Katherine Riga

Kate Riga is a news writer for Talking Points Memo based in New York City. Before joining TPM, Kate was the political reporter for The Southampton Press. She is a graduate of Georgetown University and a native of Philadelphia.

Articles by Katherine

A summary of unverified allegations against Veterans Affairs nominee Ronny Jackson obtained by TPM claims Jackson wrote his own prescriptions and drunkenly totaled a government car at a Secret Service going-away party.

The allegations, compiled from 23 colleagues and former colleagues, were released by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT). They’re broken into three categories: prescribing practices, hostile work environment, and drunkenness.

According to the allegations, Jackson gave out large quantities of medications without requiring the recipient to fill out questionnaires or provide any medical history. The practice allegedly once threw White House Medical Unit staff into a panic, when they realized that a large quantity of Percocet was missing without any documentation. It was later discovered that Jackson had given the heavy-duty painkillers to a staffer in the White House Military Office.

In the workplace, Jackson was reportedly an abusive and explosive boss, prone to ingratiate himself with his superiors while mistreating his underlings. The writers of the allegations described him as “volatile,” “despicable,” and “vindictive,” with a penchant for “screaming fits.”

The allegations also paint Jackson as frequently drunk on the job, imbibing while on call and responsible for tending to the President at a moment’s notice. He was allegedly unconscious from excessive drinking when called for on at least one occasion. 

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Jackson denied the allegation about wrecking the car, adding that he intends to stay in the confirmation process. “I have no idea where that is coming from,” Jackson said, according to CNN. “I have not wrecked a car. I can tell you that.”

Originally scheduled to appear before Congress on Wednesday, Jackson has had his hearing postponed indefinitely to give congressional leaders more time to investigate the allegations.

Read the full summary below:

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White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubled down Wednesday afternoon on the White House’s assertion that secretary of veterans affairs nominee Ronny Jackson was thoroughly vetted before a firestorm of accusations against him surfaced this week.

“Dr. Jackson’s record as a White House physician has been impeccable,” she said. “In fact, because Dr. Jackson worked within arm’s reach of three Presidents, he has received more vetting than most nominees.

“Dr. Jackson has had at least four independent background investigations conducted during his time at the White House, including an FBI investigation conducted as part of the standard nomination vetting process,” she continued.

She added that Jackson has been praised by former President Barack Obama, and that none of the allegations swirling around Jackson “came up” during the vetting process.

This week, stories emerged about Jackson drinking on the job, dispensing medications “like candy,” and creating a hostile work environment.

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Five news organizations are requesting that court documents in former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s criminal case be unsealed.

Arguing that knowledge of the case’s specifics is in the public interest and that those involved in this case deserve less privacy than ordinary citizens due to their high-profile and public roles, the Associated Press, Politico, The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN have joined forces to obtain the documents.

“Under the common law, courts balance the public’s right to information about the workings of the criminal justice system against the legitimate countervailing interests of the government; here, that balance tips decisively in favor of the public,” the memo, submitted Wednesday, reads.

According to CNN, this motion marks the first time that people outside of the government who are not defendants on trial have requested that documents related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia probe be unsealed.

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Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue reportedly told senators Tuesday that he advised President Donald Trump to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the latest of a series of contradictory statements from Trump and his administration about the trade deal.

Trump has been inconsistent on the issue since pulling out by executive order in January. Within a short period, he has ordered aides to look at rejoining the TPP and also tweeted: “I don’t like the deal for the United States. Too many contingencies and no way to get out if it doesn’t work.”

The TPP was a signature piece of former President Barack Obama’s Asia policy, a way to band together with other nations to balance out China’s power. According to the Washington Post, the debate around the TPP reveals greater schisms within the Republican party over trade, as Trump’s protectionist inclinations clash with GOP lawmakers’ concern for their agricultural base.

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President Donald Trump met with secretary of of veterans affairs nominee Ronny Jackson in the Oval Office Tuesday afternoon after making comments hinting that Jackson should exit the confirmation process, according to CNN.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions has opted not to recuse himself from the investigation of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, though he may remove himself from certain questions on a case by case basis, according to a Tuesday afternoon Bloomberg report.

Because he has declined to fully recuse himself, Sessions will reportedly receive briefings on the investigation, which is headed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

There seem to be no hard and fast rules about which questions Session must back away from, Bloomberg reports, though he will likely stay away from anything pertaining to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia probe. Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation in March 2017, triggering Trump’s enduring ire and clearing the way for his Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, to appoint the special counsel.

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Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and his legal team made many embarrassing amateur stumbles throughout their voting law trial.

As a Huffington Post reporter pointed out Tuesday, they forgot to delete an editorial note and add in a citation on a document filed in federal court.

Kobach was attempting to fight for a Kansas law that requires documentation proving citizenship to register to vote. The trial came out of an ACLU lawsuit in 2016, claiming that Kobach was fighting a nonexistent problem as a way to disenfranchise voters. 

Kobach and his team frequently fumbled fundamental trial processes during their court appearances, including repeated attempts to enter evidence into the record after they had missed the deadline to do so.

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Charles Kushner, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s father, is trying to take the fall for the family’s calamitous investment in 666 Fifth Avenue to shift blame from his son, according to a CNN report Tuesday morning.

“I pushed Jared to do the deal,” Charles Kushner told CNN, adding that the deal was “bad timing and bad judgment.”

Kushner Companies paid $1.8 billion in 2007 for the skyscraper, a bet that backfired when a crashing market left the property saddled with $1.2 billion in debt. Attempts to recruit foreign investors to salvage the purchase have come back to haunt Jared Kushner, when stories of his meetings linked to the Chinese government leaked while he was working as a foreign affairs liaison on his father-in-law’s transition team.

In the interview with CNN, Charles Kushner alluded to a deal in the works currently to recruit above-the-board investors and mitigate the financial burdens. His attempt to take the blame for his son points to the criticism surrounding the younger Kushner over what some see as a failure to properly divest from his business interests while working in a senior capacity in the Trump administration.

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced that he will be voting for secretary of state nominee Mike Pompeo Monday evening just before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote, a complete reversal from his statements earlier in the week.

His flip-flop will likely lead the committee to pass the nomination on to a floor vote, where enough Democrats have committed their support to ensure Pompeo’s confirmation.

Less than a week ago, Paul was painting himself as staunchly against Pompeo, citing his support of the Iraq War and interrogation methods Paul considers torture as disqualifying factors.

“I think the debate over whether or not America is a country in favor of torture or not is an important one,” he reportedly said at a Wednesday press conference. “I’m going to do everything I can to block them.”

Trump has been leaning on Paul in an attempt to get the Republican bloc in line, a necessity with such a slim Senate majority.

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President Donald Trump is frequently turning to his cell phone to contact advisers, a sign that he is seeking to circumvent chief of staff John Kelly’s gatekeeping and take direct control of who has access to him, CNN reported Monday

Unnamed sources told CNN that Trump is bypassing the White House switchboard, which would give Kelly access to Trump’s daily call log. This system has reportedly benefitted former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who Kelly tried to cut off from Trump earlier in the administration. Trump has also established that he wants National Security Adviser John Bolton and national economic adviser Larry Kudlow to come directly to him without looping in Kelly, a break with precedent.

This revelation is in keeping with recent reports about the increasingly strained relationship between the President and his chief of staff.

This practice reportedly could pose security threats, as cell phones are vulnerable to hacking and eavesdropping, as well as hampering record keeping for historical archiving and accountability.

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