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

Tierney Sneed contributed reporting.

The Justice Department on Sunday confirmed that its inspector general would investigate whether “there was any impropriety or political motivation” in the FBI’s work during the 2016 campaign.

The new investigation, the DOJ said, would be added to an existing one into the FBI’s application for a FISA warrant to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

The announcement came just hours after President Donald Trump appeared to demand just that in a tweet:

Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement she shared with TPM:

The Department has asked the Inspector General to expand the ongoing review of the FISA application process to include determining whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election. As always, the Inspector General will consult with the appropriate U.S. Attorney if there is any evidence of potential criminal conduct.

She added the following statement from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:

“If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action.”

The Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, announced in March that he would probe the FBI’s application for a surveillance warrant to suveil a member of Trump’s campaign — believed to be foreign policy adviser carter page.

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Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani claimed in an interview Sunday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team had assured him that the obstruction of justice portion of Mueller’s probe would conclude by Sept. 1.

The New York Times reported Giuliani’s comments, but did not quote all of them verbatim.

Giuliani argued to the Times that the investigation could have improper political consequences if it went on too long. 

“You don’t want another repeat of the 2016 election where you get contrary reports at the end and you don’t know how it affected the election,” Giuliani said, referring to then-FBI Director James Comey’s reopening of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server days before the 2016 presidential election.

Giuliani claimed Mueller had shared his schedule for the obstruction probe “about two weeks ago,” in the paper’s words, “amid negotiations over whether Mr. Trump will be questioned by investigators.”

Allowing for preparation time, Giuliani told the Times, Trump could be questioned by Mueller’s team around July 4th.

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Trump confidante Roger Stone said Sunday that he was “prepared” to be indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller, “should that be the case.” 

Mueller has so far subpoenaed two associates of Stone’s, John Kakanis and Jason Sullivan, according to reporting by Reuters.

“We know that prosecutors have been asking witnesses about you,” NBC’s Chuck Todd told Stone in an interview Sunday after noting the subpoenas. “Are you preparing to be indicted?”

“I don’t know if I’m an interesting person or a person of interest,” Stone began in response.

“At least eight of my current or former associates, mostly young people, have been terrorized by Mr. Mueller’s investigators,” Stone said. “I can guarantee you they have found no evidence whatsoever of Russian collusion, nor trafficking of allegedly hacked emails with Wikileaks.”

“It is not inconceivable now that Mr. Mueller and his team may seek to conjure up some extraneous crime pertaining to my business, or maybe not even pertaining to the 2016 election,” he continued, before adding in reference to a potential indictment: “So I am prepared, should that be the case.”

Stone later said that neither he nor his lawyer had had contact with Mueller’s office.

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President Donald Trump on Sunday sent a flurry of angry tweets in response to a Saturday New York Times report that Donald Trump Jr. met in Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign with individuals offering foreign help for his father.

He concluded the tirade by saying he would order the Justice Department to investigate its own actions during the 2016 election, seemingly a reference to recent revelations that an FBI informant spoke prior to the election to various members of the Trump campaign.

The Witch Hunt finds no Collusion with Russia – so now they’re looking at the rest of the World,” Trump tweeted midday, after a morning full of similar messages. “Oh’ great!”

The Times on Saturday revealed an August 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Blackwater founder Erik Prince, George Nader (serving as an emissary for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), and Israeli social media manipulation specialist Joel Zamel.

Trump Jr., the Times reported, citing one unnamed person with knowledge of the meeting, responded “approvingly” to the suggestion that social media could be manipulated to help Trump’s campaign.

The article did not say, as Trump claimed, that Mueller’s investigation had found no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

And aside from his claim that the Times’ article was “long & boring,” none of Trump’s tweets — chock full of oft-used attacks and conspiracy theories — addressed the paper’s reporting.

A lawyer for Donald Trump Jr., Alan Futerfas, acknowledged to the Times that the meeting occurred: “[P]rior to the 2016 election, Donald Trump Jr. recalls a meeting with Erik Prince, George Nader and another individual who may be Joel Zamel,” he said. “They pitched Mr. Trump Jr. on a social media platform or marketing strategy. He was not interested and that was the end of it.”

