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 and on Twitter @mattshuham.

Articles by Matt

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) said Monday he will resign on April 1.

“I regret my health has become an ongoing challenge,” the 80-year-old senator said in a statement Monday. “I intend to fulfill my responsibilities and commitments to the people of Mississippi and the Senate through the completion of the 2018 appropriations cycle, after which I will formally retire from the U.S. Senate.”

The Associated Press first reported the resignation announcement.

Politico reported in December on the 80-year-old senator’s “physical and mental decline” and noted he hadn’t presided over a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee in months nor delivered a speech from the Senate floor all year.

Cochran joins Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) in choosing not to seek re-election. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) resigned his office in January following allegations that he kissed and groped women without their consent, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned his senate seat to take his current position in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) won a special election to fill Sessions’ seat in December.

The Washington Post reported in early February that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had asked Mississippi’s governor, Republican Phil Bryant, to appoint himself to Cochran’s senate in the event of the senator’s resignation, according to two unnamed people familiar with the conversations. The Post, citing one unnamed person familiar with the situation, said Trump supported McConnell’s proposal.

The Post noted that Cochran’s resignation, according to Mississippi law, would trigger a special election to be held on Nov. 6. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote at first, the top two vote-getters compete in a run-off election, the Post reported.

The governor told the Post at the time that “speculation” about Cochran’s service was “insensitive, irresponsible and unfair.”

In a statement Monday, McConnell made no mention of any plan to fill Cochran’s seat but applauded the senator’s “well-earned reputation as a ‘quiet persuader’” and “his unfailingly even keel, sober expertise, and respectful demeanor.”

This post has been updated. 

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sander blamed Congress on Monday for not acting to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, but said that President Donald Trump’s administration “fully” expects to win its legal case to end the program that previously did so.

Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in September 2017, but allowed a brief window for DACA recipients whose work authorizations were set to expire before March 5 to renew their status. Since then, courts have ruled that DACA recipients must continue to be allowed to re-apply for legal protections, at least temporarily, and that DACA recipients must be notified and given a chance to respond if their status is revoked.

“Look, I think it is absolutely terrible that Congress has failed to act,” Sanders told reporters at her daily press briefing. “The President gave Congress six months and he also gave them a plan. He gave them four pillars that he wanted to see in legislation, legislation and principles that the majority of members of Congress have supported in the past.”

Though the White House did list four overarching principles it wanted to include in its immigration policy — including protecting DACA recipients, providing border security funding, ending family reunification immigration outside the most immediate relatives and ending the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program — Trump has proven to be a wildly inconsistent negotiator.

Though he initially told a bipartisan group of legislators in a televised meeting that he would “take the heat” and sign any legislation Congress sent his way, Trump later took numerous potshots at bipartisan legislation, added his own conditions to potential legislation and then blamed Democrats for the standstill.

On Monday, he once again blamed Democrats and claimed they are “nowhere to be found on DACA.”

Sanders on Monday said that members of Congress “claim to want to fix DACA” but that they have so far “failed to address it.”

“But we’re still hopeful that Congress will actually do their jobs, show up and get something done and fix this problem, not kick it down the road and ignore it,” she said.

Asked about the government’s ongoing legal case to end DACA, Sanders said, “We fully expect to win on an appeal.”

“The sad part is, is that both Republicans and Democrats don’t disagree on most of the merits of this legislation,” she said. “The fact that they can’t actually come together and get something done is pathetic, and now they’re using the courts as an excuse. They need to come to work and actually do what they were elected to do.”

Asked whether Trump will change his position about rescinding DACA if a court clears his way, Sanders said “I’m not going to get ahead of what the President may or may not do on that front.”

“We’re still asking Congress to actually do their jobs,” she added.

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The bank that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen used to pay $130,000 in hush money to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford — known as Stormy Daniels in the industry — flagged the payment as suspicious, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

An LLC that Cohen established used First Republic Bank to pay Clifford in order to keep an alleged sexual encounter between her and Trump under wraps; First Republic later reported the payment to the Treasury Department, one unnamed person with knowledge of the matter told the Journal.

The Journal said it was unclear when First Republic first reported the payment. Cohen previously told the paper, while declining to say why he used his own money to “facilitate a payment” to Clifford, that “just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean that it can’t cause you harm or damage. I will always protect Mr. Trump.”

