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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 has given his top economic adviser Gary Cohn, who leads the White House’s National Economic Council, the cold shoulder after he publicly criticized Trump for his lackluster response to violence that erupted at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, the New York Times reported on Friday.

The New York Times reported, citing several unnamed White House aides, that Trump refuses to make eye contact with his top economic adviser whenever Cohn greets the President.

Cohn in August said Trump’s administration “can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning” groups like “white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK.”

“I am reluctant to leave my post as director of the National Economic Council because I feel a duty to fulfill my commitment to work on behalf of the American people,” he said. “But I also feel compelled to voice my distress over the events of the last two weeks.”

White House communications director Hope Hicks recently retained a personal attorney, Politico reported late Friday, amid reports that special counsel Robert Mueller will probably seek to interview her as part of the investigation he is leading into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Politico reported, citing multiple unnamed sources familiar with the hire, that Hicks retained Robert Trout, an attorney and founder of the Washington law firm Trout Cacheris & Janis.

Neither Hicks nor Trout responded to Politico’s requests for comment.

The Washington Post reported on Friday, citing unnamed sources familiar with Mueller’s request, that the special counsel told the White House his team would likely seek to question six of President Donald Trump’s current and former advisers, including Hicks.

Besides Hicks, according to the Washington Post, Mueller expressed that his team would seek to question former chief of staff Reince Priebus, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, White House counsel Don McGahn, White House senior associate counsel James Burnham and Josh Raffel, who runs communications for an office overseen by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

No interviews have been scheduled yet, according to the Washington Post, as Mueller’s team is waiting to review internal documents it also requested from the White House.

White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney on Thursday said President Donald Trump “probably is” annoyed with Republican congressional leaders, a day after Trump sided with Democrats in a debt ceiling deal over unanimous opposition from his own party.

“Is he annoyed with Republican leadership? Yeah, I think he probably is,” Mulvaney said on Fox Business’ “Cavuto Coast to Coast.”

“Believe me, as a Republican, so am I,” he added. “As a citizen, I am too. I was promised that they would have repealed and replaced Obamacare by now.”

Mulvaney said any annoyance on Trump’s part is “simply reflecting many of the people in the country.”

The Office of Management and Budget director said Trump’s decision to side with Democrats to pass a short-term raise in the debt ceiling, aid for Hurricane Harvey relief and a continuing resolution to keep the government funded was “a good call.”

“Clearing the decks and getting these things out of the way for now, was, I think, the right call, and allows us to focus on what’s important,” Mulvaney said. “Not only to the administration but to the folks the President represents.”

Republican leaders, presented with Trump’s abrupt shift in allegiance, were left with no choice but to grin and bear it.

President Donald Trump on Thursday said that military action against North Korea is “certainly” an option for the United States, though one that “hopefully” will not be necessary.

“Military action would certainly be an option. Is it inevitable? Nothing’s inevitable,” Trump said during a joint press conference with Kuwait’s Amir Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah.

North Korea claimed on Sunday that it had detonated a hydrogen bomb and loaded a hydrogen bomb onto an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Trump said he “would prefer not going the route of the military, but it’s something certainly that could happen.”

“Our military has never been stronger,” he said. “Each day new equipment is delivered, new and beautiful equipment, the best in the world, the best anywhere in the world by far. Hopefully we’re not going to have to use it on North Korea. If we do use it on North Korea, it will be a very sad day for North Korea.”

“Is it acceptable for you, as the President, for North Korea to be nuclearized but contained and deterred?” CBS’ Major Garrett asked.

“We’re going to see what it is,” Trump said. “No, I’m not negotiating with you. Maybe we’ll have a chance to negotiate with somebody else, but I don’t put my negotiations on the table unlike past administrations. I don’t talk about them. But I can tell you that North Korea is behaving badly and it’s got to stop, okay?”

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.”

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