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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Sunday that the United States was “putting the trade war [with China] on hold” in light of recent trade talks between the two nations, even though those talks produced no firm public commitments from China on reducing the two nations’ trade deficit, a priority for the Trump administration. 

“We’re putting the trade war on hold,” Mnuchin told Fox News’ Chris Wallace in an interview Sunday. “So right now, we have agreed to put the tariffs on hold while we try to execute the framework.”

Trump has threatened to tariff tens of billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods over what he’s asserted is an unfair trade deficit and other issues, including the theft of American intellectual property. China, in turn, announced plans to target major American exports with sanctions.

The United States initially demanded a $200 billion reduction in its trade deficit with China, among other things, at the start of trade discussions earlier this month. Reuters noted that number is larger than annual U.S. agricultural and oil exports.

Wallace pressed Mnuchin on the lack of any firm commitment regarding the deficit coming out of the recent talks.

“One, no specific target of $200 billion [in reducing the trade deficit],” he noted.

“We have specific targets,” Mnuchin said. “I’m not going to publicly disclose what they are. They go industry-by-industry.”

“As far as the President’s threat, first of $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods, then $150 billion, those are all on hold?” Wallace asked.

“They are,” Mnuchin said. “And the President had a very productive meeting with the vice premier in the Oval Office, with all of us and the Vice President. He heard these commitments himself.”

“And he can always decide to put the tariffs back on if China doesn’t go through with their commitments.”

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Incoming NRA President Oliver North said Sunday that school shootings won’t be stemmed “by taking away the rights of law-abiding citizens” with gun control legislation.

Rather, he said, schools should be “hardened” to match the security in airports, or Fox News’ Washington, D.C. studio.

“You and I came through the lobby here in this building where we are sitting right now,” North told Fox News’ Chris Wallace in an interview. “There was a security desk there. There’s a barrier for us to pass through. You can’t get on an airplane today without going through a metal detector.”

“There’s no metal detector in our building,” Wallace said. “Are you suggesting that there be a metal detector — and I’m not saying that’s wrong — a metal detector at the entrance to every school for millions and millions of students?”

“If you want to stop the carnage,” North began. “You are not going to fix it by taking away the rights of law-abiding citizens. You’ve got to fix it in a way that hardens the place sufficiently that those kids are safe inside the door. If that means five metal detectors getting in and out of the high school, you get five metal detectors.”

“The problem that we’ve got is we are trying like the dickens to treat the symptom without treating the disease,” North had said earlier. “And the disease in this case isn’t the Second Amendment. The disease is youngsters who are steeped in a culture of violence. They have been drugged in many cases. Nearly all of these perpetrators are male, and they’re young teenagers in most cases. And they’ve come through a culture where violence is commonplace.”

“Many of these young boys have been on Ritalin since they were in kindergarten,” he added.

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Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Sunday would not say whether he would support a law requiring the safe storage of firearms.

The Friday shooting at Santa Fe High School was believed to have been carried out with the gunman’s father’s pistol and shotgun. Responding to the shooting, Patrick urged gun-owning parents to “lock your guns safely away.”

“Should that be law?” CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Patrick in an interview Sunday.

“In many cases, there are laws, depending on the states, and I’m sure there is some federal law regarding your culpability in a crime using a gun if it is your gun, or if you own a gun,” Patrick responded.

Texas law, as in many other states, does impose some liability on adults who, through criminal negligence, allow children access to firearms they own. But the law applies to children under 17 years old — the alleged Santa Fe shooter was 17. The Austin American-Statesman found in 2015 that the so-called Child Access Prevention law had only resulted in 61 convictions since its implementation in the state in 1995.

Like most other states, Texas does not require guns to be locked or kept in a safe once in their owner’s possession — so called “safe storage” laws.

Tapper tried again: “Should it be law that you have to lock up your guns?”

