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

Employees were evacuated after an emergency alert was declared at a nuclear site in Hanford, Washington on Tuesday.

The Hanford Site said in a release that employees have been evacuated and “workers in potentially affected areas of the Hanford Site have gone indoors.”

“There are concerns about subsidence in the soil covering railroad tunnels near a former chemical processing facility,” the site said. “The tunnels contain contaminated materials.”

Local NBC affiliate KING reported that the tunnel contained radioactive transports for fuel rods.

KING reporter Susannah Frame reported that managers told employees to “secure ventilation” and “refrain from eating or drinking,” though whether there was any contamination remains unclear.

Read More →

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) responded to a Republican congressman’s claim that no one dies because they don’t have access to health care, in an interview released Monday: “What the fuck is that?”

“These folks are playing politics with public health,” Harris said in an interview on “Pod Save America.”

She said the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, which narrowly passed the House last week, “will turn back the clock to before the Affordable Care Act.” The Senate now takes up the effort, but reports indicate that the upper chamber will write its own bill, rather than vote on the the House version.

“It’s worse than things were before the Affordable Care Act,” Harris said. “So they’re engaged in all of this happy talk, that is bull—”

She caught herself, and said, “Not truth,” to laughter from the audience.

“You can say whatever you want up here,” one host said. “We say ‘bullshit.'”

“Yeah, I have all kinds of words,” Harris said.

She said Republicans “believe health care is a privilege, not a right.”

“Like this guy who, this congressman,” Harris said. “You might as well say, ‘Well, people don’t starve because they don’t have food.’ What the fuck is that?”

Harris did not specify which member of Congress made that remark, but Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) faced boos at a town hall on Friday after claiming that “nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”

“How can you say that? It doesn’t make sense, on a fundamental level. And it’s not truth,” Harris continued over cheering. “It’s just not true.”

Read More →

Anthony Scaramucci, an associate of President Donald Trump, on Tuesday defended Jared Kushner’s sister for kicking journalists out of a business meeting. The move raised questions about potential conflicts of interest for the President’s son-in-law and top adviser.

“Journalists are nosy, and journalists throw the eggs,” Scaramucci said in an interview on CNN’s “New Day.”

Kushner’s sister, Nicole Meyer Kushner, promoted a housing development project over the weekend to Chinese investors in Beijing. She sought to raise funds for the project through a visa program that awards permanent U.S. residency to foreign investors who finance projects that create a certain number of jobs.

Publicists at an event Saturday asked Washington Post reporters to leave, claiming their presence threatened the event’s “stability.”

When asked why reporters were pushed out, one publicist told the Washington Post: “This is not the story we want.”

Scaramucci on Tuesday said a “mistake was made” but claimed it was “not Jared’s fault.”

“What I don’t like about our current political environment is that every morning we wake up, we take a dozen eggs out, and we say, OK, who are we going to throw these eggs at today?” he said. “So today it’s going to be the Kushner family.”

Scaramucci said that Kushner and his family “are new to the political environment.”

“That is all well and good until you get a combination effect of the private side seeming to gain access and exploit access from the government side,” CNN’s Chris Cuomo said. “You have to call it out.”

“Didn’t the Kushners apologize for that?” Scaramucci said.

“Yes, after it was exposed,” Cuomo said. “They wouldn’t let journalists into that meeting that they had in China. Why, Anthony?”

“Because journalists are nosy, and journalists throw the eggs,” Scaramucci replied.

“Good thing they are,” Cuomo said.

“I’m glad you’re throwing eggs, bro,” Scaramucci said.

“I’m not throwing eggs. I’m throwing facts,” Cuomo hit back. “There’s a difference.”

Read More →

In the wake of long-awaited testimony from former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, President Donald Trump claimed on Monday that neither had anything new to say.

Trump claimed that Clapper just “reiterated what everybody, including the fake media already knows.” He also said that Yates “made the fake media extremely unhappy” by saying “nothing but old news” in her testimony.

