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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

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday once again refused to say whether President Donald Trump believed the accusations against U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Asked about Moore, Sanders pointed to a statement the White House released last week, when revelations of sexual misconduct against Moore were first published in the Washington Post.

Leigh Corfman said Moore tried to initiate sexual contact with her when she was 14 and he was 32. Since then, numerous women have accused Moore of misconduct and assault, mostly when they were teenagers. Moore has denied any wrongdoing and has vowed to stay in the race.

Trump, through a White House statement, said last week that Moore should step aside if the allegations are true. He still hasn’t said whether he thinks they are, instead passing the decision on to Alabama voters.

“Can you tell us whether the President believes the women who are making these allegations against Roy Moore?” CNN’s Sara Murray asked. “And would he be willing to ask the Alabama governor to delay the election or take a step like that to try to intervene in this electoral process in Alabama?”

“The President certainly finds the allegations extremely troubling, as I stated yesterday,” Sanders responded, without answering the initial question. “And he feels like it’s up to the governor and the people in the state of Alabama to make a determination on whether or not they delay that election or whether or not they support and vote for Roy Moore.”

When asked earlier about the difference between Trump and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who was accused by a radio news anchor Thursday of forcibly kissing her and groping her while on a USO tour, Sanders pointed to Franken’s apology.

“Senator Franken has admitted wrongdoing and the President hasn’t,” she said. “I think that’s a very clear distinction.”

Sanders separately repeated, when asked, the White House’s line that the numerous women accusing the President of sexual harassment and assault are lying.

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The White House’s director of legislative affairs on Friday offered an unusual defense of President Donald Trump’s silence regarding accusations against U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore: The President supported Moore’s opponent in the Republican primaries.

The White House said in a written statement last week that Moore should step aside if the allegations of sexual misconduct against him are true. Since then, Trump has repeatedly ignored reporters’ questions about whether he believes Moore’s numerous accusers, and therefore, whether he believes Moore should exit the race.

On Friday, CNN’s Dana Bash asked Marc Short, the White House legislative director, why Trump has remained silent on Moore while attacking Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) for alleged sexual misconduct.

“Is the President not being a hypocrite in tweeting about Al Franken and saying nothing about allegations about the Republican, Roy Moore?” she asked.

Short said “there’s a little short-term memory here.”

“The President went down and campaigned against Roy Moore,” he said. “He campaigned for Luther Strange. The President was very active in this campaign. He chose a different candidate.”

Moore won the Republican Senate primary on Sept. 26. The first accusations of misconduct against him — namely, allegedly making sexual advances on a 14-year-old when he was 32 — were reported by the Washington Post on Nov. 9.

Trump also threw his support behind Moore the moment he defeated Strange.

Short continued: “The President, even when he was traveling overseas, put out a statement that says, ‘If these allegations are true, he should step aside.’ So the President’s been very clear on this. At some point, Dana, we have to trust the people of Alabama to make the right decision. Everybody here in D.C. wants to decide for them what to do. The President weighed in. It’s now up to them to make a decision.”

Bash countered: Why won’t Trump simply call for Moore to step aside? “Does the White House — do you — believe the women?” she asked.

“I think that what we’ve said is that Roy Moore’s, so far, explanations have not been satisfactory,” Short said, before returning to his previous point: “But at the same time, Dana, what we expect is what we have said: We campaigned against him. The President was clear in that, Dana. I think that at this point we believe that it’s up to the people of Alabama to make a decision.”

“So he’s not speaking out in part because he didn’t want him in the first place?” Bash asked.

“The President chose a different candidate, he chose Luther Strange,” Short said. “That’s who he supported.”

“Do you think he has a moral obligation, as the President of the United States—” Bash began.

“Dana, I don’t know what people want him to do more than going down and campaigning for his opponent,” Short interrupted. “That’s what he did.”

Later, Short repeated the White House’s line that the large list of women accusing Trump himself of sexual assault and harassment in the past are lying.

“The President has been clear that those allegations were not truthful,” he said.

Watch Short’s comments below:

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White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said Friday that President Donald Trump has not personally commented on allegations made against U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore because they were old news.

In an interview on Fox News, Conway contrasted Trump’s silence on Moore with his quick condemnation of Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who apologized Thursday for appearing, in a photo, to grope Los Angeles news anchor Leeann Tweeden during a 2006 USO tour. Tweeden also accused Franken of forcibly kissing her during a rehearsal for a skit they performed for the troops together, but Franken said he remembered the rehearsal differently.

