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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

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) resigned Friday amid reports he suggested aides have intercourse with him and serve as a surrogate for his child.

Franks had said Thursday that he would resign in February. Friday’s announcement was effective immediately.

The congressman also said his wife had been admitted to the hospital “due to an ongoing ailment.”

“Last night, my wife was admitted to the hospital in Washington, D.C. due to an ongoing ailment,” Franks said in a statement. “After discussing options with my family, we came to the conclusion that the best thing for our family now would be for me to tender my previous resignation effective today, December 8th, 2017.”

Politico reported Friday that, prior to Franks announcing that he would resign immediately, it had asked the congressman about allegations of unwanted advances toward female staffers. The outlet reported that Franks had approached staffers about serving as surrogates for his child, as he acknowledged Thursday, but also that “[i]t was not clear to the women whether he was asking about impregnating the women through sexual intercourse or in vitro fertilization.”

“Female aides said Franks suggested intercourse to impregnate them,” Politico headlined the article.

The outlet also reported that unnamed sources said a former staffer had alleged Franks had tried to persuade her they were in love “by having her read an article that described how a person knows they’re in love with someone,” and that one woman had believed she had had her access to Franks revoked as retribution for refusing his advances.

Politico reported Franks denied the allegations through a spokesperson.

And an unnamed former aide of Franks told the Associated Press that he had “repeatedly pressed her” to act as a surrogate for his child, including by offering $5 million at one point. The former staffer told the AP Franks had asked her to serve as a surrogate in exchange for money “at least four times,” the outlet reported Friday.

On Thursday, Franks announced he would resign from Congress in January, after he learned that the House Ethics Committee would probe what he said in a statement was “an inquiry regarding my discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable.”

Correction: This post originally misstated Franks’ home state. He is from Arizona, not Texas.

This post has been updated.

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Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell will leave her current role early next year, the White House announced Friday.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that Powell would serve “until early next year,” and that upon returning to New York, “she will continue to support the President’s agenda and work on Middle East policy.”

Powell joined the National Security Council in March under H.R. McMaster’s leadership, and previously served in the Bush administration and was a partner at Goldman Sachs, Politico reported at the time.

In a statement, McMaster said Powell “is one of the most talented and effective leaders with whom I have ever served.”

He noted, hinting at a possible future role for his outgoing deputy: “All of us look forward to continuing to work with her, as she continues to support this Administration’s efforts on Middle East peace and other issues.”

“Dina has done a great job for the Administration and has been a valued member of the Israeli-Palestinian peace team,” Jared Kushner said of Powell in a statement. “She will continue to play a key role in our peace efforts and we will share more details on that in the future.”

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Reporters on Friday criticized Fox News for saying that Beverly Young Nelson, who accused Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 16, “forged” part of a yearbook inscription she’s attributed to Moore.

During an interview with Good Morning America’s Tom Llamas that aired Friday, Nelson re-affirmed that Moore signed her yearbook when she was 15, before the alleged assault, and said that she added “notes” underneath his signature.

“The message was all Roy Moore,” Llamas said in his report.

Reporting on the interview, Fox News said Nelson admitted that she “forged part of the yearbook inscription,” echoing a frequent attack from Moore’s camp against Nelson. The report’s headline was later changed — “Roy Moore accuser admits she wrote part of yearbook inscription attributed to Alabama Senate candidate” — but the the tweet stayed up for a bit longer, though it was later deleted.

The Moore campaign used the report to smear Nelson.

Reporters and commentators across the aisle were critical of the characterization.

The article itself changed after scrutiny, too: While the Fox News originally asserted “Beverly Young Nelson told ABC News she added the date and place in the inscription,” the article now says the “notes” Nelson admitting to adding “appear to be the handwritten date and location.” TPM had reached out to a Fox News spokesperson regarding the factual basis for the first assertion above, but received no response.

The article has no byline, aside from “Fox News.” An update to the story at the bottom reads: “An update to this story reflects that Beverly Young Nelson admits writing what ABC News characterized as ‘notes’ beneath what she says is Roy Moore’s signature, and that the only notes below the signature are the date and location. Furthermore, the headline on story now specifies that Nelson admits to writing part of the inscription herself, rather than forging part of it.”

Nelson and her attorney, Gloria Allred, announced they would hold a news conference on Friday “to present evidence that we think is important on the issue whether Roy Moore signed the yearbook,” ABC News reported, quoting Allred.

This post has been updated.

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Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) said Friday that special counsel Robert Mueller “is not being favorable to the President.”

During an interview, CNN’s Poppy Harlow asked Russell if the House Oversight Committee, of which he is a member, would investigate a whistleblower’s claims that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had texted a business associate on Inauguration Day to tell him that an elaborate plan to build nuclear reactors across the Middle East was “good to go.” The plan, according to the whistleblower’s account, had been hindered by America dropping sanctions against Russia.

“Do you think it should be investigated by your committee?” Harlow asked.

“I think that you have to look at the fact that we already have a special investigator that’s been appointed by the President, one that, you know, quite frankly many people see that he is not being favorable to the President, depending upon what political viewpoint you have,” Russell said.

“I don’t think there’s some issue on the other side of the aisle that, you know, Mr. Mueller is being unfair,” he added. “Those investigations are handled by special investigators.”

