Mattshuhambiopic_zprsqx

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

Renaissance Technologies, the hedge fund of influential Trump supporter Robert Mercer, bought nearly 2.5 million shares of Time Inc. in the first quarter of 2017, the New York Post first reported Tuesday night, citing a regulatory filing.

Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer, are well-known in conservative circles for their strong financial support for Trump, in addition to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and others. The Mercers are also part owners of Breitbart, the far-right news and commentary website from which Trump has hired many members of his administration.

Renaissance Technologies’ investment in Time Inc. — which publishes Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, Entertainment Weekly, and a host of other titles — was valued at $48.1 million on March 31, according to the filing.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday criticized China for its increase in trade with North Korea, following what unnamed U.S. officials said Tuesday was North Korea’s test of a “probable” intercontinental ballistic missile.

The data to which Trump was referring was actually available in April, when China released its first-quarter trade data showing a 37.4 percent growth in trade with North Korea. Days earlier, Trump met at length with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Florida.

A day before China released its first-quarter trade data, Trump indicated he would not label the country a currency manipulator, saying the broken campaign promise was worth the country’s cooperation in dealing with North Korea.

On Monday night, shortly after news broke that North Korea had tested another missile, Trump asked, referring to the country’s ruler, “Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?” and suggested “Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”

On June 20, after American student and freed North Korean captive Otto Warmbier died of injuries sustained in the country, Trump wrote that while he appreciated Xi’s “help with North Korea, it has not worked out.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said Tuesday that she was surprised at how prominent Republicans’ Obamacare repeal efforts were in voters’ minds.

“There was only one issue. That’s unusual. It’s usually a wide range of issues,” she told the Washington Post after a July 4th parade in Eastport, Maine. “I heard, over and over again, encouragement for my stand against the current version of the Senate and House health care bills. People were thanking me, over and over again. ‘Thank you, Susan!’ ‘Stay strong, Susan!’”

Collins was one of several key senators to oppose a vote on Republicans’ bill to repeal Obamacare and make deep long-term cuts to Medicaid. A group of Republican senators wrote the bill in secret for weeks and released a draft text of it on June 22, hoping for a vote as early as June 29.

The senator added Tuesday that so-called health savings accounts, tax-incentivized accounts from which consumers pay for medical services, “can work,” with enough federal funding.

“If you have a Health Savings Account that is federally funded, that equals the deductible, that can work, but it has to be designed right,” she said. “I don’t want to see insurance that’s not really insurance.”

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a privacy advocacy group, filed suit on Monday against President Donald Trump’s bogus “election integrity” commission over its request to all 50 states for sensitive voter information.

“[T]he Commission had already committed two egregious security blunders,” EPIC said in a statement on its website. “(1) directing state election officials to send voter records to an unsecure web site and (2) proposing to publish partial SSNs that would enable identity theft and financial fraud.”

In its suit requesting a temporary injunction against the commission’s data collection activities, filed in the D.C. District Court, the group called the request for partial Social Security numbers “both without precedent and crazy.”

It also accused the commission of violating the E-Government Act of 2002, which requires a privacy impact assessment be completed and made available to the public before the collection of personal information by the federal government using information technology. No assessment was conducted before requesting voter data, the suit alleges.

The commission’s broad request for data combined with the lack of any privacy assessment could “cause irreparable harm to EPIC’s members,” the suit alleged.

“Once data has been leaked, there is no way to control its spread,” it continued. “With a data breach, there is literally no way to repair the damage, once done.”

A number of states — 41, by CNN’s count — have refused to cooperate with all or part of the commission’s request for sensitive voter data in recent days, some citing state and federal law.

In addition to personal and political information, the committee requested information regarding voters’ potential felony, military and overseas citizen statuses.

The suit named both the commission’s chair and its vice chair, Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, in their official capacity. Both of their home states have declined to share certain information with the commission, citing state law.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly gave the defendants until 4:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday to respond to the suit.

President Donald Trump rang in Independence Day by promoting a new song based on his trademarked phrase, “Make America Great Again.”