Yates made headlines by testifying that she warned the White House that Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn could be “compromised with respect to the Russians” as a result of his “underlying conduct.”

She also testified that some lawyers in her department were told not to inform her about Trump’s original executive order barring immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries until it was implemented.

Trump nevertheless insisted that the “fake media” was ignoring the real story “on surveillance,” though he did not offer any further details or evidence about that claim.

Read More →

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Monday testified that some lawyers in her department were told not to inform her about President Donald Trump’s original executive order barring immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries until it already had been implemented.

Yates’ highly-anticipated testimony Monday before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee investigating Russian meddling in the U.S. election turned out to contain a number of revelations about the original iteration of Trump’s travel ban. Republican senators on the panel grilled Yates on her refusal to defend the executive order in January, when she instructed DOJ lawyers not to enforce it. Trump’s administration fired Yates hours later and accused her of having “betrayed” the agency.

Responding to questions about her decision, Yates testified that lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel, the DOJ body that advises the White House on legal actions, were advised not to tell her about the travel ban until it was implemented.

“In the over 200 years of the Department of Justice’s history, are you aware of any instance in which the Department of Justice has formally approved the legality of a policy and, three days later, the attorney general has directed the department not to follow that policy and to defy that policy?” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked Yates.

“I’m not,” Yates replied. “But I’m also not aware of a situation where the Office of Legal Counsel was advised not to tell the attorney general about it until after it was over.”

Yates also testified that despite visiting the White House on the same day Trump signed the executive order, she only found out about it from media reports. She said that White House counsel Don McGahn did not mention the order during their Jan. 30 meeting.

“I realized that your second meeting when you went over to the White House to warn them of Gen. Flynn’s lying and his connections with Russia was the same day that this refugee order came out,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) noted. “Did they mention, anyone mention that this refugee order was about to come out?”

“No,” Yates said.

She told Klobuchar that the Trump administration contacted neither Justice Department leadership nor “subject matter experts” before pushing its ban.

“Not only was the department not consulted, we weren’t even told about it,” she said. “I learned about this from media reports.”

“Look, I understand that people of good will and who are good folks can make different decisions about this. I understand that, but all I can say is I did my job the best way I knew how,” Yates later added. “I looked at this EO, I looked at the law, I talked with the folks at the Department of Justice, gathered them all to get their views and their input and I did my job.”

Read More →

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Monday each testified that they had not leaked information to reporters about the Trump administration or the FBI probe into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election.

“Have either of you ever been an anonymous source in a news report about matters relating to Mr. Trump, his associates or Russia’s attempt on meddle in the election?” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asked during a highly-anticipated subcommittee hearing.

“No,” Clapper said.

“Absolutely not,” Yates said.

“Did either of you ever authorize someone else at your respective organizations to be an anonymous source in a news report about Mr. Trump or his associates?” Grassley asked.

“No,” Clapper answered.

“No,” Yates said.

Both also said they have not been interviewed by the FBI about leaks from Trump’s administration.

Some lawmakers present appeared to be unclear on the definition of leaking. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) asked Clapper if he’s ever “leaked information, classified or unclassified, to a member of the press.”

“Well, unclassified is not — is not leaking,” Clapper said, to laughter from many in the chamber. “That’s somewhat of a non sequitur.”

Trump in February suggested without evidence that Obama’s “people” were behind the rampant leaks coming out of his administration shortly after his inauguration.

“Some of the leaks possibly come from that group, you know, some of the leaks, which are really very serious leaks, because they’re bad in terms of national security,” Trump claimed.

Trump’s own former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was ousted in February after it came to light that he discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia in conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak prior to Trump’s inauguration.

Yates testified Monday that she’d warned the White House in January about Flynn’s misleading statements regarding his “underlying conduct” in the hopes that Trump’s administration could “take action.”

