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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

The CBS board of directors plans to investigate its CEO Leslie Moonves as he faces allegations of misconduct, which will soon be outlined in a forthcoming New Yorker article by Pulitzer Prize winning Ronan Farrow, The New York Times reported Friday.

In a statement released Friday, the board of directors announced it would open a probe into Moonves and “promptly review the findings and take appropriate action.”

According to a Hollywood Reporter scoop on Farrow’s upcoming piece on Moonves’ improper behavior toward women over the years, the allegations involve several instances of unwanted physical contact and kissing that happened nearly two decades ago, as well as more recent allegations.

The New Yorker article is set to publish sometime Friday, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Farrow won a Pulitzer last year for dealing the initial blow to now-disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein for his decades of alleged sexual misconduct, harassment and assault against female subordinates.

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Kimberly Guilfoyle did not leave Fox News voluntarily, HuffPost reported Friday.

According to interviews with 21 sources that HuffPost reporter Yashar Ali conducted over the course of a year, Guilfoyle was pushed out of the network after the human resources department conducted an investigation into allegations of abusive behavior and sexual misconduct.

Guilfoyle — who said she left the network to join an organization that advocates for her boyfriend’s (Donald Trump Jr.) father’s (President Trump) agenda — reportedly was resistant to leaving and tried to stay past her July exit deadline. She even attempted to appeal to Rupert Murdoch, a longtime friend of President Trump, to keep her on the air. But Murdoch ultimately signed off on her ouster because he was “not interested in allowing” her behavior to continue, in Ali’s words.

Sources who spoke to HuffPost said Guilfoyle was emotionally abusive toward hair and makeup artists; regularly talked about sexual matters with an assistant who was uninterested in having those conversations; and showed colleagues pictures of male genitalia at work, often identifying whose genitalia she was showing them.

Guilfoyle also reportedly had a history of bad mouthing her female colleagues and attempted to pit coworkers who supported Roger Ailes against those who supported former host Gretchen Carlson when she came forward with allegations of harassment and sexual misconduct against Ailes in 2016.

A Fox News spokesperson declined to comment on the HuffPost piece and did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment. When reached last week to confirm that Guilfoyle was leaving the network, a Fox spokesperson told TPM that “Fox News has parted ways with Kimberly Guilfoyle.”  

Read HuffPo’s full report here.

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President Donald Trump on Friday mocked his former lawyer Michael Cohen for reportedly saying that Trump knew about a meeting Donald Trump Jr. took with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign.

In a Friday morning tweet, Trump denied he knew about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting before it took place — as he has for the past year — and suggested that Cohen lied because he’s trying to get out of “an unrelated jam (Taxi cabs maybe?).” Trump also made a not-so-subtle suggestion that Cohen is being used by his lawyer, Lenny Davis, a former Clinton attorney, to advance “Bill and Crooked Hillary’s” agenda.

Cohen is currently under criminal investigation for a slew of potential financial crimes, including unpaid taxes on his taxi cab business. This spring, the FBI raided Cohen’s house, hotel and office, seizing hundreds of thousands of documents, including records related to a hush payment he made to a porn star to keep her quiet about an alleged affair with Trump and recordings of Cohen’s conversations with Trump.

On Tuesday, Cohen’s lawyer publicly released a recording of Cohen and Trump discussing a payment to a former Playboy model who had an alleged affair with Trump. Since then, Trump and his new lawyer Rudy Giuliani have repeatedly attacked Cohen publicly.

CNN reported Thursday evening that Cohen is willing to tell special counsel Robert Mueller that Trump knew about the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton before the meeting took place.

Giuliani has since tried to discredit Cohen– he repeatedly called him a “liar” during an interview with CNN Thursday evening.

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Following reports that Michael Cohen is willing to tell federal investigators that President Donald Trump knew about a meeting between his son and a Russian lawyer during the campaign, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani appeared on CNN to discredit Cohen.

“He’s been lying all week, he’s been lying for years,” Giuliani told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Thursday night, adding that the evidence revealed in a recording of Trump and Cohen talking about a hush payment to a former Playboy model further proves the “serious lies” he’s told other the years.

“I don’t see how he has any credibility,” he said. “There’s nobody that I know that knows him that hasn’t warned me that if he’s backed up against a wall he’ll lie like crazy, because he’s lied all his life.”

Cohen reportedly is willing to tell special counsel Robert Mueller that he was in the room when Donald Trump Jr. told his father about a meeting he was setting up with a Russian lawyer who had promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. Sources familiar with the matter told CNN that Cohen said Tump told his son to take the meeting.

Giuliani told CNN that it’s Trump’s legal team’s position that that information is a lie.

“A person who is found to be an incredible liar, he’s got a tremendous motive to lie now because he’s got nothing to give, says it, all of a sudden, at the 11th hour. I don’t think anybody believes that,” he told Cuomo.

Cohen is currently under a criminal investigation for his business dealings, including a hush payment he made to porn actress Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged affair with Trump.

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Contradicting repeated denials by President Donald Trump and his White House staff, Michael Cohen reportedly claims to know that Trump knew about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting before it happened and Trump approved going forward with it, CNN reported.

