about Florida, or Texas, or Louisiana, where FEMA stayed for years after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in the state.

Before the governor left to meet Trump, a reporter asked Rosselló about the distribution of relief supplies around Puerto Rico, an effort still hamstrung by a scattered federal response and badly damaged infrastructure.

“Right now it’s working,” he responded. “It’s augmenting significantly. We’re working with the municipalities. I’ve posted the National Guard in Puerto Rico to help with logistics. I sent out auditors from the Treasury Department so that they can actually have accountability over what is going on, and of course there has been some investigations ongoing into the proper management of some of those resources.”

“But our efforts still, at this moment, are life sustainment efforts, hospitals, water, food, medicine distribution and so forth, but also keeping clear that if we don’t also focus on the mid- and long-term we could have a bigger problem down the road,” he concluded.

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Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, announced his resignation from Congress on Thursday.

“Today, it is with a humble and thankful heart that I announce I will not be seeking reelection,” Tiberi said in a statement. “While I have not yet determined a final resignation date, I will be leaving Congress by January 31, 2018.”

“I have been presented with an opportunity to lead the Ohio Business Roundtable that will allow me to continue to work on public policy issues impacting Ohioans while also spending more time with my family,” he added.

The New York Times first reported Wednesday that Tiberi was expected to resign.

The Times noted that Tiberi’s resignation was yet another sign of increasing frustration among Republicans in the congressional majority.

Tiberi joins a growing list of incumbent Republicans not running for reelection in 2018. In the House: Reps. Charlie Dent (R-PA), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Dave Trott (R-MI), John J. Duncan Jr. (R-TN), Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Tim Murphy (R-PA). Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) announced in September that he would not seek reelection in 2018.

A little over a month ago, the congressman was named the chair of the newly-minted “Republican Main Street Caucus,” dedicated to “governing” and “getting things done,” USA Today reported at the time.

Read Tiberi’s full statement below:

“It has been the most remarkable honor of my life to serve the people of the 12th District. As the son of Italian immigrants, I am forever grateful for the opportunity my parents gave me by coming to America and raising our family in Ohio. It was because of their pursuit of the American Dream that made it possible for me to serve 17 years in the halls of Congress representing my home. This truly is the greatest country in the world.

“Today, it is with a humble and thankful heart that I announce I will not be seeking reelection. While I have not yet determined a final resignation date, I will be leaving Congress by January 31, 2018. I have been presented with an opportunity to lead the Ohio Business Roundtable that will allow me to continue to work on public policy issues impacting Ohioans while also spending more time with my family. Leaving Congress is not a decision I take lightly but after a lot of consideration, it is the best one for me, my wife, Denice, and our four wonderful daughters.

“Over the years, I’ve met and worked with so many amazing people, including constituents from all walks of life and my colleagues from across the country. I’ve also had the best staff behind me throughout my entire career. We have helped thousands of constituents with problems they have had with the federal government and fought for solutions to improve the lives of Americans everywhere. I am proud of my team’s work and everything that we have accomplished together.

“In Congress, nothing is possible without the support of the people we represent. To the people of Ohio’s 12th District, I will always be appreciative of the years you’ve allowed me to serve. Thank you.”

This post has been updated.

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Roy Moore’s charitable foundation accepted a $1,000 donation from a group founded by an open Nazi sympathizer in 2005, HuffPost reported Wednesday, citing public tax records.

The Foundation to Defend the First Amendment (FDFA) was founded by Nazi sympathizer Willis Carto, according to HuffPost.

There is no evidence Moore’s group, Foundation for Moral Law, returned the check, HuffPost reported.

Neither Moore’s foundation nor his campaign returned TPM’s requests to confirm or comment on the donation.

Moore is closely tied to Confederate sympathizers and has expressed extremely right-wing views in the past, including that homosexuality should be outlawed and that Muslims ought not be allowed to serve in Congress.

FDFA, which describes itself as a pro-free-speech organization, advertises its support for Moore and his foundation on its website.

The white-supremacist-turned-FBI-informant Todd Blodgett told HuffPost that the ideology of the people running FDFA is “Total Nazi; and notice I didn’t say neo-Nazi.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center described Carto, who died in 2015, as the “founder of several radical right publications and organizations and a major American promoter of Holocaust denial.”

In an advertisement for FDFA, a related publication, American Free Press, beseeched readers: “Every year, Liberals, Zionists and other Globalists and Internationalists write off donations to their favorite causes on their income tax returns. Now it’s YOUR TURN to do the same thing!”

