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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

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Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) said Thursday that fired FBI Director Jim Comey’s written opening statement will make it easier to question him during a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer on Wednesday responded to fired FBI Director James Comey’s prepared testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee by saying that Trump felt “completely and totally vindicated.”

The committee released Comey’s testimony earlier Wednesday.

“The president is pleased that Mr. Comey has finally publicly confirmed his private reports that the President was not under investigation in any Russia probe,” Marc Kasowitz wrote in a statement. “The president feels completely and totally vindicated.”

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The White House on Wednesday refused again to say whether the attorney general had the confidence of the President.

“I haven’t had a chance to have an extensive conversation with him today, but I certainly plan to ask him that,” deputy White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, asked about Trump’s confidence in Sessions.

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer similarly refused to say whether Sessions had Trump’s confidence, an ominous sign in light of reports that Trump is still fuming at Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian meddling into the 2016 election.

The New York Times reported Monday that Trump tied Sessions’ recusal to Robert Mueller’s appointment as special counsel in charge of the investigation.

Several outlets corroborated the Times’ reporting. The President also lashed out at the Justice Department this week over his revised travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries, which is currently tied up in court.

Citing multiple unnamed sources, ABC News reported Tuesday night that the tension between Trump and Sessions had gotten so bad that Sessions at one point had offered to resign.

White House aide Kellyanne Conway said Wednesday that Trump “has confidence in the people who work for him” — though she expressed a similar sentiment about ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in February, just hours before Flynn was forced to resign.

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The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday that fired FBI Director James Comey’s prepared testimony “confirms a host of troubling allegations concerning the President’s conduct.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee, before which Comey will testify Thursday, released Comey’s written opening statement to the committee Wednesday.

Among other things, Comey confirms in the statement that Trump pressured him in a one-on-one meeting to drop the federal investigation into ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and that Trump asked him for his “loyalty.”

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos refused to say Tuesday whether schools receiving federal dollars were required to protect students from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation.

DeVos’ dodging the issue further angered Democrats, who say her lifelong advocacy for funneling public money to private and charter schools carries with it an acceptance that such schools can discriminate against LGBT students.

“Schools that receive federal funds must follow federal law,” DeVos told Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) during testimony to the Senate Appropriations subcommittee, responding to his question on whether the White House’s proposed expansion of federal funds for private schools would carry with it discrimination protections.

“And I just said federal law is foggy,” Merkley replied. “So in your understanding of federal law, will such discrimination be allowed?”

“On areas where the law is unsettled, this department is not going to be issuing decrees,” she said, the closest Merkley got to an answer. “That is a matter for Congress and the courts to settle.”

DeVos has dodged questions on protections against discrimination since her nomination as education secretary.

In her confirmation hearing, DeVos answered, “I think that is a matter that is best left to the states” when asked if all schools nationwide should comply with the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, which is federal law. “I may have confused it,” she said later.

On May 24, DeVos refused to give one example of where her department would step in on behalf of certain students subject to discrimination at the state level.

Correction: A previous version of this post misidentified the senator questioning DeVos Tuesday. It was Jeff Merkley (D-OR), not Ed Markey (D-MA)

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The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee would not say on Tuesday whether he had stepped aside from the committee’s probe into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, nor would he say whether he would continue to issue subpoenas related to the matter.

“Good try,” Nunes told a CNN reporter, the network reported, after the reporter asked the congressman if he had truly stepped aside from the investigation, and if he would continue to sign subpoenas.

CNN’s Tom LoBianco tweeted the exchange:

“I’m not going to talk about Intelligence Committee business,” Nunes reportedly said, asked again about his role in the committee’s investigation into Russian election meddling.

On June 1, Nunes issued subpoenas to the National Security Agency, the FBI and the Central Intelligence Agency, demanding information on the how the names of Trump campaign and transition staffers who communicated with Russians had become un-redacted, or “unmasked,” in intelligence reports.

An unnamed Republican congressional aide told the Wall Street Journal that Nunes’ unmasking investigation was considered separate from the Russia probe.

The leading Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), said he was not consulted about the subpoenas, and that they were a violation of what he called Nunes’ “recusal” from the investigation.

Nunes, in fact, only claimed on April 6 to have allowed other committee Republicans to “temporarily take charge of the Committee’s Russia investigation,” a distinction an unnamed Republican aide pointed out to CNN.

That announcement came after the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into Nunes’ potential mishandling of classified information, and after revelations that Nunes’ source for allegations that Obama administration officials had unmasked Trump campaign officials intelligence reports were officials in the Trump administration.

National security experts have repeatedly asserted that Obama officials’ unmasking of Trump campaign associates in intelligence reports was appropriate, and not the “smoking gun” that Nunes and Trump have made it out to be.

The Washington Post reported Friday that Nunes’ committee had itself requested “five to six unmaskings of U.S. organizations or individuals related to Trump or Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton between June 2016 and January 2017.”

On June 5, Nunes told the Daily Beast that his initial subpoenas were “only the beginning. There are many more officials that we have concerns about abusing the intelligence programs.”

On May 19, CNN reported that Nunes was continuing to review intelligence related to Russia, and that Democrats considered it a violation of the spirit of his insistence that he was stepping aside from the probe.

This post has been updated.

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