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 and on Twitter @mattshuham.

Articles by Matt

President Donald Trump made clear Wednesday that he wants “rich” people “to be in charge of the economy.”

Speaking at a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Trump mentioned Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and former Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn, now the director of the National Economic Council.

“Someone said, why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy?” Trump said, after referring to Cohn. “And Wilbur is a very rich person, in charge of Commerce,” he added.

“I said because that’s the kind of thinking we want,” he continued. “I mean, you know, really. Because they’re representing the country. They don’t want the money. They’re representing the country.”

Trump has one of the richest Cabinets in American history, stocked with billionaires and multi-millionaires.

“And I love all people — rich or poor — but in those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person,” he added. “Does that make sense? If you insist, I’ll do it, but I like it better this way.”

Watch below:

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The Congressional Black Caucus turned down a follow-up meeting with President Donald Trump Wednesday, citing a number of actions taken by his administration that the group’s members said hurt their constituents and all black Americans. The CBC also cited their own ignored attempts at outreach to the White House.

“[W]e have seen no evidence that your Administration acted on our calls for action, and we have in fact witnessed steps that will affirmatively hurt Black communities,” CBC Chair Cedric Richmond (D-LA) wrote to Trump on Wednesday. “While we agreed to explore possible future discussions when we first met, it has become abundantly clear that a conversation with the entire CBC would not be entirely productive, given the actions taken by your Administration since our first meeting.”

Politico first reported Wednesday that the CBC was expected to decline an invitation to meet with Trump for a second time, reportedly in part due to concerns that the event would be used as a photo-op.

“No one wants to be a co-star on the reality show,” an unnamed senior Democratic aide told the publication.

Richmond’s letter goes on to list a number of actions taken by the Trump administration — from proposed cuts to Pell Grants and low income energy assistance to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ acceleration of the war on drugs, to Republicans’ attempts at dismantling Obamacare — that he said would devastate both the constituencies of members of the CBC and Americans who voted for Trump.

“We have voiced all of these concerns in various forms, most of them in writing, but have heard nothing from you or your Cabinet officials,” Richmond wrote, listing the CBC’s letters to Trump and members of his administration, in addition to a 130-page policy document, “We have a Lot to Lose.”

“Given the lack of response to any of the many concerns we have raised with you and your Administration, we decline your invitation for all 49 members of the Congressional Black Caucus to meet with you,” he wrote.

Read Richmond’s letter to Trump below:

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The Environmental Protection Agency gave notice to dozens of scientists that they would not receive a second three-year term on an advisory board after their current term expires, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The move offers the new administration’s EPA an opportunity to leave its mark on a key review board by filling it with a slate of its own appointments.

The Post noted that it is standard practice for members of the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC), which reviews research performed by the EPA’s Office of Research and Development, to receive a second three-year term.

In May, half of BOSC’s executive committee members were told their terms would not be renewed — a decision that itself prompted resignations from the board in protest.

The same notice has now been extended to a number of scientists on the board’s various subcommittees.

“[W]ith the latest information from EPA, 38 of the 49 remaining subcommittee members will not be renewed at the end of August,” the current BOSC executive committee chair and professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota, Deborah Swackhamer, told the Post.

“It effectively wipes out the BOSC and leaves it free for a complete reappointment,” she added, referring to the dismissals.

She added in an email to Mic: “This latest action is consistent with the actions and statements from EPA administration that they wish to wipe the slate clean, appoint their own advisors, who will be representative of industry.”

The Post noted that five subcommittee meetings scheduled for late summer and fall were also cancelled, as a result of lack of membership.

In May, after the dismissal of half of the BOSC executive committee, EPA spokesperson J.P. Freire told the New York Times: “The administrator believes we should have people on this board who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community.”

Swackhamer later testified that Freire’s statement “may lead to the perception that science is being politicized and marginalized within EPA.”

