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

President Donald Trump on Monday endorsed the former vice chair of his bogus “Election Integrity” commission, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, to be Kansas’ next governor.

Kobach, current Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) and other Republicans will face off in a primary vote on Tuesday.

Colyer assumed that role early this year when then-Gov. Sam Brownback was sworn in as the U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. (Brownback has used the position to advocate for a British Islamophobe, among other things.) Colyer was previously elected Kansas’ lieutenant governor in 2010 and 2014.

Kobach has a long history of pursuing restrictive voting and immigration laws.

ProPublica and the Kansas City Star recently profiled his work as a legal gun-for-hire, sometimes leaving municipalities with millions in legal bills after laws he promoted were subsequently the subject of costly lawsuits.

A federal judge earlier this year struck down a Kansas law requiring proof of citizenship to vote, and further mandated that Kobach enroll in six hours of legal education following his repeated fumbling of courtroom procedure.

And on Friday, a Democratic member of the White House’s since-dissolved “Election Integrity” commission lambasted Kobach, the panel’s vice chair, and Vice President Mike Pence, its chair, for what he called falsehoods concerning purported evidence of widespread voter fraud uncovered by the panel.

No such evidence was included in the commission’s internal documents and communications, the Democrat, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said, despite Kobach and the White House’s claims otherwise. Dunlap only recently received the records as a result of a lawsuit over the commission’s improper secrecy and partisanship.

Emails also revealed that Kobach urged Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to add a citizenship question to the census in order to address, in Kobach’s words, “the problem that aliens who do not actually ‘reside’ in the United States are still counted for congressional apportionment purposes.”

That move, which would discourage undocumented people from participating in the census, would kneecap government funding and political representation in areas with large immigrant communities. It’s currently the subject of a multi-state lawsuit.

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Facebook on Monday announced it had “unpublished” four pages associated with Alex Jones and his right-wing conspiracy website, Infowars, for repeated violations of Facebook’s community standards.

Facebook said the four pages — “the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the Infowars Page and the Infowars Nightly News Page” — had been removed “for repeated violations of Community Standards and accumulating too many strikes.”

“In addition, one of the admins of these Pages – Alex Jones – was placed in a 30-day block for his role in posting violating content to these Pages,” Facebook said.

The pages violated Facebook’s hate speech, bullying and graphic violence policies, Facebook said, noting that since last week it had taken down material from the pages for “glorifying violence.”

“None of the violations,” it said, were related to “false news.”

Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson wrote in a tweet and an article on Infowars’ website that the outlet had been “permanently” banned from Facebook. But Facebook said unpublished pages can appeal that decision. “If they don’t appeal or their appeal fails, we remove the Page,” the website’s statement read.

Watson called the move “a shocking intensification of Big Tech’s censorship purge.”

Apple also removed Jones’ and Infowars podcasts from iTunes and Apple Podcasts on Monday, with one exception, according to the Washington Post. Stitcher, the podcast application, removed Jones’ podcasts on Friday, per Billboard. Spotify removed The Alex Jones Show on Monday, The Guardian reported, but left up Infowars’ other podcasts.

Jones is well-known for his conspiracy theories about major historical events like September 11th, and for often random assertions, like his belief that Jews have in the past dressed up as Nazis in order to exaggerate the size of the extremist far-right.

Currently, Jones faces several lawsuits for his assertion that the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, which left 20 children and six adults dead, was a hoax. The parents of one six-year-old Sandy Hook victim said they’d moved seven times after stalkers repeatedly found out where they were living and began harassing them.

“I would love to go see my son’s grave and I don’t get to do that, but we made the right decision,” Veronique De La Rosa, part of a defamation suit against Jones, told the New York Times late last month.

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Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, a rare Democrat on the White House’s fishy, since-dissolved “Election Integrity” commission, slammed what he called “false” assertions by the White House and the commission’s vice chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, in a Friday letter.

In November, Dunlap sued the commission for violating the Federal Advisory Committee Act by keeping key documents from him and other commission members, among other things. The next month, a federal judge decided in his favor, telling the commission to hand internal communications and other documents over to Dunlap. In June, the judge again ordered the commission to hand over the documents.

Trump abruptly and without warning dissolved the commission on Jan. 3 of this year, saying in a statement that “Despite substantial evidence of voter fraud, many states have refused to provide the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with basic information relevant to its inquiry.”

Dunlap on Friday called that “substantial evidence of voter fraud” claim false, saying “these assertions appeared aimed at that pre-ordained objective: ratifying the President’s statements that millions of illegal votes were cast during the 2016 elections.”

He also said claims made the same day in a Breitbart News article that included an interview with Kobach — specifically, that “Thus far, the voter fraud commission has revealed 938 convictions for voter fraud since the year 2000 [and that] Fewer than 1 in 100 cases ends in a conviction” — were false.

