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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 Tuesday appeared to joke about the rising profile of his son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner.

“I appreciate everyone,” Trump said, thanking Republican leaders during a meeting with House and Senate leadership. “Jared. Jared’s actually become much more famous than me. I’m a little bit upset about that.”

Those present laughed at his remarks, though it was not clear whether Trump laughed along.

Trump last used that phrase to describe a figure of sudden, unexpected political prominence in January, when he applied it to James Comey, then director of the FBI.

“He’s become more famous than me!” Trump said of Comey, who he greeted at a White House reception for law enforcement.

He abruptly fired Comey in May, and the White House subsequently accused the fired FBI director of “grandstanding.”

Kushner made the cover of TIME Magazine last week, an achievement Trump has boasted about when it applies to himself and reportedly fumed about when it is bestowed upon others — such as chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, who has since been sidelined from a number of major decisions, including Comey’s firing.

Kushner’s star has risen in a number of less desirable arenas as well. The Washington Post reported in May that Trump’s son-in-law spoke to Russia’s ambassador to the United States about setting up a secret communications channel between Trump’s transition team and Moscow in December.

Reuters reported the same day that Kushner failed to disclose at least three additional contacts he had with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak on his application for a security clearance.

Kushner is also under scrutiny for meetings he held with a Russian banker, according to the New York Times.

On top of all that, the congressional committees investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election want to question Kushner about whether he sought Russian financing for his family’s luxury tower during those meetings.

Trump has maintained that he has “total confidence” in Kushner, though the New York Times reported in May that Trump has increasingly included Kushner with other White House staff for admonishments.

The President’s confidence in any one actor has little to no bearing on their ultimate fate, it seems.

In February, top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said Trump had “full confidence” in Michael Flynn, then national security adviser, amid reports that Flynn had discussed sanctions in a call with Kislyak before Trump’s inauguration. Hours later, Flynn handed in his resignation.

In March, Trump said he had “total” confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the wake of revelations that Sessions met twice with Kislyak before the election. Later the same day, Sessions recused himself from the investigation into any ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

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President Donald Trump on Tuesday wished fired FBI Director James Comey “luck” in advance of Comey’s scheduled testimony on Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Asked for his message to Comey in advance of the hearing, Trump said: “I wish him luck.”

ABC News reported minutes earlier that during his testimony, Comey plans to dispute Trump’s claim that Comey told him three times that he was not under investigation by the FBI, but will stop short of accusing the President of obstructing justice.

Last week, CNN reported Comey intends to testify that Trump pressured him to drop the FBI’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The White House announced Monday that Trump does not plan to assert executive privilege to try and prevent Comey from testifying.

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Washington, D.C. is gearing up for fired FBI Director James Comey’s hotly anticipated testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday in punny, boozy style.

Comey is expected to discuss how President Donald Trump pressured him to drop the bureau’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to CNN. He is also likely to face questions about whether Trump asked him for a loyalty oath or made any other attempts to interfere in the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

No matter what, several bars in Washington, D.C. (and no small number of Twitter users) are treating the hearing as a must-watch event and opening early so patrons can watch Comey’s testimony with drinks in hand.

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Former FBI Director James Comey will dispute President Donald Trump’s account of their conversations when he testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee this week, but will not accuse Trump of obstructing justice, ABC News reported on Tuesday.

ABC News reported, citing an unnamed source familiar with Comey’s thinking, that he will contest Trump’s claim that Comey told him three times that he was not under investigation by the FBI as part of its probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday said that President Donald Trump’s tweets are indeed official statements, contrary to recent statements by other officials in Trump’s administration.

“The President is the President of the United States,” Spicer said at his daily press briefing. “So they’re considered official statements by the President of the United States.”

In recent days, White House officials have downplayed the importance of Trump’s tweets, which the President often uses to air more unfiltered opinions than those given out by his administration’s press shop. On Monday, Trump lashed out at his own Justice Department for offering a “watered down, politically correct” version of his executive order barring travel to the United States from a handful of majority-Muslim countries.

Top aide Kellyanne Conway claimed the same day that the media has an “obsession with covering everything he says on Twitter, and very little of what he does as President.” She denied that tweeting is Trump’s favored method of communication.

“That’s not true,” Conway said, though Trump has not given any interviews since early May.

“Is President Trump at all concerned that his tweets could be used against him at the level of the Supreme Court when the ACLU takes on this travel ban case?” One America News Network reporter Trey Yingst asked Spicer on Tuesday.

Spicer did not say whether Trump is worried that his off-the-cuff tweeting may undermine his legal argument for the ban, as it has several times already.

