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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

Tierney Sneed contributed reporting.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said Tuesday that Donald Trump Jr. would testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee following his release of emails in which a family acquaintance promised dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of the Russian government’s effort to help his father’s presidential campaign.

“What is your reaction to the emails that Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out,” one reporter in a scrum asked Cornyn.

“I don’t really have a direct comment,” the senator replied.

“Would you like to see Donald Trump Jr. testify?” another reporter asked Cornyn later.

“He will,” Cornyn replied, specifying that Trump would appear in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

A spokesperson for Cornyn later noted to TPM in an email that “he meant [Donald J. Trump Jr.] should testify,” and not necessarily that he will testify. “This is not any kind of announcement from the Committee. He said same thing yesterday on Fox,” the spokesperson noted, referring to an interview Cornyn gave Fox News Monday afternoon.

Just before Cornyn’s comments Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr. published what he said was the entire email chain leading up to his meeting with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer, along with Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, following a family acquaintance telling him the lawyer had damaging information on Clinton as part of a government effort. Trump published the emails just as the New York Times published its own story on the correspondence. 

On Monday, another member of the committee, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), said it “needs to interview him and others who attended the meeting,” referring to Trump, after earlier New York Times reporting on the June 9, 2016 gathering in Trump Tower.

And on Tuesday, before Trump published the emails, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said of the story: “It’s certainly another shoe that’s dropped that needs to be pursued and looked at.”

This post has been updated.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Tuesday dodged questions about President Trump’s Russia policies in the wake of reports that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer after being promised dirt on Hillary Clinton in June 2016.

“Washington is obsessed right now,” Cruz told reporters. “It is the Democratic talking point du jour. But when I go back to Texas, nobody asks about Russia. You know, I held town halls all over the state of Texas. You know how many questions I got on Russia? Zero.”

It was unclear if Cruz was speaking before or after Donald Trump Jr. published on Twitter what he claimed was the full email chain that led to his meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. In the emails, family acquaintance Rob Goldstone told Trump that the promised information was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

“It’s just worth keeping in mind the absolute disconnect between the obsession of the Washington media and where the American people are— ” Cruz began. 

“You’re not concerned about possible collusion or coordination with Russian officials and Trump officials?” CNN’s Manu Raju asked. “The Russians interfered with the election and that’s the intelligence community— ”

“You’re being very persistent and I suppose that’s your job,” Cruz responded. “But let me point out the American people want the President to succeed.”

Still, reporters persisted.

“Is Russia an enemy of the United States?” MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt asked.

“Russia is a significant adversary,” Cruz began. “Putin is a KGB thug— ”

“Do you think that Trump is treating them that way?” Hunt interjected.

Cruz repeatedly avoided answering the question, speaking instead about the Obama administration.

“I think that we have had eight years of Barack Obama showing nothing but appeasement towards Russia— ”

“President Trump is not appeasing Russia?” Hunt asked.

“Actually, if you look on substance, part of the irony of this media obsession with Russia, is that the Obama administration began with Hillary Clinton bringing a big red reset button to Russia, saying they were going to reset the relationship with Russia, so she and Obama were going to be friends with the Russians,” Cruz said. “That’s how they began.”

“President Trump is trying to water down a sanctions bill you voted for,” Hunt interjected, referring to the a sanctions bill that received near unanimous support in the Senate recently.  

“The policies of the Obama administration were constant weakness and appeasement,” Cruz again, before praising the Trump administration for its “intention to go forward with placing anti-ballistic missile batteries in Poland in the Czech Republic.” 

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said Tuesday that Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer was “many more shoes that will drop.”

In June 2016, Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer amid promises that she would provide compromising information about Hillary Clinton. On Monday evening, the New York Times reported that the promised info was part of a Russian government effort to aide his father’s presidential campaign

“Many allusions and many stories of meetings and communications and stuff, yeah, so there’ll be many more shoes that will drop,” McCain told CNN’s Manu Raju in an on-camera interview.

“How serious do you think this particular shoe is?” Raju asked, referring to Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya after being promised dirt on Clinton that was reportedly part of a Russian government effort.

“I don’t know. But it’s certainly another shoe that’s dropped that needs to be pursued and looked at,” McCain said.

McCain has said as much before. On May 16, a week after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, he told the International Republican Institute: “It’s of Watergate size and scale,” referring to the scandals roiling the White House, adding, “it’s the centipede that the shoe continues to drop. Every couple of days, there’s a new aspect of this really unhappy situation.”

