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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

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) called on Congress to “get off its ass and do something” to prevent further mass shootings after a gunman took the lives of at least 50 people in the deadliest shooting in American history Sunday night.

Murphy advocated strongly for gun control measures after a shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 in his state took the lives of 20 children and six adult staff.

“This must stop,” Murphy said in a statement. “It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic. There are, and the thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference.”

In a tweet, Murphy said his “heart with with Las Vegas this morning.”

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said Monday morning that the suspected shooter — 64-year-old Stephen Craig Paddock, a white male from Mesquite, Nevada — took his own life before police forcibly entered his 32nd floor hotel room in the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino. Paddock allegedly killed more than 50 people, making the shooting the deadliest in American history.

Read Murphy’s full statement below:

“My heart goes out to the victims, their families, the first responders, and the entire Las Vegas community. Nowhere but America do horrific large-scale mass shootings happen with this degree of regularity. Last night’s massacre may go down as the deadliest in our nation’s history, but already this year there have been more mass shootings than days in the year.

“This must stop. It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic. There are, and the thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference. It’s time for Congress to get off its ass and do something.”

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The suspected perpetrator of a mass shooting in Las Vegas Sunday night fatally shot himself before police forcibly entered his hotel room, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said Monday morning.

“We believe the individual killed himself prior to our entry,” Lombardo said at a press briefing Monday morning, asked about the scene in the shooter’s hotel room when police forcibly entered.

Asked about what his officers found in the shooter’s hotel room, Lombardo said: “We are still going through the search warrant actively at this time, but it’s in excess of 10 rifles.”

Lombardo identified the shooting suspect as 64-year-old Stephen Craig Paddock, a white male from Mesquite, Nevada. At the press conference, Lombardo said Paddock “received a citation several years ago, and that citation was handled as a matter of normal practice in the court system.”

Paddock is alleged to have shot into a crowd of concert goers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino. He killed at least 50 people, according to police, making Sunday night’s shooting the deadliest in American history. In June 2016, Omar Mateen killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

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Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned Friday afternoon, following his use of private and military planes for official travel.

Politico first uncovered Price’s use of private chartered flights in an investigation last week, and has since uncovered a total of more than $1 million in private and military flights taken by Price on the taxpayers’ dime.

As controversy brewed over the hefty bill, President Donald Trump slowly distanced himself from Price. “We’ll see” about his future in the Trump administration, the President said Wednesday. Speaking to reporters Friday afternoon, Trump said he would make an announcement regarding Price “today,” and said I think he’s a fine person,” but “I certainly don’t like the optics.”

On Sept. 19, Politico reported on five private charter flights scheduled for Price between Sept. 13 and 15. Within days, the publication reported many more such flights. Congressional Democrats demanded answers, and the HHS inspector general and House Oversight Committee announced that they would look into the matter.

Price said in a press release Thursday that he would cease his use of private jet travel and reimburse the U.S. Treasury for the cost of “my seat” on the flights, though it was presumably on Price’s order that the flights were booked in the first place. An HHS spokesperson told TPM that Price had committed to paying $51,887.31 for “his seats.”

The same spokesperson did not respond to TPM’s questions Friday on whether Price still intended to make good on his commitment to the treasury.

Two other administration officials have recently been revealed to have used private charter flights and military flights using taxpayer money: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.

Before his nomination as health secretary, Price was known for his drive to deregulate the medical field. At the time of his nomination, he was a member of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. The group has said it aims “to fight socialized medicine and to fight the government takeover of medicine,” and it publishes a journal that has included articles on the mythic links between vaccines and autism, and abortion and breast cancer, among other things.

During his nomination hearings, Price was embroiled in another scandal involving the misuse of his position as a public servant: Price received a discount on thousands of dollars worth of shares in Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian firm attempting to break into the American market, leading to a potential conflict of interest given then-Rep. Price’s ability to influence the regulatory process.

The White House said in a statement that Trump would name Don J. Wright the acting secretary for HHS.

In his resignation letter, Price did not apologize for his use of private air travel. Instead, he said “I regret that the recent events have created a distraction” from his policy priorities.

“Success on these issues is more important than any one person,” Price wrote. “In order for you to move forward without further disruption, I am officially tendering my resignation as the Secretary of Health and Human Services effective 11:59 PM on Friday, September 29, 2017.”

Read Tom Price’s full resignation letter below:

Dear Mr. President:

It is an honor and privilege to serve you as the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Under your leadership, the Department of working aggressively to improve the health and well-being of all Americans. This includes working to reform a broken health care system, empower patients, reduce regulatory burdens, ensure global health security, and tackle clinical priorities such as the opioid epidemic, serious mental illness and childhood obesity.

I have spent forty years both as a doctor and public servant putting people first. I regret that the recent events have created a distraction from these important objectives.

