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

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) is a big fan of the “me too” movement and said she has had “too many” instances throughout her life where she’s been the victim of sexual misconduct, but she said it’s going to take more than a social media hashtag to make systemic changes.

During an interview with CNN on Friday morning, Dingell spoke about a “prominent, historical” figure in Congress who she said used to act aggressively toward her. She also recounted an instance in which she said this man placed his hand on her leg and was trying to move it up her thigh before she took his hand off. A female colleague noticed the contact and switched seats with her.

“We watch out for each other. That’s the other thing we need to do, but we’ve got to change. People need to speak up, men and women need to speak up and say it’s not okay,” she said.

CNN host Alisyn Camerota pressed Dingell several times throughout the interview to share who the man was, but Dingell refused, saying there are still “consequences” to the “me too” stories.

“Women are still going to play the consequences. That’s what I want to figure out. How do we protect the survivor so that in the end they’re not labeled a troublemaker? It sounds great for the moment, but are they going to be able to get the next job?” she said.

For too many women those ‘me too’ stories are going to have consequences,” she continued. “Economic, if you’re a waitress, if you’re on the factory floor or small business, if you target the small business, where’s their job? … I would still pay a price if I were to name some of them.”

Dingell’s remarks follow the introduction of legislation Wednesday — spearheaded by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) — that would overhaul the way Congress handles sexual harassment complaints. That bill was spurred on by a number of people who have gone public with stories of sexual harassment and assault by prominent men, from Capitol Hill to Hollywood.

After movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused by several prominent actresses of sexual misconduct, people across the world started sharing their personal stories of harassment and assault online, using the hashtag #metoo.   

When LA radio host Leeann Tweeden shared her story of alleged sexual misconduct by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) on Thursday, she tweeted a link to an op-ed with the same “me too” hashtag.

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Leeann Tweeden, the LA radio host who came forward with sexual misconduct allegations against Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) Thursday, said she didn’t share her story to lead Franken to resign from Congress.

“That’s not my call. I didn’t do this to have him step down. I think Al Franken does a lot of good things in the Senate, you know, I think that’s for the people of Minnesota to decide,” Tweeden said on Good Morning America Friday. “I’m not calling for him to step down, that was never my intention. … I just wanted him to understand what he did was wrong.”

Tweeden went public with her story of alleged sexual misconduct on Thursday, claiming Franken “aggressively” kissed her while they were rehearsing for an USO tour in 2006 and allegedly groped her while she was sleeping. Franken initially apologized and disputed parts of her claims, but put out a statement later Thursday asking for Congress to conduct an ethics probe into the allegations against him. The alleged incidents occurred before Franken held public office.

Tweeden said Thursday she accepted Franken’s apology and thanked him for his sincere reaction. On Friday she said she came forward because she wanted to contribute to changing the culture that looks at sexual harassment and assault as a joke.

“How he treated me and how abusers, who, I think, do that under the guise that it’s funny or that ‘I can get away with it because I’m a comedian’ and ‘it was funny,’” she said. “It’s never funny, but when you shine a light and go ‘that’s the culture, that the change that we need to make’ and go ‘that’s never funny,’ but people have gotten away with that forever.”

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President Donald Trump has been selective about his outrage over recent accusations of sexual misconduct involving high-profile politicians.

While the President hasn’t personally offered any response to mounting allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct toward teenage girls when Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore was in his 30s, Trump on Thursday was quick to condemn Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) for new groping allegations.

Trump called the 2006 photo of Franken reaching out toward an LA radio host’s chest while she was sleeping “really bad.” Trump seemed to suggest that Franken may have done more than what the photo reveals. He also called Franken a hypocrite for championing women’s rights when he had alleged inappropriate sexual behavior in his past.

Los Angeles radio host Leeann Tweeden wrote an op-ed Thursday with her story about Franken’s alleged sexual misconduct — claiming he “aggressively” kissed her during a 2006 USO tour rehearsal and groped her while she was sleeping. Franken initially apologized, but disputed part of her version of the story. He put out a longer, more apologetic statement later Thursday and asked Congress to conduct an ethics probe into the allegations.

