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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

The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee slammed President Donald Trump on Thursday for again casting doubt on the assertion of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

“The President’s comments today, again casting doubt on whether Russia was behind the blatant interference in our election and suggesting – his own intelligence agencies to the contrary – that nobody really knows, continue to directly undermine U.S. interests,” Schiff said in a statement. “This is not putting America first, but continuing to propagate his own personal fiction at the country’s expense.”

In a press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw, Trump said of the election meddling: “I think it was Russia. And I think it could have been other people and other countries. It could have been a lot of people interfered.”

He added: “I won’t be specific. But I think a lot of people interfere.”

Trump also blamed the Obama administration for not doing more to counter the interference at the time, and compared intelligence communities’ assessments to their assertions in the lead up to the Iraq War that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

“They were wrong, and it led to a mess,” he said.

The House Intelligence Committee, one of several bodies investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including potential collusion with Trump associates, is in the middle of interviewing several individuals close to Trump.

Read Schiff’s full statement below:

Los Angeles, CA – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement:

“The President’s comments today, again casting doubt on whether Russia was behind the blatant interference in our election and suggesting – his own intelligence agencies to the contrary – that nobody really knows, continue to directly undermine U.S. interests. This is not putting America first, but continuing to propagate his own personal fiction at the country’s expense.

“President Trump must have the courage to raise the issue of Russian interference in our elections directly with President Putin, otherwise the Kremlin will conclude he is too weak to stand up to them. That would be a historic mistake, with damaging implications for our foreign policy for years to come.

“He should also confront Russia over its continued destabilization  of Ukraine, and the illegal annexation and continued occupation of Crimea and parts of Georgia. He should make it clear that the U.S. is not going to make common cause with Russia in propping up Bashar al-Assad in Syria, nor turn a blind eye to any potential Russian support of the Taliban or increased trade with North Korea.”

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President Donald Trump on Thursday drew a direct link between his aspirations for a strict immigration policy and what he characterized as the Western world’s fight against Islamist terrorism.

“We are confronted by another oppressive ideology — one that seeks to export terrorism and extremism all around the globe,” he said in a speech in Warsaw, Poland. “America and Europe have suffered one terror attack after another. We’re going to get it to stop.”

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party is well-known for its nativist views on immigration, especially from Muslim-majority countries. After a terror attack in London left five dead, Poland’s prime minister linked the attack to the European Union’s immigration policy. (The attacker, Khalid Masood, was born and raised in Britain.)

“While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism of any kind,” Trump said.

After several lower courts temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s ban on travel from several Muslim-majority countries, the Supreme Court allowed much of the ban to go back into effect, except for those with close relationships to individuals or entities in the United States.

“We are fighting hard against radical Islamic terrorism, and we will prevail,” Trump said. “We cannot accept those who reject our values and who use hatred to justify violence against the innocent.”

He characterized Poland and the United States as part of “the West” 10 times in the speech, positioning the nations against the Islamic State and other foreign threats.

“We have to remember that our defense is not just a commitment of money, it is a commitment of will,” Trump said. “Because as the Polish experience reminds us, the defense of the West ultimately rests not only on means but also on the will of its people to prevail and be successful and get what you have to have.”

“The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” he added. “Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost?  Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”

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The director of New Jersey’s division of elections said Wednesday that the state would provide only publicly available data — or data that adheres to “the appropriate legal process for information requests” — to President Donald Trump’s shady “election integrity” commission.

“To date, no information has been released nor will any future information be released that is not publicly available or does not follow the appropriate legal process for information requests,” Division of Elections Director Robert Giles said in a statement, according to NJTV News’ Shoshannah Buxbaum:

The commission recently sent requests to all 50 states for voters’ personal information, including the last four digits of their Social Security numbers and data related to potential criminal history, military status and overseas citizen status.

A number of states have refused the request outright. Many, including the home states of the commission’s chair and vice chair, Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, have said that state law prevents them from providing certain data, including partial social security numbers.

Voting rights advocates and election experts say the committee is a veiled attempt to justify Trump’s evidence-free claim that millions of illegal votes lost him the popular vote in the 2016 election to Hillary Clinton. Many argue it will use states’ data to recommend tight restrictions on voting at the federal level.

A lawsuit from the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed Monday accused the commission of improperly requesting that data be transferred to it electronically without first completing and making public a privacy impact assessment as required by law.

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Renaissance Technologies, the hedge fund of influential Trump supporter Robert Mercer, bought nearly 2.5 million shares of Time Inc. in the first quarter of 2017, the New York Post first reported Tuesday night, citing a regulatory filing.

Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer, are well-known in conservative circles for their strong financial support for Trump, in addition to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and others. The Mercers are also part owners of Breitbart, the far-right news and commentary website from which Trump has hired many members of his administration.

Renaissance Technologies’ investment in Time Inc. — which publishes Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, Entertainment Weekly, and a host of other titles — was valued at $48.1 million on March 31, according to the filing.

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President Donald Trump on Wednesday criticized China for its increase in trade with North Korea, following what unnamed U.S. officials said Tuesday was North Korea’s test of a “probable” intercontinental ballistic missile.

The data to which Trump was referring was actually available in April, when China released its first-quarter trade data showing a 37.4 percent growth in trade with North Korea. Days earlier, Trump met at length with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Florida.

A day before China released its first-quarter trade data, Trump indicated he would not label the country a currency manipulator, saying the broken campaign promise was worth the country’s cooperation in dealing with North Korea.

On Monday night, shortly after news broke that North Korea had tested another missile, Trump asked, referring to the country’s ruler, “Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?” and suggested “Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”

On June 20, after American student and freed North Korean captive Otto Warmbier died of injuries sustained in the country, Trump wrote that while he appreciated Xi’s “help with North Korea, it has not worked out.”

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Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said Tuesday that she was surprised at how prominent Republicans’ Obamacare repeal efforts were in voters’ minds.

“There was only one issue. That’s unusual. It’s usually a wide range of issues,” she told the Washington Post after a July 4th parade in Eastport, Maine. “I heard, over and over again, encouragement for my stand against the current version of the Senate and House health care bills. People were thanking me, over and over again. ‘Thank you, Susan!’ ‘Stay strong, Susan!’”

Collins was one of several key senators to oppose a vote on Republicans’ bill to repeal Obamacare and make deep long-term cuts to Medicaid. A group of Republican senators wrote the bill in secret for weeks and released a draft text of it on June 22, hoping for a vote as early as June 29.

The senator added Tuesday that so-called health savings accounts, tax-incentivized accounts from which consumers pay for medical services, “can work,” with enough federal funding.

“If you have a Health Savings Account that is federally funded, that equals the deductible, that can work, but it has to be designed right,” she said. “I don’t want to see insurance that’s not really insurance.”

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The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a privacy advocacy group, filed suit on Monday against President Donald Trump’s bogus “election integrity” commission over its request to all 50 states for sensitive voter information.

“[T]he Commission had already committed two egregious security blunders,” EPIC said in a statement on its website. “(1) directing state election officials to send voter records to an unsecure web site and (2) proposing to publish partial SSNs that would enable identity theft and financial fraud.”

In its suit requesting a temporary injunction against the commission’s data collection activities, filed in the D.C. District Court, the group called the request for partial Social Security numbers “both without precedent and crazy.”

It also accused the commission of violating the E-Government Act of 2002, which requires a privacy impact assessment be completed and made available to the public before the collection of personal information by the federal government using information technology. No assessment was conducted before requesting voter data, the suit alleges.

The commission’s broad request for data combined with the lack of any privacy assessment could “cause irreparable harm to EPIC’s members,” the suit alleged.

“Once data has been leaked, there is no way to control its spread,” it continued. “With a data breach, there is literally no way to repair the damage, once done.”

A number of states — 41, by CNN’s count — have refused to cooperate with all or part of the commission’s request for sensitive voter data in recent days, some citing state and federal law.

In addition to personal and political information, the committee requested information regarding voters’ potential felony, military and overseas citizen statuses.

The suit named both the commission’s chair and its vice chair, Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, in their official capacity. Both of their home states have declined to share certain information with the commission, citing state law.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly gave the defendants until 4:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday to respond to the suit.

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President Donald Trump rang in Independence Day by promoting a new song based on his trademarked phrase, “Make America Great Again.”

The composition, which goes by the same name, premiered on Saturday at the Celebrate Freedom rally at D.C.’s Kennedy Center, ABC News reported. Trump continued his attacks against the media in remarks at the event, which was organized to honor military veterans.

Available via Christian Copyright Licensing International, “Make America Great Again” was composed by the former first minister of music at First Baptist Church of Dallas, Gary Moore. The church’s orchestra and choir also performed the work Saturday. Trump supporter and current First Baptist Pastor Robert Jeffress spoke at the event.

The White House did not immediately respond to TPM’s questions about the trademarked phrase, including whether Trump had granted permission or entered into some other agreement with CCLI or the church.

