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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

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was assaulted at his home on Friday, according to police.

“Senator Paul was blindsided and the victim of an assault,” spokesperson Kelsey Cooper said Saturday, as quoted by several outlets. “The assailant was arrested and it is now a matter for the police. Senator Paul is fine.” 

Rene Boucher, 59, of Bowling Green, has been charged with fourth degree assault, according to a press release from Kentucky State Police shared with TPM (read the full release below).

Local station WBKO first reported the alleged assault Saturday, followed by several other outletsWBKO reported that Paul was not transported to the hospital, according to police. 

Citing Boucher’s arrest warrant, Politico reported that Boucher admitted to tackling Paul. The outlet continued:

Boucher’s altercation with Paul left the senator having difficulty breathing as a result of a “possible rib injury” in addition to bleeding from cuts around his mouth. Paul was seeking medical help for his injuries, the warrant said.

Police responded to Paul’s residence at 3:21 p.m. on Friday, according to their statement, and Boucher’s detention record, published by WBKO, shows he was processed at Warren County Regional Jail at 8:51 p.m. ET on Friday. Boucher’s bond was set at $5,000, according to the record.

Fourth degree assault, the state’s least serious assault classification, is described by the Kentucky penal code as follows:

(1) A person is guilty of assault in the fourth degree when:

(a) He intentionally or wantonly causes physical injury to another person; or
(b) With recklessness he causes physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, a state police spokesperson said the FBI was on the scene to determine if the alleged assault had been politically motivated.

Kentucky State Police, according to the WBKO, said Boucher was an acquaintance of Paul’s. 

The Bowling Green Daily News reported that property records a house registered to someone named Rene Boucher was located in the same gated community as Paul’s residence. Politico reported Boucher and Paul were neighbors.

The Daily News noted that Boucher is an anesthesiologist and inventor of a pain relief product called the Therm-a-Vest, which the same publication profiled 12 years ago.

Read the Kentucky State Police’s full news release concerning the alleged assault below, as shared with TPM on Saturday:

Bowling Green, KY (November 4, 2017)  On Friday, November 3, 2017 at 3:21 p.m., KSP Troopers responded to the residence of Rand Paul in Warren County, in reference to a report of an assault.  Upon their arrival, it was determined that Rene Boucher had intentionally assaulted Paul causing a minor injury.

A warrant of arrest was issued through the Warren County Attorney’s office, and obtained for Rene Boucher.  Boucher, 59, of Bowling Green, was arrested by Trooper Bartley Weaver, charged with one count of Assault 4th—minor injury, and lodged in the Warren County Detention Center.

This investigation is being led by Trooper Weaver, and is still ongoing.  No further information is available for release at this time.

This report has been updated.

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Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page has appeared before a grand jury working with special counsel Robert Mueller, the New York Times reported Friday.

“Page was questioned by the FBI earlier this year and has also appeared before the grand jury as part of the special counsel’s inquiry,” the Times noted, in a report on Page acknowledging that he met with a senior Russian government official during a trip to Russia in July 2016.

Mueller’s team has kept a tight lid on leaks, and news of individuals’ appearances before a grand jury being used for his investigation is rare. The Times did not specify when Page appeared before the grand jury.

Paul Manafort’s spokesperson testified before Muller’s grand jury roughly six weeks before the a 12-count indictment against him and his deputy, Rick Gates, was unsealed.

Manafort’s real estate agent, Wayne Holland, confirmed to Politico, in a report published Oct. 27, that he had appeared before Mueller’s grand jury the previous week. On Oct. 30, CNN first reported that Mueller’s grand jury had filed the charges later revealed to be those against Manafort and Gates.

Reuters reported in August, citing two unnamed sources, that the grand jury had issued subpoenas in connection with the June 2016 meeting Donald Trump Jr. had hosted in Trump Tower, which was attended by several senior campaign aides and Russian lobbyists.

