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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

Two Democratic congressmen introduced an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Wednesday, marking the first formal effort to oust the President for high crimes and misdemeanors.

[T]he Constitution does not provide for the removal of a President for impulsive, ignorant incompetence,” Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) said in a statement on his website Wednesday. “It does provide for the removal of a President for High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

The effort is extremely unlikely to make it very far in the Republican-controlled Congress.

The article, co-sponsored by Rep. Al Green (D-TX), accuses Trump of seeking “to use his authority to hinder and cause the termination” of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, “including through threatening, and then terminating, James Comey.”

Sherman cites Trump’s admission on national television that he fired the FBI director over the Russia investigation, and Trump’s reported comment to a Russian delegation at the White House the day following the firing that he felt relieved.

“As the investigations move forward, additional evidence supporting additional Articles of Impeachment may emerge,” Sherman continued in his statement. “However, as to Obstruction of Justice, as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 1512 (b)(3), the evidence we have is sufficient to move forward now.  And the national interest requires that we do so.”

18 U.S.C. § 1512 (b)(3) concerns efforts to use “intimidation, threatens, or corruptly persuades another person, or attempts to do so, or engages in misleading conduct toward another person, with intent to […] hinder, delay, or prevent the communication to a law enforcement officer or judge of the United States of information relating to the commission or possible commission of a Federal offense or a violation of conditions of probation supervised release, parole, or release pending judicial proceedings.”

The Hill reported in June that Sherman’s draft article of impeachment had riled his fellow House Democrats, some of whom said in a caucus-wide meeting that it had come too early to be fully supported by the facts.

The State Department spent more than $15,000 at Trump International Hotel & Tower in Vancouver in February when the hotel staged a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by members of the Trump family, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The Post obtained the payment information via a Freedom of Information Act request, and reported that it was the first evidence of State Department payments to a Trump-branded property during the current administration. The Trump Organization does not own the hotel, but rather has a management and licensing deal with its owner.

In a financial disclosure released in June, Trump said he received “over $5,000,000” (pp. 30) in royalties from the project.

The Post noted that Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, who are running the President’s real estate business while President Trump is in office, attended the hotel’s ribbon-cutting on Feb. 28, as did Tiffany Trump.

The Post noted that the elder Trump brothers have traveled the globe in their roles leading the Trump Organization, flanked constantly Secret Service protection. The agency has spent tens of thousands of dollars on accommodations, the paper reported.

Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) dodged questions about Republicans’ health care bill on Tuesday, according to video of a tumultuous press conference published by a progressive group.

Poliquin had visited Nason Park Manor, an assisted living facility in Bangor, Maine, to promote his proposal to sell off federally owned buildings in order to fund a one-year cost of living increase for Social Security recipients.

A photo on Poliquin’s website shows him chatting with Nason Park Manor residents.

But video clips from the event posted by the Maine People’s Alliance, a progressive group, show Poliquin dodging questions about his support for the American Health Care Act, House Republicans’ Obamacare repeal bill that would carry with it deep cuts to Medicaid.

“If you’re not a resident, I think that this is just for residents, isn’t that correct?” Poliquin said after being confronted by Valerie Walker, who attended the event to ask the congressman about his support of the AHCA.

“I’ve called your office, and I’d like an answer to my question,” Walker asks the congressman, to no avail.

Poliquin’s office did not respond to TPM’s request for comment about the press conference.

“Representative, my son is not going to have a wonderful summer with a cut in Medicaid,” Walker is heard saying at the end of the event, as Poliquin scurries toward the door.

“Congressman, you promised to take a question from this constituent, would you keep your promise for once?” another voice is heard saying, as the congressman disappears to his car.

Walker told TPM by phone that Poliquin has a habit of ducking tough questions from Mainers.

“He does nothing open to the public,” she said. “We did have a town hall, and he didn’t show up.”

Slate’s Jim Newell described a similar response in May, after asking Poliquin for his thoughts on an earlier version of the AHCA: “He said nothing and made a beeline to the restroom,” Newell wrote. “Unfortunately it was the door to the women’s restroom that he had first run to, so he corrected himself and went into the men’s room. When he emerged several minutes later, he was wearing his earbuds and scurried away.”

