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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

Graydon Carter, the longtime editor of Vanity Fair, on Thursday announced that he will leave the magazine after spending 25 years as its editor.

Carter told the New York Times that he wanted “to leave while the magazine is on top.”

“I want to leave while it’s in vibrant shape, both in the digital realm and the print realm,” he said. “And I wanted to have a third act — and I thought, time is precious.”

Carter has been a persistent thorn in President Donald Trump’s side, dating back decades before the presidency was a twinkle in Trump’s eye.  In 1986 Carter co-founded Spy magazine, where he dubbed Trump a “short-fingered vulgarian” and took special pleasure in attacking the real estate developer.

In a prank titled “Who is America’s cheapest zillionaire?” the magazine mailed celebrities checks in quantities starting at $1.11 and ultimately decreasing to 13 cents; Trump was one of only two recipients who cashed the latter pittance.

Before moving to Vanity Fair, Carter also ran the New York Observer, which Trump’s son-in-law and now senior adviser Jared Kushner bought in 2006 (Carter departed more than a decade earlier).

In an October 2016 column, Carter dubbed Trump “the ugly American” and recounted his evening with Trump as his guest at the 1993 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.

According to Carter, another guest came up to him, distraught, and accused Trump of being “the most vulgar man” she had ever met and of spending their entire conversation remarking on the “tits” and legs of other women.

Carter earned a spot on the New York Times’ list of the people, places and things Trump insulted on Twitter by weathering remarks about being “a total loser” with “no talent” who would soon “be out” at Vanity Fair.

Asked whether he expects Trump to dance on his grave, Carter told the New York Times that he has a plan if the President does take one last potshot.

“He’s tweeted about me 42 times, all in the negative,” Carter told the New York Times. “So I blew up all the tweets and I framed them all.”

Carter said the framed tweets are on display “on a wall — this is the only wall Trump’s built — outside my office.”

“There’s a space left for one more tweet to complete the bottom line. So if he does, I’m just going to call our framer, and say we need one more,” Carter said. “It should be a little bright spot in his administration.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Thursday said President Donald Trump sided with Democrats on a debt limit deal despite unanimous Republican opposition because Trump wanted “a bipartisan moment” as Hurricane Irma barreled toward Florida.

Asked whether he thinks Trump is a reliable negotiating partner on subjects dear to Republicans’ hearts, Ryan said, “I do, I do.”

“Look, I know there’s a lot of interpretations and all of this stuff about the meeting yesterday. Isn’t it a good thing that congressional leaders talk?” he said at his weekly press conference. “I mean, that’s probably a pretty good thing.”

Though Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin all attended Trump’s meeting with congressional leaders, the President sided with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) over unanimous Republican opposition. Republicans were left with no choice but to fall in line, grin and bear it.

“The President made it really clear, and what he was aiming for in that meeting yesterday was a bipartisan moment while the country is facing two horrible hurricanes,” Ryan said.

He said his “strong opinion” was, when it comes to “the debt limit and the credit markets, the longer the better” for any such deal.

“But he was interested in making sure that this is a bipartisan moment while we respond to these hurricanes,” Ryan said. “And he made that clear. And I think that’s what his motivation was.”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Thursday said the White House is “very comfortable” with a deal President Donald Trump made siding with Democrats over the unanimous opposition of Republicans.

“The President’s priority was to make sure that we had funding for Harvey and to make sure we raised the debt limit to pay for that, and we’ve accomplished that,” Mnuchin said on Fox Business’ “Mornings with Maria.”

Trump on Wednesday left Republicans shell-shocked after he backed a proposal by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to tie aid for Hurricane Harvey relief to a three-month increase in the federal debt limit and a short-term government funding bill.

Mnuchin reportedly opposed the short term deal to no avail; according to Politico, Trump cut his treasury secretary’s counter-argument off in mid-sentence.

Mnuchin on Thursday said a longer one-year deal was “on the table” but that it would not have squared with Trump’s priorities.

“We’ve very happy that we have a deal,” he said. “We’re comfortable.”

Mnuchin said the deal “clears out the next 90 days for us to focus on important things.”

He called the deal, which Democrats hailed as a negotiating victory, a “major accomplishment” and “a big step in the right direction.”

What it ultimately came down to, as Mnuchin explained, was, “The President wanted to have a deal.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Wednesday said he wants to see the final draft of a plan by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to repeal Obamacare before he commits to a final position on the proposal.