Days before the 2016 election, Clifford’s lawyer threatened to cancel her nondisclosure agreement with Cohen because Clifford hadn’t yet received the promised money, the Washington Post reported FridayTen days later, the Post reported, the money arrived. The timing, according the paper, could support two groups’ complaints that the payment was essentially undocumented election spending.

In January, the campaign finance group Common Cause said Cohen’s payment to Clifford violated election law because the hush money “was an unreported in-kind contribution to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.” The advocacy group filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission, as did American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, a Democratic Party-aligned advocacy group.

Mr. Cohen had missed two payment deadlines earlier in October “because he couldn’t reach Mr. Trump in the hectic final days of the presidential campaign,” the Journal reported, citing another unnamed person familiar with the matter. Anonymous sources told the Journal that, following the election, Cohen complained to friends that Trump hadn’t reimbursed him for the expense.

Cohen replied to the Journal’s request for comment with two words: “Fake News.”

Clifford acknowledged a 2006 sexual encounter with Trump in a 2011 interview with In Touch magazine.

Clifford and her attorney were using a client-trust account with City National Bank, which received Cohen’s payment on Oct. 27 2016, the Journal reported. The bank asked Clifford’s attorney in September of 2017 about the source of the payment, the Post reported. The Journal noted that the gap between the payment and City National’s internal investigation of it, nearly one year, was unusual.

Read the Journal’s full report here.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) office said Monday that it was “extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war.”

“We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan,” Ryan spokesperson AshLee Strong said in a statement. “The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don’t want to jeopardize those gains.”

That directly contradicted President Donald Trump, who last week announced his plan to apply 25 and 10 percent tariffs to steel and aluminum imports, respectively.

Trump claimed following the announcement that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.”

A GOP source told TPM that congressional leaders won’t rule out potential action down the line.

This post has been updated.

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Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said Monday that he believed someone in the Trump White House knew about the domestic violence allegations against former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter.

Porter resigned in February after his ex-wives’ allegations against him were made public. But the FBI had sent the White House the results of Wray’s background check months earlier, according to FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. According to a CNN report that cited unnamed sources, Porter was even in talks to get a promotion when the allegations went public.

“We saw a problem in the White House a few months back where an individual who shouldn’t have been there continued to have access to information,” Lewandowski told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Monday. “And that was a failure somewhere.”

He added, when Cuomo pressed: “I think somebody knew.”

“Somebody knew, and the question was, what did they know and how soon did they know it?” Lewandowski said.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who has faced harsh criticism for Porter’s continued employment at the White House despite the FBI reports on the allegations against him, said Friday that “I have nothing to even consider resigning over.”

Lewandowski has faced allegations of criminal wrongdoing himself: He was charged with battery during the presidential campaign after surveillance video showed him grabbing and yanking the arm of then-Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields. (Trump defended Lewandowski fiercely and the charges were dropped a few weeks later.)

And in December of last year Joy Villa, a singer and Trump supporter, filed a report with the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police alleging Lewandowski slapped her butt at a party at the Trump International Hotel in D.C. previous month. Villa told CNN that Lewandowski “smacked my ass really hard, almost violent in nature.” When Villa told Lewandowski she could report the him for sexual harassment, she told CNN, Lewanowski said “I work in the private sector” and slapped her again.

Lewandowski said of the Villa’s claim at the time: “What I am going to do is to let the process play forward just as you did when you were accused of sexual harassment in your own case.”

Pressed again by Cuomo Monday, Lewandowski said of the media’s questions about Porter: “There is some clear legitimacy to those questions.” Cuomo did not ask Lewandowski about Villa’s allegation.

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Former President Barack Obama’s last White House chief of staff, Denis McDonough, said Sunday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) insisted in 2016 that a bipartisan statement on Russian election meddling — released fewer than two months before the election — be “watered down.”

“The President asked the four leaders in a bipartisan meeting in the Oval Office to join him in asking the states to work with us on this question,” McDonough told NBC’s Chuck Todd, referring to a late September 2016 letter from the majority and minority leaders in both chambers to the National Association of State Election Directors.

