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Esme Cribb

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Esme

The DC Metropolitan Police Department on Tuesday confirmed that Joy Villa, a singer who accused President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, of slapping her butt at a Trump hotel party last month, filed a police report on Sunday regarding her allegations.

Villa “disclosed she was the victim of a sexual assault,” according to a copy of the report obtained by TPM.

Villa told Politico on Tuesday that she told a DC police detective that she wanted to file a sexual harassment claim, but was told that her allegations fell under the purview of the department’s sex assault unit instead.

“The detective I talked to said that sexual harassment is what happens in the workforce,” she told Politico. “The detective told me, ‘What you describe happened to you is sexual assault.’”

Villa told Politico that she provided the police with the names of two witnesses to the alleged incident.

Politico first reported on Villa’s allegations against Lewandowski last week, after a witness described the incident to a reporter. The singer, who attended the Grammys wearing a dress emblazoned with President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, accused Lewandowski of slapping her twice when a friend of Villa’s introduced the two at a party in November.

Villa did not approach Politico, according to the report, but said Lewandowski’s behavior was “completely demeaning and shocking.”

“I’m wearing this silver suit and stretchy pants, and after the photo, he smacks my ass really hard,” she said.

Villa said she threatened to report Lewandowski for sexual harassment.

“He said, ‘Go ahead, I work in the private sector,’” she told Politico. “Then he smacks my ass again.”

On Tuesday, Villa told Politico that she waited to file a report until December because she “feared that it could backfire.”

“Ten times out of ten the woman gets blamed no matter what,” she said.

Villa is not the first person to have filed a claim against Lewandowski for physical misconduct. Former Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields accused Lewandowski in March 2016 of grabbing her arm at a campaign event hard enough to leave bruises.

Lewandowski was charged with simple battery, a charge which was later dropped. Fields resigned from Breitbart News and said the company did not “adequately” stand by her amid her allegations and the subsequent backlash.

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Joy Villa, a singer who wore a “Make America Great Again”-emblazoned dress to the Grammys earlier this year, on Friday accused President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski of slapping her on the butt in November.

Villa said in an interview with Politico that a friend introduced her to Lewandowski at a party at Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel in late November. According to Villa, the two posed for a picture.

“I’m wearing this silver suit and stretchy pants, and after the photo, he smacks my ass really hard,” Villa told Politico. “It was completely demeaning and shocking.”

Villa said she told Lewandowski to “watch it.”

“Half-joking, I said, ‘I can report you for sexual harassment,’” she said. “He said, ‘Go ahead, I work in the private sector.’”

According to Villa, he then slapped her again.

“Corey laughed in my face and ran away,” she said. “It felt like it was all a big joke to him.”

According to the report, Villa did not approach Politico. Another witness described the incident to a reporter, and Villa subsequently agreed to discuss it on the record.

Politico reported that a friend who witnessed Villa’s conversation with Lewandowski corroborated her account, but requested anonymity. Lewandowski did not respond to any of Politico’s requests for comment.

Villa’s misconduct allegations against Lewandowski are not the first a woman has brought against the former campaign manager.

In March 2016, then-Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields accused Lewandowski of grabbing her arm at a campaign event hard enough to leave bruises. The incident was caught on camera and Lewandowski was charged with simple battery, though the charges were eventually dropped.

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Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) on Tuesday said the Department of Justice and FBI are “off the rails” and need to “purge” their ranks.

“I’m very concerned that the DOJ and the FBI, whether you want to call it deep state or what, are kind of off the rails,” Rooney said on MSNBC. “People need a good, clean government.”

“Do you think people don’t have a good clean government?” MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson pressed. “There are those that look at comments like the ones that you’re making and say Republicans are working to essentially try to discredit the Department of Justice and thus discredit the Russia investigations. Is that not what you’re doing?”

“No, I don’t want to discredit them. I just, I would like to see the directors of the agencies purge it and say, look, we’ve got a lot of great agents, a lot of great lawyers here,” Rooney said. “Those are the people I want the American people to see and know the good work’s being done, not these people who are kind of the deep state.”

“Language like that, congressman, purge?” Jackson asked. “Purge the Department of Justice?”

