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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

Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) got points for honesty Tuesday while advocating for Republicans’ tax bill to slash the corporate tax rate and eliminate the estate tax, among other things.

“My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again,’” Collins said.

According to the Hill, Collins made the comment while speaking to reporters after a House GOP conference meeting.

The tax bill, which promises to be a boon for the ultra-rich and would personally benefit President Trump and his family — at least, based on what minimal tax information the White House has released — is currently being marked up by the House Ways and Means Committee, where Democrats have protested the secrecy with which the gargantuan bill was crafted by Republicans.

“Every special interest is out in force,” Collins added separately, according to the Hill. “I’d say the more they come out, it’s an indication we’re doing a darn good job.”

“We are getting lobbied by our families, our neighbors, our friends,” he said.

Collins, a millionaire and one of the wealthiest members of Congress, repeated the GOP claim in a radio interview Tuesday that a middle-income American family would get a roughly $1,200 tax break as a result of the party’s tax proposal.

Vox’s Matthew Iglesias reported Monday that claim is only true for the first year following the plan’s passage. The advertised tax break would decrease to next-to-nothing within six years, and the exemplar family would pay more under Republicans’ tax bill from year seven onward.

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Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) on Monday skipped a congressional moment of silence for the 26 victims of a gun massacre in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

In a video Lieu posted to Facebook from just outside the House Chamber, he said, “I will not be silent” when it comes to legislation aimed at preventing future mass shooting deaths.

“I can’t do this again,” Lieu said. “I’ve been to too many moments of silences. In just my short career in Congress, three of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history have occurred. I will not be silent. What we need, is we need action, we need to pass gun safety legislation now.”

Lieu advocated for universal background checks for gun ownership — “supported by 80 percent of Americans,” he said — a ban on assault rifles and a ban on bump stocks.

Police found multiple bump stocks, which emulate the firing speed of automatic weapons when fitted on semi-automatic ones, in the hotel room of Stephen Craig Paddock. Using semi-automatic rifles outfitted with bump stocks, Paddock is alleged to have killed 58 people by shooting into the crowd at a country music concert in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, before taking his own life.

Texas law enforcement officials said Devin Patrick Kelley, the alleged gunman in the Sutherland Springs massacre, used a Ruger AR-556 during his attack, an assault-style rifle similar to the popular AR-15.

An Air Force error resulted in Kelly being allowed to purchase the weapon and body armor, even though a military court had previously convicted him of two counts of domestic assault that resulted in a yearlong prison sentence and a bad-conduct discharge.

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The New Yorker, which in October published an explosive exposé detailing decades of rape and sexual assault allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, published a follow-up story on Weinstein’s “Army of Spies” on Monday.

Investigative journalist Ronan Farrow, whose Oct. 10 New Yorker piece added to allegations against Weinstein reported in the New York Times a few days earlier, reported on an extensive network of private investigators, media figures and members of Weinstein’s own staff used by the producer in attempts to suppress the stories about him.

One firm, Black Cube, used undercover private investigators to seek out those with allegations against Weinstein and, before they went public with them, attempt to create relationships and extract information in secretly taped conversations, to then deliver to Weinstein. One agent developed such a relationship with Rose McGowan, an actress who later publicly accused Weinstein of raping her.

A reported contract with the company, signed by a lawyer representing Weinstein, specified that “the project’s ‘primary objectives’ are to ‘provide intelligence which will help the Client’s efforts to completely stop the publication of a new negative article in a leading NY newspaper’” in addition to allegations in an upcoming book by McGowan.

Read the full New Yorker piece here.

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Ted Cruz chided a reporter who asked Monday whether the gun massacre in Sutherland Springs, Texas, that left 26 parishioners dead Sunday necessitated stricter gun control.

“Do we need gun control now, sir?” a reporter asked Cruz during a press briefing.

“You know, it is an unfortunate thing that the immediate place the media goes after any tragedy, after any murder is politicizing it,” Cruz said. “We don’t need politics right now.”

He continued: “I would note in New York we saw a terror attack just this week with a truck. Evil is evil is evil, and will use the weaponry that is available.”

Cruz celebrated one person who responded the shooting by retrieving his own gun and shooting at the alleged murderer, Devin Kelly, until Kelly fled the scene.

