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

A Republican candidate for Congress in Florida has walked back an earlier assertion that Puerto Rican hurricane evacuees should not be allowed to register to vote in the mainland United States.

As reported by Politico on Tuesday, Republican congressional candidate John Ward made the remark last week in response to a voter who asked about Puerto Ricans who have moved “either temporarily or permanently” to Florida: “How do you respond to them when they say that they need more help and that the aid to Puerto Rico is not enough?”

“First of all, I don’t think they should be allowed to register to vote,” Ward said. “And it’s not lost on me that, I think, the Democrat Party’s really hoping that they can change the voting registers in a lot of counties and districts. And I don’t think they should be allowed to do that.”

“We should be looking to put the Puerto Ricans back in their homes,” he added, per Politico. “So the idea that they can come to the mainland United States, I don’t necessarily have a problem with that. But I think we should be thinking about it in terms of getting them back home and providing the capital and resources to rebuild Puerto Rico, which I honestly think is where they belong.”

The campaign of a GOP primary opponent of Ward’s, Fred Costello, posted a video of the exchange on Wednesday, Politico noted:

On Friday Ward was asked about the remarks, and he replied that “of course” Puerto Ricans are American citizens who have the right to vote in Florida once establishing permanent residency, per Politico.

But in an email to Politico, Ward maintained that the Democratic Party shouldn’t “be able to take advantage of Puerto Rican evacuees fleeing a natural disaster, here on a temporary basis, in order to manipulate voter registrations rolls in the run up to the 2018 elections.”

I would welcome any Puerto Rican who wants to permanently resettle in Florida to register to vote here,” he continued. “We’re all American citizens together. That said, if a natural disaster displaced me from Florida to some other state temporarily, I’d still want to vote by absentee in FL, my home community and voter registration, and not elsewhere.”

Read Politico’s report here.

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Trump fixer Michael Cohen, acting as a consultant for a major Trump inauguration donor, met with the donor and a representative of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund in early April seeking an investment for the donor’s nuclear plant project, two reports Monday indicated.

Mother Jones and the Wall Street Journal, each citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, reported on the meeting Monday afternoon.

The Trump donor, Franklin Haney, gave $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee, according to the reports, and at least $125,000 to the Republican National Committee this year, according to Mother Jones. He’s seeking to complete an unfinished nuclear plant in Alabama. Both reports said the results of the meeting were unknown.

Both reports also noted that Haney is seeking the extension of a federal nuclear power tax credit, among other things.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, with whom Cohen and Haney met on April 5, is the Qatari minister of economy and commerce as well as the deputy chairman of the Qatar Investment Authority, a sovereign wealth fund.

Haney, the Journal reported, recently hired Cohen as a consultant, though Cohen’s fee is unclear. The trio met at a Four Seasons near Miami Beach, the Journal reported, just days before Cohen’s home, office and hotel room were raided as part of a months-long criminal probe.

Foreign Policy, Mother Jones noted, had reported earlier this month on the meeting between Cohen and Al Thani but could not detail their discussions. (Haney is unmentioned in that report.) 

A spokesperson for the Qatari government confirmed to the Journal that Cohen had requested the meeting, and that it had been granted, but did not elaborate on its purpose.

Read Mother Jones’ report here and the Wall Street Journal’s report here.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that the Justice Department had asked its inspector general to expand an inquiry into the FBI “[b]ased on the meeting with the President.”

Sanders also said White House chief of staff John Kelly would “set up a meeting” with three agencies whose leadership met with the President Monday, the Department of Justice (represented by its deputy director, Rod Rosenstein), FBI and Office of the Director of National Intelligence, “together with Congressional Leaders to review highly classified and other information they have requested.”

Read Sanders’ full statement below:

“Based on the meeting with the President, the Department of Justice has asked the Inspector General to expand its current investigation to include any irregularities with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s or the Department of Justice’s tactics concerning the Trump Campaign. It was also agreed that White House Chief of Staff Kelly will immediately set up a meeting with the FBI, DOJ, and DNI together with Congressional Leaders to review highly classified and other information they have requested.”

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President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign used his recent “demand” that the Justice Department investigate special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe in a fundraising email Monday.

WORSE than Watergate,” the email’s subject line read.

I hereby DEMAND that the Department of Justice investigate whether Obama’s FBI and DOJ infiltrated or surveilled our campaign for political purposes,” the email, signed by Trump, reads.

“THIS COULD BE THE GREATEST POLITICAL SCANDAL IN AMERICAN HISTORY.”

“I need you to sign your name right this second to join me in demanding this abuse of power gets investigated.”

The petition link leads to a form on Trump’s campaign website, with the following text:

President Trump is demanding that the Department of Justice investigate whether Obama’s FBI and DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the President’s campaign for political purposes.

The President needs you to add your name to ensure this abuse of power gets investigated. 

Add your name right now. 

Once filled out, the form leads to a fundraising page for Trump’s campaign.

Fine print below the form carries the necessary disclaimer for political communications: That it was “Paid for by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee authorized by and composed of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and the Republican National Committee.”

Trump on Sunday tweeted that he would “demand” an investigation of a reported FBI informant who had contact with members of the Trump campaign prior to the election. Without evidence, Trump has raged at the possibility that the informant was used to damage him politically, rather than to provide information as part of the FBI’s larger election meddling probe.

