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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 Minnesota congresswoman and failed 2012 presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is mulling whether she should run for Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) seat in a 2018 special election.

In an interview last week on television pastor Jim Bakker’s show, Bachmann said people have been contacting her about running for Franken’s seat, which will be available following the senator’s planned resignation Tuesday. In a defiant, emotional speech from the Senate floor last month, Franken announced he would be leaving Congress following weeks of mounting allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

Multiple women publicly accused Franken of sexual misconduct and groping. Franken apologized to one woman and combatted the stories of others. After a sixth woman came forward accusing Franken of misconduct, a flood of female Democratic senators called on him to step aside, which he did a day later.

Bachmann said she is weighing a Senate bid, but she is concerned about what it will “cost” her and her family.

“The question is should it be me? Should it be now? … There’s a price you pay and the price is bigger than ever because the swamp is so toxic,” she said, according to a recording of the interview published by Ring Wing Watch Tuesday. “I didn’t shed a tear when I left the contest because I fulfilled the calling God gave me, so the question is, am I being called to do this now? I don’t know.”

Bachmann dropped out of the presidential race in January 2012 after a sixth-place showing in the Iowa caucuses that month. In the interview with Bakker last week, she said that despite dropping out of the race, she was “wildly successful” in bringing the need to repeal and replace Obamacare to the forefront of Republican platform, an effort she claimed God called on her to do.

She said she’s apprehensive about returning to the political climate today, which is “like nothing we’ve ever seen before.”

“I mean it is really tough, if you’re going against the tide in D.C., if you’re trying to stand for biblical principles in D.C. and you stick your head up out of the hole, you do— the blades come whirling and they’re gonna chop you off,” she said, just before Bakker claimed that the press is trying to “kill” Trump. “It’s not an easy place to be.”

As a Tea Party loyalist, Bachmann would likely face strong opposition in the state with a Democratic governor who has appointed his own Democratic Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to serve in Franken’s seat until a special election can be held in November 2018. Smith is reportedly planning to run for seat in November after Gov. Mark Dayton was pressured to choose a Democratic replacement who would be willing to campaign for the seat. 

Watch a clip of the interview below:

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Fired former FBI Director James Comey made another dig at President Donald Trump on Twitter over the weekend, writing on New Year’s Eve that he hopes 2018 brings “more ethical leadership focused on truth and lasting values.”

Comey has previously used his non-alias Twitter account — he used to tweet under the cover of theologian Reinhold Niebuhr — to troll the President, occasionally tweeting quotes from the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Winston Churchill relevant to the Trump news of the day. His new book, set to publish in May, is titled “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership,” likely referencing Comey’s claims that Trump asked for his “loyalty” months before firing him.

Comey was abruptly dismissed by Trump not long after Comey confirmed his agency was investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election and links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Before the firing, the President apparently told Comey, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” Trump denies asking for that pledge.

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Hoda Kotb was officially named the new co-host of NBC’s “Today” show on Tuesday, replacing former co-host Matt Lauer who was fired in November following allegations of sexual misconduct.

“This has to be the most popular decision NBC News has ever made and I’m so thrilled,” co-anchor Savannah Guthrie said of Kotb’s debut on “Today” Tuesday. “You are a partner and a friend and a sister and I am so happy to be doing this.”

Kotb has been filling in as a co-anchor since Lauer left. The decision was first announced by NBC News Chairman Andy Lack before the show Tuesday, NBC reported.

Lauer was fired on Nov. 28 after a female colleague came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct. Multiple reports surfaced following his firing, with women claiming egregious allegations of misconduct and assault.

Kotb and Guthrie will be the first pair of women to co-anchor “Today.” Kotb began her career with NBC as the co-host of the “Today” fourth hour in 2008, which she will continue to do alongside her new position, NBC reported.

She also hosts “The Hoda Show” for Sirius XM radio.

Watch the announcement on “Today” below:

   

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After six days of unrest in Iran that has left at least 20 people dead, President Donald Trump is siding with the protesters whom Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the “enemies of Iran.”

In tweets on Monday and Tuesday morning, Trump suggested it was “TIME FOR CHANGE” in Iran and applauded the protesters for “finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime.” In his tweets, Trump also criticized former President Barack Obama for the nuclear arms treaty struck with Iran during his presidency.

