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Summer Concepcion

Summer Concepcion is the front page editor of Talking Points Memo based in New York City. Previously, she covered the 2016 presidential election for Fusion and worked as a researcher at The Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute. She's an LA native and former Chicago transplant. Reach her at summer@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Summer

A Washington Post report Friday night offers a window into President Donald Trump’s often tense relationship with former Massachusetts governor and frequent critic Mitt Romney.

The tension reportedly even boils down to how Romney’s niece, RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, ended up dropping her maiden name in public settings. Nowadays, it is generally absent in Republican Party news releases and social-media accounts.

WaPo notes a specific request from Trump earlier this year for McDaniel to stop using her maiden name publicly as she took over as RNC Chair. Advisers said the request happened when Trump told others that mention of the name Romney “often prompted boos at his events.”

A senior Trump administration official and adviser told WaPo the President was “pleased” when McDaniel mostly stopped using the Romney moniker.

McDaniel’s maiden name drop is just one piece of the puzzle in the strife between Trump and Mitt Romney. WaPo mentions Trump’s snub of Romney’s reported consideration of a Senate run by indicating that he would support Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) if the senator decided to run for re-election.

Although Romney has yet to announce a Senate run, one conservative strategist who spoke anonymously to WaPo expressed that “if elected, Mitt Romney would take the role as America’s number one ‘never Trumper.’”

Similar sentiments were echoed when sources close to Romney told TPM in October that while he was initially not keen on a Senate run, the retirements of Trump-critical Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Bob Corker (R-TN) and John McCain’s (R-AZ) ongoing health problems have left a void Romney thinks desperately needs to be filled.

The strategist also anticipated that a Romney run would mean “a full-on carpet bombing from conservatives coming his way.”

Earlier this week at a rally for Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, former White House adviser Steve Bannon attacked Romney by alleging he hid behind his religion to avoid in the Vietnam War. However, top Utah GOP lawmakers clapped back at Bannon’s remarks.

Officials at the White House and RNC declined WaPo’s request for comment on the exchange between Trump and McDaniel on dropping her maiden name.

Cassie Smedile, a GOP spokeswoman for McDaniel, called the fuss over the matter “silly” as she pointed to recent fundraiser invites in which the RNC had used McDaniel’s full name, while claiming there was no internal prohibition on using Romney.

The White House also declined WaPo’s request for comment.

“The president has full confidence in the chairwoman who has led the Republican Party toward record-breaking fundraising,” White House spokesperson Raj S. Shah told WaPo.

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A New York Times report Saturday detailed President Donald Trump’s complicated relationship with TV news and his heavy consumption of it.

People close to Trump estimate that he spends “at least four hours a day, and sometimes as much as twice that, in front of a television,” sometimes on mute, “marinating in the no-holds-barred wars of cable news and eager to fire back.”

Trump reportedly begins his day around 5:30 each morning tuning into TV in the White House’s master bedroom. He flips to CNN for news, moves to “Fox & Friends” for “comfort and messaging ideas,” and sometimes MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” because it “fires him up for the day.”

Aides also monitor “Fox & Friends” in the morning “the way commodities traders might keep tabs on market futures to predict the direction of their day.” They’ve learned that if Trump does not immediately tweet about “something memorable” on Fox, he may be saving it for later viewing on his “Super TiVo” recorder and instead watch MSNBC or CNN live—both of which put him “in a foul mood to start the day.”

These habits set the stage for how the “ammunition for his Twitter war is television.”

In Trump’s world, “no one touches the remote control” except for himself and the technical support staff. He reportedly “keeps an eye on scrolling headlines” on a 60-inch screen during dining room meetings.

As he watches the news, he “shares thoughts with anyone in the room, even the household staff he summons via a button for lunch or one of the dozen Diet Cokes he consumes each day.”

However, Trump doesn’t like being viewed as someone who watches so much TV that it “reinforces the criticism that he is not taking the job seriously.”

NYT notes that during his recent trip to Asia, Trump was told of a list of 51 fact-checking questions for this article, including one about his “prodigious television watching habits.” Trump then pushed back on the assertion—and slammed the media while at it.

“I know they like to say—people that don’t know me—they like to say I watch television,” Trump said. “People with fake sources—you know, fake reporters, fake sources. But I don’t get to watch much television, primarily because of documents. I’m reading documents a lot.”

Trump’s constant need to consume TV is reportedly chronic enough that one former top adviser told NYT that he “grew uncomfortable after two or three days of peace and could not handle watching the news without seeing himself on it.”

NYT’s insider look into Trump’s TV news consumption habits comes the same day he railed against CNN and ABC over erroneous reports.

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Another lawmaker joins in the chorus of those vehemently opposed to Trump’s Saturday visit to the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum opening.

Trump’s visit to the museum already began facing backlash in the days leading up to the event, most notably with civil rights movement leader Rep. John Lewis skipping it due to finding the President’s attendance as an “insult.”

Hours before the event, Rep. Al Green (D-TX) went on MSNBC to voice the hypocrisy behind Trump’s visit, citing how the President “has been antithetical to the movements that are in place currently to help African Americans.”

