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

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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Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, had some harsh words for President Donald Trump on Thursday in the wake of the President’s continuous criticism of the National Football League and the players who have taken a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial profiling in the U.S.

Richmond wrote a letter to Trump to “express my utter disgust” with the way he has handled race relations in the U.S. in general, but also specifically related to his “divisive response” to NFL protests, according to the letter published by CNN.

As President of the United States, your use of profane, sexually derogatory language in addressing American citizens, or anyone for that matter, is unbecoming of the office you now hold,” he said, referencing Trump’s remarks in Alabama on Friday when he called any player who kneels during the national anthem a “son of a bitch” who deserves to be fired.

He said Trump’s lack of empathy or understanding for the “very painful history and substantive policy concerns” of African Americans is representative of everything black people have to lose under his administration.

He also re-sent Trump a 125 page policy book highlighting the Congressional Black Caucus’ concerns related to the “criminal justice system, racial profiling and police brutality, among many other issues” as well as letters to members of the administration on the topic. He asked the President to actually read the documents, saying he’s it’s “evident” he hasn’t.

“Almost everything you have done and said on the topic of race or on issues that implicate race demonstrate a shocking lack of knowledge for an adult public official in the 21st century,” he wrote.

Read the full letter at CNN.

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In his first interview since being shot  during a GOP Congressional baseball practice in June, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) said he didn’t realize until “later” how much damage had been done “internally.”

“I mean, my femur was shattered. The hip and pelvis had serious damage where the bullet went through and, you know, did some damage to areas that had to be shored up with steel plates,” he said, during a segment of his interview with 60 Minutes that was released Thursday.

After the shooting, Scalise spent four days unconscious in the hospital. He praised the doctors who did so much to repair all of the “damage.”

“They did a phenomenal job of rebuilding, you know, kind of the, rebuilding Humpty Dumpty. I mean, there were, there was a lot of damage inside that had to get fixed,” he said. “They put me back together again.”

The rest of the interview will air on 60 Minutes on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. EST.

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The President has authorized a shipping waiver to help get relief aid to Hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a tweet Thursday morning.

Sanders said President Donald Trump had authorized a waiver to the Jones Act for Puerto Rico that would be effective “immediately.”

The Jones Act dates back to the 1920s and restricts shipping between American ports to American ships with American crews only, which ends up making it just as expensive to ship things from the U.S. to Puerto Rico as it is to ship from any other port in the world, according to members of Congress who asked the President to lift the restriction.

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.

Sanders said the President waived the restriction at the request of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello. 

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More than 30 House Democrats have filed an amicus brief asking a federal judge to reject President Donald Trump’s pardon of controversial former Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Trump announced he would pardon Arpaio of his criminal contempt of court conviction for racially profiling against Latinos while serving as county sheriff in Maricopa County in Arizona. Arpaio was an early Trump supporter and the President said he was treated “unbelievably unfairly.

But House Democrats think his pardon is unconstitutional and intrudes on the judicial branch, Politico reported.

“A full and unconditional presidential pardon….effectively deprives the Court of ‘the independent means of self-protection,’ and makes the Court dependent on the Executive,” the House members wrote. “The pardon here is an intentional usurpation of the Court’s authority by the President. President Trump does not pretend that his pardon of the Defendant is based upon the considerations of grace that usually justify the exercise of the pardon power.”

Arpaio was found guilty of contempt of court in July and Trump pardoned the former sheriff on Aug. 25.

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Continuing his tirade against the National Football League, President Donald Trump suggested in an interview with Fox News, which aired Thursday, that NFL team owners may be “afraid of their players.”

“I have so many friends that are owners and they’re in a box. I’ve spoken to couple of them and they say ‘we are in a situation where we have to do something.’ I think they’re afraid of their players if you want to know the truth. I think it’s disgraceful and they’ve got to be tough and they’ve got to be smart because you look at the ratings, the ratings are going way down,” he said, continuing on his usual line of insult by blasting a private group’s television ratings.

He claimed that “most people” agree with him on his stance that football players should stand during the national anthem instead of kneeling in protest and he called on the NFL to enforce its “rule that’s been in existence for a long time.”

“The NFL and players really have to do the honor of the country. It’s for the honor of the country. They have to respect our country. They have to respect our flag and our anthem,” he said.

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Talk about a Hail Mary.

It’s “possible,” but not likely that former NFL star Peyton Manning will trade in his football retirement for politics.

Just one day after Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) announced he will retire when his second term is up, he floated the possibility of Peyton running for his seat in the Senate, Politico reported.

“If he were to run nobody in their right mind would consider running against him,” Corker told Politico, saying he had spoken with Manning Wednesday morning.

The two are apparently friends. Corker and Manning have golfed with the President this past year, and Corker reportedly dines and speaks with Manning regularly.

“Peyton Manning is the kind of guy that would be great in public office. … I think it’s possible. Is it likely? I don’t think so,” Corker said. “If he got a huge rush of public inquiries it would probably push him away.”

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During a private dinner with conservative activists at the White House this week, President Donald Trump complained about his fellow Republicans in the Senate, calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “weak” and physically mocking him and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

Imitating McCain’s thumbs-down gesture, which he used to indicate his no vote in the last Obamacare repeal vote in July, Trump reportedly mocked the gesticulation at the dinner, complete with a facial expression. He called McCain “disgraceful” for his decision on health care, Politico and Axios reported.

At the private dinner he also called McConnell “weak” for his failure to repeal Obamacare and for not changing the Senate filibuster rule that would only require 51 votes to pass bills.

Trump also physically mocked McConnell, according to Axios, which reported Trump mimicked McConnell’s posture by slumping his shoulders and having a lethargic demeanor.

While Trump hasn’t refrained from publicly shaming McCain or McConnell in the past, he dialed back on his criticism of the Senate majority leader after the two had a meeting a few weeks ago.

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In a possible reaction to growing reports that Facebook sold pro-Trump advertisements to a Russian-linked internet research group during the 2016 election, President Donald Trump said the social media giant was “always anti-Trump.”

“Facebook was always anti-Trump. The Networks were always anti-Trump hence, Fake News, @nytimes (apologized) and @WaPo were anti-Trump. Collusion?” he cryptically tweeted Wednesday morning.

He then went on to tout his success as president so far, saying “the people were Pro-Trump.”

The tweets come as U.S. officials investigate whether about 3,000 advertisements purchased by the Kremlin-linked group were part of a larger initiative by the Russian government to interfere with the 2016 election.

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Despite repeated urging from a federal judge, the Department of Homeland Security  won’t extend the Oct. 5 deadline for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to renew their status, CNN reported Tuesday.

An attorney for the Department of Justice told U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the decision during a federal hearing Tuesday about a lawsuit filed against the federal government over its decision to end DACA.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Sept. 5 that the President would end DACA in six months, giving Congress time to come up with a legislative fix for the program, which protects more than 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors.

Garaufis had previously suggested the department should consider extending the deadline for those whose DACA status expires in March, when the program is set to end.

The deputy assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice said earlier this month that DHS was considering pushing back that deadline in order to give DACA recipients impacted by the onslaught of hurricanes in Texas, Louisiana and Florida time to get their paperwork in.

Garaufis said he was shocked by the decision and said he had advocated for it so that no members of the program would be at risk of deportation.

“I’ve worked in every branch of government … and I’ve never seen a circumstance like this,” he said, questioning what the “hurry” was, according to CNN.

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