The Maine Beacon, the Maine People’s Alliance’s newsletter, noted in its report on Tuesday’s press conference that the room in which it was held, which is managed by the Bangor Housing Authority, is “considered a public space.”

At least one resident of Nason Park, Kathy Record, told the Beacon that she was disappointed in Poliquin’s non-answers to questions.

“He was just being condescending and acting like he was supportive and was trying to say what people wanted to hear even though it was not true, and that’s the message most of the residents in there got,” she added. “We were talking about it before he showed up and we knew that when Poliquin said that he was coming to make an announcement that it was going to be bullshit.”

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Republican operatives close to the White House have begun extensively researching journalists covering Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer, aiming to amplify perceived bias and past mistakes.

Through an intermediary, that lawyer, according to emails published by Trump Jr. before a New York Times exposé on the same correspondence, promised the younger Trump dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to aid Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

In April, Politico cited several unnamed reporters, in addition to a conservative activist who claimed to have spoken to a White House communications staffer, who said unnamed White House sources frequently told reporters untruths.

From the Post’s report Wednesday:

A handful of Republican operatives close to the White House are scrambling to Trump Jr.’s defense and have begun what could be an extensive campaign to try to discredit some of the journalists who have been reporting on the matter.

Their plan, as one member of the team described it, is to research the reporters’ previous work, in some cases going back years, and to exploit any mistakes or perceived biases. They intend to demand corrections, trumpet errors on social media and feed them to conservative outlets, such as Fox News.

According to the Washington Post’s unnamed sources, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus may be on his way out.

According to on-the-record statements given to the Washington Post, the opposite is true.

Citing two unnamed senior White House officials and one unnamed ally close to the White House, the Post reported Wednesday that Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and first lady Melania Trump “have been privately pressing the President to shake up his team — most specifically by replacing Reince Priebus as the White House chief of staff.”

But deputy White House press secretary Lindsay Walters was straightforward to the paper: “These sources have been consistently wrong about Reince, and they’re still wrong today,” she said.

And Josh Raffel, the former Hollywood PR executive hired by Jared Kushner in April as a spokesperson, told the Post that “Jared and Ivanka are focused on working with Reince and the team to advance the President’s agenda and not on pushing for staff changes.”

Stephanie Grisham, communications director for the first lady, said simply that “while she does offer advice and perspectives on many things, Mrs. Trump does not weigh in on West Wing staff.”

The Post’s story came on the heels of a series of damaging New York Times reports, which eventually resulted in Donald Trump Jr. releasing a series of emails Tuesday showing him responding enthusiastically to the promise of dirt on Hillary Clinton provided as part of a Russian government effort to aide his father’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Though Trump Jr. published the emails before the New York Times did, the Post painted a vivid picture of a White House renewing the bitter search for leakers within its ranks.

Read the Post’s full report here.

One-time Republican congressman and frequent presidential cable news foil Joe Scarborough announced Tuesday night that he would leave the GOP.

In an appearance on CBS’ “Late Show” with Stephen Colbert, Scarborough pointed to several of Donald Trump’s actions — his campaign-era Muslim ban proposal, his feigned ignorance of white supremacist David Duke, his attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel due to Curiel’s heritage — that he said the party had failed to confront.

“Time and time and time again, they turn the other way. And they’re doing the same thing now,” he said.

“I am a Republican but I’m not going to be a Republican anymore,” Scarborough said. “I’ve got to become an independent.”

Scarborough and his “Morning Joe” co-host, Mika Brzezinski, have seen ratings spike amid frequent spats — and Twitter flame wars — with the President.

Most recently, the pair appeared to accuse members of Trump’s administration of blackmail after they allegedly urged Scarborough to apologize to Trump for covering him harshly in exchange for Trump asking the National Enquirer to kill a story about the television personalities.

Several Twitter users blocked by President Donald Trump’s @realDonaldTrump account on the website filed suit against him and two top White House aides on Tuesday, arguing that they had been shut out of an essential space for public debate.