The Financial Times reported later in the month that one Russian lobbyist who attended the meeting, Rinat Akhmetshin, testified before Mueller’s grand jury for several hours on Aug. 11.

And NBC News reported on Tuesday that former Trump campaign aide Sam Clovis, who recently stepped aside from his nomination to be the USDA’s chief scientist, was questioned by Mueller’s grand jury sometime last week. The news reportedly caught the White House off guard.

Clovis, according to court documents and various reports, spoke to former Trump campaign aide George Papadapoulos in emails about the latter’s proposals to bring together Trump campaign officials and Russian government officials. Papadopoulos, according to court records unsealed Monday, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about those proposals.

Mueller’s investigation also encompasses at least one other grand jury: A grand jury located in Virginia had pre-dated his appointment as special counsel, and was concerned with potential lobbying violations by Manafort and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. It has since been incorporated into his work as special counsel.

Recently, reports emerged that two lobbyists who worked with Manafort on his work promoting the interests of pro-Russian Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych were being investigated by a grand jury: Democrat Tony Podesta — the brother of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman — and former Republican congressman Vin Weber, worked with a non-profit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine.

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President Donald Trump’s former longtime bodyguard will face questions from congressional investigators next week about a 2013 trip both men took to Moscow, the Washington Post reported Friday.

Keith Schiller, once Trump’s body man in the White House and the longtime director of security for the Trump Organization, traveled with Trump to Moscow in 2013 for the Miss Universe pageant.

According to unnamed people familiar with the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation, the Washington Post reported, the committee has called for Schiller to appear for an interview Tuesday and question him about allegations included in a dossier created by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele.

Steele produced the dossier for Fusion GPS, a research firm previously hired by the conservative news website Free Beacon that was at the time working for the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC.

Among the dossier’s many claims is that Russian officials obtained compromising information on Trump during his 2013 trip, including that he allegedly hired prostitutes and brought them to his Moscow hotel room.

According to the Post, Schiller’s role in personally delivering former FBI Director James Comey’s termination letter is of interest to the committee, as well.

An unnamed U.S. official “familiar with the inquiry” told the Post, referring to Schiller: “He can expect to be asked about any interaction with Russians, with or without Trump.”

Ty Cobb, the lawyer overseeing the Trump White House’s response to the Russia investigation, told the Post: “[T]he White House is delighted that Mr. Schiller will have an opportunity to shed some light on these scandalous allegations, and we are sure that his testimony will be of great interest to all fair-minded people.”

The Post noted that Trump told the New York Times in July, referring to Schiller’s reaction to the dossier’s claims: “He said, ‘What kind of crap is this?’ I went there for one day for the Miss Universe contest, I turned around, I went back.”

Before Schiller left the White House in September, he was closely involved in Trump’s campaign and administrative operations.

Schiller escorted, physically, Univision journalist Jorge Ramos from a press conference after Ramos insisted he had a right to ask Trump about his immigration enforcement agenda. (“I didn’t escort him out. You’ll have to talk to security. Whoever security is escorted him out,” Trump said of his bodyguard of 18 years following the incident.)

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Carter Page, the former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, met with Russian government officials in 2016, he told the House Intelligence Committee Thursday.

The New York Times first reported the news Friday, citing testimony Page gave to the committee during a lengthy closed-door meeting Thursday. Page confirmed the story to the Times, and also to CNN.

“I had a very brief hello to a couple of people. That was it,” he told the Times. One of those people, Page said, was a “senior person,” but he did not specify further. Page later told CNN that he had met with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich during the trip, the network reported.

The former Trump adviser is famously talkative, and has given numerous television and print interviews, frequently characterizing his July 2016 trip to Russia as one in which met with Russian academics and businesspeople.

Page told the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin in September 2016 that he had briefly exchanged pleasantries with Dvorkavich, one of a handful of deputy prime ministers in Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s Cabinet, during the graduation ceremony of the New Economic School in Moscow.

