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. Michael Bennet (D-CO) on Sunday said there is “no question” that President Donald Trump’s remark insulting Haiti and African countries “was racist.”

“There’s no question what he said was un-American and completely unmoored from the facts,” Bennet said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” “I was raised not to call people racist on the theory that it was hard for them to be rehabilitated once you said that, but there’s no question what he said was racist.”

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Trump referred to Haiti and African countries as “shithole countries” during a meeting with lawmakers.

“Why do we want people from Haiti here?” Trump said, according to the New York Times.

Trump on Friday claimed he did not say “anything derogatory about Haitians” and that his reported remarks were “not the language used,” but did not specifically address reports that he named “shithole countries.”

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President Donald Trump on Sunday attacked the Wall Street Journal for a report on the United States’ relationship with North Korea and went after Democrats who are trying to negotiate a deal to protect undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children, but found time to praise “Fox and Friends.”

Trump claimed that the Wall Street Journal “falsely” quoted his claim to have a relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“Obviously I didn’t say that. I said “I’d have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un,” a big difference. Fortunately we now record conversations with reporters,” Trump tweeted. “They knew exactly what I said and meant. They just wanted a story.”

The Wall Street Journal on Sunday released a full transcript of its interview with Trump. The White House released what it said was audio of the exchange.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump said, “I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea.”

When pressed on whether he has spoken to Kim, Trump said, “I don’t want to comment on it—I don’t want to comment, I’m not saying I have or I haven’t.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed a recording of the exchange includes the consonant:

Trump also claimed that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is “probably dead because the Democrats don’t really want it.”

“They just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our Military,” he tweeted.

The sole spark of positivity in Trump’s morning tweets was his praise for “Fox and Friends” contributor Stuart Varney, who he thanked for saying that Trump is “not getting the credit he deserves.”

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Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) on Saturday said a false alarm warning Hawaii of an inbound missile threat was “totally inexcusable.”

“The whole state was terrified,” Schatz tweeted. “There needs to be tough and quick accountability and a fixed process.”

The initial alert sent out to cell phones read, “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”

A second alert declared the first warning a “false alarm” and said, “There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii.”

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Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency on Saturday said there is no missile threat to the state, despite an emergency alert that directed residents to seek immediate shelter due to an inbound “ballistic missile threat.”

White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters told reporters that President Donald Trump had “been briefed on the state of Hawaii’s emergency management exercise.”

“This was purely a state exercise,” Walters said.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) tweeted, “I have confirmed with officials there is no incoming missile.”

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) said the alert was “a false alarm based on a human error.”

A spokesman for the state’s emergency management agency told BuzzFeed News, “We have absolutely no indication it was any kind of hacking.”

Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) said he is “working to get to the bottom of this so we can prevent an error of this type in the future.”

The National Weather Service in Honolulu released a statement saying that the initial alert was “a test message.”

“The Warning Message received this morning DOES NOT DEPICT A REAL MISSILE THREAT. It was a test message,” the service said.

The initial alert was sent out to mobile devices and broadcast on television.

A second alert to residents read, “There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. Repeat. False alarm.”

This post has been updated.

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Three Democratic lawmakers announced last week that they will not attend President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address.

“Why would I take my time to go and sit and listen to a liar?” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) said on Friday on MSNBC. “I don’t trust him, I don’t appreciate him and I wouldn’t waste my time.”

Waters said Trump is “someone who lies in the face of facts, someone who can change their tune day in and day out.”

“What does he have to say that I would be interested in?” she said. “He does not deserve my attention.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) said he will skip Trump’s address and work in his home state instead.

“Rather than listening to yet another destructive and divisive speech by Trump, I will not attend this year’s annual address to Congress,” Blumenauer said in a statement.

Blumenauer said he will instead listen “to Oregonians about what they think about the State of the Union” in his home state.

“Hearing from Oregonians and working together to protect our values and advance policies that actually strengthen our communities is a more productive use of my time,” he said.

Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) on Friday said he would not attend Trump’s address after Trump allegedly referred to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries.”

“I cannot in all good conscience be in a room with what he has said about so many Americans,” Lewis said on MSNBC. “I just cannot do it. I wouldn’t be honest with myself.”

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The White House physician on Friday declared President Donald Trump “in excellent health” after Trump received his first annual physical exam while in office.

“The President’s physical exam today at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center went exceptionally well,” Dr. Ronny Jackson said in a statement. “The President is in excellent health and I look forward to briefing some of the details on Tuesday.”

Jackson is a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy and has served as physician to the President since 2013.

Trump’s personal doctor, Dr. Harold N. Bornstein of Manhattan’s Lenox Hill Hospital, in 2015 claimed that Trump would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency” if he won the 2016 election.

Several months later, Bornstein—who said he dashed off the initial summary in five minutes as a limousine waited outside his New York office—added that if “something happens” to Trump, “then it happens to him.”

“It’s like all the rest of us, no?” he said. “That’s why we have a vice president and a speaker of the House and a whole line of people. They can just keep dying.”

