Kate_riga_profile2019

Kate Riga

Kate Riga is a news writer for Talking Points Memo based in New York City. Before joining TPM, Kate was the political reporter for The Southampton Press. She is a graduate of Georgetown University and a native of Philadelphia.

Articles by Kate

President Donald Trump allegedly asked former FBI Director James Comey to investigate the existence of the rumored “pee tape” to allay the suspicions of first lady Melania Trump, according to a copy of Comey’s upcoming memoir obtained by the New York Post.

As the New York Post reports, Comey wrote that during a meeting with Trump, the President voiced his concern that Melania thought reports about the tape were even “one percent true.”

The Washington Post reported that the President went on to assure Comey that the rumor in the so-called “Steele dossier” published by Buzzfeed in January 2017 was untrue, asking Comey if he thought Trump was the kind of man who needed to solicit prostitutes and, in a follow-up call, reminding Comey of his germophobia which, he said, would make it impossible for him to partake in the activities described. The Washington Post also has a copy of the book.

Comey’s memoir, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” is due to be released on Tuesday.

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In search warrants executed this week, FBI agents sought Michael Cohen’s communications with a bank about his taxi medallion business in addition to information about his $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels before the election, the Washington Post is reporting.

The bank is New York-based Sterling National Bank, the Post reported.

In another revelation from the FBI raid on Michael Cohen’s properties, the Post writes, investigators may be examining financial actions by Cohen that used his taxi business as collateral.

As TPM has previously reported, Cohen rubbed shoulders with Ukrainian Simon Garber and Russian Evgeny “Gene” Freidman in the taxi business, both of whom have run into financial and legal trouble during their operations.

Unnamed sources told the Washington Post that Cohen is being investigated for crimes including bank fraud and campaign finance transgressions.

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Former congressman Steve Stockman (R-TX) has been found guilty on 23 felony counts for misspending $1.25 million of donor funds on sometimes-bizarre personal and campaign expenses, according to the Texas Tribune.

Stockman, who served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, will remain in federal custody until sentencing in August because he is considered a flight risk. His legal team reportedly plans to appeal the verdict in the meantime.

“Mr. Stockman is keeping his head up and we’re looking forward to getting through to the next stage of this,” Stockman’s defense attorney, Sean Buckley, told the Texas Tribune.

Stockman used the contributions from Illinois shipping magnate Dick Uihlein and Baltimore money manager Stanford Rothschild Jr. on expenses including spying on political opponents, dolphin boat rides, and bulk purchases of pop-up Advent books published by his brother.

Rothschild passed away before the trial, but Uihlein testified that he intended the lion’s share of his $800,000 to go towards a house for conservative interns and a tabloid to boost Stockman’s chances in an ultimately unsuccessful 2014 congressional bid. Stockman used most of that money on other expenses.

According to the Texas Tribune, Stockman was charged with aides Thomas Dodd and Jason Posey, both of whom pleaded guilty and testified against the former congressman.

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White House Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly called President Donald Trump “dishonorable” in a call with former FBI Director James Comey shortly after his firing, the Daily Beast reported. In Comey’s upcoming memoir, the former FBI Director reportedly writes that his firing by Trump made Kelly “sick.” 

When Kelly called Comey moments after he learned that Comey had been fired from television reports, per the Daily Beast, Kelly was emotional and said that he intended to quit because of it. According to two unnamed sources who read Comey’s upcoming memoir, Comey persuaded Kelly to stay in his role as Secretary of Homeland Security because Trump desperately needed people of character to guide and advise him.

This account of the phone call differs from the version that Kelly has told staffers, a senior White House official told the Daily Beast.

Nevertheless, Comey’s account may inflame already tense relations between Trump and Kelly, which reportedly have worsened in recent weeks. As more of Kelly’s allies in the West Wing have left or been fired — including former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — Kelly’s influence in the White House has decreased.

Comey’s memoir, “A Higher Loyalty,” is slated for release on Tuesday.

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Ahead of the media blitz sure to accompany the release of former FBI Director James Comey’s new memoir, the Republican National Committee is preparing a response, complete with a website and talking points, in an attempt to discredit Comey and his book.

The website, lyincomey.com, is strewn with quotes from prominent Democrats bashing Comey after his July 5, 2016 statement on the FBI’s investigation into then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails, punctuated by black and white photos of the former FBI director looking shifty. 

