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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

Conservative broadcaster Rush Limbaugh seems to have abandoned his plans to ride out Hurricane Irma at his Palm Beach home, where he records his radio show, after originally downplaying the risk of the storm as the product of a giant conspiracy.

Irma is currently grazing by Cuba, possibly on its way to make landfall on Limbaugh’s doorstep, though forecasts still provide for a wide variety of possibilities. The National Hurricane Center’s 11 a.m. ET advisory Friday placed all of coastal South Florida in hurricane and storm surge warnings.

More than 100,000 Palm Beach residents were ordered to evacuate as of Friday at 10 a.m., the Miami Herald reported, including President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club. The uber-wealthy area hosts a gaggle of conservative celebrities’ homes.

On Tuesday, Limbaugh said that he wasn’t a meteorologist, but rather the “go-to-guy” in his circles for hurricane advice. He painted the storm’s early forecasts as a grand conspiracy between local retailers and media, meteorologists and public officials hungry to sell the public on the reality of climate change.

“Because you have people in all of these government areas who believe man is causing climate change, and they’re hell-bent on proving it, they’re hell-bent on demonstrating it, they’re hell-bent on persuading people of it,” he said of the latter group.

He added later: “Another thing I’ve found, folks, these storms, once they actually hit, are never as strong as they’re reported.”

“My point to you is, folks, that even though we are all here, we at the EIB Network are all in the crosshairs, we have that bull’s-eye painted, we’re going to be devoted the usual 125% of this program to you,” he said near the segment’s conclusion.

Some in the community were excited at the prospect. Frank Cerabino of the Palm Beach Post optioned a “pay-per-view event”: “I’m guessing that even those Americans who can’t stomach Limbaugh’s show under normal circumstances would pay to listen to his Hurricane Irma live broadcast.”

“The Irma/Limbaugh bout could be promoted as an epic battle between two mighty winds,” he wrote.

But three days later, the shock jock changed his tune. Limbaugh announced Thursday that he would be off-air the following day. “I’m not going to get into details, because of the security nature of things, but it turns out that we will not be able to do the program here tomorrow,” he said. “We’ll be on the air next week, folks, from parts unknown.”

ThinkProgress captured the audio:

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) joined the chorus of Republican criticism of President Donald Trump on Friday for the President’s dealmaking with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Trump unexpectedly acceded to the Democrats’ demands, committing on Wednesday to signing a short-term bill raising the debt ceiling, as well as a government funding bill and funds for hurricane relief.

Amash said the deal “proves not much has changed in Washington.”

The libertarian-minded congressman was one of three Republicans in that chamber to vote against the Hurricane Harvey relief package. Defending his vote against hurricane relief, Amash said “We should pay for it now instead of billing our children and grandchildren for it.”

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said Thursday that talking about climate change while a hurricane sliced through the Caribbean on its way to Florida was “very, very insensitive” to the people of Florida.

“Here’s the issue,” Scott Pruitt told CNN. “To have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm; versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced.”

“[T]o discuss the cause and effect of these storms, there’s the… place (and time) to do that, it’s not now,” he said.

Pruitt, the fossil fuel-friendly EPA administrator who sued the agency more than a dozen times before leading it, similarly said in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey’s landfall in Texas that it was “opportunistic” and “misplaced” to talk about climate change.

He added to CNN: “Congress should address that at some point. And Congress hasn’t. All I’m saying to you is, to use time and effort to address it at this point is very, very insensitive to this [sic] people in Florida.”

Still, though Pruitt doesn’t want to talk about climate change, his agency, and the Trump administration as a whole, has been proactive in slashing programs meant to address it.

Trump on June 1 announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, making the second largest carbon dioxide emitter in the world one of only three countries not signed on to the agreement.

And Trump effectively squashed the Clean Power Plan, the keystone environmental regulation of the Obama presidency, among a slew of other ignored or eliminated regulations.

Trump — who has called the concept of climate change a “hoax” meant to disadvantage the United States economically — and Pruitt aren’t alone in ignoring climate science.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s Department of Environmental Protection banned its official from using the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in official communications, the Miami Herald reported in 2015.

Several federal agencies have similarly suppressed information about climate change, according to InsideClimate News and other outlets.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) expressed confusion Thursday at a deal struck between Democratic congressional leaders and President Donald Trump.

On Wednesday, in a meeting between Trump and congressional leaders of both sides, the President unexpectedly agreed to sign a three-month debt ceiling bill — rather than a much longer-term one — in addition to hurricane relief and a government-funding bill.

