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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

For a brief window Thursday morning, President Donald Trump expressed concern about the scope of the federal government’s warrantless surveillance powers. Trump was, however, mostly concerned about himself.

Nearly two hours later, he re-adopted his administration’s stated position.

At question was Title VII of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), Section 702 of which allows the federal government to surveil foreigners, their communications with Americans, and, as effectively codified in bill under consideration, Americans’ communications with each other about foreign targets.

It would also allow federal investigators to use data collected in the course of this surveillance in the preliminary stages of domestic criminal probes, without a judge’s approval.

Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations about the scope of federal surveillance powers shined a light on the government’s spying authority, including Section 702

Trump’s initial tweet contradicted his own press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who on Wednesday night wrote in a statement that the administration “strongly opposes” the bipartisan “USA Rights” amendment that would restrict Section 702’s authority over Americans’ communications.

“The Administration urges the House to reject this amendment and preserve the useful role FISA’s Section 702 authority plays in protecting American lives,” Sanders wrote.

The Washington Post flagged that Fox & Friends had featured Andrew Napolitano’s commentary on the bill before Trump’s tweet. “It’s a very dangerous program,” Napolitano said. The Post noted that Paul Manafort and Carter Page’s communications were monitored with a FISA court’s approval.

“I don’t understand why Donald Trump is in favor of this,” Napolitano added. “His woes began with unlawful foreign surveillance and unconstitutional domestic surveillance of him, before he was the President of the United States, and now he wants to institutionalize this Mr. President, this is not the way to go.”

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White House adviser Kellyanne Conway made a remarkable claim during a 30-minute sparring match with CNN’s Chris Cuomo Wednesday night.

“Nobody here talks about her. Nobody here talks about Hillary Clinton, I promise you,” she said, referring to the Trump administration.

No matter that Conway had disparaged Clinton a few seconds earlier, during an exchange about the Russia investigation: “The idea that we would have to look any further than Hillary Clinton to beat Hillary Clinton itself is a fantasy,” she said.

More importantly, the Justice Department is reportedly looking into, again, the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server — acquiescing to President Donald Trump’s demands of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and leaving former prosecutors concerned that the highest levels of the justice system have been politicized.

President Donald Trump himself brought Clinton up numerous times during a joint press conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Wednesday, just hours before Conway’s interview with Cuomo.

“When you talk about interviews,” Trump began, asked about a potential interview between him and special counsel Robert Mueller, “Hillary Clinton had an interview where she wasn’t sworn in, she wasn’t given the oath, they didn’t take notes, they didn’t record, and it was done on the Fourth of July weekend.”

(The FBI did take notes, and FBI agents don’t record interviews as a rule. It’s illegal to lie to the FBI whether or not one in sworn in.)

And later: “Hillary was not for a strong military, and Hillary, my opponent, was for windmills and she was for other types of energy that don’t have the same capacities at this moment, certainly.”

Trump tweeted about Clinton after the press conference, too. In fact, he’s done so multiple times in the past week alone, shifting his tens of millions of followers’ attention to his defeated “opponent” more than a year after his electoral victory.

Conway, without much success, tried to spin her remark.

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Fox News’ former chief Washington correspondent, James Rosen, left the network in late December without any public acknowledgement from the network, aside from a one-sentence confirmation to news outlets, nor any celebration of his nearly two decades with Fox News, according to a new report.

NPR reported Wednesday, however, that Rosen had “an established pattern of flirting aggressively with many peers and had made sexual advances toward three female Fox News journalists.” The story cited eight of his former colleagues, without naming them, and detailed three instances in depth, again without naming the colleagues involved.

In the winter of 2001, according to four unnamed colleagues of a female Fox News reporter, Rosen groped the reporter in a cab, grabbing her breast. After she rebuffed him, Rosen “sought to steal away her sources and stories related to his interests in diplomacy and national security,” NPR reported.

Years later, a then-producer for Fox News covering the State Department alleged that Rosen had “directly sexually harassed her,” according to NPR, which cited “several of her former colleagues.” In exchange for her keeping the complaint private, NPR reported, Fox News and the producer, a foreign national, made a deal “that enabled her to extend her stay in the U.S.,” in NPR’s words.

In the spring of 2016, Rosen allegedly tried to kiss a younger colleague in an elevator and then attempted to forcibly kiss her after she refused, two unnamed colleagues of the young reporter told NPR. Rosen then reportedly asked the reporter to stay quiet about the incident and offered her advice for getting on Brett Baier’s nightly show, where he was a regular.

All three women either declined or did not respond to NPR’s request for comment, the outlet reported.

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President Donald Trump on Wednesday danced around a question about what parameters he would set for a potential interview with special counsel Robert Mueller. He eventually said “it seems unlikely that you would even have an interview,” given the his assertion there hadn’t been any collusion between him or his associates and Russia.

