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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

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) visited the White House by President Donald Trump’s invitation on Wednesday night and the guest list was exactly what you’d expect.

Palin posed for photos in the West Wing with conservative rocker and National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent, his wife Shemane Nugent, Trump supporter and musician Kid Rock and his fiancée Audrey Berry.

“A great night at the White House,” Palin posted on Facebook. “Thank you to President Trump for the invite!”

In a post on her website, Palin joked that she invited the musicians “because Jesus was booked” and said they discussed “commonsense solutions.”

In a video on Facebook, Shemane Nugent summed it up: “It was so surreal, really.”

A great night at the White House. Thank you to President Trump for the invite! 🇺🇸

Posted by Sarah Palin on Thursday, April 20, 2017

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) on Wednesday said that he won’t seek another term in 2018 because he “hopes to find the right balance” and is sick of sleeping in his office.

“I really, really like the work in Congress, I really do, but I love my family more. People may try to make it more than that, but it’s really that simple,” Chaffetz said on MSNBC. “I just turned 50. I’m sleeping on a cot in my office.”

Chaffetz announced on Wednesday that he “will not be a candidate for any office in 2018.”

“I have made a personal decision to return to the private sector,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

“Have you spoken to Speaker Ryan about it?” Greta Van Susteren asked, referring to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

“I did. I called him last night and he said, ‘boy, I didn’t see that coming.’ And then he said, ‘please don’t do that yet,'” Chaffetz said. “And I said, well, I didn’t call to ask permission. I just called to inform you.”

Chaffetz said that he is hoping to “find the right balance” in his life.

“I’m just saying I’m not going to be a candidate for the Senate seat that’s up in 2018 nor am I going to run for the House again, but I very well may come back into politics at some point,” he said. “I’m not going to close the door on that.”

In an interview with the Deseret News in January 2016, Chaffetz hinted at possible future plans, saying that he “would take a serious, serious look at running for governor.”

Former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly on Wednesday said that “completely unsubstantiated claims” were to blame for his departure from the network following accusations of sexual harassment against him.

“It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims,” O’Reilly said in a statement.

O’Reilly said that his show — formerly “The O’Reilly Factor,” but already renamed to “The Factor” by Wednesday afternoon — “significantly contributed to” the network’s success.

“I wish only the best for Fox News Channel,” he said.

The New York Times reported earlier in April that at least five women took a total of $13 million in settlements from O’Reilly or the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, after making allegations of sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior by the host.

21st Century Fox also cited “a thorough and careful review of the allegations” in its announcement Wednesday afternoon that O’Reilly would “not be returning.”

Read O’Reilly’s statement below:

Top host Bill O’Reilly is out at Fox News amid accusations of sexual harassment against him, the network’s parent company 21st Century Fox announced Wednesday afternoon.

“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel,” the company said in a statement.

In a statement late Wednesday afternoon, O’Reilly nevertheless blamed his departure on “completely unsubstantiated claims.”

Fox announced that Tucker Carlson will take over O’Reilly’s 8 p.m. slot on Fox News.

New York Magazine reported earlier Wednesday, citing unnamed sources briefed on the discussions, that exit negotiations were “moving quickly” after members of the Murdoch family agreed to give O’Reilly the boot.

Allegations against O’Reilly date back to August 2016, when former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros filed a lawsuit that included claims that O’Reilly asked her to stay at his home on Long Island, which he said would be “very private.” He also allegedly said he could see her “as a wild girl.”

The New York Times published an investigation earlier in April revealing that at least five women took a total of $13 million in settlements from O’Reilly or 21st Century Fox after making allegations of sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior against the TV host and bestselling author.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the same day that Fox News had recently renewed its contract with O’Reilly.

At a press conference days later, former regular Fox News guest Wendy Walsh said that O’Reilly froze her out of a job opportunity after she turned down his inappropriate advances in 2013.

I am thrilled that a corporation has made the seismic shift to put women’s rights ahead of their bottom line,” Walsh said on Wednesday after Fox announced that O’Reilly would not return. “And for this I feel grateful.”

Attorney Lisa Bloom, who represents three O’Reilly accusers, celebrated the network’s decision Wednesday.

“Fox News should have fired him in 2004 when the first complaint was made, but at least they did it now,” she said in a statement. “They did it because we persisted.”

President Donald Trump defended O’Reilly in an interview with the New York Times where he called O’Reilly a “good person” and said he “shouldn’t have settled.”

“I don’t think Bill did anything wrong,” Trump said.

In recent weeks, dozens of companies pulled ad buys from “The O’Reilly Factor” in the wake of the allegations against him.

O’Reilly departed last week for his longest spring vacation in at least 10 years, though he said he booked the trip months ago.

His lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, claimed in a statement Tuesday evening that O’Reilly was the victim of a “smear campaign” from the “far-left.”

This post has been updated.

Bill O’Reilly shook hands with Pope Francis on Wednesday as reports accumulated of the host’s imminent ouster from Fox News amid reports of sexual harassment.

A photographer for L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s semi-official paper, captured the moment in a photo first flagged by the New York Times.

