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

Andrew McCabe, the recently fired former FBI deputy director, announced Monday that he would cease accepting donations for his legal defense fund at 7:00 p.m. ET after raising more than three times his original goal.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe last month, days before McCabe would have been eligible for his pension, for making “an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lack[ing] candor – including under oath – on multiple occasions.”

At press time, the legal defense fund, hosted on a GoFundMe page, had raised $538,246, with donations flowing in every couple minutes.

“The outpouring of support on GoFundMe has been simply overwhelming and has led to contributions that have left us stunned and extraordinarily grateful,” McCabe said in a statement Monday (read the full statement below). “The GoFundMe campaign began organically, with generous people spontaneously giving to accounts that others had set up.”

“I never imagined that I would need to rely on this type of assistance,” he added. “However, as reports of additional OIG investigations, congressional oversight hearings, and misleading information about the circumstances of my firing have continued to emerge, the need for substantial resources for a legal team has become clear.”

McCabe has argued that he was authorized to make certain disclosures to the media, and that his firing was an attempt to discredit him as a potential witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

“I did not knowingly mislead or lie to investigators,” he wrote in a Washington Post op-ed shortly after his firing.

Read McCabe’s full statement, prefaced by a statement from Melissa Schwartz of the Bromwich Group — a consulting firm founded by McCabe’s lawyer, Michael Bromwich — below:

As of 7pm ET today, the Andrew McCabe Legal Fund will cease accepting donations on GoFundMe. The donations have more than tripled the original goal, which is nothing short of astonishing. The funds generated will in the very near future be transferred to a more formal legal defense trust.

Below is a statement from Andrew McCabe:

“The outpouring of support on GoFundMe has been simply overwhelming and has led to contributions that have left us stunned and extraordinarily grateful. The GoFundMe campaign began organically, with generous people spontaneously giving to accounts that others had set up. I never imagined that I would need to rely on this type of assistance. However, as reports of additional OIG investigations, congressional oversight hearings, and misleading information about the circumstances of my firing have continued to emerge, the need for substantial resources for a legal team has become clear. The fact is that if I am going to continue taking a stand against the unfair way I have been treated, I will need the help of a talented and courageous team behind me. Hopefully our efforts, fueled by this incredible support, will encourage others to stand up for themselves, and the truth, as well. It is not lost on me that each contribution reflects not just someone’s well wishes, but also their acknowledgement that something in this situation is not fair or just. We wish to thank every donor from the bottom of our hearts for their support.”

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Employees at local television stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group complained to CNN about a “must-run” script that bashed “fake” and “one-sided” news.

“It sickens me the way this company is encroaching upon trusted news brands in rural markets,” an unnamed investigative reporter at Sinclair told CNN in an article published Monday.

The must-run segment alleges that “some media outlets” publish reporting “without checking facts first.” 

Another unnamed local reporter told CNN: “I try everyday to do fair, local stories, some Trump-related, but it’s always washed out by this stuff they do at a national level.”

“As a producer who finds it unethical, I will refuse to run it,” another unnamed Sinclair employee told the network, though CNN noted it was unclear whether any of Sinclair’s stations — the company owns more stations than any other broadcaster in the United States — had actually refused to run the segment.

The stations were instructed to run the segment often, and during “news time, not commercial time,” according to internal documents reported by CNN in early March. Sinclair owns more television stations than any other broadcaster in the country. On Monday, the company could claim the support of a powerful friend: President Donald Trump, some of whose former advisers now work for Sinclair, and who tweeted in support of the broadcaster.

The Los Angeles Times’ Matt Pearce published an exchange he had with an unnamed Sinclair employee who described conditions that, in Pearce’s words, make it “so hard for TV anchors to refuse the Sinclair’s editorial edicts.”

“I feel bad because they’re seeing these people they’ve trusted for decades tell them things they know are essentially propaganda,” one unnamed anchor told CNN of the must-run segment. The person noted that fellow anchors “have all this experience in news, and now they’re being degraded like this.”

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The National Rifle Association continued its silence Sunday after one of its most prominent board members, Ted Nugent, called a group of politically-active survivors of a mass shooting “mushy-brained” and “soulless” two days earlier.

“These poor children, I’m afraid to say this, but the evidence is irrefutable, they have no soul,” Nugent told the conservative radio host Joe Pags on Friday, part of a long tirade against a group of survivors of the Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in February who have gone on to advocate for gun control legislation.