“He’s opposed to Black Lives Matter,” Green said. “He’s opposed to the efforts by the football players to take on police brutality.”

Green also expressed Trump’s attendance as a vanity move.

“He’s just going for the wrong reasons,” Green said. “He can have his photo op, but he won’t have the opportunity to have the credibility of persons who have rich histories in civil rights associated with him to add any degree of legitimacy to his effort.”

This isn’t the first time Green unleashed his fierce opposition to the President. He most recently made headlines with the House overwhelmingly voting to kill his Trump impeachment effort.

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“[The media has] been apologizing left and right,” Trump said during his campaign rally in Florida Friday night.

So began Trump’s first whack at responding to CNN’s major correction to a report on an email pointing Trump and top aides to hacked documents released by WikiLeaks prior to their publication.

“[CNN] should have been apologizing for the last two years,” Trump said amid cheers from the crowd.

Trump didn’t hesitate to throw ABC under the bus as well for “fraudster” Brian Ross’ erroneous report on former national security adviser Michael Flynn, claiming the network should’ve fired the now suspended reporter.

President Trump: "Did you see all the corrections the media has been making? … They never apologize."

Posted by Washington Examiner on Friday, December 8, 2017

Trump wasn’t quite done with his latest tirade against the media as his Saturday morning tweets echoed the same sentiment from the night before.

CNN’s Friday afternoon correction came hours after the Washington Post published a report based on a copy of the email obtained by the newspaper’s reporters.

Trump’s latest hit against CNN comes off the heels of speculation surrounding the Dept. Of Justice’s complaint to block AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner (the news network’s parent company) and the network deciding to ditch this year’s White House Christmas party.

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There’s more to the business ties between former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a Kremlin-aligned oligarch, NBC News reported Friday night.

NBC found a previously unreported $26 million loan between a Manafort-linked company and the Putin-friendly billionaire oligarch, Oleg Deripaska.

Citing financial documents filed in Cyprus and the Cayman Islands, NBC reports the loan brings a grand total of their business dealings over the past decade to around $60 million.

According to the documents, funds were sent from a Deripaska-owned company to Manafort-linked entities registered in Cyprus.

Manafort’s spokesman Jason Maloni, who is subpoenaed with his client by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, released a statement to NBC: “Mr. Manafort is not indebted to former clients today, nor was he at the time he began working for the Trump campaign.”

NBC said Maloni later revised the statement, removing that sentence entirely: “Recent news reports indicate Mr. Manafort was under surveillance before he joined the campaign and after he left the campaign. He has called for the U.S. Government to release any intercepts involving him and non-Americans in hopes of finally putting an end to these wild conspiracy theories. Mr. Manafort did not collude with the Russian government.”

It’s been previously reported that Deripaska did business with Manafort in the mid-2000s. The Associated Press reported in March that the aluminum magnate negotiated a $10 million lobbying contract with Manafort to do work that would “greatly benefit the Putin Government.”

Earlier this month, The Atlantic obtained a 2016 email correspondence between Manafort and his longtime business partner Konstantin Kilimnik that appears to be an effort to get back in the good graces of the oligarch. In some of the emails, Kilimnik seemed to signal to Manafort that he had been forwarding to a Deripaska aide named Victor media coverage of the work Manafort was doing for the Trump campaign.

A spokesperson for Deripaska denied that the Russian oligarch received any of the emails or was otherwise in contact with Manafort at the time, according to The Atlantic.

Maloni told The Atlantic the emails were “innocuous” and that it was “no secret Mr. Manafort was owed money by past clients.” However, Deripaska’s spokesperson rebutted the suggestion that Deripaska owed Manafort money.

Manafort’s foreign dealings, which include his work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, are a key part of the federal investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Kremlin operatives.

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Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon said President Donald Trump will win re-election in 2020 by an overwhelming success in electoral votes.

“President Trump is not only going to finish this term, he’s going to win with 400 electoral votes in 2020,” Bannon said at the Values Voter Summit in Washington on Saturday.

Despite Bannon’s latest display of confidence in Trump, his remarks at the summit come three days after Vanity Fair reported a source saying he’s told people that Trump only has a 30 percent chance of finishing his first term as president.

During his speech, Bannon cited “the populist, nationalist, conservative revolt that’s going on, that drove Donald Trump to victory, that drove Judge [Roy] Moore to victory, that will drive 15 candidates to victory in 2018″ as reasons for the President’s future successful re-election bid that he’s already begun campaigning for.

Bannon also mentioned his intention to “get to the progressive Democrats,” but said that “a season of war against the GOP establishment” takes top priority.

Bannon echoed similar sentiments on Fox News’ “Hannity” on Monday evening where he said he is starting a “coalition” to “declare war on the Republican establishment.” He claimed that about 15 names will be announced in the next several weeks of people who will be challenging incumbents, some of whom work in government and others who have served the Trump agenda as “outsiders.”

Bannon broke with Trump by rallying for former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore in the primary run-off election last month.

Trump won last year’s presidential election with 304 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton’s 227.

