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

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) took to the Senate floor Tuesday to condemn a report that President Donald Trump had urged then-FBI Director James Comey to stop an investigation into the recently fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

“Mr. President, in a week full of revelation after revelation, on a day when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, they have,” he said. “I was shaken by the report in the New York Times that alleged that the President tried to shut down an active FBI investigation into a close political associate. And we are only one day removed from stunning allegations that the President may have divulged classified information to a known adversary.”

He was referring to the Washington Post’s report Monday afternoon that Trump had shared highly classified information with two top Russian officials during a closed-press meeting in the Oval Office.

Flynn was fired on Feb. 13 after revelations that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Trump abruptly fired Comey a week ago.

Comey met with Trump on Feb. 14, when Trump made his request, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

“Concerns about our national security, the rule of law, the independence of our nation’s highest law enforcement agencies, are mounting,” Schumer said. “The country is being tested in unprecedented ways. I say to all of my colleagues in the Senate: History is watching. I yield the floor.”

Watch below:

Read More →

President Donald Trump suggested to ousted FBI Director James Comey that journalists who publish classified information should be jailed, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

The Times, citing unnamed associates of Comey’s describing memos he kept recording his meetings with Trump, reported the discussion came in a meeting on Feb. 14.

Alone in the Oval Office, the Times reported, Trump asked Comey to end the FBI’s investigation of Michael Flynn, who Trump had a day earlier fired as his National Security Adviser.

The Times also reported that “Mr. Trump began the discussion by condemning leaks to the news media, saying that Mr. Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.”

Trump abruptly fired Comey last Tuesday. The White House put forward a variety of explanations for his ouster, but Trump himself said in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt that, “when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.”

On Monday, the Washington Post reported that Trump himself had shared highly classified information with two top Russian officials during a closed-press meeting in the Oval Office the day after the Comey firing. 

Read More →

The highly classified information President Donald Trump shared with top Russian diplomats last week was provided to the United States by Israel, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

The Times cited two unnamed U.S. officials, one current and one former, who it described as “familiar with how the United States obtained the information.”

NBC News, citing three unnamed government officials, later confirmed that Israel was the source of the intelligence. And two unnamed Israeli intelligence officials confirmed as much to Buzzfeed. One of them said Israeli intelligence officers were “boiling mad and demanding answers.”

On Monday, the Washington Post reported that Trump had shared highly classified information on an Islamic State plot with the Russian ambassador to the United States and the Russian foreign minister.

The U.S. officials, the Times reported, said “at least some of the details that the United States has about the plot came from the Israelis.”

The Post reported Monday that the source of the intelligence, which it did not name, “has previously voiced frustration with Washington’s inability to safeguard sensitive information related to Iraq and Syria.”

On Tuesday, one unnamed senior European intelligence official told the Associated Press that his country might stop sharing intelligence with the United States if it confirmed that Trump had shared classified information with Russia.

Trump admitted on Twitter Tuesday that he shared certain “facts” with Russia — undercutting his own administration’s talking points. And National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster did not deny in a press briefing Tuesday that Trump had shared classified information provided to the U.S. by an ally.

In the waning days of the Obama administration, Israeli outlets reported in January, American intelligence officials warned their Israeli counterparts to use caution when sharing intelligence with the Trump administration. Haaretz reported that concerns included “suspicions of unreported ties between President-elect Donald Trump, or his associates, and the government of Vladimir Putin in Moscow.”

This post has been updated.

Read More →

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was harshly critical on Tuesday of President Donald Trump’s reported sharing of highly classified information with Russia. It was a sharp departure from his sentiment Monday night, when he said that Trump “does have the right” to “leak classified information.”

In a statement in his capacity as chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain called the Washington Post’s reporting “deeply disturbing.”

The Post reported Monday that Trump had shared highly classified intelligence with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister during a meeting in the Oval Office last week. The Post reported that the United States had obtained the information from an American ally that has “voiced frustration with Washington’s inability to safeguard sensitive information related to Iraq and Syria.”

“The reports that the President shared sensitive intelligence with Russian officials are deeply disturbing,” McCain said in his statement. “Reports that this information was provided by a U.S. ally and shared without its knowledge sends a troubling signal to America’s allies and partners around the world and may impair their willingness to share intelligence with us in the future.”

He added that, “[r]egrettably, the time President Trump spent sharing sensitive information with the Russians was time he did not spend focusing on Russia’s aggressive behavior, including its interference in American and European elections, its illegal invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, its other destabilizing activities across Europe, and the slaughter of innocent civilians and targeting of hospitals in Syria.”

McCain expressed a more reserved reaction to the news Monday evening.

Speaking to reporters Monday night, TPM’s Alice Ollstein reported, McCain affirmed that “the President does have the right to do that, because he’s the commander in chief,” referring to sharing highly classified information with Russia. He added, walking into an elevator: “Any president needs to be careful.”

