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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

Video published Thursday by ABC News of a Q&A between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Justice Department interns shows Sessions arguing for conservative positions on policing, the enforcement of drug laws, gun access and other policy areas.

In one exchange, Sessions told an intern — who had named young black men killed by police officers and said that some people feared the the police more than their neighbors — “That may be the view in Berkeley, but it’s not the view in most places in the country. I’m just telling you.”

“We need to confront violent crime in America,” he continued. “And cities that have abandoned traditional police activities like Baltimore and Chicago, murder rates have surged, particularly in poor neighborhoods.”

ABC News published video of the June 22 “Summer Intern Lecture Series” after a public records request, the network said. The published footage shows DoJ interns taking a sometimes combative stance toward their boss, and Sessions responding in kind.

“The Second Amendment, you’re aware of that?” Sessions told one intern who asked why he favored stricter controls on marijuana than guns.

“Dr. Whatever Your Name Is, you can write the [American Medical Association] and see why they think otherwise,” he added later, referring to the intern’s opinion of marijuana’s health effects.

On legal drugs, though, the attorney general was more lax. When an intern asked what Sessions would do about the role pharmaceutical companies and doctors play in the opioid crisis, Sessions didn’t mention any law enforcement remedies.

“We need doctors to get better informed,” he said. “We need to pharmacies and hospitals to be more careful with containing the sale of those drugs.”

Separately, Sessions told an intern that the Justice Department was committed to protecting the civil rights of “all persons,” including transgender people, and pointed to his instruction to to the DoJ’s Civil Rights Division to look into a spate of murders of transgender people.

That said, in October, the department reversed course from the previous administration, arguing in court that transgender people were not covered by civil rights protections.

Watch the full 25 minute video below, or see clips of select exchanges in ABC News’ report.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that President Donald Trump expected Congress to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government this week, despite the President’s near daily projections of a government shutdown.

Funding for the federal government runs out Friday at midnight.

But Sanders warned Democrats that Trump and Republicans in Congress would not hold national security funds “hostage for irresponsible demands.”

“The President and the Republicans in the House and Senate are eager to pass a bill fully funding the federal government and the military,” she said.

Congressional leadership of both parties is scheduled to meet with the President Thursday. Trump may need Democratic votes to fund the government, and some Democrats have argued for opposing any government funding bill unless protections are included for former DACA recipients. The Obama-era program, which Trump ended in September, protected qualified young undocumented immigrants from immediate deportation.

On that point, Sanders said that Trump “wants to make sure that we have responsible immigration reform, including a border wall and other things that we’ve laid out in those priorities and those principles and that’s something that would have to be part of that discussion.”

Asked about the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which covers nearly 9 million children in low income families, and for which Congress allowed funding to expire September, Sanders was evasive.

“I haven’t had that specific conversation with him, but I do know that we want to fully fund the government,” she said, referring to Trump. “Beyond that, I’m not going to get into any more details before their meeting today.”

Trump, for his part, has seemed almost committed to provoking a shut down stand-off.

He said Wednesday that a shut down “could happen,” and he has reportedly told friends that he would benefit from one, simply by blaming Democrats. “I see no deal!” he said in late November, blaming Democrats.

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The White House on Wednesday responded to speculation about the President’s at times odd-sounding speech during his address recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“His throat was dry. There’s nothing to it,” White House spokesman Raj Shah told the Los Angeles Times.

The paper asked if the President’s performance could indicate health concerns.

“I know what you’re getting at,” Shah replied. “I’m saying there’s nothing to it.”

Toward the end of Trump’s speech — which was widely criticized by world leaders as counterproductive — Trump seemed to have trouble getting some words out.

It recalled another address, in November, when the President’s speech seemed similarly affected until he stopped for a sip of water.

Comedy Central’s Trevor Noah speculated that Trump could have been having problems with dentures.

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Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) denied a report Wednesday that he had decided to resign the following day.

Minnesota Public Radio had reported, citing an unnamed Democratic official who had spoken to Franken and his staff, that the senator would resign Thursday.

