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Nicole Lafond

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.

Articles by Nichole

Retiring Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) lambasted his own party for hypocrisy in its reaction to President Donald Trump’s alleged affair with a porn actress on Tuesday evening.

During an interview with CNN, he said Republicans have been “pretty damn silent” about the President’s alleged affair with porn actress Stormy Daniels, compared to the way the party reacted when former President Bill Clinton had an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

“They’d be waving a bloody shirt, it would be a human rights violation,” Dent told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “Bill Clinton, let’s face it, I wasn’t in Congress back then, but a lot of folks were pretty darn alarmed and outraged and had a strong voice about the character, saying character counts. And now that the shoe is on the other foot, a lot of those same folks are pretty damn silent.”

He said there was “no question” that Republicans would be “screaming, you know, morning to night” if a Democratic president had been “conciliatory toward the Russians, for example” like Trump has reportedly been.

Dent said he thought both porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal were “credible” and suggested their alleged affairs with Trump were not surprising because Trump is “no choir boy.”

Trump has been uncharacteristically silent in recent weeks as both Daniels and McDougal have publicly recounted parts of their alleged affairs with the President a decade ago. Both women have tangled Trump in lawsuits over his alleged attempts to silence them about the relationships.

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After a retired Supreme Court justice called for the repeal of the Second Amendment on Tuesday, President Donald Trump reassured his base that he would “NEVER” let that happen.

“THE SECOND AMENDMENT WILL NEVER BE REPEALED!” he tweeted Wednesday morning. “As much as Democrats would like to see this happen, and despite the words yesterday of former Supreme Court Justice Stevens, NO WAY.”

In his New York Times essay, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said repealing the right to bear arms from the Constitution would be the fastest mechanism for legal change surrounding gun control. He said the move would limit the National Rifle Association’s lobbying power and make room for significant gun access legislation.

Gun control has made its way back to the national conversation following the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last month that left 17 people dead. In the month since the attack, the high school student survivors have lead national protests calling for a ban on semi-automatic weapons and common sense gun reform measures.

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There are no plans to bring former White House staff secretary Rob Porter back to the West Wing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Tuesday.

“There are no plans for him to come back,” Sanders said, countering reports that Trump wants Porter to return and talks to him on the phone regularly. Sanders clarified that Trump and Porter “have spoken one time” since Porter’s departure.

“I’m not aware of any other conversations beyond that,” she said.

Sanders’ pushback follows a report from The New York Times on Monday night that said Trump still speaks to Porter over the phone and their conversations have become increasingly frequent in recent weeks. Trump reportedly hopes that Porter will return to the White House one day because he misses the structure that Porter fashioned, though the President recognizes that he probably can’t bring Porter back, according to The Times.

Porter served as Trump’s staff secretary and resigned in early February after two of his ex-wives’ allegations of domestic abuse became public, including a photo of one former wife with a black eye that she allegedly sustained from Porter hitting her.

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Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is running for Senate on a President Trump platform, campaigning on the President’s policies and conspiracy theories alike.

Arpaio, whom Trump pardoned for a contempt of court conviction last year, lamented last weekend that he would avoid talking about his “birtherism” theories, for now. But if he’s elected to the Senate, he vowed to raise the issue — of whether former President Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen — again in full force.

“I don’t talk about it anymore, until I become a U.S. senator. … So I’m kind of dropping that right now,” he told a group gathered at the Western Conservative Conference in Phoenix last weekend, according to a video flagged by Right Wing Watch. “But I’m going to tell you something: 100 percent we proved that’s a fake document. One hundred.”

A Trump loyalist, Arpaio campaigned with the President in 2015 and 2016, and even helped propagate his and Trump’s conspiracy theory that Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. He most recently told CNN in January that he has “no doubt” that Obama’s birth certificate isn’t real.

After winning the primaries, Trump publicly said he believes Obama is a U.S. citizen, but he reportedly still thinks that the former President’s birth certificate isn’t real.

Watch a video of Arpaio’s comments below, courtesy of Tru Conservative TV:

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The “60 Minutes” interview with porn actress Stormy Daniels that detailed her alleged affair with President Donald Trump was “a big thud,” according to the attorney for Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

During an interview with CNN Tuesday morning, Arthur Schwartz, Cohen’s lawyer, said the interview revealed very little new information, despite the hype from Daniels’ attorney.

“What did we learn from that ’60 Minutes’ interview? That 12 years ago some guy came up to her in a parking lot and threatened her,” Schwartz told CNN’s Chris Cuomo, before claiming that the lawsuit that Daniels filed against Cohen on Monday is “going nowhere.”

“A judge, on defamation, a judge will look at that statement, it doesn’t even pass the smell test,” he said. “It doesn’t come close to defamation.”