And he told the conservative Independent Journal Review around the same time: “When they say it’s classified, if it becomes public knowledge, then it could hurt the national security of the United States. That’s why we classify. […] Of course everything is of concern to me that may hurt the White House. Whether you’re Republican or Democrat or libertarian or vegetarian.”

Read More →

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) responded to the Washington Post’s reporting that President Donald Trump had shared highly classified information with Russia by saying that “we could do with a little less drama from the White House.” McConnell said that the news distracted from the Republican agenda of tax cuts, deregulation and repealing Obamacare.

“I read the Washington Post story and I read General McMaster’s response, which tends to refute the story, rebut the story,” McConnell said during an interview with Bloomberg Tuesday.

However, as Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) pointed out Monday morning, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster’s response to the Post’s reporting was “a pretty technical quote” that was “actually something quite different from a full rebuttal of the story.” And Trump himself admitted Tuesday morning to sharing certain “facts” with Russia. 

McConnell continued: “I think we could do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agenda, which is deregulations, tax reform, repealing and replacing Obamacare.”

McConnell wouldn’t commit to saying that no one who currently has health care would lose it under a Republican plan, saying only that “what we know is what we have now is a disaster” and “the status is quo is unacceptable. We need to do better than the status quo.” He also would not commit to passing tax legislation this year.

Read More →

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) said Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s disclosure of highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador to the United States was “just weird.”

The remark came in an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” after the Washington Post’s David Ignatius asked Sasse whether Trump was living up to his oath of “faithfully executing the office of President.”

The Post reported Monday afternoon that Trump had given the two top Russian officials — during an Oval Office meeting closed to American press — highly classified information that he received from an American ally, and that he had not been granted permission to share.

“It’s not helpful that this was with the Russians, right?” Sasse began, responding to Ignatius. “I mean, this is just weird. We and the Russians do not have aligned interests. They want to exacerbate our internal distrust of each other. They want to fracture NATO. Putin is an enemy of the freedom of speech, religion, press and assembly, which is the beating heart of what America means.”

“Again, there’s technical stuff that happened in this meeting that we don’t really yet know about,” he continued. “But one of the basic duties of someone who’s in a public office and has a public trust responsibility should be to be celebrating what America is about and to be telling that story. Right now, Washington isn’t doing any of that.”

On Tuesday morning, Trump confirmed in two tweets that “As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining” […] “…to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

Sasse had earlier noted that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster’s response to the Post’s reporting was “a pretty technical quote.”

“I think it’s actually something quite different from a full rebuttal of the story,” he said.

And he warned against the potential consequences of sharing information that the United States had obtained from an ally that, in the Post’s words, “has previously voiced frustration with Washington’s inability to safeguard sensitive information related to Iraq and Syria.”

“You know, sources and methods are the lifeblood of the intelligence community,” Sasse said. “The world is a broken place and we need spies around the globe, and you want to be sure that CIA station chiefs all over the globe, when they’re cultivating sources, that their word is taken really seriously. So there’s a lot we don’t know about this story yet. But I think it is important for the public to understand why what the IC, what the intelligence community does, is so important.”

Watch below via MSNBC:

Read More →

The ACLU announced Monday that it had filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Justice Department and FBI for records related to Donald Trump’s abrupt firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

“White House interference with any FBI investigation is incompatible with democratic safeguards, and that’s especially the case when the investigation involves the President or his associates,” the director of the group’s National Security Project, Hina Shamsi, said in a statement. “Political meddling with law enforcement investigations is a recipe for abuse of power.”

She added: “It’s impossible to know the truth right now because the Trump administration has issued shifting explanations, each of which is increasingly troubling.”

Read the ACLU’s request below:

Read More →

President Donald Trump urged the nation on Monday “to work with our cops, not against them,” lauding police and issuing a veiled criticism to protest movements against police brutality.

Trump used most of his remarks to the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service to celebrate law enforcement for their contributions to society, saying it was “the personal priority of my administration to ensure that our police are finally treated fairly, with honor and respect that they deserve.”

“To all Americans watching this event today,” he continued, “next time you see a cop on the beat, take a moment to say two wonderful words which they so readily deserve: Thank you.”

Still, parts of the speech emphasized a common theme in his campaign for President and young administration — that those who protest police brutality are responsible for violence against law enforcement and declines in public safety.

“We are living through an era in which our police have been subject to unfair defamation and vilification,” he said, adding: “Even worse, hostility and violence. More officers were slain last year in ambushes than in any year more than two decades.”

He appeared to be citing data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which tracks law enforcement fatalities.

“It is time to work with our cops, not against them,” he said later. “But to support them in making our streets safe — not to obstruct them, which we are doing. We obstruct them. It is time for all Americans from all parties and beliefs to join together in a simple goal to ensure that every child in America has the right to grow up in safety, security and peace.”

Earlier on Monday, according to a pool report, Trump declared May 15 Peace Officers Memorial Day and May 14-May 20 Police Week. He also said he would order the White House be lit in blue to honor law enforcement, and asked elected officials nationwide to fly flags at half-staff to mark the day.

Read More →