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

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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At the White House press briefing on Tuesday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed a question about if President Donald Trump has considered stepping down.

“No and I think that’s an absolutely ridiculous question,” she said to American Urban Radio Networks’ April Ryan before moving on to another reporter.

Sanders also went to great lengths to separate the President from the FBI’s Monday raid of the properties of his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. “This doesn’t have anything to do with the President and I would refer you to Michael Cohen and his attorney,” she said. “When it comes to matters of the special counsel and dealings with the President, we’ve been fully cooperative.”

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said on Tuesday that he thinks President Donald Trump is “too smart” to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller and that the President is merely frustrated over the recent FBI raid of his personal attorney Michael Cohen’s properties.

“The bottom line is I’m not worried about Trump firing Mueller, because I think he’s smarter than that,” Graham said to CNN’s Kate Bolduan. “I know he’s frustrated. You would be frustrated, too, if your personal attorney had his office raided.”

Despite his nonchalance, Graham cosponsored a bill back in August with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) that would require the attorney general to seek extensive judicial review before firing the special prosecutor. The bill has since stalled in committee.

In his CNN appearance, Graham also predicted that when more information about the raid is released, it will be revealed that the searches pertained to Cohen’s actions independent of Trump. “I don’t know what Cohen did,” he said. “This whole idea of borrowing money against your house to pay a claim to Stormy Daniels was bizarre by any legal standard that I know.

“The fact that he settled the claim and didn’t tell the President is kind of out there,” he continued. “So I don’t know what they’re looking at. Chances are this is more about Cohen than it is Trump, but we’ll see over time.”

Last week, Trump denied any knowledge of the $130,000 payment Cohen made days before the 2016 election to Daniels so she would keep her silence about her alleged affair with Trump. Reportedly, some of the materials agents seized in the raids Monday concern the payment.

Watch part of the interview below:

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In preparation for a likely contentious confirmation process, former CIA Director and Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo is turning to every possible resource for help—including recent secretaries of state who he lambasted while in Congress. 

Politico reported Tuesday that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has offered help and advice, despite Pompeo’s legacy of flagellating her over her response to the 2012 attacks in Benghazi. She reportedly told him in a recent phone call to curb the exodus of career diplomats from the department, a trend that began under Pompeo’s predecessor, Rex Tillerson.

Pompeo reportedly reached out to former Secretary of State John Kerry as well, though it is not clear if Kerry responded. Pompeo once liked a tweet calling Kerry a “traitor.”

Per Politico, Pompeo faces an uphill battle in his confirmation process. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is split 10 to 11 with a Republican majority. Democrats are worried about Pompeo stoking Trump’s pugilistic instincts, and at least one Republican, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), is threatening to withhold his vote over Pompeo’s support of the Iraq War and torture interrogation methods.

Due to this unfavorable composition, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may bypass the committee altogether and bring the nomination directly to a floor vote, according to Politico.

Pompeo’s confirmation hearing will be held on Thursday.

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President Donald Trump cancelled his upcoming trip to South America on Tuesday, and will send Vice President Mike Pence in his place.

“President Trump will not attend the 8th Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru or travel to Bogota, Colombia as originally scheduled,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “At the President’s request, the Vice President will travel in his stead. The President will remain in the United States to oversee the American response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world.”

On Saturday, dozens of Syrians were killed in an alleged chemical attack in the city of Douma. Trump and most Western leaders denounced the attacks, though the Syrian government dismissed the allegations, saying that reports of the attacks are “fabrications.”

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The FBI on Monday raided the office of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, obtaining a search warrant after a referral from the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller according to the New York Times.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the agents also searched Cohen’s home and Manhattan hotel room.

Agents reportedly seized materials related to the $130,000 payment Cohen made to porn actress Stormy Daniels days before the 2016 election to prevent her from speaking out about the alleged affair she had with President Donald Trump. The FBI, the Times reported, seized “records related to several topics.”

The law firm where Cohen had an office issued a statement regarding the raid. “The firm’s arrangement with Mr. Cohen reached its conclusion, mutually and in accordance with the terms of the agreement,” said a statement from Squire Patton Boggs LLP. “We have been in contact with federal authorities regarding their execution of a warrant relating to Mr. Cohen. These activities do not relate to the firm and we are in full cooperation.”

Cohen’s lawyer Stephen Ryan slammed the search. “The decision by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York to conduct their investigation using search warrants is completely inappropriate and unnecessary,” he said in a statement. “It resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney client communications between a lawyer and his clients.”

He added: “These government tactics are also wrong because Mr. Cohen has cooperated completely with all government entities, including providing thousands of non-privileged documents to the Congress and sitting for depositions under oath.”

Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, responded to the news with a tweet:

Jeff Zeleny reported on CNN that Trump is watching the drama unfold from the White House. “I’m told the President has been watching news coverage of this development this afternoon from the White House,” Zeleny said. “I’m told by a White House official this was not coming as a surprise to the president.

“He had a head’s up in some way this had happened earlier today,” he added.

Last month, Daniels sued Trump and the company Cohen set up to make the payment, saying that the nondisclosure agreement she signed for the money should be nullified since Trump never signed it.

She appeared on CBS News’s 60 Minutes to tell her story at the end of March.

Trump spoke out about the case for the first time last week, telling reporters on Thursday that he didn’t know about the payment. He referred questions to Cohen.

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