This post has been updated.

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President Donald Trump promised a grieving father $25,000 after his son, an Army corporal, was killed in Afghanistan in June. But he never followed through on the promise, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Chris Baldridge told the Post that when Trump called him a few weeks after his son, Army Cpl. Dillon Baldridge, was killed by an Afghan police officer on June 10, he had mentioned to the President that his ex-wife was listed by their son as the beneficiary of the Pentagon’s $100,000 death gratuity.

“He said, ‘I’m going to write you a check out of my personal account for $25,000,’ and I was just floored,” Baldridge told the Post, referring to Trump. “I could not believe he was saying that, and I wish I had it recorded because the man did say this. He said, ‘No other president has ever done something like this,’ but he said, ‘I’m going to do it.’”

But the grieving father told the Post that the check never came. Trump also promised that his staff would create an online fundraiser for Baldridge, but that didn’t happen either, Baldridge told the Post.

In a statement to the Post, White House spokesperson Lindsay Walters said “[t]he check has been sent,” and that it was “disgusting that the media is taking something that should be recognized as a generous and sincere gesture, made privately by the President, and using it to advance the media’s biased agenda.”

The story recalled a previous scandal over Trump’s charitable giving to veterans: A full four months passed before Trump donated a promised $1 million to veterans’ causes, during which time his campaign lied about Trump having already donated the money.

Trump also claimed — while admitting Monday and Tuesday that he had not yet been in touch with the four military families who lost loved ones in Niger on Oct. 4 — that he had spoken to “every” family of a service member killed during his presidency.

According to the Post, that’s not true: The paper found five families who lost service members during Trump’s tenure as President who had not heard from Trump over the phone. The Associated Press earlier on Wednesday contacted one family who had not been in touch at all with Trump, via phone or letter.

Asked on Monday why he had not publicly discussed the four Green Berets who died in a raid in Niger on Oct. 4, Trump said he would call and send letters to their families, and then accused other presidents of not calling the families of fallen soldiers.

Officials in past White Houses quickly refuted the claim.

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Alice Ollstein contributed reporting from Washington, D.C.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that President Donald Trump does not support a bipartisan deal to stabilize Obamacare’s individual market, reversing the White House’s stance once again.

But as Sanders was laying out the White House’s position, one of the co-authors of the deal insisted to reporters on the Hill that Trump was not opposed to it.

The deal, championed by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), would fund Obamacare’s cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) for two years. Trump recently refused to authorize the payments to insurance companies, which are used to lower the cost of insurance for low- and middle-income people purchasing insurance on Obamacare’s individual market.

The deal would also restore funding for Obamacare outreach, in addition to making concessions to conservatives like waiving some regulations and making skimpier plans available on the individual market.

“Is it correct then to say that President Trump does not support this deal in its current form?” a reporter asked Sanders Wednesday.

“Correct,” she said.

But earlier in the press briefing Wednesday, Sanders called the deal “a good step.”

“We want something that doesn’t just bail out the insurance companies but actually provides relief for all Americans,” she said. “And this bill doesn’t address that fact so we want to make sure that that’s taken care of.”

“We think this is a step — a good step in the right direction,” she continued. “This President certainly supports Republicans and Democrats coming to work together, but it’s not a full approach and we need something to go a little bit further to get on board.”

One reporter asked her to be more specific.

“Some of the things that the President has stated before,” she replied. “He wants to lower premiums, he wants to provide greater flexibility, he wants to drive competition. He likes the idea of block grants to states. Those are a lot of the the ideas that he’d like to see in a health care plan.”

Trump himself has come out on both sides of the deal. After refusing to pay for CSRs, throwing insurance markets into a panic, he called Alexander and Murray’s deal to re-fund them “a very good solution” during a joint press conference with the Greek prime minister Tuesday.

On Wednesday, he reversed course again.

But, speaking to reporters as Sanders said Trump didn’t support the current deal, Alexander said that “no,” he didn’t interpret Trump’s tweet Wednesday morning as his coming out against the bill.

“The President literally called me a week ago Saturday and asked me to do this,” he said. “And then we talked again last Saturday about it, and then he called me again this morning. He’s made all those calls.”

“I don’t expect him to support an agreement he hasn’t read,” he continued, adding: “All this is, is a proposal by Sen. Murray and me that we think makes sense for the American people.”

This post has been updated.

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