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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

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster tried his best to clean up President Donald Trump’s comments on a London subway bombing Friday, claiming that Trump did not mean to criticize Scotland Yard when he said the unknown suspect, or suspects, behind the bombing had been “in the sights of Scotland Yard.”

Trump’s tweet was largely seen as critical of the British law enforcement agency. According to the New York Times, 29 people were hospitalized after a crude improvised explosive device detonated in London’s subway.

Asked about the tweet, British Prime Minister Theresa May said, “I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation.”

Did the President share information that he was not supposed to? If not, why was he speculating?” a reporter asked McMaster at a press briefing Friday.

“I think what the President was communicating is that, obviously, all of our law enforcement efforts are focused on this terrorist threat, for years,” McMaster said. “Scotland Yard has been a leader, as our FBI has been a leader.”

“So, I think if there was a terrorist attack here, god forbid, that we would say that they were in the sights of the FBI,” he said. “So I think didn’t mean anything beyond that.”

A Washington, D.C. Superior Court judge on Thursday rejected defense attorneys’ motions to dismiss charges against nearly 200 people accused of felony rioting, among other charges, for their activities in Washington, D.C. during President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

According to the Hill, which reported on Judge Lynn Leibovitz dismissing the motions, there are 194 cases remaining to be tried of the 234 protesters originally charged. Nineteen have pleaded guilty, the outlet noted.

Charges were filed against both protesters accused of destroying property and attacking police, and those there to document the protest, including journalists and legal observers. Defense lawyers for the accused have called prosecutors’ actions in the case — particularly the blurring of lines between individuals who attacked police and property, and those who merely attended or planned the protest — “unprecedented.”

Leibovitz criticized defense attorneys in April for their insistence on taking time to review the hundreds of hours of available footage of the protest.

“These will be dragged out until everyone here are grandparents. Unless that is the goal,” she told the Washington Post in April, after a grand jury added even more charges for the then more than 200 charged protesters, including inciting or urging to riot, conspiracy to riot and multiple counts of destruction of property, according to the Post.

The new charges made it easier to prosecute individuals based on others’ actions.

On Thursday, Leibovitz rejected attorneys’ motions to dismiss the charges and to release the instructions given to the grand jury, which the defendants had argued were confusing and led to excessive or “defective” charges.

After the secondary charges were announced in April, a spokesperson for Dead City Legal Posse, a support group for the defendants, told DCist the government’s approach was expected, but extreme.

“We were fully aware of the possibility of additional charges, but the indiscriminate nature of the charges is outrageous,” Sam Menefee-Libey told the paper, adding: “The charges were draconian before, they’re even more draconian now.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May seemed to criticize President Donald Trump on Friday for his assumptions about an improvised explosive device that detonated in London’s subway system Friday morning.

“I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation,” May said, according to interview footage aired by CNN. “As I’ve just said, the police and security services are working to discover the full circumstances of this cowardly attack and to identify all those responsible.”

Trump tweeted about the attack just a few hours after it was first reported. He advocated for limiting Internet access, making his travel ban on Muslim-majority countries “larger, tougher and more specific” and being “proactive & nasty” against ISIS, though he was presumably speculating that the group was involved in the attack.

According to CNN, a spokesperson for Scotland Yard said directly that Trump’s comments were “pure speculation given we don’t know who is involved.”

”Any speculation is unhelpful,” the spokesperson said, according to CNN.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) will convene an ad hoc working group of congressional Republicans to formulate a path forward for DACA recipients whose work permits will begin expiring in less than six months, Politico reported Thursday.

Ryan has said that any legislative solution for former DACA recipients must also include increased border security, though he has not presented any details.

An unnamed source familiar with the group’s creation told Politico “it was just one part of a larger look at the matter,” including efforts to work with Democrats.

According to Politico, members of Ryan’s legislative working group will include: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA); Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA); Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX); Rep. John Carter (R-TX), who chairs that committee’s appropriations subcommittee; Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID); Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI); Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL); Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) and Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ).

President Donald Trump ended DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, on Sept. 5, and delayed the expiration date of the first recipients’ work permits for six months. The program, implemented via executive action by former President Barack Obama, shielded young undocumented people who met certain criteria from deportation.

Trump has said he wants Congress to “legalize” the program, and he met with Democratic congressional leaders on Wednesday night to discuss a legislative way forward, but it’s still far from likely that such a bill will make its way to his desk given most Republican legislators’ stance on what they call “amnesty” for undocumented people.

