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Nicole Lafond

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.

Articles by Nichole

Former spokesperson for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Katrina Pierson, appeared on “Fox and Friends” Monday morning to defend keeping Confederate statues on display as politicians and activists call for their removal, saying Americans love their “good and bad” history.

“Those monuments have been there for a very long time and suddenly Nancy Pelosi wants to actually help these anarchists and these violent protesters tear down pieces of America, American culture and American history,” she said. “Americans actually love their history, their culture, good and bad, because it helps them learn and it helps keep people educated about why America is so great to begin with.”

John Hopkins University professor Wendy Osefo, the other guest, pushed back, saying people should understand the actual history behind many of the Confederate monuments, which she said were erected after 1865 as a way for the Ku Klux Klan to revolt against African Americans gaining political power.

So this is not a symbol of patriotism. This is a symbol of hatred and division. And while it is a piece of American history, it’s not necessarily the good part of American history. It’s actually nefarious,” Osefo said, saying the statues should be placed in museums, not on state grounds.

“It absolutely deserves a place because bad history is still good history for this country,” Pierson said.

“Slavery is good?” Osefo asked.

“Considering where we are today, where we are today. Absolutely,” Pierson said.

When asked to clarify what she meant, she said the statues should stay up as a history lesson to children.

“During those times, during those times — think about it for a second. Where would we be today if not for that Civil War? How would our children even know… How would our children even know how special and how wonderful this country is that we can even be having this discussion today?” she said.

“How special slavery is? Do you know how many people died?” Osefo said, prompting co-host Ainsley Earhardt to try to rein the two guests back in.

“This country was founded on slaveowners who actually put into place — to change the laws,” Pierson said.

“You’re completely out of line,” Osefo said.

Watch the interview below:

The Republican National Committee, Republican Governors Association, President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and at least 25 other congressional campaigns have spent a collective $1.3 million this year at Trump entities, The Washington Post reported on Monday.

The most popular Trump-owned location for Republican fundraising has been the President’s new hotel in Washington, D.C., where about 300 Trump supporters paid $35,000 each to attend an RNC event in late June.

Eighteen other political committees have rented out space at the D.C. hotel so far this year, including the Trump campaign, which has spent nearly $15,000 for lodging there in 2017.

Other GOP lawmakers whose campaign committees have rented out space at the Washington Trump hotel include Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX), Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN).

The Secret Service can’t pay hundreds of its agents to protect President Donald Trump’s large family and their frequent travel, Director Randolph “Tex” Alles told USA Today.

More than 1,000 agents have already met the cap for salary and overtime that was suppose to last the agency the whole year.

The Secret Service provides protection for 42 people under Trump, including 18 members of his family. Former President Barack Obama had 31 people under Secret Service’s protection, USA Today reported.

It’s not just the size of the President’s family that’s causing strain on the department, Alles said, it’s also Trump’s travel and his children’s business and vacation travel that has overworked Secret Service agents.

“The President has a large family, and our responsibility is required in law,” Alles told USA Today. “I can’t change that. I have no flexibility.”

The director has been in talks with some lawmakers about raising the federally mandated salary and overtime compensation cap for agents from $160,000 a year to $187,000.

The agency is working to hire more officers in the next few years, Alles said, with a goal of increasing the force from the 6,800 it has currently to about 7,600 in 2019 and 9,500 in 2025.

The President’s frequent trips to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida reportedly cost tax payers $3 million per trip. The agency has spent $60,000 on renting golf carts this year alone in order to protect the President while he’s at Mar-a-Lago and during trips to his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

Read USA Today’s full reporter here.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is no longer in the running for a job on a local sports talk show, he announced in a statement Sunday.

Christie auditioned for the post-gubernatorial gig as a co-host on WFAN’s morning show last month, during which he called a caller a “communist.”

“After considering the other options that I have been presented with for post-gubernatorial employment, I declined their request to do additional shows,” Christie said in a statement published by NewJersey.com. “I made station executives aware that while I would be happy to continue to fill in for Boomer when asked and when available, that they should no longer consider me as a candidate interested in any job at WFAN when I leave the governorship.”

