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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

Stephen Paddock, the man accused of killing 59 people and injuring more than 500 in a mass shooting in Las Vegas Sunday night wired $100,000 to the Philippines last week, NBC reported Tuesday, citing multiple senior law enforcement officials.

While the shooter’s live-in girlfriend is from the Philippines, authorities said it wasn’t clear who the money was intended for.

Authorities initially believed Marilou Danley was traveling with Paddock at the time of the attack, but have since confirmed she’s been traveling overseas since Sept. 25 and was in the Philippines at the time of the attack, NBC reported.

Paddock, who authorities believe killed himself before police were able to apprehend him, had been dating Danley for less than a year.

Danely is scheduled to return to the U.S. on Wednesday, officials told NBC.

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The mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, who President Donald Trump has accused of having “poor leadership,” will meet with the President during his visit to the hurricane-stricken island Tuesday.

Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said she accepted the invitation to attend the meeting on “behalf of the people of San Juan and out of respect for the American people,” she said in a statement obtained by NBC and ABC News. She said she would use the meeting as a chance to “reiterate” the message she’s been trying to send since Puerto Rico was ravaged by Hurricane Maria last month.

“This is about saving lives, not about politics; this is about giving the people of Puerto Rico the respect we deserve; and recognizing the moral imperative to do both,” she said.

She called the devastation a “humanitarian crisis” that should be addressed with a “sense of urgency” and said she would advocate for “a continuous supply chain of aid” and the need to “cut the red tape” in order to get the supplies the U.S. territory needs.

“Open channels of communication are always good to have, but they must produce much needed results,” she said.

Trump has gone after Cruz several times over the past week, as Cruz has been vocal about what she’s called a poor response from the Trump administration. Trump personally attacked Cruz on Twitter over the weekend, saying she has “poor leadership” skills and claiming Puerto Rico’s leaders want “everything to be done for them.”

Cruz was invited to listen in on a conference call with Trump’s Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert on Monday, but her line was muted and she wasn’t able to contribute to the conversation, she told the Independent.

Before leaving for Puerto Rico on Tuesday, Trump told reporters that “at a local level, (Puerto Rico officials) have to give us more help.”

Read Cruz’ full statement below:

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Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have used three private email accounts to send and receive emails on matters related to official White House business, Politico reported Monday.

In addition to having their own separate private email accounts, the couple also has a joint account that they both had access to and shared with their personal staff for scheduling purposes, according to three people familiar with the matter who spoke with Politico.

The third account is now being examined by White House officials. The emails sent and received by the account reportedly included the couple’s travel documents, internal White House schedules and some official materials. Many of the emails were sent to the private account through Ivanka Trump’s official White House email address and her assistant Bridges Lamar’s White House account, Politico reported.

The couple has been using the joint email to share work-related “data” on a daily basis since they arrived at the White House, one source said.

The White House is already reviewing the couple’s use of separate private email accounts for some official business. Politico reported in September that other current and former White House staffers used private accounts for government business.

A family representative told Politico that Trump has been careful about separating her personal life from work and that all of her emails have been preserved on her White House account.

A White House spokesperson said the staff had been told to make sure they’re saving emails on their official accounts. Kushner’s lawyer Abbe Lowell said Kushner had sent fewer than 100 emails from his private account and that most exchanges on that server were initiated by the other person.

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While the attack in Las Vegas this weekend has been called the worst mass shooting in modern history, allies of President Donald Trump told Axios they don’t think the President will pivot left on the gun control debate like he did on the debt ceiling.

Axios spoke with more than 20 sources inside and outside the White House since the shooting, including former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who said the reaction from Trump’s base would be “actually worse” if he made a deal with Democrats on gun control than if he had supported comprehensive immigration reform.

“Impossible: will be the end of everything,” Bannon told Axios in a text message.

Longtime former Trump adviser Roger Stone made similar comments.

“Base would go insane and he knows it,” he said.

Other allies told Axios that the support of the National Rifle Association (NRA) is too important to the President for him to take any significant stance on gun control.

One source said Trump doesn’t feel like he has to be loyal to traditional outside Republican groups because they “didn’t lift a finger to help him in the election,” but the NRA is “very much the exception.”   

Trump and his sons are also personally close with the NRA, some sources told Axios and Trump is reportedly friends with the NRA’s top lobbyist.

Early Monday morning Trump tweeted his “warmest condolences and sympathies” to the 59 people who were killed and 500-plus injured by the mass attack. The White House said Monday afternoon it was “premature” to talk about gun control.

“There will be certainly time for that policy discussion to take place, but that’s not the place that we’re in at this moment,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday. “But certainly, I think that there’s a time for that to happen.”

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Continuing his attacks against the mayor of San Juan for criticizing him, President Donald Trump tweeted thanking the governors of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands for “working really hard” Saturday afternoon.

He called Gov. Ricardo Rossello a “great guy and leader” and complimented him on his work ethic. He also said Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp called him to tell him FEMA and the U.S. military were “doing a GREAT job.”

Despite her public criticism of Trump Saturday afternoon, he then gave a shout out to Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon, who represents Puerto Rico in Congress, saying she has been “wonderful to deal with and a great representative of the people.”

He then went on to bash the San Juan Mayor again, saying the recovery efforts will “speak much louder than complaints by San Juan Mayor.”

Trump started his Saturday blasting San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz for “poor leadership” skills and saying Puerto Rico’s leadership wants “everything to be done for them.”