According to the New York Times, O’Reilly met Francis during the pope’s weekly general audience, where he sat in an exclusive section near the dais holding Francis’ throne. The Vatican press office told the Times that seating in that section is reserved for those with special tickets distributed by the prefecture of the papal household.

The Vatican said last week, per the Times report, that Francis did not have an official audience scheduled with O’Reilly and would not hold one.

The Fox host is on his longest spring vacation in at least 10 years amid allegations of sexual harassment and questions about his future at the network which appear to be rapidly evolving into exit negotiations.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on Tuesday poured a cold one to celebrate U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s deportation of an undocumented immigrant who was legally protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

USA Today reported on Wednesday that in February, federal agents deported Juan Manuel Montes despite his active DACA status.

Montes, who is 23 years old, was brought to the United States at age 9. He has lived in the country since and received deportation protections twice under the program, per USA Today. According to the report, federal agents refused to let him retrieve his ID or prove his status and deported Montes within hours of approaching him.

President Donald Trump in January told ABC News that DACA recipients “shouldn’t be very worried.”

“I do have a big heart,” he said. “We’re going to take care of everybody.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer also signaled in January that Trump was not prioritizing the revocation of deportation relief for DACA enrollees, also known as DREAMers (after the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act).

“He’s going to work through it with his team in a very humane way to make sure that he respects the situation that many of these children are in,” Spicer said.

King, less than pleased with the White House’s inaction, said in February that Trump should have repealed the DACA program “on the first day” of his presidency.

“All he had to do was sign an executive order on the first day. That should’ve been done,” he said. “I want to see it done, and done soon, because the problem is getting bigger every day.”

King referred to Montes as a “non-valedictorian” in his tweet posted Tuesday, likely a reference to an infamous 2013 interview in which King claimed that for every DREAMer who becomes a 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 House Speaker, gave a succinct response to that comment: “What an asshole.”

Despite the lack of legislative action on the matter, Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday said he remains “very confident” that congressional Republicans will come together to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“While it was clear that a little more than a month ago that Congress wasn’t quite ready to do it, we’ve never relented in our commitment to keep that promise,” Pence told CNN’s Dana Bash.

Pence said he is “very encouraged” by discussions taking place within his caucus.

“I’m very confident that in the days ahead we’re going to see the Congress come together and we’re going to take that important first step to repeal and replace Obamacare,” he said.

“So getting the votes is imminent?” Bash asked.

“I think — we’ll see,” Pence replied.

Congressional Republicans at home for a two-week recess are facing tough questions from constituents about their failure to bring a viable bill to the House floor, let alone corral enough votes to pass it.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters last week that Republicans were getting “closer and closer every day” to finding a consensus on the legislation.

For the most part, however, members of President Donald Trump’s administration have gone silent on the bill’s failure and any prospects — however unlikely — for its resurrection.

The FBI used a document containing allegations of ties between President Donald Trump and Russia as part of its justification for obtaining an order in 2016 to monitor the communications of Carter Page, a former adviser to Trump’s campaign, CNN reported on Tuesday.

CNN cited unnamed U.S. officials briefed on the investigation, two of whom said the agency used the document to obtain approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor Page’s communications.

The dossier, which BuzzFeed published in January, remains largely unsubstantiated. CNN reported in February, however, that multiple unnamed U.S. intelligence sources had corroborated some communications detailed in the document.

On Tuesday, CNN reported that unnamed officials familiar with the process of obtaining a FISA warrant said that the FBI would only include information from the dossier in its application after corroborating that data through its own investigation.

The Washington Post reported last week that the FBI obtained a warrant from the FISA court to monitor Page’s communications after arguing that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as a Russian agent.

Page told TPM that the FBI was “unjustified” in doing so, and has conducted a string of interviews in an attempt to downplay his interactions with the Russian ambassador to the United States as well as Russian officials, the Russian ambassador to the United States and Russian intelligence operatives.

Those conversations tend to raise more questions than they answer, and Trump’s team has tried to distance itself from Page.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) on Tuesday said she wishes President Donald Trump “would spend more time in Washington, D.C.” and host state leaders there rather than at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.

An audience member at a town hall in Wall Lake, Iowa, asked Ernst about Trump’s “weekends in Florida, costing us $3 million-plus in 100 days.”

“When you talked earlier about not a lot of money, deficits and everything, we’ve got to keep accountability,” he said.

“I agree with you,” Ernst said. “I do wish that he would spend more time in Washington, D.C.”

Ernst said she has “had the same concerns.”

“That is something I think that has been bothering not just me but some other members of our caucus,” she said.

Donald Trump’s son, Eric Trump, claimed in an interview published Monday that his father’s frequent visits to Mar-a-Lago, where he often plays a few courses, are “a very effective tool” when it comes to “bonding” with foreign heads of state.

However, Ernst told the audience that she would prefer to see Trump host state visits in the nation’s capital.

“We would love to see more of those State Department visits in Washington, D.C. I think it’s smart that he does business in Washington, D.C.,” she said. “That’s what we have the White House for.”

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