Trump also hinted that he was interested in permanently ending the debt ceiling — anathema to conservative principles — and tweeted on Thursday that DACA recipients had “nothing to worry about” for the next six months, fulfilling a request by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

“Haven’t seen anything like it before,” McCain told the Washington Post of the dealings.

He added, referring to Trump: “I have no way of divining his motives. I’m a pretty intelligent guy, but I don’t understand this.”

Another Republican, the conservative congressman Dave Brat (R-VA), put it another way Thursday. “The swamp is in full control as far as we’re all concerned,” he said.

Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) said Thursday that, eight months into Donald Trump’s presidency, “the swamp is in full control.”

Brat, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, made the comment to MSNBC’s Chuck Todd by way of expressing his frustration at Trump’s recent dealing with congressional Democrats. Bending to their demands on Wednesday, Trump agreed to sign a short-term debt ceiling increase bundled together with hurricane relief and a government funding bill. Republicans were incensed.

Brat said of the deal: “We obviously don’t like the Dec. 15 date. I think everybody in the whole country knows when you have a fiscal cliff and a huge budget deal and the kitchen sink being thrown in by both sides over the last 10 years, nothing good comes of it in terms of fiscal responsibility.”

“In May you said something interesting,” Todd told Brat later in the interview. “You said this to the President: ‘He’s learning the politics up here.’ Well, what do you think he’s learned now?”

“The swamp is in full control as far as we’re all concerned, right?” Brat replied.

“Is the President part of the swamp now?” Todd asked. “Is that what you believe?”

“No, he couldn’t get what he wanted done,” Brat explained. “All of us Republicans ran on repealing Obamacare. We promised it for seven years, voted on if for 50 times and it didn’t happen.”

Trump’s relationship with Republican leadership in Congress has reportedly soured in recent months, a product of his frustration at slow-moving Republican legislative priorities. He pledged during the 2016 to “drain the swamp” of Washington, D.C., though his own administration has been a tangled web of ethics violations. 

“So you don’t blame him for being frustrated and saying ‘Why should I trust the Republican leadership, they couldn’t deliver, so I’m going to work with these guys?’” Todd asked.

“No, I wouldn’t go that far, but I’m saying the swamp is winning,” Brat said.

Later in the interview, the congressman emphasized one thing that would win Republicans back to Trump’s side: Changing the tax code. For Trump and nearly every Republican in Congress, top on the list of “reforms” is slashing top corporate tax rates.

“If we get taxes through, everyone is going to be happy again,” Brat said. “America is great again and everyone will be happy.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller has approached the White House regarding interviews with individuals who were aboard Air Force One when staff drew up a misleading statement on the meeting Donald Trump Jr. had with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, CNN reported Thursday.

CNN cited three unnamed sources familiar with the conversations between Mueller’s team and the White House.

Trump Jr. originally claimed the June 2016 meeting, which was attended by a mix of Trump campaign officials and individuals with ties to Russia, concerned adoption policy. Eventually, emails he released over Twitter showed Trump Jr. agreed to the meeting after being told there was damaging information about Hillary Clinton to be had as a part of a Russian government effort to help his father’s campaign.

Trump Jr. told Senate investigators in a prepared statement Thursday that he had accepted the meeting over his concern about “the fitness, character or qualifications of a presidential candidate,” namely Hillary Clinton. He spoke with investigators with the Senate Judiciary Committee for roughly five hours.

The Washington Post previously reported that, on a flight home from the G20 summit, the President “personally dictated” the misleading statement. According to the Post, Trump’s intervention derailed what was otherwise an attempt to get ahead of the story with a statement that was truthful and couldn’t be repudiated later.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said last month that President Donald Trump had “weighed in as any father would” on his son’s original, misleading statement that the meeting was about adoption. That raised flags about potential obstruction of justice.

CNN reported that two of the sources said Mueller wanted to know “how the statement aboard Air Force One was put together, whether information was intentionally left out and who was involved.”

President Donald Trump said Thursday that “certainly, we’re being hit with a lot of hurricanes,” as Hurricane Irma made its way through the Caribbean on the likely path to make landfall in Florida.

“Are you concerned, Mr. President, that FEMA may be spread too thin right now?” a reporter asked Trump as the President sat next to the amir of Kuwait. The Federal Emergency Management Agency coordinates the government’s disaster response.

“Well FEMA is doing an incredible job, as you all know,” Trump responded. “I mean, you’ve been reporting it. You’ve seen how incredible they are. And there’s a great bravery to what they’re doing.”