The composition, which goes by the same name, premiered on Saturday at the Celebrate Freedom rally at D.C.’s Kennedy Center, ABC News reported. Trump continued his attacks against the media in remarks at the event, which was organized to honor military veterans.

Available via Christian Copyright Licensing International, “Make America Great Again” was composed by the former first minister of music at First Baptist Church of Dallas, Gary Moore. The church’s orchestra and choir also performed the work Saturday. Trump supporter and current First Baptist Pastor Robert Jeffress spoke at the event.

The White House did not immediately respond to TPM’s questions about the trademarked phrase, including whether Trump had granted permission or entered into some other agreement with CCLI or the church.

Trump applied for a trademark for “Make America Great Again” in 2012, CNN reported, and received the trademark two years ago, in July 2015.

The phrase appears prominently on a variety of Trump merchandise, including on his signature $25 dollar red cap.

The musical work Trump tweeted out Tuesday has already faced criticism, the Christian Post noted, for its blending of devotion to God and country.

“The problem is that it has been adopted by a significant portion of the evangelical church. It’s their mantra, their creed, and their prayer, and they shout it out with nationalistic fervor,” Jonathan Aigner wrote of the piece in Patheos, as quoted by the Christian Post. “Pledging allegiance to God and to America in the same breath, melding together the kingdom of God and self, they pray a blasphemous prayer to a red, white, and blue Jesus.”

Read the lyrics to “Make America Great Again” below:

Make America great again
Make America great again
Lift the torch of freedom all across the land
Step into the future joining hand in hand
And make America great again
Yes make America great again.

Americans from ev’ry corner of this blessed land
Come together with one voice
Help us take a stand
Following the vision to make her proud and grand
And make America great again
Make America great again

Like the mighty eagle that is rising on the wind
Soaring t’ward our destiny
Hearts and voices blend
With a mighty melody oh let the song begin
And make America great again
Make America great again

Each and every state
Make America great again
Make America great again

Monday brought a new wave of states announcing they will not comply with President Donald Trump’s bogus “election integrity” commission’s requests for sensitive voter data.

By CNN’s count, 41 states have refused to cooperate with all or parts of the commission’s request.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) called the request for data — including the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers and criminal, military and overseas citizen records — “repugnant.”

Delaware Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove (D) said in a statement that “[r]eleasing this information to the White House would not serve the mission of safeguarding the fairness and integrity of elections in Delaware and would not be in the best interests of Delaware voters.”

“Delaware has a long history of running fair and efficient elections open to all qualified voters. We should not be a part of any effort to turn back the clock on the progress we have made,” Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock (D) added in the same statement. “Delaware will not be a party to this disingenuous and inappropriate campaign against one of the nation’s foundational institutions.”

Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler (R) said only publicly-available information would be provided to the commission, and for a fee.

“The President’s Commission has quickly politicized its work by asking states for an incredible amount of voter data that I have, time and time again, refused to release,” Schedler said in a statement. “My response to the Commission is, you’re not going to play politics with Louisiana’s voter data, and if you are, then you can purchase the limited public information available by law, to any candidate running for office. That’s it.”

“I denied the Obama Justice Department’s request and I’m denying President Trump’s Commission’s request because they are both politically motivated,” Schedler added. “The release of private information creates a tremendous breach of trust with voters who work hard to protect themselves against identity fraud. That’s why it is protected by six federal laws and two state laws.”

“This Commission needs to understand clearly, disclosure of such sensitive information is more likely to diminish voter participation rather than foster it,” Schedler concluded. “I have been fighting this kind of federal intrusion and overreach, and will continue to fight like hell for the people who trust me with the integrity of our election process.”

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) wrote on Twitter that certain information was publicly available in the state, implying it would be made available to the commission. He specified that “Social Security numbers are never disclosed.”

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson (R) similarly said, “Michigan will certainly not go beyond what is legally required in any response to this data request.”

Maryland Attorney Brian Frosh (D) on Monday informed President Donald Trump’s bogus “election integrity” commission that the state would not comply with its request to hand over sensitive voter data.

To fulfill the request, Frosh said, Maryland’s board of elections would have to violate state law.

