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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

Bill O’Reilly shook hands with Pope Francis on Wednesday as reports accumulated of the host’s imminent ouster from Fox News amid reports of sexual harassment.

A photographer for L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s semi-official paper, captured the moment in a photo first flagged by the New York Times.

According to the New York Times, O’Reilly met Francis during the pope’s weekly general audience, where he sat in an exclusive section near the dais holding Francis’ throne. The Vatican press office told the Times that seating in that section is reserved for those with special tickets distributed by the prefecture of the papal household.

The Vatican said last week, per the Times report, that Francis did not have an official audience scheduled with O’Reilly and would not hold one.

The Fox host is on his longest spring vacation in at least 10 years amid allegations of sexual harassment and questions about his future at the network which appear to be rapidly evolving into exit negotiations.

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Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on Tuesday poured a cold one to celebrate U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s deportation of an undocumented immigrant who was legally protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

USA Today reported on Wednesday that in February, federal agents deported Juan Manuel Montes despite his active DACA status.

Montes, who is 23 years old, was brought to the United States at age 9. He has lived in the country since and received deportation protections twice under the program, per USA Today. According to the report, federal agents refused to let him retrieve his ID or prove his status and deported Montes within hours of approaching him.

President Donald Trump in January told ABC News that DACA recipients “shouldn’t be very worried.”

“I do have a big heart,” he said. “We’re going to take care of everybody.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer also signaled in January that Trump was not prioritizing the revocation of deportation relief for DACA enrollees, also known as DREAMers (after the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act).

“He’s going to work through it with his team in a very humane way to make sure that he respects the situation that many of these children are in,” Spicer said.

King, less than pleased with the White House’s inaction, said in February that Trump should have repealed the DACA program “on the first day” of his presidency.

“All he had to do was sign an executive order on the first day. That should’ve been done,” he said. “I want to see it done, and done soon, because the problem is getting bigger every day.”

King referred to Montes as a “non-valedictorian” in his tweet posted Tuesday, likely a reference to an infamous 2013 interview in which King claimed that for every DREAMer who becomes a valedictorian “there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

John Boehner, then House Speaker, gave a succinct response to that comment: “What an asshole.”

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Despite the lack of legislative action on the matter, Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday said he remains “very confident” that congressional Republicans will come together to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“While it was clear that a little more than a month ago that Congress wasn’t quite ready to do it, we’ve never relented in our commitment to keep that promise,” Pence told CNN’s Dana Bash.

Pence said he is “very encouraged” by discussions taking place within his caucus.

“I’m very confident that in the days ahead we’re going to see the Congress come together and we’re going to take that important first step to repeal and replace Obamacare,” he said.

“So getting the votes is imminent?” Bash asked.

“I think — we’ll see,” Pence replied.

Congressional Republicans at home for a two-week recess are facing tough questions from constituents about their failure to bring a viable bill to the House floor, let alone corral enough votes to pass it.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters last week that Republicans were getting “closer and closer every day” to finding a consensus on the legislation.

For the most part, however, members of President Donald Trump’s administration have gone silent on the bill’s failure and any prospects — however unlikely — for its resurrection.

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The FBI used a document containing allegations of ties between President Donald Trump and Russia as part of its justification for obtaining an order in 2016 to monitor the communications of Carter Page, a former adviser to Trump’s campaign, CNN reported on Tuesday.

CNN cited unnamed U.S. officials briefed on the investigation, two of whom said the agency used the document to obtain approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor Page’s communications.

The dossier, which BuzzFeed published in January, remains largely unsubstantiated. CNN reported in February, however, that multiple unnamed U.S. intelligence sources had corroborated some communications detailed in the document.

On Tuesday, CNN reported that unnamed officials familiar with the process of obtaining a FISA warrant said that the FBI would only include information from the dossier in its application after corroborating that data through its own investigation.

The Washington Post reported last week that the FBI obtained a warrant from the FISA court to monitor Page’s communications after arguing that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as a Russian agent.

Page told TPM that the FBI was “unjustified” in doing so, and has conducted a string of interviews in an attempt to downplay his interactions with the Russian ambassador to the United States as well as Russian officials, the Russian ambassador to the United States and Russian intelligence operatives.

Those conversations tend to raise more questions than they answer, and Trump’s team has tried to distance itself from Page.