“Comey is a liar and a leaker and his misconduct led both Republicans and Democrats to call for his firing,” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement to CNN. 

According to the Washington Post, the website is just one prong of the RNC’s attack plan, which also involves a “war room” to respond to Comey’s TV appearances, an ad campaign, and an organized movement to send out Trump spokespeople to rebut Comey’s statements on different shows.

The White House has signed off on the RNC’s plan to attack the former Republican, CNN reports. It’s a sign of the intense anxiety administration officials feel about Comey’s press tour, and about President Donald Trump’s possible reaction to it.

The memoir is likely to paint an unflattering portrait of Trump and his interactions with Comey, who he fired nearly a year ago. Comey was heading the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, an investigation with which Trump was becoming increasingly frustrated, reportedly describing it as a “cloud” hanging over his presidency. The dismissal led Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint Special Counsel Robert Mueller to oversee the probe.

Comey’s book, “A Higher Loyalty,” is slated to be released on Tuesday; Comey will begin his press tour with an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Sunday evening.

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Asked whether House Speaker Paul Ryan’s retirement will spark an exodus from Congress, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she hopes that Republicans will stay.

“We certainly hope that Republicans will continue to remain in the House, especially those that support the President’s agenda,” she said at Wednesday’s press briefing. “Those that are campaigning, we look for a number of them coming out and also supporting the President’s agenda.”

Watch below:

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On Wednesday morning, a commercial bolstering Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s credentials and advocating that he complete his Russia investigation aired during Fox and Friends in the Washington D.C. market.

According to the Washington Post, the ad came from a group called Republicans for the Rule of Law led by Bill Kristol, editor at large at the Weekly Standard. The group’s website displays quotes from many Republican lawmakers supporting Mueller and his work.

President Donald Trump is known to be an avid viewer of the show, often tweeting about and focusing on issues raised during the programm. His staffers make guest appearances on Fox News shows frequently, to pitch policy and mold the opinions of the President.

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Retiring Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) used House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) announcement that he will not run for reelection as an opportunity to comment on how difficult it is to be a Republican congressman during the Trump administration.

“I think there’s a lot of weariness and a lot of exhaustion; frankly, this will be a challenging year and I’ve said this many times that the litmus test for being Republican these days is not about any given set of ideals and principles, it’s about loyalty to a man and that’s challenging,” he said to CNN’s Manu Raju.

“If you’re a member of Congress, particularly in a swing or marginal district, and you go out there and put distance between yourself and the President, guess what? The loyalists to the President will say you’re betraying him,” he continued. “If you put distance from the President, those in the resistance movement will say you’re still a sycophant and it’s never enough. You’re really in a no-win position.”

Dent announced his retirement in September, later adding that President Donald Trump’s polarizing statements and the challenges his party will likely face in this year’s midterm elections contributed to his decision.

Watch part of the interview below:

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) weighed in Wednesday morning on House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) decision not to run for reelection in November.

“Speaker Ryan is a good man who is always true to his word,” Schumer said in a statement. “Even though we disagreed on most issues, in the areas where we could work together I always found him to be smart, thoughtful, and straightforward.

“With his newfound political freedom, I hope the Speaker uses his remaining time in Congress to break free from the hard-right factions of his caucus that have kept Congress from getting real things done,” he continued. “If he’s willing to reach across the aisle, he’ll find Democrats willing and eager to work with him. The job may be made harder because Congressmen Scalise and McCarthy will be competing for the hard-right’s favor, but Speaker Ryan is up to the job.”

It has been reported that Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) have been quietly vying for a speakership run in anticipation of Ryan’s retirement.

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In the wake of the news that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) will not seek reelection in November, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) reflected on the speaker’s turbulent relationship with President Donald Trump.

“That’s been a little bit of a difficult marriage from the beginning,” Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, told Fox News’ Bill Hemmer Wednesday morning. “They’re very different in terms of temperament and character, but he is somebody who I think recognized that President Trump presented an opportunity to get some things on the agenda done and, frankly, they have been.

“I think it’s been very productive in this first year of President Trump’s presidency working with Speaker Ryan and our leadership on Capitol Hill and I think there’s a real record of accomplishment,” he continued. 

Thune added that Ryan’s retirement is a “loss to the institution,” but predicts that he will be back on the scene seeking national office before too long.

Watch part of the interview below:

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