“The assistant attorneys general representing the State Board of Elections have considered the request to the Board for the personal information of millions of voters and have determined that the requested disclosure is prohibited by law,” Frosh wrote in a statement Monday. “These lawyers have advised the State Board of its obligations.”

Frosh said he found the request “repugnant,” and that “it appears designed only to intimidate voters and to indulge President Trump’s fantasy that he won the popular vote.”

“Repeating incessantly a false story of expansive voter fraud, and then creating a commission to fuel that narrative, does not make it any more true,” he continued. “There is no evidence that the integrity of the 2016 election in Maryland — or any other state — was compromised by voter fraud. I urge Governor Hogan and the State Board of Elections to speak out against this effort and to reject any further attempt to intimidate voters and obtain their personal information.”

“I will continue to take all necessary steps to protect the private personal information of Maryland voters and the integrity of Maryland’s voting process,” Frosh concluded.

Maryland joined a number of states that will not comply with all or parts of the commission’s data request because it does not comply with state law — including Indiana and Kansas, the respective home states of the commission’s chair and vice chair.

White House aide Kellyanne Conway said Monday that Republicans could repeal Obamacare without also replacing it, which would violate Trump’s prior pledge to do both at once.  

“Very hopeful, very confident that the President can have the bill on his desk this summer,” Conway told “Fox & Friends.”

“In terms of the procedure,” she added later, “it could either be repealed and replaced at same time, or you could do what happened in the 2015 Senate bill, where every Republican senator who was there except for one voted, and they voted to immediately do away with the penalties and taxes under Obamacare, they dealt with Medicaid as well.”

“The only thing that’s changed since their vote in 2015 to repeal Obamacare and now is that you have a Republican president willing to sign that into law,” Conway said. “And you have the failures of Obamacare that much more crisp and obvious in front of you.”

Until Friday, Trump had pledged to repeal and replace Obamacare at the same time — as opposed to simply repealing it and charging lawmakers with crafting a replacement in a separate bill.

“I feel that repeal and replace have to be together,” the then President-elect said in January.

“It will be essentially simultaneously,” he said separately. “It will be various segments, you understand, but will most likely be on the same day or the same week, but probably the same day. Could be the same hour.”

But on Friday, Trump changed course.

On Sunday, White House aide Mark Short said that, should Republicans not have the votes necessary to repeal and replace Obamacare all at once, they should “take care of the first step and repeal.”

Watch below via Fox News:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) was spotted soaking up the sun at a public beach on Sunday, despite its closure due to a budget stand-off between him and the state’s legislature.

The state government, including all state-run beaches, shut down on Friday at midnight. But photographs published by NJ Advance Media showed Christie and his family at a state-owned beach house on Island Beach State Park.

At a press briefing Sunday, Christie said “I didn’t get any sun today,” responding to a reporter’s question, according to NJ.com.

Later, after being made aware of the photos, Christie’s spokesman said the governor had visited the beach, and then delivered a line for the ages.

“He did not get any sun,” Brian Murray said. “He had a baseball hat on.”

On Monday, WTXF-TV asked Christie about the public outcry over the photos.

“I’m sorry they’re not the governor,” he said.

Christie followed up in a tweet on Monday, emphasizing that local beaches remained open:

Even New Jersey’s Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno (R), the GOP nominee to replace Christie in this year’s election, piled on:

This post has been updated.

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann (R) didn’t mince words in his response to calls for all 50 secretaries of state to hand over sensitive voter information to President Donald Trump’s bogus “election integrity” commission: “Jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great State to launch from.”

Hosemann said in a statement Friday that his office hadn’t actually received the commission’s request for data — including the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers, military status, felony convictions and overseas citizen information.

But, he said, “[i]n the event I were to receive correspondence from the Commission […] My reply would be: They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great State to launch from.” 

“Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our State’s right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes,” he added.

A spokesperson for South Dakota’s Republican Secretary of State, Shantel Krebs, similarly told the Associated Press that the state “will not share voter information with the commission.”

A growing number of states have rejected the commission’s request outright, or said they will provide only publicly available information to the commission. 

LiveWire