“We need to be celebrating that bravery and courage,” he said.

Earlier Monday, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway criticized people calling for gun control after the massacre, saying they saw “politics and Trump derangement in every single thing they do.”

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Charges against the neighbor of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) could intensify based on updated reports of the seriousness of the senator’s injuries following an alleged assault on Friday.

The neighbor, Rene Boucher, allegedly tackled Paul to the ground, blindsiding him. Though Boucher was originally charged with fourth-degree assault — Kentucky’s least serious assault charge, for “minor injury” — charges could become more serious based on Paul’s injuries.

A lawyer for Boucher told Fox News that the “unfortunate occurrence” was the result of “a matter that most people would regard as trivial,” but didn’t clarify further.

“My understanding is that Senator Paul’s spokesperson has released that he received fractured ribs in the Assault,” Kentucky State Police spokesperson Jeremy Hodges told TPM in an email Monday, though he noted he had not received medical documentation to confirm Paul’s status.

“Our investigation is open and active, which means we will receive medical reports etc in the upcoming days,” Hodges said. “Once the arresting officer has completed his case report it will be forwarded to our prosecuting attorney for review. It will be their decision, on whether or not additional charges or more severe charges are forthcoming.”

In a statement to media outlets earlier Monday, a senior adviser for Paul said the senator had suffered “five rib fractures including 3 displaced fractures,” injuries more serious than initially thought.

“This type of injury is caused by high velocity severe force,” the staffer, Doug Stafford, added. “It is not clear exactly how soon he will return to work, as the pain is considerable as is the difficulty in getting around, including flying.”

According to an arrest warrant posted online by the Daily Beast’s Sam Stein, Paul alleged that his neighbor tackled him to the ground from behind. Police noted on the warrant that “the extent of the rib injury is unknown at this time.”

On Monday, Hodges told Fox News: “The senator’s injuries are part of the investigation.”

“It requires serious physical injury in order for someone to be charged with a felony,” Hodges told the Washington Post.

In a statement reported by Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Boucher’s attorney, Matthew Baker, said the “regrettable” dispute that led to the alleged assault — the motives for which have still not been detailed — concerned “a matter that most people would regard as trivial.”

“We sincerely hope that Senator Paul is going well and that these two gentleman can get back to being neighbors as quickly as possible,” he added.

After Paul’s spokesperson said Saturday that the senator had been “blindsided,” but that he was “fine,” Paul expressed his appreciation for the support he’d received on Twitter Sunday:

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A cyclist who went viral after giving President Donald Trump’s motorcade the finger was fired for posting a picture of the gesture to social media, she told several outlets.

“I’d do it again,” Juli Briskman, 50, told Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak in a post published Monday.

Briskman worked for the government contractor Akima LLC, until she told them about the photo. Briskman told the Post and HuffPost that she was fired for violating Akima’s social media policy.

Briskman’s bird twittered across the web on Oct. 28:

“They said, ‘We’re separating from you,‘” Briskman told HuffPost, recalling a conversation with her Akima superiors. “Basically, you cannot have ‘lewd’ or ‘obscene’ things in your social media. So they were calling flipping him off ‘obscene.’”

A colleague, she noted to both publications, had faced minimal consequences for comparable social media obscenity: He called someone “a fucking Libtard asshole” on Facebook, but kept his job.

Briskman told HuffPost she’d been biking in Virginia, thinking critically about Trump’s performance in office, when she saw the President’s motorcade pass.

“He was passing by and my blood just started to boil,” she said. “I’m thinking, DACA recipients are getting kicked out. He pulled ads for open enrollment in Obamacare. Only one-third of Puerto Rico has power. I’m thinking, he’s at the damn golf course again.”

She added: “I flipped off the motorcade a number of times.”

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President Donald Trump in June reportedly told tribal leaders to simply drill for energy resources on their land, regardless of regulations that would prevent them from immediately doing so, Axios reported Sunday.

Citing one unnamed source in the room during a meeting between Trump and Native American tribal leaders in June, and another unnamed source who confirmed the account, Axios reported that the tribal leaders told Trump that “there were regulatory barriers preventing them from getting at their energy.”

The President reportedly replied: “But now it’s me. The government’s different now. Obama’s gone; and we’re doing things differently here.”

