Matt Shuham

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously associate editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at and on Twitter @mattshuham.

Articles by Matt

Shortly after telling a reporter that he planned on firing assistant White House press secretary Michael Short, White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said it was “unfair” that the public knew about the firing before Short did — even though Scaramucci himself was the source of the news.

The surreal course of events unfolded over a couple of hours Tuesday morning.

First, Politico’s Tara Palmeri reported that Scaramucci had told her, in her words, “that he plans to dismiss assistant press secretary Michael Short,” as part of his early war on White House leakers and other staffers deemed insufficiently supportive of President Donald Trump.

Short did not respond to TPM’s request for comment, but CNN’s Jeremy Diamond reported less than an hour after Palmeri’s article went live that Short had not been informed of his upcoming firing.

Fifty minutes later, Time’s Zeke Miller reported that Scaramucci said leakers were “unpatriotic” and that Scaramucci refused to confirm Short’s firing, saying it would be inappropriate to speak publicly about the matter — even though, as Miller pointed out, he already had.

Then, Scaramucci blamed “leaking” for the fact that reporters, and thus the general public, knew about Short’s potential firing before Short himself did, even though Politico cited Scaramucci as the source of the information.

In the stunning statement reported by Miller and The Hill, in which Scaramucci blamed leaks for his own actions, he seemed to “leak” yet again, putting forward the hypothetical, “Let’s say I’m firing Michael Short today. The fact that you guys know about it before he does really upsets me as a human being and as a Roman Catholic.”

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Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) office announced Tuesday that he would return to the U.S. Senate at around 2:45 p.m. ET Tuesday, just days after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer following a surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye.

McCain’s office announced Monday night that he would return to the Senate to vote on the motion to proceed with debate on the repeal of Obamacare — despite secrecy from Republican leadership as to what exactly will be under consideration should the motion to proceed succeed.

McCain, his office’s statement said, “will return to the United States Senate at approximately 2:45 p.m. ET today to cast a vote on a motion to proceed to health care legislation.”

“The vote is expected to occur after the Republican and Democratic Tuesday conference meetings,” the statement continued. “Senator McCain also intends to deliver remarks on the Senate floor after the vote. Following floor action, Senator McCain will hold a media availability in the Ohio Clock corridor of the U.S. Capitol. There will be no media opportunities outside Senator McCain’s office.”

The 80-year-old senator’s vote could be crucial in advancing the Obamacare repeal effort.

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New White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci is winding up to fire staffers deemed insufficiently enthusiastic supporters of the President, according to two new reports.

The “Mooch,” as he’s known colloquially, told Politico Tuesday that he planned on dismissing assistant press secretary Michael Short, who worked at the Republican National Committee for years before coming to the White House alongside the former RNC president and spokesman, respectively, Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer.

Spicer resigned Friday, reportedly in response to Scaramucci’s appointment as communications director, and therefore, his superior if he had stayed in the administration.

Reports of his ouster were apparently news to Short, according to a tweet from CNN reporter Jeremy Diamond.

Short did not respond to TPM’s request for comment. Politico reported that the move was part of an effort from Scaramucci to crack down on leaks.

“I’m committed to taking the comms shop down to Sarah [Huckabee Sanders] and me, if I can’t get the leaks to stop,” he told the publication.

And the Washington Post reported Monday night, citing unnamed officials with knowledge of the effort, that Scaramucci was taking advantage of a “broad mandate” from the President “to purge aides he believes are disloyal to Trump and leaking to the press.”

The Post’s sources said Scaramucci was meeting individually with White House aides to “weed out” those who he deemed were “not working hard enough” to defend Trump.

The Post reported Scaramucci planned to work quickly to make the staffing changes. Short’s eventual dismissal, should it happen, would provide the first example of Mooch’s haste.

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President Donald Trump stepped up pressure on Senate Republicans to vote to consider an Obamacare repeal bill on Tuesday — though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) still hasn’t made clear which proposals will actually be considered.

McConnell will hold a motion to proceed vote on Tuesday, for which Republicans need 50 votes to even consider voting on an Obamacare repeal bill. If the motion to proceed succeeds, McConnell could hold votes on several different measures to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Trump didn’t seem to mind the ambiguity. His tweets were all-purpose arm-twisting:

He even finally called Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) an “American hero,” the former Vietnam POW’s standard label, for arranging to travel from Arizona to Washington, D.C. days after brain surgery to vote on the repeal effort.

And one more for good measure just past 8:00 a.m. ET:

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President Donald Trump on Monday applied pressure on Senate Republicans to support a procedural vote on an Obamacare repeal bill — even though Senate leadership hasn’t yet specified which bill senators will be asked to advance on Tuesday.