Both Trump and the Democratic congressional leaders, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), emerged from the meeting Wednesday night saying they were hopeful for a deal to protect so-called “Dreamers,” or young people who came to the United States as undocumented children. But none have presented details of a plan.

The EPA will not renew the lease of its lab in Houston, potentially dealing a severe blow to the agency’s role in monitoring the effects of Hurricane Harvey on the area when the current lease expires in 2020.

The San Antonio Express-News reported the news Wednesday, noting that the lab employs roughly 50 people and that “[m]uch of its work has been focused on testing samples from Superfund sites in the region.” The lab has served as a “staging area,” for scientists following Hurricane Harvey, the paper noted.

“The sobering news given to me was that in 2019 they would start tying together loose ends and in 2020 the facility would close because they are not going to renew the lease,” Clovis Steib, an EPA scientist and union leader, told the Express-News.

However, in a statement to TPM, EPA spokesperson David Gray disputed that the agency had announced the lab’s closing.

“The only action that we have announced is that we are not renewing our current leased laboratory space in Houston,” Gray said. “We are approaching the renewal deadline for our existing lease and needed to make that information public. We are looking at alternatives that will continue to provide the analytical services to support our mission critical work in the Dallas office.”

Steib, reached by phone Thursday, expressed skepticism that the EPA would replace the lab in Houston, saying that the agency would likely consider it “cost prohibitive” to retrofit a similar lab in the area. “There is no other site in the the Houston area that they’ve identified for the people who work there,” he said.

An April 28 memo obtained by TPM from EPA management to union members in Region 9 — which covers Arizona, Nevada, California and Hawaii — explained that the agency had decided to relinquish a floor of the San Francisco regional office for “budgetary reasons.”

“Region 9, along with all other regional and headquarter offices, has been asked to reduce the amount of leased space by the end of FY17,” an assistant regional administrator wrote, justifying the cut.

The next closest regional lab to Houston, the Express-News noted, is in Ada, Oklahoma, 400 miles away.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, a friend of the fossil fuel companies and refineries that dot the greater Houston area, came under even more scrutiny following Hurricane Harvey for his agency’s seemingly lackluster response in monitoring the toxic superfund sites, especially those that had flooded during the storm.

The Associated Press reported following the storm that its own journalists had visited a number of affected superfund sites that the EPA had claimed were unreachable, and of which it had only reviewed aerial imagery.

In a statement that did not deny the AP’s reporting, the EPA instead responded by the attacking one of the reporters behind the story.

Pruitt has called superfund sites an agency priority, though the White House’s own proposed budget would slash funding for cleanup efforts at such sites.

This post has been updated.

President Donald Trump on Thursday continued to blame “bad dudes” among counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally last month in Charlottesville, Virginia that turned deadly.

Trump initially said that “many sides” were to blame for the violence at the rally, and later said there were “very fine people” on both sides. Asked Thursday about a meeting he had with Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) to discuss his response to the white nationalist event, the President again criticized the “other side,” and said nothing about the white nationalists at the rally.

“We had a great talk yesterday,” Trump said of the meeting with Scott, who is the only black Republican senator. “I think especially in light of the advent of Antifa, if you look at what’s going on there.”

“Antifa” is short for “anti-fascist,” a group that sees violence as a proportional response to fascist groups.

“You have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also, and essentially, that’s what I said,” the President continued. “Now, because of what’s happened since then with Antifa, you look at what’s happened since Charlottesville, a lot of people are saying and people have actually written, ‘Gee, Trump may have a point.’ I said there’s some very bad people on the other side also, which is true.”

Scott said Wednesday that Trump had told him about “an antagonist on the other side” of the protest in Charlottesville, referring to counter-protesters.

Scott had said after Trump’s “many sides” comments immediately following the Charlottesville violence that the President’s “moral authority is compromised.”

Scott told reporters after his meeting with Trump that he had tried to contextualize the rally within white nationalists’ and white supremacists’ history of terrorizing minority communities.

“He shook his head and said, ‘yeah, I got it,’”  Scott said, characterizing Trump’s response, according to McClatchy.

Scott told CBS separately that Trump had “obviously reflected on what he has said, on his intentions and the perception of those comments.”

“I’ll let him discuss how he feels about it, but he was certainly very clear that the perception that he received on his comments was not exactly what he intended with those comments,” he added.

Scott responded to Trump’s latest equivocating Thursday by saying “That’s who he is,” according to CNN:

This post has been updated.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was heard saying Thursday morning that President Donald Trump “likes us” and that “it’s going to work out,” perhaps referring to a potential deal shielding young undocumented people from deportation.

