Cristina Cabrera

Cristina Cabrera is the social media editor at TPM based in New York. Previously, she worked for Vocativ and interned at USA Today and New York 1 News. She received her B.A at NYU. Follow her on Twitter @crismcabrera

Articles by Cristina

The National Rifle Association has yet to delete a Valentine’s Day Instagram post that featured guns, bullets and a target spelling out the word “love,” which was posted on the same day as the deadly school shooting in Florida.

Happy #ValentinesDay from your NRA!

A post shared by The official NRA Instagram (@nationalrifleassociation) on

The timestamp on the post indicates that the graphic was posted several hours before the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The powerful gun lobby group, staying characteristically silent in the aftermath of the mass shooting, has not posted on any of its social media accounts since the massacre occurred at around 2:30 PM ET on Wednesday.

The death toll currently stands at 17, and at least 14 people are currently hospitalized for injuries. Suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz was arrested shortly after the shooting and has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

The NRA did not respond to requests for comment.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday praised the “Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement” in a speech to the National Sheriffs’ Association.

“The office of sheriff is a critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement,” Sessions said. “We must never erode this historic office.”

Sessions’ phrasing deviated from his prepared remarks as published by the Justice Department, where the line was “The Sheriff is a critical part of our legal heritage.”

Asked to clarify the meaning of Sessions’ improvisation, Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior told TPM by email: “Anglo-American law is another term for common law – which is the legal system that we use (as opposed to say, Napoleonic Code used in France) and is derived from the system of law that originated in England.”

“That said, I am confused as to why this is a story that you would need a comment on,” Prior added.

The word “heritage” is a loaded term often used by neo-Confederates and white supremacists to defend the public display of Confederate flags and statues.

Sessions has a history of making dubious off-the-cuff remarks about race and its role in U.S. history. In 1986, a Republican-controlled Senate once rejected his nomination to a federal judgeship after several U.S. attorneys testified that Sessions was hostile to civil rights cases and made racist remarks.

Among other comments, Sessions allegedly derided the NAACP and ACLU as “Communist-inspired” and “un-American,” and said he thought the Ku Klux Klan was alright until he heard that some members smoked marijuana.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that some local Southern sheriffs historically worked to enforce segregation and crack down heavily on civil rights movements in the spirit of the “heritage” that many modern white nationalists cite.

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Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) isn’t buying President Donald Trump’s denial that he’s a racist.

The Democrat appeared Monday on CNN to discuss Trump’s incendiary remarks during a bipartisan meeting on immigration, during which POTUS reportedly called Haiti, El Salvador, and unnamed African countries “sh*thole countries” and suggested allowing more people from Norway to enter the country.

“I think what the President is doing is diabolical, that he absolutely knows that he is playing to the racists,” said Meeks, who is also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. “Listen, those individuals that we know who were former members of the Ku Klux Klan, they’re the ones coming out supporting the President in a very big way.”

“The President said ‘I’m not a racist’ and he told reporters he is the least racist person they have ever spoken to. Is that correct?” asked John Berman.

“That’s a joke,” Meeks responded. He then listed several examples of Trump’s racism, including his birther conspiracies about former President Barack Obama and calling the neo-Nazis at the Charlottesville white nationalist rally “fine people.”

“His words are clear, the words and actions of a racist,” said Meeks.

Trump did indeed tell a journalist that he was “the least racist person you will ever interview” and that Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who attended the meeting and confirmed reports of Trump’s language, had “totally misrepresented” his comments.

Durbin said Monday that he stands by his confirmation, and challenged the White House to release any recording they might have of the meeting.

“Do you support a formal censure of the President?” Berman asked Meeks.

“Absolutely,” said the congressman.

H/t the Hill.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said on Monday that his memory “hasn’t evolved” in regards to the explosive immigration meeting during which President Donald Trump reportedly called Haiti, El Salvador, and unnamed African countries “shithole countries.”

While again refusing to explicitly confirm whether or not Trump made those comments, Graham told the Post and Courier “My memory hasn’t evolved. I know what was said and I know what I said.”

The South Carolina senator was possibly directing his comments at Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA), who also attended the meeting and initially said they “do not recall” Trump’s “shithole” remarks.

Cotton later said that Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who confirmed the Washington Post’s original report on Trump’s comments, was “incorrect.”

“I didn’t hear it,” he told “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson.

Meanwhile, Perdue insisted on Sunday that Trump never used that phrase, saying it was a “gross misrepresentation” of what happened in the meeting.

