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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. Thad Cochran (R-MS) corrected President Donald Trump on Wednesday after the President continued to incorrectly claim that a hospitalized senator had prevented a vote on the most recent failed Obamacare repeal bill.

The Graham-Cassidy legislation to repeal Obamacare failed to muster enough support for a floor vote after a third Republican senator — Susan Collins (R-ME), who joined John McCain (R-AZ) and Rand Paul (R-KY) — announced on Monday she would not support the measure.

But on Wednesday, in a tweet and a statement to reporters later in the day, Trump blamed one senator “in the hospital” for holding up the effort.

“We have the votes for health care,” he told reporters as he walked to Marine One. “We have one senator that’s in the hospital. He can’t vote because he’s in the hospital.”

“Are you talking about Cochran?” a reporter asked.

“He can’t vote because he’s in the hospital,” Trump continued. “We have two other votes that are coming and we will have them. The problem is we can’t have them by Friday because the reconciliation ends by Friday. So we’ll have to do it in January or February. But I feel we have the votes. I’m almost certain we have the votes.”

In fact, Cochran’s been correcting the President all day. His office sent out a similar statement Wednesday morning, seemingly responding to another incorrect tweet from the President.

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President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he was hesitant to lift the Jones Act in order to aid Puerto Rico following a devastating hurricane on the island because of “a lot of people that work in the shipping industry that don’t want the Jones Act lifted.”

The Jones Act restricts shipping between American ports to American ships with American crews and owners. It was waived earlier this month after Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma hit the United States in order to ease the shipment of fuel to impacted areas.

A week after Hurricane Maria made landfall, the Department of Homeland Security has not issued a similar waiver for Puerto Rico, despite devastating damage to the island. A spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection on Monday said “[t]he limitation is going to be port capacity to offload and transit, not vessel availability.” On Wednesday, though, Trump said the shipping industry was against a Jones Act waiver.

“On Puerto Rico, Mr. President, why not lift the Jones Act like you did in Texas and Florida?” a reporter asked as Trump made his way to Marine One.

“Well, we’re thinking about that,” he responded. “But we have a lot of shippers, and a lot of people — a lot of people that work in the shipping industry that don’t want the Jones Act lifted. And we have a lot of ships out there right now.”

He went on to thank the governor of Puerto Rico and mayor of San Juan for being “very generous with their statements.” Trump said of the U.S. territory: “That place was just destroyed.”

Speaking on CNN after Trump’s statement, Jeremy Konyndyk, the former head of USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, said Trump’s reasoning “almost sounds like profiteering by U.S. shipping companies off an emergency like this.”

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President Trump was “embarrassed and pissed” following the primary loss of the Republican Senate candidate he endorsed for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ old Senate seat, according to unnamed “person familiar with his mindset,” CNN reported Wednesday.

Trump had endorsed the losing primary candidate, Luther Strange, partly at the request of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the White House political staff, CNN reported, but also partly because he felt he owed Strange for his loyalty while serving in an interim capacity as Alabama’s junior senator.

An unnamed senior White House official told CNN of Trump’s decision to endorse Strange that the President “knew it was a mistake but one he was willing to make because Luther was loyal.”

Multiple sources, according to CNN, said Trump was “furious with McConnell, and feels outdone by his former aide Bannon.”

Steve Bannon, the former White House chief political strategist, and Sebastain Gorka, the former White House counterterrorism adviser, both spoke on behalf of the victorious Republican, the far-right former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, at rallies before Tuesday’s vote. Even the current Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson endorsed Moore.

A super PAC affiliated with McConnell spent millions in vain trying to defeat Moore. And Trump spoke at a rally in Alabama in support of Strange.

After the primary vote, Trump deleted tweets supportive of the losing candidate, replacing them with moderate praise for the chosen Republican.

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Two Republican senators on Wednesday stumbled over questions about the far-right Republican nominee to fill the vacant Senate seat of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has advertised his opposition to homosexuality and suspicion of Sharia Law as part of his Senate campaign. He was suspended twice from the Alabama Supreme Court — once in 2003 for refusing to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments he installed from the Alabama Judicial Building, and again in 2016 over his instruction to probate judges to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s legalization of gay marriage.

On Wednesday morning, CNN’s Alisyn Camerota asked Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) about Moore, playing a clip of the Alabama candidate saying in December that he didn’t believe former President Barack Obama was born in the United States, and another in which he said the teachings of Islam were “completely opposite what our First Amendment stands for.”

Johnson and Camerota agreed the clips were difficult to hear, but the senator said the public’s perception of Moore had been unfairly colored by the media.