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Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) on Tuesday said she wishes President Donald Trump “would spend more time in Washington, D.C.” and host state leaders there rather than at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.

An audience member at a town hall in Wall Lake, Iowa, asked Ernst about Trump’s “weekends in Florida, costing us $3 million-plus in 100 days.”

“When you talked earlier about not a lot of money, deficits and everything, we’ve got to keep accountability,” he said.

“I agree with you,” Ernst said. “I do wish that he would spend more time in Washington, D.C.”

Ernst said she has “had the same concerns.”

“That is something I think that has been bothering not just me but some other members of our caucus,” she said.

Donald Trump’s son, Eric Trump, claimed in an interview published Monday that his father’s frequent visits to Mar-a-Lago, where he often plays a few courses, are “a very effective tool” when it comes to “bonding” with foreign heads of state.

However, Ernst told the audience that she would prefer to see Trump host state visits in the nation’s capital.

“We would love to see more of those State Department visits in Washington, D.C. I think it’s smart that he does business in Washington, D.C.,” she said. “That’s what we have the White House for.”

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Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) responded to boos and jeers at a town hall in Oroville on Monday night by asking the audience whether they would behave the same way at a church service.

Interrupted partway through responding to an audience member’s question, LaMalfa said: “You know, you don’t yell at church, do you?”

“Do you lie in church?” audience members shouted back, according to a report by CBS Sacramento.

At one point LaMalfa left the stage amid shouting, per CBS Sacramento, before returning a few moments later.

Oroville Police Lt. Gil Zarate estimated that about 600 people attended throughout the evening, according to a report by the Chico Enterprise-Gazette. The crowd repeatedly drowned out LaMalfa’s replies with shouting.

“You know, come on, really,” he said at another point.

Per the Chico Enterprise-Record, LaMalfa said afterward that the event went “as good as can be expected.”

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Eric Trump claimed in an interview published Monday that his father’s frequent golfing trips and visits to his Mar-a-Lago estate are “a very effective tool” when it comes to “bonding” with foreign leaders.

“You can sit with somebody in a golf cart where there might be cultural differences and language barriers and have a good time and build a friendship in a way that you could never do sitting across an office table from someone,” Trump told Independent.ie.



He compared President Donald Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida, to President George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas.

“Bush brought foreign leaders from all over the world,” Eric Trump said. “They would have fun and they would eat and that was his way of bonding.”

Eric Trump described Mar-a-Lago as “an amazing estate that has been a very effective tool” for his father to “get to know somebody.”

Independent.ie noted that President Donald Trump has played golf 16 times since taking office, though Politifact placed his number of games at 14 as of Monday.

According to the New York Times’ tracker, the President has so far outpaced Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — whom Donald Trump frequently criticized for teeing off — in the total number of days he has spent at a golf course.

As the Times noted in March, White House staffers have begun refusing to confirm to reporters whether President Trump is even playing golf at all, let alone providing any details about his hypothetical partners.

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Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday said that it’s time for North Korea “to behave” and “abandon and dismantle their nuclear and ballistic missile program.”

“The time has really come for North Korea to get the message,” Pence told CNN’s Dana Bash in Tokyo, a day after visiting South Korea and the Demilitarized Zone.



Speaking in Seoul on Monday, Pence said that “the era of strategic patience is over” and “all options are on the table” when it comes to preventing North Korea from using a nuclear weapon.

“As the President says, it’s time for them to behave, to listen to the world community and to set aside their nuclear ambitions, their ballistic missile ambitions,” Pence said on Tuesday. “We’ve really moved beyond the era of strategic patience. We’ve moved beyond failed dialogues of the past.”

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White nationalist Matthew Heimbach, who allegedly assaulted a protester at a campaign rally for President Donald Trump in March 2016, on Monday filed a lawsuit claiming that Trump directed him and other rally attendees to remove protesters.

Heimbach denied “physically assaulting” protesters in the suit. He nevertheless claimed that he acted “in self defense” and “in reasonable defense of others,” and did so “pursuant to the directives and requests of Donald J. Trump and Donald J. Trump for President.”

“Any liability must be shifted to one or both of them,” the suit reads.

On Friday, a federal judge allowed a lawsuit by three protesters assaulted at the same campaign rally to move forward, agreeing that Trump’s call for supporters to remove the protesters “at least implicitly encouraged the use of violence or lawless action.”

Read the filing:

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