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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

Lisa Page, the former FBI lawyer whose anti-Trump texts with another agency official has fueled Republicans’ conviction that the Russia probe was politically motivated, does not plan to comply with a GOP subpoena to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

Page’s attorney, Amy Jeffress, said that the committee did not provide Page with enough information on its intended line of questioning and the FBI has declined to share crucial records for Page to review, according to Politico.

“As a result, Lisa is not going to appear for an interview at this time,” Jeffress said in a statement shared with Politico.  

Page was set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, a day before the committee’s public hearing with Peter Strzok, the agency official she exchanged scathing texts with about then-candidate Donald Trump. Trump has become increasingly obsessed with Strzok and Page in recent weeks and even tweeted about the pair, who were reportedly having an affair when the texts were exchanged, while flying to Belgium for the NATO conference on Tuesday.

House Republicans seized on the news that Page intended to defy the subpoena, with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) claiming in a statement that Page “has something to hide” and saying she had “no excuse” to not appear before the committee.

Both Strozk and Page have already testified before congressional committees, according to Politico.  

While Strzok did eventually work as an investigator in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe — and was removed from the investigation once Mueller found the messages — he was working on the Hillary Clinton email probe at the time he sent the texts to Page.

Strzok even had a significant role in reopening the Clinton investigation just weeks before the 2016 election– he co-wrote the first draft of former FBI director James Comey’s letter to Congress announcing he was reopening the investigation.

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Judge T.S. Ellis has granted Paul Manafort’s request to move to a jail closer to the Washington, D.C. area so he can better prepare for his trial.

Manafort is currently being held in custody at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia, located more than 100 miles from Alexandria, Virginia, where his trial will be held later this month.

Ellis ordered that Manafort be transported from Northern Neck to the Alexandria Detention Center until his trial “to ensure the defendant has access to his counsel and can adequately prepare his defense,” he wrote in the court filing.

The decision was in response to a series of requests Manafort made late Friday, seeking to delay his trial due to challenges in preparing while in jail and to move the trial to Roanoke, Virginia, a more politically “balanced” part of the state.

In the Virginia case, Manafort faces charges of bank and tax fraud. He’s also set to stand trial in Washington, D.C. in September, facing money laundering and failure to register as a foreign lobbyist charges. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Manafort’s bail was revoked last month by the judge overseeing his case in Washington, D.C. after special counsel Robert Mueller accused Manafort of trying to interfere with a witness. Manafort is being held in solitary confinement in the Northern Neck jail to ensure his safety, and his lawyers complained to the judge overseeing Manafort’s case in Washington, D.C. that the situation made it challenging to prepare for trial.

He will likely be placed in protective custody when he arrives at the Alexandria Detention Center, given his high profile status, Alexandria Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Amy Bertsch told TPM Tuesday. Once Manafort arrives at the new facility, he will go through the jail’s intake process, which includes a new booking. If placed in protective custody, he’ll have limited contact with other inmates and will get two hours outside of his cell each day, she said.  

Read the order from Ellis below:

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Another Ohio State University wrestler has accused Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) of  knowing about alleged sexual abuse by the team’s doctor and told CNN that Jordan “snickered” when the athlete told him about an incident with Dr. Richard Strauss. 

The latest wrestler to come forward, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told CNN that Jordan was a “phony” for denying that he knew about the alleged abuse when he was an assistant coach for the wrestling team.

“I remember coming up and saying, ‘Strauss held my balls longer than normal.’ He just snickered,” the wrestler said.

The former athlete said he remembered approaching Jordan and a group of wrestlers and saying “something to the effect of ‘his hands are cold as shit; he checked out every hair on my ball,’” the wrestler told CNN, adding that Jordan walked away and said, “I have nothing to do with this.”

The athlete who spoke with CNN — who also voted for Jordan when he first ran for office — is the eighth former wrestler to come forward alleging that Jordan was aware of Strauss’ abuse. Jordan has denied all the allegations and has called the scandal a conveniently timed political attack.

