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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

President Donald Trump told the British prime minister that she should focus on combatting “Radical Islamic Terrorism” in the United Kingdom, instead of criticizing him.

“We are doing just fine!” he said in a tweet.

Trump’s tweets are likely in response to Prime Minister Theresa May’s statement on Wednesday, in which her spokesperson said it was “wrong” for Trump to retweet anti-Islamic videos on Twitter that were originally shared by a leader of a British far-right political group, Britain First.

Britain First seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions,” the spokesperson said. “They cause anxiety to law-abiding people. British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right. It is wrong for the President to have done this.”

Early Wednesday morning, Trump shared three unverified anti-Muslim videos on Twitter that were originally posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy head of Britain First who was recently convicted of religiously aggravated harassment. The videos supposedly show violence that Fransen claimed in her tweets was ignited by Muslims. Two of the three videos have been largely debunked.

The group Britain First is known for combatting what it calls the “Islamization” of Britain and has also campaigned against the building of new mosques. The group has also launched several unsuccessful political campaigns.

Outside the tweet to May — which Trump originally posted with the wrong Twitter handle for the Prime Minister — Trump hasn’t publicly commented on why he shared the videos.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday said it doesn’t necessarily matter if the videos were real, but said “the threat is real, and that’s what the President is talking about, is the need for national security, the need for military spending, and those are very really things, there’s nothing fake about that.”

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While President Donald Trump has been careful to not explicitly endorse Alabama Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore, the White House is weighing its options to help the embattled candidate get elected, according to a new report.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that Trump is “not planning any trip to Alabama at this time,” but the White House is mulling whether to unleash a series of robo-calls, emails and text messages, three people familiar with the conversations told Politico.

Trump has all-but endorsed Moore publicly and has indicated he believes the former judge’s denials of the sexual misconduct allegations against him. Instead of outright embracing the candidate, Trump has tweeted attacks on Moore’s Democratic opponent, former U.S. attorney Doug Jones.

In private, Trump has told Republican senators he doubts Moore’s accusers — who claim Moore pursued relationships and made inappropriate sexual advances toward them when they were teens and Moore was in his 30s — and has questioned why the allegations are surfacing now when Moore has been an elected officials for decades, according to Politico.

White House officials and the head of the Republican National Committee discussed Trump’s options for stumping for Moore during a meeting on Monday, two people familiar with the matter said.

The President’s aides who spoke with Politico said that no decision has been made on what to do in Alabama, but they said that Sanders’ choice of words — that the White House isn’t planning a trip to Alabama “at this time” — was telling of what the White House is considering.

Regardless of what Trump decides, the President’s response to the allegations is lukewarm when compared to most of the leaders in his party — like Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) — who have said the allegations are credible and have called on Moore to step aside.

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President Donald Trump has retweeted three unverified anti-Muslim videos that were posted by a leader of the far-right group Britain First.

Jayda Fransen, deputy head of Britain First — who was convicted of religiously aggravated harassment in September, according to the Guardian — originally posted the videos that supposedly show violence that Fransen claims was ignited by Muslims. One video purported to show a group of Muslims pushing a boy off a roof. Another claimed to depict a Muslim destroying a statue of Virgin Mary. The third claimed to be a video of a Dutch boy on crutches getting beaten up by immigrants.

Trump retweeted the videos to his followers early Wednesday morning, just after he tweeted about the economy being in “record territory” — he may have been watching “Fox and Friends” because he tagged the show in that tweet — and just before a tweet about CNN not attending the White House holiday party.

Fransen’s group Britain First has a reputation for being opposed to what it calls the “Islamization” of Britian, according to the Associated Press. The group has also campaigned against the building of new mosques.

Fransen responded in delight to the retweets, saying “GOD BLESS YOU TRUMP” and “GOD BLESS AMERICA.”

The President’s retweets have already been already been denounced by the right and the left. Piers Morgan, a journalist and friend of of Trump, tweeted saying “what the hell are you doing?” And the top editor at conspiracy theory site Info Wars said the retweets were “not great optics.”