Durbin’s spokesman said that both Republicans have a “credibility problem.”

After shocking reports of the meeting arose on Thursday, Graham neither confirmed nor denied their accuracy, saying instead that “following comments by the President, I said my piece directly to him yesterday.”

On Sunday, Trump denied making those comments and declared himself “the least racist person you have ever interviewed” when asked about the remarks.

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Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has a speech planned for Wednesday that will take President Donald Trump to task for his attacks on the media by comparing him to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

The Arizona senator’s office on Sunday released excerpts of a speech the senator is expected to give on the Senate floor. The excerpts, published by multiple outlets, show Flake blasting Trump for declaring the press as the “enemy of the people” in a similar style as Stalin.

“Mr. President, it is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own President uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies,” Flake will say, according to the Washington Post and NBC News. “It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase ‘enemy of the people,’ that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of ‘annihilating such individuals’ who disagreed with the supreme leader.”

He adds, “When a figure in power reflexively calls any press that doesn’t suit him ‘fake news,’ it is that person who should be the figure of suspicion, not the press.”

The senator doubled down on his planned remarks and emphasized his point about Khrushchev during an interview with MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt on Sunday.

“I don’t think that we should be using a phrase that’s been rejected as too loaded by a Soviet dictator,” he said.

Flake is expected to deliver the speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday, the same day as Trump’s so-called “Fake News Awards.”

The “awards,” which Trump plans to give out for the “most dishonest and corrupt” coverage of himself, were originally planned for January 8. Trump later postponed them to January 17.

Trump has repeatedly complained about “unfair” reporting on his presidency, which has undergone scandal after scandal as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference has put several Trump officials under intense scrutiny.

Flake, who plans to retire after the end of his term this year, has been openly critical of Trump, though he still reliably votes the party line. In his retirement speech in October, the Arizona senator painted himself as a D.C lawmaker unafraid of speaking out against the President and urged his colleagues to do the same.

“When the next generation asks us, ‘Why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you speak up?’ What are we going to say?” he asked.

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Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) joined this weekend the growing chorus of Republicans that have been casting doubt on the legitimacy of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder tweeted on Friday, “Speaking on behalf of the vast majority of the American people, Republicans in Congress be forewarned: any attempt to remove Bob Mueller will not be tolerated.”

Cornyn retweeted Holder and simply added “You don’t,” suggesting that he may very well be open to the idea of removing the special counsel.

When Bloomberg’s Steven Dennis tweeted on Saturday that “[Cornyn]’s beef is with Holder, not Mueller,” Cornyn responded with “But Mueller needs to clean house of partisans.”

“Will you accept the findings of the Mueller probe as legitimate, @JohnCornyn?” asked Washington Post reporter Greg Sargent.

“Makes sense to me to wait to see what they are first,” Cornyn said.

These tweets from the Senate’s second top Republican reflect the GOP’s efforts to discredit Mueller and his investigation into President Donald Trump’s election campaign, which accelerated this week when the Justice Department released anti-Trump texts from an FBI agent who had been on Mueller’s team.

Republicans pounced on the texts, echoing Trump’s repeated talking points that Mueller was biased.

Republicans then hammered Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein with questions about Mueller’s credibility during his House testimony on Wednesday. Rosenstein defended the special counsel, saying that he sees “no good cause” to fire Mueller and that his investigation was “not a witch hunt.”

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The Trump administration has refused to extend the Obamacare signup period, which ended on Friday at midnight.

Health care advocacy groups had expressed concerns about an expected surge of last-minute signups that would potentially crash the website right before the deadline, preventing millions from meeting it and thus going into 2018 without insurance.

Congressional Democrats sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) on Wednesday urging the department to offer a grace period as a safety net.

The administration hadn’t previously indicated whether or not it was going to offer that grace period. Then on Friday night, the official government Health Insurance Marketplace tweeted that there would be no extension.

President Donald Trump and his administration have done everything in their power to sabotage Obamacare, from ending insurance company subsidies to drastically shrinking the budget for enrollment outreach.

Despite these efforts, signup rates were surprisingly high in the beginning of the initial enrollment period, even exceeding those of previous years. However, experts still predict the total number of enrollments will drop below last year’s.

H/t the Hill.

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GOP Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore still has no intention of conceding the race to Democrat Doug Jones after Tuesday’s election.