A call for BOSC applicants posted by the EPA’s Office of Science Policy in May specifies who the EPA wants to replace the ousted board members: “EPA will consider nominees from industry, business, public and private research institutes or organizations, academia, government (federal, state, local, and tribal) and non-government organizations, and other relevant interest areas.”

It later notes that criteria under consideration will include “background and experiences that would contribute to the diversity of viewpoints on the Executive Committee or Subcommittee, e.g., workforce sector, geographical location, social, cultural, and educational backgrounds, and professional affiliations.”

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Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said Wednesday that he “can’t imagine” he would have enough time to evaluate and vote on a health care bill within a week, despite reports that senators are preparing for a vote by June 29 or 30.

A group of Republican senators, including Johnson, have so far written the bill in secret. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would not commit on Monday that the public would have even 10 hours to review the legislative text before a vote.

“What I’ve told leadership very clearly is I’m going to need time and my constituents are going to need time to evaluate exactly how this is going to affect them,” Johnson told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “So I personally think that holding a vote on this next week would definitely be rushed. I can’t imagine, quite honestly, that I’d have the information to evaluate and justify a yes vote within just a week.”

He added later: “I want to fully vet it in the public. I want to make sure that my constituents have enough time to provide input. Again, I’m not going to criticize the process unless we start taking the vote way too early, before we have time to get the information.”

“That’s what your leader is telling you he wants to do,” Cuomo interjected.

“Well, you know, that will be a decision he’ll make,” Johnson said. “But I’ve told him unless I have the input from my constituents — unless I have got the information I need to justify a yes vote, I won’t be voting yes.”

The Republican senator made similar criticisms of his leadership’s decision to pass the bill through reconciliation, which avoids the threat of a Democratic filibuster requiring 60 votes for cloture.

“I don’t necessarily agree with that. But that was the decision made, so you’ve got a bill that had to be crafted by Republicans,” Johnson said.

He added: “It’s been a very open process within the Republican conference.”

Johnson also hinted at his personal preference for the legislation: that it “stabilize” insurance markets first, in part by funding the subsidies that President Donald Trump has threatened to hold hostage in order to sabotage Obamacare.

“Is part of your idea to have the federal government put through the subsidies that the President is threatening which is having an effect on the destabilization?” Cuomo asked at one point.

“I mean, that’s what we’re going to have to do,” Johnson said.

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President Donald Trump engaged in an astounding bit of Twitter diplomacy Tuesday, saying abruptly that while he appreciate China’s “help with North Korea, it has not worked out.”

On Monday, American Otto Warmbier died just days after being released from 17 months of captivity in North Korea. Following news of Wambier’s death, Trump said during a roundtable with tech CEOs: “It’s a brutal regime, and we’ll be able to handle it.”

He added Tuesday while speaking to press in the Oval Office: “It’s a total disgrace what happened to Otto. That should never, ever be allowed to happen.”

Trump also said Warmbier should have been brought home sooner, suggesting that his predecessor President Barack Obama bore some blame.

A few days after Trump hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping in April at Mar-a-Lago, he backed off formally calling the country a currency manipulator, breaking a campaign pledge and citing the country’s potential to help combat the threat posed by North Korea.

Just before Trump’s tweet, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said at a press briefing that “[w]e will continue to apply economic and political pressure and try to continue to work with our allies. We’ve had I think positive movement on China over the past five months of this administration. We’ll continue to work with them and others to put the appropriate pressure on North Korea to change this behavior and this regime.”

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White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday that President Donald Trump wants the Senate to pass a health care bill that has “heart.” Spicer declined to go into specifics of the legislation Republicans are currently drafting in secret, despite reports that it could face a vote before the end of the month.

“There were some reports out that President Trump told members of that tech meeting yesterday that the Senate health care bill needed to have ‘more heart,’” the New York Post’s Gabby Morrongiello asked Spicer at a press briefing Tuesday. “Can you shed some light on what it is he’s not pleased with in the legislation that’s being drafted? And can you also tell us why he would feel that way after holding a press conference in the Rose Garden supporting the House version of the health care bill?”