“It took over three weeks to get that statement worked out,” McDonough continued. “It was dramatically watered down. You can ask Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi–”

“And it was watered down on the insistence of Mitch McConnell?” Todd interjected.

“Yes,” McDonough replied.

“And nobody else?” Todd asked.

“Yes,” McDonough confirmed.

The Obama chief of staff said he didn’t know why McConnell had insisted on watering down the letter.

McDonough’s story matched post-election reporting in the Washington Post, which cited several unnamed officials, that McConnell “raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics,” in the paper’s words.

And Former Vice President Joe Biden said in January of this year that McConnell “wanted no part of having a bipartisan commitment saying, essentially, ‘Russia’s doing this. Stop.’”

McConnell’s office responded to Biden’s remark at the time by pointing to the September letter to the National Association of State Election Directors, according to Politico. However, as Politico noted, that letter made no specific mention of Russia nor any other attempts at influencing the election beyond “malefactors … seeking to use cyberattacks to disrupt the administration of our elections.” 

McConnell’s communications director, David Popp, referred TPM in an email to his response to NBC News: He pointed the outlet to a July 2017 op-ed in the Post by McDonough, in which the former chief of staff wrote “This bipartisan outreach was harder and more time-consuming than it needed to be, but it was ultimately successful.”

“The White House asked for a letter about election security — not Russia,” Popp added in an email to NBC News. “And McDonough said he even asked DEMOCRATS not to do a public statement about Russia during this same time period. Give me a break.”

McDonough told Todd separately on Sunday, referring to the “Gang of Eight,” constituted of the majority and minority leaders of both congressional chambers, and of both chambers’ intelligence committees: “The intelligence committee approached the entire leadership of the Congress in early August 2016. Several members of that group did not take the briefing until early September 2016. Indication number one of a lack of urgency.”

Watch below via NBC:

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Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said Sunday that there is a “high probability” Congress will not pass any new gun control legislation without more action from President Donald Trump.

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is not introducing gun legislation this week,” CNN’s Jake Tapper told Manchin in an interview, before referring to Manchin and Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R-PA) bill to require background checks for firearm purchases at gun shows and online.

“Do you have any idea if he’s ever going to bring it up?” he asked. 

“If the President comes forward and says ‘This is what I want done, this is what I’m going to support and I will give you the cover you need, okay,” Manchin said.

“It’s up to President Trump?” Tapper interjected.

“It’s up to President Trump, truly,” Manchin said.

Earlier in the interview, the West Virginia senator said he “really” believed, “in my heart of hearts,” that Trump would sign his and Toomey’s bill if given the opportunity.

“Is it not still possible, if not likely, that Congress will do nothing?” Tapper asked, noting the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead.

“There’s a high probability that could happen if this thing goes mute,” Manchin responded.

It was a familiar message. Toomey told NBC’s Chuck Todd of the legislation last weekend, “I haven’t gotten anyone who said, ‘Yes, sign me up,’ but there are definitely members who are reconsidering.”

Manchin said at the time that “[w]e’re not going to bring it back unless the president signs on,”adding: “I think it’s imperative that he has to get on board with what he feels he’s comfortable with.”

While Trump has expressed his support for making background checks more comprehensive, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday that the President does not support the Manchin-Toomey bill to require them at gun shows and for online firearm purchases.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators have questioned an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates, the New York Times reported Saturday, in addition to questioning others about possible attempts by the UAE to buy political influence in the United States.

The Times’ report, which cited unnamed people familiar with knowledge of the discussions, comes on the heels of a Washington Post report that at least four countries — including the UAE — discussed ways they could influence White House adviser Jared Kushner by exploiting his “complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience,” in the Post’s words.

And NBC News reported Friday that Mueller is probing whether Kushner’s business-related discussions with foreigners during the presidential transition later affected White House policy.

The Times’ story focused on individual connections between the White House and the UAE: specifically, a Lebanese-American businessman, George Nader, and his role as an adviser to Mohammad, the deputy supreme commander of the Emirates’ military and the country’s de facto ruler, according to the paper.

In one instance, the Times reported, Nader received a memo later obtained by the paper detailing a meeting between Trump and one of his fundraisers, Elliot Broidy. According to the memo, the Times said, the pair discussed Broidy’s private security company, which has hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts with the UAE, and several other topics.