“He’s sitting here and directly lying,” the wrestler said, adding that he supports fellow OSU wrestler Mike DiSabato, who has been public about his assertions of abuse and Jordan’s knowledge of the incidents.

A former White House ethics chief has submitted a request to the Office of Congressional Ethics to probe Jordan’s knowledge of the alleged abuse.

Strauss died of suicide in 2005 and and OSU is currently probing the allegations of sexual abuse by former athletes.

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President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani is reportedly still taking foreign clients through his security firm, despite saying he was not involved in the company before joining Trump’s legal team, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Giuliani told the Post that he is still representing clients in Brazil and Colombia, and also gave a paid speech to a controversial group based in Iran. He defended his work to the Post, offering that he is working pro bono and has never lobbied the President while working overseas.

I’ve never lobbied him on anything,” Giuliani told the Post. “I don’t represent foreign government in front of the U.S. government. I’ve never registered to lobby.”

Giuliani also told the Post that he keeps his work for his clients confidential, never discusses it with Trump and even turns away clients that he thinks may raise an issue. But ethics experts say the work presents conflict of interest concerns and likely requires Giuliani to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act.

One of Giuliani’s clients is Kharkiv, Ukraine. The mayor of Kharkiv is a well known member of the Party of Regions, the political group at the focal point of the federal investigation into Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

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President Donald Trump told reporters on Tuesday that he has not asked his Supreme Court pick, who will replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, about his views on abortion.

“No, I haven’t, I really haven’t,” Trump told reporters in response to questions about whether he’s addressed the issue with his nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

“Last night was an incredible, Brett Kavanaugh got great reviews, actually from both sides. It’s a beautiful thing to watch, ” he told reporters, according to the pool report.

The conservative judge’s stance on abortion and upholding Roe v. Wade will likely determine whether Kavanaugh earns confirmation votes from at least two Republican female senators. 

During his 2006 Senate confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh was pressed on his thoughts on Roe v. Wade as a precedent of the court, by now- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Kavanaugh said he would follow the ruling, but declined to share his personal opinion on abortion.

“Senator, on the question of Roe v. Wade, if confirmed to the D.C. Circuit, I would follow Roe v. Wade faithfully and fully. That would be binding precedent of the court. It’s been decided by the Supreme Court,” he said. “I’m saying if I were confirmed to the D.C. Circuit, senator, I would follow it. It’s been reaffirmed many times.”

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The Department of Defense on Monday said it anticipates being reimbursed for all the time and resources it’s devoting to detaining immigrant families on its military bases, Foreign Policy reported.

A Pentagon spokesperson said in a statement that the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services would be responsible for caring for the 32,000 immigrants in detention, and would need to reimburse the DOD for its work preparing to house the families on bases.

“DOD is not going to have any involvement, any interaction with the children or the families,” the spokesperson said.

The Pentagon is currently conducting environmental reviews at two of its military bases, according to Foreign Policy and DHS has asked the Pentagon to build tents to house up to 4,000 family members, starting with Fort Bliss in Texas and New Mexico.

As part of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance border crossing policy, immigrant families who enter the U.S. illegally have been being separated for months. Trump directored border patrol agents to stop separating immigrant children from their parents and asked the Pentagon to help find a new place to hold those caught crossing the border.    

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While the White House was successful for the most part in keeping President Donald Trump’s SCOTUS pick under wraps for the past two weeks, Trump was essentially decided on his nominee after Justice Anthony Kennedy told him he would retire in a meeting, Politico reported.

According to aides close to the White House who spoke to Politico, in that meeting Kennedy recommended Trump pick Brett Kavanaugh, who had served as a former law clerk to Kennedy. While Trump was reportedly already interested in Kavanaugh before that discussion with Kennedy, the retiring jurist’s recommendation helped seal the deal.

