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

Two men were arrested outside the Tucson, Arizona office of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) on Thursday for third degree criminal trespassing during a protest. One of the men was also charged with misdemeanor threats and intimidation.

In a statement, Pima County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Cody Gress told TPM that police had been called to Flake’s office with reports of threats.

Staffers working at the office indicated one of the protesters had made comments referencing the shooting of Rep. Scalise which prompted them to call the Sheriff’s Department as well as lock the office doors prohibiting access to the office from the protestors,” the statement said.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) was seriously wounded when a gunman opened fire on a Republican congressional baseball practice in June. Sen. Flake was at the practice and described the incident at length to reporters afterward.

In an email to TPM, a spokesperson for Flake described the exchange in which Prichard made the alleged threat.

You know how liberals are going to solve the Republican problem?” Prichard allegedly asked.

“No,” a Flake staffer responded.

“They are going to get better aim,” Prichard allegedly said. “That last guy tried, but he needed better aim.  We will get better aim.”

The spokesperson said the matter had been referred to Capitol Police.

According to the PCSD statement, protester Mark Prichard (pictured above left), 59, “made it a point to step back onto the property after being told not to do so and was immediately arrested.”

When a staffer for Flake opened the office’s door to hand information to the protesters, according to the police statement, another protester, Patrick Diehl (pictured above right), 70, “tried to force his way into the office and passed the staffer.” He was also arrested.

“Upon further review of the evidence and statements made by Mark Prichard to the staff at Sen Flake’s office, he has also been charged with Threats and Intimidation (Class 1 Misdemeanor) on top of the 3rd Degree Criminal Trespass charge,” the statement said.

It added: “No force was used in apprehending either of the two men, and no violence occurred from the protest itself.”

Responding to TPM’s questions, Gress said Prichard and Diehl were scheduled to appear in front of a judge at 8:00 p.m. local time to decide bail and future trial dates.

Read Gress’ full statement below:

This morning just before 9:00 a.m. local time, Pima County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the office of Senator Jeff Flake at 6840 North Oracle Road for reports of threats. Deputies arrived and encountered some protestors outside of Sen. Flake’s office. Staffers working at the office indicated one of the protestors had made comments referencing the shooting of Rep. Scalise which prompted them to call the Sheriff’s Department as well as lock the office doors prohibiting access to the office from the protestors. The office is a rented space on privately owned property, and the property management company as well as the staff at Sen. Flake’s office indicated they wanted the protestor who made the comments to be trespassed. Deputies made contact with the protestor who was on an easement off property grounds and informed him he was not allowed back on the property. The protestor made it a point to step back onto the property after being told not to do so and was immediately arrested forCriminal Trespass in the 3rd Degree (Class 1 Misdemeanor). This person was identified as 59-year-old Mark Prichard.

The office was still not allowing protestors into the office at this point, when a staffer opened the door to pass out informational packets which the protestors could submit to the office with their concerns. When the staffer opened the door to hand these out, a protestor tried to force his way into the office and passed the staffer. He was immediately arrested for Criminal Trespass in the 3rdDegree as well. He was identified as 70-year-old Patrick Diehl. Both men were transported to the Pima County Adult Detention Complex for their charges. The remaining protestors were allowed to be on the property 5 at a time from that point forward, and the remaining protest time was peaceful.

Upon further review of the evidence and statements made by Mark Prichard to the staff at Sen Flake’s office, he has also been charged with Threats and Intimidation (Class 1 Misdemeanor) on top of the 3rd Degree Criminal Trespass charge.

Please call Sen. Flake’s office for information on whether or not those comments will be forwarded to Capitol Police. No force was used in apprehending either of the two men, and no violence occurred from the protest itself. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department would like to remind everyone that Sen. Flake’s office is not public property, but is rented space in a privately owned business area.

H/t Tucson News Now.

This post has been updated.

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The director of the Office of Government Ethics, for months a vocal and active critic of the Trump administration’s various financial entanglements, announced his resignation Thursday, six months before the scheduled end of his term.

