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

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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President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he’d come to a decision on whether to exit the Iran nuclear deal, but wouldn’t tell inquiring reporters what that decision was.

According to a White House pool report, Trump responded to reporters’ shouted questions about the Iran deal by repeating “I have decided” three separate times.

When pressed, though, he said: “I’ll let you know what the decision is.”

It’s a familiar non-answer from Trump, who frequently tells reporters to “wait and see” and that answers will be arriving “over the next two or three weeks.

But the Iran deal, in which the United States and other nations lifted sanctions on that country in exchange for curbing its nuclear program, has a deadline. Trump’s State Department must certify by Oct. 15 that Iran has complied with the deal or not, as it must every 90 days.

Iran’s compliance was affirmed in July, despite grumbling from Trump.

Trump on Thursday said Iran had “violated so many different elements, but they’ve also violated the spirit of that deal.”

“You will see what we’ll be doing in October,” he said. “It will be very evident.”

And in an address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Trump told the world: “Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it, believe me.”

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Former White House staffer and self-styled counterterrorism expert Sebastian Gorka has joined a secretive pro-Trump super PAC whose leaders have pushed conspiracy theories about a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer and “Pizzagate.”

Gorka left the White House in late August, disputing the administration’s claim that he was fired. Axios first reported Tuesday on MAGA Coalition hiring Gorka, and the Daily Beast did a deep dive on the group’s leadership later in the day.

MAGA Coalition asserted in an late August FEC filing that it “exists to further the political influence of ‘America First’ policies; engineered to put the freedom, sovereignty and economic prosperity policies for the American voters into practice in our government.”

The group’s known staff is extremely small, but Gorka’s hiring as its “chief strategist” shines a bright light on its habit of promoting extreme conspiracy theories.

Adam Gingrich, the group’s president, has posed questions like “If Seth Rich was African-American, would the DC police get away with hiding body cam and other video footage?” and “Who murdered Seth Rich?” on his Twitter account, according to the Daily Beast. Gingrich he made his tweets private after the publication reached out to him.

Rich was a DNC staffer who died after what police say was a botched robbery. Conspiracy theorists assert he played a hand in passing Democratic operatives’ emails to WikiLeaks, and that his death was orchestrated as revenge. Rich’s family has pled with conspiracy theorists to stop propagating their baseless claims.

In a September filing, MAGA Coalition changed its listed headquarters to a house in Tequesta, Florida. The Daily Beast reported that house belongs to John Kreuger, who claimed to have resigned as the group’s COO and vice president in the same filing, and his wife Ann Vandersteel.

Vandersteel, like Gingrich, has pushed Seth Rich conspiracies, as well as the so-called “Pizzagate” conspiracy. Pizzagate believers assert that Comet Ping Pong, a pizza joint in Washington, D.C., is actually a hub in a major child trafficking ring in which the Clintons play a role.

Gingrich has appeared with Vandersteel on YourVoice Radio, the internet broadcast of the famously toothy pro-Trump prognosticator Bill Mitchell, the Daily Beast pointed out.

Carrie Lockhart, who also claimed to have resigned from MAGA Coalition in the September filing despite being listed as its treasurer in the same document, also works for YourVoice and is similarly conspiratorial, the Daily Beast reported.

A spokesperson for MAGA Coalition, Tricia Cunningham, defended the theories to the publication.

“As far as Pizzagate, I’ve traveled from Pennsylvania to Washington D.C., and human trafficking is a huge deal,” she said. “So there’s a lot of questions that need to be raised.”

Axios reported that Gorka would appear with former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin Thursday in a rally for Senate candidate Roy Moore. It will be a joint rally with the Steve Bannon-aligned group Great America Alliance.

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Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore reportedly listed the deceased conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly under his “endorsements” webpage until Monday, despite the fact that the Eagle Forum founder died more than a year ago.

Schlafly disappeared from Moore’s website after RollCall asked to see a press release announcing her endorsement, the outlet reported Tuesday. Schlafly’s name had been listed next to the text: “Late President, Eagle Forum; inference of Ed Martin.”

According to the report, after RollCall first asked for the press release, Moore’s campaign initially said there wasn’t one, and instead provided a link to a statement Martin, Eagle Forum’s current president, gave Breitbart News regarding his own endorsement.

Martin told Breitbart about a speech he and Schlafly had seen Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, give to the group.

“He gave an amazing speech and Phyllis and I sat and watched in wonder: here was a man who understood – in his very bones – the fights we are facing: limited government, the role of judges, and the power of God!” Martin said. “Phyllis admired Roy and his life and work. She believed in him.”

Moore announced his candidacy for the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April. Schlafly died in September 2016. Katie Frost, communications director for Moore’s campaign, did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.

Schlafly was a driving force behind the movement to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. While she endorsed Donald Trump for the presidency before her death, she claimed that Eagle Forum’s board was trying to force her out of the group as a result (a member of the group’s board denied the story at the time.)

Much of the group’s leadership were strong supporters of Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) presidential bid.

Martin, on whose inference the erstwhile Schlafly endorsement was based, was still listed as an endorser Tuesday on Moore’s website.

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Three Democratic congressmen were arrested Tuesday in front of Trump Tower during a rally in support of what activists have called a “clean” DREAM Act. 

“We’re taking the necessary steps to make it clear to President Trump, the Republicans and the Democrats that we will continue this peaceful fight for DREAMers and immigrants as long as it takes to enact legislation and put DREAMers in a safe place,” Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) said in a statement provided to TPM by his office.

