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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

Steve Bannon told hedge fund managers and investors in Hong Kong Tuesday that he speaks with President Donald Trump every two to three days, contradicting the White House’s own claim, the Wall Street Journal reported,

Bannon’s remarks to the group were relayed by two unnamed people who attended the speech, the Journal reported.

He also claimed to have spoken to Trump for an hour Monday night, the Journal reported.

However, on Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders fielded plenty of questions about the former White House chief strategist, the result of an explosive interview he gave CBS’ Charlie Rose that aired Sunday.

“I know they’ve had one conversation but I don’t think anything beyond that since he left,” Sanders said. Bannon’s last day at the White House was Aug. 18.

Among other things, Bannon told Rose that he feared Trump’s decision to end DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, would lead to a “civil war” within the Republican Party. Sanders said “Steve always likes to speak in kind of — the most extreme measures.”

John Kelly, the relatively new White House chief of staff, is seen by many as a gatekeeper of information and contacts flowing to the President’s desk. If Bannon calls Trump as much as he says he does, it could be seen as undermining Kelly’s authority.

The Washington Post reported on Sept. 1 that Trump “continues to call business friends and outside advisers, including former chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, from his personal phone when Kelly is not around.”

Bannon returned to his post leading the far-right online news outlet Breitbart after leaving the White House.

Though the conservative media entrepreneur long claimed to be a voice of “economic nationalism” within the Trump administration — reportedly referring to others in the White House derogatorily as “globalists” — Bannon struck an extremely conciliatory tone toward China in his Hong Kong address, according to multiple reports.

“There isn’t a world leader he respects more than the [President] of China,” Bannon said, referring to Trump, according to Channel News Asia’s Wei Du.

The praise recalled Trump’s own about-face on China: He pledged during the 2016 campaign to label the country a currency manipulator, despite the fact that the country had long ceased artificially devaluing its currency. In April 2017, the President said “they’re not currency manipulators,” and cited North Korea as a potential area of cooperation with which such a label could interfere.

President Donald Trump lashed out at “people writing books and major articles about me” on Tuesday. Some speculated it was a jab at NBC’s Katy Tur, who had promoted her new book on the 2016 campaign earlier in the morning.

Tur’s book recounting her time covering Trump on the 2016 campaign trail, “Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History,” was released Tuesday. The book pays special attention to Trump’s attacks on the press, including his singling her out specifically.

In an essay for Marie Claire in August 2016, Tur recalled being called out by Trump at a packed rally in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. “It wasn’t until hours later, when Secret Service took the extraordinary step of walking me to my car, that the incident sank in,” she wrote.

She told NBC’s Matt Lauer Tuesday on “Today,” referring to Trump’s alternating tactics of attack and flattery: “It was like a rollercoaster, and you just had to put it aside and continue doing your job.”

“When he realized that his charm wasn’t going to change my reporting, he would go on the attack,” she added.

For some, Trump’s tweet recalled that same method, though this time he did not name Tur.

Hope Hicks, a longtime aide to President Donald Trump, has been named the White House’s permanent communications director, Bloomberg first reported Tuesday.

Multiple outlets later confirmed the move with the White House.

Bloomberg noted: “She’s viewed by staff as a strong leader because she is one of the president’s most trusted aides and therefore secure in her standing.”

Hicks took the position on an interim basis in mid-August after Anthony Scaramucci left the White House. Before Scaramucci, Sean Spicer and Mike Dubke filled the role.

A close aide to Trump who has been known to take dictations of his tweets, Hicks has outlasted many higher-profile aides, such as Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka. She started as a PR staffer for Ivanka Trump years ago, before eventually working for Donald Trump.

On Friday, Politico reported that Hicks had retained a personal attorney amid reports that special counsel Robert Mueller would seek to interview her as part of his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

This post has been updated.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly on Monday responded to a Democratic congressman who said he was a “disgrace to the uniform” after President Donald Trump announced the end of the DACA program.

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) wrote after Trump announced the end of DACA on Sept. 5 that “General Kelly, when he was the head of Homeland Security, lied straight to the faces of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus about preventing the mass deportation of DREAMers. Now as Chief of Staff, this former general is executing the plan to take away their lifeline and taking steps to criminalize young people who live and work here legally. General Kelly is a hypocrite who is a disgrace to the uniform he used to wear.”

Kelly responded late Sunday in an email to Fox News, the network reported.

“As far as the congressman and other irresponsible members of congress are concerned, they have the luxury of saying what they want as they do nothing and have almost no responsibility,” Kelly wrote, referring to Gutiérrez’s statement. “They can call people liars but it would be inappropriate for me to say the same thing back at them. As my blessed mother used to say ‘empty barrels make the most noise.’”

