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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

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) released a statement Friday afternoon calling out President Trump and his Republican colleagues just minutes before the House Intelligence Committee released a controversial memo that claims an anti-Trump bias within the FBI.

In the statement, McCain said attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice only serve one person’s interests: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s.

“The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests — no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s,” he said. “The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded. Our nation’s elected officials, including the President, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”

His comments come as President Donald Trump and Republicans ignored the FBI’s “grave concerns” about the memo, which alleges that FBI officials abused the FISA process when seeking a warrant to surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

The full statement from McCain:

“In 2016, the Russian government engaged in an elaborate plot to interfere in an American election and undermine our democracy. Russia employed the same tactics it has used to influence elections around the world, from France and Germany to Ukraine, Montenegro, and beyond. Putin’s regime launched cyberattacks and spread disinformation with the goal of sowing chaos and weakening faith in our institutions. And while we have no evidence that these efforts affected the outcome of our election, I fear they succeeded in fueling political discord and dividing us from one another.

“The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests – no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s. The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded. Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”

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Just after news broke that President Donald Trump had declassified House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) anti-FBI memo, Trump told reporters he thought the incidents detailed in the document were a “terrible” and a “disgrace.”

“I think it’s terrible. I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on in this country. I think it’s a disgrace,” he said Friday afternoon. “The memo was sent to Congress, it was declassified. Congress will do whatever they’re going to do, but I think it’s a disgrace what’s happening in our country.”

Trump also claimed that “a lot of people should be ashamed of themselves and much worse than that.”

“Let’s see what happens, but a lot of people should be ashamed.”

When asked whether he has confidence in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Trump dodged.

“You’ll figure that one out,” he said.

Breaking from cautions from his own Justice Department, Trump reportedly declassified the memo around noon on Friday. It was sent to the House Intelligence Committee and released before 12:30 p.m. EST. The memo in question reportedly purports to show that FBI officials abused the FISA process when seeking a warrant to surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

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Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) said Friday he is “good” with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) memo being released, because Hice believes it “exposes the FBI” for abusing its power to come “after a political opponent.”

When asked on CNN whether he was comfortable with the President releasing the memo because he reportedly thinks the document will help discredit special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Hice skirted the question multiple times and theatrically claimed Republicans and Democrats “need to rally around this … for all of our sakes.”

Most of the people at the FBI are great people, doing a wonderful job, but there are bad apples and it’s going to expose it,” he said. “There’s no question it makes the department look bad. It does name some bad apples. But this is a type of thing that transparency is made of. We cannot tolerate this type of thing in America of all places.”

Hice said the FBI is cautioning against the memo’s release because “they’re shaking in their boots” over the content of the document, which allegedly shows evidence of an anti-Trump bias within the FBI. While the FBI has expressed “grave concerns” over the public release of the document, the agency said in a statement Wednesday that they believe the memo includes “material omissions of fact.”

To be very honest with you, as an American citizens, I have grave concerns,” Hice said, mimicking the FBI’s language. “I have grave concerns about what the FBI has done, what the Department of Justice has done and the fact that this could happen to anyone is intolerable for this to go on in the United States. It needs to be transparent and the people of America need to see it.”

The White House is expected to make a decision about the memo before the end of the week, but Trump has indicated he fully plans on making the document public.

According to reports from multiple news outlets, the memo purports to show that FBI officials abused the FISA process when seeking a warrant to surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

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House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) on Thursday asked the panel’s chair to ask FBI Director Chris Wray for an “emergency” briefing to outline his concerns over the imminent release of a classified memo authored by Republican staffers that alleges an anti-Trump bias within the FBI.

In a letter to Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the committee’s chair, Nadler called the memo a “set of talking points” that “attempt to discredit the work of the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller” and said the committee should ask Wray to make a formal or informal appearance on “an emergency basis.”

“It is imperative that we hear directly from these officials about the security and law enforcement implications of making this information public,” Nadler said. “Because many of our members have not read the underlying materials, it is also important that we hear about any inaccuracies or key omissions from the Nunes document.”

In his letter, Nadler cited statements from the Department of Justice and the FBI cautioning against the document’s release. The FBI, in a rare public statement Wednesday, said it had “grave concerns about material omissions of fact” in the document.