Morrongiello seemed to be referring to a report from NBC News Tuesday, which cited an unnamed source familiar with the exchange, that Trump told a meeting of tech CEOs Monday that the Senate’s health care bill needs “more heart.”

“I mean, the President clearly wants a bill that has heart in it,” Spicer responded. “He believes that health care is something that is near and dear to so many families and individuals. He made it clear from the beginning that that was one of his priorities. And as the Senate works its way through this bill, as the House did, any ideas are welcome to strengthen it, to make it more affordable, more accessible and deliver the care it needs.”

“But this is an area that the President believes passionately about,” he continued. “He understands the role that health care plays in so many people’s lives, and their families,’ and he wants to make sure that we do everything we can to provide the best option for him as Obamacare continues to fail.”

Reports on the bill, which could see a vote this month without ever passing through a committee or being subject to public debate, indicate it would slash Medicaid funding and kneecap Obamacare’s subsidies for individuals buying insurance on the private market.

The Associated Press reported on June 13 that Trump had called the House’s health bill “mean” in a meeting with Republican senators, according to unnamed congressional sources, and that he had urged the senators to be “more generous” with their version.

Morrongiello followed up, asking if there was “a specific part of this bill, though, that leads him to believe that the Senate is doing something — ”

“I’m not — again, this is an on going discussion with Senate leaders and individual senators that he’s had, you know that we’ve brought a lot of those individuals to the White House and there’s been staff level meetings as well, Secretary Price and others,” Spicer said. “So I’m not going to get into the private discussions that have occurred. But I will just say that the more that we can do to produce a bill as it works its way through the process that achieves the President’s goals, I think that’s something that we can all agree on.”

Spicer said later that he didn’t know if Trump had seen a copy of the bill. He did say, “I know that the staff has been working very closely with the leader’s staff, with Senate Finance and others, so I don’t want to get ahead of an announcement on Sen. McConnell saying when that final product is done.” 

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Republican senators will soon determine the fate of millions of Americans’ health care after a secret legislative process, despite their own shaky accusations years ago that Democrats were violating the public trust with the passage of Obamacare.

Members of the Senate Republican Conference have written their bill to repeal and replace Obamacare entirely in secret, and senators are aiming to vote on the yet-unseen legislation by June 30, without holding any public hearings on the bill, in time for the July 4th recess.

Reports indicate Senate Republicans plan on dramatically slashing Medicaid and private insurance market subsidies.

Amid the behind-the-scenes flurry of activity, Senate Republicans are personifying their own accusations against Democrats’ health care effort in 2009-2010, when they accused the majority party of crafting the legislation “behind closed doors,” “in secret” and without “transparency.”

The Washington Post’s Amber Phillips noted Monday:

“[A]t this point in the 2009-2010 debate for the Affordable Care Act, there had been months of public committee hearings that you and I could attend or watch online or read about in the news. Senators had been briefed on what was happening and could answer reporters’ questions instead of saying they have no idea what’s in the bill. Amendments were offered by both sides.”

None of that is true this time around.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pointed out the discrepancy on the Senate floor Monday afternoon.

“I have a few parliamentary inquiries,” he told Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), who was presiding over the chamber at the time. “First, is the Chair aware of the number of consecutive days in session and the number of hours the Senate considered H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act?”

The Secretary of the Senate’s office notes that H.R. 3590 was considered on each of 25 consecutive days of session, and the Senate Library estimates approximately 169 hours in total consideration,” Ernst responded.

Also on Monday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to commit to Schumer that the public would have even 10 hours between the release of legislative text and a vote on the Senate floor.

“We’ll have ample opportunity to read and amend the bill,” McConnell said Monday, referring to his own conference’s bill.

McConnell himself has admitted to a double-standard: Justifying the hyper-secret process to the New York Times Thursday, the majority leader said “we’ve been dealing with this issue for seven years.” He added that there had already been “gazillions of hearings on this subject.”