Trump has a history of perpetuating anti-Muslim rhetoric. He claimed he saw Muslims celebrating in New Jersey after the 9-11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York. During the 2016 campaign, he called for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. He tweeted about the United Kingdom’s “Muslim problem” in December 2015.

Throughout his campaign, he suggested the government should track Muslim Americans and the travel ban Trump hastily created through executive order has been widely labeled a Muslim travel ban as it initially blocked travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

The White House did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.

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Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon will head to Alabama next week to campaign for the embattled Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore, he told CNN Tuesday.

“I look forward to standing with Judge Moore and all of the Alabama deplorables in the fight to elect him to the United States Senate and send shockwaves to the political and media elites,” Bannon told CNN.

Bannon plans to speak at a rally next week, which will kick off the final days of campaigning for Moore and his opponent Democrat Doug Jones before the election Dec. 12. Bannon’s comments to CNN came just hours after the Associated Press reported that Bannon would not stump for Moore before the election. The AP spoke with two Bannon associates at the time.

Bannon has not campaigned for Moore since before the Republican primary run-off election between Moore and incumbent Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL). The silence from Bannon was particularly telling given that multiple women have come forward since the beginning of November accusing Moore of sexual misconduct.

The allegations range from Moore pursuing relationships or making inappropriate sexual advances toward the women when they were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s. Moore has flatly denied all the allegations and chalked the whole scandal up to a political attack from the media, Democrats and the Republican establishment.

Bannon’s backing of Moore over Strange ignited the former White House strategist’s “war” on the Republican establishment. After Moore’s primary victory, Bannon vowed to back the more conservative challengers of every Republican senator up for reelection besides Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

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President Donald Trump still thinks former President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that in recent months Trump has been reviving his “birther” conspiracy theories about his predecessor.

In recent private conversations, Trump has questioned the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate, according to advisers and one senator who spoke to the Times. The senator said he laughed when he heard Trump talking about his theories, and the senator said Trump had a hard time letting go of the conspiracy.

Trump has been one of the most vocal “birthers” over the years, despite the fact that Obama released his birth certificate in 2011 to stamp out the conspiracy. While campaigning for president in September 2016, Trump officially dropped the racist claims, but said he thinks his then-opponent Hillary Clinton propagated the theory in 2008.

Reigniting birtherism claims comes as Trump privately questions the authenticity of the audio in the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, which was released in the eleventh hour of the 2016 election and features the President bragging about grabbing women by the genitals.

At the time, Trump apologized for what he said, but told a Republican lawmaker in January that he wanted to investigate the tape and said “we don’t think that was my voice,” according to the Times. He’s privately raised doubts about the video again in recent days, but the White House has been cautious about directly answering questions on the topic. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday only said that the President “made his position clear on that at the time.”

Advisers said Trump also privately believes he lost the popular vote last November because of voter fraud, according to the Times.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) did not appear happy with Democratic leaders’ decision to not attend a meeting with President Donald Trump after the President criticized the Democratic lawmakers ahead of the gathering.

“I never refused to go to a meeting that President Obama called, a bipartisan meeting,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “It never occurred to me that I could just say to President Obama ‘I’m not showing up.’ That strikes me as a lack of seriousness about the matter before us, which is the funding of the federal government of the United States for the rest of this fiscal year.”

The Senate Republican leader’s comments about “never” refusing a meeting with Trump’s predecessor aren’t entirely accurate. In 2010, House Democratic leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) criticized McConnell and other Republican leaders, saying he was “disappointed” that Republicans were too busy to accept a bipartisan meeting with Obama and Democratic leaders, the Wall Street Journal reported. At the time, a McConnell spokesperson said the White House made the mistake of announcing the meeting before checking to see if he was available for it.

Democratic leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) released a statement Tuesday saying they weren’t going to attend the President’s “show meeting” since it was clear Trump already had made up his mind about not reaching across the aisle.

