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 Sunday attacked the liberal billionaire and political donor Tom Steyer on Twitter following an appearance by Steyer on CNN’s “State of the Union.” On CNN, Steyer had condemned the “atmosphere that [Trump] has created, and that the Republican Party has created, in terms of political violence.”

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Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto made a case for stricter gun laws during a press conference Sunday addressing the Saturday mass shooting in a synagogue in the city, which left 11 dead.

“We’re dealing with irrational behavior,” Peduto said, responding to a reporter who asked about “getting the gun out of American society.”

“There is no way that you can rationalize a person walking into a synagogue during services and taking the lives of 11 people,” he continued. “We shouldn’t be trying to find ways to minimize the dangers that occur from irrational behavior. We should be working to eliminate irrational behavior and the empowerment of people who would seek to cause this type of carnage from continuing.”

“I think the approach that we need to be looking at is how we take the guns, which is the common denominator of every mass shooting in America, out of the hands of those that are looking to express hatred through murder.”

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A New York Judge on Thursday told lawyers for President Donald Trump that allegations from New York’s attorney general — that Trump illegally used his foundation as a piggy bank — “are what they are,” and that “until you deny them, I accept them.”

Judge Saliann Scarpulla acknowledged that Summer Zervos’ case would impact the foundation case inasmuch as it determines whether a sitting president can be sued.

If the appeals court in Zervos’ case “says that Clinton versus Jones is still good law, then this case will continue,” despite the Trump camp’s motion to dismiss, Scarpulla said.

The White House rejected four Veterans Affairs administrative judge applicants after asking about their party affiliation, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, in what appeared to be an unprecedented politicization of the process. Three Democrats and one independent applicant were rejected; three Republicans and one Republican-voting unaffiliated judge were approved.

On Oct. 12, Ben Carson made a surprising announcement to Housing and Urban Development Department staff: A Trump political appointee at HUD, Suzanne Israel Tufts, was next-in-line to lead the Interior Department’s Office of the Inspector General. The current acting DOI IG was caught off-guard, and DOI itself eventually denied Carson’s claim; hours later, the DOI IG released a report finding that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke violated travel rules. The next day, Tufts resigned altogether from the government.

TPM has filed a FOIA request to determine exactly what led Carson to announce — incorrectly, prematurely or on purpose — that Tufts would be taking over the DOI OIG.

Finally: President Donald Trump’s consistent, often petty lying has become a defining characteristic of his presidency. But his use of political appointees and the federal bureaucracy to further those lies, in service of Republicans’ midterm election goals, is worth pointing out.

For example, Trump admitted he has no proof for his bogus and fear-mongering claim that “unknown Middle Easterners” are traveling with migrants and asylum-seekers toward the U.S. border. But Department of Homeland Security officials, TPM reported, appear to have delivered talking points to support that bogus assertion to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Vice President Mike Pence.

A spokesperson for Pence told TPM she got the statistic — that “in 2017 alone the U.S. apprehended on average between [sic] 10 suspected terrorists a day attempting to enter the country illegally” — from DHS.

Let’s set aside that the assertion itself, in this context, equates “unknown Middle Easterners” and “suspected terrorists.” Beyond that, a DHS official, pressed repeatedly to provide evidence for that claim, failed to provide any.

“You can definitely say DHS data,” the official said. “There is no report to link to.”

He also worded the statistic differently, saying that DHS had “prevented” suspected or known terrorists from “traveling or attempting to travel to the United States.”

The Washington Post explored the bureaucratic back-up needed for others lies, including Trump’s assertion that a middle-class tax cut would arrive in Congress with days to go before the midterm elections — despite Congress not being in session. “Washington’s bureaucratic machinery whirred into action nonetheless — working to produce a policy that could be seen as supporting Trump’s whim.”

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