After a hiccup 22 words into remarks from the White House — Trump said Americans had been living with Obamacare as law “for the past 17 years,” not seven — the President discussed the stories of families gathered behind him at the White House and blamed Democrats for passing Obamacare despite “lies” about what it could achieve.

Most of his remarks, though, seemed designed to pressure Republican senators on the fence about the Obamacare repeal effort — which began with Senate leadership drafting a bill that included deep longterm cuts to Medicaid in secret.

There are now multiple potential bills that could be considered for a vote, including a simple “repeal” bill, which would leave two years for legislators to write a replacement (if any) for Obamacare, a version of Senate Republicans’ repeal bill that includes Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) amendment to allow the sale of unregulated insurance plans, and others.

“For the last seven years Republicans have been united in standing up for Obamacare’s victims,” Trump said. “Remember: repeal and replace, repeal and replace? They kept saying it over and over again. Every Republican running for office promised immediate relief from this disastrous law. We as a party must fulfill that solemn promise to the voters of this country to repeal and replace, what they’ve been saying for the last seven years.”

“But so far Senate Republicans have not done their job in ending the Obamacare nightmare,” he continued. “They now have a chance, however, to hopefully, hopefully fix what has been so badly broken for such a long time.”

Trump described in general terms a repeal bill that would provide “tax credits so Americans can purchase a private plan that is right for them and their families,” funding to combat the nationwide opioid crisis and “flexibility for states to administer Medicaid to better serve their poorer citizens.”

Trump then added: “Tomorrow, the Senate will vote on whether to allow this urgently needed bill to come to the Senate floor for debate. The question for every senator, Democrat or Republican, is whether they will side with Obamacare’s architects, which have been so destructive to our country, or with its forgotten victims. Any senator who votes against starting debate is telling America that you are fine with the Obamacare nightmare, which is what it is.”

Senate Republicans, he said, now had a chance “to keep their promise.”

“Over and over again, they said repeal and replace, repeal and replace,” he continued. “But they can now keep their promise to the American people to provide emergency relief to those in desperate need of help, and to improve health care for all Americans.”

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Trump ally and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani swatted away rumors that he was being considered to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday, and contradicted the President by saying Sessions was right to recuse himself from matters related to the 2016 campaign and Russian meddling therein.

Sessions, Giuliani told CNN, “made the right decision under the rules of the Justice Department.”

Sessions recused himself in March after it was revealed he met multiple times with Russia’s ambassador to the United States during the 2016 campaign, despite denying meeting with any Russians during his confirmation hearing, in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Washington Post reported Friday, citing unnamed current and former U.S. officials, that Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak told his superiors that he and Sessions discussed matters related to the Trump campaign, despite Sessions’ past denials of doing so.

Trump expressed his frustration with Sessions in an interview with the New York Times last Wednesday, saying he would not have nominated Sessions to be attorney general if he had known beforehand that Sessions would recuse himself.

On Monday, Trump called Sessions “our beleaguered A.G.” and asked why the attorney general wasn’t “looking into Crooked Hillarys [sic] crimes & Russia relations.”

Axios reported Monday, citing unnamed “West Wing confidants,” that “President Trump is so unhappy with Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he has raised the possibility of bringing back Rudolph Giuliani to head the Justice Department.”

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President Donald Trump on Monday scolded an Associated Press reporter who asked about the progress of Senate Republicans’ plan to repeal Obamacare.

According to a pool report, reporters were “unexpectedly summoned” into the East Room of the White House to observe a photo-op with Trump and White House interns.

A reporter, who Bloomberg’s Jennifer Epstein identified as the Associated Press’ Catherine Lucey, asked Trump if he thought Attorney General Jeff Sessions should resign. Trump didn’t answer, but video of the exchange shows him rolling his eyes, to laughter from the interns.

Lucey then asked Trump if he had anything to say about Senate Republicans’ Obamacare repeal effort.

“Quiet,” he said, to more laughter from the interns. “You see, they’re not supposed to do that,” he added, turning to the interns behind him. “But they do it. But they’re not supposed to.”

Watch the exchange below via NBC News:

Lucey retweeted a statement from her colleague, Julie Pace, who said the reporter “is not going to keep quiet.”

It’s not the first time Trump has scolded a member of the press. He’s done the same to NBC’s Katy Tur, CNN’s Jim Acosta and Ami Magazine’s Jake Turx, among many others.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reportedly plans to hold a “motion to proceed” vote on an Obamacare repeal bill on Tuesday — though it’s still unclear which version the Senate will vote on considering. So far, McConnell doesn’t have the votes to advance any bill to the Senate floor for a vote, including a “repeal-and-delay” bill that does not include measures to replace the massive 2010 health care law.