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President Donald Trump started off the weekend by calling out the leaders of the Puerto Rican government for having “poor leadership” skills in their efforts to recover from the widespread devastation the islands suffered after Hurricane Irma and Maria.

But San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who Trump directly attacked in his tweet, is taking the high road after a few days of back and forth public critiques between herself and the federal government.

Cruz tweeted Saturday morning that the only goal is to save lives and said Puerto Rico “cannot be distracted by anything else.”

Trump’s remarks Saturday morning were likely in response to Cruz expressing frustration with the administration’s characterization of relief efforts in the U.S. territory.

On Thursday, Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke said the federal government’s recovery efforts in Puerto Rico were a “good news story,” a comment Cruz strongly combatted during an interview with CNN Friday.

Well, maybe from where she’s standing it’s a good news story,” Cruz said. “When you are drinking from a creek, it’s not a good news story. When you don’t have food for a baby, it’s not a good news story. When you have to pull people down from their buildings — I’m sorry, but that really upsets me and frustrates me.”

Trump tweeted Saturday morning blaming her and others and saying the hurricane recovery should be a “community effort.”

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Longtime vocal critic of President Donald Trump, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) mocked Trump and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price for not being “rich enough” to fit into “Trump’s world.”

Before Price’s resignation was announced Friday, Trump told reporters that he has some “great secretaries” and that some of his cabinet secretaries actually own their private planes, which “solves that.” He was referencing reports that Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos frequently travels using a private plane that she owns and pays for herself.

Not long after news of Price’s resignation broke, Schiff tweeted that Price committed the “one unpardonable sin in Trump’s world: Being rich, but not rich enough to own his own private jet.”

Price resigned on Friday after a week’s worth of reports that he had spent more than $1 million of taxpayer money to travel in private jets since coming to the White House.

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In response to pushback from San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz — who expressed frustration with the administration’s characterization of its response to devastation in Puerto Rico on Friday — President Donald Trump first blamed the U.S. territory’s leadership.

He then returned to his usual line of critique: blaming the media.

In a Saturday morning tweet storm, Trump lashed out at Cruz, blaming her and other’s in Puerto Rico for having “poor leadership” and claiming the disaster relief should be a “community effort.”

About 40 minutes later he tweeted again, saying the media is responsible for the critiques of his response to the recovery efforts and said specifically that CNN and NBC are “going out of their way to disparage our great First Responders” as a way to “get Trump.”

His comments follow his repeated critiques of the media for not showing the federal government’s recovery efforts in Puerto Rico in a good light. Trump has brought special attention to the U.S. territory’s debt in recent days, at one point suggesting that Puerto Rico’s “broken infrastructure” and debt may have contributed to the devastation.  

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Two Republican senators introduced legislation Thursday that would permanently waive a decades-old shipping restriction law for Puerto Rico.

The waiver would help aid hurricane recovery efforts and would also give the island the “sustainable relief it needs to rebuild.”

President Donald Trump granted the U.S. territory a 10-day waiver to the Jones Act Thursday morning, but Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Mike Lee (R-UT) would like to see the hurricane-ravaged U.S. territory exempt from the law permanently.

The Jones Act, also called the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, restricts shipping between American ports to American ships with American crews only, which ends up making it twice as expensive to ship things from the U.S. to Puerto Rico as it is to ship from other foreign ports in the world, according to a joint statement from McCain’s and Lee’s offices.

McCain said he welcomed the President’s 10-day waiver, but said it was “insufficient to help the people of Puerto Rico recover and rebuild.”

“Our legislation would permanently exempt Puerto Rico from the Jones Act, an antiquated, protectionist law that has driven up costs and crippled Puerto Rico’s economy,” McCain said in a statement. “For years I have fought to fully repeal the Jones Act, which has long outlived its purpose to the benefit of special interests.”

Lee said it was “far time to repeal” the law, which he said gives “foreign corporations an edge over American businesses and makes disaster response harder.”

This is the fourth time McCain has introduced legislation to end the Jones Act since 2010 and the second time he’s done it this year. Earlier this week, he sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security asking them to waive the law to help with hurricane recovery efforts.

Trump indicated Wednesday he may not lift the Jones Act for Puerto Rico because “a lot of shippers” don’t want it waived, despite the fact that he lifted the restrictions when Hurricane Harvey and Irma hit the U.S. earlier this month.

Correction: This post originally referred to Puerto Rico as a “country.” It is a territory of the U.S.

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While he made it clear that he believes “people have a right to express themselves,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said Thursday that he thinks the protests during the national anthem at football games are “misguided.”

Ryan wouldn’t comment on President Donald Trump’s remarks about the protests because he said he hadn’t seen all of Trump’s statements. But Ryan defended Trump’s stance that the protests are seen as disrespectful because they involves the American flag and the national anthem.

“What I don’t think people see from the get-go is when you do it on the flag and the anthem, it looks like you’re protesting against the ideals of America, the patriotism, the people who put their lives on the line, given their life for the country,” he said to reporters Thursday. “So I just don’t think — I think it’s misguided to protest the anthem and the flag.”

He said the protests don’t translate well because people see it as disrespectful to the country, rather than a “political issue.”

“That’s the point I think some people are missing in this debate,” he said.

Ryan’s home state football team, the Green Bay Packers, are planning to stand during the anthem Thursday night and lock arms. The team has invited fans to do the same as a sign of unity, according to The Green Bay Press Gazette.

On Sunday, as many teams across the NFL showed some sign of protest during the anthem, most of the Packers players locked arms and stood during the anthem and three sat.

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