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The Trump-Corker feud rages on.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) sees Trump’s “public castration” of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as undermining efforts to make China an ally in preventing nuclear destruction by North Korea, according to the Washington Post.

Corker’s Friday comments come just days after his on-the-record interview with the New York Times where he said the President has acted “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something” and that Trump could set the country “on the path to World War III.” Trump retorted by saying he “[w]as made to sound a fool” by the Times.

Corker argues Trump’s mistreatment of Tillerson invites “binary” situations in which the U.S. will have to choose between war and nuke threats from North Korea or Iran.

“You cannot publicly castrate your own secretary of state without giving yourself that binary choice,” Corker told WaPost in a phone interview Friday.

Corker also called out Trump’s tweets toying with these fraught tensions “very irresponsible.”

“The tweets — yes, you raise tension in the region [and] it’s very irresponsible. But it’s the first part” — the “castration” of Tillerson — “that I am most exercised about.”

Corker feels Tillerson has been key in paving the path towards quiet diplomacy with China away from confrontation with North Korea.

“The greatest diplomatic activities we have are with China, and the most important, and they have come a long, long way. Some of the things we are talking about are phenomenal,” Corker said. “When you jack the legs out from under your chief diplomat, you cause all that to fall apart. Us working with [Beijing] effectively is the key to not getting to a binary choice. When you publicly castrate your secretary of state, you take that off the table.”

Earlier this month, Trump said he told Tillerson to “save his energy” when it comes to negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and that the United States will “do what has to be done” instead.

Trump maintained on Wednesday that he and Tillerson have “a very good relationship,” despite reports that the secretary of state wanted to resign this summer and called Trump a “moron” when the President said he wanted to expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Corker, who announced in late September that his current Senate term would be his last, has been a rare voice within the Republican conference for his open criticism of the President’s conduct in office.

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Late Friday night and early into Saturday morning, President Donald Trump fired off tweets continuing to defend his latest moves in undermining Obamacare.

Trump’s latest health care tweets come on the heels of his refusal to pay Obamacare’s cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs) and his announcement of an executive order making it easier for individuals to buy insurance plans that don’t comply with Obamacare requirements.

Trump’s Friday night tweets echoed what he tweeted earlier that morning by putting pressure on Democrats to cooperate with his attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

Trump’s Saturday morning tweets piggybacked off the justification he gave Friday on cutting off CSRs by saying the payments had only served to prop up the stock prices of insurance companies.

CSRs were regular subsidies to insurance companies authorized by the executive branch until Thursday night. These subsidies were made to lower the cost of health care for low-income people — those earning between 100 and 250 percent of the federal poverty line — buying insurance on Obamacare’s exchanges.

The decision to end the payments came after the Trump administration threatened to cut off the subsidies for months. The constant threat has caused instability in the health care marketplaces as insurers raised their rates or left areas altogether out of fear that Trump would cut off the crucial subsidies.

Without CSRs, health care markets risk becoming even more destabilized. The Congressional Budget Office projected in August that cutting off CSRs would increase the federal deficit nearly $200 billion between 2017 and 2026, and that individuals whose care depended on the payments could see 20 percent higher premiums by 2018, and 25 percent higher premiums by 2020.

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RNC chair Ronna Romney McDaniel on Monday defended President Donald Trump against comparisons to Harvey Weinstein, a day after Weinstein was fired from the eponymous company he co-founded amid a flood of sexual harassment accusations.

McDaniel said Trump’s remarks on the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy,” released almost exactly a year ago, were not relevant to the discussion about the allegations against Weinstein.

“It’s not even comparable, though,” she said on CNN. “To even make that comparison is disrespectful to the President.”

McDaniel said Trump “didn’t have eight settlements” and said Weinstein “admits that he did that.”

She also claimed Trump did not have “women coming forward” with such allegations, though multiple women accused Trump of sexual misconduct after the “Access Hollywood” tape was released.

“Harvey Weinstein brought women into his hotel room,” McDaniel claimed.

Former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos alleged in October 2016 that Trump inappropriately kissed and groped her in 2007 after inviting her to his “bungalow” at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

“Here’s the difference,” McDaniel said. “The President came out and apologized for that and many Republicans came out and said those comments were inappropriate.”

“The difference is Harvey Weinstein is a major bundler for the DNC,” she added.

Trump on Saturday said he was “not at all surprised” about the sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein.

Asked about his remarks on the “Access Hollywood” tape, however, Trump dismissed them—as he repeatedly did on the campaign trail—as “locker room” talk.

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Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway on Monday criticized Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) for responding to President Donald Trump’s excoriating tweets in kind.

Corker on Sunday responded to Trump’s claim that he refused to endorse the senator for re-election by tweeting that “the White House has become an adult day care center.”

“I find tweets like this to be incredibly irresponsible,” Conway said on “Fox and Friends.”

She said Corker “has a relationship” with Trump and was “in the White House two weeks ago for a private meeting” with him.

“So that door has been opened,” Conway said. “I think comments like this are less helpful than saying I don’t like X, Y, or Z, but I support the President on tax reform.”

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