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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

Carter Page, a onetime foreign policy adviser to President Donald Trump’s campaign, on Saturday said his discussions with Russian officials only covered “publicly available immaterial information.”

“Nothing I was ever asked to do, or no information I was ever asked for, was anything beyond what you could see on CNN,” he said in an interview on the same network. “Nothing I ever talked about with any Russian official extends beyond that publicly available immaterial information.”

CNN reported on Friday, citing unnamed U.S. officials, that in summer 2016 the FBI obtained evidence that Russian operatives tried to infiltrate the Trump campaign through its sprawling network of advisers, including Page.

Page on Saturday noted the word “tried” in CNN’s headline.

“Now they’re really reeling things back,” he said.

The Washington Post reported earlier in April that the FBI obtained a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor Page’s communications after arguing that there was probable cause to believe he was acting as a Russian agent.

Page on Saturday cited CNN’s report last week that the FBI used a dossier containing allegations of ties between Trump and Russia as part of its justification for obtaining an order in 2016 to monitor Page’s communications.

“I think the dodgy dossier is the ultimate, at least from what we know thus far, the ultimate ‘try,’ and a swing and a miss thus far. But we’ll see what happens,” he said.

 

Page said “all of the false narrative that has been out there” was the “ultimate” election meddling, though he also questioned whether any interference took place to begin with.

“I think the bigger meddling in the election was what was done against me and potentially others,” he said.

 

Mary B. McCord, the acting assistant attorney general for national security and one of the officials overseeing the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, announced this week that she will step down in May.

McCord made the announcement to department employees and said she plans to leave in mid-May, a spokesman told Politico on Thursday.

The Intercept first reported McCord’s planned departure on Wednesday.

The division McCord oversees is leading the Department of Justice’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as any ties between members of President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.

An unnamed former Justice Department official told Politico that he did not think McCord’s departure would cause “tremendous disruption” to the investigation, but said a replacement would need to “step in at a senior level.”

The Justice Department is considering whether to bring criminal charges against members of WikiLeaks and reexamining the organization’s 2010 publication of military documents and diplomatic cables, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

Federal prosecutors are also investigating whether Wikileaks bears criminal responsibility for publishing alleged CIA materials describing hacking tools in March, according to the report, which cites unnamed sources familiar with the case.

It is not clear whether prosecutors are also looking at WikiLeaks’ role last year in publishing emails from the Democratic National Committee and the account of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, which U.S. officials have said were hacked by the Russian government. Officials have said individuals “one step” removed from the Kremlin passed the stolen messages to WikiLeaks as part of a broader Russian plot to influence the 2016 presidential election.

CNN reported Thursday evening, citing unnamed U.S. officials familiar with the matter, that U.S. authorities have “prepared charges to seek the arrest” of the organization’s founder Julian Assange.

Assange has remained in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012 to evade questioning about a rape allegation.

This post has been updated.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) on Thursday said that the “corporate culture” at Fox News “obviously has to change,” a day after the network dropped top host Bill O’Reilly amid allegations of sexual harassment against him and an advertiser exodus.

“Corporate culture there obviously has to change,” Palin, a former contributor at the network, said in an interview on CNN. “You know, women don’t deserve — they should not ever have to put up with any kind of intimidating workspace.”

Palin said that women who are “being intimidated and harassed” need to “stand up and do something about it, not stick around for a paycheck for years and years and years and then after the fact complain.”

“As a strong woman, I say, you know, we should feel more empowered than that,” she said. “We should, you know, take a stand and get out of the place or, you know, blow the whistle on whoever is the perpetrator doing the bad stuff so that the culture will change.”

Palin said “things are changing quickly” at the network.

“You know, more power to the good things that Fox News is doing but, yep, culture had to change there,” she said.

“Did you ever witness or experience, God forbid, anything like that at Fox?” CNN host Jake Tapper asked.

“I wouldn’t put up with anything that would be perceived as intimidating or harassing,” Palin replied.

“But you said you’re former, so I wonder, was that part of the reason you left?” Tapper asked.

