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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

The White House on Wednesday listed 12 organizations to which President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump had pledged to donate a total of $1 million as part of their Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

Two organizations, Red Cross and Salvation Army, were together promised a majority of the sum, at $300,000 each. Reach Out America and Samaritan’s Purse were each promised $100,000. The remaining eight organizations — the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Catholic Charities, Direct Relief, Habitat for Humanity, Houston Humane Society, Operation Blessing, Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies and Team Rubicon — were each promised $25,000.

Six of the organizations are religiously affiliated. Two, the Humane Society and ASPCA, deal with animals. One, Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies, describes itself as facilitating “a variety of projects involving people with disabilities, including post-disaster relief work.” And Team Rubicon draws on the “skills and experiences of military veterans” and first responders following disasters.

TPM has reached out to each organization in an attempt to eventually confirm that they have received the money the White House claims they will.

Tony Morain, communications director for Direct Relief, said in an email on Wednesday, Sept. 13 that “[t]he donation arrived. It was a personal check signed by Donald J. Trump for $25,000.” He said a week earlier that Trump’s longtime assistant, Rhona Graff, had told him a check was in the mail.

Paul Timmons of Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies told TPM over the phone on Monday, Sept. 18 that he had received the donation from Trump in the previous week. Sherry Ferguson, executive director of the Houston Humane Society, also confirmed via email that the group had received its promised donation. So did Bryan Thomas Director, director of public and media relations for Habitat for Humanity International.

Ron Busroe, a spokesperson for the Salvation Army, said in a statement that “We’re thankful for President Trump’s commitment to help The Salvation Army provide support to those affected by the storms.” But Kurt Watkins, a public relations specialist employed by the group, did not respond Thursday to TPM’s requests to clarify the statement. Nor did Duane DeVorak, a spokesperson for Team Rubicon, who said that the group was “humbled to have the support of three United States Presidents – Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump,” but did not specify further.

Jeanne Hamrick, senior manager of media relations for the American Red Cross, said in an emailed statement Wednesday that “[t]he American Red Cross is grateful to the Trumps for their generous support of our mission,” but did not confirm having received the funds over the phone with TPM.

Scott Knuteson, a representative for Samaritan’s Purse, said the group “does not disclose information on individual or foundation gifts to the ministry.” Emily Schneider, director of media and communications for ASPCA, also said that organization did not comment on individual donations. Chris Roslan of Roslan & Campion Public Relations, LLC, said in an email that “Operation Blessing does not disclose information about any donor or donation.”

Representatives for the other groups did not respond to requests for comment.

Read the White House’s full statement below:

President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump announced today a personal donation of $1 million dollars to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts and have designated twelve organizations to receive contributions.  The President and First Lady witnessed the work of some of these groups first hand while visiting with hurricane survivors, first responders, volunteers, and Federal, State, and local officials, and are proud to further assist the recovery efforts in Texas.  Several of the following organizations were recommended, at the invitation of the President, by members of the White House Press Corps, and he would like to thank those who made recommendations for their attention to this important cause.  The President and First Lady continue to pray for the people of Texas and Louisiana.

·       Reach out America – $100,000

·       Red Cross – $300,000

·       Salvation Army – $300,000

·       Samaritan’s Purse – $100,000

·       ASPCA – $25,000

·       Catholic Charities – $25,000

·       Direct Relief – $25,000

·       Habitat for Humanity – $25,000

·       Houston Humane Society – $25,000

·       Operation Blessing – $25,000

·       Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies – $25,000

·       Team Rubicon – $25,000

This post has been updated.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said Wednesday that he would support a plan to repeal Obamacare led by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

”Yes. You think I wouldn’t be?” McCain told reporters Wednesday, asked if he would support the legislation, the Hill reported.

Arizona’s senior senator, whose close friendship with Graham is well known, affirmed that he thought the bill, in The Hill’s words, “has legs before Sept. 30.”

