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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

Senior White House aide Jared Kushner is scheduled to meet in June with Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, NBC News reported late Thursday.

NBC News’ Kasie Hunt cited two unnamed sources who said the meeting is set for mid-June but did not name a specific date.

According to Hunt, the meeting is a first step toward Kushner providing documents to the panel and answering its questions.

The Washington Post reported in May that Kushner, who is President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, spoke in December to Russia’s ambassador to the United States about setting up a communications backchannel between Trump’s transition team and Moscow.

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

Kushner’s meetings with a Russian banker are also under scrutiny, according to a report by the New York Times, and the congressional committees investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election — including the Senate Intelligence Committee — reportedly want to question Kushner about whether he sought Russian financing for his family’s Manhattan tower from the banker.

Trump said in May that he had “total confidence” in Kushner, but appeared to joke in June that he was less than pleased with Kushner’s increased visibility.

“Jared’s actually become much more famous than me,” Trump said, to laughter. “I’m a little bit upset about that.”

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Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) on Thursday launched his campaign for the state’s governorship.

In a speech announcing his candidacy, Kobach pledged to fight “corruption, taxation and illegal immigration,” as quoted by the Kansas City Star.

Kobach advised President Donald Trump on immigration during Trump’s 2016 campaign and has a history of pushing for tougher measures targeting undocumented immigrants.

He is also known for supporting voting regulations that restrict access to the ballot and, as secretary of state, aggressively prosecuted alleged instances of double-voting, a very uncommon occurrence.

Kobach claimed after Trump’s election victory that he was named to serve on Trump’s immigration policy transition team, and after Trump’s inauguration said he advised the President to pursue an investigation into his unsubstantiated claims of massive election fraud.

Trump in May signed an executive order creating a commission to do so, which has thus far borne no fruit.

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Thursday reflected ruefully on his questions to fired FBI Director James Comey during an open session of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“I get the sense from Twitter that my line of questioning today went over people’s heads,” McCain said in a statement. “Maybe going forward I shouldn’t stay up late watching the Diamondbacks night games.”

McCain said he wanted to find out whether Comey believed “that any of his interactions with the President rise to the level of obstruction of justice.”

“While I missed an opportunity in today’s hearing, I still believe this question is important, and I intend to submit it in writing to Mr. Comey for the record,” he said.

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Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) on Thursday said President Donald Trump should match fired FBI Director James Comey and testify under oath and in public.

Following Comey’s appearance in an open session before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Murphy released a statement saying it was “hard to overstate the impact” of Comey’s testimony.

“If the White House’s account differs from what we heard today, the American people deserve to hear the President’s side of the story in a similar forum – under oath and open to the press,” Murphy said.

“It’s hard to overstate the impact of Jim Comey’s testimony today. For the first time, under oath and penalty of perjury, the former FBI Director testified that the president repeatedly pressed him for a pledge of loyalty, and asked him to drop the investigation into illegal activity of a White House staffer at the center of the Russia probe. A couple months later, after neither request was fulfilled, Trump fired him,” said Murphy. “That confirms that media reports aren’t ‘fake news’ – they’re very real and very concerning.”

“Every day, it seems like the walls are closing in on this president. What’s most important is that investigators in the Senate and at the Department of Justice get all the facts and find the truth. If the White House’s account differs from what we heard today, the American people deserve to hear the president’s side of the story in a similar forum – under oath and open to the press,” added Murphy.

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The New York Times on Thursday said it is “looking into” reporting that fired FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee is inaccurate.

Sen. James Risch (R-ID) on Thursday cited a February report by the New York Times that members of President Donald Trump’s campaign had “repeated contacts” with Russian intelligence officials before the 2016 election.

“That report by the New York Times was not true. Is that a fair statement?” he asked.

“In the main, it was not true,” Comey replied. “The challenge, and I’m not picking on reporters about writing stories about classified information, is that people talking about it often don’t really know what’s going on and those of us who actually know what’s going on are not talking about it.”

Later in the hearing, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) asked Comey, “Would it be fair to characterize that story as almost entirely wrong?”

“Yes,” Comey replied.

“Did you have at the time that story was published any indication of any contact between Trump people and Russians, intelligence officers, other government officials or close associates of the Russian government?” Cotton pressed.

“That’s one I can’t answer sitting here,” Comey said.

He did not specify how much of the story was inaccurate, or which allegations were untrue.

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Fired FBI Director James Comey on Thursday speculated that President Donald Trump came up short in April when he sought leverage to persuade Comey to publicly announce that Trump was not under investigation.

In his prepared testimony released Wednesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey said Trump told him in April: “I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.”

Comey said he did not respond or ask Trump to clarify.

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Fired FBI Director James Comey testified Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he thinks he was fired to influence the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Comey said. “I was fired in some way to change or the endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.”

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James Comey, who President Donald Trump fired in March as head of the FBI, joked on Thursday that he is “between opportunities now” and therefore has time to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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