Flynn did not resign until more than two weeks after Yates said she’d talked to White House counsel Don McGahn about Flynn’s contacts with the Russian ambassador.

Read More →

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Monday said he has “no doubt” it was Russia that tried to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election and not “some 400-pound guy sitting on a bed,” as President Donald Trump claimed during the first presidential debate.

Graham cited the U.S. intelligence community’s announcement in January “that the Russians, through their intelligence services, tried to interfere in the 2016 American presidential election.”

“It was the Russians who hacked Podesta’s e-mails, it was the Russians who broke into the Democratic National Committee, and it was the Russians who helped empower Wikileaks,” he said, referring to Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta. “From my point of view, there’s no doubt in my mind it was the Russians involved in all the things I just described, not some 400-pound guy sitting on a bed or any other country.”

During the first presidential debate in September 2016, Trump questioned whether Russia was involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee.

“I mean, it could be Russia. But it could also be China. It could be lots of other people,” Trump said. “It could be somebody sitting on their bed who weighs 400 pounds.”

Read More →

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday said it should not come as a surprise that President Barack Obama “wasn’t exactly a fan” of President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn. Obama reportedly warned Trump against hiring Flynn for the post.

“It’s true that President Obama made it known that he wasn’t exactly a fan of Gen. Flynn’s,” Spicer said during his daily press briefing.

Obama dismissed Flynn from his post at the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 amid concerns about his temperament and complaints from employees at the agency.

According to a report by NBC News, Obama cautioned Trump in November 2016 not to hire Flynn for the highly sensitive role, advice which Trump apparently ignored. Flynn was ousted in February after reports revealed he spoke about sanctions in a call with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak before Trump’s inauguration.

Spicer on Monday said Obama’s alleged antipathy “shouldn’t come as a surprise” since Flynn “was an outspoken critic” of Obama and campaigned against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, leading a chant at the Republican National Convention in 2016 to “lock her up.”

He also claimed that Obama’s administration should have suspended Flynn’s security clearance “if that was truly a concern, more than just a person that didn’t — had bad blood.”

NBC News’ Ken Dilanian on Monday reported, citing an unnamed official with knowledge of the matter, that Flynn was in fact required to obtain a new security clearance when he became Trump’s national security adviser. According to that souce, Flynn did not have that clearance by the time of his ouster.

“If a sitting president raises the name of one individual, why wouldn’t that give the President-elect pause?” NBC News’ Kristen Welker asked Spicer at the briefing.

“I don’t know that I agree with your characterization. He made it clear that he wasn’t a fan of his, and I don’t think that should have come as a surprise considering the role that Gen. Flynn played in the campaign,” Spicer replied.

“But it didn’t give him any pause at all?” Welker pressed.

“No,” Spicer said.

Read More →

A former employee of hedge fund billionaire and top Republican donor Robert Mercer has alleged that he was fired for calling Mercer a racist and criticizing his support of Donald Trump.

David Magerman, a former research scientist at Mercer’s hedge fund, alleged in a lawsuit against Mercer filed May 5 that he was wrongfully fired in April after clashing with the Mercer family.

According to the suit, Magerman asked to speak with Mercer in January about the top donor’s support of Trump, who was then the president-elect.

During that conversation, according to Magerman, Mercer said the United States “began to go in the wrong direction after the passage of the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s” and said black people are the “only racist people remaining” in the U.S.

Magerman’s lawyer said in the complaint that his client was “stunned” by Mercer’s remarks and “pushed back.”

According to Magerman, Mercer subsequently told him: “I hear you’re going around saying I’m a white supremacist.”

Magerman in February quoted Mercer’s remarks in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

“I’d like to think I’m speaking out in a way that won’t risk my job, but it’s very possible they could fire me,” Magerman said at the time. “But I feel relieved I’m now doing something, and if they fire me, maybe it’s for the best.”

According to the suit, Magerman was suspended without pay a day after the interview was published.

Read More →