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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

Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore on Wednesday blamed the allegations of sexual misconduct against him on LGBT people and liberals, while denying that he pursued sexual relationships with teenagers when he was in his 30s.

“When I say they who are ‘they?'” Moore asked, referring to individuals behind a “conspiracy” to derail his campaign with “false and malicious” claims, according to BuzzFeed.

“They’re liberals. They don’t hold conservative values. They are the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender who want to change our culture. They’re socialists who want to change our way of life, putting man above God and then government is our God.”

“They’re the Washington establishment that simply wants to keep their jobs, do the same thing and do everything the same, so they don’t lose their position, their power, their prestige.”

Moore has been accused by multiple women of pursuing sexual relationships with them when they were teenagers. Beverly Young Nelson claimed Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16 years old. Leigh Corfman, in a Nov. 9 Washington Post article, said Moore initiated sexual contact with her when she was 14 and he was 32.

In an open letter Tuesday, Corfman addressed Moore’s frequent claim of a conspiracy head-on.

“I am not getting paid for speaking up. I am not getting rewarded from your political opponents. What I am getting is stronger by refusing to blame myself and speaking the truth out loud,” she wrote.

Moore has a long history of anti-LGBT beliefs, and was suspended from his role as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2016 for ordering Alabama judges not to issue marriage licenses same-sex couples.

He’s campaigned following the allegations by appealing to the virtue extolled in Alabama’s state motto, “Audemus jura nostra defendere,” or “We dare defend our rights.”

“Whether it’s the civil war conflict or whether it’s the civil rights conflict or the Ten Commandments, people stand in Alabama and they always have,” Moore said in a Nov. 21 interview, after quoting the English translation.

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NBC News received “at least” two more complaints related to former “Today” host Matt Lauer following his ouster Wednesday, the New York Times reported, citing an unnamed person “briefed on the network’s handling of the matter.”

Lauer was fired for what NBC News chairman Andy Lack said in a statement was “a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”

Lack added: “While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”

According to the Times, one complaint following Lauer’s firing Wednesday was related to him summoning a woman to his office in 2001 and having sex with her. The woman did not report the incident, she told the Times, because she felt ashamed. She did tell her husband about the encounter at the time, and told a friend five years ago, the Times reported.

The accuser’s husband and friend confirmed being told about the incident, the Times reported.

The Times did not detail the second complaint it reported on.

Also on Wednesday, Variety reported on a series of allegations against Lauer, including that he gave a sex toy to a female colleague along with “an explicit note about how he wanted to use it on her,” and that he summoned an employee to his office and dropped his pants, and then reprimanded the employee when she did not engage with him sexually. 

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Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has no intention of resigning despite multiple sexual harassment allegations made against him, an attorney for the congressman said Wednesday.

“He’s not going to be forced out of office, and no one has told him he has to leave,” Conyers’ attorney, Arnold Reed, told the Detroit News Wednesday. “He has not indicated he’s going to resign at this point.” The Associated Press reported later that Conyers’ lawyer said the congressman has no plans to resign.

BuzzFeed News first reported last week on a former Conyers staffer who reached a $27,000 settlement deal with her former boss in 2015 after she was allegedly fired for refusing his advances.

Conyers has acknowledged the settlement but denies wrongdoing. He claimed he settled in order to avoid “the rigors of protracted litigation.” He’s since been accused of harassment by other staffers, independent of each other, including unwanted touching, requests for sexual favors and verbal abuse.

Only four Democratic members of Congress — Reps. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) — have called for Conyers’ resignation. He is the longest currently serving member of the House of Representatives.

Rice, frustrated at what she characterized as her caucus’ failure to take harassment seriously, left a meeting of House Democrats early Wednesday morning, according the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel. “I don’t have time for meetings that aren’t real,” she said.

Conyers has temporarily stepped aside from his role as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee and is subject to a probe by the House Ethics Committee.

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Garrison Keillor, the former host of the wildly popular public radio program “A Prarie Home Companion,” was axed Wednesday by Minnesota Public Radio over allegations of improper behavior.

MPR confirmed in a press release that it is terminating its contracts with Keillor and his media companies “after recently learning of allegations of his inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him.”

The Associated Press said Keillor had told them of his firing in an email, and followed up by saying he was fired over “a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard.”

In an email to the Minnesota Star Tribune, Keillor said: “I put my hand on a woman’s bare back. I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologized. I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it. We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.”