Harlow pressed on why Russell’s committee couldn’t handle the probe itself.

“We are already looking at it, it’s already been brought to our attention,” Russell said before hedging.

“We’ve made a determination at this stage that it’s already being handled in other ways with the evidence that we see. If new evidence should come to light or something that would cause us to want to go into a deeper investigation, well then, we’ll have to see that evidence.”

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A months-old remark from Alabama Senate Candidate Roy Moore is getting renewed attention heading into the home stretch of the campaign.

In September, Moore said he considered America to be “great” when slavery existed.

“I think it was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery — they cared for one another,” he said at a rally in Florence, Alabama, the Los Angeles Times reported on Sep. 21.

“Our families were strong, our country had a direction,” Moore said.

He added later: “There were problems. We had slavery. We’ve overcome slavery. We had prejudice. We still have prejudice, but we’ve turned the tide on civil rights.”

The Times reported Moore was responding to a question “from one of the only African Americans in the audience.”

The Times published audio of the remark on Twitter Friday:

The quote gained new attention following a tweet about it from former Obama administration official Eric Columbus. AL.com mentioned it in a report on Moore on Dec. 7.

The comment appears to have escaped the scrutiny of major news outlets amid a wave of jarring remarks from the then-Republican primary candidate. The biggest story out of that event was Moore lamenting divisions between “reds and yellows” — that is, Native Americans and Asian Americans.

If it’s shocking to hear Moore’s nostalgia for the times of chattel slavery — which required the violent separation of millions of families — the Senate candidate hasn’t been shy about such positions.

In November, Moore made a point to mention in an interview that Alabamians “stand for their rights […] whether it’s the Civil War conflict, or whether it’s the Civil Rights conflict.”

The same month, Moore complained of the “new rights” created in 1965.

One of the most generous funders of Moore’s political and non-profit efforts is Michael Anthony Peroutka, a Confederate sympathizer. Moore’s Foundation for Moral Law hosted the League of the South’s annual “Secession Day” event in 2009 and 2010, CNN reported.

Editor’s Note: The headline has been changed and this piece has been updated after hearing audio from the Moore event

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Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, said Thursday that he was “seriously, seriously, seriously considering running for the U.S. Senate.”

“I am considering running for the Senate, Flake’s seat,” he told the Daily Beast, referring to Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who announced his retirement in October. “I feel like I just gave you a little scoop there.”

President Donald Trump erased Arpaio’s conviction for criminal contempt of court — one he earned for defying a court order to stop racially profiling Latinos — with a presidential pardon on Aug. 25.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now eighty-five years old, and after more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon,” the White House said in a statement at the time.

Days after that Pardon, Arpaio hinted he had Flake’s seat on his mind. “I could run for mayor, I could run for legislator, I could run for Senate,” he said.

After Flake announced his retirement, leaving an open election field, Apraio’s interest seems to have grown.

Arpaio is infamous for his jailing practices: He once called his outdoor “Tent City” jail a “concentration camp,” and there were numerous reports of abuse at his facilities over Arpaio’s 23 years as sheriff. 

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Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) is expected to resign from Congress, multiple outlets reported Thursday, citing unnamed sources.

RollCall first reported the news, citing an unnamed source with knowledge of the situation. Citing an unnamed Republican operative, Politico also reported that Franks is expected to resign, as did CNN, citing multiple unnamed sources.

An unnamed Arizona Republican told RollCall that “rumors” of inappropriate behavior have been “swirling around” Franks “for years, at least in 2012.”

“If this turns out to be true, there won’t be that many people who are surprised,” the Arizona Republican said, according to the report.

Franks told RollCall, “We will have a statement a little bit later, but that’s all I can tell you right now.”

“The statement will explain,” he said.

Politico’s Jake Sherman reported on Thursday that Franks was the subject of attention on the House floor.

Franks is a conservative Republican and serves on the House Armed Services and Judiciary committees.

He has previously been the subject of attention for outlandish remarks, including a claim in 2013 that “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.” 

Franks later walked that comment back. In February, he argued the U.S.-Mexico border was so dangerously porous that nuclear weapons could be smuggled into the United States from Mexico in bales of marijuana.

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The chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee said Thursday that Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore would “never” have the organization’s support.

Moore has been accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old and initiating sexual contact with a 14-year-old when he was an assistant district attorney, in addition to a slew of other allegations.

NRSC chair Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) said in November that the Senate should expel Moore if he is elected, and he didn’t back down from that position Thursday.

“Roy Moore will never have the support of the senatorial committee,” Gardner (pictured above) told the Weekly Standard in an interview. “We will never endorse him. We won’t support him,”

“I won’t let that happen. Nothing will change,” he added. “I stand by my previous statement.”

On Nov. 13, Gardner said in a statement about Moore: “If he refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him, because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate.”

But Republicans have increasingly embraced Moore, despite the allegations, as scattered polls have showed him leading in the race to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat on Dec. 12.

President Donald Trump has fully endorsed the Alabamian, and the Republican National Committee allowed just more than two weeks to elapse before it began supporting Moore financially again, after cutting him off in response to the stories.

“We’ve taken a different position,” Gardner said when asked about Trump, according to the Weekly Standard. “I think our position is right.”

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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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