Shortly after the story went live, however, Franken’s office said it was “not accurate.”

MPR had reported that its source, an unnamed Democratic official, had spoken to Franken and his staff separately.

The outlet reported: “A staff member told the official that Franken had gone to his Washington home to discuss his plans with family.”

The senator has been accused by several women of unwanted and forcible groping and kissing, most recently on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, more than a dozen Democratic senators called for Franken’s resignation. The senator’s office announced amid those calls that he would make an announcement Thursday.

Some senators implied that they believed Franken would resign.

Sexual harassment is unacceptable,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) wrote on Twitter. “This morning I spoke with Senator Franken and, as you know, he will be making an announcement about his future tomorrow morning. I am confident he will make the right decision.”

This post has been updated.

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President Donald Trump has told confidants that he believes Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore is innocent of the charges of sexual misconduct made against him by multiple women, the Daily Beast reported Wednesday.

Citing unnamed sources close to the President — including an administration official and a friend of Trump’s — the Daily Beast reported that Trump believes a purported inscription from Moore in a yearbook belonging to Beverly Young Nelson is a forgery, echoing the candidate’s talking point.

Nelson has accused Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 16 and he was an assistant district attorney. Leigh Corfman told the Washington Post Moore initiated sexual contact with her when she was 14 and he was 32. Others accuse Moore of pursuing relationships with them when they were teenagers. Moore has denied all wrongdoing.

“This is not something he’s struggling with,” one unnamed senior White House official told the publication, referring to Trump’s belief of Moore’s denials.

In November, White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short said of the President: “If he did not believe that the women’s accusations were credible he would be down campaigning for Roy Moore. He has not done that.”

In the subsequent weeks, Trump did in fact endorse Moore by name and advocate for his election. On Friday, four days before the Dec. 12 special election to fill Attorney Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat, Trump will hold a campaign event in Pensacola, Florida, less than an hour from Alabama. AL.com reported that his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, sent robocalls inviting Alabama voters to the event.

On Tuesday, a reporter asked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders how the President “reached the conclusion that all of Moore’s accusers — including those who have put forward evidence — are lying.”

“Didn’t say they were lying,” Sanders responded. “The President’s position hasn’t changed; still finds those concerning.”

Asked for comment by TPM Wednesday, Sanders did not respond to say whether she stood by the remark.

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It’s come to this.

Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore’s campaign has blocked his Democratic opponent Doug Jones on Twitter, Jones claimed on Tuesday.

Prior to the symbolic gesture — which bars Jones’ account from viewing or interacting with Moore’s — the Democrat had posted quotes from a speech earlier in the day, in which he said of Moore, “men who hurt little girls should go to jail — not to the U.S. Senate.”

A spokesperson for Moore’s campaign told TPM in an email: “We can’t believe that Doug Jones is still whining about being blocked on Twitter. Wait until we block him from the United States Senate.”

Moore has been accused by several women of sexual misconduct, including pursuing sexual relationships with teenagers when he was an assistant district attorney. Leigh Corfman accused Moore of initiating sexual contact with her when she was 14, and Beverly Young Nelson accused Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 16.

Moore has denied all wrongdoing and refused to grant interviews to mainstream news outlets. On Tuesday a campaign spokesperson, Janet Porter, refused to say in an interview with CNN whether she believed the women accusing Moore of wrongdoing.

The pair will compete in a special election to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat on Dec. 12.

This post has been updated.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that she hadn’t spoken to President Donald Trump about the possibility of pardoning his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the FBI.

“Yesterday, the President said that he felt very badly for Gen. Flynn,” ABC News’ Cecilia Vega said. “Would he consider pardoning him?”

“I’m not aware that that has come up, or any process or decision on that front,” Sanders said.

“You haven’t talked to him about it?” Vega asked.

“No, I haven’t asked the President whether or not he would do that” Sanders said, adding: “I think before we start discussing pardons for individuals we should see what happens in specific cases, too.”