The New York Daily News reported Saturday that Christie was no longer being considered for the co-host position, which Christie said was “completely incorrect” in a statement.

He announced his decisions to drop out of the running for the job on Sunday, but it wasn’t clear what his “other options” may be.

Christie’s second term as governor is up in January and he cannot seek reelection.

More like one flag.

The Six Flags Over Texas amusement park in Arlington, Texas has changed all of its flags to American flags, following backlash over the park’s inclusion of the Confederate flag at the entrance to its park.

Before Friday, the American flag was joined by flags for the Confederate States of America, Mexico, Spain, France and Texas. In a statement released Friday, a park spokesperson said they made the change so guests could “focus on celebrating the things that unite us versus those that divide us,” according to local station WFAA-TV. 

“At Six Flags Over Texas we strive every single day to make people happy and to create a fun, thrilling and safe family friendly experience for our guests,” spokeswoman Sharon Parker said. “We always choose to focus on celebrating the things that unite us versus those that divide us. As such, we have changed the flag displays in our park to feature American flags.”

Of the 20 Six Flags parks in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, one in San Antonio, Texas and another in Georgia flew the same six flags as the one in Arlington.

The park previously stood behind its display of the Confederate flag, but decided to make a change after the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last week, Fox News reported.

A group of protesters gathered to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue from Charlottesville, but the rally ended with a self-proclaimed white supremacist allegedly plowing his car into a crowd of counter-protesters and killing one woman.  

Charlottesville police have reportedly issued warrants for the arrest of Christopher Cantwell, a white supremacist prominently featured in a Vice News documentary.

Cantwell is wanted for his involvement in the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, where a counter-protester was killed when a man affiliated with white nationalists allegedly drove his car through a crowd.

The warrants are for illegal use of gases and injury by caustic agent or explosive, the Boston Globe reported.

Charlottesville police did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for confirmation.

Cantwell posted a tearful video on YouTube earlier this week after apparently learning there were warrants out for his arrest.

“I don’t want to. I don’t think I should. I honestly think that I have been law-abiding,” Cantwell said in the video, outlining the work his group did to gain a permit to assemble for the “Unite the Right” rally last weekend.

The group claims they gathered to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville.

Another group that’s attempting to assemble in Boston this weekend — that claims they’re not affiliated with the “Unite the Right” group, despite advertising similar supporters and speakers — was given a permit to assemble this weekend.

The city set restrictions on the kind of activity that can occur, AP reported. No backpacks will be allowed or anything that resembles a weapon.

The city is allowing the Boston Free Speech group to assemble for two hours, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., and will only let 100 people into the gathering, though some supporters think as many as 1,000 could show up.

According to Cantwell, the FBI reached out to him to aide in efforts to keep the Boston rally from becoming violent like the one in Charlottesville, the AP reported. He said he would help, but said he did not know the organizers of the free speech protest.

In the Vice documentary, Cantwell explains his white nationalist views and his hatred for Jewish people. He said he thinks “a lot more people are gonna die before we’re done here,” responding to reports of the death of Charlottesville counter-protester Heather Heyer allegedly at the hands of a man who claimed to be an ally of white supremacists. 

He told the AP he wouldn’t attend the Boston rally because he wouldn’t be able to carry a gun.

In a scathing statement, Mitt Romney lashed out at President Donald Trump for his response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend.

Romney said if Trump doesn’t address the division he’s created, “there may commence an unraveling of our national fabric.”

Romney was referencing the comments Trump made on Tuesday when the President blamed both sides for violence at a rally where white supremacists gathered to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee memorial in Charlottesville. A white nationalist allegedly drove his car through a crowd of people who had showed up to counter-protest, killing one woman.

Romney said it doesn’t matter what Trump’s intent was with his statement, “what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep and the vast heart of America to mourn.”

The former Massachusetts governor and GOP presidential nominee called out the President for not speaking immediately and forcefully in condemnation of the neo-Nazis, like military leaders did, and said America’s allies may no longer come to the aid of a country they perceive as racist.