In a statement shared with TPM, Minnesota Public Radio spokesperson Angie Andreson said: “Last month, MPR was notified of the allegations which relate to Mr. Keillor’s conduct while he was responsible for the production of A Prairie Home Companion (APHC).”

“MPR President Jon McTaggart immediately informed the MPR Board Chair, and a special Board committee was appointed to provide oversight and ongoing counsel,” the statement continued. “In addition, MPR retained an outside law firm to conduct an independent investigation of the allegations. Based on what we currently know, there are no similar allegations involving other staff.”

“MPR takes these allegations seriously and we are committed to maintaining a safe, respectful and supportive work environment for all employees and everyone associated with MPR,” the statement said.

The AP noted that, though Keillor retired from his post at “A Prairie Home Companion” last year, he had continued producing “The Writer’s Almanac” for syndication.

MPR’s severing its relationships with Keillor will include changing “A Prarie Home Companion”’s name, according to MPR’s statement, in addition to ceasing distribution and broadcast of “The Writer’s Almanac” and ceasing rebroadcasts of old episodes of Keillor’s show.

Just Tuesday, Keillor wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that the idea of Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) resigning over allegations of sexual harassment was “absurd.”

“On the flight home, in a spirit of low comedy, Al ogled Miss Tweeden and pretended to grab her and a picture was taken,” Keillor wrote, describing the first allegation made against Franken. “Eleven years later, a talk show host in LA, she goes public, and there is talk of resignation. This is pure absurdity, and the atrocity it leads to is a code of public deadliness. No kidding.”

An update to that op-ed added Wednesday, referring to the story of Keillor’s firing, that “The Post takes allegations of this kind seriously and is seeking more information about them.”

This post has been updated.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday defended President Donald Trump retweeting anti-Muslim videos from a far-right UK leader.

“The threat is real, and that’s what the President is talking about, is the need for national security, the need for military spending, and those are very real things, there’s nothing fake about that,” she told reporters Wednesday.

Nowhere in a video of her justification to reporters posted by NBC (seen below), nor in quotes published by CBS’ Major Garret, does Sanders define “the threat.” She did not respond to TPM’s attempts to clarify her statements.

Trump on Wednesday morning retweeted three videos from the deputy leader of the far-right ultranationalist political party Britain First. They purported to show violent acts from an “Islamist mob” and a “Muslim migrant,” though the latter subject is reportedly not Muslim.

Trump also retweeted the British politician’s video, “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!”

“Does it matter if it’s a fake video?” a reporter asked Sanders, as seen in NBC’s video.

“Look, I’m not talking about the nature of the video,” she replied. “I think you’re focusing on the wrong thing. The threat is real, and that’s what the President is talking about, is the need for national security, the need for military spending, and those are very real things, there’s nothing fake about that.”

“But that says the means justify the ends,” another reporter pressed.

“That’s not what I said, you’re putting words in my mouth,” Sanders replied. “I said that the threat is real, the threat needs to be addressed, the threat has to be talked about, and that’s what the President is doing in bringing that up.”

Trump’s actions were denounced by British Prime Minister Theresa May, London Mayor Sadiq Khan and British media personalities like Piers Morgan. The widow of British Parliamentarian Jo Cox, whose assassin reportedly shouted “Britain First” as he murdered her a week before the Brexit vote, said “the President should be ashamed of himself.”

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CNN will skip the White House Christmas party, Politico first reported Tuesday, drawing celebration from the President and his press secretary.

An CNN spokesperson told TPM: “CNN will not be attending this year’s White House Christmas party.”

“In light of the President’s continued attacks on freedom of the press and CNN, we do not feel it is appropriate to celebrate with him as his invited guests,” the spokesperson continued. “We will send a White House reporting team to the event and report on it if news warrants.”

President Donald Trump and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders celebrated the news.

The administration’s attacks against CNN and other large news outlets — with the exception of Fox News — have spiked in recent days, most notably on the President’s favorite social media platform.

This post has been updated.

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Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) on Tuesday became the second Democrat in Congress to call for Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) to resign following multiple allegations of sexual harassment.

“This is a watershed moment where, finally, the country seems to be waking up and realizing we need to have a zero tolerance policy toward sexual harassment,” Jayapal said in a statement. “We cannot pick and choose. Democrats cannot lambaste Trump and Moore, and then turn a blind eye to our own who face credible charges against them.”