House Intelligence Committee Republicans voted Monday to release the memo, giving Trump five days to decide whether to release it to the public.  Trump made his intentions to release the document clear after his State of the Union address Tuesday, when he was caught on a hot mic telling Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) that he “a hundred percent” plans to release it.

According to reports from multiple news outlets, the memo purports to show that FBI officials abused the FISA process when seeking a warrant to surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Trump and congressional Republicans have claimed for months that the FBI is biased against him, and CNN reported Thursday that Trump believes the memo will help discredit special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Read the letter below:

 
Correction: This article originally incorrectly labeled Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) as a member of the House Intelligence Committee. He’s a ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. TPM regrets this error. 

Read the latest editor’s brief (Prime access) on this story »

 

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When President Donald Trump first read former Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci’s profanity-laden interview with The New Yorker, he liked it.

“At first, according to Scaramucci, Trump liked what he had said to Lizza,” Vanity Fair reported Thursday in a new tell-all profile on the Mooch, six months after he was ousted from his 11-day stint at the White House. “He got off on all that macho bravado. He liked that there was both the Harvard Law School Scaramucci and the Long Island Mooch. And he told Scaramucci so. He was laughing about it.”

While Scaramucci’s fall from grace was swift, Scaramucci claimed that at first the President wasn’t fazed by his behavior and even called him to tell him he was “a lucky bastard,” because he was out of the news cycle following former chief of staff Reince Priebus’ firing.

But once Priebus was replaced by John Kelly, the honeymoon was over. Scaramucci said he knew by 7 a.m. ET the Monday after The New Yorker interview that his time in the West Wing was up.

In the new Vanity Fair piece out Thursday, Scaramucci detailed his climb to power, his brief White House tenure and how he’s handled the past six months on the other side.

Here are a few highlights:

Scaramucci learned quickly that Washington, D.C. is more brutal than Wall Street.

“So, when the President turned to me and said he wanted to give me the O.P.L. job, I got a call from Reince: ‘Don’t take the O.P.L. job. You can be the finance director for the R.N.C. Stay at your company.’ Blah, blah, blah. I said, ‘No, no, no. I’m gonna take the O.P.L. job. I want to work with the president.’ How many times in my life am I gonna be able to work in the White House and work for the president of the United States? And Reince’s answer was, ‘Actually, I’m gonna do everything I can [to help you].’ He did say this because he’s a Washingtonian. That’s what they do to you, they say, ‘golly gee’ to your face and they act like Richie Cunningham to your face. They’re Richie Cunningham and they’re Opie from ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ but they’re the fucking Sith Lord behind your back. They’re hitting you with a lightsaber behind your back.”

Scaramucci never trusted former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, the Orwellian “creature from the Black Lagoon.”

I helped Bannon through the three months that he was on the campaign, and we had a good relationship. But Bannon turns on me, because Bannon is ultimately railing against the swamp, but he’s actually a cock of the swamp. He’s the creature from the Black Lagoon, Bannon. He acts more swamp-like than any person that’s ever become a Washingtonian. So for all of his railing on the swamp, he is literally the pig in George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ that stands on his two legs the minute he gets power. He is the creature from the Black Lagoon.”

Read the full Vanity Fair profile here.

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Former FBI Director James Comey took to Twitter Thursday to again defend his former agency, saying “all should appreciate the FBI for speaking up.”

“I wish more of our leaders would,” he said. “But take heart: American history shows that, in the long run, weasels and liars never hold the field, so long as good people stand up.”

His tweet was likely referring to the FBI’s public statement on Wednesday expressing “grave concerns about material omissions of fact” in Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) memo, which reportedly alleges that FBI officials abused the FISA process when seeking a warrant to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

The House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines on Monday to release the memo, giving President Donald Trump five days to make a decision about whether it should become public.

Trump is poised to release the memo this week, despite the Department of Justice’s requests to halt its release.

The White House confirmed Thursday that Trump has read the memo and White House officials expect to get a final decision about the release of the document on Friday, according to CNN. 

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White House officials are concerned FBI Director Chris Wray may quit if House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) memo purporting to show anti-Trump prejudice among federal law enforcement officials is released, CNN reported Thursday.

Senior White House officials are working on a solution that will satisfy both President Donald Trump and Wray, as well as other law enforcement officials, like Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to officials with knowledge of the matter who spoke with CNN. 