TPM’s multiple requests for comment to the NRA went unanswered Sunday. The LA Times reported Saturday that a similar request to a representative for Nugent went unanswered as well.  NRA spokespeople didn’t mention Nugent’s comments in segments posted to the group’s video channel, NRATV.

“All you have to do now is not only feel sorry for the liars, but you have to go against them and pray to God that the lies can be crushed and the liars can be silenced so that real measures can be put into place to actually save children’s lives,” Nugent said separately in the same interview Friday.

In a Facebook Live video Saturday flagged by Media Matters, Nugent stood by his comments:

Nugent, like many pro-gun advocates, said after a gunman shot up a Republican congressional baseball team practice in June of last year that he was “not going to engage in that kind of hateful rhetoric anymore,” as CNN noted Sunday.

That would be a big step for the 69-year-old rock star: Nugent visited the White House last year despite saying during the 2012 campaign season that “[i]f Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” That was one of several menacing comments referencing the then-President. Nugent also told Obama to “suck on my machine gun.”

A survivor of the Valentine’s Day shooting, Kyra Parrow, noted the dissonance Saturday:

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Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie on Sunday blamed a sloppy transition for the near constant scandals in the Trump administration.

“If Mr. Pruitt is going to go, it’s because he should have never been there in the first place,” Christie, now an ABC News contributor, told “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos.

He was referring to recent reporting by ABC News and Bloomberg that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt — and, for a time, his daughter — rented a Washington townhouse co-owned by the wife of a powerful energy lobbyist for well below the market rate.

Christie, after months of transition work in preparation for a potential Trump electoral victory, was replaced as leader of Trump’s transition team by Mike Pence, then the vice president-elect, on Nov. 11, 2016.

“He was ill-served right from the beginning by a group of people who threw all the transition work out,” Christie said earlier in the show. “Thirty-five 8-inch binders of vetting of over 350 people that were consistent with his views that they got rid of, literally threw in the garbage, George, three days after the election and started over.”

Christie also pointed to a Washington Post report last week on the Presidential Personnel Office. The report found that the office, which selects and vets candidates for Trump administration jobs, was itself staffed with inexperienced and unqualified appointees, two of whom had arrest records: “a college dropout with arrests for drunken driving and bad checks and a Marine Corps reservist with arrests for assault, disorderly conduct, fleeing an officer and underage drinking,” in the Post’s words. 

“This was a brutally unprofessional transition,” Christie said Sunday. “This was a transition that didn’t vet people for these types of judgment issues, which I think could have been seen very easily in a lot of these people, and you cannot do this with Rick Dearborn and Steve Bannon on the back of an envelope in 73 days. And the President has been ill-served by this. And if Mr. Pruitt is going to go, it’s because he should have never been there in the first place.”

“I don’t know how you survive this one,” he added, referring to the scandal surrounding Pruitt’s former living arrangement. 

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Months after ending an Obama-era program to protect young undocumented people from deportation, President Donald Trump on Sunday continued to make explicit what he has told undocumented immigrants repeatedly since announcing his presidential aspirations in 2015: You are not welcome here.

Trump in September of last year ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which grants work authorizations and protection from deportation to undocumented young people who meet certain qualifications. Two federal judges later paused Trump’s action, leaving DACA recipients to face an uncertain future.

DACA applicants must have entered the United States before their 16th birthday and continuously resided in the country since June 15, 2007, on top of other requirements.

Since September, while occasionally voicing support for DACA recipients as a political cudgel against Democrats, Trump has made no serious effort to help turn protections for DACA recipients into permanent law.

The Trump administration has also intervened against a handful of DACA fixes that otherwise had bipartisan support, to the frustration of Democratic lawmakers and even some Republicans.

All the while, the Justice Department has also continued to fight in court for Trump’s right to terminate the program. The Supreme Court in February denied the government’s attempt to leapfrog the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals with an appeal of a lower court’s injunction.

The so-called “catch and release” policy refers to undocumented immigrants being released from the government’s custody while awaiting court dates. While serving as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security last year, John Kelly said “We have ended dangerous catch-and-release enforcement policies.”

But as Reuters pointed out at the time, it’s not so simple: Various court rulings govern how long undocumented immigrants can be held in the government’s custody. Also, there simply aren’t enough beds in the nation’s immigration detention centers to house every undocumented immigrant facing potential deportation.

Unsurprisingly, Trump’s outburst borrowed nearly word-for-word from an interview on “Fox & Friends Sunday,” minutes earlier, with Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council.