“I think we’ve made it clear with respect to that that the courts should follow the law,” he said. “And I think the danger is real, the law is clear and there is no question that we should prevail at the Supreme Court.”

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President Donald Trump is scheduled to give the keynote speech at a conservative Christian conference on Thursday at the same time former FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The Faith & Freedom Coalition announced on Tuesday that Trump will speak at a luncheon on Thursday at its “Road to Majority” event. He spoke at the same conference in 2016 as the Republican nominee. According to an official agenda, the luncheon runs from 11:30–1:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.

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President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to cut ties with Qatar via Twitter and took credit for a number of Arab states that have also broken off relations with the nation.

“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!” Trump tweeted. “So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off.”

In the wake of Trump’s first trip abroad as president, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and cut diplomatic ties with the nation. Yemen, the Maldives and Libya’s eastern-based government also broke off relations with Qatar.

Qatar hosts the Al Udeid Air Base, a major U.S. military base.

U.S. officials nevertheless claimed that the rift between Qatar and other Arab nations will not affect anti-terrorism efforts.

“I do not expect that this will have any significant impact, if any impact at all, on the unified fight against terrorism in the region or globally,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Monday.

“I am positive there will be no implications coming out of this dramatic situation at all,” Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the same day. “The diplomatic situation, it will probably take some time — I don’t know how long — but it will be resolved.”

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Monday said he does not think Republicans can put together a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare before the end of the year.

“I don’t think there will be. I just don’t think we can put it together among ourselves,” Graham told Bloomberg News.

In May, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he is not sure how the Senate can corral enough votes to pass a repeal bill.

“I don’t know how we get to 50 at the moment,” he told Reuters.

And Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) said last week that he is not optimistic about the odds of any health care bill making it through Congress in 2017.

“I don’t see a comprehensive health-care plan this year,” he said.

Senate Republicans are nevertheless scheduled to hold a conference-wide meeting on Tuesday to work on its repeal effort.

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Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday said President Donald Trump will not use executive privilege to stop former FBI Director James Comey from testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee this week.

“The President’s power to exert executive privilege is very well established,” Sanders said at the daily White House press briefing. “However, in order to facilitate a swift and thorough examination of the facts sought by the Senate Intelligence Committee, President Trump will not assert executive privilege regarding James Comey’s scheduled testimony.”

The White House released a statement by email with the same wording a few minutes later.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer would not say last week whether Trump would try to block Comey from testifying before the committee on Thursday. Legal experts said Trump could certainly try, but had undermined his own argument with comments about Comey’s firing, and the Associated Press reported on Sunday that Trump was leaning against doing so.

Comey is expected to discuss how Trump pressured him to drop the FBI’s investigation into his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, CNN reported last week.

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Breitbart News on Monday announced the departure of a former writer who posted a number of inflammatory tweets about Muslims after an attack in London killed seven people and wounded dozens more, CNN reported.

Alex Marlow, editor-in-chief of the conservative site, made an internal announcement regarding Katie McHugh’s departure, CNN reported, citing four unnamed sources familiar with the situation.

A crowdfunding page on WeSearchr was created Monday morning quoting McHugh as saying she “said nothing wrong.”

“Breitbart News fired an editor for speaking frankly about Islam and Muslim immigration,” the page quoted McHugh as saying. “It’s also interesting Breitbart News chose to fire me rather than colleagues leaking to CNN.”

“Breitbart News fired me for telling the truth about Islam and Muslim immigration,” McHugh tweeted on Monday, with a link to the page.

Neither McHugh nor Marlow immediately responded to TPM’s requests for comment.

Formerly a writer for Breitbart, McHugh tweeted on Saturday that “there would be no deadly terror attacks in the U.K. if Muslims didn’t live there.”

“You’re a real moron,” Pej Vahdat, an Iranian-American actor, replied.

“You’re an Indian,” McHugh responded, in a tweet she later deleted.

She also lashed out at London Mayor Sadiq Khan, whose family immigrated to the U.K. from Pakistan.

President Donald Trump also appeared to criticize Khan on Sunday for a statement the mayor made reassuring Londoners about “an increased police presence” in the city.

“Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days,” Khan said on Sunday. “There’s no reason to be alarmed.”

“At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’” Trump tweeted.

Ryan Saavedra, another writer at Breitbart, responded to the attack by calling for “the crusades” to come back. He later deleted the tweet.

On Sunday, CNN reported that McHugh’s colleagues were not pleased with the posts.

“I find it appalling,” one unnamed Breitbart employee told CNN.

Another called it a “terrible comment,” and a third said the remark was “dumb.”

This post has been updated.

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