Broidy reportedly encouraged Trump to meet with Mohammad outside the White House in an “informal setting,” but White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster shot the idea down, the Times said, citing the memo.

According to the same memo — which a spokesperson for Broidy told the Times “had been stolen through sophisticated hacking,” in the Times’ words — Broidy encouraged Trump to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

In one of his most public disagreements with Trump, Tillerson in June called on several Gulf states including the UAE to lift a blockade of Qatar. The Gulf states, and Trump, argued the blockade was justified by what they said was Qatar’s support of terrorism.

Nader “made frequent” trips to the White House in the administration’s early months and met often with former chief strategist Steve Bannon and adviser Jared Kushner, the Times reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the conversations.

The Times’ sources said Mueller’s team has asked interviewees about Nader’s role in White House policy-making. The paper noted Axios first reported on Mueller’s focus on Nader in January.

Nader and Broidy met sometime around Inauguration Day 2017, the Times reported, citing unnamed people familiar with their relationship. After that, Nader introduced Broidy to the crown prince. And after that, the Times’ sources said, Broidy signed several hundred million dollars worth of contracts with the UAE. Broidy sent Nader the memo covering his meeting with Trump by Oct. 6, the Times reported.

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Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said in an interview aired Saturday that he thinks President Donald Trump “will have a challenge from the Republican Party.”

“I think there should be,” he told the host of CNN’s “The Axe Files,” David Axelrod. “I also think that there will be an independent challenger, particularly if the Democrats insist on putting somebody up from the far left of the party.”

“I’ve not sworn off elected office in the future,” Flake told Axelrod separately. “I think the fever will have to cool. There’s not much place for a Republican like me in a party like this right now, and I know that.”

“The saw has always been ‘that’s the future and it will always be the future,” the senator said, asked about an independent challenger for the presidency in 2020. “But I think that future may be coming.”

Flake is an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, though he votes with his priorities the vast majority of the time. He announced in October of last year that he will not seek re-election to the Senate. 

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President Donald Trump on Saturday night addressed the annual Gridiron Club Dinner, an event he skipped last year and one known for presidential humor.

Though he poked fun at his own administration’s dysfunction (“It’s been really another calm week at the White House”), Trump saved some of his sharpest lines for Democrats, including when he said of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA): “She has to immediately take an IQ test.”

Separately, Trump referenced former Vice President Joe Biden’s line during the 2016 campaign that “I wish we were in high school, I could take him behind the gym.” Biden made the remark following the release of footage from a taping of NBC’s “Access Hollywood” in which Trump said he kissed and groped women without their consent.

“There’s talk about Joe Biden, Sleepy Joe, getting into the race,” Trump said. “You know what he said, ‘I want to take him behind the barn.’”

“Just trust me, I would kick his ass,” the President, 71, said of Biden, 75.

“Boy, would he be easy,” Trump added. “Oh, would he be easy.”

Yahoo News’ Hunter Walker was the assigned print pool reporter for the event. He shared a transcript of Trump’s remarks with TPM in an email and noted: “As per tradition, the overall tone was joking and the transcript includes breaks for laughter.

Read Trump’s full remarks, as transcribed by Walker, below:

“Well, thank you very much. It’s an honor to be here and, I must tell you, that Melania and I are really thrilled. We really looked forward to this. … I didn’t know what to expect, but it’s really quality people … quality people. So, thank you very much.

It’s been really another calm week at the White House. We finally have it running like a fine-tuned machine. It’s fine-tuned. It’s a beautiful piece of work. … But before I get started, I wanted to apologize for arriving a little bit late. You know, we were late tonight because Jared could not get through security. … Ivanka, you’ve got to do something, … Jared—but I will tell you, he’s a good guy. He has—he has suffered. He is a great guy he really is.

I know the Gridiron is really an old tradition in Washington, been around a long time, and one that’s important to many of you in the media. So, I was very excited to receive this invitation and come here and ruin your evening in person. … My staff was concerned heading into this dinner that I couldn’t do self-deprecating humor. They were worried about it. They said, ‘Can you do this?’ And I told them not to worry. Nobody does self-deprecating humor better than I do. …  In fact, Orrin Hatch, Orrin said that ‘Donald Trump is the best at self-deprecating in the history of America, better than Washington and better than Lincoln.’ … Thank you, Orrin.