During a joint press conference with Trump and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Fox News’ John Roberts asked the President about a potential interview between himself and Mueller, the approach to which, the Washington Post and NBC News reported Monday, is the subject of debate within the President’s legal team.

“Are you open to meeting with him? Would you be willing to meet with him without condition? Or would you demand that a strict set of parameters be placed around any encounter between you and the special counsel?” Roberts asked. 

Trump repeated eight times in his response that no collusion had yet been found between him or his associates and Russia. (Congressional and federal investigators’ probes are ongoing.)

He also highlighted the conditions under which Hillary Clinton was interviewed in July 2016 by the FBI during the bureau’s investigation of her use of a private email server. Trump incorrectly asserted that the FBI agents interviewing Clinton didn’t take notes — they did — and asserted “a lot of people looked upon that as being a very serious breach and it really was.”

After he bobbed and weaved, the President gave his real answer: “We’ll see what happens. Certainly I’ll see what happens. But when they have no collusion and nobody has found any collusion, at any level, it seems unlikely that you would even have an interview.”

Read the latest editor’s brief (Prime access) on this story »

 

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Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) will not seek another term in Congress, he announced Wednesday.

“While my service to California’s 49th District will be coming to an end, I will continue advocating on behalf of the causes that are most important to me, advancing public policy where I believe I can make a true and lasting difference, and continuing the fight to make our incredible nation an even better place to call home,” he said in a statement. (Read Issa’s full statement below.)

The OC Daily first reported the news, citing unnamed sources.

Issa, reportedly the wealthiest member of Congress — except for, possibly, Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) — has served in the House since 2001, and from 2011 to 2015 chaired the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

He’s one of 27 Republican members of the 115th Congress who have either announced their retirement or resigned before their next re-election campaign.

Read Issa’s full statement below:

Two decades ago, when I stepped away from the business I’d built to enter public service, I never could have imagined that a long-shot bid for U.S. Senate would lead to 18 years in the House of Representatives and endless opportunities to make a meaningful impact.

From the first successful recall of a sitting Governor in California history, to establishing new and stronger standards for government accountability, to protecting the Internet from harmful regulation, and enacting the nation’s first open data standards, we attempted and achieved much in the service of our nation.

Together, we put an end to abusive Congressional earmarks, strengthened the Violence Against Women Act, empowered better oversight of the executive branch, and cleared the course for better intellectual property protections to stop the piracy of American ingenuity.

Throughout my service, I worked hard and never lost sight of the people our government is supposed to serve.  Yet with the support of my family, I have decided that I will not seek re-election in California’s 49th District.

I am forever grateful to the people of San Diego, Orange and Riverside counties for their support and affording me the honor of serving them all these years. Most humbling for me — and for anyone who represents this area — has been the special privilege of representing the Marines and Sailors of Camp Pendleton and their families. On countless occasions, and in every corner of the world I met them, I was inspired by their bravery and humbled by their sacrifice to keep us all safe from harm.

Representing you has been the privilege of a lifetime.

While my service to California’s 49th District will be coming to an end, I will continue advocating on behalf of the causes that are most important to me, advancing public policy where I believe I can make a true and lasting difference, and continuing the fight to make our incredible nation an even better place to call home.

This post has been updated. 

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Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, one of four Democrats on President Donald Trump’s disbanded “election integrity” commission, filed for a temporary restraining order Tuesday to preserve his access to information a federal judge previously ruled he was improperly denied, and to deny access to the commission’s findings to the Department of Homeland Security.

Despite a judge’s order in December that the commission — which Trump dissolved earlier this month, citing lawsuits and states’ refusal to hand over voters’ information — must share its records with Dunlap, Justice Department lawyers said last week that Dunlap is not entitled to the records because the commission no longer exists.

Trump started the commission after baselessly claiming that massive voter fraud cost him the popular vote in 2016, and the White House said upon announcing the commission’s dissolution that its findings would be shared with DHS.

The Justice Department said in a court filing Tuesday that the commission would destroy the actual voter data it had collected as part of its data gathering operation, aside from sending it to the National Archives and Records Administration as required by law, CNN reported.

But Dunlap, represented by the group American Oversight and attorneys from Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, said in his filing Tuesday that a restraining order would ensure he was not denied access to other records, and that the Department of Homeland Security was not improperly granted access to them.

Their court filing stipulates that the commission should preserve records relating to “the decision to dissolve the commission,” “the disposition of the Commission data and documents,” and those “regarding the transfer of Commission activities and responsibilities to the Department of Homeland Security or any other agency, person, group, or entity.”

Read the latest editor’s brief (Prime access) on this story »

 

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that the White House had opened up a bipartisan, bicameral meeting on immigration with President Donald Trump to the press because the White House wanted the public to see “how we are working and leading to move the ball down the field to come up with real solutions.”