“Al Franken was a brand new news story yesterday and the President weighed in, as he does, on the news of the day, often enough,” Conway said. “The Roy Moore story is eight days old, and the President put out a statement during his Asia trip on that.”

She continued: “Since then, our press secretary has spoken on behalf of the President by saying that he believes the people of Alabama will sort out what to do with Roy Moore and with that election.”

The Washington Post first reported last week on four women who said Roy Moore pursued relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. One woman, Leigh Corfman, said Moore made sexual advances on her when she was 14. On Monday, another woman, Beverly Young Nelson, alleged Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16. Numerous other women have since alleged misconduct by Moore. He has denied all wrongdoing and accused the media of spreading falsehoods.

Since he returned from a trip to Asia late Tuesday, Trump has repeatedly ignored reporters’ questions about Moore.

The White House said in a statement last week that Moore should drop out of the race if the allegations against him are true, but also that Trump “believes that we cannot allow a mere allegation ― in this case, one from many years ago ― to destroy a person’s life.”

On Thursday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said simply that Trump thought the allegations against Moore were “very troubling” but that “the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their next senator should be.”

That did not go nearly as far as, for example, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has said he believes Moore’s accusers and called on Moore to step aside from the Senate race. Both the RNC and NRSC have cut off their relationships with Moore.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump was accused by more than a dozen women of sexual harassment and assault. And he said on tape that he could kiss and grab women without their consent because of his fame.

Conway alluded to those allegations earlier in her interview Friday, saying she had “tried to make this an issue last year,” referring to sexual harassment, but “nobody listened because of the campaign I was managing.”

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Russia’s former ambassador to the United States said Wednesday that it would take him more than 20 minutes to list all of the Trump administration officials with whom he’s met or spoken to on the phone.

“First, I’m never going to do that,” Sergey Kislyak said in an interview with the state-owned network Russia-1, CNBC reported. “And second, the list is so long that I’m not going to be able to go through it in 20 minutes.”

Kislyak’s meetings with then-Trump campaign and transition officials — which some officials subsequently failed to disclose — have created headaches for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and others.

Of the latter, who resigned from his White House job in February after those contacts were revealed and is now under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, Kislyak told Russia-1: “So what?” Kislyak and Flynn had discussed American sanctions on Russia while former President Barack Obama was still in office.

Kislyak, CNBC reported, said that the prospect that Russia “picked America’s president” was “very sad” and “nonsense.”

Kislyak was among the Russian officials — along with Russia’s foreign minister — who attended an Oval Office meeting with President Trump in May that was closed to all media except the Russian state-owned TASS outlet.

Trump reportedly revealed sensitive information at the meeting regarding a key intelligence source on the Islamic State.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that the Senate was taking “appropriate action” regarding allegations that Sen. Al Franken (R-MN)

“It appears that the Senate is looking into that, which they should, and we feel that’s an appropriate action,” Sanders said, in a brief response to a reporter’s question.

On Thursday, Los Angeles radio anchor Leeann Tweeden said that Franken had forcibly kissed her while they rehearsed a skit for U.S. troops stationed in the Middle East during a USO trip. A photo shared by Tweeden also appears to show Franken grabbing her breasts while she slept on a military transport flight.

Franken apologized to Tweeden but said in two separate statements that he didn’t remember the rehearsal “in the same way,” and “as Leeanne does.”

Senators from both parties have called for an ethics investigation into Franken, and the senator has said he would cooperate with such an investigation.

Sanders also said Thursday that allegations of sexual misconduct made by several women against Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore were “very troubling” but did not specify any further actions Trump planned on taking regarding Moore’s campaign, nor whether Moore should step aside from his campaign.

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Following an allegation of sexual misconduct against Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) Thursday, CNN aired 2010 footage of Franken mentioning the woman who made the accusation against him.

Los Angeles news anchor Leeann Tweeden said Thursday that Franken forcibly kissed  her in 2006 while rehearsing for a skit to be performed in front of troops stationed in the Middle East. Tweeden also said she discovered via a photo that Franken groped her while she was asleep on a military plane.

In two separate statements Thursday, Franken apologized to Tweeden but noted that he did not remember the rehearsal for the skit “in the same way,” and “as Leeanne does.”

In 2010 footage from the Senate floor aired by CNN Thursday, Franken recalled his “beautiful” co-host, referring to Tweeden:

This post has been updated.

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The Washington Post on Wednesday detailed intimidation tactics used against individuals who have come forward as sources in news articles about U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, and against the news organizations themselves.

