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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

President Donald Trump told French President Emmanuel Macron that he is going to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, the New York Times reported Tuesday morning.

It was widely expected that Trump would pull out of the nuclear deal, which he has called the “worst” deal the U.S. has ever agreed to and has spent the past several days tweeting criticism of former Secretary of State John Kerry, who brokered the deal.

Trump is set to officially announce his decision at 2 p.m. ET Tuesday.

According to a person briefed on the conversation who spoke with the Times, Trump will announce Tuesday afternoon that the U.S. will renew all of its former sanctions against Iran, which were waived as part of the 2015 deal. Trump plans to levy new economic sanctions against the country as well, according to the Times.

Talks to keep the deal in place fell through primarily because of Trump’s insistence that fuel production limits stay in place post 2030, a second person familiar with the matter told the Times.

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An ex-official in former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s administration said Tuesday that some of Giuliani’s recent remarks to the media have been “jarring.”

Susan Del Percio, a New York-based Republican strategist, told CNN that Giuliani has behaved like “a different person than what we all knew 20, 25 years ago” and suggested the shift in demeanor is likely because of Trump.

“I think he’s kind of moved into the Trump model, which is exactly what you don’t want from someone who’s your spokesperson,” she told CNN Tuesday. “You’re suppose to compliment and temper them, not do — not play into their worst attributes. … What we see now, so many years later, it is jarring.”

Del Percio said she could not “guess the state of mind” of Giuliani right now, but offered that he’s likely navigating a new state of transition as a recent addition to Trump’s legal team.

Elected officials are very ego driven,” she said. “It’s usually about them, of course, it’s how they get up every day and face the negative stuff as well as the positive, but it is very hard to make that transition and most of them really just want to stay relevant in the conversation.”

In a series of stunning interviews in recent days, Giuliani has compared the FBI to a military wing of the Nazi party, criticized former FBI director James Comey and made wildly conflicting claims about Trump’s knowledge of the $130,000 payment his personal attorney made to porn actress Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election.

Del Percio is not the first former Giuliani associate to criticize the ex-mayor for his recent comments to the media. Former Justice Department inspector general and former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Michael Bromwich called his “stormtrooper” remarks “unhinged.”

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President Donald Trump’s personal attorney is reportedly most concerned about how the FBI raid of his house, hotel and home last month is impacting his family, Vanity Fair reported Monday evening.

According to friends of Michael Cohen who spoke with Vanity Fair, Cohen is concerned the raid and subsequent media attention is “ruining their lives.”

“I live for my wife and my kids,” he has reportedly told friends in recent weeks. “I’d die for my wife and my kids. And this is all ruining their lives.”

Cohen has called the situation a “nightmare” and is reportedly struggling as he’s become isolated from Trump and others in Washington, D.C., who he reportedly claims have treated him like he’s “disposable.”

That sense of isolation has increased since Trump’s new lawyer Rudy Giuliani has started making media appearances, spreading confusion and fanning the flames of inquiry surrounding a $130,000 payment Cohen made to porn actress Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election, reportedly to keep her quiet about an alleged affair she had with Trump a decade ago.

Cohen has told friends that he’s had no peace since Buzzfeed published the Christopher Steele dossier, which made multiple claims about Cohen interacting with Russians throughout the 2016 campaign. Cohen filed a defamation lawsuit against Buzzfeed, but recently dropped the suit after the FBI raid.

Last month, the FBI seized at least eight boxes of physical documents from Cohen’s house, hotel and office, according Vanity Fair. The agents obtained a warrant to seize records related to the Daniels payment and documents about Karen McDougal, a former Playboy playmate who allegedly had an affair with Trump. Among other items, they also seized documents related to taxi medallions Cohen owns in New York and his communications with the Trump campaign.

Read Vanity Fair’s full piece here.

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Several fair housing advocates plan to file a lawsuit against the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Secretary Ben Carson on Tuesday for suspending a 2015 rule that requires housing developments to desegregate their communities in order to receive federal funds.

According to the Washington Post, which obtained a copy of the lawsuit, the 2015 Obama-era rule requires public housing developments to assess and develop plans to end racial segregation within their communities or risk losing federal housing funding. The rule, which allowed for enforcement of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, also required communities to submit plans every five years.

But HUD, under Carson, suspended the rule in January, arguing the rule was unnecessarily burdensome on public housing communities and that HUD was devoting too many resources to helping the developments revise their desegregation plans, according to the Post. Carson has also been vocal about his opposition to the use of federal dollars to desegregate communities, calling the efforts “failed socialist experiments.”

The three fair housing advocates that plan to file the lawsuit Tuesday argue the law was suspended illegally because no advance notice was given to the public before it was suspended. In a statement shared with TPM Tuesday, the president and executive director of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the lead counsel in this case, said the group hopes the suit will hold Carson and HUD accountable for the rule suspension.

“With this lawsuit, the civil rights community is standing up to Secretary Ben Carson and fighting back against an egregious attempt to roll back a hard fought victory,” the group’s President Kristen Clarke said in the statement. “The 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule is a critical part of ongoing work to address structural racism and inequality today. Through this lawsuit, we are taking action to hold HUD accountable and ensure that HUD fulfills its mission of addressing ongoing racial segregation and housing discrimination which persist across the country today.”

