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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

The outspoken attorney for porn actress Stormy Daniels is pushing back against efforts to keep him and his client silent about their lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen.

But if the gag order is enacted, he wants it to also cover Trump and his cable news mouthpiece and attorney Rudy Giuliani.

In a new filing on Monday, flagged by Politico, Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti cited a list of denigrating comments Giuliani has made about Daniels in recent weeks, including saying that he doesn’t “respect a porn star the way I respect a career woman or a woman of substance.”

“The order must go both ways by extending to all parties … and all counsel,” Avenatti wrote in the new filing Monday. “Any other gag order imposed in the case would be manifestly one-sided and unjust, especially in light of the insults and attacks made against (Daniels).”

Cohen’s attorney has been pursuing a gag order in connection with Daniels’ lawsuit against Cohen that attempts to negate a $130,000 hush payment and non-disclosure agreement he negotiated with her before the 2016 election. The agreement was designed to keep her quiet about an alleged affair she had with Trump a decade ago.

Avenatti has been engaged in a media campaign ever since he started representing Daniels, making near-daily media appearances to advocate for his client while inflaming critical coverage of Cohen.

In April, Cohen’s house, hotel and office were raided by the FBI and documents related to his financial dealings were seized, including those related to the $130,000 payment he made to Daniels.   

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President Donald Trump used his Twitter platform on Monday evening to seize on reports that a ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee made a joke at a private dinner about special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, while drinking wine.

Claiming Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) was in “perhaps a near drunken state” when he made the joke, Trump questioned whether it was “highly illegal” for the Senate Intelligence Committee’s vice chairman to know information about Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian meddling that others don’t.

“Is it being investigated?” he tweeted.

The tweet is just the latest example of the President of the United States taking the time to get involved in partisan debates and tit-for-tat arguments with politicians and celebrities on Twitter.

During a dinner that Warner hosted for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee over the weekend, Warner made a joke that if he had “one more glass of wine” he might started telling guests “stuff only Bob Mueller and I know.”

“If you think you’ve seen wild stuff so far, buckle up. It’s going to be a wild couple of months,” he reportedly said.

Warner told Politico on Monday that the remarks were “a bad joke,” in the Playbook’s words.  

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The Virginia state GOP has seized on news that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant in Virginia on Friday night and has called for a boycott of the business, Red Hen.

In a tweet on Monday morning, the state Republican Party painted the incident as the “intolerant left” showing its “true colors.” It asked followers to sign a “boycott petition” to “show Red Hen that patriotic Trump supporters are the silent majority in Virginia!”

On the petition page, the group claimed that Sanders was thrown out “in the middle of dinner” because she works for President Donald Trump. However, Red Hen co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson told The Washington Post on Saturday that she pulled Sanders aside on the restaurant patio and asked her to leave after her chef and other staff members expressed discomfort in serving her.

In order to sign the boycott petition, the GOP asks for a participant’s address, email and phone number. The petition had received a little more than 50 signatures as of Monday afternoon.

Trump himself used his Twitter platform to weigh in on the fiasco and insult the business for having “filthy” canopies.

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Not so “filthy” after all.

Despite President Donald Trump’s dubious claim that a restaurant’s exterior appearance will unfailingly mirror its interior cleanliness, the restaurant in Lexington, Virginia that gave White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders the boot over the weekend actually has a glowing health record, according to county health department documents.

Red Hen’s last violation was found during an April 2014 inspection — raw meat was stored above cookie jars and the expiration date on some grits stored in the refrigerator was improperly labeled — and both errors were corrected at the time of the county officials’ visit.

Red Hen’s last inspection was completed on Feb. 6, 2018, when it received a clean bill of health with no violations or required follow up visits. The Rockbridge County official who conducted the inspection even noted the staff’s “clean uniforms/aprons,” the proper restraint of the cook’s hair and an “excellent job on code-dating.”   

Before February, Red Hen was inspected on Jan. 24 2017 and it received similarly high marks: “Good food and unit temperatures;” “Clean aprons; “Employees properly washing hands during evaluation;” “Hand sink fully stocked with soap/paper towels, hot and cold running water.”

The one transgression involved the use of canning jars as decoration. Any hermetically sealed container in use at a restaurant has to be obtained from an approved food processing plant, according to the county official.

“Operator stated that jars were for decorative use only. Operator will take jars home,” the report stated.

While much larger than the Red Hen, by contrast, the kitchen of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort was hit with 13 health violations in April 2017 and was slapped with 15 violations in the club’s two kitchens in a follow up visit in November 2017.

Sanders tweeted about her dismissal from Red Hen on Saturday morning, suggesting she was asked to leave the restaurant because she worked for the Trump administration.

Red Hen’s co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson told The Washington Post on Saturday that she asked Sanders to leave the restaurant after her chef and other staff members expressed discomfort in serving her.

“This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals,” she told the Post.

On Monday morning, Trump decided to weigh in on the debacle and the “filthy” rural eatery.

It is unclear whether Trump has ever actually been to the restaurant.

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Former sitcom star Roseanne Barr gave an emotional, and at times unhinged, interview, speaking out for the first time (besides Twitter) since her hit show “Roseanne” was canceled after she posted a racist tweet.