“Again, Jake, depending on the state, I’d have to look at it–” Patrick began.

“What about Texas?” Tapper pressed.

“In Texas, again, we hold you very responsible if you are a gun owner,” the lieutenant governor responded. “For example, I’m a concealed carry, as are almost 1 million Texans. If I use my gun to stop a crime or to defend myself, and I fire a bullet that goes astray and strikes somebody else, I can be held not only civilly but criminally liable.”

Tapper tied once more: “There isn’t a law requiring safe storage.”

“Jake, Jake– ” Patrick began. “I didn’t come on with you this morning to go through the entire penal code of the federal government or the state.”

Watch below via CNN:

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Someone in an SUV carrying Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani opened a door into a pedicab Thursday, the NYPD confirmed to TPM.

Det. Martin Brown said that at around 2:20 p.m. ET, the door of a black SUV carrying Giuliani and two staffers opened into an oncoming pedicab in Midtown Manhattan.

“A door to the vehicle opened and made contact with a pedicab that was unoccupied,” Brown told TPM. “There were no injuries and no property damage.”

Brown said he didn’t know which door had opened to cause the accident, nor whether the SUV was parked at the time.

WCBS’s Alex Silverman first reported the news.

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President Donald Trump on Thursday tried to revise his statement the previous day that the United States was committed to deporting undocumented immigrant “animals.”

I’m referring, and you know I’m referring, to the MS-13 gangs that are coming in,” Trump told an inquiring reporter while he sat next to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. 

“If you look a little bit further on in the tape you will see that, so I’m actually surprised you’re asking this question, because most people got it right,” he claimed, adding later: “When the MS-13 comes in, when the other gang members come into our country I refer to them as animals. And guess what, I always will.” 

Trump did not specify Wednesday — when he said that “these aren’t people, these are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before” — that he was speaking specifically about violent gang members.

He made the comment during what the White House called a “California Sanctuary State Roundtable,” speaking with officials from the state who disagreed with California’s sanctuary state law.

And while Trump’s remark came in response to a California sheriff who said “there could be an MS-13 member I know about — if they don’t reach a certain threshold, I cannot tell ICE about it,” Trump himself did not specify he was only calling gang members “animals.”

His answer to the Sheriff is reprinted below in full, copied from the White House transcript of the event:

SHERIFF MIMS:  Thank you.  There could be an MS-13 member I know about — if they don’t reach a certain threshold, I cannot tell ICE about it.

THE PRESIDENT:  We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we’re stopping a lot of them — but we’re taking people out of the country.  You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are.  These aren’t people.  These are animals.  And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.  And because of the weak laws, they come in fast, we get them, we release them, we get them again, we bring them out.  It’s crazy.

The dumbest laws — as I said before, the dumbest laws on immigration in the world.  So we’re going to take care of it, Margaret.  We’ll get it done.  We’re going to ask that man right there, because that man can do it.  (Laughter.)  Right now he’s the most important man in the room.  [House Majority Leader] Kevin [McCarthy] can do it.

Kevin?  Please.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that President Donald Trump still “strongly” believes Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is a “witch hunt,” despite the assertions of his own hand-picked FBI director.

At a press briefing Thursday, a reporter asked about FBI Director Christopher Wray’s affirmation to the Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday that the Mueller probe is not a witch hunt.

“The President knows that there was no collusion in the campaign, and he has been quite clear about this,” Sanders responded. “It’s gone on for over a year. They found no evidence of collusion, and still strongly believe that it’s a witch hunt.”

Trump called Mueller’s probe a “witch hunt” twice on his Twitter account Thursday.

Later in the briefing, a reporter made reference to another tweet of Trump’s on Thursday, asking Sanders if Trump believed “that the FBI had a spy at one point inside of his campaign?”

“I haven’t spoken with him directly about that, but I’ve certainly seen the reports and if there is any truth to that it should certainly be looked into,” Sanders said.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that, during the 2016 campaign, “at least one government informant met several times with [Carter] Page and [George] Papadopoulos, current and former officials said.”

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