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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

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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Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) isn’t beating around the bush.

The Arizona senator was caught telling Mesa Mayor John Giles on a live mic, “If we become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast” during a Friday night event.

Apparently having zero regrets about his remark, Flake tweeted on Saturday, “No news here. I’ve been saying this to anyone who will listen.”

It’s true that Flake has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, one of very few within the Republican party, which culminated in a withering retirement speech aimed at the party leader on October 24.

“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. “Mr. President, I rise today to say, enough.”

In response to the speech, the White House said Flake’s retirement is “probably a good move.”

Flake has also spoken out against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who faces a growing number of accusations alleging sexual assault and misconduct with teenage girls.

“Just to be clear. If the choice is between Roy Moore and a Democrat, I would run to the polling place to vote for the Democrat,” Flake tweeted.

Watch the video of the hot mic moment below:

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Montana congressman Greg Gianforte (R-MT) misled the police when he was being interviewed for bodyslamming a reporter during his election campaign, according to newly-released documents of the investigation.

In his interview with a Gallatin County police sergeant on May 24, Gianforte blamed the incident on Ben Jacobs, the Guardian reporter he assaulted, and claimed that Jacobs had “started interrogating in a very intensive way.”

He then told the sergeant, “I probably shouldn’t do it, but I reached out for his phone…he grabbed my wrist, he spun and we ended up on the floor…so he pulled me down on top of him.”

Gianforte’s campaign had released a statement that day giving the same story.

Gianforte’s version of events contradicted that of Jacobs, who said that the then-candidate had bodyslammed him and broke his glasses in response to a question about Obamacare repeal. Several Fox reporters who were at the scene confirmed Jacobs’ story, and said that the reporter hadn’t been aggressive at all.

Gianforte’s spokesman released a statement to the Associated Press that pushed back against the documents’ revelations, insisting that “no one was misled.”

“Greg took responsibility for his actions and is focused on serving the people of Montana,” said the spokesman.

Questions about Gianforte’s misleading account were met with a shrug from Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert, who said, “It is not a crime per se to lie to the cops.”

“When the police are investigating a case, suspects of crimes will say misleading things, and apparently that’s exactly what happened here on the part of both Mr. Gianforte and his campaign,” Lambert, a Republican, told the Associated Press.

In any case, Gianforte went on to win Montana’s special election the very day after the assault. He apologized to Jacobs and was later sentenced to 40 hours of community service after pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault.

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