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) said Monday evening that he would have done the same as Donald Trump Jr. in meeting with a Russian lawyer offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Do I think it’s appropriate? I think I probably would have done the same thing,” Yoho told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “I mean, it’s opposition research. Anybody that’s been in an election, you’re always looking to get the upper hand.”

Yoho added separately, referring to the Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer with whom Trump admitted to meeting on June 9, 2016 after being promised dirt on Hillary Clinton: “As a Russian lawyer, does that mean the country of Russia was the one behind this? I don’t think so. So, again, I stand on the side of the president 100 percent on this.”

However, shortly after Yoho’s interview with Blitzer, the New York Times reported — citing three unnamed people familiar with an email setting up Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya — that Trump was informed beforehand “that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy.”

Asked by Blitzer if Trump should have notified the FBI about the meeting at the time, Yoho said, “I think probably going forward that may be what happens, especially in this case where Donald Trump’s the President now. But going back, you have to put yourself back at that time frame. At that time frame, I think it’s perfectly appropriate for what he did.”

He added: “We have sat down with some meetings I kind of wished I would have done more vetting in the future, and we have, and it’s a learning process. But no, again, I don’t think it was inappropriate for what he did. If you’ve got information about an opponent running against you, wouldn’t you want that information to vet it? To see if it’s real information and to use it accordingly?”

Yoho appeared unconcerned about possible Russian government interference in the election.

The Russia thing will play itself out,” he said. “Russia, if you go back the last 50 to 100 years, they’ve always interfered and meddled, as other countries have, in elections and things like that to throw people off.”

The congressman said that as Trump “matures” as President, “you’re going to see Donald Trump probably be one of the most effective presidents we’ve ever had in this country.”

Donald Trump Jr. hired criminal defense attorney Alan Futerfas on Monday to represent him in connection with the ongoing probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, TPM has confirmed.

Amanda Miller, the Trump Organization’s senior vice president for marketing and corporate communications, confirmed Futerfas’ hiring in an email to TPM. Futurfas himself later confirmed his hiring in an email to TPM.

Trump Jr. said Monday that he would be “[h]appy to work with the committee to pass on what I know,” responding to Sen. Susan Collins’ (R-ME) assertion that the Senate Intelligence Committee ought to interview him about his meeting with a Kremlin-linked attorney who had promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton in June 2016.

Cursory research reveals Futerfas’ colorful client list, from a woman whose family trafficked cocaine out of their Corona, Queens pizzeria to an investment broker who sold NFL and NBA players millions of dollars of worthless unregistered promissory notes. Futerfas has represented multiple alleged associates of various of the notorious “Five Families” of organized crime in New York City

This post has been updated.

Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that Donald Trump Jr. did not collude with Russia to influence the 2016 election following reports he met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer offering damaging information on then-candidate for President Hillary Clinton in June 2016.

“I would certainly say Don Jr. did not collude with anybody to influence the election,” Sanders said during an off-camera White House press briefing.

“What about Flynn?” a reporter asked, referring to the ousted national security adviser who was forced to resign following revelations he mislead the vice president about speaking about sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the United States toward the end of the Obama administration.

“To my knowledge,” Sanders began, and then repeated the same point.

Sanders said that “[t]he only thing I see inappropriate about the meeting was the people that leaked the information on the meeting after it was voluntarily disclosed.”

She added, responding to a question: “I don’t know of any other meetings with Don Jr., but I also haven’t had an extensive conversation with him.”

One reporter asked about the White House’s habit of issuing blanket denials about meetings between Trump associates and Russians, only to contradict the denials later.

“How are we to take all of these blanket denials that occurred through the transition and now when it has been proven and recognized by the President’s attorney and Don Jr. that those blanket denials were not factual?” the reporter asked.

“I think the point is that we’ve tried to make every single time — today and then and will continue to make — in those statements is that there was simply no collusion that they keep trying to create that there was,” Sanders said.

“But that’s a different question than what’s asked at the time and different than the statements were about,” the reporter pointed out. “Those original questions were not about collusion. They were about contacts.”

“They were originally about that,” Sanders interjected. “That’s the whole premise of what you’re asking in the question is whether or not the campaign colluded with Russia. That’s the premise of the entire scope of your questioning.”

Nothing to see here.

That was the reaction Monday from Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) to news that Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner met in June 2016 with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer who promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

“I do not think the American people are going to be horrified by this, and I agree with Donald Trump Jr.,” Wicker said in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “He was told that there was some information unfavorable to their general election opponent. He went to a meeting and it turns out there wasn’t much there and instead the Russian attorney wanted to talk about the Magnitsky Act and Russian adoptions. It was a pretty quick meeting and he concluded that it didn’t amount to much.”