“You can ask them why I’m no longer with Fox,” Palin said. “You know, I’m not going to speak for them. My contract wasn’t renewed. That’s the line.”

“I don’t want to be a jerk, but it sounds like you experienced something,” Tapper said.

“I just — you know, it was just time to part ways,” Palin said.

President Donald Trump on Thursday said that a shooting on France’s Avenue des Champs-Élysées “looks like another terrorist attack,” though few details have emerged yet about what motivated the incident.

“Our condolences from our country to the people of France,” Trump said during a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. “It looks like another terrorist attack, and what can you say, it just never ends.”

Trump called the shooting “a terrible thing and it’s a very very terrible thing that’s going on in the world today.”

“We have to be strong and we have to be vigilant,” he said. “And I’ve been saying it for a long time.”

Paris police said that the attacker and one police officer died during the shooting Thursday afternoon, while another officer was wounded. Few details were immediately available about the shooting, though Reuters reported that it “could have been an attempt at an armed robbery.”

Conservative rocker and National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent on Thursday promised that President Donald Trump will “yank the status quo noose from our collective necks” by supporting hunting.

“I’m radical. Who doesn’t know that? I not only kill my families’ food with sharp sticks, I dare to celebrate and promote it everywhere I go in this otherwise world of sappy political correctness,” Nugent wrote in a post on Deer & Deer Hunting that only got more vehement from there.

Nugent visited the White House for dinner with Trump on Wednesday night at the invitation of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), accompanied by his wife Shemane Nugent, as well as Trump supporter and musician Kid Rock and his fiancée Audrey Berry.

In the post, Nugent referred to himself in the third person as “Deer & Deer Hunting’s most popular blogger,” “a genuine take-no-crap representative of our beloved deerhunting lifestyle” and “The WhackMaster.” He described Shemane Nugent as his “lovely Queen of the Forest wife.”

Nugent wrote that he was “aglow with truth, logic and commonsense oozing from every pore” at the prospect of dining with Trump, and promised that “the prognosis for hunter’s rights has never been better.”

“Yanking the status quo noose from our collective necks may very well be the coolest thing Americans have ever done this side of meeting the Red Coats at the Old North Bridge in Concord and blowing their brains out when they dared to come take our guns,” he wrote, but noted: “We didn’t actually confirm that I will be organizing annual deerhunts at Camp David.”

Former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly is set to receive a payout of tens of millions of dollars from the network following his ouster, according to a report published Thursday by CNN.

An unnamed source personally involved in exit negotiations told CNN that O’Reilly will receive “a staggering amount” upon leaving Fox News. The network announced O’Reilly’s departure Wednesday amid allegations of sexual harassment that resulted in dozens of advertisers dropping his show.

CNN cited two unnamed “well-placed” sources who said O’Reilly’s new contract, which he signed shortly before his ouster, extended through the next presidential election and was worth around $25 million annually.

Both sources said that O’Reilly will receive a payout, per the report, but one also said that O’Reilly will not be paid the entire amount of his contract.

The Financial Times reported Thursday afternoon that O’Reilly will receive a payout of $25 million, citing an unnamed source with knowledge of the four-year contract.

An unnamed source aware of the contract’s terms told the Financial Times that it provides for the former host to “receive a maximum of one year’s salary.”

The New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing an unnamed source, that the new contract allowed Fox News to dismiss O’Reilly if it became aware of any new allegations against him.

The network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, and O’Reilly’s representatives would not acknowledge any parachute, according to CNN, which noted that both are bound by a confidentiality agreement.

 

President Donald Trump on Thursday nominated former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) as U.S. ambassador to New Zealand.

In a statement announcing Brown’s nomination, the White House noted his career in politics and law, as well as his work as a “political contributor” at Fox News.

“I’m sure you’ll make the people of MA proud,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) wrote in a tweet congratulating Brown on his nomination.”

In February, amid speculation that Trump was considering Brown for the position, the New Zealand Herald gave readers a succinct summary of the former senator’s “colourful past” in a story headlined “Man tipped for US ambassador role in NZ a former nude model who supports waterboarding.”

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