But an email from Page to “at least one” Trump campaign aide, according to the Times’ report, suggests Page’s meetings could have been more substantive than he’s said in the past.

After the trip, the Times reported, citing an unnamed person familiar with the email, “Page sent an email to at least on Trump campaign aide describing insights he had after conversations with government officials, legislators, and business executives during his time in Moscow.”

On Monday, Page told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes that he had been on email chains with George Papadopoulos, another former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who, according to recently unsealed court records, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his efforts to bring together Russian government officials and Trump campaign officials.

Page told Hayes, asked if any of the email chains with Papadopoulos discussed Russia: “It may have come up from time to time, again there was nothing major.”

Then, on Friday, Page confirmed to CNN’s Jake Tapper that he “one of many people” on the email chain in which Papadopoulos suggested, according to Papadopoulos’ unsealed court record, “a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump.”

Trump has attempted to minimize Papadopoulos’ role in the campaign, calling him a “low level volunteer” after his guilty plea was announced. One former campaign adviser, Michael Caputo, called Papadopoulos a “coffee boy.”

The Times reported, citing an unnamed congressional official familiar with the exchange, that Page confirmed he had met with Russian government officials to the House committee in response to questioning by Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA).

Page’s admissions about his trips to Russia and communications with Russian officials and others have complicated matters for Trump affiliates higher up the ladder.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for one, told the Senate Judiciary Committee in June that “no,” he was not, in Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) words, “aware of any communications with any Trump officials […] about Russia or Russian interests in the United States before Jan. 20.”

Of course, Sessions later acknowledged meeting twice himself with Russia’s ambassador to the United States before the election. But his further knowledge of Papadopoulos’ suggestions about meeting with Russians — as well as his newly reported knowledge of Carter Page’s July 2016 trip — have led senators to call for him to reappear before the Judiciary Committee once again.

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Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said Friday that President Donald Trump’s lamentation that “I’m not supposed to be involved with the FBI,” and his implied threat to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions if he did not do Trump’s political bidding, were “totally inappropriate.”

Corker was responding to Trump’s statement that “I don’t know” whether Jeff Sessions would be fired if the attorney general didn’t focus federal law enforcement’s energies on investigating Democrats.

Like me, most Americans hope that our justice system is independent and free of political interference,” Corker said in a statement. “President Trump’s pressuring of the Justice Department and FBI to pursue cases against his adversaries and calling for punishment before trials take place are totally inappropriate and not only undermine our justice system but erode the American people’s confidence in our institutions.”

Trump has seized on a host of so-called scandals that he says damage Democrats in recent days as the pressure from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has increased.

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The publisher of the New Republic resigned on Friday, four days after he was placed on leave following allegations of misconduct by staffers at the storied liberal magazine.

“I’m writing to inform you that Hamilton Fish has tendered his resignation from TNR effective immediately,” New Republic owner Win McCormack wrote to staff Friday, a spokesperson for the magazine confirmed to TPM.

“This won’t mean an end to the inquiry we’ve commissioned, as we want to understand everyone’s experiences in full, both on their own terms and for the purpose of looking ahead,” he added (read McCormack’s full statement below.)

On Monday, McCormack announced that Fish was taking a leave of absence following employees describing “certain workplace interactions that have created an uncomfortable environment for them,” and “interactions between Ham Fish and a number of women employees.”

Leon Wieseltier, for decades the New Republic’s literary critic, also recently admitted to “offenses” against female colleagues during his time at the magazine. Amid allegations against him, Wieseltier lost an editorship of a planned magazine funded by Laurene Powell Jobs, a businesswoman and the widow of Steve Jobs. Former New Republic staffers had accused him of making inappropriate comments about their appearances and kissing them on the mouth. 

Both Wieseltier and Fish were on an anonymously sourced list of “shitty media men,” which described inappropriate behavior, sexual harassment and rape allegations against men in the media industry. The list emerged following revelations that Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein had engaged in a decades-long practice of sexually harassing and assaulting women.