Speaking to Shmuely Boteach on his podcast “Rabbi Shmuley,” Barr apologized through sobs for her “ignorance” and claimed that she “didn’t mean it the way they’re saying I meant it.” The podcast episode was published Sunday.

I’m a lot of things, a loud mouth and all that stuff,” she said, clearly struggling to speak through tears. “But I’m not stupid, for God’s sake. I never would have wittingly called any black person and say they are a monkey. I just wouldn’t do that. I didn’t do that. And that people think that I did that and it just kills me. And if people think that, I’m just so sorry that I was so unclear and stupid.”

Barr reiterated her “explanation” that she was on Ambien when she tweeted comparing former Barack Obama aide Valerie Jarrett to the Muslim Brotherhood and “Planet of the Apes.” At one point in the interview she was vocally crying and had to pause the discussion: “I have to get a hold of myself, wait.”

Lamenting that she had “lost everything,” she said she “horribly regret(s)” the tweet and claimed she was attempting to criticize Jarrett for her policies on Israel and said she thought the former Obama adviser was “white.” Barr is Jewish and was invited on the Rabbi’s podcast to discuss her views on Judaism and repentance.  

“I know I should have known better,” she said in the interview that published Monday. “I think of her as somebody who is trying to subvert freedom for me.”

Listen to the full interview below:

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Republican congressional candidate Katie Arrington, who defeated Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) two weeks ago, is expected to make a full recovery after getting seriously injured in a car crash on Friday.

According to the Post and Courier in South Carolina, Arrington is currently recovering from a second surgery — to address a fracture in her back– at a hospital in Charleston. Arrington’s campaign told the Post and Courier that doctors expect Arrington to begin walking again in a few days and will have no neurological issues.

Arrington was in an accident on Friday evening when a car driving the wrong direction on the highway hit the vehicle she was riding in. The driver of the other vehicle was killed and Arrington’s driver is currently in critical condition.

Arrington came into the national spotlight in recent weeks when Trump gave her a Twitter endorsement, as a means to taunt Sanford, whom he called “unhelpful” and later — in front of a group of his Republican colleagues — he called “nasty,” an attack met with “boos” from lawmakers.

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Former presidential candidate and Utah Senate hopeful Mitt Romney on Sunday said he “cannot subscribe” to the mentality that Republicans should stay silent on points of contention with President Donald Trump for the betterment of the party.

In an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune on Sunday, Romney responded to questions he said he often gets on the campaign trail about whether he plans to be supportive of the Trump agenda. He said that while he supports much of the Trump administrations’ successes in the past year, he will not blindly support the President regardless of his use of divisive rhetoric and said he plans to speak out against policies he doesn’t support.

“I have and will continue to speak out when the president says or does something which is divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions, he wrote Sunday. “I do not make this a daily commentary; I express contrary views only when I believe it is a matter of substantial significance.

“People ask me why I feel compelled to express my disagreements with the president. I believe that when you are known as a member of a “team,” and the captain says or does something you feel is morally wrong, if you stay silent you tacitly assent to the captain’s posture.”

Despite receiving a full-throated endorsement from Trump in February, Romney remains a prominent critic of Trump. Their relationship has heated up since the 2016 Republican primaries, when Trump said Romney “choked like a dog” during his 2012 presidential bid against former President Barack Obama.

Ahead of his inauguration, Trump briefly considered Romney for secretary of state, but eventually tapped former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for the gig. Critics speculated Trump was simply trying to humiliate Romney with the courtship.

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The vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee let loose Friday night at a dinner he hosted for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, telling guests that they should “buckle up” for coming revelations from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian meddling.

“If you get me one more glass of wine, I’ll tell you stuff only Bob Mueller and I know,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) told guests gathered at his Martha’s Vineyard home, according to Politico’s playbook. “If you think you’ve seen wild stuff so far, buckle up. It’s going to be a wild couple of months.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee aims to have its investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election wrapped up by August.

Warner has been a vocal critic of Trump, but has routinely chastised Trump’s allies for leaking information that has proven beneficial to the President.

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Secretary of Defense James Mattis has slowly lost the President’s ear in recent months, a rift that dates back to President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, NBC News reported on Monday.

According to current and former White House and DOD officials, Mattis opposed the embassy move and has been left out of key Trump administration decisions in recent months, including the withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, the decision to pause “war games” with South Korea and, just last week, Trump’s announcement ordering the Pentagon to move interplanetary.  

Mattis and Trump reportedly “don’t really see eye-to-eye,” one former White House official told NBC, and Trump has started to rely more on his secretary of state and national security adviser — whose appointment Mattis opposed — for guidance.

Trump reportedly believes that Mattis looks down on him and has a habit of slow rolling his defense policy decisions.

Read NBC’s full report here.

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While politicizing the anguish of families whose loved ones were killed by an undocumented immigrant, President Donald Trump on Friday said that Americans are better than immigrants.

I always hear that, ‘Oh, no, the population is safer than the people that live in the country.’ You’ve heard that, fellas, right? You’ve heard that,” he said. “I hear it so much. And I say, ‘Is that possible?’ The answer is it is not true. You hear it is like they are better people than what we have, than our citizens. It is not true.”

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