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

The White House has paperwork ready for President Donald Trump to pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio if and when he chooses to do so, CNN reported on Wednesday.

CNN reported, citing an unnamed administration official, that the White House has also readied talking points to send to official surrogates after Trump pardons Arpaio, who was convicted in July of criminal contempt of court.

Trump said last week that he was “seriously” considering pardoning Arpaio, but did not do so at a rally Tuesday night in Phoenix, Arizona.

“You know what, I’ll make a prediction: I think he’s going to be just fine, OK? But I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy,” Trump said. “But Sheriff Joe should feel good.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave reporters a similarly time-stamped denial earlier Tuesday, but did not rule out the possibility that Trump would pardon Arpaio at some future point.

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A State Department science envoy announced his resignation on Wednesday, citing President Donald Trump’s response to violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and the President’s attitudes toward climate research.

Daniel Kammen, appointed in 2016 as one of the department’s science envoys with a “focus on energy innovation in the Middle East and Africa,” tweeted his resignation letter to Trump.

“Your response to Charlottesville enables racism, sexism, & harms our country and planet,” Kammen tweeted.

In the letter, Kammen wrote that he decided to resign “in response” to Trump’s “attacks on core values of the United States.”

“Your failure to condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis has domestic and international ramifications,” he wrote. “Particularly troubling to me is how your response to Charlottesville is consistent with a broader pattern of behavior that enables sexism and racism.”

Kammen wrote that Trump’s “decision to abdicate the leadership opportunities and the job creation benefits of the Paris Climate Accord,” which Trump in June announced the United States would abandon, and his behavior “to undermine energy and environmental research are not acceptable.”

“Acts and words matter,” Kammen wrote. “Your actions to date have, sadly harmed the quality of life in the United States, our standing abroad, and the sustainability of the planet.”

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Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) on Wednesday said he would “strongly advise” President Donald Trump against threatening to shut down the government to obtain funding for his proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I think it’s always a mistake to shut down the government,” Cole said on CNN. “Look, you make life worse for the American people. You put the country at risk.”

He said a government shutdown would show “political dysfunction, particularly when you control the presidency, the Senate and the House.”

“So I would strongly advise against any threat to shut down the government of the United States,” Cole said.

During a campaign rally Tuesday in Phoenix, Trump suggested he would push to tie funding for his proposed border wall to a must-pass government spending bill when Congress returns from its recess.

“The obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it,” Trump said. “But believe me, if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.”

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) on Wednesday called on President Donald Trump to withdraw his nomination of Sam Clovis to oversee the Department of Agriculture’s research section.

“For Donald Trump to nominate and to advocate for Senate confirmation of someone with views as backwards as Mr. Clovis’s, is not only a signal to the darkest and most evil forces in this country to carry on, but a clear as day message to the world that this administration continues to tolerate hate,” the senators said in a statement.

They cited “the extremist views Mr. Clovis has expressed and the racist conspiracy theories he has stoked.”

“President Trump should withdraw the Clovis nomination immediately,” they said. “Not only because he is a proud ‘skeptic’ of climate change and wildly unqualified for the position of USDA Chief Scientist – but also as a gesture to the American people that this administration is serious about rooting out the most hateful voices in our society.”

Schumer and Schatz cited comments Clovis made calling former President Barack Obama a “lying egotist” who was “given a pass because he is black,” and calling DNC chairman Tom Perez a “racist Latino” and former Attorney General Eric Holder a “racist black.”

Clovis appears to have no advanced credentials in science and has openly questioned the scientific proof for climate change, in direct contradiction of the scientific consensus.

“I have enough of a science background to know when I’m being boofed,” Clovis claimed in 2014. “And a lot of the science is junk science. It’s not proven.”

Between 2012 and 2014, Clovis also repeatedly argued that “LGBT behavior is a choice” and compared marriage equality to the hypothetical legalization of pedophilia, in comments surfaced by CNN’s KFILE.

“If we protect LGBT behavior, what other behaviors are we going to protect? Are we going to protect pedophilia?” Clovis said at a campaign stop during his unsuccessful 2014 run for Senate. “Are we going to protect polyamorous marriage relationships? Are we going to protect people who have fetishes? What’s the logical extension of this?”

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Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) on Monday parried birthday wishes from White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney, pointing out the number of Mulvaney’s colleagues who have departed President Donald Trump’s administration since January.

“What do you get for someone on his 60th birthday? A razor and a comb,” Mulvaney tweeted at Gowdy. “Happy birthday.”

“I’m just a couple of haircuts away from equaling the number of staff departures by your WH colleagues,” Gowdy, whose coif has been dubbed “the most confusing hair in Congress,” fired back. “I get it. You are hard to work with.”

Washington Examiner reporter Philip Wegmann reported that Gowdy was skeptical Mulvaney would follow through on his offer.

Mulvaney’s response to Gowdy was short, to the point and in line with his stance on “Meals on Wheels,” which Mulvaney in March claimed was not “showing any results.”

“It is 100 percent a joke. Mr. Gowdy and Mr. Mulvaney have been best friends for years,” Gowdy’s communications director Amanda Gonzalez told TPM by email. “It was purely a joke.”

This post has been updated.

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The Cold War between President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has iced over into a nuclear winter, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The New York Times reported, citing more than a dozen unnamed sources briefed on McConnell’s and Trump’s working relationship, that the uneasy partnership has become “a feud of mutual resentment and sometimes outright hostility.”