“But certainly we’re being hit with a lot of hurricanes,” he added. “We’ve never had a thing like this where you get hit with Harvey, which was about as bad as it gets, certainly from the standpoint of a water dump, and then you get hit with Irma, and there’s one right behind Irma. I guess you probably know, but a smaller one, but nevertheless right behind.”

He also tipped his hat to the Coast Guard.

Trump summarized Irma’s path through the United States’ territories in the Caribbean, saying it “could have been far worse” for Puerto Rico, and that the island “really escaped the brunt” of the storm. The U.S. Virgin Islands, he said, “got hit very hard. Very, very hard.”

“We have people right now on the Virgin Islands, and we’ll see how that is, but it’s been hit very, very hard,” he said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) took credit Thursday for a tweet from President Donald Trump that DACA recipients had “nothing to worry about” for the next six months.

Trump ended DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, on Tuesday, and applications for work permits under the program ceased to be accepted the following day. However, current DACA recipients with permits expiring by March 5, 2018 can apply for an extension before Oct. 5 of this year. Those with permits expiring after March 5 cannot.

In a press briefing, Pelosi confirmed reports that she had spoken with Trump Thursday morning, and said she had asked the President to put DACA recipients’ minds at ease, at least for the next six months. She also expressed optimism that Congress would be able to assemble legislation protecting DACA recipients during that time.

“Some of the concerns that people had when it came out is, ‘Well, he said six months,’” she said, referring to Trump’s six-month delay before the first DACA recipients are eligible for deportation. “And these people are being fearful that it said, ‘Pack up, because you’re out of here in six months,’ not, ‘We have six months and we’re going to pass a bill, so take comfort.’”

“So that’s what I said to him when he called this morning,” she continued, paraphrasing the conversation: “‘People really need a re-assurance from you, Mr. President, that the six-month period is not a period of round up, but that DACA is frozen and these people will not be vulnerable.’”

Pelosi used a colorful phrase to describe the timeline leading up to the tweet:

She said separately, concerning potential legislation to allow DACA recipients to stay in the country lawfully: “I am praying that the President really cares about the Dreamers, or knows that he should care about the Dreamers, and that we’re going to pass this bill.”

“Dreamers” generally refers to young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

“We want to do it as soon as possible, to strike while the iron is hot, because public opinion is so much in favor,” she added. “The faith-based community, the business community, people who care about America are all weighing in on this.”

Pelosi added that Trump had told her he would sign into law the DREAM Act, which was first introduced in Congress in 2001 and offers a path to legal status for young undocumented immigrants.

“The President said he would — he supports that,” she said. “He would sign it.”

Watch below via CBS News:

President Donald Trump said Thursday that young undocumented immigrants currently protected by DACA had “nothing to worry about” during the six months before the program’s protections ended.

On Tuesday, Trump formally ended DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The program allowed undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to apply for work permits, giving them the ability to live out of the shadows without immediate fear of deportation.

Though the program ceased accepting new applications on Wednesday, holders of current DACA permits expiring before March 5, 2018 can apply for a two-year extension before Oct. 5. Those with permits expiring after March 5 will be eligible for deportation as soon as the following day.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed after Trump ended the program that immigration agents would not prioritize DACA recipients for deportation once their permits expire. But she refused to say outright that they would not be deported. A DHS official speaking on background to reporters Tuesday said former DACA recipients would be “amenable to removal.”

Trump has sent mixed messages about DACA. After ending the program, he urged Congress to legislate it permanently. But Sanders told reporters that the White House wanted any legislation affecting DACA recipients to also include increases in border security, and possibly restrictions on legal immigration. And it’s far from likely that both Republican-controlled chambers of Congress settle on legislation Trump agrees to sign into law.

This post has been updated.

Russian President Vladimir Putin joked Thursday that American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had “fallen in with the wrong company” since being awarded Russia’s “Order of Friendship” in 2013.

Tillerson, who served as chief executive of ExxonMobil for ten years before accepting the job leading Trump’s State Department, had extensive business experience in Russia over the past three decades.

He was given the award, according to the Kremlin, for his “big contribution to developing cooperation in the energy sector.” Specifically, he received it after Exxon expanded a deal with the majority Russian-government-owned energy company Rosneft. 

On Thursday, according to a translation from Reuters, Putin joked to a U.S. citizen at an economic forum that he regretted the award.

“We awarded your compatriot Mr. Tillerson the Order of Friendship, but he seems to have fallen in with the wrong company and to be steering in the other direction,” he said, adding: “I hope that the wind of cooperation, friendship and reciprocity will eventually put him on the right path.”

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