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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

President Donald Trump on Wednesday claimed the Republican tax overhaul has “essentially repealed Obamacare” but said officials “didn’t want to bring it up” until the legislation had already passed.

“The individual mandate is being repealed. When the individual mandate is being repealed, that means Obamacare is being repealed because they get their money from the individual mandate,” Trump said at the start of a cabinet meeting.

He said the tax bill has “essentially repealed Obamacare,” though the legislation has eliminated a key provision of the health care law but not repealed it entirely, and claimed Republicans will come up with something that will be much better, whether it’s block grants or whether it’s taking what we have and doing something terrific.”

“We didn’t want to bring it up. I told people specifically, ‘Be quiet with the fake news media because I don’t want them talking too much about it,'” Trump said. “Because I didn’t know how people would — but now that it’s approved I can say the individual mandate on health care, where you had to pay not to have insurance, okay, think of that one, you pay not to have insurance. The individual mandate has been repealed.”

The House on Wednesday was scheduled to vote again on the tax legislation it initially passed on Tuesday, after the Senate parliamentarian ruled some portions of the bill don’t pass muster with reconciliation rules.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday blamed the media’s focus on “negative coverage” for President Donald Trump’s poor approval rating, which is at a historic low for the December of a President’s first term.

“While the President and this administration has been very focused on how we can better help the American people, I think oftentimes the media is focused on other things,” Sanders said at her daily briefing.

She claimed that “90 percent of the coverage” about Trump “is negative” and claimed the media is “certainly not talking about the growing economy, certainly not talking about the crushing of ISIS, not talking about the creation of jobs.”

“If people were focused a lot more on those things in the media, I think that his numbers would be a lot higher,” Sanders said. “We anticipate that they’re going to go up as more and more of these things continue to happen.”

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The owner of a Dallas restaurant on Monday apologized after Donald Trump Jr. and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) celebrated a birthday at the restaurant with “an Obama cake” he said was not created by the restaurant.

Trump Jr. on Sunday posted photographs of himself and Cruz at the restaurant with a dessert resembling a cookie cake that featured a vague depiction of former President Barack Obama. He described the creation as “an early 40th birthday cake” given to him by “some good friends.”

In a statement, Stephan Courseau, the owner of Le Bilboquet Dallas, apologized for “the unfortunate circumstances” and called it “distasteful.”

“This morning a lot of you have been shocked and appalled to hear that Donald Trump Jr. and Ted Cruz celebrated a birthday of a friend at Le Bilboquet with a cake with our former president Barack Obama’s face on it,” Courseau said. “Let me be clear, I share your indignation without any reservation.”

He said Trump Jr. and Cruz “were attending a birthday celebration of one of our regular patrons who rented out our venue for a private event.”

“The party was not for either one of them nor was it any kind of partisan rally,” Courseau said. “Someone that attended the party brought in an outside cake for Donald Trump Jr.’s upcoming birthday and we are not sure who that was.”

Courseau said he was not working on Sunday “and could not intervene in the unfortunate circumstances that unfolded.”

“I believe I owe you an explanation and an apology,” he said. “We at Le Bilboquet feel betrayed and sad.”

Courseau said that the restaurant’s “friends and patrons represent a wide spectrum of American beliefs including: Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.”

“The fact that guests decided to use our restaurant as a platform to promote, disrespect, and spread hatred goes against everything we stand for,” he said. “I am truly sorry that such distasteful events happened at our venue and that these circumstances brought me to write this statement today.”

Corseau posted the statement on Instagram. Though the post is no longer available, D Magazine published its contents.

Courseau was not immediately available in response to TPM’s request for comment.

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President Donald Trump on Tuesday said a report by the Washington Post that he considered reversing his decision to nominate Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court was “fake news” based on sources that “don’t exist.”

“I never even wavered and am very proud of him and the job he is doing as a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court,” Trump tweeted. “The unnamed sources don’t exist!”

The Washington Post reported Monday night, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the discussions, that Trump was irked by reports that Gorsuch told Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) that Trump’s attacks on the federal judge who blocked his travel ban were “demoralizing” and “disheartening.”

According to the report, Trump told several aides that he was tempted to reverse Gorsuch’s nomination over what he perceived as a lack of personal loyalty.

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President Donald Trump has privately told advisers and confidants that he expects to be fully exonerated by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, CNN reported on Monday.

CNN reported, citing multiple unnamed sources who have spoken to Trump, that he has seemed less frustrated by the federal probe in recent weeks, despite his longtime insistence that the investigation is a politically motivated “witch hunt.”

Trump has bragged to friends and advisers, CNN reported, according to unnamed sources familiar with those conversations, that he expects Mueller to “clear him of wrongdoing” and has told associates that he expects the special counsel to put that exoneration in writing.

CNN reported, citing multiple unnamed sources, that despite his newly rosy outlook Trump has also dismissed the investigation as “bulls—” and asserted, “I don’t know any Russians!”

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A former staffer on MSNBC host Chris Matthews’ talk show left the company after accusing Matthews of sexual harassment.

The Daily Caller first reported on Saturday, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the situation, that Matthews paid the “Hardball” assistant producer $40,000 as a settlement after she made the allegation. A spokesperson for MSNBC told the Daily Caller that the company paid a much smaller amount as severance pay.

A spokesperson for MSNBC told TPM that the employee alleged that Matthews made inappropriate remarks about her, and that Matthews was formally reprimanded. According to the spokesperson, the company concluded that Matthews’ remarks were inappropriate, but not intended as propositions.

Matthews would not be the first anchor to face such newly resurfaced allegations in recent months. NBC News in November fired Matt Lauer as host of the “Today” show amid allegations of misconduct, and CBS, PBS and Bloomberg fired Charlie Rose the same month amid allegations of sexual misconduct and unwanted advances.

