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

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.

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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.

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President Donald Trump on Monday will announce a slate of conservative nominees to begin filling vacant seats on lower federal courts, the New York Times reported.

An unnamed senior White House official told the New York Times that Trump will announce 10 nominees on Monday in the first of a series of announcements which that come at regular intervals. Per that source, Trump will draw from lists of potential Supreme Court nominees he issued during the campaign, as well as other sources, for his candidates.

“We look forward to making an announcement later today,” White House spokeswoman Kelly Love told TPM in an email.

That announcement would be a first step toward filling the 129 judicial vacancies on lower federal courts.

According to the Times report, Justices David R. Stras and Joan L. Larsen are among the candidates Trump will announce on Monday.

Stras serves on the Minnesota Supreme Court and formerly clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas. Per the Times’ report, Trump will nominate Stras to the United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in St. Louis, Missouri.

Larsen, a former clerk for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, is a conservative judge on the Michigan Supreme Court. According to the New York Times, Trump will nominate her to the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Amy Coney Barrett, also a former clerk to Scalia, will be nominated to the 7th Circuit, according to the report; John K. Bush will be nominated to the 6th Circuit and Kevin C. Newsom will be nominated to the 11th Circuit.

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Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) on Sunday said it is “unlikely” that people with preexisting conditions would receive the same or better coverage under the current Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“Do you agree with Speaker Ryan and President Trump who are saying people with preexisting conditions are going have the same coverage they have now, even better, Speaker Ryan said, in some cases?” George Stephanopoulos asked Collins on ABC’s “This Week,” referring to comments by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and President Donald Trump.

“I think that’s unlikely,” Collins said. “It’s true that under the House bill that a state that gets a waiver would still have to provide coverage to people with preexisting conditions. But that coverage might well be unaffordable.”

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus on Sunday nevertheless claimed Trump will make sure consumers with pre-existing conditions are “taken care of.”

“If you have a pre-existing condition, this president is not going to let you down,” Priebus said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Collins also told Stephanopoulos that the Senate will not vote on the same bill that passed the House last week.

“The Senate is starting from scratch,” she said. “We’re going to draft our own bill. And I’m convinced that we’re going to take the time to do it right.”

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President Donald Trump on Sunday congratulated Emmanuel Macron on his victory in the French presidential election.

“I look very much forward to working with him,” Trump tweeted.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer also released a statement congratulating Macron on his win.

“We congratulate President-elect Macron and the people of France on their successful presidential election,” the statement read. “We look forward to working with the new President and continuing our close cooperation with the French government.”

Trump declined to explicitly endorse a candidate in the French election, as U.S. presidents typically refrain from doing so, but said in an April interview with the Associated Press that far-right candidate Marine Le Pen was “the strongest on borders.”

“Whoever is the toughest on radical Islamic terrorism, and whoever is the toughest at the borders, will do well in the election,” he said, but claimed his comments were not an endorsement, and “no different” than the predictions of an average observer.

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White House chief of staff Reince Priebus on Sunday said it is up to Senate Republicans to improve the House bill to repeal and replace Obamacare that passed last week.

“It’s up to the Senate, if there are improvements to be made, to make those improvements,” Priebus said on “Fox News Sunday.”

He said Republicans are “committed to getting this thing done and getting it done as soon as possible” and denied that celebrations at the White House last week were premature.

“I think we were right to give the Congress an attaboy in the Rose Garden,” Priebus said. “But we also know that this is just the beginning, it’s the first step.”

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Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) on Saturday offered to hold town halls and explain the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare to the constituents of GOP lawmakers who are avoiding public events during the House recess.

“I think every Republican who voted for this thing ought to have to stand in front of their voters and explain it,” Maloney told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. “And if it takes a Democrat to go in and do it for them for a while, I’ll explain what’s in this bill.”

Maloney on Thursday asked Rep. John Faso (R-NY) to pick up the phone and address comments from his constituents about the repeal bill.

“And if he doesn’t like it, he should stand up and explain it himself,” Maloney said on Saturday.

He said Democrats should “get on offense.”

“Maybe a Democrat ought to go into every district where a Republican who supported Trumpcare won’t hold a town hall meeting and do it for them,” he said. “Sit in that chair and say I’ll stand here and answer your questions until your own congressman starts doing his job.”

“Did his constituents really start calling your office trying to reach him?” Maddow asked.

“Yes, yes,” Maloney said. “And after a few dozen phone calls, we started to wonder what was up.”

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Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) on Sunday said that the Senate will have to get the right “kind of score” from the Congressional Budget Office to pass the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare — unlike the House, which passed a version of the measure last week without a new CBO score.

“Presumably you will read what you’re working on and actually get a Congressional Budget Office score? The House didn’t wait,” Andrea Mitchell asked Blunt on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

“Well, we will, and from the House’s perspective, you know, they added a few things late, but this is not a new issue,” Blunt said. “The Senate is going to have to have the kind of score they need to move this forward.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Sunday brushed off criticism of the rush to vote on the measure without a score as “a bogus attack from the left.”

“The most recent CBO score showed that we’re perfectly in compliance with the Senate budget rules, which is what matters here,” he said, referring to a previous iteration of the bill.

In its report on the first version of the repeal, the CBO also estimated that 24 million people would lose their insurance over the next 10 years if the bill passed.

President Donald Trump on Sunday nevertheless pointedly predicted that “Republican Senators will not let the American people down.”

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Sunday claimed that concerns about the process of passing Republicans’ bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, which cleared the House last week in an iteration which has not been scored by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, are “a bogus attack from the left.”

“A lot of your members have conceded they didn’t read the bill. There wasn’t a single committee hearing or committee markup on the finalized version of the bill. There wasn’t a CBO analysis of this bill,” George Stephanopoulos asked Ryan on ABC’s “This Week.” “So have you met your own standard here?”

“Yeah, I think this is kind of a bogus attack from the left. Let me say a couple of things,” Ryan said. “The bill’s been online for two months.”

“Not the final version,” Stephanopoulos interjected.

“The final version was an amendment that was three pages long. It takes you 30 seconds to read,” Ryan said.

Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) on Thursday nevertheless admitted that he did not read the full text of the repeal bill before voting to pass it, because “that’s the way it is.”

“I can probably tell you that I read every word and I wouldn’t be telling you the truth nor would any other member,” Collins said. “I’m just being quite honest.”

Collins later discovered that the bill would nix funding for a health care program in his state.

“More importantly we got two CBO scores,” Ryan told Stephanopoulos on Sunday, referring to the bill’s previous iterations (the version which passed the House has not yet been scored). “And the most recent CBO score showed that we’re perfectly in compliance with the Senate budget rules, which is what matters here.”

That score also estimated that 24 million people would lose their insurance over the next 10 years under the first iteration of the repeal bill.

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