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

A New York Times spokesperson reached out to producers for the Fox News show “Fox and Friends” Sunday, asking the network to apologize on-air and retract a story that claimed that a Times story fumbled plans for the U.S. to capture an ISIS leader in 2015.

On Sunday, Fox News updated its online story — which published Friday — with the New York Times letter and has since released a statement saying the New York Times did not reach out to Fox until Sunday afternoon.

“The story was already updated online yesterday and Fox & Friends provided an updated story to viewers this morning based on the report. For all of their hyperventilating to the media about a correction, the New York Times didn’t reach out to anyone at Fox News until Sunday afternoon for a story that ran Friday night.”

The original “Fox and Friends” segment aired early Saturday and may have been the story that led the President to tweet later Saturday saying the newspaper values “their sick agenda over National Security.”

Times Vice President of Communications Danielle Rhoades Ha sent the letter to Fox producers on Sunday asking for an apology for the “malicious and inaccurate segment” and saying that no one at Fox made any attempt to “confirm relevant facts, nor did they reach out to The New York Times for comment.”

The online story and “Fox and Friends” segment were based on comments Gen. Tony Thomas, who leads the U.S. special operations command, made to Fox at the Apsen Security Forum. Thomas told Fox that the U.S. was close to capturing ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi until a lead about the capture was published in a “prominent national newspaper,” which caused the lead to go dead, he told Fox. Thomas has previously said it was a Times article that he believed kept the U.S. from capturing Baghdadi, according to The Washington Post. 

However, Rhodes Ha said the Times story was based on a statement from the Pentagon that detailed a May 16 raid that allowed the U.S. to capture an ISIL senior leader and his wife, who shared information with U.S. officials about Baghdadi’s whereabouts. She said Baghdadi would have known about the capture from the Pentagon’s announcement, not the Times story that ran three weeks after the raid.

“Furthermore, The Times described the piece to the Pentagon before publication and they had no objections. No senior American official complained publicly about the story until now, more than two years later,” she wrote. “With this segment, ‘Fox and Friends’ demonstrated what little regard it has for reporting facts.”

On “Fox and Friends” Monday morning Steve Doocy revisited the story, playing the clip of Thomas’ comments and explaining the response the story had received from the New York Times.

An unnamed source at Fox told TPM that the network questions whether the Times was as concerned about accuracy as it is about gaining media attention, pointing to the fact that the retraction letter wasn’t sent until Sunday afternoon.

“If we decided to notify the press every time the Times had to correct a story, frankly, your inbox would crash,” the source said.

Watch Monday’s “Fox and Friends” update on the topic below:

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The President began the week claiming that Washington, D.C. is “much worse than anyone ever thought,” taking to Twitter to make yet another jab at the news media.

Using one of his campaign tag-lines “Drain the Swamp,” President Donald Trump said the phrase should be changed to “Drain the Sewer” instead, saying it “begins with the Fake News!”

The tweet comes as multiple news outlets obtained and reported on the statement senior White House adviser Jared Kushner submitted to Congress outlining his interactions with Russian officials during Trump’s campaign.

Kushner is scheduled to testify before congressional intelligence committees this week on whether he had a role in the Russian government meddling in the 2016 election.

In the statement, Kushner claims he only had four interactions with Russian officials, and that he did not collude with any Russians in order to  influence the election for Trump.

Kushner, as well as Donald Trump Jr. and former campaign manager Paul Manafort, are all scheduled to testify before Congressional committees this week, which are investigating whether members of the Trump campaign worked with the Russian government to influence the election.

The three have recently come under fire after it was revealed that they met with a Kremlin-linked attorney last June. Emails leading up to the meeting, which Trump Jr. published on Twitter, show that Trump Jr. set up the meeting on the premise that he might receive damaging information on opponent Hillary Clinton as part of the Russian government’s attempts to help the Trump campaign.

The President also brought attention to comments Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) made over the weekend, claiming that there had been “Zero evidence” found to support the investigation into Russia meddling in the election. Commenting on the Democratic effort to rebrand their economic message, Schumer told the Washington Post that Democrats blame themselves, not Russia, for their loss against Trump.

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Cameron Joseph contributed reporting.

Conservative radio host and spokesperson for the National Riffle Association Dana Loesch spoke out against the White House’s hiring of Anthony Scaramucci as director of communications Friday.

