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

Sen.-elect Doug Jones (D-AL) on Wednesday said he received a “very gracious” call from President Donald Trump congratulating him on his upset victory, but he has not spoken with Republican opponent Roy Moore, who has not conceded yet.

“It was a very gracious call. I very much appreciated it,” Jones said at a press conference of his call with Trump. “He congratulated me on the race that we won. He congratulated me and my staff on the way and the manner in which we handled this campaign and went forward.”

Jones said he and Trump “talked about finding common ground to work together.”

“He invited me over to the White House to visit as soon as I get up there,” Jones said. “So it was a very nice phone call, a very pleasant phone call, and I appreciated him very much reaching out to me.”

Earlier in the press conference, a reporter asked Jones if he had spoken with Moore, who has not conceded and who has suggested he may demand a recount.

“I have not,” Jones said.

“Do you think that he should concede?” a reporter asked.

“I’m going to leave that to him,” Jones said. “I’m going to reach out.”

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Brett J. Talley, a lawyer unanimously rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Association, will not move forward in the nomination process for a lifetime federal district judgeship, TPM confirmed on Wednesday.

TPM also confirmed that Talley offered to withdraw his nomination.

Talley has no trial experience and was only the fourth nominee since 1989 to be rated “not qualified” by the ABA. President Donald Trump nevertheless nominated Talley in September as his pick for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.

The New York Times reported in November that Talley did not disclose his marriage to Ann Donaldson, top White House lawyer Don McGahn’s chief of staff, during his nomination process before the Senate.

BuzzFeed News reported, also in November, that Talley also failed to disclose thousands of posts he appeared to have written for TideFans.com, a University of Alabama sports fan website, on political subjects including immigration and gun control.

Talley appeared to go by the username “BamainBoston,” and identified himself in 2014 in a post titled “Washington Post Did A Feature On Me” with a link to a report that dubbed him “the ghost hunter and horror novelist who writes Sen. Rob Portman’s speeches.” (Talley did disclose to the Senate that he was part of The Tuscaloosa Paranormal Research Group in 2009–10.)

In one post about gun control in December 2012, titled “Aftermath of Connecticut Shooting” and written three days after a gunman killed 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Talley said, “My solution would be to stop being a society of pansies and man up.”

In another post on the same fan website, surfaced by Slate, Talley appeared to defend “the first KKK” which he incorrectly claimed “was entirely different than the KKK of the early 19th Century.”

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Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) on Wednesday congratulated Sen.-elect Doug Jones (D) on his upset victory over Republican candidate Roy Moore, who Shelby harshly criticized days before the state’s special election.

“The people of Alabama have spoken,” Shelby said in a statement. “Congratulations to Doug Jones.”

Shelby said he “spoke” with Jones on Wednesday morning.

“I look forward to working together to do what’s best for the great state of Alabama,” he said.

On Sunday, Shelby harshly criticized Moore, who numerous women accused of sexual misconduct, during a rare television interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“The state of Alabama deserves better,” Shelby said. “The allegations are significantly stronger than the denial.”

Jones was the first Democrat to win a Senate race in Alabama since the late Sen. Howell Heflin won a third term in 1990. Shelby was elected to office in 1986 as a Democrat, but switched affiliation to the Republican Party in 1994, two years into his second term.

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Omarosa Manigault Newman’s resignation from President Donald Trump’s administration on Wednesday unfolded more like an anecdote from her days as a reality show contestant than the amicable departure the White House described, according to several reports.

“Omarosa Manigault Newman resigned yesterday to pursue other opportunities,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement to pool reporters. “Her departure will not be effective until January 20, 2018. We wish her the best in future endeavors and are grateful for her service.”

American Urban Radio Networks’ April Ryan reported, citing unnamed sources, that Manigault Newman’s departure contained rather more “drama” than the White House’s account suggested.

The New York Times’ Yamiche Alcindor also reported, citing unnamed sources, that security escorted Manigault Newman out of the White House.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday afternoon, citing an unnamed White House official, that Manigault Newman was “physically dragged and escorted off the campus,” referring to White House grounds.

Ryan said in an interview on CNN later Wednesday that White House chief of staff John Kelly was “tired of all the drama” related to Manigault Newman.

She described Manigault Newman as “a mood changer” for Trump.

“She could get in his ear some kind of way, he could be happy, and then all of a sudden she points something out and his whole mood would change,” Ryan said. “He would lash out.”

Ryan said there “were concerns” about how Manigault Newman brought members of her bridal party to the White House in April for a photo shoot and tour “when she wasn’t supposed to.”

She said another of Kelly’s differences of opinion with Manigault Newman was “being Omarosa” and “not knowing what she’s doing.”