Read Win McCormack’s full letter to New Republic staff

Dear all,

I’m writing to inform you that Hamilton Fish has tendered his resignation from TNR effective immediately.

This won’t mean an end to the inquiry we’ve commissioned, as we want to understand everyone’s experiences in full, both on their own terms and for the purpose of looking ahead. If you happen not yet to have received the investigator’s contact details, with our invitation to connect with her, you should expect to today.

I’d like to express my deep appreciation to everyone who has contributed or will. Thank you all, as well, for all the help you can offer in strengthening our institution through the months and years to come, and for every aspect of your support to each other and TNR as a whole during this difficult week.

[New Republic editor J.J. Gould] is working with me now on next steps for our organization. If you have any questions, as I know many of you will, please do reach out to him or to me directly.

Yours truly,

Win

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Former White House chief strategist and current Breitbart News Executive Chairman Steve Bannon on Friday pledged to Republicans that he would not focus his political efforts on defeating establishment House Republicans, Politico reported.

Citing two unnamed people familiar with a meeting at the so-called “Breitbart Embassy,” a town house in Washington, D.C., Politico reported that Bannon pledged to the chairman and executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee that he would not “focus” on defeating House incumbents. Bannon has declared political war on incumbent Senate Republicans — with the exception of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) — who he calls part of the “globalist” establishment in Washington.

That effort has drawn a rebuke from even President Donald Trump, who said in mid-October, referring to Bannon’s work: “Some of the people that he may be looking at, I’m going to see if we talk him out of that because frankly, they’re great people.”

Bannon’s wing of the Republican Party — funded generously in various capacities by billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah — celebrated announcements from Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) in recent months that they would not seek re-election.

Bannon did not pledge to hold off completely from attacking House Republicans, Politico noted: At one point in the 40-minute discussion, per the publication, “discussion turned to North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger, whose primary opponent, Mark Harris, is running with Bannon’s support.”

Bannon has also thrown his weight behind the comeback campaign of Michael Grimm, the former congressman who once threatened to physically assault a reporter for a question he asked. A year later, Grimm pleaded guilty to tax evasion.

Politico also reported that the NRCC officials also told Bannon they would not “impede his efforts” to elect conservative Republicans in open, reliably Republican seats. So far, more than a dozen House Republicans have said they will not seek re-election, most recently the powerful Republican Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).

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Former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was recently offered a job by the President, but Lewandowski turned it down in part due to his ego, four unnamed “knowledgeable sources” told the Daily Beast Thursday.

Trump called Lewandowski last month, the Daily Beast’s sources said, and offered him a position housed in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, a short walk away from the White House itself. Lewandowski “strongly” consider it, two unnamed people who spoke to him told the Daily Beast, but determined the position was “beneath him.”

“Those close to Lewandowski” told the publication he claimed to have been offered a senior post in the Office of Public Liaison.

Lewandowsi, Trump’s first campaign manager, briefly created his own lobbying firm after being passed over for a White House job, but eventually ditched the operation after allegations that he may have engaged unregistered lobbying through an affiliated group.

He’s since sought opportunities in various corners of the political world: as an analyst for One America News Network; principal “adviser” at Lewandowski Strategic Advisors; pitchman for pro-Trump dark money group America First Policies; upcoming visiting fellow at Harvard University (thousands of students have signed an open letter in protest); and, Politico reported in September, perhaps a lobbyist once more.

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Former Trump campaign adviser Sam Nunberg said Thursday night that, even if President Donald Trump could be proven innocent of all collusion with Russia in the 2016 election, the President should not cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller.

Nunberg briefly served as an adviser to Trump’s campaign until Business Insider reported in July 2015 on racist social media posts he had made in the past. He’s an associate of Trump confidante Roger Stone.

“I think he needs to fire Cobb,” Nunberg told MSNBC’s Ari Melber, asked about what advice he would give to the President. Ty Cobb is the White House lawyer coordinating Trump’s response to Mueller’s probe.