The comment was picked up by a CSPAN microphone and broadcast live.

“He likes us!” Schumer is heard saying, referring to Trump. “He likes me, anyway.”

“Look, what we said was exactly accurate,” Schumer continues. “Here’s what I told him. I said, Mr. President, you’re much better off if you can sometimes step right, and sometimes step left. If you have to step just in one direction, you’re boxed. He gets that.”

An aide seems to ask an unintelligible question, to which Schumer responds: “Oh, it’s going to work out, and it’ll make us more productive, too.”

The remark came after Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi met with Trump over dinner Wednesday, without any other top Republicans present aside from members of Trump’s Cabinet. Afterward, both Trump and the Democratic leaders hinted that they had agreed to pursue a deal that would shield DACA recipients from deportation while also beefing up border security. Trump said later that his politically toxic border wall would “come later,” further enraging Republicans, who saw it as another departure from a key campaign promise.

It’s still far from likely that Trump will sign legislation protecting those whose work permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival Program will begin expiring in six months. Trump ended the program on Sept. 5 and told Congress to “legalize” it, but he could also be simply passing the buck for a wave of deportations to come.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Republicans in Congress “look forward” to receiving the Trump administration’s proposal following talk of a potential deal that would protect DACA recipients in exchange for beefed up border security.

Trump ended the DACA program, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, on Sept. 5. On Wednesday night, he met with Democratic congressional leaders and afterward, both sides spoke of a potential deal to protect young undocumented people whose DACA protections will begin expiring in six months. Trump also said his promised border wall with Mexico would “come later.”

Conservatives, predictably, raged at the news.

McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) weren’t in attendance Wednesday night, but deputy White House press secretary Lindsay Walters said Thursday morning, according to a pool report, that “The President spoke to McConnell and Ryan this morning.” Trump added later to reporters: “Everybody’s on board.”

McConnell implied in a statement that Trump had an obligation to lay out his proposal, so that Congress could move forward while considering his preferences.

“As Congress debates the best ways to address illegal immigration through strong border security and interior enforcement, DACA should be part of those discussions,” McConnell said in the statement. “We look forward to receiving the Trump administration’s legislative proposal as we continue our work on these issues.”

Conservative provocateur Ann Coulter railed against President Donald Trump’s potential departure from his campaign promise to build a border wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border and make Mexico pay for it.

It was hardly the first time Coulter criticized the President.

Trump has long since stopped insisting that Mexico would pay for the wall. But on Thursday, he said the wall itself would “come later” and that, for now, existing fencing would be refurbished.

Predictably, Coulter lashed out at the idea, and at a potential deal protecting DACA recipients in exchange for beefed up border security measures. Trump ended the DACA program on Sept. 5.

She also retweeted similar criticisms from other Twitter users:

A year ago, Coulter attacked Trump for nearly the exact same reason: He said on the campaign trail that he would be open to allowing some undocumented immigrants to stay in the country legally, a day before Coulter published “In Trump We Trust,” which praised the then-candidate for his hardline immigration platform. (She secretly helped write the platform.)

Trump ended up siding with Coulter: He has pursued the detention and deportation of undocumented people with extreme fervor, and any hints of legally accommodating undocumented people have so far not resulted in actual policy policy changes.

Fox News’ Sean Hannity urged President Donald Trump to “stay the course” after a Wednesday night meeting with Democratic congressional leaders that both sides said could lead to a deal to protect former DACA recipients and increase border security.

Trump told reporters on Thursday that funding for his politically toxic border wall would “come later,” drawing additional ire from conservatives.

Responding to a Twitter user who complained that Trump had “promised a big beautiful wall,” Hannity said: “And if @POTUS doesn’t keep that promise, and goes for amnesty, it will be the political equivalent of ‘read my lips, no new taxes.'” [sic]

DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, protects young undocumented immigrants who meet certain criteria from deportation. Trump ended the program on Sept. 5 and has since told Congress to “legalize” it. Some conservatives call that “amnesty,” though DACA recipients arrived in the United States as children.

Details of any potential deal are scarce. And it’s still far from certain that any effort to protect former DACA recipients, even an effort endorsed by Trump, would have the votes to get through Congress. Trump could simply be passing the buck to Congress for a wave of future deportations.

For Hannity, who taped a campaign advertisement for Trump, fault for the potential deal lied with congressional Republicans. But he scolded Trump, too.

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