Read the Post’s full story here. Read the complaint shared with TPM below:

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President Donald Trump will not be allowed to answer special counsel Robert Mueller’s questions in writing, a method Trump’s legal team thinks will help protect the President from lying or making misleading comments, CBS News reported.

Trump’s new lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told CBS that Mueller’s team rejected the Trump team’s request to conduct the interview in writing, but the former New York City mayor said they will continue to negotiate with investigators about the terms of the interview once he has a few weeks to catch up on facts of the investigation. If the two teams are unable to come to an agreement and Trump is subpoenaed for an interview, Giuliani told CBS that he will fight the subpoena. If further negotiations aren’t successful they will challenge it in the Supreme Court, he said.

Giuliani also suggested that he wants to wait until after Trump returns from a summit with North Korea on denuclearization to prepare the President for an interview with Mueller.

Watch the interview below:

 

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President Donald Trump is becoming increasingly unhappy with his new lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, over his remarks to the media, Politico reported Monday evening.

Trump has complained to his close associates about Giuliani’s performance with the media, which he thinks has just raised more questions about the various scandals surrounding him. Trump is reportedly particularly irked that his new attorney has failed to quiet coverage of the $130,000 hush payment his attorney Michael Cohen gave to porn actress Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged affair she had with Trump a decade ago.

While the President has complained about Giuliani, the new lawyer has not yet fallen out of Trump’s inner circle, but some White House aides think Trump will fire him if the behavior continues, according to the new report from Politico looking at the chaotic turnover of Trump’s legal team.

Giuliani told Politico that Trump is not unhappy with his performance and said “If I’m not up to it, I don’t know who is,” referencing Giuliani’s ambitions to wrap up special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Read Politico’s full report here. 

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Harvard University professor Alan Dershowitz, known for having President Trump’s ear, reacted to news that President Trump’s personal attorney’s phones were wiretapped with a dystopian take.

“Well I think we are moving closer and closer to the surveillance state where phone calls are tapped, where emails are secured without a real basis,” he said. “I think prosecutors should not be seeking wiretaps on lawyers’ offices and search warrants and subpoenas for lawyers, e-mail files, unless they have very substantial evidence of very serious crimes. Campaign contributions don’t qualify, for the kind of crime that should justify the wiretapping of a lawyer.”

 

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During an untamed interview with Sean Hannity on Wednesday evening, President Donald Trump’s new lawyer Rudy Giuliani referred to the New York FBI as a group of “stormtroopers,” referencing the group of soldiers who served in the paramilitary wing of the Nazi party.

That didn’t sit well with former FBI Director James Comey.

Shooting back with a tweet on Thursday, Comey called New York FBI agents “a group of people devoted to the rule of law and the truth.”

Giuliani’s Nazi comparison falls in line with Republicans’ conspiratorial attacks on law enforcement in recent months, with many claiming the existence of anti-Trump bias within the FBI and the broader Department of Justice.

Giuliani’s “stormtroopers” remark was among several controversial and newsworthy comments the former New York mayor shared with Hannity on Wednesday, most notably that President Trump reimbursed his personal attorney Michael Cohen for the $130,000 he paid a porn actress just before the 2016 election to keep her quiet about an alleged affair with Trump a decade ago. 

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While defending President Donald Trump’s daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump, President Trump’s lawyer also took a swipe at her husband, Jared Kushner.

During an interview with Sean Hannity on Wednesday evening, Rudy Giuliani said the “whole country would turn” on special counsel Robert Mueller if he “went after” Ivanka Trump as part of his probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. But Kushner? Not so much.

“Jared is a fine man, you know that, but men are, you know, disposable,” he said. “But a fine woman like Ivanka? Come on.”

 

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The White House director of legislative affairs acknowledged on Wednesday that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt could be a better steward of taxpayer dollars.

I think that we campaigned on a promise to drain the swamp,” Marc Short told CBS News Wednesday. “We have to – we have to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, and I think that we take that promise seriously to the American people. I think that there are certain areas that the administrator would acknowledge were mistakes that he would want to fix.”

CBS’ Major Garrett then asked if that meant Pruitt could “do a better job” and Short said “yeah.”

“I think he would acknowledge that,” he said. “It’s factual to say that he has delivered on the agenda, and that is important. But I don’t think that you can say that simply delivering on the agenda excuses misuse of taxpayer dollars. I think that many of the things that are still going on with Scott Pruitt are under investigation, and we’re looking at it.”

While the White House has acknowledged that it is reviewing some of Pruitt’s lavish spending decisions, President Donald Trump has remained supportive of Pruitt, after weeks of reports about his spending on flights and a sound proof phone booth, around-the-clock security detail — even during family trips — and his sweetheart housing deal with the wife of an energy lobbyist.

Trump’s main defense of Pruitt has been the work the administrator has done to roll back regulations, but several Republican members of Congress and White House staff have called for scandal-plagued Pruitt to resign. 

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