On Friday, MSNBC’s “All In” dug up McConnell accusing Democrats in 2009 of writing their health proposal “behind closed doors, without input from anyone, in an effort to jam it past not only the Senate but the American people.”

The Republican-led effort has progressed quickly. “I expect us to vote on it next week,” Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) told Politico on Monday. Sen. Orin Hatch (R-UT) told Politico that “[w]e could” vote on the legislation this month.

Years ago, the Utah senator expressed outrage at what were real efforts for legislative transparency and incorporation of minority party ideas and amendments, including Burr’s.

”The real bill is currently being written behind closed doors in the dark corners of the Capitol,” Hatch said in October 2009, after a vote in the Senate Finance Committee, a full five months and dozens of hours of debate before the final version of the Affordable Care Act reached President Barack Obama’s desk.

This post has been updated.

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Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, that China has invited President Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law to visit the country later this year, perhaps as an opening bid to bring Trump himself to the country.

An unnamed U.S. official told Bloomberg that details of the trip were still under discussion. An unnamed Chinese official added, per Bloomberg’s wording, that the visit “may also help prepare for a trip by the President himself.” The same official said Chinese President Xi Jinping had made an offer to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner when he visited Mar-a-Lago in April.

The family has been involved in a series of business dealings since Trump’s January inauguration — from suddenly granted trademarks to Kushner’s sister highlighting the administration’s role in the EB-5 visa process while pitching Chinese investors on a New Jersey housing development.

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White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon said that White House briefings were increasingly being held off-camera because “Sean got fatter,” referring to White House press secretary Sean Spicer, The Atlantic reported Tuesday.

According to The Atlantic’s Rosie Gray, to whom Bannon made the comment via text message, he did not respond to a follow-up question.

The White House has faced criticism for increasingly holding press briefings off-camera and prohibiting audio recording for some briefings.

“Make no mistake about what we are all witnessing,” CNN’s Jim Acosta wrote on Twitter Monday, after a press briefing in which audiovisual recording devices of any kind were barred. “This is a WH that is stonewalling the news media. Hiding behind no camera/no audio gaggles.”

He added on-air, referring to questions about President Donald Trump’s vague warning to fired FBI Director James Comey that he might have taped their conversations: “The White House is refusing to answer those questions on camera, or in any kind of fashion where we can record the audio. My guess is because they want their evasive answers not saved for posterity.”

The Atlantic noted that both Bloomberg and Politico reported Monday, citing two unnamed people “familiar with the discussions” and “with knowledge of the effort,” respectively, that Spicer was looking for someone to take his place at the podium during press briefings — perhaps so he could move to a different position.

On Monday night, a press guidance email sent to reporters for the following day did not include any scheduled press briefing. On Tuesday morning, an amended version went out with an update: “Press Secretary Sean Spicer will now give an on camera press briefing at 1:30PM.”

Asked by Newsday’s Emily Ngo about the change Tuesday morning, Spicer said: “The guidance will be updated as it has in the past.”

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The Office of Government Ethics on Friday released President Donald Trump’s 2017 financial disclosure, which in broad strokes outlines Trump’s financial assets and liabilities.

Trump, who broke his campaign promise to release his tax returns as the Republican nominee for president — and who has still not committed to releasing any tax returns — often pointed to his 2015 and 2016 financial disclosures as sufficient sources of public information on his financial life.

However, there are numerous limitations on what journalists and others can glean from politicians’ financial disclosures.

Trump did not divest himself from his sprawling business empire, instead announcing on Jan. 11 that he would hand control of his financial world over to his sons via a revocable trust. ProPublica reported in April that the trust had been amended in February to allow Trump to withdraw funds at any time from any of his businesses without public disclosure.

Read Trump’s 2017 disclosure below:

This post has been updated.

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It's Lonely In The Minority

Now that they’re in the minority, this is the press corps covering House Republicans…