“No two people agree 100 percent of the time, not by a long shot,” Johnson said. “Again, we’ve got a pretty broad spectrum of political opinion and ideology serving in our Republican conference, certainly serving in Congress.”

He added: “I have found, coming here to Washington, D.C., there’s an awful lot of stereotypes of individuals. How the press portrays them is not necessarily the individual that they are. I’ve never met Judge Moore. I’m looking forward to meeting him and hoping we can work together to really address these serious challenges facing America.”

Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) faced similar questions on MSNBC later Wednesday morning.

NBC’s Hallie Jackson asked about Moore’s assertions “that homosexual conduct should be illegal, that 9/11 was God punishing U.S. perverseness,” and Moore’s belief that Obama was not born in the United States.

“If Roy Moore ends up winning in December, will you welcome him to the Senate?” she asked.

“I haven’t had a chance to look through all of those things,” Hoeven said, though Moore’s rhetoric and beliefs have been well-known for years. “The key is going to be what he does when he comes here, and is he going to join with us to get the things done that are going to help our country and the American people. That’s going to be the important thing.

“Let’s give him a chance to come down and help us advance the agenda that will be good for our country,” Hoeven added.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) congratulated Roy Moore on Tuesday after the former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice won Alabama’s Senate Republican primary, despite Moore’s criticism of McConnell on the campaign trail.

The majority leader said in a statement that Moore “ran a spirited campaign centered around a dissatisfaction with the progress made in Washington.”

“I share that frustration and believe that enacting the agenda the American people voted for last November requires us all to worth together,” McConnell added.

A super PAC affiliated with McConnell, the Senate Leadership Fund, spent millions attacking Moore, according to multiple reports.

During a rally earlier in September, Moore asked the crowd: “Will McConnell’s forces be able to control the senators coming up, with their money, their millions of dollars of money, in the Senate Leadership Fund?”

Moore — who wrote in 2006 of the first Muslim congressman that “Ellison cannot swear an oath on the Quran and an allegiance to our Constitution at the same time” — had the support of former White House officials Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, among others.

After Moore’s victory Tuesday, Trump deleted a series of tweets supportive of Strange.

“Senate Republicans will be as committed to keeping Alabama’s Senate seat in Republican hands with Roy Moore as we were with Luther Strange,” McConnell’s statement concluded. “I urge all of our friends who were active in the primary to redouble their efforts in the general election.”

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Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to attack protesters who interrupted a speech Erdogan gave Thursday in New York City.

According to footage and reporting by Voice of America and other outlets, multiple individuals protesting Erdogan during an event organized by the Turkish-American National Steering Committee were dragged out of the event by security guards. Videos showed the protesters being kicked and punched in the head by audience members as they were escorted out of the venue.


A Turkish journalists’ Periscope feed showed a protester standing up and yelling at Erdogan before being escorted out by security. Voice of America reported that three protesters total were attacked by Erdogan supporters.

BuzzFeed reported that Erdogan asked the crowd, following the disruptions: “Don’t let three to five impertinent people, three to five hall terrorists ruin our lovely gathering.”

Soon afterwards, Erdogan met with President Donald Trump, who lavished praise on Turkey’s leader, despite global condemnation of Erdogan’s heavy-handed crackdown on dissent in his country in the wake of a failed coup in July 2016.

Asked about a May incident in which Turkish security guards beat peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C., Trump said Thursday: “We’ll be discussing many issues.”

 “We have a great friendship,” Trump said of Erdogan.

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President Donald Trump lavished praise on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the United Nations Thursday. A day earlier, the White House denied Erdogan’s claim that Trump had apologized for the May incident in Washington when several of the Turkish leader’s guards beat peaceful protesters.

It’s a great honor and privilege, because he’s become a friend of mine, to introduce President Erdogan of Turkey,” Trump said during a photo-op with Erdogan. “He’s running a very difficult part of the world. He’s involved very, very strongly, and frankly he’s getting very high marks. And he’s also been working with the United States. We have a great friendship.”

Trump added: “As countries, I think we’re right now as close as we have ever been. And a lot of that has to do with the personal relationship. So, president, thank you very much, it’s a great honor to have you to the United States.”

A reporter shouted a question about “violence against peaceful protesters,” seemingly a reference to several of Erdogan’s guards and others who viciously beat peaceful protesters during Erdogan’s U.S. visit earlier in the year. Fifteen Turkish security officials and four others were subsequently indicted in connection to the beatings outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in DC. None of the Turkish guards have been arrested.

Trump dodged the question.