While the White House has said Trump thinks the allegations against Moore are “very troubling,” the President’s personal silence on Moore since the news broke last Thursday is deafening.

At least eight women have come forward in the past week alleging that Moore pursued relationships or made unwanted sexual advances toward them when they were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s. One woman said Moore attempted to initiate a sexual encounter with her when she was 14. On Monday, another woman accused Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 16.

Moore has denied all accusations and has responded by trying to discredit the accusers and threatening to sue The Washington Post — which broke the first story — and the Alabama Media Group, which publishes several local Alabama newspapers.

As more men and women across the country come forward with stories of sexual misconduct by men in powerful positions, Trump has been noticeably quiet on the issue.

During the campaign Trump himself faced accusations of sexual misconduct by multiple women. In the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape that surfaced during the campaign, Trump bragged about his aggressive behavior toward women.

Trump has repeatedly denied all the allegations, claiming recently they’re all “fake” and “made up.”

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Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore on Thursday criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for his response to the sexual misconduct allegations against Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and tried to equate the situation to his own.

McConnell has been vocal about wanting Moore to step aside from the Alabama Senate race since reports of the allegations against Moore surfaced last Thursday, which were first reported by The Washington Post and each account was corroborated with other witnesses.

At least seven women have come forward over the past week accusing Moore of pursuing relationships or unwanted sexual contact with them when they were teens and he was in his 30s. One of the women claimed Moore attempted to initiate a sexual encounter with her when she was 14. On Monday, a woman claimed Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16.

Moore has denied all allegations of sexual assault and misconduct, but didn’t outright deny during at interview last week with Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he may have dated teens when he was in his 30s.

Those accusations differ from allegations that Los Angeles radio host Leeann Tweeden made against Franken on Thursday. 

Tweeden claimed that Franken “aggressively” kissed her backstage at a United States Organizations tour in 2006 — before Franken was in office — and later groping her while she was sleeping. Franken apologized for the incident in a statement, but disputed part of her account of the incident.

Franken put out a second statement Thursday, asking for an ethics investigation to be undertaken and he would “gladly cooperate.”

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she is “not concerned” about the potential appointment of a special counsel to investigate the so-called Uranium One scandal Republicans have homed in on in recent weeks.

During an exclusive interview with Mother Jones Wednesday, Clinton said reports that the attorney general had asked top prosecutors to look into appointing a special counsel to probe the sale of a uranium company to Russia represented a “politicization of the Justice Department.” She defended her actions, saying the Uranium One story “has been debunked countless times.”

“It is nothing but a false charge that the Trump administration is trying to drum up in order to avoid attention being drawn to them. I mean, even (Rep.) Trey Gowdy (R-SC), someone who is hardly a fan of mine, said that there doesn’t seem to be the basis for a special counsel,” she said. “Taking myself out of it, this is such an abuse of power and it goes right at the rule of law.”

Some Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have decided the sale of Uranium One while Clinton was head of the State Department is the real Russia story and have claimed there was some type of link between the sale of the company to Russian interests in 2010 and donations to the Clinton Foundation. Clinton has maintained there was no link between the two and has cited that there were nine different federal agencies that signed off on the deal.

If they send a signal that we’re going to be like some dictatorship, like some authoritarian regime, where political opponents are going to be unfairly, fraudulently investigated, that rips at the fabric of the contract we have, that we can trust our justice system,” she said. “With all of our problems, you know them and I know them, ultimately we have to stand up for that, we have to believe that, we have to fix the problems when they occur and when justice is denied, but moving into the political realm is something we’ve never seen.”

She said if Attorney General Jeff Sessions decides to appoint a special counsel to investigate the deal, “nothing will come of it” but it will “cause a lot of terrible consequences,” like “demoralizing” the American people’s opinions of the justice system.