“I just think that’s pretty much of a great big nothing when it comes to whether there was some sort of collusion between Russia and general election campaign organizations,” Wicker said.

Blitzer asked Wicker if he would have attended a similar meeting, with someone Donald Trump Jr. claimed was an unknown person promising dirt on a political opponent.

Wicker noted that then-candidate Donald Trump did not attend the meeting.

“I as a public official or candidate would not do that,” he said.

However, Wicker hedged, “if somebody on behalf of a campaign was told there was some information that might be of interest to the public, I just don’t think the American people are going to be up in arms that that meeting took place.”

Asked about some senators’ insistence that Donald Trump Jr. should answer their questions about the meeting, Wicker said that “if they want to ask questions, then I would listen to them, and look at the propriety of that.

“As asking a few questions, I don’t see the harm in it,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Monday urged Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to work with Democrats to address problems with Obamacare, after McConnell warned Republicans that failing to repeal and replace the law would force the conference’s hand toward bipartisan action.

“In preparation for the July work period, we urge you to focus on immediately advancing policies to provide stability and certainty to the health insurance markets,” read a letter from Schumer and Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

“We appreciate your recent comments about ensuring stability for the private health insurance markets,” they added.

Specifically, the letter outlined four Democratic proposals that the senators said “would have an immediate impact on improving the health care system for American families,” by funding state markets and providing access to care to individuals in areas where insurers have left Obamacare’s individual marketplaces.

After McConnell delayed a vote on the Senate’s bill to replace Obamacare and make deep cuts to Medicaid on June 27, he warned Republicans that failing to repeal Obamacare would force the need for bipartisan reforms.

“I think the main thing is, as I’ve said, the status quo is simply unsustainable. It’ll be dealt with in one of two ways: Either Republicans will agree and change the status quo; or markets will continue to collapse and we’ll have to sit down with Sen. Schumer,” he said at the time.

On Thursday, the Associated Press reported, McConnell relayed a similar message to a Rotary Club meeting in Glasgow, Kentucky.

“If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur,” he said.

“No action is not an alternative,” McConnell added. “We’ve got the insurance markets imploding all over the country, including in this state.”

Read Schumer, Durbin, Murray and Stabenow’s letter below:

After Donald Trump Jr.’s admission Sunday that he met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer after being promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton in June 2016, attention turned to the Trump administration’s denials that any such meetings took place.

“Did any adviser or anybody in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?” CBS’s John Dickerson asked then Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Jan. 15.

“Of course not,” Pence replied. “And I think to suggest that is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy and — the fact that a few news organizations, not this one, actually trafficked in a memo that was produced as opposition research and associated that with intelligence efforts I think could only be attributed to media bias. And I said this week at the press conference, the American people are tired of it.”

MSNBC’s Kyle Griffin posted video of the exchange:

Pence was referring at the end of his response to a largely unsubstantiated dossier alleging ties between Trump and Russia. Days earlier, BuzzFeed published the dossier after CNN reported that then President-elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama had been briefed on it.

Pence’s Jan. 15 interview with Dickerson came the very same day the Vice President-elect denied wrongdoing to a variety of outlets by then-incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in conversations with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak, three days after the conversations were first reported by the Washington Post.

The Post later reported that Flynn had in fact discussed American sanctions on Russia with Kislyak, eventually resulting in Flynn’s forced resignation.

“They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia,” Pence said in the same Jan. 15 interview with Dickerson, referring to the sanctions imposed in late December by the Obama administration in response to Russia’s election meddling.

Donald Trump Jr. on Monday downplayed a blockbuster New York Times report that he met with a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign.

On Saturday, Trump told the Times he had primarily discussed the adoption of Russian orphans by Americans when he — along with Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, at his invitation — met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with close ties to the Kremlin, in June 2016.

Trump’s story changed on Sunday, after the Times cited three unnamed advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting, “and two others with knowledge of it,” who claimed Trump had been promised damaging information on Clinton before attending the meeting.

Veselnitskaya’s claims at the meeting were “vague, ambiguous and made no sense,” Trump said, reflecting on the promised Clinton dirt in a statement to the Times Sunday. He added separately that “the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting.”

Trump tweeted a column by the New York Post’s Michael Walsh, who acknowledged the reporting that Trump met with Veselnitskaya for opposition research on Clinton and asked: “[W]ho wouldn’t? And also: So what?”

Trump also denied that his statements about the meeting were contradictory.

This post has been updated.

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