Success on these issues is more important than any one person. In order for you to move forward without further disruption, I am officially tendering my resignation as the Secretary of Health and Human Services effective 11:59 PM on Friday, September 29, 2017.

You may rest assured that I will continue to support your critical priorities going ahead because failure is not an option for the American people.

Yours truly,

Thomas E. Price, M.D.

This post has been updated.

 

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The Department of Justice government obtained warrants in February to seize the complete information on three anti-Trump Facebook users’ accounts. One group on the social media site included in the three warrants could expose the information of thousands of other Facebook users who interacted with it.

The warrants — for Lacy MacAuley, Legba Carrefour and the DisruptJ20 Facebook page, run by Emmelia Talarico — were initially placed under a gag order, LawNewz first reported Thursday. But after Facebook successfully fought to have the gag removed in mid-September, the ACLU of Washington, D.C. filed a motion to quash, or limit, the warrants on behalf of the three users.

According to ACLU lawyer Scott Michelman’s filing Thursday, the government’s warrants aim to seize all information associated with the three accounts, including individuals’ information who interacted with the DisruptJ20 Facebook page. The warrants came as part of an investigation into alleged rioting on Inauguration Day.

Michelman said the request was overly broad and could lead to so-called “exploratory rummaging” through the electronic information of Facebook users who had nothing to do with the alleged rioting.

“The warrants make no provision for avoiding or minimizing invasions into personal and associational/expressive information, for preventing such information from being shared widely within the government, or for destroying irrelevant material when the investigation is concluded,” Michelman wrote.

He added: “Government agents would gain access to the Intervenors’ communications with friends and family members, and pictures and names of their family members, including the pictures and names of minor children and pictures of an Intervenor’s child relatives in the bath,” among other extremely sensitive information, such as “political activities and associations.”

DisruptJ20, which served as a hub of sorts for anti-Trump inauguration event planning, hosted information on its Facebook page unrelated to any smashed windows or rioting, Michelman argued, “such as a peaceful dance-party protest to call attention to the anti-LGBTQ stance of the incoming Vice President.”

The government charged more than 200 people with various crimes following the inaugural protests in Washington, D.C., during which some protesters broke windows and lit fires in the street. Those charged included journalists, legal observers and bystanders. Judge Lynn Leibovitz recently refused to drop any charges against the nearly 200 individuals remaining to be tried.

Prosecutors also requested information from disruptj20.org,’s web host, DreamHost, on the protest website’s more than 1 million visitors. After DreamHost objected to the warrant, the government trimmed its request somewhat, and Judge Robert Morin ultimately ruled that DreamHost must turn over large amounts of users’ data, though he said the data would be handled under the court’s supervision

In his filing Thursday, Michelman was blunt: “The enforcement of these warrants would reach deeply into individuals’ private lives and protected associational and political activity.”

Read the ACLU’s filing below:

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President Donald Trump said Friday that he would make a decision on the future of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price “probably today.”

Price is mired in a scandal over the cost of his travel on private charter planes and military flights. Taxpayers’ bill has now exceeded $1 million, by Politico’s latest count.

On Thursday, an unnamed HHS spokesperson told TPM Price would reimburse the U.S. Treasury for $51,887.31 for the flights, which Price later called “unprecedented.”

I think he’s a fine person,” Trump told reporters on Friday, on his way to Marine One. “I certainly don’t like the optics.”

Trump noted, despite other reports that have found other Cabinet secretaries using thousands of taxpayer dollars for private charter flights: “We have great secretaries and we have some that actually own their own planes, as you know, and that solves that.”

Indeed, Trump’s Cabinet is the richest in American history. Education Secretary Betsy Devos’ office has confirmed that she uses her own private plane for work trips, but pays for it herself.

“I felt very badly because Secretary Price is a good man,” Trump said. “But we are looking into it, and we’re looking into it very strongly.”

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During brief remarks Friday on the continuing aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump maintained his laser focus on the island’s debt. He also defended the federal effort to bring aid to the territory, pointing out how Puerto Rico being surrounded by “big water, ocean water” presents unique challenges.

Though the island is still reeling from the hurricane, which made landfall as a Category 4 storm over a week ago, Trump has spent an inordinate amount of his attention following the storm on the private interests set to profit, or at least recover their losses, following the disaster.

“This is an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water,” Trump said at the start of a speech to the National Association of Manufacturers on his proposed tax overhaul. “We’re closely coordinated with the territory and local governments which are totally, and unfortunately, unable to handle this crisis on their own — just totally unable to.”

Trump said the island’s electrical grid and other infrastructure “were at their life’s end prior to the hurricanes, and now virtually everything has been wiped out and we will have to really start all over again. We are literally starting from scratch.”

“Ultimately the government of Puerto Rico will have to work with us to determine how this massive rebuilding effort — it will end up being one of the biggest ever — will be funded and organized,” he said, “and what we will do with the tremendous amount of existing debt already on the island. 