The Graham-Cassidy legislation would essentially dismantle much of Obamacare’s federal infrastructure, turning over federal dollars to the states to do with what they wish, though that flexibility at the state level would come at a sharp cost. Judith Solomon, vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told Politico on August 1 that she estimated it would result in 16 percent less federal spending in 2020 versus the Obamacare status quo’s spending on Medicaid expansion and market subsidies.

McCain was one of three Republican votes against Senate Republicans’ Obamacare repeal effort in late July. Notably, he objected as much to the process by which the legislation had arrived in the Senate for a vote as to the content of the effort itself. McCain is a sometimes loud proponent of so-called “regular order.”

We must now return to the correct way of legislating,” he said after voting the effort down, “and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle, heed the recommendations of nation’s governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people.”

On Wednesday, McCain said it would be a “mistake” if the Graham-Cassidy legislation didn’t follow regular order, but that “it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t vote for it.”

President Donald Trump and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell met one-on-one on Tuesday, a spokesman for McConnell confirmed to TPM Wednesday.

Politico first broke the news, citing unnamed sources familiar with the meeting. The publication described it as “a bid to repair their badly frayed relationship” and “an apparent attempt to clear the air after a contentious August recess between the two, mostly fueled by the Senate’s failure to repeal Obamacare.”

Yes, the meeting happened,” McConnell spokesperson David Popp confirmed in an email to TPM Wednesday. “Nothing to add or readout.

It was the Leader and the President,” he said separately.

On Aug. 7, McConnell criticized Trump for his “excessive expectations” of the legislative process, a notable rebuke from the majority leader, who rarely makes such statements publicly.

Trump met with congressional leadership of both parties Wednesday, including McConnell, and briefly answered reporters’ questions about his ending of the DACA program, and Hurricane Irma, which is currently battering the Caribbean.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) said Wednesday that DACA recipients’ families should be deported alongside them.

“They came in presumably with a parent or parents, and so the correct policy is for us to enforce federal law and deport the whole family to the home country,” he told CNN’s John Berman and Poppy Harlow of the nearly 800,000 undocumented young people protected by DACA, many of whom are now young adults but who came to the United States as children.

“The idea that somehow it’s wrong to ask people to go back to their home country and to come in the right way, I just fundamentally disagree with that,” he added.

President Donald Trump rescinded DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, on Tuesday, leaving its recipients at risk of deportation when their work permits expire.

On Tuesday, Kobach, the vice chair of Trump’s shady “election integrity” commission, similarly told DACA recipients to “go home and get in line.

Many DACA recipients have since started families of their own in the United States, marrying U.S. citizens and having children who are citizens.

And applying for legal status after having admitted to immigration violations — a necessary step to receiving DACA protections in the first place — makes what is already an extremely difficult and lengthy process even more so. Some Republicans in Congress, led by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), have advocated for imposing severe restrictions on even legal immigration.

In 2015, Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd that “we’re going to keep the families together, but they have to go,” after DACA is rescinded.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said Wednesday that he wanted any “compromise” related to DACA recipients to be tied to addressing what he called the “larger problem” of border security.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday rescinded DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, putting hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation after their work permits expire. Later on Tuesday, though, Trump told Congress to “legalize DACA.”

Asked in a press briefing whether he would support a standalone bill to turn DACA into law (it was created via an executive action by former President Barack Obama in 2012), Ryan said he wanted any legislation concerning DACA tied to border security.

He called the “DACA dilemma” a “symptom of a larger problem.”

The larger problem is that we do not have control of our borders,” Ryan said. “And so it’s only reasonable and fitting that we also address the root cause of the problem, which is borders that are not sufficiently controlled, while we address this very real and very human problem that’s right in front of us.”

Trump has long pressured Congress to pay for the construction of a continuous wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, despite insisting during the 2016 campaign that Mexico would pay for it. Though the President hasn’t recently referred to previous threats to shut down the government if the wall was not paid for, DACA could provide Republicans leverage to extract funding for the barrier.

On Tuesday, Ryan said Trump ending DACA “fulfills a promise” that the President made on the campaign trail. Trump did say in 2016 that he would end DACA. Still, after being elected, he made numerous pledges to DACA recipients, including that his administration would show “great heart” and that DACA recipients should “rest easy.”