He added: “A few Congressmen and elected-officials gathering in front of Trump Tower doesn’t mean much if it is not backed up by the grassroots and allies and today we are standing with diverse allies to make sure Congress and the President do more than just talk about solutions, they actually follow through with action.”

The offices of Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), as well as New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, also confirmed their arrests. Mark-Viverito’s office shared a video of her arrest.

Espaillat’s director of communications, Candace Randle Person, said in a statement that the congressman “stood up for immigrant youth to say loud and clear – unequivocally, that he dedicates his work in Congress to protecting immigrants, immigrant families, and their future in America.”

According to a press release from Make the Road New York, an immigrant advocacy organization, the rally was called to advocate for a “a clean DREAM Act that includes a path to citizenship for immigrant youth, without additional funding for the insecurity that Trump’s immigration agencies are creating at the border.”

Young undocumented activists who disrupted an event held by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Tuesday similarly demanded a “clean” DREAM Act. “All of us or none of us,” they chanted.

President Donald Trump eliminated DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, earlier this month. The program protected certain undocumented young people from deportation and granted them work permits. The first permits under that program are set to expire in less than six months. 

The DREAM Act, first introduced in the Senate in 2001, has never achieved enough Congressional support to reach the President’s desk. But activists and congressional Democrats hope that Trump’s elimination of DACA and his insistence that Congress “legalize” its protections will pave the way for the legislation, which would provide a path to legal status for certain undocumented young people.

Still, congressional Republicans have said they would demand additional border security measures and other concessions in exchange for any post-DACA deal. After meeting with Trump last week, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said they had agreed to pursue a deal to protect former DACA recipients that included additional border security measures.

Gutiérrez was arrested in front of the White House last month as well, at a rally supporting DACA three weeks before Trump announced he was eliminating the program.

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President Donald Trump emphasized during his remarks Tuesday to the United Nations General Assembly that he would “always put America first.” And that was far from the only distinctly “Trumpian” line in the address, which included nods to the “rocket man” leading North Korea and “loser terrorists” in the Middle East.

Trump read his address off a teleprompter and did not noticeably deviate from the script. Asked who had helped draft the speech, a senior administration official told reporters in a background briefing Monday that “it is the President’s vision, and that’s the only way you should think about it.”

Trump identified the “growing dangers” faced by the world broadly: “Terrorists and extremists [who] have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet,” “rogue regimes,” “authoritarian powers” and “international criminal networks.”

But he also said the United States would not be “taken advantage of” in addressing these international concerns.

“If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph,” Trump said.

Boosting the far-right members of his administration, Trump deployed the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism,” a move he avoided in a similar foreign policy address in Saudi Arabia and that his national security adviser H.R. McMaster has advocated against using.

The United States and our allies are working together throughout the Middle East to crush the loser terrorists,” he said.

Trump’s speechwriters were similarly unsparing in addressing individual regimes.

The President called North Korea’s Kim Jong Un the leader of a “depraved regime” and a “rocket man […] on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.” He added that “no nation on Earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles.”

“We will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” if the United States is “forced to defend itself or its allies,” he said.

Trump also criticized the nuclear deal his predecessor Barack Obama made with the “reckless regime” and “corrupt dictatorship” in Iran.

“That deal is an embarrassment to the United States and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it, believe me,” he said.

One notable passage, reminiscent of Trump’s talk of “American carnage” in his inaugural address, summed up the President’s apocalyptic view of the rest of the globe.

“Major portions of the world are in conflict,” he told the assembled heads-of-state. “Some, in fact, are going to hell.”

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Trump administration officials nixed a study that found refugees had brought in more government revenue overall than they had cost in benefits, the New York Times reported Monday.

The White House was ultimately given a report that spelled out only the costs associated with refugees. It’s unclear exactly who nixed the information from the study showing refugees’ positive net fiscal impact on the country. The Times’ report comes as the Trump administration determines how many refugees to accept in the coming year, ahead of an Oct. 1 deadline.

Two people familiar with talks over the refugee cap told the Times that White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller had intervened to ensure that only costs associated with refugees, and not government revenues generated by them, were taken into consideration.

Officials at the Department of Health and Human services originally drafted a report that included the finding that refugees brought in more government revenue than they took in benefits between 2005 and 2014, via their contribution of federal, state and local taxes. According to the Times, the report “estimated that the net fiscal impact of refugees was positive over the 10-year period, at $63 billion.”

But based on a March executive order that instructed HHS to consider only “the estimated long-term costs of the United States Refugee Admissions Program at the Federal, State, and local levels,” that initial report eventually was replaced with one that left out all revenue generated by refugees, according to the Times.

The report delivered to the White House found that “per-capita refugee costs for major H.H.S. programs totaled $3,300” while “[p]er-person costs for the U.S. population were lower, at $2,500,” according to the Times.

White House spokesperson Raj Shah told the paper that the report Trump requested in his executive order “shows that refugees with few skills coming from war-torn countries take more government benefits from the Department of Health and Human Services than the average population, and are not a net benefit to the U.S. economy.”

Miller, who the Times reported wanted to consider costs and not revenues when discussing the upcoming refugee cap, has been a loud proponent of allowing fewer non-citizens into the United States.

He notably got into a lengthy debate with CNN’s Jim Acosta during a White House press briefing last month while arguing in favor of the RAISE Act, which would significantly restrict access to green cards based on things like education and marketable skills. Miller noted that the poem on the statue of liberty—“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”—was not the “law of the land.”

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