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

Billionaire Mnuchin pal benefitted when Treasury secretary personally redrew “Opportunity Zone” lines.

President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax bill created so-called “opportunity zones,” or areas where investors get capital gains tax advantages, in an attempt to spur local spending. The areas have been portrayed as downtrodden by the President, but they also include wealthy areas next to poor areas.

Predictably, the law prompted many capital-gains-rich investors to shuffle their money around to take advantage of the Trump tax write-off, including Jared Kushner and the billionaire Trump ally Dan Gilbert. Now we can add another billionaire to the list: Once known as the “junk bond king,” Michael Milken happens to be close friends with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Milken has a real estate investment in Nevada that he pushed to be included in an opportunity zone. His neighbors there include Tesla and Google. Per The New York Times, Treasury officials first ruled that the area was too wealthy for the tax break. But then the billionaire’s Milken Institute featured Mnuchin as a speaker at its annual conference, where the Treasury secretary also attended a private meeting.

“Within days,” per the Times, the Treasury Department changed its mind. Per emails the paper obtained, Mnuchin personally gave the order to designate the land for the tax break. The official who used the run the Treasury Department office handling opportunity zones told the Times that employees “were put in a position where they had to compromise the integrity of the process.”

We all know Donald Trump hates Amazon, but a new book indicates how bad things are.

For years, tech companies have argued to the Pentagon that they’re the best candidate for a $10 billion, 10-year contract to overhaul the Defense Department’s cloud computing. Amazon Web Services dominates the market for cloud computing and storage, and was expected to win the project. But Microsoft got the job on Friday.

Trump has publicly suggested he wouldn’t be happy with Amazon winning the contract. In July, he said he was “getting tremendous complaints from other companies” after Microsoft and Amazon were named finalists three months prior. And thanks to a new book, we now know the matter came up behind-the-scenes a year earlier.

Mattis’ former speechwriter Guy Snodgrass wites that in the summer of 2018, Trump called Mattis and told him to “screw Amazon” out of a chance to bid on the contract. Per Snodgrass, Mattis then told his staff: “We’re not going to do that. This will be done by the book, both legally and ethically.”

Trump wants a hardliner for substitute DHS secretary after the latest substitute announced his resignation. But… the rules governing such substitutes are specific, and neither of Trump’s two favorites fit the bill. No matter — it’s time for another episode of legally dubious loopholes to install far-right allies atop important federal agencies.

The U.S. Marshals hired a company partially owned by the President’s brother to upgrade courtroom security. The Marshals claim they didn’t realize the connection beforehand.

The acting director of the Bureau of Land Management once wrote for a prominent, off-the-walls conspiracy theorist. Who guessed Lyndon LaRouche?!

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