The protests began on Thursday in Mashhad over Iran’s economy and an uptick in the costs of food. It’s since expanded to several cities and demonstrators are beginning to aim their protest at Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Trump has been a longtime, vocal critic of the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran. He has said the 2015 deal — which limits Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear arsenal in exchange for lifting sanctions against the country — the “worst deal ever negotiated” and said in October that he plans to “decertify,” but not pull out of the pact.

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After President Donald Trump tweeted mocking the science behind climate change and touting his decision to pull out of a global deal to combat planetary warming, the Weather Channel shot back.

Tweeting out an article that carefully outlines the difference between weather and climate, the publication said that 2017 is still projected to be the warmest year on record and that the eastern cold snap Trump referenced in his tweet was actually evidence of a warming climate.

The Weather Channel specifically lambasted the Trump administration for ignoring science and cited NASA’s official distinction between weather, which is “what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time” and climate, “how the atmosphere ‘behaves’ over relatively long periods of time.”

Trump’s Thursday tweet referenced the extreme cold temperatures projected to freeze several regions of the country this coming weekend. He inaccurately suggested that the country could “use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against,” implying that if global warming were real it wouldn’t be so cold.

“Bundle up!” he said.

Trump has been a longtime skeptic of the science behind climate change and has previously called global warming a “hoax” that China created to harm the American economy. He removed the U.S. from the Paris Accord earlier this year because he said it was a bad deal for the U.S.

The global agreement is designed to set goals for reducing carbon emissions to slow down the rate of climate change. In November, Syria joined the climate agreement, making the U.S. the only country in the world that’s not participating.

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The media puts up with President Trump’s consistent abuse because they’ll “tank” without him.

That’s the President’s theory, at least.

In a sweeping new interview with The New York Times Thursday, Trump claimed that the media, whom he persistently berates, are his number one fans because he helps boost their ratings. He said media giants like the Times “have to let me win.”

“Without me, The New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times,” he told the Times’ Michael Schmidt. “So they basically have to let me win. And eventually, probably six months before the election, they’ll be loving me because they’re saying, ‘Please, please, don’t lose Donald Trump.’ O.K.”

Trump’s relationship with the media has been rocky, and often outright hostile, ever since he started campaigning for the presidency. He claims he coined the term “fake news” and frequently lashes out at specific outlets and journalists on Twitter if he doesn’t like their coverage.

The President has been criticized for inciting violence against journalists.

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An Alabama judge has thrown out Roy Moore’s last-ditch attempt to keep state officials from certifying his Democratic opponent as the winner of the Alabama special Senate election earlier this month.

As part of Moore’s lawsuit alleging voter fraud filed Wednesday night, the former state Supreme Court Justice requested a temporary restraint order on the certification of the election until the fraud claims were investigated. Montgomery Circuit Court Judge Johnny Hardwick rejected Moore’s request Thursday, according to reports from the Star Telegraph and a copy of the order obtained by The New York Times.

In an 11th-hour attempt to stall the certification of his defeat, Moore filed a complaint alleging widespread voting irregularities in at least one county in Alabama. He also claimed that there was an “unusual, unexplained pattern” of voters having out-of-state driver’s licenses at one particular polling place and that a Democrat-backed super PAC, practiced “voter intimidation” tactics in its pro-Jones advertisements.

In the complaint, Moore’s attorneys asked for an investigation into the fraud allegations and eventually a new election, but state officials said they have not found evidence of voter fraud.

Alabama’s canvassing board officially certified Jones as the state’s newest senator Thursday afternoon.

Moore’s upset came after weeks of national news coverage of past controversial comments and mounting allegations of sexual misconduct. Multiple women came forward alleging Moore either pursued relationships or made inappropriate sexual advances toward them when they were teens and he was in his 30s.

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In prime President Trump form, the leader of the free world took to Twitter Thursday morning to mock Vanity Fair for apologizing for publishing a video that poked fun at Hillary Clinton.

Trump said the publication “looks like its on its last leg” and insulted an executive of Vanity Fair, Anna Wintour, who he claimed was “beside herself in grief and begging for forgiveness!”