Walter Shaub Jr. announced his resignation in a short letter posted to his Twitter account:

In an interview with the Washington Post published at the same time, Shaub said he hadn’t been pressured out of the position, but that he felt he had done as much as he could within the limitations of the office.

“It’s clear that there isn’t more I could accomplish,” he said.

The Campaign Legal Center, an advocacy group that focuses primarily on government ethics, campaign finance and election law, announced that Shaub would join the group’s staff. CLC was founded by Trevor Potter, once a Republican appointee to the Federal Election Commission who became somewhat of a household name as legal counsel to Stephen Colbert’s conservative, Comedy Central-era persona.

CLC said Shaub would work with Larry Noble, its chief counsel and himself an outspoken critic of the Trump administration for its plethora of conflicts of interest and brushes with the law.

“In working with the current administration, it has become clear to me that we need improvements to the existing ethics program,” Shaub was quoted as saying in a statement on CLC’s website. “I look forward to working toward that aim at Campaign Legal Center, as well as working on ethics reforms at all levels of government.”

Beginning with Trump’s announcement in January that he would not divest from his massive web of businesses, nor would he even put them into a blind trust, Shaub positioned himself squarely against the new administration.

Shaub called the plan “wholly inadequate” and said it “doesn’t meet the standards that the best of his nominees are meeting and that every president in the last four decades have met.”

His prodding of the administration continued for months, including when White House aide Kellyanne Conway plugged Ivanka Trump’s clothing line in her official capacity, and in response to Trump’s after-the-fact waivers for many members of his administration who were in violation of the Presidential ethics pledge.

This post has been updated.

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Eighteen states and the District of Columbia on Thursday filed suit against the Department of Education and its secretary, Betsy DeVos, for “abandoning” protections for student loan borrowers established in the Obama administration and originally scheduled to take effect on July 1.

The so-called Borrower Defense Rule, completed by the Obama administration after years of work, entitled student loan borrowers to pursue loan forgiveness from schools found to have defrauded them. It also limited the ability of for-profit colleges to force students to sign arbitration agreements and class action waivers — thereby preventing them from taking cases against the schools to court.

“Since day one, Secretary DeVos has sided with for-profit school executives against students and families drowning in unaffordable student loans,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey wrote in a statement accompanying the lawsuit. “Her decision to cancel vital protections for students and taxpayers is a betrayal of her office’s responsibility and a violation of federal law. We call on Secretary DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education to restore these rules immediately.”  

Healy noted that DeVos announced a review of the rule in May following a lawsuit against the Department of Education to stop the rule, from a group of for-profit colleges. DeVos announced she would delay the rule in June, citing “pending litigation challenging the BDR regulations” and what she described as an Obama administration rule-making effort that “missed an opportunity to get it right.”

The attorneys general filing suit against DeVos don’t buy it.

“[B]oth the language of the Delay Notice and the circumstances of its announcement belie this rationale and make clear that the Department’s reference to the pending litigation is a mere pretext for repealing the Rule and replacing it with a new rule that will remove or dilute,” they alleged in the suit.

In fact, Politico reported in June, citing internal documents that it had obtained, that DeVos cited the lawsuit as grounds to delay the rule’s implementation only after considering other rationales.

The rule largely took shape in the shadow of Corinthian Colleges, Inc., a for-profit group that declared collapsed 2015, leaving behind a massive, nationwide trail of defrauded students (and student loan borrowers).

In June, a similar wave of attorneys general urged DeVos to provide debt relief to students defrauded by Corinthians, signing onto a letter penned by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

“We urge the Department to discharge these loans, consistent with your statements before a House appropriations subcommittee in May, and to do so swiftly,” the attorneys general wrote. “There are already findings that these student borrowers have been defrauded, and every day that passes causes them further harm. The Department should act immediately to finalize the discharge of these loans.”

Read the complaint below:

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The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee slammed President Donald Trump on Thursday for again casting doubt on the assertion of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

“The President’s comments today, again casting doubt on whether Russia was behind the blatant interference in our election and suggesting – his own intelligence agencies to the contrary – that nobody really knows, continue to directly undermine U.S. interests,” Schiff said in a statement. “This is not putting America first, but continuing to propagate his own personal fiction at the country’s expense.”