He gave the President some strong words of advice:

“The president must take remedial action in the extreme. He should address the American people, acknowledge that he was wrong, apologize. State forcefully and unequivocally that racists are 100% to blame for the murder and violence in Charlottesville. Testify that there is no conceivable comparison or moral equivalency between the Nazis–who brutally murdered millions of Jews and who hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to defeat–and the counter-protestors who were outraged to see fools parading the Nazi flag, Nazi armband and Nazi salute. And once and for all, he must definitively repudiate the support of David Duke and his ilk and call for every American to banish racists and haters from any and every association.”

A monument commemorating the only president of the Confederacy was vandalized with tar and feathers this week, a local Gold Canyon, Arizona TV station reported Thursday.

The Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway monument sits along U.S. 60 and local authorities are investigating the incident, KSAZ reported. This is the second time a Confederate monument in Arizona was defaced this week and the most recent in a string of vandalism of Confederate memorials across the country.

The violence that broke out at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, when white nationalists gathered to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, has spurred on the debate over what to do with Confederate monuments.

On Thursday, President Trump proclaimed his position in the debate, tweeting that it is “sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and moments.”

His comments Thursday contrast what he said during the campaign when asked about what should be done with Confederate flags hanging at the South Carolina Capitol.

“I think they should put it in the museum and let it go,” he said in 2015.  

Watch the local news report below:

As the only black Republican currently serving in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) said the President’s comments about the violence that broke out on “many sides” at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend has put him, and everyone else in his party, in a difficult position.

In an interview with Vice News Thursday, Scott said he was encouraged by President Donald Trump’s remarks on Monday — 48 hours after the incident — finally condemning white nationalists and neo-Nazis, but said his comments during an unhinged press conference on Tuesday “started erasing the comments that were strong.”

Trump told reporters that the “alt-right” and the “alt-left” were to blame for violence that broke out and eventually led to a neo-Nazi affiliated man allegedly driving his car into a crowd of counter-protesters and killing one woman.

What we want to see from our president is clarity and moral authority. And that moral authority is compromised when Tuesday happened. There’s no question about that,” he said.

But, Scott said he was encouraged by the response by fellow Republicans and other leaders across the country, which was “exactly the opposite of what it was in the ’60s.”

“Racism is real. It is alive. It is here. But the response from the vast majority of this country is diametrically opposite of the response in the ’60s. We’ve had the United States military, generals, leaders, standing up and rejecting, completely, racism. We’ve had corporate America, which was fairly silent back in the ’60s, standing up very strong, very loud, and very proud,” he told Vice.

Watch the full interview below:

The violent events that transpired at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend has pushed the American Civil Liberties Union to take a tougher stance on the hate groups it defends in court.

The civil rights group will now screen its clients more closely and won’t represent groups who protest while carrying firearms, the executive director told The Wall Street Journal Thursday.

The ACLU’s Virginia branch defended the neo-Nazis’ right to assemble when the group gathered last weekend to protest the removal of the confederate statue of Robert E. Lee. The organization is known for its defense of the free speech rights of hate groups, claiming that creating exceptions to the First Amendment for hate groups make the less stringent for everyone.

“The events of Charlottesville require any judge, any police chief and any legal group to look at the facts of any white-supremacy protests with a much finer comb,” Executive Director Anthony  Romero told the Journal. “If a protest group insists, ‘No, we want to be able to carry loaded firearms,’ well, we don’t have to represent them. They can find someone else.”

The group’s Virginia branch defended the white supremacists against Charlottesville’s efforts to deny them a permit. City officials wanted the protest moved a mile away from the park to better accommodate the crowd. The ACLU argued in federal court that the city’s decision was based on opposition to the group’s views, not safety concerns.

Many lashed out against the civil rights group when violence broke out at the rally. A self-proclaimed white supremacist allegedly drove his car through a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Hayer and injuring 19 others. 

Several members of the group that assembled last Saturday were carrying firearms, but no one was hurt by them. Romero said the ACLU thinks just having guns at a protest can suppress freedom of speech through intimidation.

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