They told me my remarks tonight should be something like a late night routine. … Late night—are they the worst, by the way? We’re finally going to get one that’s going to come to our side. They will get very big ratings if they do that. … With all the television talent here, I think … you’d have figured that out. But I have to tell you, in preparation, I did what any good late night comic would do these days. I called Chuck Schumer and I asked him for some talking points.  Can you believe this? I also spoke to some of the funniest people around the White House starting with my number two, Mike Pence. … Love you Mike. … Some of you may think that Mike is not a comedian, but he is one of the best straight men you’re ever going to meet. … He is straight! …

I saw him the other day. We’re in line shaking hands with men and women. A woman came over to shake his hand and he said, ‘I’m sorry. I can’t do that. My wife is not here.’ I never saw anything like it. He’s … years ahead of his time. … Mike is doing a fantastic job as our vice president. He really is. He’s doing a fantastic job. Could not have asked for better. I really am very proud to call him, ‘The Apprentice.’

But lately what bothers me, I have to tell you, he’s showing a particularly keen interest in the news these days. He starts out each morning asking everybody, ‘Has he been impeached yet?’ …. You can’t be impeached when theres no crime! … Mike, put that down! … I thought that was going to get a much better … I said to Melania, ‘Do you think I should use that one? I don’t know.’ And then she said, Use it. It’s good.’ … So much for humor. You never know about humor do you. …

Steve Mnuchin … we saw him and his beautiful wife on stage. … When she asked whether or not she could sign the money also, I said, ‘Steve, you’ve got a lot to handle.’ I said, ‘You can’t do that Steve!’

America has a proud history of Treasury secretaries who sponsor the arts. Alexander Hamilton gave us so much. Andrew Mellon famously gave us the National Gallery—tremendous gift. Steve has given us the blockbuster movie ‘Lego Batman.’ … See, now that one I didn’t think was funny at all. …

But Attorney General Sessions is here with us tonight. … I offered him a ride over and he recused himself. … But that’s OK. We also have some of the leading lights of the media here including some folks from the failing New York Times. That sucker is failing! … I know we have our differences, but I also know that you have a very special place … in my heart. … The other day they had five stories on the front page of the New York Times and every one of them was totally different and each one of them was bad.

After all, you the New York Times are an icon. I’m a New York icon, you’re a New York icon, and the only difference is, I still own my buildings.

I especially have a place in my heart for Arthur Sulzberger. … Our stories are almost mirror images. I inherited a million dollars from my father—had a great father—gave me a million dollars and I turned it into billions. True story. Arthur inherited billions of dollars and he turned his into millions. Hello Arthur.

And it’s been a very tough year. Jeff Zucker’s here. … CNN, it lost a tremendous amount of credibility this year, but they also lost one of their true stars, the guy who got you the most scoops, inside info … your really very best reporter. There was nobody like him—Steve Bannon. That guy leaked more than the Titanic …

As I’m sure you’ve seen, we’re now riding very high in the polls, which is hard to believe considering I never get good press. But I just hit 50 in the Rasmussen poll.

A lot of people said I wouldn’t be able to do so with … losing my so-called chief strategist. … I just lost my strategist. … Just lost my strategist. It’s pretty bad, but somehow, we’re still doing great even without Omarosa. … By the way, I always knew, someday, you’re going to fire her. Is that the worst? By the way, Omarosa, you’re the worst! …

So many people have been leaving the White House. It’s actually been really exciting and invigorating. … I like turnover. I like chaos. It really is good.

Now the question everyone keeps asking is, ‘Who’s going to be the next to leave? Steve Miller or Melania?’ … That is terrible honey, but you love me, right? … I wont tell you what she said. … She said, ‘Behave.’ … Is that terrible?

By the way, she has been an incredible first lady. … Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and all of them. There’s so many women in that audience. The women with signs, ‘We love our first lady.’ True, all of them, hundreds and hundreds of them during speeches, ‘We love high heels. We love everything.’ … These signs, they have pictures of shoes. … Remember when she was badly treated about wearing high heels when actually she had the sneakers in her bag? But they love our first lady.