On Monday, Daniels added a defamation complaint to her existing lawsuit against Trump and Essential Consultants, LCC, the group Cohen used to send Daniels $130,000 just 11 days before the 2016 election. Daniels claims the money was given to her as a hush payment. Cohen has admitted he gave Daniels the funds, but said he did it in his own capacity, not for Trump.

The basis of the new complaint centers on a statement Cohen gave to the media on Feb. 13, when he said that “just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean that it can’t cause you harm or damage.” Daniels claims that statement implies she lied about her alleged sexual affair with Trump.   

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It could take a year or longer for the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to determine whether President Donald Trump’s lawyer violated campaign finance laws in paying porn actress $130,000 just before the 2016 election, NBC reported Monday evening.

According to former officials and sources close to the FEC who spoke with NBC, the office is understaffed and is still working on cases from the 2015-16 election cycle. One former FEC chairman Trevor Potter told NBC it would be “impossible” for the commission to finish by the end of year.

Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid porn actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 just 11 days before the 2016 election. Daniels claims she was given the money as a hush payment to keep quiet about her alleged sexual affair with Trump in 2006. She also signed a non-disclosure agreement. Cohen has admitted to making the payment, but said he made it out of his own volition and Trump was unaware of it.

In January, a watchdog group filed a complaint with the FEC and the Justice Department to investigate the payment. It could be considered a violation of campaign finance laws if it’s determined that the money was used to benefit Trump’s campaign, given it exceeds the maximum amount allowed for campaign contributions.

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Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) office is denying reports that Ryan plans to resign in coming weeks, Ryan’s spokesperson AshLee Strong told TPM Tuesday.

“The speaker is not resigning,” Strong said.

Ryan’s office was responding Monday to comments from Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), who told a local news outlet on Monday that the “rumor mill” on Capitol Hill is suggesting that Ryan is “getting ready to resign in the next 30 to 60 days.” Amodei told the Nevada Newsmakers that Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) would be elected to replace him as speaker.

Now that is interesting, because no one has talked to members on how they are going to vote,” Amodei said Monday. “Now, maybe they have talked to all of the members but me. I don’t know, so that is the rumor mill from last week.

Scalise’s office has denied the claims as well, telling The Washington Examiner that Scalise “fully supports” Ryan as Speaker of the House.

Late last year, Ryan’s office also had to deflect rumors that he was planning to retire, which were perpetrated by reports from The Huffington Post and Politico that said Ryan wanted to serve as speaker through the end of his term and then leave Congress altogether.

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Two more prominent attorneys have declined to serve on President Donald Trump’s legal team, citing “business conflicts,” according to The Daily Best.

Tom Buchanan and Dan Webb, of the firm Winston & Strawn, confirmed to The Daily Best Monday evening that the White House asked the pair to serve on Trump’s team, but they had to decline.

“However they consider the opportunity to represent the President to be the highest honor and they sincerely regret that they cannot do so,” Buchanan and Webb said in a joint statement to The Daily Beast.

A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.

The reports follow news this weekend that two other attorneys — husband and wife legal team Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing — were not going to serve on Trump’s team due to “conflicts,” despite an announcement from the White House early last week that the two were onboard. Toensign represents clients like Mark Corallo and Sam Clovis, both former Trump campaign associates who have spoken with special counsel Robert Mueller.

Over the weekend, Trump tweeted that there were “many lawyers and top law firms” who “want to represent me,” despite the pattern of conflicts preventing them from doing so. Just last week, one of Trump’s personal lawyer John Dowd resigned from the team of attorneys representing the President in Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign.

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Responding to questions about the $130,000 payment that President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer gave Stormy Daniels to reportedly keep her quiet about an affair, White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah on Monday said there was nothing unusual about the sum, claiming “false charges are settled outside of court all the time.”   

“You can have (Trump’s attorney) Michael Cohen address any specifics regarding this agreement you are referring to, but false charges are settled outside of court all the time and this is nothing outside the ordinary,” Shah said.

When pressed specifically about what the $130,000 case had to do with false claims, Shah repeated the line again, pinning the payment on Cohen.

Shah’s response on Monday was the first acknowledgment the White House has given of the payment, which Cohen has admitted he made. Cohen claims he paid Daniels the money out of his own volition, not on behalf of Trump. Trump has denied the affair ever happened.

Daniels has said the payment and the non-disclosure agreement she felt pressured to sign were part of a plan to keep her silent about the affair. The agreement was signed in the days leading up to the 2016 election.

Questions over the payment come after Daniels gave an interview to “60 Minutes” on Sunday, in which Daniels detailed the alleged sexual affair and claimed she was threatened in the past by someone affiliated with the Trump organization to keep quiet about the relationship. Daniels has sued Trump in recent weeks because he did not sign the non-disclosure agreement and claims the whole NDA is void.

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White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah is scheduled to deliver an on-camera press briefing at 2:00 p.m. ET Monday. Watch live below:

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