In a press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw, Trump said of the election meddling: “I think it was Russia. And I think it could have been other people and other countries. It could have been a lot of people interfered.”

He added: “I won’t be specific. But I think a lot of people interfere.”

Trump also blamed the Obama administration for not doing more to counter the interference at the time, and compared intelligence communities’ assessments to their assertions in the lead up to the Iraq War that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

“They were wrong, and it led to a mess,” he said.

The House Intelligence Committee, one of several bodies investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including potential collusion with Trump associates, is in the middle of interviewing several individuals close to Trump.

Read Schiff’s full statement below:

Los Angeles, CA – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement:

“The President’s comments today, again casting doubt on whether Russia was behind the blatant interference in our election and suggesting – his own intelligence agencies to the contrary – that nobody really knows, continue to directly undermine U.S. interests. This is not putting America first, but continuing to propagate his own personal fiction at the country’s expense.

“President Trump must have the courage to raise the issue of Russian interference in our elections directly with President Putin, otherwise the Kremlin will conclude he is too weak to stand up to them. That would be a historic mistake, with damaging implications for our foreign policy for years to come.

“He should also confront Russia over its continued destabilization  of Ukraine, and the illegal annexation and continued occupation of Crimea and parts of Georgia. He should make it clear that the U.S. is not going to make common cause with Russia in propping up Bashar al-Assad in Syria, nor turn a blind eye to any potential Russian support of the Taliban or increased trade with North Korea.”

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President Donald Trump on Thursday drew a direct link between his aspirations for a strict immigration policy and what he characterized as the Western world’s fight against Islamist terrorism.

“We are confronted by another oppressive ideology — one that seeks to export terrorism and extremism all around the globe,” he said in a speech in Warsaw, Poland. “America and Europe have suffered one terror attack after another. We’re going to get it to stop.”

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party is well-known for its nativist views on immigration, especially from Muslim-majority countries. After a terror attack in London left five dead, Poland’s prime minister linked the attack to the European Union’s immigration policy. (The attacker, Khalid Masood, was born and raised in Britain.)

“While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism of any kind,” Trump said.

After several lower courts temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s ban on travel from several Muslim-majority countries, the Supreme Court allowed much of the ban to go back into effect, except for those with close relationships to individuals or entities in the United States.

“We are fighting hard against radical Islamic terrorism, and we will prevail,” Trump said. “We cannot accept those who reject our values and who use hatred to justify violence against the innocent.”

He characterized Poland and the United States as part of “the West” 10 times in the speech, positioning the nations against the Islamic State and other foreign threats.

“We have to remember that our defense is not just a commitment of money, it is a commitment of will,” Trump said. “Because as the Polish experience reminds us, the defense of the West ultimately rests not only on means but also on the will of its people to prevail and be successful and get what you have to have.”

“The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” he added. “Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost?  Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”

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The director of New Jersey’s division of elections said Wednesday that the state would provide only publicly available data — or data that adheres to “the appropriate legal process for information requests” — to President Donald Trump’s shady “election integrity” commission.

“To date, no information has been released nor will any future information be released that is not publicly available or does not follow the appropriate legal process for information requests,” Division of Elections Director Robert Giles said in a statement, according to NJTV News’ Shoshannah Buxbaum:

The commission recently sent requests to all 50 states for voters’ personal information, including the last four digits of their Social Security numbers and data related to potential criminal history, military status and overseas citizen status.

A number of states have refused the request outright. Many, including the home states of the commission’s chair and vice chair, Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, have said that state law prevents them from providing certain data, including partial social security numbers.

Voting rights advocates and election experts say the committee is a veiled attempt to justify Trump’s evidence-free claim that millions of illegal votes lost him the popular vote in the 2016 election to Hillary Clinton. Many argue it will use states’ data to recommend tight restrictions on voting at the federal level.