President Trump’s Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, has become an important source of news and information about the government, and an important public forum for speech by, to, and about the President,” the suit, filed against Trump, White House press secretary Sean Spicer and White House social media director Dan Scavino, read.

“In an effort to suppress dissent in this forum, Defendants have excluded—‘blocked’—Twitter users who have criticized the President or his policies. This practice is unconstitutional, and this suit seeks to end it.”

The Knight Institute for the First Amendment at Columbia University and seven Twitter users whose accounts Trump has blocked filed the lawsuit. (Their accounts are: @rpbp, @familyunequal, @AynRandPaulRyan, @eugenegu, @BrandonTXNeely, @joepabike and @Pappiness.)

Accounts blocked by @realDonaldTrump cannot read the President’s tweets if they are logged onto the platform.

Nor can they comment on Trump’s tweets while logged on, missing out on a chance to compete for what has quickly become prized real estate for political messaging, whether to mock the President or present a counter-narrative to his public dispatches.

White House officials have repeatedly said that Trump’s tweets represent official statements from the President. Though Trump also has access to an official account — @POTUS, which was created during the Obama administration — he frequently publishes from his @realDonaldTrump account, and the dispatches posted there often appear to be more authentically his own work.

The ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday that emails published earlier in the day by Donald Trump Jr. appeared to show “direct coordination between the Trump campaign and possibly the Russian government itself.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) also urged the committee’s chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to bring Donald Trump Jr. before the committee to answer questions about the emails.

Trump Jr.’s emails showed him responding enthusiastically in June 2016 to a family acquaintance who asked him to meet with a Russian lawyer promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to aide Donald Trump’s campaign.

Republicans on the Judiciary Committee also thought Trump Jr. should answer questions following his publishing of the emails Tuesday.

“I know Donald Trump Jr. is new to politics, I know that Jared Kushner is new to politics, but this is going to require a lot of questions to be asked and answered,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) Tuesday morning. And Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), a member of both the Judiciary Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee, later told reporters that Trump Jr. “will” testify in front of the latter committee.

A spokesperson for Cornyn later told TPM in an email that the senator meant Trump Jr. “should” testify, not necessarily that he will.

Read Feinstein’s full statement below:

What we know so far about these emails is deeply disturbing. They appear to show direct coordination between the Trump campaign and possibly the Russian government itself.

There are still many questions that must be answered. That’s why I’ve urged Chairman Grassley to move quickly—this issue is squarely within the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee and I believe we need to have Donald Trump, Jr., and other individuals come before the committee, in open session, as soon as possible.”

President Donald Trump defended his son on Tuesday amid dramatic revelations that Donald Trump Jr. met in 2016 with a Kremlin-connected lawyer who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to aide Trump’s candidacy.

My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency,” Trump said in a statement that was read by White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders during an off-camera press briefing.

“And beyond that, I’m going to have to refer everything on this matter to Don Jr.’s counsel and outside counsel and won’t have anything else to add beyond that today,” Sanders added.

“Do you know the last time the President spoke with Don Jr.?” a reporter asked later.

“I don’t,” Sanders said.

On Tuesday, just as the New York Times was publishing its own version of the story, Donald Trump Jr. published emails showing that he accepted a meeting in June 2016 with an then-unnamed Russian lawyer — and he brought Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort along — after a family acquaintance promised that the lawyer would share damaging information about Hillary Clinton that was part of a Russian government effort to aide Donald Trump’s campaign.

This post has been updated.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) said Tuesday that Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of a government effort to help Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was “a big no-no.”

The New York Times reported over the weekend that Trump, accompanied by Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, met with the Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016 after promises that she would provide damaging on Hillary Clinton.

On Tuesday, anticipating another New York Times story detailing the communications leading up to the meeting, Donald Trump Jr. released what he said was the full email chain leading to the meeting.

In the emails, family acquaintance Rob Goldstone promised Trump that an unnamed “Russian government attorney” would provide “documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”

The information, Goldstone wrote in the emails, was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

“If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Trump Jr. replied.

Zeldin’s position has changed dramatically since Monday, when he said the story was
“[m]issing too many elements” and “appears to be big nothingburger.”

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