Beyond that, though, Sanders stayed mum on the concrete results of the meeting, the televised portions of which provided similarly sparse insight into the status of the negotiations.

It was an bizarre scene: For around an hour, cameras rolled as Trump moderated a conversation between Democrats and Republicans from both chambers of Congress on DACA — Trump’s repeal of which has left nearly 800,000 young people at risk of deportation — border security and so-called “chain migration” (this administration’s term for existing family-based advantages for prospective immigrants).

Sanders, in a press briefing, called it a “successful and productive bipartisan and bicameral meeting,” but revealed few details.

“Lucky you” she told a reporter who asked why cameras were allowed to stay running for such a long time.

Whose decision was it to allow the press in to witness that entire negotiation and what was the goal of having us sit there and watch it?” the reporter asked.

“Just to be clear you weren’t there for the entire negotiation, because the deal didn’t take place until after you guys left,” Sanders said.

She continued: “But I think a number of individuals in the room felt it was a good thing to let you see the cooperation and the conversation between both sides and see how we are working and leading to move the ball down the field and come up with real solutions.”

After the bipartisan meeting, before the press briefing, Sanders released a written statement on the “agreement” the lawmakers reached:

President Donald J. Trump just concluded a successful bipartisan and bicameral meeting on immigration reform.  During the closed-door portion of the meeting, they reached an agreement to negotiate legislation that accomplishes critically needed reforms in four high-priority areas: border security, chain migration, the visa lottery, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is scheduled to deliver an on camera press briefing at 2:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Watch live below:

Former Donald Trump campaign manager and definitely-not-a-lobbyist Corey Lewandowski blamed the “deep state” for rejecting a Department of Energy proposal that would have subsidized coal and nuclear power plants, even though a majority of the government commission that unanimously rejected the rule are Trump appointees.

On Monday, all five members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted to shelve the so-called “Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule,” which would have tipped the energy market’s scales in favor of coal and nuclear power plants — and against their solar-, wind- and natural gas-based competitors — due to their ability to store fuel on-site.

Four of the commission’s five members were appointed by President Donald Trump, multiple outlets noted.

The New York Times cited an analysis from Resources for the Future that found that the new rule would have cost electricity end-users $72 billion between 2020 and 2045 (not to mention an estimated $217 billion in environmental damages in that time.) Another estimate from ICF, cited by Politico in November, found it could cost ratepayers $3.8 billion annually through 2030.

And a bipartisan group of eight former FERC commissioners wrote to the commission’s current members in October, urging them to reject the proposal.

But to Lewandowski, the commission’s public decision was actually the result of a deep state insurgency.

Left unsaid: One of Trump’s largest financial backers, and perhaps the loudest advocate in his ear for coal country, Robert Murray, would have benefitted massively from the rule.

Despite Murray’s protestations to Greenwire in November that he “didn’t have any involvement” in drafting the proposal, In These Times published photographs the next month showing Murray at a March meeting with Energy Secretary Rick Perry, handing him a document that the publication’s Kate Aronoff described as “a proposal to alter the policies of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to favor coal plants, as a way to increase ‘grid reliability.’”

The photos, incidentally, also show Perry hugging Murray. The then-Texas governor received more than $100,000 during his 2012 presidential run from Murray Energy donations, the publication noted.

Also left unsaid: An August report from Politico, citing unnamed senior White House officials and records, that Lewandowski advocated for Murray and another coal company’s interests at meetings at the White House and with senior administration officials in the spring and summer of 2017. The coal magnate himself, Politico noted in November, had made “personal pleas for help in face-to-face meeting with Trump and DOE officials, including Perry and Brian McCormack, Perry’s chief of staff.”

That effort — a separate attempt to pressure Trump to declare an emergency to keep certain ailing coal plants open — failed.

But one unnamed senior White House official told the publication, despite Lewandowski’s denials that he worked for either company: “This was entirely a Lewandowski production.”

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John Dickerson, host of CBS’ “Face the Nation” and the network’s chief Washington correspondent, will take ousted host Charlie Rose’s place on “CBS This Morning,” the network confirmed Tuesday.

HuffPost’s Yashar Ali first broke the story, citing three sources familiar with CBS’ decision in his report. Variety also reported the news, citing two unnamed people familiar with the decision.

Dickerson will begin on Jan. 10 and will be based in New York, CBS said. The network did not say whether he would continue hosting “Face the Nation.” Representatives for both shows did not respond to TPM’s requests for comment.

Rose was fired by CBS — and PBS and Bloomberg — in November after several women came forward to the Washington Post with accusations of sexual harassment and unwanted advancements.

Dickerson, who also co-hosts the Slate “Political Gabfest” podcast, took over “Face the Nation” from veteran host Bob Schieffer in 2015.

Update 11:23 a.m.: This post has been updated to include a statement from CBS News. 

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