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 and on Twitter @mattshuham.

Articles by Matt

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.

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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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President Donald Trump seemingly attempted to close the gap between him and his daughter on Thursday, after administration staffer Ivanka Trump said that she didn’t consider news media to be a so-called “enemy of the people.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made no such distinction earlier Thursday, criticizing the press while refusing to say journalists weren’t a public enemy.

And besides, the distinction between “news” and “fake news” is somewhat meaningless, coming from Trump. In the past he’s admitted that the “fake” label applies to those outlets whose coverage he simply doesn’t like.

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President Donald Trump on Thursday endorsed the wrong person, telling Ohio Republicans to support Rep. Steve Stivers’ (R-OH, pictured above) reelection on Aug. 7, even though Stivers had already won an uncontested primary on May 8.

Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur caught the error:

Stivers, as it happens, leads House Republicans’ electoral organization, the National Republican Campaign Committee.

It appears Trump meant to endorse state Sen. Troy Balderson, who will face off in an Aug. 7 special election against Democrat Danny O’Connor. The winner will fill the seat of Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH), who left Congress in January.

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Asked Thursday to say definitively that the media aren’t an “enemy of the people,” as administration staffer and presidential daughter Ivanka Trump did earlier in the day, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to do so multiple times.

Instead, she delivered the White House’s tried-and-true anti-media line, at one point telling the press they should’ve covered President Donald Trump’s recent trip to Florida in a more positive light.

“Just this week, the media refused to cover his remarks in Florida highlighting efforts on workforce development,” Sanders told NPR’s Sarah McCammon, who asked about Ivanka Trump’s comments. “In fact, the pooler for the press said that there was no news made, despite the fact that the governor of the state joined with dozens of businesses across the state of Florida to announce thousands of new jobs.”

CNN’s Jim Acosta pressed Sanders later: “You did not say that the press is not the enemy of the people,” he said, before asking her to do so. “I think we deserve that.”

“I think the President has made his position known,” Sanders said, adding that the press “frequently lower the level of conversation in this country” and that “repeatedly, the media resorts to personal attacks without any content other than to incite anger.”

“The media,” Sanders said, “has attacked me personally on a number of occasions.”

She cited the White House Correspondents Association Dinner again, in which she said comedian Michelle Wolf “attack[ed] my appearance and call[ed] me a traitor to my own gender.”

“The media continues to ratchet up the verbal assault against the President and everyone in this administration,” Sanders said.

Acosta tried once more: “The President of the United States should not refer to us as the enemy of the people. His own daughter acknowledges that and all I’m asking you to do, Sarah, is to acknowledge that right now and right here.”

Sanders refused.

“I appreciate your passion, I share it. I’ve addresses this question, I’ve addressed my personal feelings. I’m here to speak on behalf of the President, he’s made his comments clear.”

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Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said Wednesday that he believed it would be legal for President Donald Trump to obstruct the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and related matters.

The comment came after a reporter asked Giuliani why the President simply didn’t fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, given that Trump has frequently shared his unhappiness with the investigation on Twitter.

“He wants the investigation to come to a conclusion and not interfere in it,” Giuliani responded. “That’s why this whole obstruction of justice thing is nonsense. If he wanted to obstruct it, he’d have obstructed it, he could just end it. Then you’d battle whether he has the legal right to do that, which I think he does, but he’s not going to do that.”

Later, asked about the remark, Giuliani said “of course” obstruction of justice is a crime, but that “under Article II of the Constitution, if the President is acting within his capacity as President, and he fires someone, then that can’t be questioned.”

“Now, is there a narrow area where you could question him? I don’t know. We don’t have to deal with that, because he had very legitimate reasons for firing Comey.”

“If we didn’t have Article II, he still didn’t obstruct anything,” Giuliani said later, adding: “The best proof is in the pudding: He didn’t obstruct the investigation. It’s been going on for a year-and-a-half, they’ve talked to every witness they want to, we haven’t asserted executive privilege, and they’ve gotten every single last document, 1.4 million, that they wanted.”

It marked yet another instance when the Trump team shifted the goalposts of criminality: First, the public was told that there had never been any communication between the Trump campaign and Russians, then that there had been no collusion between them, and just recently, that even if there had been collusion, that it was not illegal.

The New York Review of Books reported Tuesday that Trump had been informed that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was under criminal investigation when he asked then-FBI Director James Comey to lay off of Flynn — a potential instance of obstruction of justice.

The Trump lawyer said the President had “made it clear that he wants it to run its course, but on the other hand, he is a person with a First Amendment right to defend himself.”

“If he believes he’s innocent, and he is innocent, he should speak out,” Giuliani added.

Earlier, Giuliani had commented on the long volley of letters between Trump’s legal team and special counsel Robert Mueller’s, negotiations for a potential sit-down interview between Mueller and the President.

“I’m not going to give you a lot of hope it’s going to happen, but we’re still negotiating,” Giuliani said. “We haven’t stopped negotiating with them. The most recent letter, they sent us a proposal, we responded to their proposal, they took about 10 days, and yesterday we got a letter back from them. And now we’re in the process of responding to their proposal.”

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President Donald Trump said Wednesday that although he was in favor of shutting down the government over his immigration and border security demands which he justified with a string of provable lies — he was considering delaying any such action until after the approaching elections, in order to accommodate some Republicans who’ve warned a shutdown would be catastrophic for the 2018 midterms.

“I say, ‘Hey, if you have a shutdown, have a shutdown,’” Trump told Rush Limbaugh, after calling into Limbaugh’s show to celebrate its 30th anniversary. “Now, the shutdown could also take place after the election.”

He added: “I happen to think it’s a great political thing, because people want border security.”

In addition to demanding billions more in congressional funding to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump repeated his desire to get rid of so-called “catch and release,” a phrase that describes the release of certain undocumented immigrants from detention centers ahead of court dates.

Trump said the policy meant that “criminal[s] of the highest order” had to be released, but that’s simply never been true.

In fact, most undocumented immigrants arrested at the border are detained until their deportation. Exceptions include children and asylum-seekers — vulnerable populations protected by federal and international laws that the Trump administration, in many cases, has tried to minimize or circumvent. (Aslyum-seekers have been systematically held indefinitely by the Trump administration; a federal judge recently ordered them to cut it out.) 

Trump then falsely said that New York City truck attack suspect Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov “has 22 members of his family in the United States because of chain migration,” a popular phrase among conservatives for the laws that make it easier for the immediate families of legal inhabitants of the United States to immigrate here.

Trump has claimed this before. Then as now, he’s lying about Saipov using family reunification laws to bring over nearly two dozen family members.

Finally, Trump said that, as a result of the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program,  “countries aren’t giving us their best people, they’re giving us people they don’t want.”

That’s not true. Visa recipients through that program must still meet all eligibility requirements to come into the country, including a criminal background check.

The White House has peddled this lie before as well. 

“I happen to think it’s a good thing, politically,” Trump told Limbaugh toward the end of the call, referring to a government shutdown. He added: “A lot of good people, though, would ask me, in the nicest of ways, ‘Can we do it after the election?’”

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