I can tell you, despite what you’ve reported, we’ve had a lot of success this year. We really have … tremendous. Our tax plan has been a tremendous victory. … That is really turning out to be popular. Melania is even getting some major benefits from it. She can finally claim me as an adult dependent. …

And the White House is actually a warm, loving, and wonderful place. I’ve heard it’s cold. It’s not cold. It’s warm. It’s loving, you meet great people, wonderful people like yourselves. And I just don’t understand why everyone on the internet and in the media keeps screaming, ‘Hashtag Free Melania.’ Free Melania. … Like a number one hashtag. Free Melania. She’s actually having a great time.

Yes, are you? Oh, good, she’s having a great time. You’re doing a good job. You know, you can’t do a great job unless you enjoy it. It’s true. You people know that as great reporters. You love what you do, and if you didn’t love what you do, you wouldn’t do it well. …

Before we go any further, I want to just discuss the big financial story of the week. Ever since we announced our new tariffs, which actually is very popular with people because they’re tired of getting ripped off, many dying American industries have come to the White House asking for protection. They want help. They need protection. Unfortunately, I’m sorry, I fear it may be too late for the print media. That was pretty good though wasn’t it? … That’s another bomb that I thought was going to be great.

It might be hard for you to believe, but I do enjoy gatherings like these. They give me a chance to socialize with members of the opposition party. … Also great to see some Democrats here. … The opposition party, I’ve seen a few of them applauding tonight including Sen. Joe Manchin, who’s here.

And don’t worry, Joe. … He’s a good man. There aren’t any cameras this time Joe. And I won’t tell Chuck and Nancy what you’re doing. Because boy was he applauding me the other night. Right? At the State of the Union he was up there applauding. I don’t know who the hell he was catering to.

I thought my State of the Union address was actually extraordinary. One of the best ever given. in fact Luis Gutierrez was so overcome with emotion at how good this particular speech was that he had to leave the chamber. He left and wept.

I probably could have found a way to get the Democrats to stand and clap. … They didn’t. They were like frozen. I said black unemployment is at the lowest point in history. No emotion. They sat other than Manchin. He stood up. Thank you, Joe. He’s still paying the price for that. I said Hispanic unemployment is at the lowest level in history, record. There was no emotion. But I decided I wasn’t going to change anything. I wasn’t going to get them to stand. I didn’t know how. … I was not going to include a salute to Fidel Castro. They would have stood up. They would have cheered. …

And I know Mayor Mitch Landrieu feels right at home in Washington coming from Louisiana. I love Louisiana. … Not too bad right? Not bad Mitch! … It’s a beautiful swamp. I like that swamp. … That’s a much more legitimate swamp. But I have to say Mitch, that while you’re here in Washington, only one request. … They already hit him on the statues. I was going to say, ‘Don’t touch our statues.’ But they’ve already hit you three times on the statues. … But Mitch you did a good job tonight and honestly I love the way you finished. … I really did. I thought it was very appropriate. … Thank you.

And I never knew Tom Cotton was such a great comedian. We were laughing, the whole place. That was good tom. A rising star. How old are you now Tom? He’s 40. Wow, I better watch my back. You know … he’s a friend of mine, but in politics, you just don’t have these guys. … You were great tonight. I appreciate it. … Thank you Tom Cotton. And he is a rising star in our nation, not our party, in our nation. He’s got a great future—smart and a great guy.

I was hoping we’d also see Adam Schiff—wonderful guy. … Leaking Adam! … He’ll be in the middle of a meeting—what is he? In some committee, congressional committee, Mike what is it? Intelligence? Judiciary? What the hell committee? That’s the only thing, he doesn’t know what committee he’s on because he’s on the phone so much. He doesn’t have any time. ‘Hey, let’s call these guys.’ … Is that legal? Are you allowed to go to .. and just every half hour … ‘I got to go break the news.’ … Adam Schiff … He was going to come tonight and then he heard that this was not a televised event so he stayed home. He stayed home.

But Adam is constantly on television pushing the idea that somehow I would undermine democracy. … Undermine? I love democracy. But he thinks I’m going to undermine democracy. So, I have to tell him I have great respect for the various branches of government, the executive, the legislative, the judicial—very important—and last, Fox News. I have a lot of respect for Fox News. … Thank god for Fox News.