“The congressman has a right to his opinion,” he said.

Kelly also argued that “Every DOJ and DHS lawyer says DACA is unconstitutional,” and that “Trump didn’t end DACA, the law did,” perhaps referring to a threat from multiple Republican attorneys general to include DACA into a larger lawsuit against the government.

Gutierrez spokesperson Douglas Rivlin didn’t appreciate the response.

“[S]o far we have seen no courage to fight for DREAMers from the President or his Chief of Staff,” he said, according to Fox News. “There is a clear majority in the House today to support measures to defend DACA recipients, but Republicans need to choose whether they want to let that happen or not. So far, the answer is not.”

Gutiérrez is one of the House’s strongest advocates for undocumented immigrants. On Aug. 15, he was arrested at a pro-DACA, pro-Temporary Protected Status rally.

In his statement after Trump ended DACA, Gutiérrez seemed to be referring to a July meeting between Kelly — who then led the Department Homeland Security — and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. At the time, the congressman was similarly critical of Kelly for not exercising his authority to prevent deportations.

“He either does not understand his authority under current law or was stonewalling or doing a very convincing job of playing dumb – or maybe some combination of the three,” Gutiérrez wrote in July.

Kelly has said before that Congress should act to protect undocumented immigrants.

“If lawmakers do not like the laws they’ve passed and we are charged to enforce, then they should have the courage and skill to change the laws. Otherwise they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines,” he said in a speech in April.

Congress has acted on the issue multiple times in recent years — though never with sufficient support to reach the President’s desk. 

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that she didn’t agree with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s assessment that the fight over DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, would lead to a “civil war” within the Republican Party. She said of the prediction that Bannon likes to speak in “extreme measures.” 

I’m worried about losing the House now because of this — of — because of DACA,” Bannon told Charlie Rose in an interview aired Sunday night, adding: “If this goes all the way down to its logical conclusion, in February and March it will be a civil war inside the Republican Party that will be every bit as vitriolic as 2013.

Trump instructed the Department of Homeland Security to cease accepting new DACA applications on Sept. 5. The program protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation, granting them work permits and allowing access to things like drivers licenses and bank accounts. The President delayed the first expiration of DACA permits for six months, and has called on Congress to “legalize DACA,” though it’s unclear Congress will pass any legislation.

“Steve always likes to speak in kind of — the most extreme measures,” Sanders said at a press briefing Monday, asked about Bannon’s remarks. “I’m not sure that I agree with that.”

But, asked if Trump would sign into law the DREAM Act — whose legislative details echo the DACA program, which former President Barack Obama eventually enacted with an executive action — Sanders said Trump wanted more.

“The President and the administration are looking at responsible immigration reform, and part of that would be part of that process,” Sanders said, referring to the DREAM Act. “But we want to do something that addresses a multitude of issues.”

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have filed an amendment to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act to delay implementation of the ban ordered by President Donald Trump of transgender people serving in the military, the Hill reported Monday.

The publication reported that the amendment would delay implementation of the ban until Spring 2018, 60 days after Secretary of Defense James Mattis is scheduled to conclude his review of some aspects of Trump’s decision.

Details of the amendment are unclear — neither Gillibrand’s nor Collins’ office responded to TPM’s requests for comment. Rachel Hoff, communications director for the Senate Armed Services Committee, told TPM in an email: “We are not commenting on amendments at this stage.”

In July, Trump tweeted that “the United States Government will not accept or allow […] Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” However, the order was only formally accepted by military leadership a month later, when it was issued in non-tweet form.

Trump ordered the military to cease accepting openly transgender people for service, and to stop paying for medical procedures related to gender transition. However, he allowed Mattis some leeway to evaluate how to treat currently serving transgender troops, who were allowed to serve openly near the end of the Obama administration.

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Gillibrand and Collins’ amendment would “try to protect the transgender troops.” On Saturday, it characterized the amendment as an attempt to “roll back” and “counter” Trump’s order.

On Friday, the Washington Examiner reported that the amendment “would force the Pentagon to complete a six-month study on transgender recruiting that it has shelved before it makes any personnel policy changes.”

Still, an unnamed Capitol Hill source told the Washington Blade the same day that “a determination on content of the amendment hasn’t been made final, although the more modest proposal to reverse the Trump ban seems more likely as opposed to a military civil rights bill.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the chief legislator responsible for the massive military planning and spending bill, told the Post Saturday of the amendment that “right now it’s not necessary.”