“It will also send a terrible signal to our country and the world that somehow we are giving up on the kind of values that we used to live by and we used to promote worldwide,” she said. “I’m not concerned, because I know that there is no basis to it. I regret if they do it because it will be such a disastrous step into politicizing the justice system.”

Watch the interview below:

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After lawyers for Alabama Senate GOP Candidate Roy Moore’ held a press conference requesting the yearbook of a woman who accused Moore of sexual assault — she claims Moore signed her yearbook when she was in high school — the woman’s lawyer said she would hand it over.

But to Congress, not the Moore campaign.

Beverly Young Nelson, the woman who said Moore sexually assaulted her in his car when she was 16, and her attorney Gloria Allred sent a letter to the Senate Ethics Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee requesting a hearing so that both Nelson and Moore could testify under oath, Allred said on CNN Wednesday night.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Moore’s lawyers requested Nelson’s yearbook so they could have a handwriting expert examine the signature. Allred said she would be happy to oblige if it were an “independent expert” who could examine it during a hearing.

Allred said she has additional evidence to corroborate her client’s claims, but she dodged questions about whether Moore presided over Nelson’s divorce case, saying she didn’t want to share more information until there was a hearing.

“There is no legal process, except the one I am proposing, which is essentially a political process combined with a legal process,” she said. “We have evidence that we have not revealed to the press and we’re not going to reveal it breadcrumb by breadcrumb. We will be happy to answer all questions and provide all evidence at the hearing if there is one. We think that’s the way to do it.”

Allred also said she’d like to see Moore “subpoenaed if he won’t appear voluntarily.”

“He can deny it if he wants as long as it’s under oath. Let him be cross-examined,” she said.

Nelson is just one of seven women who have come forward with similar accounts of Moore pursuing unwanted relationships or unwanted sexual contact with them when they were teens and he was in his 30s. At least one was younger than 16-years-old at the time, which is the age of consent in Alabama.

Moore has denied all of the accusations and said he did not know Nelson.

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The chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) did not hesitate to ditch the Republican Senate candidate from Alabama, Roy Moore, who has been accused by multiple women of inappropriate sexual advances toward them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.

During an interview on CNN’s “New Day” Thursday morning, Stivers, who has donated to the Moore campaign, said he “believe(s) these women” and said the Republican candidate should step aside.

“I have subsequently asked for my money back and that was before these allegations came forward,” Stivers said Thursday. “I do believe Roy Moore should step aside. It’s up to him at this point. I don’t think anybody can manipulate anybody into doing anything, but I hope he will step aside. … I believe the women.”

While Stivers is not a member of the Senate, he said it would “be a problem” if Moore is actually elected in December and said he would “probably move to take some action” if that happens.

I’m not going to put pressure on the Senate. They need to manage their own affairs in the United States Senate,” he said. “I think it would be a problem and I would probably move to take some action.”

Moore has denied all the accusations against him and has vowed to stay in the race.

Stivers is just the latest Republican to abandon Moore after multiple women have come forward with eerily similar accounts of Moore pursuing unwanted relationships or unwanted sexual contact with them when they were teens. At least two were under 16-years-old at the time, which is the age of consent in Alabama.  

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) fundraised for Roy Moore. Stivers donated to the Moore campaign. TPM regrets this error. 

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Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore further solidified his intentions to stay in the race Wednesday evening, despite mounting allegations from multiple women who say Moore was sexually inappropriate with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.

GOP leaders in the House and Senate have called on Moore to step aside, but none have been more vocal than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Upon hearing the news, McConnell was quick to say Moore should drop out of the race if the allegations were true. McConnell has since dropped that qualifier, saying earlier this week that Moore should drop out and that he believes the accusers. The Senate Republican leader has also predicted that Moore would face an ethics probe immediately if he’s elected. That pushed Moore to go on the offensive.

“Dear Mitch McConnell, Bring. It. On.,” he tweeted on Wednesday evening.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee’s Executive Director Chris Hansen appeared to mock Moore on Twitter after his comments, tweeting: “‘Bring it On’ is a move about high school cheerleaders.”