I often think that the Democrats would be better off if they learned a thing or two from us. They could learn from us. For instance, you might have noticed that some of the best lines from my campaign followed a certain pattern. ‘Drain the swamp!’ Remember that? … When I saw that I hated it. … Somebody brought that one down for me, I said, ‘This is so hokey.’ Drain the swamp. … This massive crowd, 25,000 people, and I said, .. Drain the Swamp!’ And they went crazy. I said, ‘Whoah.’ Then, I said It in the next speech, ‘Drain the swamp!’ And now, I love it. Drain the swamp!

But we had, ‘Drain The Swamp,’ we had, ‘Lock Her Up, we had, ‘Build The Wall.’ Build the wall! Nancy Pelosi has been trying to come up with a line that’s equal. And her line that she announced last week is, ‘Mow The Grass!’ It doesn’t work. ..

Mow the frickin’ grass. … That’s going to stop MS-13. … Mow that frickin’ grass! … Man, she’s crazy, but she’s a fine woman. She is. I actually like Nancy Pelosi. Can you believe that? Her and Maxine Waters. How about that one? Maxine Waters, ‘He must be impeached!’ That’s all she knows how to say, ‘He must be impeached!’ Impeached! … But he’s done nothing wrong. Doesn’t matter, they say. What has he done wrong? ‘I don’t know! You got to be impeached!’ … And then I say … I get in trouble for this, ‘She has to immediately, take an IQ test.’ And people go crazy. They went crazy/ But Maxine and Nancy and these people, there’s a lot of hatred. There’s so much hatred we have to stop Mike. We have to stop the hatred.

And it’s true … Nancy’s worth tens of millions of dollars and she’s a populist. … You know, she really considers herself that. And I really try to tell her that you can’t be a true populist unless you’re worth at least ten billion dollars … people like you better.

I don’t know how the hell they like me, but boy I love those people. I love them. I really do. … I understand that, in recognition of our massive tax cuts, Nancy suggested that—Oh, I’m not going to say this. The dessert should be crumb cake. Give me a break. You know, the word crumb is not working out well for Nancy.

On the way in tonight, someone asked me what I think about the Dreamers. I love the Dreamers. I do love the Dreamers. … I’ll be honest. … I really believe the Republicans want to solve this problem—DACA—more than the Democrats and certainly faster. So, we’re all working together and I hope that something’s going to happen. I really do. I  hope that something’s going to happen. …

We’re talking about the Dreamers and, quite honestly, Democrats can fantasize all they want about winning in 2020. Those are the Dreamers. … I’m a Dreamer also. …

There’s talk about Joe Biden, Sleepy Joe, getting into the race. You know what he said, ‘I want to take him behind the barn.’ … Just trust me, I would kick his ass. … Boy, would he be easy. Oh, would he be easy. … But Joe—give me a break. The guy who keeps making outrageous statements thinks he has a shot at being president? Guy makes outrageous statements. … He’s going to be president? He doesn’t have a shot.

And Oprah. Oh … here’s my next one. Oprah, I don’t think she’s ever been hit verbally yet. Right? She’s led a charmed life. She’s done a great job. … She used to love me …. I was on one of her last shows, ‘The Trump Family.’ We’re going to have to replay that for her. We’re going to have to. … She says she’ll run only if she gets the go ahead from the Almighty. All right Oprah, go ahead and run. …

And then we have Elizabeth Warren. … I watched her making a speech for Hillary. I said, ‘I think she’s losing all of the male vote for Hillary Clinton.’ It was brutal. It was mean and angry. Elizabeth Warren, who had a rough day last week trying to prove her heritage, She had a rough day. And she had a good suggestion though about easing world tensions. The world is quite tense. Some of this stuff should have happened over the last twenty years, but it didn’t. … But she said that Rex Tillerson and I should sit down with the leaders of Iran and North Korea and smoke a peace pipe. … I didn’t like that Pocahontas.

I won’t rule out direct talks with Kim Jong Un. I just won’t. As far as the risk of dealing with a madman is concerned, that’s his problem, not mine. … He must be a fine man. Do you think he’s a fine man? … Although, we did save the Olympics. President Moon gave us a lot of credit, said, ‘It was—it was President Trump that made the Olympics successful because there were a lot of people that wanted to go into that stadium with the potential of a problem—a big problem—and he gave us all a lot of credit. He said, ‘Without President Trump and his strong attitude they would have never called up and said, ‘Hey, we’d love to be in the Olympics together.’

