Esme Cribb

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Esme

Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), who was recently booted from House Ethics Committee, on Tuesday said he did not pursue a relationship with a younger aide who later accused him of sexual harassment and retaliation, but nevertheless considered her “a soul mate.”

The New York Times reported over the weekend that Meehan settled a sexual misconduct complaint with the former aide.

Meehan told Philly.com that he “developed an affection” for the decades-younger aide, whose name has not been made public, and “was struggling to make sure” that it would not affect their “professional relationship.”

“Sometimes I have the tendency to lash out to others on the staff,” Meehan said, “and you go hardest on the ones that you care the most about.”

Meehan claimed that he lashed out against the aide when she told him she was in a relationship because he was stressed about Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare.

He said he later sent the aide a congratulatory letter about her relationship so that he “didn’t let that kind of thing which was growing just as a natural result of a relationship to step into a place that it ought not be.”

In the letter, Meehan called the aide “a complete partner” who brought him “much happiness.”

Meehan said he told the aide that he was “happily married” and “not interested in a relationship, particularly not any sexual relationship.”

“But we were soul mates,” he said. “I think that the idea of  soul mate is that sort of person that out go through remarkable experiences together.”

Meehan claimed that he remained loyal to his wife throughout and said that “in hindsight” he should have considered his position of power over the aide, but claimed “there is no hierarchy” in his office.

“We call it team Meehan,” he said.

Meehan said he would repay the settlement, which he referred to as a “severance” and which was paid from public funds, if the committee he serves on determines that his behavior constituted harassment.

The New York Times on Saturday reported that the settlement payment was paid out from a congressional office fund and totaled thousands of dollars.

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President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he is “not at all concerned” that Attorney General Jeff Sessions sat for an interview last week as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“Are you concerned at all about what the attorney general told the special counsel?” a reporter asked Trump during a photo opportunity at the White House.

“No. I’m not at all concerned. Not at all,” Trump replied.

“Did you talk to him about it?” a reporter pressed.

“No, I didn’t, but I’m not at all concerned,” Trump said. “Thank you all very much.”

The New York Times first reported on Tuesday that the interview took place last week and lasted for several hours. Sessions in March 2017 recused himself from the federal investigation into Russian meddling, which led to Mueller’s appointment to take over the probe.

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Conservative publisher Matt Drudge on Tuesday claimed he “had dinner” with President Donald Trump “a few weeks ago” and said Trump is already fired up about running for re-election in 2020.

“He was optimistic, engaged, on top of the world, loving the job,” Drudge tweeted. “Time to call out Michael Wolff and his fabricated bullshit!”

He tweeted a link to a report by the Hill about author Michael Wolff’s claim that Trump “does not want to be the President.”

“He was in fine form,” Drudge claimed, referring to Trump. “And already talking about his 2020 re-election run!”

The White House did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for further details about Trump’s and Drudge’s encounter.

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The American Civil Liberties Union on Monday said Democrats who voted in favor of a short-term government funding bill without restoring protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children “betrayed our American values and allowed bigotry and fear to prevail.”

“Enough is enough. We cannot rely on empty promises from those who have already proven to play politics with the lives of Dreamers,” Lorella Praeli, the ACLU’s director of immigration policy and campaigns, said in a statement, referring to immigrants protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Praeli said that “too many Democrats” voted with Republicans to reopen the government.

“But too many lives are on the line and too much is at stake to give up on this fight,” she said. “Let it be known — we will be watching, and will make sure voters this November know if their representatives stood for Dreamers or for their deportations.”

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is scheduled to give a press briefing at 2 p.m. ET on Monday. Watch live below:

President Donald Trump mimics Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s accent when discussing the deployment of U.S. military resources in Afghanistan, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

The Washington Post reported, citing unnamed senior administration officials, that Trump “has been known” to imitate an Indian accent and refer to Modi’s remark during a meeting last year that no country has ever “given so much away for so little in return” as the United States has with regard to Afghanistan.

The White House did not immediately respond to TPM’s questions about why Trump might feel the need to imitate Modi’s accent during discussions of unrelated policy.

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President Donald Trump on Monday claimed that Democrats “have shut down our government” because they “are powerless” to resist the demands of their base.

“They don’t want to do it but are powerless!” Trump tweeted.

He claimed that Democrats “are turning down services and security for citizens in favor of services and security for non-citizens.”

“Not good!” he tweeted.

Trump also quote-tweeted a post from Sunday where he urged Senate Republicans to change the chamber’s rules and “go to 51% (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget.”

As the government shutdown continued for a third day on Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders blamed both Democratic and Republican lawmakers for “not paying attention” to what Trump wants from funding negotiations.

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Sunday blamed President Donald Trump’s inability to “take yes for an answer” and strike a deal with Senate Democrats to solve the ongoing government shutdown.

Schumer said he “essentially agreed to give the President something he wants in exchange for something we both want” during a meeting on Friday.

“The President picked a number for a wall,” Schumer said, referring to Trump’s proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. “I accepted it.”

After meeting with Trump on Friday, Schumer said that he floated the idea of funding the wall in exchange for continued protection for undocumented immigrants covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Schumer on Sunday said his accord with Trump “was only tentative, no handshakes,” and ultimately did not prevent the government shutdown.

“It all really stems from the President, whose inability to clinch a deal has created the Trump shutdown,” Schumer said. “He can’t take yes for an answer. That’s why we’re here.”

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Sunday said the House will pass a short-term spending bill to keep the government funded through the first week of February if the Senate manages to pass it.

“We’ve agreed that we would accept that in the House,” Ryan said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “And so we will see sometime today whether or not they have the votes for that.”

Asked whether he plans to run for reelection in 2018, Ryan said, “I’m not going to share my thinking with you before I even talk to my wife.”

“I have no plans of going anywhere anytime soon,” he added.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Sunday pushed back on President Donald Trump’s suggestion that Senate Republicans should change the chamber’s rules to pass a long-term spending bill with 51 votes if negotiations remain fruitless.

“The Republican Conference opposes changing the rules on legislation,” a spokesperson for McConnell told TPM in an email.

Trump on Sunday urged Senate Republicans to “go to 51%” if negotiations regarding the ongoing government shutdown remain in a stalemate.

Meanwhile, the White House blamed Senate Democrats for the shutdown, while Democrats blamed Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress and the White House, for their failure to strike a deal.

This post has been updated.

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