“Well, I think that Mr. Strzok could be purged, sure,” Rooney replied, referring to FBI agent Peter Strzok, who was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in August after an inspector general investigation revealed that he sent text messages critical of Trump during the 2016 election.

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Federal prosecutors issued a subpoena in recent weeks to Deutsche Bank for records related to Jared Kushner’s family business, the New York Times reported Friday afternoon.

The New York Times reported, citing four unnamed sources briefed on the matter, that prosecutors from the office for the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York asked the bank to produce records about entities associated with the Kushner Companies.

Kushner, who is President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a White House senior adviser, was the business’ chief executive until January, when he stepped down to join his father-in-law’s administration.

It was not clear, according to the New York Times, which records the prosecutors sought, whether they involve Kushner and, if so, to what degree.

A spokesperson for the Kushner Companies told the New York Times that the business is “unaware of any inquiry directed at Deutsche Bank from the E.D.N.Y. and have no reason to believe there is one,” though the subject of a subpoena would not necessarily be aware of one’s existence.

Reuters and Bloomberg reported earlier in December that special counsel Robert Mueller issued Deutsche Bank a subpoena for financial records related to Trump and his family, though Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow denied the accuracy of those reports.

As the New York Times noted, there was no indication that the subpoena regarding Kushner-related records was related to Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

While the U.S. attorney in question has been investigating the Kushner Companies’ use of a specific visa program, according to the report, there was also no indication that the subpoena was related to that probe, and Deutsche Bank does not appear to have been involved in activities related to the business’ use of that program.

Politico reported in October that Trump personally interviewed Ed McNally from law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres to fill the position of U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, which is currently held by acting U.S. attorney Bridget M. Rohde.

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The House Intelligence Committee is scheduled to interview President Donald Trump’s longtime personal secretary Rhona Graff on Friday, according to a report by NBC News.

NBC News reported that the committee will question Graff, who has worked for the Trump Organization for three decades and served as Trump’s personal gatekeeper, at an undisclosed location in New York.

In August, ABC News reported that congressional investigators were particularly interested in any information Graff might have about a meeting in June 2016 between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who Trump Jr. believed to have damaging information on Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

In a series of emails setting up the meeting, British music publicist Rob Goldstone, an acquaintance of the Trump family, suggested sending information to Trump “via Rhona,” reflecting her status as a conduit and gatekeeper to the senior Trump.

Graff is not the only member of Trump’s staff that congressional investigators have expressed interest in interviewing; Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing an unnamed source familiar with the House Intelligence Committee’s schedule, that the panel has also invited Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and his former campaign CEO and chief strategist Steve Bannon to testify before the committee.

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The Senate Rules Committee on Thursday revealed that, over the last 20 years, at least $600,000 of taxpayers’ money has been spent in settlement agreements involving misconduct allegations against senators’ offices, according to several reports.

Politico and NBC News reported, citing data the panel released jointly with the Senate Appropriations Committee, that the figure was paid out from the Office of Compliance’s fund that is designated for handling workplace misconduct. The total does not reflect any payments that lawmakers may have made from their office budgets, which are also funded by taxpayers.

According to Politico, two of the claims settled using the fund involved racial discrimination, three involved disability discrimination, eight involved age discrimination and one involved a claim of sex discrimination, though it was not clear whether harassment or other misconduct was involved.

The data also reflected settlements paid by Senate offices not led by a member, according to Politico. Those have totaled $853,225 for 10 claims since 1997, according to the data, and included three claims of sex discrimination.

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President Donald Trump on Friday tweeted his personal thanks to the head of a conservative nonprofit that former employees allege to have behaved in a way that was “crossing a legal line” with regard to campaign finance laws.

“Thank you Charlie Kirk of Turning Points USA,” Trump tweeted, attributing a quote about his achievements in his first year in office. “Sadly, the Fake Mainstream Media will NEVER talk about our accomplishments in their end of year reviews.”

Trump thanked Kirk, the executive director and founder of Turning Point USA, a day after the New Yorker reported that former employees allege the group “may have skirted campaign-finance laws that bar charitable organizations from participating in political activity.”