A lawsuit from the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed Monday accused the commission of improperly requesting that data be transferred to it electronically without first completing and making public a privacy impact assessment as required by law.

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Renaissance Technologies, the hedge fund of influential Trump supporter Robert Mercer, bought nearly 2.5 million shares of Time Inc. in the first quarter of 2017, the New York Post first reported Tuesday night, citing a regulatory filing.

Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer, are well-known in conservative circles for their strong financial support for Trump, in addition to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and others. The Mercers are also part owners of Breitbart, the far-right news and commentary website from which Trump has hired many members of his administration.

Renaissance Technologies’ investment in Time Inc. — which publishes Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, Entertainment Weekly, and a host of other titles — was valued at $48.1 million on March 31, according to the filing.

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President Donald Trump on Wednesday criticized China for its increase in trade with North Korea, following what unnamed U.S. officials said Tuesday was North Korea’s test of a “probable” intercontinental ballistic missile.

The data to which Trump was referring was actually available in April, when China released its first-quarter trade data showing a 37.4 percent growth in trade with North Korea. Days earlier, Trump met at length with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Florida.

A day before China released its first-quarter trade data, Trump indicated he would not label the country a currency manipulator, saying the broken campaign promise was worth the country’s cooperation in dealing with North Korea.

On Monday night, shortly after news broke that North Korea had tested another missile, Trump asked, referring to the country’s ruler, “Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?” and suggested “Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”

On June 20, after American student and freed North Korean captive Otto Warmbier died of injuries sustained in the country, Trump wrote that while he appreciated Xi’s “help with North Korea, it has not worked out.”

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Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said Tuesday that she was surprised at how prominent Republicans’ Obamacare repeal efforts were in voters’ minds.

“There was only one issue. That’s unusual. It’s usually a wide range of issues,” she told the Washington Post after a July 4th parade in Eastport, Maine. “I heard, over and over again, encouragement for my stand against the current version of the Senate and House health care bills. People were thanking me, over and over again. ‘Thank you, Susan!’ ‘Stay strong, Susan!’”

Collins was one of several key senators to oppose a vote on Republicans’ bill to repeal Obamacare and make deep long-term cuts to Medicaid. A group of Republican senators wrote the bill in secret for weeks and released a draft text of it on June 22, hoping for a vote as early as June 29.

The senator added Tuesday that so-called health savings accounts, tax-incentivized accounts from which consumers pay for medical services, “can work,” with enough federal funding.

“If you have a Health Savings Account that is federally funded, that equals the deductible, that can work, but it has to be designed right,” she said. “I don’t want to see insurance that’s not really insurance.”

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The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a privacy advocacy group, filed suit on Monday against President Donald Trump’s bogus “election integrity” commission over its request to all 50 states for sensitive voter information.

“[T]he Commission had already committed two egregious security blunders,” EPIC said in a statement on its website. “(1) directing state election officials to send voter records to an unsecure web site and (2) proposing to publish partial SSNs that would enable identity theft and financial fraud.”

In its suit requesting a temporary injunction against the commission’s data collection activities, filed in the D.C. District Court, the group called the request for partial Social Security numbers “both without precedent and crazy.”

It also accused the commission of violating the E-Government Act of 2002, which requires a privacy impact assessment be completed and made available to the public before the collection of personal information by the federal government using information technology. No assessment was conducted before requesting voter data, the suit alleges.

The commission’s broad request for data combined with the lack of any privacy assessment could “cause irreparable harm to EPIC’s members,” the suit alleged.

“Once data has been leaked, there is no way to control its spread,” it continued. “With a data breach, there is literally no way to repair the damage, once done.”

A number of states — 41, by CNN’s count — have refused to cooperate with all or part of the commission’s request for sensitive voter data in recent days, some citing state and federal law.

In addition to personal and political information, the committee requested information regarding voters’ potential felony, military and overseas citizen statuses.

The suit named both the commission’s chair and its vice chair, Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, in their official capacity. Both of their home states have declined to share certain information with the commission, citing state law.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly gave the defendants until 4:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday to respond to the suit.

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