The Associated Press reports that Moore sent out an email on Friday to his supporters telling them that “this battle is NOT OVER!” and asked them for contributions to his “election integrity fund.” The former judge said his campaign is planning to send “numerous reported cases of voter fraud” to Alabama’s secretary of state, John Merrill.

However, Merrill has already expressed skepticism about Moore’s chances of a surprise victory.

“I know a lot of people would say it’s never over until it’s over, but the margin of victory for Doug Jones at this time looks like a difficult amount of votes to overcome as the remaining votes out that are there to be counted next week begin to be considered at the local level,” the state secretary told CNN on Wednesday.

Moore released a video the day after the election declaring that he wasn’t giving up, arguing that yet-uncounted provisional and military ballots could swing the race in his favor.

Several other Republican leaders have called for Moore to give it up, including President Donald Trump.

Trump, who heartily endorsed Moore during the race, said Friday that the former judge should “certainly” concede to Jones. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said during a Fox interview that it was time to accept that Moore had lost.

Senator-elect Doug Jones said he understands “the frustration a little bit,” but “look, it’s time to move on.”

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The Trump administration has prohibited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from using words like “science-based,” “diversity,” and “transgender” in their official documents for next year’s budget, according to the Washington Post.

Senior CDC budget leader Alison Kelly met with the agency’s policy analysts on Thursday to announce the order. Other forbidden words include “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “fetus,” and “evidence-based.”

The administration suggested alternatives to some of the words. For example, officials can say “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes” instead of saying a recommendation is “science-based” or “evidence-based.” Other words seem banned outright, with no alternatives offered.

Kelly reportedly did not explain the reason for the new restrictions, saying she was just passing along the information.

An unnamed CDC analyst told the Post that everyone’s reaction was “incredulous,” and noted that the move was highly unusual.

“In my experience, we’ve never had any pushback from an ideological standpoint,” said the analyst.

The forbidden words broadly encapsulate the Trump administration’s adverse stances on climate change and LGBT rights, and raise more questions about its approach on diversity.

President Donald Trump has long disregarded the scientific consensus on global warming, calling climate change a hoax invented by the Chinese while rolling back several Obama-era environment protection policies. EPA chief Scott Pruitt has also cast doubts about human impact on the environment, which a majority of scientists agree is the driving force in global warming.

The move also highlights the administration’s attitude toward the LGBT community, particularly transgender people. Trump unsuccessfully attempted to ban all trans soldiers from joining the U.S military, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed a 2014 guidance by former AG Eric Holder that argued trans people were protected from workplace discrimination.

The Post notes that the Department of Health and Human services has removed information on LGBT people on its website and dropped questions on sexual orientation and gender identity in several surveys.

The administration’s push to prevent the CDC from discussing “diversity” comes amid Omarosa Manigault Newman’s highly-publicized resignation from her post as White House senior official. Omarosa told ABC News that it was “very, very challenging” being the only black woman in the mostly-white senior staff, many of whom “had never worked with minorities, didn’t know how to interact with them.”

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Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) said on Saturday that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly should apologize to the nation for his false claims about her speech at a federal building ceremony.

“General Kelly owes the nation an apology,” Wilson tweeted. “When he lied about me, he lied to the American public.”

The Florida Democrat’s biting remark comes about a month after a hostile back-and-forth with Kelly, who claimed Wilson had bragged about getting the funding for a federal building during her speech at the building’s dedication ceremony in 2015.

Wilson slammed Kelly’s comments as a “lie,” and shortly afterwards, the Sun Sentinel backed her up with a video that proved Kelly’s claims were false and that the congresswoman hadn’t mentioned funding at all, in fact.

The entire debacle was sparked by the controversy over President Donald Trump’s phone call to the widow of recently-fallen Sgt. La David T. Johnson in October.

Wilson, a family friend to the Johnsons and who was present for the call, had said Trump didn’t even mention the soldier’s name and told the widow that Johnson “knew what what he was signing up for.”

The widow was left in tears, according to Wilson.

Trump vehemently denied her account of the call multiple times, and Kelly took to the podium during a White House press briefing to berate the Democrat for both going public with the call and for supposedly boasting about the building funds.

Despite the video, the White House doubled down on Kelly’s comments, and Kelly himself told Fox host Laura Ingraham that he has no plans to apologize.

“Never,” Kelly said. “I’ll apologize if I need to. But for something like this, absolutely not. I stand by my comments.”

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