Administration officials told Politico that Trump spent the most time with Kavanaugh out of the other three candidates — he was interviewed at least twice — and was impressed with Kavanaugh’s credentials and “fidelity to the Constitution,” in Politico’s words. Trump was decided on Kavanaugh by Friday, but waited until Sunday to inform the nominee.

NBC News reported that the Trump team was in talks with Kennedy about his replacement for months and he only felt comfortable retiring after he “received assurance that it would be Kavanaugh,” per NBC reporter Geoff Bennett.

In rare form, Trump reportedly was so invested in building the suspense around the decision that he didn’t tell aides or close associates about his decision and the White House kept the circle of people informed on the selection process thin.

Trump even kept his decision from lawmakers until just before his 9 p.m. announcement Monday, informing senators of his decision during a reception in the State Dining Room before his prime time address.

Read Politico’s full report here.

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President Donald Trump’s former personal driver has sued the Trump Organization for more than 3,000 hours of unpaid overtime, alleging that Trump never paid him for extra hours of work and only raised his salary two times in 15 years.

According to Bloomberg and several other outlets, the former driver, Noel Cintron, filed the suit in the Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday for 3,300 hours worth of unpaid overtime work in the past six years. The statute of limitations bars him from suing for uncompensated work beyond that time period. Cintron, a registered Republican, worked as Trump’s personal driver for more than 25 years, according to Bloomberg. 

In the suit, Cintron claims his workday started at 7 a.m. and only ended when Trump, his family or his associates were finished using his services, according to Bloomberg. Cintron said he often worked 55 hours a week, but was only ever paid his established salary of $62,700 in 2003, $68,000 in 2006 and $75,000 in 2010, a raise that also required him to forgo his health insurance.

According to Bloomberg, the complaint describes Trump’s mistreatment of Cintron as “an utterly callous display of unwarranted privilege and entitlement and without even a minimal sense of noblesse oblige.”

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After North Korean officials gave a harsh assessment of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to North Korea over the weekend, President Donald Trump appeared to pressure regime leader Kim Jong-un to stick to their denuclearization agreement via Twitter.

“I have confidence that Kim Jong-un will honor the contract we signed and, even more importantly, our handshake,” he said, before suggesting that China was attempting to strain relations between the U.S. and North Korea because of Trump’s trade tariffs.

The tweet suggests that Trump has no plans to back off the agreement he thinks the two leaders reached during their summit last month. After the meeting, Trump repeatedly praised Kim, moves that were met with criticism given the leader’s history of brutality against his own people.

Pompeo was in North Korea over the weekend meeting with officials, not Kim himself, to discuss the return of the remains of U.S. soldiers who were killed in the Korean War and to further press for the dismantling of a North Korean missile engine test site.

During the summit last month, Trump and Kim agreed to work together to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, with Trump vowing to end the U.S.-South Korea “war games,” and Kim saying he would disassemble his test sites, though there’s been no sign that he’s made any efforts to do so.

After the meeting, North Korean officials said their talks with Pompeo had been “regrettable” and said Pompeo made “one-sided and robber-like” demands regarding denuclearization.

“We had expected that the U.S. side would offer constructive measures that would help build trust based on the spirit of the leaders’ summit … We were also thinking about providing reciprocal measures,” an unnamed spokesperson said in a statement that was run on state media.

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New White House communications director Bill Shine will be part of the group of White House aides traveling alongside President Donald Trump to Helsinki this week to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Shine will join a group of high profile officials traveling aboard Air Force One with the President, including first lady Melania Trump, Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Adviser John Bolton, policy adviser Stephen Miller and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Politico reported.

Shine, a former Fox News executive who was forced out of his job last year for allegedly helping cover up sexual assault claims, was hired by the White House last month.

Trump is set to meet with Putin on July 16 in a one-on-one meeting, which will be followed by a bilateral discussion between the two leaders and a working lunch. Trump suggested the two meet after he feuded with key U.S. allies during a G-7 trade summit in Quebec last month and even suggested Russia should rejoin the group of global allies.

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