According to the report, McConnell “has privately expressed uncertainty that Mr. Trump will be able to salvage his administration” after a tumultuous summer, and has not spoken to the President in weeks.

Before silence descended between the two Republican leaders, according to the New York Times, Trump and McConnell had a “profane shouting match” on a phone call earlier in August.

In that conversation, Trump accused McConnell of bungling Obamacare repeal and suggested that McConnell had not sufficiently protected him from the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, unnamed Republicans briefed on the conversation told the New York Times.

On McConnell’s part, the New York Times reported, citing unnamed sources who have spoken with the Senate leader, he described the President as completely unwilling to learn how to govern and has questioned whether Trump is a fit leader for the Republican Party as it heads into the 2018 midterm elections.

Earlier in August, McConnell appeared to be battening down the hatches against Trump’s onslaught of tweets and public criticism. His office referred TPM to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) amid a barrage of remarks from Trump, who said McConnell’s failure to pass an Obamacare repeal was “a disgrace.”

McConnell has strong support from his conference and is relatively secure in his position as a result, but some of his colleagues in the Senate are less lucky. Vulnerable Republicans like Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Dean Heller (R-NV) have drawn Trump’s ire, resulting in a presidential tantrum that could spill over into the 2018 midterm elections and have lasting consequences for the size of McConnell’s majority.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday said President Donald Trump will not discuss or act “today” on the possibility of pardoning former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

“There will be no discussion of that today at any point, and no action will be taken on that front at any point today,” Sanders told pool reporters on Air Force One.

Trump last week said he was “seriously” considering pardoning Arpaio, who was convicted in July of criminal contempt of court.

Arpaio on Monday said he had no idea whether Trump would act on that consideration.

“So what’s the scoop? Will he pardon me?” Arpaio said to NBC News. “Who knows, I don’t know.”

Trump is scheduled to host a reelection campaign rally for himself in Phoenix, Arizona, late Tuesday evening, but Arpaio told CNN he had not been invited.

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The president of Pennsylvania State University on Tuesday announced that prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer “is not welcome to speak” on the college’s campus.

University president Eric J. Barron said in a statement that the college “evaluated a request” for Spencer to speak on campus in the fall and “determined that Mr. Spencer is not welcome.”

“The First Amendment does not require our University to risk imminent violence,” Barron said. “After critical assessment by campus police, in consultation with state and federal law enforcement officials, we have determined that Mr. Spencer is not welcome on our campus, as this event at this time presents a major security risk to students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus.”

Barron said he disagrees “profoundly with the content that has been presented publicly about this speaker’s views which are abhorrent and contradictory to our University’s values.”

“There is no place for hatred, bigotry or racism in our society and on our campuses,” he said. “It is the likelihood of disruption and violence, not the content, however odious, that drives our decision.”

Penn State director of news and media relations Lisa Powers told the Daily Collegian, the university’s student-operated newspaper, that the school received the request from “an individual who claims to be a student at Georgia State University, and an acolyte to Richard Spencer.”

“We’ve received no request from Spencer himself or any organization associated with him,” Powers told the Daily Collegian.

In response to violence that erupted on August 12 at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Texas A&M University canceled a September rally where Spencer was scheduled to speak.

The colleges are among a wide swath of corporations, universities and localities pushing back against white nationalist groups in the aftermath of the rally.

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Bret Stephens, a conservative opinion columnist for the New York Times, on Tuesday apologized for comparing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to genocidal Cambodian dictator Pol Pot.

“I let rhetorical exuberance get the better of me,” Stephens tweeted.

He said Tillerson is “in no way” comparable to the Cambodian dictator.

“Not remotely or by analogy,” Stephens said. “I apologize.”

Stephens made the comparison on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” where he said Tillerson “really is up there as a nominee for worst secretary of state ever.”

He cited Tillerson’s management of the State Department, where a large number of senior positions remain unfilled.

“The State Department is also part of the machinery of government and that machinery has to run in order for normal things to happen, like having relationships with foreign countries or having consular services for U.S. people,” he said. “And Tillerson seems to be of a kind of Maoist school in which it’s like, maybe it’s Pol Pot.”

“Wow,” co-host Joe Scarborough said. “If that is in fact the case, that is like one of the worst secretary of states of all time.”

“I don’t mean the Killing Fields,” Stephens added, referring to the mass grave sites where more than a million people were killed and buried during the Communist regime Pol Pot led. “I mean the year zero mentality, which is blow it all up, see what happens, wait for a while and then try to arrange the pieces as you see fit.”

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Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday said he would rather build more monuments to “tell the whole story of America” than tear down Confederate monuments in public spaces.

On “Fox and Friends,” Pence said the decision to keep or take down the monuments “should always be a local decision, and with regard to the U.S. capital should be state decisions.”

“But I’m someone who believes in more monuments, not less monuments,” he said. “What we ought to do is we ought to remember our history. But we also ought to celebrate the progress that we’ve made since that history.”

Pence said “communities can have conversations about what displays happen.”

“We ought to be celebrating the men and women who have helped our nation move toward a more perfect union and tell the whole story of America,” he said. “What we have to walk away from is a desire by some to erase parts of our history just in the name of some contemporary political cause.”


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