The Justice Department announced within hours of the President’s “demand” tweet that it had asked its inspector general, Michael Horowitz, to add the inquiry to an existing one into the FBI’s warrant application to surveil Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page.

The White House confirmed to multiple outlets Monday that the President would meet today with DOJ Deputy Director Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

H/t Julie Davis.

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The White House refers to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as “Supreme Leader” on a challenge coin made for the upcoming peace talks between President Donald Trump and Kim, several reports revealed Monday

Reports differed on the source of the coin: CNN’s Jim Acosta said it was produced by the White House Military Office. NBC’s Peter Alexander said it was from the White House Communications Agency. Both are part of the larger West Wing bureaucracy.

Though “Supreme Leader” is an official title used for Kim (one of several), it’s slightly jarring to see it in White House lettering.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referred to Kim as “chairman” during his trip to meet with the North Korean leader earlier this month. (Pompeo initially, and incorrectly, referred to the leader as “Chairman Un.”)

A quick search of the Obama White House’s archives found several uses of the term — by the former President, then-Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, and then-press secretaries Josh Earnest and Robert Gibbs. But they were all referring to the Iranian leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

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President Donald Trump will meet Monday with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats on Monday, the White House confirmed to multiple reports.

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl said that Trump’s tweeted “demand” for an investigation into Robert Mueller’s probe would be among the matters discussed.

Sanders told CBS News that the meeting was scheduled last week.

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Just more than a year later, former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros’ lawsuit against the network, in which she alleged she had been the victim of “illegal electronic surveillance and computer hacking,” was dismissed Friday.

Tantaros alleged in her suit that the network had surveilled and harassed her in retaliation for her claims that she was sexually harassed by former network chair Roger Ailes and others. A separate suit covering Tantaros’ harassment claims was sent to private arbitration last year.

In the suit dismissed Friday, Tantaros had alleged that Fox News — she specifically named the network; Ailes; former Co-President Bill Shine; Fox and Fox Business corporate communications head Irena Briganti; and tech investor Pete Snyder and his company, Disrupter, Inc. — gained unauthorized access to her email and social media profiles in order to harass her.

Tantaros also alleged Snyder was employed to target her with a swarm of aggressive social media accounts in order to harass and discredit her. Tantaros alleged the accounts were “sock puppets,” operated by the defendants.

“Plaintiff’s amended complaint is based primarily on speculation and conjecture,” Judge George B. Daniels of the Southern District of New York wrote (read his full decision below). “Moreover, she fails to adequately make out the basic elements of her claims.”

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Tierney Sneed contributed reporting.

The Justice Department on Sunday confirmed that its inspector general would investigate whether “there was any impropriety or political motivation” in the FBI’s work during the 2016 campaign.

The new investigation, the DOJ said, would be added to an existing one into the FBI’s application for a FISA warrant to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

The announcement came just hours after President Donald Trump appeared to demand just that in a tweet:

Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement she shared with TPM:

The Department has asked the Inspector General to expand the ongoing review of the FISA application process to include determining whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election. As always, the Inspector General will consult with the appropriate U.S. Attorney if there is any evidence of potential criminal conduct.

She added the following statement from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:

“If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action.”

The Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, announced in March that he would probe the FBI’s application for a surveillance warrant to suveil a member of Trump’s campaign — believed to be foreign policy adviser carter page.

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Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani claimed in an interview Sunday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team had assured him that the obstruction of justice portion of Mueller’s probe would conclude by Sept. 1.

The New York Times reported Giuliani’s comments, but did not quote all of them verbatim.

Giuliani argued to the Times that the investigation could have improper political consequences if it went on too long. 

“You don’t want another repeat of the 2016 election where you get contrary reports at the end and you don’t know how it affected the election,” Giuliani said, referring to then-FBI Director James Comey’s reopening of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server days before the 2016 presidential election.

Giuliani claimed Mueller had shared his schedule for the obstruction probe “about two weeks ago,” in the paper’s words, “amid negotiations over whether Mr. Trump will be questioned by investigators.”

Allowing for preparation time, Giuliani told the Times, Trump could be questioned by Mueller’s team around July 4th.

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Trump confidante Roger Stone said Sunday that he was “prepared” to be indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller, “should that be the case.” 

Mueller has so far subpoenaed two associates of Stone’s, John Kakanis and Jason Sullivan, according to reporting by Reuters.

“We know that prosecutors have been asking witnesses about you,” NBC’s Chuck Todd told Stone in an interview Sunday after noting the subpoenas. “Are you preparing to be indicted?”

“I don’t know if I’m an interesting person or a person of interest,” Stone began in response.

“At least eight of my current or former associates, mostly young people, have been terrorized by Mr. Mueller’s investigators,” Stone said. “I can guarantee you they have found no evidence whatsoever of Russian collusion, nor trafficking of allegedly hacked emails with Wikileaks.”

“It is not inconceivable now that Mr. Mueller and his team may seek to conjure up some extraneous crime pertaining to my business, or maybe not even pertaining to the 2016 election,” he continued, before adding in reference to a potential indictment: “So I am prepared, should that be the case.”

Stone later said that neither he nor his lawyer had had contact with Mueller’s office.

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