“We’ll be discussing many issues,” he said. “Many issues.” The reporters were shuffled out of the room.

Erdogan claimed in an interview with PBS’ Judy Woodruff Tuesday that Trump had apologized to him about the incident and “told me that he was going to follow up on this issue when we come to the United States within the framework of an official visit.”

National Security Council spokesperson Michael Anton told Yahoo News that the topic “was discussed” in Trump and Erdogan’s call, but that “there was no apology.”

Erdogan has come under international scrutiny for his harsh crackdown on dissent in Turkey following a failed coup attempt in July 2016. On Wednesday, Edorgan commented on the scores of journalists currently jailed in his country: “Most of them are terrorists,” he said. “Everyone else seems to think they’re journalists just because they say so.”

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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said his staff is preparing subpoenas for two FBI officials whom he wants to answer questions about the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

The Justice Department has thus far prevented the two officials, Carl Ghattas and James Rybicki, from appearing before the committee despite Grassley and ranking member Sen. Diane Feinstein’s (D-CA) requests, CNN reported.

Grassley told CNN Wednesday: “We’ve got subpoenas at the Senate counsel office.”

“When we get done there, I’m gonna have to consult with Sen. Feinstein,” he added.

Taylor Foy, press secretary for the committee, told TPM in an email Thursday that “the subpoenas have not yet been sent and the Committee is continuing to work with the Justice Department to obtain voluntary cooperation.”

The Judiciary Committee in July reportedly subpoenaed the co-founder of the firm behind the still-largely-unsubstantiated dossier that detailed potential Russian leverage on Donald Trump, Fusion GPS. That subpoena was eventually withdrawn, and Simpson later testified privately before the committee.

Grassley has also floated the possibility of subpoenaing former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, whose lawyers Grassley says have been unresponsive to the committee’s requests. On Wednesday, though, Grassley mused that he didn’t “know whether it’s worth issuing subpoenas when somebody’s been indicted.”

The chairman was likely referring to reports that members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team warned Manafort that he would be indicted on possible tax and financial crimes following a pre-dawn raid on his Alexandria, Virginia home in July.

This post has been updated.

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President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager said Tuesday that he hoped any of Trump’s campaign staff who may be found to have improperly influenced the 2016 election “go to jail for the rest of their lives.”

Lewandowski made the comment at an event at George Washington University, the Washington Examiner reported.

“I think if anybody, and I’ve said this, if Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, or Rick Gates or Carter Page, or anybody else attempted to influence the outcome of the U.S. election through any means that’s inappropriate — through collusion, coordination, or cooperation — I hope they go to jail for the rest of their lives,” Lewandowsi said, as quoted by the Examiner.

Lewandowski is a well-known rival of Manafort’s, who replaced him at the top of Trump’s campaign with the title of chairman. Eventually, Manafort was himself replaced by Breitbart News executive Steve Bannon and pollster Kellyanne Conway, who would both go on to accompany Trump to the White House.

Manafort has drawn the attention of Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the U.S. election. Details of a July raid of Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia home have emerged recently in multiple reports. Mueller’s team reportedly warned Manafort that it planned to indict him for possible tax and financial crimes.

Lewandowski, who remains an ally of Trump’s, also defended the President against allegations that he knew of Russian efforts to aid his campaign, saying he was with Trump “18 hours a day, seven days a week for 18 months,” and “never ever ever did I hear him say, utter, insinuate anything to do with Russia.

Then again, Lewandowski also denied knowledge of the meeting between Donald Trump Jr., several top campaign officials and Russian figures promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton as part of a Kremlin effort to aid Trump’s campaign. Lewandowski was still campaign manager at the time of that meeting.

“The short answer is I knew nothing about the meeting. And the reason I knew nothing about the meeting was because there was nothing to the meeting,” he told “Fox & Friends” in July.

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Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said Wednesday he could give “10 reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered,” referring to the Senate’s final attempt to repeal Obamacare this year—but he’s still dead-set on supporting it.

Grassley said keeping Republicans’ campaign promise to get rid of former President Obama’s signature accomplishment was as important as the contents of the most recent health care bill, penned by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

“You know, I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered,” Grassley told Iowa reporters on a call, according to the Des Moines Register. “But Republicans campaigns on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign.”

“That’s pretty much as much of a reason as the substance of the bill,” he added.

The Graham-Cassidy legislation would repeal much of Obamacare and shift Medicaid funding to the states in the form of block grants. States would also be allowed to apply for waivers from certain Obamacare regulations that, in effect, would allow insurance companies to impose lifetime caps or engage in price discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.

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