Nunberg continued: “I think Cobb has told him — Cobb has said this publicly — that the Mueller investigation will exonerate Trump by the end of the year. It will not, Ari. It will not.”

Speaking to Gabriel Sherman for a piece in Vanity Fair Wednesday, Nunberg referenced the President’s polling numbers: “Trump is at 33 percent in Gallup. You can’t go any lower. He’s fucked.” Nunberg also pinned the White House’s response to the Russia investigation on Jared Kushner, whose finances Nunberg said he suspected Mueller was also investigating.

“Jared is the worst political adviser in the White House in modern history,” Nunberg told Vanity Fair.

Nunberg told Melber that, even if cooperating with Mueller would prove Trump’s innocence — the strategy Ty Cobb advocates — doing so would hurt the President.

“You do not release executive privilege,” Nunberg said. “You just do not give up executive privilege.”

The former campaign aide noted separately that he had spoken to an ally of Trump’s, lawyer Alan Dershowitz.

“Alan Dershowitz has said it may not be a crime, even to have colluded with Russia.”

Watch below via MSNBC:

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The powerful Republican Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) announced Thursday that he would not seek another term in Congress, spelling an end to the conservative’s three decade career in the House of Representatives.

“For several reasons, this seems like a good time to pass on the privilege of representing the 21st District to someone else,” Smith said in a statement shared with TPM (read the full statement below). He added: “With over a year remaining in my term, there is still much to do. There is legislation to enact, dozens of hearings to hold and hundreds of votes to cast.”

Smith, who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, joins a growing list of Republican incumbents opting not to seek re-election in 2018, in both chambers: more than a dozen representatives, in addition to Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

Long a skeptic of the science demonstrating human-caused climate change, Smith in July acknowledged a “changing climate,” but only to suggest it might have “positive effects” for life on Earth.

“The use of fossil fuels and the byproducts of carbon enrichment play a large role in advancing the quality of human life by increasing food production to feed our growing population, stimulating the economy, and alleviating poverty,” he wrote.

In January, expressing frustration with the “national liberal media,” Smith said from the House floor: “Better to get your news directly from the President. In fact, it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth.”

Read Rep. Smith’s full statement announcing his retirement below:

Dear Friend,

I am grateful for the trust voters have placed in me, the friendship constituents have shown me, and the opportunities that serving in Congress have given me.

Representing the 21st District and its more than 700,000 residents is an honor almost beyond description. To enact legislation that will benefit millions of Americans and to help constituents in their dealings with the federal government has been an immense privilege.  

Having chaired the Ethics, Judiciary, and Science Committees, and also served as a member of the Homeland Security and Budget Committees, I’ve been able to shape policy involving ethics, immigration, crime, intellectual property, space, energy, the environment, the budget and high tech. 

And, through the years, it’s been gratifying to have been named one of the 100 most influential people in D.C., one of the most effective members of Congress, and Legislator of the Year.

It is humbling living in a small apartment in Washington four nights a week. And I seldom leave the office before late at night.  But traveling back to Texas almost every weekend recharges the batteries.

For several reasons, this seems like a good time to pass on the privilege of representing the 21st District to someone else. At the end of this Congress, I will have completed my six-year term as Chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee. I have one new grandchild and a second arriving soon!!  And I hope to find other ways to stay involved in politics.

With over a year remaining in my term, there is still much to do. There is legislation to enact, dozens of hearings to hold, and hundreds of votes to cast.

Our nation faces many challenges but we will always prevail if we put the interests of American citizens and taxpayers first. A successful democracy requires an honest media, true patriots, and respect for the rule of law. All of us can do our part to help promote these ideals. 

Heartfelt thanks and much appreciation goes to family, friends, constituents, colleagues, and staff members for a productive three decades. I will always value their dedication and support.

Let’s stay in touch and let me know when I can be of help.

Lamar

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