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Senator-elect Doug Jones (D-AL) on Sunday said “we need to move on and not get distracted by” numerous women’s allegations of sexual misconduct against President Donald Trump.

Asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” whether Trump should resign because of the allegations, as some senators have called on him to do, Jones said, “I think we need to move on and not get distracted by those issues. Let’s get on with the real issues that are facing people of this country right now.”

“Where I am on that right now is that those allegations were made before the election, and so people had an opportunity to judge before that election,” Jones said. “I don’t think that the President ought to resign at this point. We’ll see how things go.”

He said the misconduct allegations, which at least 15 women have detailed and which span four decades, “are not new.”

“He was elected with those allegations at front and center,” Jones said, mirroring an argument that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made last week in Trump’s defense.

“I guess the question is, why should Al Franken resign if there are even more horrific allegations about President Trump and no one is calling for him to step down?” Jake Tapper asked.

When numerous women accused Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) of misconduct, Jones called on Franken to resign, and said the allegations were “not a partisan issue.”

“Well, again, I go back to the fact that those allegations were made, and he was elected President of the United States,” Jones said. “I think at this point we need to move on and try to work with some real issues that are facing the country and not worry about getting at odds with the President any more than we have to.”

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Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin on Sunday said special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election is “a giant distraction” that “should be over quickly.”

“We’ve got to get past this investigation. It’s a giant distraction. Nobody has said that, in any way, this impacted the outcome of the election,” Mnuchin said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“When you say you’ve got to get past it, do you think it should run its course?” Jake Tapper asked.

“I think it should be over quickly, since I think there is nothing there,” Mnuchin replied. “It should be over quickly and people want to focus on other things.”

“But does that include the President firing Mueller, when you say you want it over quickly, or should it be allowed to run its course?” Tapper pressed.

“I don’t have any reason to think the President is going to do that, but that’s obviously up to him,” Mnuchin replied.

President Donald Trump has called the federal investigation into Russian election meddling a “witch hunt.” On Saturday, lawyers representing his transition accused Mueller of improperly obtaining transition emails as part of his investigation.

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Lawyers representing President Donald Trump’s transition on Saturday accused special counsel Robert Mueller of improperly obtaining emails and documents as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to several reports.

Fox News first reported that Kory Langhofer, the attorney for the President’s Trump for America transition team, sent a letter to the Senate Homeland Security Committee and House Oversight Committee accusing staff at the General Services Administration (GSA) of “unlawful conduct” for giving Mueller the documents.

He claimed that Mueller’s office asked the GSA for “copies of the emails, laptops, cell phones, and other materials” of 13 members of Trump’s transition, four of whom Langhofer claimed were senior members.

Langhofer also accused GSA officials of giving Mueller “tens of thousands of emails” without giving the transition “any notice.” He claimed some of the documents Mueller obtained were “susceptible to privilege claims.”

According to Langhofer, Richard Beckler, the late general counsel of the GSA, “assured” the Trump transition’s legal counsel that “any requests” for materials from the transition would “be routed” to them. Beckler died in September.

Langhofer claimed that Lenny Loewentritt, deputy counsel for the GSA, was present for Beckler’s conversations with the Trump transition’s legal representation, and accused Loewentritt of “working with” the GSA staffers who gave Mueller the materials.

Both Mueller’s team and Loewentritt pushed back on Langhofer’s accusations.

In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Loewentritt said Beckler “never made that commitment” to Trump’s transition and said members of the transition were informed that if they used GSA devices or materials, those “would not be held back” in the event of law enforcement action.

“Therefore, no expectation of privacy can be assumed,” Loewentritt said.

“When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process,” a spokeperson for the special counsel told CNN and Fox News.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday said there are “a lot of different protocols” that explain why Omarosa Manigault Newman is still getting paid by President Donald Trump’s administration despite her resignation.

“Why are the taxpayers continuing to pay her salary for another month if she’s no longer here at the White House?” CNN’s Jeff Zeleny asked Sanders during her daily briefing.

“I’m not going to weigh in any further, as we often do,” Sanders said. “The President likes Omarosa, thanked her for her service, and again she’ll be here later this afternoon, so she’s resigned from her position, but there’s really nothing else to add on that front.”

“If she’s resigned, though, why is she on the payroll for another month? Is that normal?” Zeleny pressed.

“Look, there is a lot of different protocols that take place in the government. That’s part of the process. If you want to reach out to HR, they might be able to walk you through that in a more detailed way,” Sanders said. “Thankfully I haven’t been through the process myself so I can’t speak to it from firsthand knowledge.”

The White House on Wednesday announced that Manigault Newman resigned “to pursue other opportunities” and said her departure “will not be effective until January 20, 2018.”

American Urban Radio Networks’ April Ryan reported later Wednesday that Manigault Newman, a former contestant on “The Apprentice,” spoke with White House chief of staff John Kelly about her departure and subsequently “tried to go into the residence.”

“And mind you, Gen. Kelly has cut off her walk-in access to go into the Oval Office and things of that nature,” Ryan said. “She was escorted off the property.”

Ryan in February said that Manigault Newman “physically intimidated” her at one point and claimed the White House had “dossiers” of negative information on journalists, including Ryan.

Sanders ended her briefing with a quip that appeared to reference Ryan’s reporting on Manigault Newman’s departure and their previous animosity.

“April, I’m looking forward to having some pie with you here momentarily,” she said, to laughter, before leaving the room.

Trump offered his own summary of Manigault Newman’s tenure during a photo opportunity Thursday afternoon: “I like Omarosa. Omarosa is a good person.”

This post has been updated.

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