“Indeed, while staff prepared drafts of a report to be issued by the Commission, the sections on evidence of voter fraud are glaringly empty,” Dunlap wrote. “That the Commission predicted it would find widespread evidence of fraud actually reveals a troubling bias.”

Dunlap published the documents he received as a a result of the lawsuit on his Maine secretary of state website. (Read them here.)

“I have concluded that my only recourse is to publish all of the documents made available to me, so Americans can conclude for themselves that evidence to support the statements of Vice Chair Kobach and the White House regarding the purported preliminary findings of the Commission does not exist,” Dunlap wrote Friday.

Read Dunlap’s Friday letter below:

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Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) on Sunday offered a timid defense of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and argued that the Republican Party is not “anti-black,” despite President Donald Trump repeatedly insulting prominent black Americans’ intelligence.

In an interview with Blunt, NBC “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd brought up a critique of the President by Peter Wehner, who served multiple Republican presidents, that Trump’s “racist appeals aren’t even disguised anymore.”

Over two days, Trump insulted the intelligence of Waters, CNN anchor Don Lemon, and LeBron James.

“Are you concerned that the President is defining the GOP as anti-black?” Todd asked, noting Trump’s attacks on Waters.

“Well, the GOP is not anti-black,” Blunt began.

“It’s always with an African-American when he questions intelligence,” Todd said. “That’s what makes a lot of people uncomfortable with what he’s doing.”

Blunt argued that Trump hadn’t “always” focused his attacks on African Americans — “I mean, look at what he said about his various opponents in the Republican primary” — but added, “I think you’ve got to be more careful in our society about what you say about people that are different than you.”

“And, you know, a lot of things, for instance, you could say about Maxine Waters, but to indicate she’s not a bright person is not one of them,” he continued. “She is very smart and very calculating.”

Blunt said he embraced Waters “as a person who has given a lot of time to public service, and has a different viewpoint than I do, but it’s not a viewpoint that’s not based on her factual view of the world.”

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Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) said Sunday that Republican congressional candidate Troy Balderson had claimed he didn’t have anything to do with inviting President Donald Trump to campaign on his behalf.

Kasich, one of a handful of nationally-known Republicans frequently critical of Trump, revealed the news on ABC’s “This Week.”

“I asked [Balderson] the other day, ‘Why are you bringing Trump in?’” Kasich recalled. “He said, ‘Well, I don’t have anything to do with it.’”

Host George Stephanopoulos returned to the point later: “Did he really tell you that he was surprised that President Trump was coming, and didn’t want him to come?”

“I asked him, I said, ‘Troy, why Did you invite Trump in here? The President?’ He said, ‘No, I didn’t,’” Kasich responded. “So I think Donald Trump decides where he wants to go, and I think they think they’re firing up the base.”

Balderson will face off against Democrat Danny O’Connor on Tuesday in a special election to fill the vacant seat of former Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH), who left Congress in January. The race is surprisingly close, given the usual Republican advantage in the district. Both Kasich and Trump have endorsed Balderson. 

Trump and Balderson headlined a rally in Ohio Saturday night, and Trump has promoted Balderson mutliple times on his Twitter page.

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Soon after President Donald Trump admitted on Twitter Sunday that the 2016 meeting between members of his campaign and Russians in Trump Tower “was a meeting to get information on an opponent,” his lawyer, Jay Sekulow, admitted he had “bad information” when he claimed last year that Trump wasn’t involved in crafting a misleading statement about that meeting.

“I was in the case, at that point, a couple of weeks,” Sekulow said on ABC’s “This Week.” “And there was a lot of information that was gathering, and as my colleague Rudy Giuliani said, I had bad information at that time.”

“I think it’s very important to point out that in a situation like this, you have— Over time, facts develop,” he said later, adding: “I agreed to go on your network and others days within being retained on this and had a lot of information to process, I got that one wrong.”

When the Trump Tower “dirt” meeting was first revealed last summer, Donald Trump Jr. claimed in a statement that the gathering had focused on adoption policy.

Emails eventually showed that Trump Jr. had actually anticipated receiving damaging information about Hillary Clinton from the Russians during the meeting, a fact he’d failed to disclose at first. 

At that time, Sekulow claimed Trump Sr. had nothing to do with the initial misleading statement about adoption policy. He changed his tune in June, when he told special counsel Robert Mueller in a letter that Trump had crafted the misleading initial statement on his son’s behalf.

It took months for the public to know the true extent of the President’s involvement in the misleading statement about the Trump Tower meeting.

Watch below:

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President Donald Trump began his Sunday morning with a string of tweets attacking special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe and the news media, and asserting — with some shaky economics — that his trade war has been successful. 

He also claimed not to know about the now-infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting between senior campaign officials, including his son, and Russians who’d promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. Contradicting his earlier claims that the meeting focused on adoption policy, Trump admitted “This was a meeting to get information on an opponent.” 