That border patrol union made the unprecedented decision to endorse Trump, without a union-wide vote, during the Republican presidential primaries. Judd later served on Trump’s transition team.

Judd and the “Fox & Friends Sunday” crew discussed a “caravan” of Central American migrants and asylum seekers — as reported by BuzzFeed’s Adolfo Flores — organized by the group Pueblos Sin Fronteras. The caravan is making its way through Mexico, toward the United States’ border, hoping, according to Flores, that it finds safety in numbers during a journey known for legal impediments and dangerous gangs

“What’s funny about this is President Obama used to say, ‘Well, they’re hiding in the shadows,’” Judd said. “Well all we’re doing is we’re going to release about 1200 people that are then going to go hide in the shadows again. They’re going to wait for a immigration reform, and they’re going to create havoc and chaos. I mean, how many times do we have to hear stories of United States citizens being killed by people that are here illegally before we actually do something?”

Before Trump used the term “nuclear option” Sunday, Judd did, referring to a potential Senate procedure to eliminate the legislative filibuster and allow legislation with a simple majority of support avoid minority obstruction.

“They can go the nuclear option, just like what they did on the confirmation,” Judd said, referring to when the Republican Senate majority nuked the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees before Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation vote.

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David Shulkin, the ousted secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, contradicted the White House Sunday by saying he did not resign from that position. 

Politico on Saturday quoted White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters, who said: “Secretary Shulkin resigned from his position as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

Asked Sunday whether he resigned or was fired, Shulkin told CNN’s Jake Tapper: “I would not resign because I’m committed to making sure this job was seen through to the very end.”

“So you were fired?” Tapper asked.

“I did not resign,” Shulkin said.

In an email to TPM Sunday, assistant White House press secretary Ninio Fetalvo said “Our statement still stands” and quoted Walters’ statement to Politico. He did not respond to follow-up questions.

Politico reported Saturday that the distinction could make a world of difference for the VA’s interim leadership, given the language of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

The law gives the President what Politico characterized as “broad authority” to name a temporary successor if a federal agency head “dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office.”

Trump announced on Twitter Wednesday the he would nominate White House physician Ronny Jackson to take Shulkin’s place as VA secretary. Shulkin told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes the next day that he had spoken with Trump before he was fired Wednesday, but that Trump did not tell him he would be fired.

Trump also declared Wednesday that Robert Wilkie, the Department of Defense’s undersecretary for defense personnel and readiness, would serve as interim VA secretary.

Elsewhere in the interview Sunday, Shulkin expressed frustration, as he did the days immediately following his departure, with political appointees at the top of the VA.

“These individuals,” he said, “when they didn’t see that their way was being adopted, used subversive techniques to be able to change leadership at the VA. That’s the issue that I have concerns with, because there are good people at the VA working very hard to make the changes that we need for our veterans.”

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President Donald Trump on Saturday morning sustained his long-held grudges against the state of California, Amazon and the Washington Post, the latter two of which share an owner.

California Governor Jerry Brown on Friday pardoned 56 people — five of whom face deportation, according to the Associated Press — and commuted the sentences of 14 others.

AP noted that the pardons don’t totally eliminate the risk of deportation for the five pardoned men, but do remove a major justification for it.

Trump has long railed against the state’s relatively progressive stance on immigration enforcement.

This past week, Trump cheered (on his Twitter account) when Orange County’s board of supervisors voted to join the federal government’s lawsuit over California’s relatively new “sanctuary state” law.

The measure, signed into law last year, limits local law enforcement officials’ cooperation with federal immigration enforcement agents. 

As for Amazon and the Washington Post — whose shared owner, Jeff Bezos, provides a frequent target for Trump — the President has long complained that the retail giant is ripping off the U.S. Postal Service.

Slate noted that Trump’s claim of $1.50 lost for every package shipped may have originated in a Citigroup analysis later cited by a Wall Street Journal op-ed in July of last year. 

Josh Sandbulte, whose money management firm owns Fed-Ex stock, asserted in the op-ed that “if costs were fairly allocated, on average parcels would cost $1.46 more to deliver.” That applies to all parcels, not just Amazon parcels. 

The same op-ed noted, though, that Amazon make does use of what are called “last mile” deliveries, in which local USPS depots deliver packages for a lower rate to local addresses.

As multiple outlets have pointed out, USPS faces a slew of problems, and the massive increase in home package delivery fueled by Amazon and other retailers likely isn’t the primary cause of the Postal Services’ years of operating in the red.