While Wintour does serve as the artistic director for the publishing company, she is editor-in-chief of Vogue, not Vanity Fair.

Trump’s unsolicited input could reignite a debate that Vanity Fair sought to extinguish with a statement of apology Wednesday evening. The publication said it “missed the mark” when it published a video featuring Vanity Fair editors offering Clinton ideas for a New Years resolution. In the video, which Vanity Fair said was meant to be funny, the editors offered Clinton suggestions on new hobbies that would prohibit her from running for president again, like taking up knitting or volunteering.

Online outcry ensued quickly over the remarks, which were perceived by many as anti-feminist. A-list celebrities like Patricia Arquette even weighed, suggesting the publication stop telling women what they should or can do.

Many journalists, however, defended the publication and the editor who made the knitting comments, saying the backlash was being blown out of proportion.

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Howard Fineman, longtime political analyst for MSNBC and global editorial director for Huffington Post, is heading to NBC News, Business Insider reported.

Fineman will start his new post with NBC on Jan. 8, where he’ll work as a contributing writer covering D.C. and national politics, according to a staff memo obtained by Business Insider.

“I have been in and worked in a lot of newsrooms, and there is NO PLACE where people care about and cheer for each other the way HuffPosters do,” he said in the memo.

The editor and TV pundit has worked at Huffington Post since 2010 and helped grow the site to the major news outlet it is now, according to the memo.

Fineman is just the most recent high profile departure at Huffington Post as the editors make shifts in the website’s editorial style, according to Poynter. 

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Former Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore still won’t accept the outcome of his stunning defeat in the deep red state earlier this month.

His latest excuse for refusing to concede? Election fraud.

It’s been nearly two weeks since Sen.-elect Doug Jones (D-AL) beat Moore in the state’s special election by 1.5 percentage points, but since then Moore, a former Alabama Supreme Court Justice who was removed from the bench twice for controversial behavior, has refused to back down, despite calls from the President to concede. Moore has claimed that provisional and military ballots could still swing the race in his favor.

Late Wednesday evening, the embattled candidate filed a lawsuit in an Alabama Circuit Court to try to block the state canvassing board from officially declaring Jones the winner, which it is set to do Thursday. Moore’s complaint alleges that there were enough irregularities in 20 precincts in just one Alabama county — Jefferson County — to reverse the outcome of the election, according to the 27-page complaint.

In those precincts, Moore claims there was an “enormous, implausible drop-off” in the votes reported for Moore “relative to the votes for the Republican party,” which Moore complains, among other things, is indicative of election fraud.

Moore also claims, based on the signed affidavit of a single poll worker named Sally Finney, that there was an “unusual, unexplained pattern” of voters having out-of-state driver’s licenses at one particular polling place. The complaint also alleges that Highway 31, a Democrat-backed super PAC, practiced “voter intimidation” tactics in its pro-Jones advertisements.

Moore said his campaign has worked with three “national Election Integrity experts” who have all independently concluded that “election fraud occurred,” according to a statement from the campaign shared with TPM. Those “experts” are election fraud author Richard Charnin, electrical engineer Phil Evans and James Condit, who has “special knowledge” in elections and the “methodology of voting machines,” according to their signed affidavits.

“This is not a Republican or Democrat issue as election integrity should matter to everyone,” Moore said in the statement shared with TPM. “We call on Secretary of State (John) Merrill to delay certification until there is a thorough investigation of what three independent election experts agree took place: election fraud sufficient to overturn the outcome of the election.”

However, Merrill told The Associated Press that he isn’t planning to delay the canvassing board meeting and said he has not yet found any evidence of election fraud. He told the AP that his office will investigate any complaint that Moore submits.

“It is not going to delay certification and Doug Jones will be certified (Thursday) at 1 p.m. and he will be sworn in by Vice President Pence on the third of January,” Merrill told the AP Wednesday evening.

Moore’s upset came after weeks of national news coverage of past controversial comments and mounting allegations of sexual misconduct. Multiple women came forward alleging Moore either pursued relationships or made inappropriate sexual advances toward them when they were teens and he was in his 30s.

Read the complaint below:

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