“While I support the concept of the Graham-Cassidy proposal, I want to see the final legislation and understand its impact on the state of Arizona before taking a position,” McCain said in a statement Wednesday evening.

“As I have said all along, any effort to replace Obamacare must be done through the regular order of committee hearings, open debate and amendments from both sides of the aisle,” he added.

Graham’s and Cassidy’s proposal would turn over federal funding for Obamacare to the states as annual block grants, at the cost of major health spending cuts.

Earlier Wednesday, McCain said he would support the plan.

“Yes. You think I wouldn’t be?” he said, according to the Hill.

In his earlier remarks, McCain said it would be a “mistake” if the Graham-Cassidy plan did not follow regular order, but that “doesn’t mean I wouldn’t vote for it.”

President Donald Trump on Wednesday assured North Dakotans that they are “better off” than Texans caught in the massive destruction and flooding left by Hurricane Harvey.

“You witnessed the unyielding strength and resilience of the American spirit. You looked at that in Texas,” Trump said in a speech at a North Dakota oil refinery.

He touted his two visits to the hurricane-hit area before assuring North Dakotans that they were doing better than those recovering from historic rainfall and catastrophic flooding.

“I know you have a little bit of a drought. They had the opposite. Believe me, you’re better off,” Trump said. “You are better off. They had the absolute opposite.”

Facebook officials on Wednesday told congressional investigators that the company discovered it sold $100,000 worth of ads, many about contentious political issues, to a Russian company during the 2016 election, the Washington Post reported.

The Washington Post reported, citing several unnamed sources familiar with Facebook’s findings, that the company traced the sales to a Russian firm. The ads began in summer 2015, according to the report, and a small portion named Donald Trump, then the Republican nominee, and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

An unnamed Facebook official told the Washington Post that there was “evidence that some of the accounts” that promoted those ads “are linked to a troll farm in St. Petersburg, referred to as the Internet Research Agency, though we have no way to independently confirm.”

Per the report, the official said that Facebook is limited by its “data policy and federal law” and “won’t be releasing any ads,” but said they “were directed at people on Facebook who had expressed interest in subjects explored on those pages, such as LGBT community, black social issues, the Second Amendment, and immigration.”

The New York Times in 2015 reported that the Internet Research Agency was “known for employing hundreds of Russians to post pro-Kremlin propaganda online under fake identities, including on Twitter, in order to create the illusion of a massive army of supporters.”

Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos on Wednesday said the company “found approximately $100,000 in ad spending from June of 2015 to May of 2017 — associated with roughly 3,000 ads — that was connected to about 470 inauthentic accounts and Pages in violation of our policies.”

“Our analysis suggests these accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia,” he said in a statement. “About one-quarter of these ads were geographically targeted.”

Stamos said in Facebook’s “latest review” the company “also looked for ads that might have originated in Russia — even those with very weak signals of a connection and not associated with any known organized effort.”

“This was a broad search, including, for instance, ads bought from accounts with US IP addresses but with the language set to Russian — even though they didn’t necessarily violate any policy or law,” he said. “In this part of our review, we found approximately $50,000 in potentially politically related ad spending on roughly 2,200 ads.”

A six-figure ad buy, though noteworthy given the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, would be a very small fraction of what both candidates spent in battleground states during their campaigns.

Time magazine reported in May that U.S. counterintelligence officials discovered that Russian agents “bought ads on Facebook to target specific populations with propaganda,” though Facebook said at the time it had no evidence of such activity.

“They buy the ads, where it says sponsored by—they do that just as much as anybody else does,” an unnamed senior intelligence official told Time magazine.

Foreign nationals and governments are prohibited under federal law from “contributing, donating or spending funds in connection with any federal, state, or local election in the United States, either directly or indirectly.”

This post has been updated.

Prosecutors on Wednesday dropped charges against a West Virginia journalist who was arrested after trying to ask Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price questions when Price visited the state’s Capitol in May.

Public News Service (PNS) on Wednesday announced that the Kanawha County prosecuting attorney dropped a misdemeanor charge against reporter Dan Heyman of willful disruption of governmental processes.

“The State has determined that Dan Heyman’s conduct was not unlawful and did not violate the law with which he was charged,” PNS said in a statement. “Heyman was facing six months of jail time after moving through a crowd to ask the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price a question.”

Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and her Secret Service protection detail accompanied Price on his trip to West Virginia. Police said in a criminal complaint that Heyman tried to breach Secret Service security and had to be removed.

Price showed little concern about the arrest and said it was not his “decision to make.” He commended police for “doing what they thought was appropriate.”

“That gentleman was not in a press conference,” he added of Heyman.

Heyman in a statement said he was “very relieved” to have the charges dropped and said he did not want his arrest “to have a chilling effect on other reporters.”

“I am shocked that I was arrested in the first place but I’m glad I can put this behind me,” he said. “The intense response to my arrest gives me confidence that people will defend the free press, because they believe in it.”

President Donald Trump’s special counsel Ty Cobb on Tuesday argued in a private email exchange that when it comes to his boss, the “more adults in the room,” the better, Business Insider reported.

Business Insider reported, citing a private email exchange provided by Washington ramen restauranteur Jeff Jetton, that Cobb made the remark Tuesday night in reply to an “obscenity-laden” email Jetton sent him.

“How are you sleeping at night? You’re a monster,” Jetton wrote to Cobb, according to the report.

“Like a baby,” Cobb replied from his official White House email address.

The exchange became more contentious, according to Business Insider, and Cobb called Jetton “deranged impotent and unimportant” and told him to “enjoy talking to the Secret Service.”

Jetton, who owns ramen restaurant Toki Underground, has involved himself in the investigation into potential collusion between members of Trump’s campaign and Russia as a citizen investigator and part-time troll. He interviewed former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, as well as one of the reported sources for a largely unsubstantiated dossier alleging ties between Trump and Russia, and (according to Business Insider) once wrote to Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen to offer fashion advice.

“I walked away from $4 million annually to do this, had to sell my entire retirement account for major capital losses and lost a s—load to try to protect the third pillar of democracy,” Cobb said, according to the report.

When Jetton asked him to justify working for Trump, Cobb said he could “say assertively [that] more adults in the room will be better. Me and Kelly among others,” apparently referring to White House chief of staff John Kelly.

“Got to go,” he later signed off, as quoted in the report. “Best, Ty.”

Cobb on Saturday sent Business Insider reporter Natasha Bertrand a similarly informal response, also from his White House email address:

President Donald Trump on Wednesday characterized Hurricane Irma, a dangerous Category 5 storm that hit small northern Caribbean islands in the morning and could veer toward Florida, as “something that will be not good.”

“There’s a new and seems to be record-breaking hurricane heading right toward Florida and Puerto Rico and other places. We’ll see what happens,” Trump said during a meeting with congressional leaders. “We’ll know in a very short period of time, but it looks like it could be something that will be not good. Believe me, not good.”

Earlier Wednesday morning Trump speculated that Hurricane Irma could be the “largest ever recorded in the Atlantic” and said there was “no rest for the weary” for federal disaster workers.

The President said he and Congress “have many, many things that are on the plate.”

“Hopefully, we can solve them in a rational way and maybe we won’t be able to,” he said. “We’ll probably know pretty much at the end of this meeting or the meetings that we’ll be having over a short period of time.”

Irma hit St. Martin, Anguilla, St. Kitts and Nevis on Wednesday morning and is expected to pass near Puerto Rico later in the day.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on Wednesday compared President Donald Trump to the biblical King Solomon for ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and leaving it to Congress to figure out what to do next.

King on CNN said he was still not as sure as he would like of Trump’s personal position on undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children and were granted legal protection by the program.

“I have talked with him privately about it. It’s not as clear to me as I would like it to be,” King said.

“You don’t know where the President stands on DREAMers at this point?” CNN’s Kate Bolduan asked.

“Well, I know what he said throughout the campaign. And I’m watching what’s happened since then,” King said. “He hasn’t said he wants to grant them amnesty. But he has said that he’s going to end this program in six months.”

“And he wants Congress to do something to fix it so they can be protected,” Bolduan said. “What does that tell you?”

“Well, I think that that’s a little bit of a Solomon-esque maneuver,” King said, referring to the religious parable. “He cut the baby in half and threw it to the Congress to fight over. And I didn’t want to see our Congress divided.”

King, no fan of DACA recipients himself, claimed in an infamous interview in 2013 that for every immigrant protected by the program that becomes 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 the Republican House speaker, remarked of King: “What an asshole.”

Current House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), despite saying just four days earlier that he didn’t think Trump should end the program, on Tuesday lauded Trump for doing exactly that.

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