“Given that the President doesn’t see a deal between Democrats and the White House, we believe the best path forward is to continue negotiating with our Republican counterparts in Congress instead,” Schumer and Pelosi said in their statement.

Trump met with congressional Republicans on Capitol Hill Tuesday and was scheduled to meet with Democratic and Republican leaders. But he tweeted Tuesday morning “I don’t see a deal!” before they were scheduled to talk. 

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A federal judge in Washington, D.C. on Monday blocked President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, after five transgender service members filed a lawsuit against the President’s orders.

Trump announced his decision to ban transgender people from serving in the military in “any capacity” in a tweet in July. He made it official with a memorandum in August, saying it was unclear whether transgender troops serving openly would impact “military readiness and lethality” and claiming any medical needs of transgender individuals, like gender reassignment surgeries and hormones, would be too expensive for the Department of Defense to pay for.

President Barack Obama’s administration lifted the ban on transgender individuals serving openly in the military in June 2016. The Obama-era policy was supposed to go into full effect in July 2017.

At the end of June, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said he wanted to push back the enlistment date six months so the Department of Defense could further review the policy. After Trump announced his ban, Mattis said his department was still reviewing the policy.

In October, the D.C.-based Judge Collen Kollar-Kotelly issued an injunction that would force Trump to allow transgender individuals to enlist openly beginning Jan. 1. The second injunction was issued Monday to clarify that the Department of Defense cannot defer the Jan. 1 deadline for allowing enlistment any further, according to court documents.

Kollar-Kotelly isn’t the first federal judge to rule against Trump’s ban. In a parallel lawsuit, Maryland-based federal Judge Marvin Garbis last week temporarily blocked Trump’s directive and called his tweets about the policy change “shocking” as well as “capricious, arbitrary and unqualified.”

Garbis’ order will not only temporarily allows transgender troops to openly enlist in the military, but also allows current service members to receive any scheduled transition-related medical care, according to court documents obtained by NPR.

“President Trump’s tweets did not emerge from a policy review, nor did the Presidential Memorandum identify any policymaking process or evidence demonstrating that the revocation of transgender rights was necessary for any legitimate national interest,” Garbis wrote in his directive last week. “Based on the circumstances surrounding the President’s announcement and the departure from normal procedure, the court agrees wit the D.C. court that there is sufficient support for plaintiff’s claims that ‘the decision to exclude transgender individuals was not derived by genuine concern regarding military efficacy.”

Both cases are still pending in federal court, but the injunctions released in recent weeks indicate the Garbis and Kollar-Kotelly believe the plaintiffs are likely to win their suit.

Read Kollar-Kotelly’s Monday injunction here.

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Beleaguered former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci went on CNN Tuesday morning to defend the President and his latest controversy: referring to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as “Pocahontas” during a ceremony honoring Native American code talkers.

Claiming he’s not a President Donald Trump “loyalist,” Scaramucci said his “objective” take was that the remark wasn’t meant to be demeaning.

“That’s the President’s style,” he said.

“It’s a little shock jockey and listen, I think it’s the style that got him elected,” Scaramucci said in a relatively lukewarm interview on CNN’s “New Day” with Chris Cuomo. “I don’t think he would be in the Oval Office if he didn’t have that style. I think people voted for him because he’s expressed a level of the discontent about the current order of operations inside of Washington and I think he used that kind of style and that kind of delivery system to do that.”

When asked what the President’s style has to do with using what some have called a racial slur to criticize a sitting senator in front of the Native American war veterans who used the Navajo language as a form of coded message during World War II, Scaramucci attempted to create solidarity with Cuomo over their shared Italian heritage.

“Listen you’ve been victims of racial slurring because of your ethnic heritage, so have I. What do you do in a situation like that? I tell you what I do,” he said as he theatrically brushed fake insults off his shoulder. “And that’s what you do, you have to do that.”

Scaramucci said he thinks people are getting a little too “micromanaging” about “each other’s languages and the whole political correctness movement.”