Trump applied for a trademark for “Make America Great Again” in 2012, CNN reported, and received the trademark two years ago, in July 2015.

The phrase appears prominently on a variety of Trump merchandise, including on his signature $25 dollar red cap.

The musical work Trump tweeted out Tuesday has already faced criticism, the Christian Post noted, for its blending of devotion to God and country.

“The problem is that it has been adopted by a significant portion of the evangelical church. It’s their mantra, their creed, and their prayer, and they shout it out with nationalistic fervor,” Jonathan Aigner wrote of the piece in Patheos, as quoted by the Christian Post. “Pledging allegiance to God and to America in the same breath, melding together the kingdom of God and self, they pray a blasphemous prayer to a red, white, and blue Jesus.”

Read the lyrics to “Make America Great Again” below:

Make America great again
Make America great again
Lift the torch of freedom all across the land
Step into the future joining hand in hand
And make America great again
Yes make America great again.

Americans from ev’ry corner of this blessed land
Come together with one voice
Help us take a stand
Following the vision to make her proud and grand
And make America great again
Make America great again

Like the mighty eagle that is rising on the wind
Soaring t’ward our destiny
Hearts and voices blend
With a mighty melody oh let the song begin
And make America great again
Make America great again

Each and every state
Make America great again
Make America great again

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Monday brought a new wave of states announcing they will not comply with President Donald Trump’s bogus “election integrity” commission’s requests for sensitive voter data.

By CNN’s count, 41 states have refused to cooperate with all or parts of the commission’s request.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) called the request for data — including the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers and criminal, military and overseas citizen records — “repugnant.”

Delaware Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove (D) said in a statement that “[r]eleasing this information to the White House would not serve the mission of safeguarding the fairness and integrity of elections in Delaware and would not be in the best interests of Delaware voters.”

“Delaware has a long history of running fair and efficient elections open to all qualified voters. We should not be a part of any effort to turn back the clock on the progress we have made,” Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock (D) added in the same statement. “Delaware will not be a party to this disingenuous and inappropriate campaign against one of the nation’s foundational institutions.”

Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler (R) said only publicly-available information would be provided to the commission, and for a fee.

“The President’s Commission has quickly politicized its work by asking states for an incredible amount of voter data that I have, time and time again, refused to release,” Schedler said in a statement. “My response to the Commission is, you’re not going to play politics with Louisiana’s voter data, and if you are, then you can purchase the limited public information available by law, to any candidate running for office. That’s it.”

“I denied the Obama Justice Department’s request and I’m denying President Trump’s Commission’s request because they are both politically motivated,” Schedler added. “The release of private information creates a tremendous breach of trust with voters who work hard to protect themselves against identity fraud. That’s why it is protected by six federal laws and two state laws.”

“This Commission needs to understand clearly, disclosure of such sensitive information is more likely to diminish voter participation rather than foster it,” Schedler concluded. “I have been fighting this kind of federal intrusion and overreach, and will continue to fight like hell for the people who trust me with the integrity of our election process.”

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) wrote on Twitter that certain information was publicly available in the state, implying it would be made available to the commission. He specified that “Social Security numbers are never disclosed.”

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson (R) similarly said, “Michigan will certainly not go beyond what is legally required in any response to this data request.”

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Maryland Attorney Brian Frosh (D) on Monday informed President Donald Trump’s bogus “election integrity” commission that the state would not comply with its request to hand over sensitive voter data.

To fulfill the request, Frosh said, Maryland’s board of elections would have to violate state law.

“The assistant attorneys general representing the State Board of Elections have considered the request to the Board for the personal information of millions of voters and have determined that the requested disclosure is prohibited by law,” Frosh wrote in a statement Monday. “These lawyers have advised the State Board of its obligations.”

Frosh said he found the request “repugnant,” and that “it appears designed only to intimidate voters and to indulge President Trump’s fantasy that he won the popular vote.”

“Repeating incessantly a false story of expansive voter fraud, and then creating a commission to fuel that narrative, does not make it any more true,” he continued. “There is no evidence that the integrity of the 2016 election in Maryland — or any other state — was compromised by voter fraud. I urge Governor Hogan and the State Board of Elections to speak out against this effort and to reject any further attempt to intimidate voters and obtain their personal information.”

“I will continue to take all necessary steps to protect the private personal information of Maryland voters and the integrity of Maryland’s voting process,” Frosh concluded.

Maryland joined a number of states that will not comply with all or parts of the commission’s data request because it does not comply with state law — including Indiana and Kansas, the respective home states of the commission’s chair and vice chair.

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