As for the attorney general — he’s clearly not on Trump’s good side. Last week, Trump told the New York Times that he would not have hired Sessions if he had know he would recuse himself from matters related to the 2016 campaign and Russian meddling in the election.

On Monday, Trump called Sessions “beleaguered” and questioned why he wasn’t investigating Hillary Clinton.

This post has been updated.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Sunday contradicted President Donald Trump’s assertion Sunday that Republicans were shirking their duty to “protect” him from the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, which he again called a “witch hunt.”

“Why aren’t you, why aren’t Republicans in general, defending Donald Trump more against what is becoming an obvious witch hunt here with Robert Mueller?” Wisconsin radio host Jay Weber asked Ryan Monday morning (listen at 84:28).

Weber pointed to special counsel Robert Mueller’s friendship with ousted FBI Director James Comey, and lawyers on Mueller’s investigative team’s past donations to Hillary Clinton. Both lines have been used by the White House, and Trump himself, in the past in an attempt to discredit the special counsel investigation.

“Remember, Bob Mueller is a Republican who was appointed by a Republican who served in a Republican administration and stayed on until his term ended,” Ryan responded. “But I don’t think many people are saying Bob Mueller is a person who is a biased partisan. He’s really sort of anything but.”

“The point is, we have an investigation in the House, an investigation in the Senate, and a special counsel, which sort of depoliticizes this stuff, and gets it out of the political theater,” Ryan continued. “That is, I think, better, to get this off to the side. I think the facts will vindicate themselves. And then, let’s just go do our jobs.”

“So what we’re not focused on doing is spending all of our time on Russia, spending all of our time on this intrigue,” Ryan concluded. “We want to spend our time focusing on solving people’s problems.”

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White House aide Kellyanne Conway said Sunday that President Donald Trump doesn’t think he’s lying when he makes incorrect, baseless claims about issues like voter fraud and state surveillance.

In a conversation with Conway on his media analysis show “Reliable Sources,” CNN’s Brian Stelter argued that the President’s rhetoric “makes it harder for us to communicate as a country” and said there were “big scandals going on” that journalists had a responsibility to cover.

“The scandals are about the President’s lies,” he added later. “About voter fraud, about wiretapping, his repeated lies about those issues. That’s the scandal.”

“He doesn’t think he’s lying about those issues, and you know it,” Conway said.

“A lot of husbands don’t think they’re lying when they cheat on their spouse and then say they’re not,” Stelter replied. “Doesn’t mean they’re not lying.”

Stelter’s mentioning Trump’s lies about voter fraud and wiretapping was a reference to two of the President’s largest falsehoods in his six months in the White House.

First, Trump charged, without evidence, that millions of illegal votes cost him the popular vote to Hillary Clinton. An “election integrity” commission chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is currently exploring potential changes to voting processes, though they claim the commission was not created to substantiate the President’s claim.

Second, the President charged, without evidence, that the administration of former President Barack Obama wiretapped him. The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Friday that the so-called “unmasking” scandal, referring to the unmasking of names in intelligence reports, “was all created by Devin Nunes [R-CA],” the chair of the House Intelligence Committee and a White House ally.

Watch below via CNN:

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New White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci refused on Friday to distance himself from the Trump administration’s baseless claim that 3 million illegal votes cast for Hillary Clinton lost Donald Trump the popular vote, quickly extinguishing hopes the investment-banker-turned-Trump-insider would usher in an era of truth-telling at the White House.

The claim of massive voter fraud has not been supported by any evidence, and it was one of the most explosive fact-free statements in a young administration full of them.

Yet, Scaramucci said he was not “up to speed” on the question, and that it was unfair to have been asked to comment on it.

“Do you stand by some of the factual claims that have been contested, that have been made by this administration?” a reported asked. “Three million illegal votes cast for the President’s opponent? Do you now — do you endorse all of those statements?”

“So, it’s a little bit of an unfair question because I’m not up to speed on all of that,” Scaramucci said. “I’m just candidly telling you that.”

“The President said 3 million people voted illegally, and there’s no evidence. Do you stand by that or not?” the reporter asked.

“OK,” Scaramucci said. “So if the President says it, let me do more research on it. My guess is that there’s probably some level of truth to that.”

“I think what we have found sometimes — the President says stuff, some of you guys in the media think it’s not true, and it turns out it’s closer to the truth than people think, so let me do more homework on that and I’ll get back to you,” he concluded.

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