And that’s true. … Whether people want to hear it or not, they had a very successful Olympics. That was heading for disaster. They weren’t selling tickets. … It was heading for disaster and now we’re talking. And they, by the way, called up a couple of days ago and said, ‘We would like to talk.’ And I said, ‘So would we, but you have to de-nuke, you have to de-nuke.’

So, let’s see what happens. Let’s see what happens. You know when the media said … and when I said, ‘My button is bigger than yours and mine works.’ Everyone gave me a hard time, what a terrible thing. They didn’t say what he said. He said, ‘I have a button on my desk and I am prepared to use it.’ Nobody ever said that. So, my statement was in response, but maybe positive things are happening. I hope that’s true and I say that in all seriousness. I hope that’s true … But we will be meeting and we’ll see if anything positive happens. It’s been a long time. …. It’s a problem that should have been fixed a long time ago … very far down the road. …

i know there’s been a lot of talk about Twitter and social media this year. But it really can be an important form of modern day communication. If I didn’t have Twitter how would Gen. Kelly and Gen, McMaster know what it is that they’re supposed to say that day. They wouldn’t know. They’d have no idea.

There’s been a lot of criticism of John Kelly in the press, which i think is very very unfair. He’s doing an amazing job. He even told me he would let Ivanka visit the Oval Office when she gets home from representing us in the Olympics and she did so. Ivanka did you enjoy your visit? I hope so. That was very nice and by the way Ivanka did an incredible job representing our country at the Olympics. She did.

Many people have asked me how my time as a reality TV star prepared me for the presidency, the truth is there’s very little overlap between the two. Very little. In one job, I had to manage a cutthroat cast of characters desperate for TV time, totally unprepared for their … jobs, and each week afraid of having their asses fired. In the other job, I was the host of a smash television hit. … Television’s so easy compared to this. …

I know we all came here tonight to have fun and tell jokes, but I also think we need to discuss the issues. Issues are very important. … For example, we’ve got a new plan to tackle global warming, one of my favorite subjects. We’re going to reduce the carbon footprint when we travel by shrinking the press pool so that we only have room for Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, and Judge Judy. …

I better wrap it up. I have to be up early tomorrow morning—six o’clock—to be listening to Fox and Friends. … But I do want to say this is one of the best times I can ever remember having with the media. This might be the most fun I’ve had since watching your faces on election night. … I apologize. Years, years, years taken  off your life. Oh, John King, with that beautiful red map. His hand was shaking toward the end. … I love the way he uses that map. He’s good at it. … And then it was Michigan. Remember they wouldn’t call Pennsylvania? There was one percent of the … vote to go in Pennsylvania. It was like 11 o’clock. One percent of the vote to go, they wouldn’t call it. And if i lost even one of the votes, I won by a lot. They wouldn’t call it. So instead, they called Wisconsin. And then, John King, remember, ‘The Winner of the great state of Michigan.’ He’s going Michigan. He’s like, ‘Hey Trump won Michigan, this can’t be happening.’ And that hand was up. …

Look, whether you like me or not, you have to say that was good. That was exciting. … Lot of tears were in this room. You’re not supposed to cry. Mike are they supposed to be crying? If somebody wins or somebody … they’re supposed to be a little impartial. Let’s be a little bit more impartial. …

But you know, I’ll tell you what, I do have a lot of respect for a lot of the people in this room. Even people that have been very strong opponents, I’ve developed a lot of respect. Fairness is important to me, but you know, you’ve got your point of view. And a lot of you cover things very squarely and there are few professions that i respect more. And I’d like to thank the Gridiron Club and Foundation—foundation does an incredible job—for this wonderful evening. I want to thank all of the amazing speakers and, really, performers. Some very good performers … they really are. …

I want to thank the press for all you do to support and sustain our democracy. I mean that. I mean that. Some incredible people in the press … brilliant, powerful, smart, and fair people in the press. And I want to thank you. My greatest wish is that we can all work together to make America safe, and just, and free for all Americans. We have a great country and we all, together, will make it even better. Thank you all very much. This is a great honor thank you.”

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