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Local newscasts nationwide last week decried “fake” and “one-sided” reporting by reading from a shared script written by one of the most powerful broadcasters in America.

The so-called “must-run” script, which local stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group were required to read, according to several reports, blasts “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country.”

“The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media,” the script continues, according to a copy published Friday by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

“More alarming, some media outlets publish these same fake stories… stories that just aren’t true, without checking facts first,” an anchor adds, according to the script. Another anchor continues: “Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think’…This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.”

Sinclair Broadcast Group owns more television stations than any other broadcaster in the country, and stands to spread its influence even more if the Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission approve a massive merger with Tribune Media. 

“At my station, everyone was uncomfortable doing it,” one unnamed television anchor at a Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned station told CNN earlier this month, referring to the “one-sided news” script. 

“They’re certainly not happy about it,” an unnamed KOMO employee told the Post-Intelligencer Friday, referring to their colleagues. 

The Philadelphia Inquirer collected video of four separate Sinclair-owned Pennsylvania news stations — WHP, WJAC, WOLF and WJAC — reading the script on March 23, March 23, March 24 and March 28, respectively.

Timothy Burke compiled a few examples in a particularly jarring seconds-long clip:

CNN reported, citing internal Sinclair documents, that Sinclair stations were instructed to run the segments frequently, “to create maximum reach and frequency,” and during “news time, not commercial time.”

The same report noted that the required script was nearly identical to one Sinclair’s senior vice president’s of news, Scott Livingston, read on air a year ago.

“Promo messages, like the one you are referring to, are very common in our industry,” Livingston told CNN in a statement. “This promo addresses the troubling trend of false stories on social media [Livingston’s emphasis], and distinguishes our trusted local stations as news destinations where we are committed to honest and accurate reporting. This promo reminds our viewers of this mission.”

The broadcaster has aligned itself with the Trump administration: In addition to the “one-sided news” script featured last week, Sinclair stations are also required to run political commentary from the network’s chief political analyst, Boris Epshteyn. Epshteyn previously worked for the Trump White House and Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The Post-Intelligencer noted that another must-run segment aired on KOMO last week featured former Trump White House official Sebastian Gorka. (During a panel on Sinclair-owned WJLA in October, Gorka lamented “black Africans” killing each other “by the bushel” in Chicago.)

Gorka, Post-Intelligencer reported, spoke about an alleged “deep state” attempting to undermine the Trump presidency. The segment’s producer, according to the report, was Kristine Frazao, who before working for Sinclair was a reporter and anchor for the Russian state-owned network RT.

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Fox News’ Laura Ingraham announced Friday night that she would take the following week off. The move followed intense criticism of the conservative host after she mocked a survivor of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

“I’ll be off next week for Easter break with my kids, but fear not, we’ve got a great line-up of guests hosts to fill in for me,” Ingraham said at the end of her Friday show.

A Fox News spokesperson told TPM via email Saturday that the vacation was pre-planned.

Ingraham offered an apology Thursday to Stoneman Douglas High School student David Hogg — one Hogg did not accept — after she posted a Daily Wire story about several college rejections the Valentine’s Day mass shooting survivor and gun control advocate had received.

Ingraham faced a wave of advertisers pulling their spots from her show following the Wednesday tweet.

“She’s only apologizing after a third of her advertisers pulled out,” Hogg told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota Friday. “I think it’s really disgusting, the fact that she tried promoting her show after apologizing to me.”

By the Guardian’s count, 11 advertisers had dropped her show as of Saturday morning.

Hogg encouraged the boycott, posting a link to a list of Ingraham’s advertisers Thursday and urging readers to “tweet away.”

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President Donald Trump told aides not to publicize his decision to allow the sale of U.S. weapons to Ukraine, NBC News reported Thursday, so as to avoid agitating Russian President Vladimir Putin.

NBC News reported the development based on the accounts of multiple unnamed senior U.S. officials.

“He doesn’t want us to bring it up,” one unnamed White House official told the network. “It is not something he wants to talk about.”

Another motive for not broadcasting moves seen to be against Russia’s interests, according to similarly unnamed officials, is Trump’s “stubborn refusal to be seen as appeasing the media or critics,” in NBC’s words.

Yet another unnamed official quoted in the report said the President “thinks a better relationship with Russia is good for the U.S., and he really believes he can deliver it.”

The official also said Trump wants to prove he can achieve such a relationship.

Read NBC News’ full report here.

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