She added: “For justice to be done in cases with substantial evidence, a simple denial is not sufficient; the relinquishment of power becomes essential.”

BuzzFeed reported last week on former Conyers staffers who alleged he touched them inappropriately and asked them for sexual favors. On Tuesday, the Detroit Free Press reported on another former staffer, Deanne Maher, who made similar allegations of sexual misconduct.

Jayapal joins Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), who called on Conyers to resign last week.

“Enough is enough,” Rice said of her call for Conyers’ resignation. “At this point what I am voicing publicly is what every single private citizen is saying across America: Why are the rules for politicians in Washington different than they are for everyone else?”

Conyers has consistently denied wrongdoing, and many Democratic elected officials have given him the benefit of the doubt, or the benefit of their silence.

Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) said last week that “for all I know, all of this is made up.” And Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), asked about Conyers Sunday, said that he “is an icon in our country. He has done a great deal to protect women.” She has not said that she believes Conyers should resign.

Conyers said Sunday he’ll “step aside” from his position as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee — on which Jayapal also serves — “during the investigation of these matters,” and the House Ethics Committee announced last week that it would be investigating the claims against Conyers, the longest serving current member of Congress.

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Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye on Tuesday said he believed President Donald Trump’s use of the name “Pocahontas” to refer to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is an ethnic slur.

“I feel that the way it was used, yes, it was,” Begaye told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, who had asked if he considered the attack an “ethnic slur.” “Pocahontas is a real person. It’s not a caricature, it’s not someone that’s just made up. This is a person, a young lady, a Native American woman that played a critical role in the life of this nation, and to use that person in that way is unnecessary and it’s being culturally insensitive.”

The White House has said assertions that the attack is racist are “ridiculous.”

Three Navajo Code Talkers — World War II veterans Fleming Begaye Sr., Thomas Begay and Peter MacDonald — stood beside Donald Trump Monday as he called Warren “Pocahontas,” an attack referencing her previous claims, without evidence, that she had Native American heritage.

Those claims were first used to attack Warren in her bid for the Senate in 2012. Trump revived the attack in 2016, adding “Pocahontas,” in 2016.

“This was a day when the Code Talkers were being honored,” Begaye said on CNN. “They’re war heroes that helped put an end to the war. We are enjoying freedom today as it is because of their work, because of what they did, their sacrifices. Some of them did not return. Some of those that were there with us in the oval office yesterday, they were injured there on the islands when they were there in the campaign.”

“This was a day to honor them, and to insert something like that, the word Pocahontas as a jab to a senator, that belongs on the campaign trail. It doesn’t belong in the room when our war heroes are being honored.”

He added later: “When you’re in the midst of great heroes, you need to respect them and leave everything else aside and just honor them and thank them.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, added his voice shortly afterward:

This post has been updated.

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Eric Trump on Tuesday argued that an ABC News reporter didn’t have any right calling the President’s use of “Pocahontas” as an attack offensive.

President Donald Trump on Monday called Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) Pocahontas, an attack he uses often, during a White House event celebrating Navajo Code Talkers.

Eric Trump, 33, appeared to be referring in his tweet to ABC News White House correspondent Johnathan Karl, who asked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders Monday about Trump’s attack line: “Why did he feel the need to say something that is offensive to many people while honoring the Navajo Code Talkers, these genuine American heroes?”

“I think what most people find offensive is Sen. Warren lying about her heritage to advance her career,” Sanders responded, before saying that the assertions of many Native Americans that Trump’s use of the term was “racist” were “ridiculous.”

As a Senate candidate in 2012, Warren was attacked by then-Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) for claiming to have Native American heritage without any evidence to prove as much.

Trump took up the attack, and began referring to Warren by the name of the Native American woman who lived at the turn of the 17th century, when Warren began campaigning for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

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President Donald Trump assured the public on Tuesday that first lady Melania Trump supported his decision to run for President.

He also retweeted the first lady’s account:

The dispatches followed a lengthy Vanity Fair profile of Melania Trump, which painted her as a reluctant public figure who urged her husband, in the words of Trump ally and political operative Roger Stone: “Either run or don’t run […] Your friends are tired of this striptease.”

Stone added: “He always wanted to run. She is the one who pushed him to run just by saying run or do not run. I don’t think she was ever too crazy about it.”

“She said, ‘It’s not my thing. It’s Donald’s thing,’” Stone said, referring to Melania. “And I think she understood he was going to be unhappy if he didn’t run.”

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