“What I’m hearing from many sources is that Gen. Kelly confronted her, she was very vulgar, she was cursing, very animated, and they worked out a negotiation for her to leave January 20th,” Ryan said. “That didn’t sit well with her.”

Ryan said Manigault Newman’s assistant was “fired,” and that Manigault Newman asked Kelly whether Trump was aware of the situation. According to Ryan, Kelly told Manigault Newman that Trump “signed off” on her departure.

“She said, ‘I wanted to call the President,’ and Gen. Kelly said, ‘This is not going to the principal’s office. It’s done,'” Ryan said.

According to Ryan, Manigault Newman then tried to enter the White House residence to visit Trump.

“A little later on, she tried to go see the President. She tried to go into the residence,” she said. “And mind you, Gen. Kelly has cut off her walk-in access to go into the Oval Office and things of that nature. Security alerted Gen. Kelly, he came back down, told the Secret Service to take her out of there. She was escorted off the property.”

Ryan said she “can’t see” Manigault Newman “filling out” the remainder of the time before her scheduled departure after Tuesday night’s events.

“It was very ugly,” she said. “It was high drama last evening, from what I’m hearing.”

Manigault Newman worked in the communications department of President Donald Trump’s administration, and previously served as a scheduler in the office of then-Vice President Al Gore.

A former contestant on “The Apprentice,” where she was repeatedly fired, Manigault Newman had an adversarial relationship with the press, and Ryan in particular, long before the White House announced her departure on Wednesday.

During Trump’s campaign, she worked on African-American outreach, and made a notable appearance in a PBS documentary where she claimed all Trump’s detractors would “have to bow down” if he won the presidency.

Ryan in February said that Manigault Newman “physically intimidated” her during one encounter and claimed the White House had “dossiers” of negative information on several journalists, including Ryan.

“She stood right in my face like she was going to hit me,” Ryan told the Washington Post. “I said, ‘You better back up.’”

“My comment: Fake news!” Manigault Newman responded.

A Secret Service spokesperson on Tuesday referred TPM’s questions about Manigault Newman’s departure to the White House, which declined to answer on the record.

This post has been updated.

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A spokesman for Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore’s campaign on Tuesday appeared dumbfounded when asked whether he knew that there is no legal requirement for elected officials to be sworn in using a Christian bible.

“Judge Moore has also said that he doesn’t think a Muslim member of Congress should be allowed to be in Congress. Why? Under what provision of the Constitution?” CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Moore spokesman Ted Crockett.

Moore in 2006 said that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim elected to Congress, should not be sworn in because Moore claimed the Quran was not compatible with the Constitution.

“Because you have to swear on the Bible,” Crockett responded. “You have to swear on a Bible to be an elected official in the United States of America. He alleges that a Muslim cannot do that ethically, swearing on the Bible.”

“You don’t actually have to swear on a Christian Bible. You can swear on anything, really. I don’t know if you knew that. You can swear on a Jewish Bible,” Tapper said. “The law is not that you have to swear on a Christian Bible.”

Crockett fell silent for several seconds.

“You don’t know that?” Tapper added.

Crockett remained silent for several more seconds, then said, “I know that Donald Trump did it, when we made him President.”

“Because he’s Christian and he picked it,” Tapper replied. “That’s what he wanted to swear in on.”

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A spokesman for Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore on Tuesday said that Moore “probably” still thinks gay sex should be illegal.

Asked whether Moore thinks Christian theology should be the foundation for U.S. law, Moore’s campaign spokesperson Ted Crockett said on CNN, “This country was founded on the Christian Bible.”

“This country has the separation of church and state, and we have laws that are not rooted in the Christian Bible,” CNN’s Jake Tapper replied.

“Jake, you don’t understand,” Crockett replied.

“I think I understand perfectly,” Tapper replied. “But here’s my question for you, sir, does he think that homosexual conduct should be illegal? It’s a yes or no question.”

“Probably,” Crockett said.

“He probably thinks homosexual conduct should be illegal. And what would the punishment be for a man having sexual relations with another man or a woman having sexual relations with another woman?” Tapper asked.

“It’s just a sin, okay?” Crockett said.

Pressed to elaborate further, he said, laughing, “I don’t know. I am not going to make that decision.”

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday said President Donald Trump’s vague remark that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) “would do anything” for campaign donations was not a “sexist” innuendo “at all.”

“I think that the President is very obvious,” Sanders said at her daily briefing.

She said Trump’s criticism of Gillibrand was “the same sentiment that the President has expressed many times before when he has exposed the corruption of the entire political system.”

“In fact, he’s used similar terminology many times when talking about politicians of both parties, both men and women,” Sanders said.

Trump on Tuesday called Gillibrand a “lightweight” and “flunky” of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) who “would do anything” for campaign contributions.

