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

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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When German Chancellor Angela Merkel made her first visit to meet with President Donald Trump shortly after his inauguration, she was greeted with an unexpected accusation, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

“You owe me one trillion dollars,” Trump reportedly told her, according to an official briefed on the session who spoke with the Journal. Trump was reportedly referencing what he estimated as the gap between the amount of money Germany was supposed to spend on its own defense under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) over the past 14 years, and what it’s actually paid for.

While Trump isn’t the first U.S. President to criticize NATO, or draw criticism from the global treaty group, he’s the the first to spark fears that the group will dismantle over his critical rhetoric.

News of the early 2017 comments to Merkel show Trump has been unwilling to budge on his stance that U.S. allies need to pay more toward their own defense, even since his initial meetings with world leaders as president.

Trump is set to travel to Brussels, Belgium this week to attend a summit with NATO leaders, a meeting that’s expected to be tumultuous. This will be the first time he’s interacted with U.S. allies in person since he butt heads with them on trade and pulled out of a joint statement last month at a meeting in Quebec. 

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While President Donald Trump told reporters on Sunday that he is still mulling over four judges who could become his Supreme Court justice pick, The New York Times reported that Trump may favor a candidate with ties to his family.

In recent days, Trump has shown a newfound interest in Judge Thomas Hardiman, who was the runner-up last year when Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. According to people close to the selection process who spoke to the Times, Trump has become fixated on Hardiman in recent days and has been asking associates about the judge.

Reportedly moved by Hardiman’s personal story — he was the first in his family to graduate college and drove a taxi to pay his tuition — Trump is also keen on the judge because he served with Trump’s sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia.

Last year, Barry suggested Hardiman would be a good choice for the Supreme Court, according to two people close to Trump who spoke with the Times.

Trump has also spoken highly of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a social conservative who has the support of one of Trump’s closest friends: Fox News’ Sean Hannity. Hannity, along with Rudy Giuliani and others, had lunch with Trump at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey on Sunday, Politico reported.

Trump is expected to have a decision made on his Supreme Court justice nominee by noon Monday and will announce it at 9 p.m. EST Monday.

Read the Times’ full piece on Trump’s SCOTUS nominee decision making process here.

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President Donald Trump on Friday declared victory over a collusion lawsuit that was filed by a former employee of the Democratic National Committee, alleging the Trump campaign and Roger Stone colluded with Russia and WikiLeaks to publish hacked DNC emails.

“Just won the lawsuit filed by the DNC and a bunch of Democrat crazies trying to the Trump Campaign (and others), colluded with Russia,” he tweeted Friday afternoon.

Despite Trump’s implication that the judge cleared his campaign of collusion with Russia, the lawsuit was tossed by a federal judge on Tuesday because of a jurisdictional technicality.

“It bears emphasizing that this Court’s ruling is not based on a finding that there was no collusion between defendants and Russia during the 2016 presidential election,” Judge Ellen Huvelle wrote in her ruling, according to Politico. “This is the wrong forum for plaintiffs’ lawsuit. The Court takes no position on the merits of plaintiffs’ claims.”

The lawsuit was filed last year by DNC donors — Roy Cockrum and Eric Schoenberg — and staffer Scott Comer, not by the DNC, as Trump suggested in his tweet. The donors and former staffer alleged that the Trump campaign and Stone worked with the Russians to hack the DNC’s emails, and the plaintiffs argued that the publishing of the hacked emails was an invasion of their privacy.

It’s been reported that Stone exchanged messages with WikiLeaks and another account that was reportedly responsible for sharing the files during the campaign. Stone also recently fessed up about his contacts with a Russian national who wanted money in exchange for dirt on Hillary Clinton.  

The DNC has filed its own lawsuit against Russia, the Trump campaign and others related to the email hack.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gifted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with an Elton John CD that includes his hit song “Rocket Man,” signed by President Donald Trump, North Korean media reported Friday.

Pompeo reportedly brought two gifts for Kim from Trump — the CD and a letter, according to The Chosunilbo. Pompeo would not confirm the CD gift to U.S. reporters embedded with him.

According to a diplomatic source who spoke with Chosunilbo, the “Rocket Man” CD stems from a conversation Trump and Kim had during their denuclearization summit last month. Trump reportedly asked Kim if he had ever heard the song and Kim said he had not.

The CD refers to the moniker Trump gave Kim last year when tensions between the two world leaders had reached a boiling point. Both Kim and Trump traded juvenile insults for months as Kim launched test missiles and Trump threatened to bring “fire and fury” to the regime.

Pompeo is in North Korea for two days to discuss the return of the remains of U.S. soldiers who were killed in the Korean War in the 1950s and dismantlement of a North Korean missile engine test site.

During the summit last month, the two leaders 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.

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