“So is it fair to say it’s on the table?” Vega asked.

“No,” Sanders replied. “I just said I haven’t had the conversation with him because I don’t feel that it’s necessary until we get further down the the road and determine whether or not that’s even something needed.”

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is scheduled to deliver an on camera press briefing at 3:00 p.m. ET Tuesday. Watch live below:

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Tuesday that the nomination of former White House Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland would be “frozen for a while” in light of revelations that she knew about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s communications with Russia’s ambassador to the United States prior to Donald Trump’s inauguration.

“If she did testify inappropriately, obviously that’s a big, big problem,” Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) told CNN’s Manu Raju.

He added: “It’s a problem. And her nomination is frozen for a while, until that gets worked out. And she has to know that herself, and we’ll deal with it at the appropriate time.”

McFarland joined Trump’s national security team in November 2016 and served as the President’s deputy national security adviser before resigning and being nominated as the United States’ ambassador to Singapore over the summer.

During the confirmation process for that post, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) asked McFarland if she had ever spoken to Flynn about his contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. McFarland said: “I am not aware of any of the issues or events described above.”

But McFarland was identified Saturday by the Associated Press as the “senior official of the presidential transition team” who Flynn called following the Obama administration’s new sanctions against Russia. Flynn and the senior official, according to the documents, “discussed that members of the Presidential Transition Team at Mar-a-Lago did not want Russia to escalate the situation.”

After that call, according to the charging document, Flynn called Kislyak, and then reported back to the senior official, identified as McFarland by the AP.

And on Monday, the New York Times reported on an email exchange “obtained from someone who had access to transition team communications” that showed McFarland had knowledge of Flynn’s outreach.

The Times reported: “As part of the outreach, Ms. McFarland wrote, Mr. Flynn would be speaking with the Russian ambassador, Mr. Kislyak, hours after Mr. Obama’s sanctions were announced.”

McFarland joins a growing list of Trump officials facing mounting evidence that they knew of Flynn’s communications with Russia’s ambassador while claiming ignorance of them.

h/t The Hill

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A truck from U.S. Customs and Border Protection drove by fasting pro-immigration activists outside Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart’s (R-FL) offices Monday, according to local reports from the Miami Herald and the Miami New Times.

Activists on the scene — where some are in the middle of a week-long fast — said the action was an attempt by CBP agents to intimidate protesters advocating for a “clean” DREAM Act and protections for recipients of so-called Temporary Protected Status, thousands of whom now face deportation.

So far 1 hr into us being outside of Rubio’s office and they already are doing intimidation tactics, having ICE drive by our location slowly, and trying to kick us off the side walk,” wrote Paula Muñoz, who attended the protest, on Facebook.

A regional spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Nestor Yglesias, said the vehicle appearing in photos by Muñoz and other activists belonged to CBP, not ICE. Both agencies are part of the Department of Homeland Security. 

Keith Smith, a spokesperson for CBP in Florida, told TPM in a statement Wednesday: “U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel travel regularly as part of routine activities and normal business. There are six CBP offices with a fleet of approximately 100 vehicles in the area of Miami International Airport and Sen. Rubio’s office. CBP Officers frequently use the route along which the protest occurred to commute during the normal operational scope of their duties, as was the case on that day. CBP officers enforce the nation’s laws while preserving the civil rights and civil liberties of all people with whom CBP personnel interact.”

President Donald Trump ended DACA, the Obama-era program shielding qualified undocumented young people from immediate deportation, in September. Neither the White House nor Congress has made much progress in replacing the program, spelling trouble for hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people who handed sensitive information over to the federal government.

Temporary Protected Status is a deportation protection granted to undocumented individuals from certain countries who face political or environmental turmoil if they are deported. Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke announced the termination of TPS protections for undocumented Haitians and Nicaraguans living in the United States in November.

Duke said of TPS-eligible Hondurans, whose status is in question: “[A]dditional time is necessary to obtain and assess supplemental information pertaining to country conditions in Honduras.”

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