Gillibrand, who on Monday called on Trump to resign over allegations of sexual misconduct that numerous women made about him last year, said Trump’s remark was a “sexist smear” that was “intended to silence” her.

“This has nothing to do with her being a female?” ABC News’ Cecilia Vega asked Sanders, referring to Gillibrand. “What is he alleging would happen behind closed doors with her?”

“He’s not alleging anything. He’s talking about the way that our system functions as it is,” Sanders said. “He’s used that same terminology many times in reference to men. There is no way that this is sexist at all.”

“Is Gillibrand owed an apology for the misunderstanding of the President’s tweet this morning?” American Urban Radio Networks’ April Ryan asked Sanders. “Many, including the senator, think that it’s about sexual innuendoes.”

“I think only if your mind is in the gutter would you have read it that way,” Sanders replied. “So, no.”

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Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) is scheduled to announce Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) appointed replacement on Wednesday.

Dayton’s office announced in an advisory sent out Tuesday that the governor will announce his appointment to replace Franken at 10 a.m. local time from the Minnesota State Capitol.

Franken announced last week that he will resign from the Senate in the “coming weeks” after numerous women accused him of sexual harassment and misconduct. He denied some of the allegations and touted his own political record as a “champion of women.”

Dayton is expected to name Lt. Gov. Tina Smith as Franken’s replacement. Minnesota will hold a special election in November 2018 for a candidate to complete Franken’s term through 2020.

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Tuesday said President Donald Trump’s tweet insinuating that she would “do anything” for campaign contributions was a “sexist smear” that was “intended to silence” her.

“I see it as a sexist smear. I mean, that’s what it is,” Gillibrand told reporters in a news conference. “It’s intended to silence me.”

Gillibrand said Trump’s tweet was “part of the President’s effort at name-calling.”

“It’s not going to silence me,” she said. “It’s not going to silence the women who have stood up against him directly. And it’s not going to silence the millions of women out there that have been speaking out every day since his inauguration about things they disagree with.”

Gillibrand has taken strong positions amid sexual harassment allegations on Capitol Hill. She and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) in November introduced legislation to overhaul the way Congress handles sexual harassment complaints. Gillibrand was the first senator to call on Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) to resign after several women accused him of sexual misconduct.

On Monday, she called on Trump, who numerous women have also accused of sexual misconduct, to resign.

Early Tuesday morning, Trump called Gillibrand a “lightweight” who “would do anything” for campaign contributions.

“You cannot silence me or the millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines to speak out about the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office,” Gillibrand responded.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on Tuesday accused Trump of “trying to bully, intimidate and slut-shame” Gillibrand.

“Do you know who you’re picking a fight with?” Warren tweeted. “Good luck with that.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) called Trump “a misogynist, compulsive liar, and admitted sexual predator” on Tuesday.

“Attacks on Kirsten are the latest example that no one is safe from this bully,” she tweeted. “He must resign.”

This post has been updated.

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The New Yorker on Monday announced it had “severed ties” with prominent political reporter Ryan Lizza over what the magazine called “improper sexual conduct.”

“The New Yorker recently learned that Ryan Lizza engaged in what we believe was improper sexual conduct,” a New Yorker spokesperson said in a statement to TPM. “We have reviewed the matter and, as a result, have severed ties with Lizza. Due to a request for privacy, we are not commenting further.”

Lizza was the magazine’s Washington correspondent, a CNN political analyst and an adjunct lecturer at Georgetown University.

“We have just learned of the New Yorker’s decision,” a CNN spokesperson told TPM in a statement Monday afternoon. “Ryan Lizza will not appear on CNN while we look into this matter.”

“Georgetown recently learned of the New Yorker’s actions,” a spokesperson for the university told TPM. “Classes have concluded for the fall semester at the University. Mr. Lizza will not be teaching any classes next semester.”

Lizza said in a statement that he was “dismayed” by the New Yorker’s description of his behavior, which he characterized as “a respectful relationship with a woman I dated.”

“The New Yorker was unable to cite any company policy that was violated,” he claimed. “This decision, which was made hastily and without a full investigation of the relevant facts, was a terrible mistake.”

Wigdor LLP, an employment law firm in New York, on Monday said it is representing “the victim” of Lizza’s “misconduct.”

“Although she desires to remain confidential and requests that her privacy be respected in no way did Mr. Lizza’s misconduct constitute a ‘respectful relationship’ as he has now tried to characterize it,” the firm said in a statement.

In July, then-White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci called Lizza and regaled him with a profanity-laced rant about then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and then-chief White House strategist Steve Bannon.

As of Monday afternoon, Lizza’s staff biography on the New Yorker’s website had been converted to the past tense.

This post has been updated.

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