Trump acknowledged that his son and other senior campaign staffers met in 2016 with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton “to get information on an opponent.”

He claimed the meeting was “totally legal” — questionable — and asserted he “did not know about it!”

Last month, CNN reported that Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, was prepared to tell prosecutors that Trump knew of, and approved, the meeting. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said Monday that he didn’t know if Trump knew about the meeting. 

Trump has never fretted about sticking to the facts in these tweets. For one thing, Mueller’s investigative team is not made up of 17 Democrats. And Trump has admitted before that he considers “fake” those media outlets that report negatively on him.

This post has been updated.

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A Trump donor earlier this year offered President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer $10 million if he successfully secured funding for a nuclear project, including a $5 billion loan from the Department of Energy, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

A lawyer for Franklin Haney, who gave Trump’s inaugural committee $1 million through a corporation, argued to the Journal that “Neither Mr. Haney nor Nuclear Development LLC ever entered into a contract with Michael Cohen or his affiliate for lobbying services related to the Bellefonte [Nuclear Power Plant] project.”

But the Journal’s revelation, which cited unnamed people familiar with the matter, adds to the pile of legal troubles faced by Cohen, this time whether another of his post-election consulting schemes led to unregistered lobbying. Haney also agreed to pay Cohen an undetermined sum as a monthly retainer, the Journal reported.

Cohen, an unnamed person familiar told the Journal, made “several” calls to Energy Department officials to ask about the loan process, “including what could be done to speed it up,” in the paper’s words.

The Journal and Mother Jones previously reported on a meeting Haney and Cohen had in South Florida just days before Cohen’s home, office and hotel room were raided by investigators in April. 

The Journal confirmed that the vice chair of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed al-Thani, met with Cohen and Haney near Miami Beach on April 5. Cohen spent a night on the Qatari’s yacht, the Journal noted.

It wasn’t known at the time of those initial reports what kind of offer or fees Haney and Cohen had agreed to. The Journal said Thursday it didn’t know how much Cohen had actually been paid.

Haney’s Department of Energy loan application is still pending, the Journal said.

Read the Journal’s full report here.

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The Trump administration wants more gas guzzlers.

In a long-anticipated effort to to roll back the Obama administration’s emissions standards, Trump’s EPA and Department of Transportation arguedthey really did — that providing a more lax standard would lower the price of new cars, in turn saving lives because, they reason, crashes will occur between less fuel-efficient (heavier) vehicles that still have modern safety standards.

“At first glance, this proposal completely misrepresents costs and savings. It also relies on bizarre assumptions about consumer behavior to make its case on safety,” California Air Resources Board Chair Mary D. Nichols told Vox.

The administration also wants to limit states’ rights to make their own standards, to which California and several other states have already said, We’ll see you in court.

The Trump nominee to lead the EPA’s Superfund cleanup program once represented Dow Chemical in it’s own giant chemical mess, a story explored in a New York Times profile this week.

Environmental and animal rights groups have sued the Trump administration over the Ryan Zinke-created International Wildlife Conservation Council, which they allege is unfairly stacked with hunting interests.

Meanwhile, the White House’s new science adviser is… extremely competent? (The White House still let more time go by without a science adviser than any other modern administration.)

Can the executive branch, by quietly allowing investors adjust for inflation, enact a $100 billion capital gains tax break for the uber rich without Congress’ approval? They’re trying to, regardless.

Ahead of its new director Robert Wilkie’s confirmation, the Department of Veterans Affairs reportedly purged staffers suspected of being disloyal to the Trump administration. Wilkie now reportedly intends to do some re-assigning of his own.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has shown increasing deference to Russia’s Red Notices, or arrest-warrant-like issuances from Interpol, to deport alleged criminals, the Atlantic reports.

It was considered ridiculous that President Trump ever entertained making the former U.S. ambassador to Russia available for Kremlin questioning, and thought absurd that Russia would respond to any U.S. Red Notice for the Kremlin agents recently indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller for election interference. So why is ICE shipping asylum-seekers back to Russia?

The ex-personnel chief at FEMA is alleged to have fostered, for years, a culture of sexual harassment, including hiring women he met at bars and on dating apps in hopes that his friends and former frat brothers, now FEMA employees themselves, would have sex with them.

We previously reported that the EPA attempted to delay and bury a study showing toxic PFAS-class chemicals are dangerous at much lower levels than previously thought. As it happens, chemical companies also hid evidence for decades. Localities are now struggling to keep their citizens safe.

Kansas Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach may be a bit outside of the current administration at this point, but ProPublica and the Kansas City Star’s investigation into Kobach’s conservative-gun-for-hire scheme is a must-read. So too is PBS Frontline’s Separated, on the family separation crisis, a must-watch.

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