One former employee who worked for the group told the New Yorker that her supervisor used her work email to contact her and make arrangements for her to help Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) presidential campaign. The employee said that hundreds of Cruz placards subsequently arrived at her private mailing address.

The employee told the New Yorker that she supported Cruz’s candidacy, but objected to the role Turning Point USA played in connecting the two: “We wanted to volunteer on our own terms, not to give in to pressure from a boss. I felt that if it wasn’t crossing a legal line, it was crossing a professional one.”

Another former employee told the New Yorker that a list she created with the names of hundreds of student supporters while working at Turning Point USA was then given to an employee of Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) campaign without her knowledge.

The employee said that the Rubio staffer “shouldn’t have had that list.”

“We were a charity, and he was on a political campaign,” she said.

Reached for comment by the New Yorker, Kirk referred to a statement by his lawyer claiming the group “works diligently to comply entirely with all relevant laws and regulations governing not-for-profit organizations.”

Turning Point USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and as such cannot engage in “political campaign activity” without losing its tax-exempt status.

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Star Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday told NBC News to “read and learn” from a story that the network reported and published in the first place.

“Hey fake news @CNN and conspiracy tv @NBCNews read and learn,” Hannity tweeted, linking to a story about the Uranium One deal on NBCNews.com.

NBC News reporter Hallie Jackson pointed out the contradiction in Hannity’s advice.

The story Hannity cited, which NBC News published Thursday morning, cited unnamed law enforcement officials who said that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has directed federal prosecutors to seek more information from FBI agents about the closed investigation into a deal allowing Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear energy agency, to acquire a stake in Canadian mining company Uranium One.

The White House, Republican elected officials and conservative media have argued that former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s role in the deal merits further scrutiny. Their allegations have come amid increased attention on—and the apparent acceleration of—special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether President Donald Trump’s campaign had any hand in that foreign meddling.

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The New York Times on Wednesday announced that Glenn Thrush, who four women accused in November of sexual misconduct, will return to work at the company but will no longer serve as part of its team covering the White House.

“While we believe that Glenn has acted offensively, we have decided that he does not deserve to be fired,” Dean Baquet, the paper’s executive editor, said in a statement.

The New York Times reported that Baquet informed Thrush of the decision during a meeting on Wednesday.

The New York Times opened an investigation into the misconduct allegations against Thrush after Vox published a report in November by its editorial director Laura McGann, who was a reporter at TPM a decade ago. McGann accused Thrush of unexpectedly kissing her years earlier when they both worked at Politico. Three other women accused Thrush of misconduct.

Thrush did not deny the allegations against him, and said in November that he had “responded to a succession of personal and health crises by drinking heavily” and had “resumed counseling.”

Baquet on Wednesday said the New York Times has suspended Thrush “for two months and removed him from the White House beat.”

“He will receive training designed to improve his workplace conduct,” Baquet said. “In addition, Glenn is undergoing counseling and substance abuse rehabilitation on his own. We will reinstate him as a reporter on a new beat upon his return.”

Baquet said the New York Times’ investigation into Thrush’s behavior “included dozens of interviews with people both inside and outside the newsroom.”

“We understand that our colleagues and the public at large are grappling with what constitutes sexually offensive behavior in the workplace and what consequences are appropriate,” he said. “Each case has to be evaluated based on individual circumstances. We believe this is an appropriate response to Glenn’s situation.”

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President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans gathered on Wednesday on the White House’s South Lawn to celebrate the passage of a sweeping tax overhaul that was delayed Tuesday night by a handful of procedural snafus.

“We are making America great again,” Trump said, referring to his campaign slogan, from a podium where he stood surrounded by Republican leaders. He joked, “You haven’t heard that, have you?”

Trump thanked members of Congress who he said “worked so long” and “so hard” to get the tax bill to his desk.

“I want to have them get up and get the glamour and glory,” Trump said.

He thanked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who Trump said he worked with in “a little team.”

“What a job. It’s always a lot of fun when you win,” Trump said.

Though Trump’s relationship with Ryan was adversarial at best during the 2016 election, he lauded Ryan as “a great speaker.”

Though the tax overhaul would represent Trump’s first major legislative accomplishment after nearly a year in office, he painted it as a sign of acceleration rather than gridlock: “We haven’t even been a year.”

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