While Wray has not explicitly threatened to resign, the President’s Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly “believes it is a real possibly” that Wray could leave if the memo goes public and he is striving to mediate the issue, according to CNN.

NBC’s Pete Williams reports that Wray has no intention of quitting over the memo.

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

In a rare public statement Wednesday, the FBI expressed “grave concerns about material omissions of fact” in the document, which reportedly alleges FBI officials abused the FISA process when seeking a warrant to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

CNN reported on Thursday, citing an unnamed senior administration official, that the White House has signed off on several redactions to the document, but continues to reject requests from the FBI and the Department of Justice to block its release.

The White House confirmed Thursday that Trump has read the memo and White House officials expect to get a final decision about the release of the document on Thursday, according to CNN. 

Read the latest reporter’s notebook (Prime access) on this story »

 

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President Donald Trump has read House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) memo purporting to show anti-Trump prejudice among federal law enforcement officials, the White House announced on Thursday.

A White House official confirmed to pool reporters that Trump has read the four-page memo that staffers compiled for Nunes. The House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines on Monday to release the memo, and Trump reviewed the document as the next step in the process to make the document public.

CNN reported on Thursday, citing an unnamed senior administration official, that the White House has signed off on several redactions to the document, but continues to reject requests from the FBI and the Department of Justice to block its release.

The White House will likely send the memo back to the House Friday, according to CNN, where the House Intelligence Committee is expected to determine how and when to make it public.

The Justice Department has called the release of the memo “reckless” and the FBI, in a rare public statement Wednesday, said it had “grave concerns about material omissions of fact” in the document.

After Trump completed his first official State of the Union address on Tuesday, he nevertheless told Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) that he “a hundred percent” plans to release the document. White House chief of staff John Kelly on Wednesday morning told Fox News Radio that the memo “will be released here pretty quick.”

According to reports from multiple news outlets, the memo purports to show that FBI officials abused the FISA process when seeking a warrant to surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Trump and congressional Republicans have for months been claiming that the FBI is biased against him, and CNN reported Thursday that Trump believes the memo will help discredit special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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While Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is a centrist Democrat who was more enthusiastic during President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech this week than most of his colleagues, that didn’t stop the Vice President from going after the Democrat in his home state Wednesday — a move that didn’t sit well with Manchin.

During a speech touting tax reform in West Virginia Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence encouraged the crowd to let Manchin know “you expect better” and slighted him for voting with his own party.

It’s not just the tax cut. Sen. Joe Manchin has voted ‘no’ time and again on the policies that West Virginia needs,” Pence said. “When the time came to repeal and replace the disaster of Obamacare, Joe voted ‘no.’ When we empowered West Virginia to defund Planned Parenthood, Joe voted ‘no.’ And when it comes to that wall that we’re gonna build on the southern border, Joe said, quote, ‘Well, I’m not voting for the wall either.’”

The move signals the White House is planning to pull out all the stops to pounce on Manchin’s reelection campaign this year, despite the senator’s reputation of bipartisan work in Congress and willingness to work with Trump.

Manchin, in a tweet, said he was “shocked” by Pence’s comments and said that political moves like Pence’s are precisely “why Washington Sucks.”

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One of the attendees of a widely criticized meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and other high level Trump campaign officials and a Kremlin-linked lawyer in Trump Tower in June 2016 is suing an MSNBC guest for libel, Politico reported.

Irakly Kaveladze, referred to as the “eighth man” at the meeting, filed a lawsuit against linguist George Lakoff — a professor of cognitive science and linguistics at the University of California, Berkley — after he called Kaveladze “the major person who has been responsible for money laundering from Russia and other post-Soviet countries,” Politico reported. Lakoff made the comments during an interview with Chuck Todd on MSNBC.

In the complaint that Kaveladze filed in California on Tuesday, he said the professor’s “baseless and scurrilous” comments have created a “cloud” around his reputation.

The meeting in question involved key members of Trump’s campaign — his chairman Paul Manafort and son-in-law Jared Kushner — and a Russian lawyer. The meeting was arranged with the promise of Russia providing the campaign with damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. and his father claim the meeting ended up being about Russian adoptions and nothing came of it, but former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon called Trump Jr.’s actions in setting up the meeting “treasonous.”

Read Politico’s full report here.

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