Ryan added on Tuesday that he would seek a “permanent legislative solution that includes ensuring that those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country.”

Five days ago, Ryan said of the prospect of Trump rescinding DACA: “I actually don’t think he should do that.” On Wednesday, he said: “President Trump was right in his decision — he made the right call.”

This post has been updated.

President Donald Trump exclaimed at the size of Hurricane Irma Wednesday morning, remarking on Twitter that there was “No rest for the weary!” for federal disaster workers.

On Tuesday, Trump declared states of emergency in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, freeing up federal resources for disaster relief efforts.

Hurricane Harvey battered Houston with its most extreme rain event in history roughly two weeks before Irma’s potential landfall in Florida this weekend. The storm is currently battering the Caribbean.

Though Trump called Irma the “largest ever recorded in the Atlantic,” some meteorologists have actually referred to it as the strongest such storm. Its winds have reached 185 mph, according to several reports. Hurricane Sandy in 2012 was 1,000 miles in diameter, larger than Irma.

Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke has joined the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action as a senior adviser and spokesman, the group said Tuesday.

Clarke, who abruptly resigned as sheriff on Aug. 31, has faced legal scrutiny for his harsh jailing practices. Four people died in Milwaukee County Jail in 2016, including a newborn baby and a man who had been denied water for seven days before his death. That man’s family recently sued Clarke and several others.

Clarke, who spoke gushingly of Trump from the stage of the Republican National Convention last year, once claimed to have received a job offer from Trump’s Department of Homeland Security. Over the following weeks, however, he expressed uncertainty about the offer and eventually withdrew his name from consideration for the job.

“David Clarke is an American patriot, and we are very proud to welcome him to America First,” said Brian O. Walsh, president of America First Action, in a statement.

Clarke said the job “gives me the chance to do what I love most—promote President Trump’s agenda, including his fierce support for the American law enforcement officer, and ensure that the will of the American people who got President Trump elected is not derailed by the left or the self-serving Washington establishment.”

Trump’s first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, also recently joined America First Action with the same titles as Clarke: senior adviser and spokesman, according to the Associated Press. CNN reported in August on a series of former Trump aides who had joined the group and an associated group, America First Policies.

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) on Tuesday called White House Chief of Staff John Kelly a “hypocrite who is a disgrace to the uniform he used to wear” after President Donald Trump ended the DACA program earlier in the day.

DACA, short for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, protects nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation. Though the White House claimed Tuesday that DACA recipients will not be priorities for deportation once their permits expire, similar promises have not been reflected in the past in immigration agents’ arrest records.

Before accepting Trump’s offer to become chief of staff, Kelly led the Department of Homeland Security, where he oversaw the Trump administration’s amped-up efforts to arrest and deport undocumented people, including those found only to have violated civil immigration law.

“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,” Gutiérrez wrote in a statement Tuesday. “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,” he continued. “He has no honor and should be drummed out of the White House along with the white supremacists and those enabling the President’s actions by ‘just following orders.’”

Gutiérrez also said he would not support any government funding bill that doesn’t include “safe harbor for DREAMers,” using a shorthand for young undocumented people that began with the DREAM Act, an immigration reform bill first proposed in 2001.

The congressman was one of a number of people arrested at a pro-DACA rally in front of the White House on Aug. 15.

Read Gutiérrez full statement below:

I personally will not support any funding bill that does not include a safe harbor for DREAMers – and I will work to have others join me in opposition.  If they need our votes, we are bringing 800,000 young immigrants with us.

I have already spoken with Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and will be talking to other Democrats in the House, but if Republicans need our votes, we need to have legislation to protect immigrant youth who have DACA.

As a movement, we will not go away, back down or give up because the President has taken this callous and destructive action.  The CHC, other Democrats, and the pro-immigrant movement fought hard against a Democratic President to win DACA and I am confident my CHC and Democratic colleagues will fight a Republican President even harder to defend DACA, in the courts, through legislation, and community by community and deportation by deportation, if necessary.