Seven women have come forward since last Thursday, saying Moore pursued relationships with them or attempted unwanted sexual advances toward them when they were teenagers. Moore has vehemently denied all of the accusations and his campaign is launching an attack on one of the women who came forward. His campaign has requested one of the women turn over a copy of a yearbook that she claims Moore signed, so they can test the credibility of the handwriting.

Moore won the Republican nomination in September and is running against Democrat Doug Jones. The election is on Dec. 12.

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An attorney for Alabama Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore’s wife and his Foundation for Moral Law has sent a letter to a local news outlet asking the newspaper to retract stories about allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore and threatening to sue, according to several reports.

The Moores’ attorney is accusing — which has been covering the allegations against Moore of sexual misconduct and sexual assault — of defamation, libel, slander, fraud, malice, suppression, wantonness, conspiracy and negligence, according to a letter originally reported on by MSNBC, Fox6 and nationally syndicated radio host Steve Deace.

A similar letter was also sent to The Washington Post, which first reported on the allegations on Thursday, according to Deace.

The attorney, Trenton Garmon, from Garmon and Liddon based in Birmingham, Alabama, claimed the local news outlets falsely reported on the allegations of a fifth woman who came forward Monday claiming Moore had assaulted her when she was a teenager.

In the letter, Garmon also refuted reports that Moore signed one of the accuser’s yearbooks as “DA,” claiming he had done an analysis of the handwriting and confirmed it was not Moore’s signature. He also took issue with reports that Moore had been banned from Gadsden Mall and had a reputation of predatory behavior.

During an interview on MSNBC Wednesday morning, Garmon continued to defend Moore against the mall allegations, saying he was intimately familiar with the policies and procedures with dealing with nuisance individuals at the facility and said there has “never been a list with Roy Moore being banned from the mall.”

He said he sent the letters because the Moores want people to hear the facts from “both sides” and they don’t want voters to rush to judgment.

“The things that are out there that have been reported is really just rabbit trails,” he said. “So what we’re saying to voters and what we’re saying to people that are rushing to judgment is allow the facts to sort themselves out through, hopefully, a jury trial eventually, we think we will get there.

In the letter Garmon asked to be notified within five days if the news reports were meant to be viewed as satire. If not, they requested a retraction be made within five days, otherwise Garmon threatened to begin the process of filing a lawsuit on behalf of both the Moores and their foundation.

But’s publisher, Alabama Media Group, is standing by its reporting.

“Roy Moore seeks election to the United States Senate. As such a public figure, he merits and can expect intense scrutiny by the electorate and the media on its behalf, including by Alabama Media Group, the state’s largest media outlet,” Vice President of Content for Alabama Media Group Michelle Holmes told

“We stand behind our past reporting on Roy Moore, and vow to continue to doggedly pursue the truth on behalf of the people of Alabama.  These threats will not silence us, and they will not slow us,” she said.

The letter was sent on Tuesday. The Washington Post, the Roy Moore Campaign and Garmon’s law firm did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment. 

The letter is also rife with spelling and grammatical errors. Read it below:

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The President is back in town.

Not long after President Donald Trump arrived at the White House early Wednesday, he jumped right back into his usual Twitter habits, criticizing CNN and praising his favorite show, “Fox and Friends.”

He started tweeting around 5:30 a.m. EST predicting that “Fox and Friends” would be “showing much of our successful trip to Asia” before switching gears to lash out at one of his least favorite news outlets.

He said he was “forced” to watch CNN while he was in the Philippines, “which I have not done in months” and claimed it was still “bad,” “FAKE” and a “loser!”

Trump was criticized while he was in China for ignoring his own press pool and not taking a single question from reporters during his joint press conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping, a move that China tends to push during bilateral meetings.

Several members of previous administrations’ press shops took to Twitter to criticize the move, saying taking no questions at the news conference was a sign of bad negotiations.

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