“I think most people in general are tired of that,” he said. “You are, I am, and maybe you are not, I don’t know, you work at CNN. But I am a little tired of it.”

Thanking Scaramucci for his “cheap shot,” Cuomo called Scaramucci a hypocrite, saying that conservatives would be outraged if a Democratic president had said or done the same thing.

I have heard so many things from the other side and one of the funniest things from my 11 days inside the White House was somebody sent me a clip from late night comedians and I mean you want to talk about cheap shots, and low ball shots, most of them were ethnic slurs and most of them were racially charged attacks on me,” he said.

“They’re comedians, they’re jokers, not the President of the United States,” Cuomo shot back.

“I understand all that, but my point is, I don’t see it as such a big deal as perhaps you do,” Scaramucci said.

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Saying it may not be possible to “regain Minnesotans’ trust,” the editorial staff at the Minneapolis Star Tribune said Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) apology for the allegations of sexual misconduct that have come out against him in recent weeks doesn’t go far enough.

In an editorial published Monday evening, the newspaper’s editorial board called Franken’s press conference apology Monday afternoon a “necessary move,” but said the senator appears to only be sorry for what the women think he did.

With a Senate ethics investigation looming, Franken remains on politically shaky ground,” they wrote. “It’s debatable whether he is, as he said, ‘holding myself accountable.’ Without saying he didn’t do it, he nevertheless has countered every allegation except the one that carries indisputable proof — the infamous photo of him appearing to grab at (Leeann) Tweeden while she slept. Under such circumstances, Franken’s apology is less a statement of accountability and more akin to ‘I’m sorry for what you think I did.’”

Franken was recently accused by Tweeden, an LA radio host, who said Franken aggressively kissed her and groped her while she was sleeping when the two performed on a USO tour together in 2006. Several other women have come forward since, saying Franken groped their butts while they were taking photos with him. Franken apologized when the Tweeden allegations came out and asked for the Senate Ethics Committee to probe the allegations. He has since apologized on several occasions for making the other women feel disrespected, but claims he doesn’t remember them or taking the photos.

The editorial team said it thinks Franken is trying to “ride out the political storm” by saying he needs to get back to work, but they think the damage may be irreversible.

“Franken is right — he has much to do to regain Minnesotans’ trust. It may not be possible. As he continues his reflection, we urge the senator to consider what is best for Minnesota and to weigh that more heavily than what might be best for his political career,” they said.

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Speaking to a crowd of supporters in Henagar, Alabama Monday night, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore said the allegations of sexual misconduct against him hurt him personally because they’re just “dirty politics” and a “sign of the immorality of our time.”

“I know the seriousness of charges like this and they should be serious if it happens. If a young lady is abused, and I’ve represented many victims in cases such as this, I have not seen one who wants her picture posted on national TV, especially in a political advertisement,” he said. “The truth is, this is not really odd at all, this is simply dirty politics and it’s a sign of the immorality of our time.”

Moore has been accused by multiple women of either pursing relationships or making inappropriate sexual advances toward them when they were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s. One woman alleges she was just 14 when the alleged misconduct occurred.

Moore has flatly denied all of the allegations, reiterating Monday night that he doesn’t know any of the women who have come forward.

“Now just two weeks remaining (until the election), pictures of young children, whose names are not mentioned that I do not know, appear conveniently on the opposition’s ads,” he said, referencing his opponent, Democrat Doug Jones. “These allegations are completely false, they’re malicious, specifically I do not know any of these women nor have I ever engaged in sexual misconduct with anyone.”

Moore said that he is a “fighter” and he plans to “take off the gloves” in the last few days leading up to the election in December, saying “it’s a little odd” that in his 40 years of public service in Alabama, “never once has this been alleged.”

“I’m a fighter. I don’t hesitate to say that. I’ve been that way my whole life. My opponent will allow our Constitution to be totally undermined and disregarded. And I oppose that,” he said.

Watch part of the speech below:

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