“So what I’m saying is, just do it,” Trump said, according to Axios.

The President reportedly continued after a pause, addressing a meeting attendee: “Chief, chief, what are they going to do? Once you get it out of the ground are they going to make you put it back in there? I mean, once it’s out of the ground it can’t go back in there. You’ve just got to do it. I’m telling you, chief, you’ve just got to do it.”

Video from a June 28 meeting between Trump and tribal leaders was posted by the Washington Post at the time. Reading from a statement, Trump echoed the themes that Axios’ unnamed sources described, though he did not say publicly, as he reportedly did privately, that they should break the law.

“Many of your lands have rich natural resources that stand to benefit your people immensely,” Trump said in the video, adding: “All you want is the freedom to use them, and that’s been the problem. It’s been very difficult, hasn’t it? It’ll be a lot easier now under the Trump administration.”

He added later: “Vast amounts of deposits of coal and other resources have, in a way, been taken out of your hands, and we’re going to have that changed, we’re going to put it back in your hands.”

The White House did not dispute the story, Axios noted. Members of the White House press team did not respond to TPM’s questions. One unnamed source who Axios said attended the meeting said the President’s remarks were “Trump speak,” and, according to Axios, that “what he meant by ‘just do it’ was he was pushing for removing burdensome regulations from the Obama era.”

Following Trump’s surprising 2016 electoral victory, Reuters reported that Native American advisers to the then-President-elect had advocated for easing regulations concerning drilling for energy resources on tribal land.

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was assaulted at his home on Friday, according to police.

“Senator Paul was blindsided and the victim of an assault,” spokesperson Kelsey Cooper said Saturday, as quoted by several outlets. “The assailant was arrested and it is now a matter for the police. Senator Paul is fine.” 

Rene Boucher, 59, of Bowling Green, has been charged with fourth degree assault, according to a press release from Kentucky State Police shared with TPM (read the full release below).

Local station WBKO first reported the alleged assault Saturday, followed by several other outletsWBKO reported that Paul was not transported to the hospital, according to police. 

Citing Boucher’s arrest warrant, Politico reported that Boucher admitted to tackling Paul. The outlet continued:

Boucher’s altercation with Paul left the senator having difficulty breathing as a result of a “possible rib injury” in addition to bleeding from cuts around his mouth. Paul was seeking medical help for his injuries, the warrant said.

Police responded to Paul’s residence at 3:21 p.m. on Friday, according to their statement, and Boucher’s detention record, published by WBKO, shows he was processed at Warren County Regional Jail at 8:51 p.m. ET on Friday. Boucher’s bond was set at $5,000, according to the record.

Fourth degree assault, the state’s least serious assault classification, is described by the Kentucky penal code as follows:

(1) A person is guilty of assault in the fourth degree when:

(a) He intentionally or wantonly causes physical injury to another person; or
(b) With recklessness he causes physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, a state police spokesperson said the FBI was on the scene to determine if the alleged assault had been politically motivated.

Kentucky State Police, according to the WBKO, said Boucher was an acquaintance of Paul’s. 

The Bowling Green Daily News reported that property records a house registered to someone named Rene Boucher was located in the same gated community as Paul’s residence. Politico reported Boucher and Paul were neighbors.

The Daily News noted that Boucher is an anesthesiologist and inventor of a pain relief product called the Therm-a-Vest, which the same publication profiled 12 years ago.

Read the Kentucky State Police’s full news release concerning the alleged assault below, as shared with TPM on Saturday:

Bowling Green, KY (November 4, 2017)  On Friday, November 3, 2017 at 3:21 p.m., KSP Troopers responded to the residence of Rand Paul in Warren County, in reference to a report of an assault.  Upon their arrival, it was determined that Rene Boucher had intentionally assaulted Paul causing a minor injury.

A warrant of arrest was issued through the Warren County Attorney’s office, and obtained for Rene Boucher.  Boucher, 59, of Bowling Green, was arrested by Trooper Bartley Weaver, charged with one count of Assault 4th—minor injury, and lodged in the Warren County Detention Center.

This investigation is being led by Trooper Weaver, and is still ongoing.  No further information is available for release at this time.

This report has been updated.