Immigrant youth, immigrant families, and our allies in all sectors of American life are here to stay, regardless of the President’s mass deportation fantasies and objectives.  Americans will not let this President dictate the fate of the immigrants who have placed so much trust in their country.  We have stood at airports to resist the Muslim Ban, marched with women to protect their rights, denounced  racist and homophobic violence, and fought to defend Planned Parenthood and now young immigrants need everyone’s help.  I watched families line up by the tens of thousands at Navy Pier in Chicago in August 2012 just for the opportunity for one or two of their children to achieve safety and security in America.  I am not prepared to give up on them and will not.

America is a better country than its President and most Americans do not want to see documented immigrants converted into undocumented immigrants.  It just takes the country in the wrong direction and will be devastating to individual immigrants and families.  The disruption, chaos and fear that this action precipitates will also strain state and local governments, educators, and employers.  DACA is a program that has been a smashing success, yet the President, purely out of spite and incompetence is smashing DACA.

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.  He has no honor and should be drummed out of the White House along with the white supremacists and those enabling the President’s actions by ‘just following orders.’

This Administration is on a very dangerous trajectory towards the full-throated endorsement of white supremacy—the likes of which we haven’t seen in the open from a sitting President for a century.  President Trump followed up his weak and insincere response to racist violence in Charlottesville by pardoning notorious convicted racist Joe Arpaio and condoning Arpaio’s abuse of official power in defiance of federal law and court orders.  Trump praises those who marched at the University of Virginia with torches shouting ‘Jews will not replace us,’ and launched his campaign for the White House by saying Mexican immigrants are rapists and murderers.  But this action on DACA to pull the rug out from under almost 800,000 documented immigrants who have lived here for at least ten years and cast them back into the shadows is the ugliest act of appeasement for the far-right’s white-supremacist goals of them all, so far.

Alice Ollstein contributed reporting.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed Tuesday that DACA recipients “won’t become a priority” for deportation following the end of the program.

However, similar promises by President Donald Trump to prioritize undocumented criminals have not been borne out by the actions of immigration agents, who have arrested individuals over even simple civil immigration violations. And a DHS official told reporters Tuesday that ending the DACA program would make its former recipients “amenable to removal.” 

“DACA recipients, whose average age is in their 20s, were not an enforcement priority before and they certainly won’t become a priority now,” Sanders said at a press briefing Tuesday. “The priorities remain the same: criminals, security threats, and those who repeatedly violate our immigration laws. The main effect of today’s announcement is that work permits and other government benefits are being gradually phased out.”

Later, asked to offer a specific assurance to DACA recipients that they wouldn’t be deported, Sanders did not do so, saying only that “they’re not a targeted priority, but the goal here is that Congress actually fixes the problem, and then that isn’t an issue.” 

The claim echoed a White House press release earlier in the day, following Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement that Trump would end the DACA program, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

“[A]bsent a law enforcement interest—which is largely the standard that has been in place since the inception of the program—the Department will generally not take actions to remove active DACA recipients,” it read.

In his own statement following Sessions’ announcement, Trump said “[o]ur enforcement priorities remain unchanged. We are focused on criminals, security threats, recent border-crossers, visa overstays, and repeat violators.  I have advised the Department of Homeland Security that DACA recipients are not enforcement priorities unless they are criminals, are involved in criminal activity, or are members of a gang.

However, a DHS official told reporters on background Tuesday morning that when an individual’s DACA status expires, “[t]hey revert to being present without admission, which makes them amenable to removal.”

The acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement himself acknowledged in July that deportation of non-criminals had gone from “zero to 100” under the Trump administration.

And numerous outlets citing ICE records have reported a spike in arrests of non-criminal undocumented immigrants.

On Jan. 25, Trump issued an executive order prioritizing for deportation essentially every undocumented immigrant in the country — including non-criminals who have “abused” public benefits and those who in the judgement of an immigration agent “pose a risk to public safety or national security.”

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