Gillibrand promised on Aug. 24 that she would introduce legislation to counter the ban.

McCain and Collins were among the many Republican lawmakers who objected to the nature or content of Trump’s ban, especially that it interrupted the military’s own study of transgender troops.

President Donald Trump marked the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks at the Pentagon on Monday, memorializing those who lost their lives and pledging to terrorist groups targeting Americans that there is “nowhere to hide anywhere on this very large Earth.”

“We are gathered here today to remember a morning that started very much like this one,” Trump said. “Parents dropped off their children at school, travelers stood in line at airports getting ready to board flights. Here at the Pentagon and at offices all across the country, people began their early meetings. Then our whole world changed.”

Trump, flanked by Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Defense Secretary James Mattis and first lady Melania Trump, spent much of the address memorializing the civilians and the first responders who lost their lives on the morning of the attacks, and celebrating those who joined the military following them.

He also characterized what he called “the depths of the evil we face.”

“The terrorists who attacked us thought they could incite fear and weaken our spirit,” he said later. “But America cannot be intimidated. And those who try will soon join the long list of vanquished enemies who dared to test our mettle.”

“American forces are relentlessly pursuing and destroying the enemies all civilized people, ensuring — and these are horrible, horrible enemies, enemies like we have never seen before,” he added later. “But we’re ensuring that they never again have a safe haven to launch attacks against our country. We are making plain to these savage killers that there is no dark corner beyond our reach, no sanctuary beyond our grasp and nowhere to hide anywhere on this very large Earth.”

The President highlighted the service of Pentagon police officer Isaac Hoopii, who responded 16 years ago to the attack on that building and was in attendance on Monday.

“To Isaac and to every first responder and survivor of the attack, you carry on the legacy of the friends you lost, you keep alive the memory of those who perished and you make America proud, very, very proud,” Trump said.

“Here at this memorial, with hearts both sad and determined, we honor every hero who keeps us safe and free,” he concluded. “And we pledge to work together, to fight together and to overcome together every enemy and obstacle that’s ever in our path.”

“Fox News Specialists” co-host Eric Bolling has left the network a month after he was suspended following allegations that he sent unsolicited lewd photographs to colleagues.

The Huffington Post, which also broke the story of the allegations against him, first reported the ouster Friday.

Bolling’s show will be cancelled, a Fox News spokesperson confirmed to TPM.

“Fox News Channel is canceling The Specialists, and Eric Bolling and Fox have agreed to part ways amicably,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “We thank Eric for his ten years of service to our loyal viewers and wish him the best of luck.”

After Bolling was suspended in August, he sued the journalist who broke the story of the lewd photographs, Yashar Ali, for defamation. He demanded $50 million in damages, according to Ali.

Notably, Bolling sued Ali, who is a freelance journalist, rather than the Huffington Post.

On Friday, after reporting on Bolling’s departure from Fox News, Ali said he did not know the status of the defamation suit. If it went forward, he said, “I look forward to depo/discovery,” using the shorthand for “deposition.”

Fox Business Network confirmed to TPM Friday that another host, Charles Payne, would be returning to air following a two month internal investigation into a claim of sexual harassment made against him by a guest analyst on the network.

A spokesperson for Fox Business did not respond to a request to confirm that the investigation had cleared Payne’s name of any wrongdoing, though.

Fox Business host Charles Payne will return to the airwaves two months after an investigation began into a sexual harassment allegation made against him, a spokesperson for the network confirmed to TPM on Friday.

The Los Angeles Times, which also first broke the story of Payne’s suspension, first reported news of the host’s return.

The Fox Business spokesperson confirmed the Times’ reporting to TPM. The paper reported that the company’s review of Payne was complete and that he was returning to his job.

The Times reported that the course of events “seems to indicate that he has been cleared,” referring to Payne. However, the Fox spokesperson did not respond to TPM’s request to confirm that point.

In July, news broke that a guest contributor to Fox News and Fox Business made a complaint against Payne to the law firm tasked with conducting an internal investigation into a slew of sexual harassment claims made against Fox News employees, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

Prior to Payne’s suspension, he admitted to the National Enquirer that he had a three-year “romantic relationship” with an analyst who appeared as a guest on Fox Business, the Times noted in July.

But Payne denied any allegations of harassment.  “That is an ugly lie I vehemently deny to my core,” he said on Twitter at the time. “There is a mountain of proof that also proves its a lie.”

Sexual harassment allegations have rocked Fox News over the past year, leading to the ousters of the late network chairman Roger Ailes, flagship on-air personality Bill O’Reilly and co-president Bill Shine.

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