In a tweet that has since been deleted, Loesch said she finds it “concerning” that the new hire has a “contrary position on #2A from President Trump,” referring to the Second Amendment.

Loesch pointed to tweets Scaramucci posted in 2012, saying it’s “just common sense to apply more controls,” referring to gun control legislation.

Loesch retweeted a few of his posts from five years ago saying she hoped Scaramucci had “changed your mind on this.”

Loesch is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment and recently came under fire for a video she narrated for the NRA that some said condoned violence against liberals.

TPM reached out to Loesch’s radio show for comment, but did not receive an immediate response.

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In his first press briefing as the new White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci pushed back on questions from reporters about getting the White House back on track after the shakeup in the communications shop.

“I’m going to take a slight issue with the question because I actually think the White House is on track and we’re actually, I think, doing a really good job,” he said. “We have a whole list of things, and I didn’t want to come out here with our list of accomplishments and start a whole advertisement infomercial right now. I wanted to talk about personnel movement and how we’re thinking about things. But I think we’re doing an amazing job.”

He said he spoke with President Donald Trump earlier Friday about “letting him be himself” and “express his full identity” when it comes to communicating with the public over social media.

“I think he’s got some of the best political instincts in the world, and perhaps in history. If you think about it, he started his political ascent two years and two months ago, and he’s done a phenomenal job for the American people. And the people I grew up with, they so identify with the President and they love him and so we’re going to get that message out,” he said.

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In his first remarks as White House director of communications, Anthony Scaramucci announced that Sarah Huckabee Sanders will take over as head press secretary, following Sean Spicer’s resignation.

Sanders previously served as deputy White House press secretary.

Spicer’s resignation was announced as news broke that Scaramucci had been hired as the director of communications, a position that had been vacant since Mike Dubke resigned in May.

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Anthony Scaramucci has been a supporter of President Donald Trump since at least the spring of 2016, based on his Twitter timeline.

But the New York financier, who has been tapped to be the new White House director of communications, wasn’t always a supporter of the President.

In a since-deleted tweet, caught by Independent Journal Review reporter Josh Billinson, Scaramucci called the Trump campaign a “spectacle.”

The newest member of the Trump administration, who previously served as a campaign fundraiser for the President, showed early signs of support for Trump’s Democratic opponent during the 2016 election, tweeting in April 2012 “I hope she runs, she is incredibly competent.

He also tweeted his support of then-presidential candidate Jeb Bush in October 2015, saying he would make a “great president.”

Despite tweeting recently that he supported Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, Scaramucci is apparently not a climate change denier. In March 2016, he said it was “disheartening” that many people still think climate change is a “hoax.” In December, however, he was more skeptical of the issue.

He also appeared to show some support for former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney, calling him a “true statesman” in 2013 and asking whether anyone questioned that Russia was a “legitimate threat” to U.S. interests.

Scaramucci has publicly acknowledged that he’s donated to Republican and Democratic campaigns, confirming on Twitter that he had donated to the Trump campaign as well as to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), former President Barack Obama and former presidential candidate and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In 2012, the new communications director tweeted his support of gun control legislation saying the U.S. has “5% of the world’s population, but 50% of the world’s guns. Enough is enough.”

Scaramucci was thrust into the spotlight recently when CNN retracted a story it had published claiming Scaramucci was under investigation as part of the probe into whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election. As soon as the story broke, Scaramucci denied the claims and later tweeted that he accepted the network’s apology.

Falling in line with the President and his allies, Scaramucci often attacks the media on Twitter, and recently promoted the Conservative News Report as a “less biased media.”

He often appears on Fox News as a political analyst and is close friends with the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., who is at the center of the Russia investigation after publishing emails that indicate he took a meeting with a Russian lawyer on the premise of getting harmful information on Hillary Clinton.

He also stopped by the White House at the end of June, for a “great meeting” with the President.

But he may not be the biggest fan of the President’s policies, though. In December 2015 he tweeted “Walls don’t work” alongside a photo of the Berlin Wall, referencing Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall along the border of the U.S. and Mexico to address illegal immigration issues.

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Amid reports that the President’s legal team is looking into conflicts of interest among members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway pointed to reports from June that said three members of Mueller’s team had given political donations exclusively to Democrats.

That’s information America needs to know about, Conway said, making an appearance on “Fox and Friends” Friday.