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President Donald Trump on Thursday asked lawmakers why the United States allows people to immigrate “from shithole countries” like Haiti and African countries, the Washington Post reported.

The Washington Post reported, citing two unnamed sources briefed on Trump’s meeting with lawmakers, that Trump asked, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

According to the report, Trump made the remark in reference to Haiti and African countries, and then suggested the United States should allow more immigrants from countries like Norway instead. Trump met with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Wednesday.

The New York Times also reported, citing unnamed sources with direct knowledge of the discussion, that Trump made the remark about Haiti and African countries and added, “Why do we want people from Haiti here?”

It was not clear what criteria Trump was prioritizing in his description, but 95 percent of Haiti’s residents are black, while 83 percent of Norway’s residents are Norwegian by descent (only 8.5 percent of the country’s population is neither Norwegian nor European).

The White House did not deny Trump made the remark. In a statement, White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said that Trump “will always fight for the American people,” in contrast to “certain Washington politicians” he claimed “choose to fight for foreign countries.”

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reported that members of Trump’s administration don’t think it’ll “cause a problem with the President’s base.”

“They believe the comment that he made will actually resonate with his voters like in middle America and whatnot instead of turning them off or alienating them in some kind of way, much like his attacks on those NFL players who protested by kneeling during the national anthem did,” Collins said.

Many of the NFL players who protested by taking a knee during the anthem did so to protest police brutality against black people.

This post has been updated.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is scheduled to give an on-camera press briefing at 2:15 p.m. ET on Thursday. Watch live below:

Missouri state senators on Thursday called for an investigation amid allegations that Gov. Eric Greitens (R) threatened to blackmail a woman with whom he had an extramarital affair. Some took it further and called for Greitens to resign.

State Sen. Doug Libla (R) in a letter to Missouri attorney general Josh Hawley (R) asked him to examine allegations that Greitens threatened to blackmail a woman he was sexually involved with in 2015 with a naked photo he took during one of their sexual encounters, according to the Kansas City Star.

State Sen. Gary Romine (R) told the Kansas City Star that any investigation needs “to move as quickly as possible.”

“The only way we can remove this cloud is to get all the facts,” Romine said. “If it exonerates him, we can move on. If it doesn’t, he needs to resign or face impeachment.”

Other Republicans were more equivocal in their remarks. State Sen. Mike Cierpiot (R) said his thoughts “remain private” because “there’s just not enough information.”

State Rep. Bryan Spencer (R) said it was “too early” and “we don’t know the facts.”

“All we hear is what’s in the news,” Spencer told the Kansas City Star. “In today’s society we can destroy a people with just accusations.”

Republican state Sens. Ron Richard, Mike Kehoe and Bob Onder in a joint statement said they “find these serious allegations shocking and concerning.”

“As this situation is evolving, we expect the governor to be honest and forthright,” they said.

State Democratic officials took a much stronger position on the allegations against Greitens.

State Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh (D) and Sen. Kiki Curls (D) said in a statement that “people accused of these egregious acts do not get to wave off the scrutiny of law enforcement simply because they are in a position of power; and victims of these crimes deserve our full support.”

State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (D) called on Greitens to “resign immediately.”

State Rep. Mark Ellebracht (D) called for a criminal investigation into the allegations against Greitens, who admitted to the affair but denied the blackmail threats.

“Infidelity is unfortunate, but it is not illegal,” Ellebracht said, according to the report. “Blackmail is illegal. Potential allegations of sexual assault are illegal. It is not fair for the governor to hide behind his family and use them as a shield for what should be a criminal investigation.”

Another state Democratic member, Rep. Jerome Barnes, said Greitens should resign regardless of the findings of any investigation: “He’s a Navy SEAL. We have high standards to be a Navy SEAL. There should be high standards to be a governor also.”

Read Libla’s letter to Hawley:

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Despite his best efforts, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has not yet found a way to overcome the “sin” of his recusal from the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

The Washington Post reported, citing two unnamed White House advisers, that Sessions has tried to regain President Donald Trump’s good graces by asking aides to make sure Trump is aware of policy decisions that advance his agenda.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, White House counsel Don McGahn and former staffers Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus have also pitched in on Sessions’ campaign to re-ingratiate himself with Trump, according to the report, and the Department of Justice has also begun to examine subjects that Trump has publicly touted as possible matters of interest.

Sessions’ efforts have been unsuccessful, according to the Washington Post. Four unnamed White House officials and advisers cited in the report said that Trump remains angry about Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the investigation.

According to the report, Trump privately calls Sessions “weak,” considers him unloyal and says that “he should have never recused himself.”

“He’s one of the most active Cabinet secretaries there is,” one unnamed White House official told the Washington Post. “He’s done a fine job. Does it wash away the sin of recusal? I don’t think so.”

According to the report, Trump’s own efforts to force Sessions out by publicly humiliating him have been equally fruitless, though White House officials have privately guessed about who might replace him as attorney general.

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