The Post and AL.com, among other outlets, have reported on several women who claimed Moore pursued inappropriate relationships with them as teenagers when he was in his 30s. In one case, Leigh Corfman alleged Moore attempted to initiate sexual contact with her when she was 14.

Beverly Young Nelson on Monday claimed that Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16. On Wednesday, the Post reported on Gena Richardson’s allegation that Moore gave her an unwanted kiss when she was a high school student, after a date.

Moore has denied any wrongdoing.

Both the Post and AL.com have received threats of legal action from Moore’s campaign, though Moore hasn’t actually followed through with lawsuits.

The Post reported Wednesday that Blake Usry, a named source for one AL.com story, received “threatening phone calls and Facebook messages, as well as texts informing him that he had been sued for defamation.” (The U.S. attorney referenced in the anonymous texts, Jay Town, called the the anonymous threat “patently absurd.”)

“It could be a religious zealot, some right-wing nut, someone from Roy Moore’s campaign, I don’t know,” Usry said. “It doesn’t intimidate me, but it’s caused me misery all day long.”

The Post also reported Wednesday that the texts to Usry came from an anonymous number created Tuesday through the temporary phone number generating company Bandwidth.com. Bandwidth shut down the number Wednesday after the Post contacted the company.

One Moore adviser, Dean Young, alleged separately that the Post itself might be behind a bogus voicemail from “Bernie Bernstein” a man claiming to be a Post reporter but offering money for unverified smears against Moore.

“Who says you all aren’t paying someone to do that?” he told the Post. “Go pay more people to say stuff. It’s a waste of money because people here know Judge Moore and we know he does believe in a Christian God, so that fake stuff doesn’t work with us.”

“The response to our meticulously reported story about Roy Moore has been a stunning level of deceit, deception and dirty tricks,” the Post’s executive editor, Marty Baron, said in a statement published by the paper. “The Moore campaign and others have lied about our motives and lied about our methods. And at least one individual — we’re still not sure who — has also pretended to be a Post journalist so as to falsely portray our journalistic practices.”

Also on Wednesday, Roy Moore’s wife, Kayla Moore, accused a Post reporter in a Facebook post of “calling and harassing anyone that has had any contact with me, my husband, and other family members.” She posted the reporter’s cell phone number. One commenter posted a picture of the reporter’s résumé, which included her address.

In an email to TPM Wednesday, a Post spokesperson confirmed that the Post reporter to whom Moore was referring was real, and that she was working on a profile of Kayla Moore, “not unlike other stories we’ve done about spouses of high-profile candidates.”

“As part of that reporting, The Post has reached out to many people by phone, email and through social media,” the spokesperson, Kristine Coratti Kelly, wrote. “As you can see from the reporter’s message, it is a straightforward, respectful request for an interview.”

Shortly after her initial post about the Post’s reporter, Kayla Moore published a link on Facebook: The Moore campaign had added a page to its website for Alabamians to “report inappropriate news organization contact.”

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White House adviser and President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, was quoted Wednesday as saying she believed the women accusing Roy Moore of pursuing relationships, including sexual ones, with them as teenagers.

“There’s a special place in hell for people who prey on children,” she told the Associated Press. “I’ve yet to see a valid explanation and I have no reason to doubt the victims’ accounts.”

The Washington Post reported last Thursday on four women who accused Moore, on the record, of pursuing relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. One woman, Leigh Corfman, said Moore tried to initiate sexual contact with her when she was 14.

On Monday, Beverly Young Nelson accused Moore of attempting to rape her when she was 16 years old. At a press conference, she showed what appeared to be Moore’s signature in her high school yearbook. “Love, Roy Moore D.A.,” he apparently wrote. Moore later claimed not to know Nelson. Moore has denied the allegations against him.

The AP reported Wednesday that it had traveled with Trump on Monday as she promoted Republicans’ tax cut plan. It’s unclear if Trump’s comment came before or after Nelson’s accusation was made public.

The White House did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment on Wednesday, asked about both Ivanka and President Donald Trump’s positions on Moore.

Though a number of Republican lawmakers have called on Moore to step aside — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the chairman of Republican senators’ campaign organization — neither Trump has yet.

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President Donald Trump on Wednesday took a brief break during a speech at the White House to re-hydrate.

It recalled Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) response to former President Barack Obama’s 2013 state of the union address, which he, too, paused for a drink.

Trump mocked Rubio for that moment at the time, and on the 2016 campaign trail.

On Wednesday, the senator responded in kind:

This post has been updated.

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