“I think the information you just shared is relevant information for America to have,” Conway said, responding to questions from host Ainsley Earhardt about the reported donations. “People should know what folks’ pasts and motivations and political motivations are. These weren’t minor donations as I have said on this show and elsewhere before, under a hill of criticism. These are significant donations by members of that team. They clearly wanted the other person to win.”

Between the three lawyers, a total of $56,000 has been donated to Democrats in the past three decades. Two of the lawyers gave a $2,700 donation to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign, according to a CNN report that looked at Federal Election Commission records.

Conway said it wasn’t clear whether that information will impact the investigation.

“Whether that prejudices them one way or the other in the investigation remains to be seen. But it is relevant information for people to have,” she said.

The reports about the President’s legal team digging into conflicts associated with members of Mueller’s investigative group come after Mueller reportedly decided to start looking into President Donald Trump’s financial dealings.

Conway said Mueller needs to reevaluate why the investigation was launched in the first place.

“The question is what was the purpose of this investigation? In the first place? Russia. The President said to the New York Times less than two days ago, ‘We don’t make money in Russia. We don’t have hotels in Russia.’ He had a Miss Universe Pageant there eight or nine years ago,” she said.

The Miss Universe pageant was actually in 2013.

“They were promised, we were promised, if what Hillary Clinton said is true, where is the evidence of that? The interference affected the electoral outcome. Hillary Clinton affected the electoral outcome,” she said.

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White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, who served as campaign manager for Donald Trump, said she didn’t have to look very hard to find “damaging negative information” on their opponent, Hillary Clinton.

“I didn’t have to look any further than Hillary Clinton when I wanted damaging, negative information on Hillary Clinton. It was all there. She was a walking, talking, treasure trove of negative information,” Conway said, appearing on “Fox and Friends” Friday.

Conway’s comments come in the wake of news about a June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Kremlin-linked lawyer amid promises of damaging information about Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to aid the Trump campaign. Then-campaign chair Paul Manafort and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner also attended the meeting.

On July 11, Trump Jr. published a chain of emails that outlined the lead-up to the meeting.

The emails reveal Trump Jr. was promised damaging information about Clinton as part of the Russian government’s efforts to help his father’s campaign. All three Trump associates involved in the meeting have been asked to speak before the Senate committees looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Trump Jr. and Manafort are scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 26 and Kushner will will speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday.

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President Donald Trump’s recently reshuffled legal team is looking at what authority the President has to grant pardons, as it relates to the investigation into Russia meddling with the U.S. election, according to The Washington Post.

Trump himself has asked about his authority when it comes to pardoning his staffers and family members — and even himself. But an adviser told The Washington Post that the questions were posed out of curiosity, not necessarily as it relates to the Russia probe.

“This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself,’” one adviser told the Post.

The legal team is also conducting background research on special counsel Robert Mueller and his staff, looking for potential conflicts of interest as a way to discredit the investigation and potentially justify firing Mueller.

The news comes just a few days after the President declared it would be a “violation” for Mueller to dig into his family’s finances. A day later, Bloomberg reported Mueller would be investigating  a number of Russia-related business transactions the President has conducted in recent years.

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Responding to reports that the President’s legal team is trying to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the Russia probe, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said the move falls in line with President Donald Trump’s “brash and forthcoming” style.

“I listened to your guest from ‘The Washington Post,’ I thought she put it perfectly,” Cassidy said on CNN Friday. “She goes, ‘Yes this is what Bill Clinton did, this is standard operating procedure,’ but then she said, ‘What is at issue here is his style.’ One thing we have to acknowledge, President Trump has his own style. And she said ‘it’s brash, it’s more forthcoming.’ Hey, has anybody looked at Trump for the last 70 years? He is brash and forthcoming. So I’m not sure the strategy is at issue, rather style. I cut the guy slack on style.”

When asked how he would respond if the President fired Mueller, Cassidy wouldn’t answer, because he said the CNN host was being “hypothetical.” But Cassidy defended Trump, saying he doesn’t always do the things he talks about doing.

“So, again, you have a sense that the President, when he thinks a thought, it is quickly on his lips. Now, any of us in such a situation would ponder ‘what if, what if, what if, what if,’ but we may choose not to say,” he said. “The President almost always chooses to say and sometimes a tweet.”

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