According to sources with knowledge of the situation who spoke to CNN, Cohen claims he was present when Donald Trump Jr. told Donald Trump about the potential meeting with a Russian lawyer, promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, and Trump green-lit it. While he doesn’t have any evidence to validate his claims, Cohen is reportedly willing to share that information with special counsel Robert Mueller.  

Cohen reportedly hopes that the information he can share about the Trump Tower meeting will get him access to Mueller and possibly reduce his legal repercussions. While he hasn’t been charged with anything, federal investigators are conducting a criminal probe into Cohen’s business dealings.  

Trump has claimed he didn’t know the meeting had even occurred until the New York Times asked him about it in July 2017, more than a year after the fact.

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Typically an ardent defender of President Donald Trump, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) broke with the President over his attempts to revoke the security clearances of former intelligence community officials who criticize him.

In an interview with The Hill published Thursday, Nunes sympathized with Trump’s predicament, but suggested the revocation efforts might be a waste of time.

“I can understand why the President’s upset because their behavior is nothing short of being bizarre. However, I’m not sure it’s a good use of time to have this fight,” he told Hill.TV’s “Rising.”

Earlier this week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Trump is looking into revoking the security clearances of former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director Michael Hayden, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. She claimed each of these Obama-era officials had made baseless political attacks against Trump and were trying to make money off their security clearances. 

Nunes didn’t contradict the White House’s rationale for considering revoking the clearances — even though Comey and McCabe were both stripped of theirs when they were fired from the FBI — and suggested that each of the officials were dishonest.

“As you’re aware, many of these actors that he’s talked about were involved in unverified dossiers that they pushed forward out into the public, leaked out into the public, spilled out into the public that was bought and paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign, and these were the top intelligence officials and they were supposedly all oblivious to it, and didn’t know about it, which is hard to believe,” he said. “So you can understand why the President’s upset. He thinks they’ve been dishonest with the American people, I think they look extremely dishonest.”

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Special counsel Robert Mueller is homing in on President Donald Trump’s favorite mode of communication to determine whether, coupled with the President’s private pressuring of Justice Department officials about the Russia probe, he obstructed justice, The New York Times reported Thursday.

According to three people briefed on the matter who spoke to the Times, Mueller is looking at Trump’s tweets and disparaging public comments about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former FBI Director James Comey. Mueller hopes to determine whether the combination of Trump’s firing of Comey and his private and public pressuring of his own DOJ to squash the Russia probe could amount to the President obstructing justice.

Trump’s lawyers say that the actions Mueller is investigating on the obstruction front were well within Trump’s executive authority. Rudy Giuliani even told the Times that it’s not possible to obstruct justice in “public.”

“If you’re going to obstruct justice, you do it quietly and secretly, not in public,” he said.

According to the Times, Trump’s lawyers are privately anxious that Mueller will use the tweets and private conversations to build a case that shows a far-reaching pattern of attempts to interfere in the investigation.

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Newly minted White House Communications Director Bill Shine made his first public remarks since joining the West Wing on Thursday morning, by aggressively combatting reports that CNN’s Kaitlan Collins was banned from covering a Rose Garden event on Wednesday for posing “inappropriate” questions to the President.

“You ask her if we ever used the word ban. I’ve seen it on lower thirds,” Shine said to a group of reporters assembled outside the White House Thursday. When asked what word he used, he condescendingly told reporters to “focus now” while he repeated himself.

“When you ask her if we ever used the word ‘ban,’ then I will answer that question. … When you ask her, focus now, you ask her if we ever used the word ban,” he said.

Collins told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Wednesday afternoon that Shine (a former Fox News executive) and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had informed her she wasn’t allowed to attend the presidential event because she asked “inappropriate” questions during a pool spray between Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Collins was working as the press pool reporter on Wednesday and asking several questions as the press are ushered out of the room is common for the network reporter representing the pool.

The White House claims she was told she was not welcome to participate in the next event because she shouted questions and didn’t leave when she was repeatedly asked to do so.

It is unclear what difference the wording of the statement would make, given Collins wasn’t allowed to participate regardless.

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The White House has updated its official transcript of the press conference between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to show that Putin admitted to a reporter that he did want Trump to win the 2016 election.

The key exchange was originally omitted from the original transcript, which the White House chalked up to muffled audio recording error, not a “malicious” attempt to hide Putin’s admission.

During the press conference last week, Jeff Mason from Reuters was chosen to ask Putin and Trump questions. He initially asked Trump about the decline in U.S.-Russia relations and Putin about his country’s interference in the 2016 election. He ended by asking Putin directly “did you want President Trump to win the election?  And did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?”

“Yes, I did.  Yes, I did.  Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal,” Putin responded.

Reporters first noticed the omission earlier this week and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow even opened her show Tuesday night, suggesting the missing text was glaringly intentional.

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A top White House lawyer responsible for patrolling President Donald Trump and his officials’ ethical behavior is leaving the White House at the end of the summer, Politico reported.

Attorney Stefan Passantino has worked as the number two lawyer in the White House since January 2017, just under White House counsel Don McGahn. According to four sources who spoke to Politico, Passantino was always planning to leave the White House around this time and has been commuting between Washington, D.C. and Atlanta since he started.

One close adviser to the White House called Passantino the “clean-up guy” because of his role of having to educate Trump’s officials about the ethics associated with working as a public servant.

Read Politico’s full report here.

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