In 2016, former President Barack Obama signed into law Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), which in turn established a presidentially-appointed financial oversight board that took control of the island’s finances. Puerto Rico has struggled with tens of billions of dollars in outstanding debts to bondholders, in addition to a deep recession.

Trump has obsessed over money following the devastating hurricane: Before he authorized a waiver for the Jones Act, which restricts shipping between American ports to ships built, owned and operated by Americans, he said of the waiver: “We’re thinking about that, but we have a lot of shippers — a lot of people that work in the shipping industry that don’t want the Jones Act lifted.”

He’s also tweeted multiple times in recent days, as the crisis continues on the island, about Puerto Rico’s debt. On Friday, he wrote on twitter that “[b]ig decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding!”

“There is no electricity,” Trump told the manufacturers’ association Friday, before moving on to promoting his tax plan. “The plants are gone. They’re gone. It’s not like, let’s send a crew in to fix them. You have to build brand new electric. Sewage systems, wiped out. There’s never been anything like this. So there remains a lot of work to do.”

Later in the speech, he made a point to return to discussing Puerto Rico, but only while bragging about the nation’s GDP growth: “Unfortunately, having the hurricanes hit Texas, and Florida, and Louisiana, and, obviously, other locations — especially where we are right now with the kind of money we’re spending on Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands — it’s going to be a little bit of a hit. But we are doing extremely well even this quarter, despite the hurricanes.”

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The mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico on Friday disputed the assertion of a Trump administration official who said that the aftermath of Hurricane Maria was “a good news story.”

Asked how she thought the federal response to the storm in Puerto Rico was going, Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke said Thursday from the White House that “I am very satisfied” and “I know it is really a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place in such a devastating hurricane.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead agency responding to the storm’s aftermath, is a part of DHS.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, informed of the remarks on CNN Friday, was stunned. Much of the island is still unreachable by aide workers due to damaged infrastructure, and horrific stories of shortages of clean water, food and electricity are still streaming out of the island more than a week following the storm’s landfall.

“Well, maybe from where she’s standing it’s a good news story,” Cruz said after seeing a clip of Duke’s remarks. “When you are drinking from a creek, it’s not a good news story. When you don’t have food for a baby, it’s not a good news story. When you have to pull people down from their buildings — I’m sorry, but that really upsets me and frustrates me.”

Cruz said the acting secretary should “come down here and visit the towns, and then make a statement like that.”

“This is — Damnit, this is not a good news story,” the mayor said, adding: “It is not a good news story when people are dying when they don’t have dialysis, and when their generators aren’t working and their oxygen is not providing for them.”

“Where is there good news here?” she said.

The Trump administration, including President Trump himself, has criticized the media for not showing the federal recovery effort in Puerto Rico in a good enough light. But Trump and others have also paid special attention to Puerto Rico’s debt in recent days, prompting concern that the fiscal oversight board to which Congress last year delegated financial authority over the island would prioritize bondholders over Puerto Ricans’ recovery needs.

Watch below via CNN:

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The White House has launched a probe of the use of private email accounts by senior aides, Politico reported Thursday, citing four unnamed officials familiar with the matter.

The probe comes on the heels of a Politico investigation that found that several current and former senior White House staff — including Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Gary Cohn, Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus — used private email accounts.

It is illegal to conduct official business on a non-government email account without preserving the emails for record keeping.

President Donald Trump turned Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state into a key attack against her, leading chants of “lock her up” and promising to prosecute Clinton once in office (he went back on that promise after the election).

One of Politico’s unnamed sources said the White House counsel’s office was reviewing the private accounts in order to determine if any messages were relevant to the congressional or special counsel investigations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

CNN reported Thursday night that Kushner did not share the existence of his private email account with Senate Intelligence Committee staffers in a private interview, reportedly angering the committee chair and vice chair.

“The Committee was concerned to learn of this additional email account from the news media, rather than from you, in your closed staff interview,” Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) wrote in a letter to Kushner published by CNN.

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Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) said Thursday that he will return to the Senate on Oct. 16 following “recent treatment for urological issues.” President Donald Trump has incorrectly referred to the senator as “hospitalized” several times.

Trump blamed Cochran multiple times for not being in Washington to vote to repeal Obamacare in time to use the Senate’s reconciliation procedure, which would require a simple 50-vote majority to pass the legislation.

However, even with Cochran, three Republican senators had announced their opposition to the effort, ending any chance of its passage.

“I will return to the Senate on October 16 in order to continue work on the appropriations process and participate in upcoming debates on the budget and tax reform,” Cochran said in a statement.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that when Trump claimed to “have the votes” to pass the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare repeal measure — even though he didn’t have the votes — he really meant that “we have the votes on the substance, but not necessarily on the process.”

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