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Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page has appeared before a grand jury working with special counsel Robert Mueller, the New York Times reported Friday.

“Page was questioned by the FBI earlier this year and has also appeared before the grand jury as part of the special counsel’s inquiry,” the Times noted, in a report on Page acknowledging that he met with a senior Russian government official during a trip to Russia in July 2016.

Mueller’s team has kept a tight lid on leaks, and news of individuals’ appearances before a grand jury being used for his investigation is rare. The Times did not specify when Page appeared before the grand jury.

Paul Manafort’s spokesperson testified before Muller’s grand jury roughly six weeks before the a 12-count indictment against him and his deputy, Rick Gates, was unsealed.

Manafort’s real estate agent, Wayne Holland, confirmed to Politico, in a report published Oct. 27, that he had appeared before Mueller’s grand jury the previous week. On Oct. 30, CNN first reported that Mueller’s grand jury had filed the charges later revealed to be those against Manafort and Gates.

Reuters reported in August, citing two unnamed sources, that the grand jury had issued subpoenas in connection with the June 2016 meeting Donald Trump Jr. had hosted in Trump Tower, which was attended by several senior campaign aides and Russian lobbyists.

The Financial Times reported later in the month that one Russian lobbyist who attended the meeting, Rinat Akhmetshin, testified before Mueller’s grand jury for several hours on Aug. 11.

And NBC News reported on Tuesday that former Trump campaign aide Sam Clovis, who recently stepped aside from his nomination to be the USDA’s chief scientist, was questioned by Mueller’s grand jury sometime last week. The news reportedly caught the White House off guard.

Clovis, according to court documents and various reports, spoke to former Trump campaign aide George Papadapoulos in emails about the latter’s proposals to bring together Trump campaign officials and Russian government officials. Papadopoulos, according to court records unsealed Monday, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about those proposals.

Mueller’s investigation also encompasses at least one other grand jury: A grand jury located in Virginia had pre-dated his appointment as special counsel, and was concerned with potential lobbying violations by Manafort and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. It has since been incorporated into his work as special counsel.

Recently, reports emerged that two lobbyists who worked with Manafort on his work promoting the interests of pro-Russian Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych were being investigated by a grand jury: Democrat Tony Podesta — the brother of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman — and former Republican congressman Vin Weber, worked with a non-profit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine.

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President Donald Trump’s former longtime bodyguard will face questions from congressional investigators next week about a 2013 trip both men took to Moscow, the Washington Post reported Friday.

Keith Schiller, once Trump’s body man in the White House and the longtime director of security for the Trump Organization, traveled with Trump to Moscow in 2013 for the Miss Universe pageant.

According to unnamed people familiar with the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation, the Washington Post reported, the committee has called for Schiller to appear for an interview Tuesday and question him about allegations included in a dossier created by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele.

Steele produced the dossier for Fusion GPS, a research firm previously hired by the conservative news website Free Beacon that was at the time working for the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC.

Among the dossier’s many claims is that Russian officials obtained compromising information on Trump during his 2013 trip, including that he allegedly hired prostitutes and brought them to his Moscow hotel room.

According to the Post, Schiller’s role in personally delivering former FBI Director James Comey’s termination letter is of interest to the committee, as well.

An unnamed U.S. official “familiar with the inquiry” told the Post, referring to Schiller: “He can expect to be asked about any interaction with Russians, with or without Trump.”

Ty Cobb, the lawyer overseeing the Trump White House’s response to the Russia investigation, told the Post: “[T]he White House is delighted that Mr. Schiller will have an opportunity to shed some light on these scandalous allegations, and we are sure that his testimony will be of great interest to all fair-minded people.”

The Post noted that Trump told the New York Times in July, referring to Schiller’s reaction to the dossier’s claims: “He said, ‘What kind of crap is this?’ I went there for one day for the Miss Universe contest, I turned around, I went back.”

Before Schiller left the White House in September, he was closely involved in Trump’s campaign and administrative operations.

Schiller escorted, physically, Univision journalist Jorge Ramos from a press conference after Ramos insisted he had a right to ask Trump about his immigration enforcement agenda. (“I didn’t escort him out. You’ll have to talk to security. Whoever security is escorted him out,” Trump said of his bodyguard of 18 years following the incident.)

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