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

After President Donald Trump issued a pardon for former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the district court judge overseeing the case has approved Arpaio’s request to cancel his sentencing hearing.

But Judge Susan Bolton hasn’t completely thrown out the conviction, Arizona Central reported.

Arpaio was set to face sentencing in October for his criminal contempt-of-court conviction for ignoring a court order to stop holding people solely on suspicion of being undocumented.

Friday evening, the White House announced that Trump had granted a pardon for the controversial ex-sheriff who has been a Trump supporter since the early days of his campaign.

On Tuesday, Bolton ordered that Arpaio and the Department of Justice, which is prosecuting the case, file a memo on why the case should or shouldn’t be thrown out.

She scheduled an oral argument hearing for both sides to make their case on Oct. 4, which is one day before Arpaio was supposed to be sentenced. 

We look forward to the hearing, and hope that the court will make the appropriate ruling,” one of Arpaio’s attorneys, Mark Goldman, said.

The judge’s move comes just one day after Arpaio’s attorneys called out media companies for reporting that the ex-sheriff was convicted of racial profiling. They said the conviction had nothing to do with race.

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The Guardian political reporter who was body slammed by Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) says the congressman has refused to sit down with him, despite promises to do so during his sentencing hearing for assaulting the journalist.

Reporter Ben Jacobs tweeted a statement Tuesday evening saying Gianforte’s refusal to do the “promised on-the-record interview” with Jacobs is indicative of the congressman’s “pattern of avoiding responsibility for his actions and refusing to live up to the statements made in what I had thought was a sincere apology,” he said.

Just one day before he was elected to the House, Jacobs approached Gianforte to ask him a question about health care. Gianforte body slammed the reporter and broke his glasses. Prosecutors filed an assault charge later that day.

Gianforte’s campaign tried to place the blame on Jacobs initially, but Jacobs’ audiotape recording of the encounter showed the reporter did not provoke him.

Gianforte issued an apology, was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management and pledged to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists. He also told Jacobs he looked forward to sitting down with him, “if and when you’re ready.”

Two months later, that promise still hasn’t been fulfilled, Jacobs said.

“I will continue to strive to turn this incident into something positive. Civil discourse and press freedoms are non-partisan issues and should form the basic foundation of our political system and society. I regret that Congressman Gianforte doesn’t appear to share these values,” he said in his tweeted statement. “When the Congressman is ready to schedule an on-the-record interview with me, I welcome hearing from him. Otherwise, should we meet in the halls of the Capitol, I hope I can approach him without fear of physical assault.”

A spokesperson for Gianforte’s office told The Hill that Jacobs’ claims were not true, saying the office has been working to arrange a meeting between the reporter and the representative.

“We have been honest brokers in our efforts to arrange for Mr. Jacobs to sit down with the congressman, including providing Mr. Jacobs with possible dates and times for a meeting and asking what Montana beers the congressman could bring for Mr. Jacobs when they meet,” the spokesperson said. “Mr. Jacobs has yet to either accept or decline our offer.”

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After a briefing with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and FEMA administrator William “Brock” Long during his first visit to the hurricane-stricken state, President Donald Trump addressed an impromptu crowd gathered near a fire station in Corpus Christi.

Trump climbed up on a ladder, grabbed a microphone and an amplifier and thanked the “throng of hundreds” for their applause, according to a White House pool report.

“We love you, you are special, we are here to take care of you,” he said. “It’s going well.”

He then remarked on the size of the group gathered.

“What a crowd, what a turnout,” he said, thanking Abbott and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and John Cornyn (R-TX).

“This has been a total cooperative effort. … It’s historic, it’s epic, but I tell you it happened in Texas and Texas can handle anything,” he said, holding up the flag of Texas.

According to the pool report, not everyone gathered were Trump supporters. Some held signs that said “Liar, cheat, racist” and “Latinas against Trump.”

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During his first visit to flood-stricken Texas on Tuesday, the President will likely not visit any of the “really damaged areas” hit by Hurricane Harvey, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One Tuesday afternoon.

The President indicated he wants to be “very cautious” about not allowing any of his activities to get in the way of search and rescue efforts, she said. The weather will also impact travel plans for the day, she said, and the schedule will be very “fluid.”

After President Donald Trump arrives in Corpus Christi, he and the first lady will meet with Gov. Greg Abbott, his wife and FEMA administrator William “Brock” Long, who are on the ground there.

Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and John Cornyn (R-TX) will also meet with the President there and will join the group for a “bit of the day,” Sanders said.

The Corpus Christi visit will focus on local response and recovery efforts. When the President arrives in Austin, he will receive a briefing focused on statewide plans.

Secretaries Tom Price, Ben Carson, Administrator Linda McMahon and acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke will accompany Trump on the trip and each plans to meet with Abbott’s cabinet counterpart in order to establish communication and “lay the foundation for what we know is going to be a long recovery effort,” she said.

Trump plans to visit the state again on Saturday to different parts of the state, Sanders said. 

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Ousted White House adviser Sebastian Gorka said Tuesday that the President wants him to support the Trump agenda from “the outside” now.

Gorka claimed he resigned — the White House has said he was removed — because “there are a lot of people” in the White House who don’t agree with Trump’s “Make America Great Again” agenda.

“That’s why I left so we can support the President from the outside because that’s why he was elected and he is not going to give up,” he said on “Fox and Friends.” “The question is are the people around him going to support him? At least the people on the outside like myself, Steve Bannon, we are going to support him to the fullest.”

Gorka said Trump reached out to him on Saturday after the controversial White House aide left the White House.

“He thanked me for my service, and he also said ‘I am sticking to the agenda,’ he is sticking to the agenda. He wants me to help him on the outside, especially in the media, to support him,” he said. “That’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

Since leaving the White House, Gorka has claimed that the President isn’t being served well by the people surrounding him and criticized National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster for his “Obama administration lens” for failing to describe ISIL in religious terms.

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Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), an ally of President Donald Trump, announced a bid for U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

After talking to Mary Grace and our family, many people across Pennsylvania and saying a few prayers, I’ve decided to run for the United States Senate,” he said in a video he posted to Twitter. “I don’t see running for the Senate to represent Pennsylvania as an opportunity. I see it as a responsibility.”

Two other Republican state representatives have announced bids for the seat occupied by incumbent Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA).

An early supporter of Trump, Barletta served on the transition team’s executive committee and was also under consideration to serve as labor secretary in the Trump administration but he declined, saying he could serve the country better in Congress. 

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Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has put forward a provision that would make deep cuts to resources committed to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Donald Trump’s campaign and its ties to Russian officials, Politico reported.

The amendment is one of hundreds filed as part of the government spending package the House is set to review when it returns from recess next week.

The proposal would end funding for the investigation within six months of passage and would prohibit the probe from touching any event that occurred before June 2015, when Trump launched his campaign.

“Congress should use its spending power to clarify the scope and limit the duration of this investigation,” he said in a statement to Politico, calling the investigation a “fishing expedition.”

The move comes just a day after Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), head Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told USA Today that the committee should have “two to three times” its current resources for the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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Freshly removed from the White House, former chief strategist Steve Bannon is breaking with the President and supporting former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore in the upcoming primary run-off election, Politico reported.

President Donald Trump has been vocal about his support for Moore’s opponent Sen. Luther Stranger (R-AL), who was appointed to take Attorney General Jeff Session’s seat when he joined the administration.

The President tweeted his endorsement of Strange multiple times before the August 15 primary and even recorded a robocall for the senator ahead of the election. Strange also has the support of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

But Bannon — who left the White House more than a week ago and has rejoined the conservative website Breitbart News — said he wanted to rally conservatives to back Moore, according to Politico sources who attended a recent, secret Conservative Action Project meeting.

Moore is a favorite among evangelicals. He was ousted as state chief justice in 2000 for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama judicial building.

He ran for election again in 2012, but was suspended in 2016 for directing judges not to issue same sex marriage licenses.

Since no candidate received at least half the vote in the Aug. 15 primary the state will hold a Sept. 26 runoff election. In the first primary, Moore finished with 39 percent of the vote and Strange received 33 percent.

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A 26-year-old man who claimed he was stabbed after being mistaken for a “neo-Nazi,” admitted to local Colorado police that he made up the whole story after he accidentally cut himself with a knife, according to The Denver Post and BuzzFeed.

On Aug. 16, the man, Joshua Witt, told Sheridan, Colorado police that a man had approached him while he was getting out of his car in a Steak ’n Shake parking lot and tried to stab him.

Witt’s false report came days after a white nationalist rally turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this month. A man affiliated with the white nationalist group has been charged with second degree murder for allegedly driving his car through a crowd of counter protesters, killing one woman.

Witt posted photos of his injuries on Facebook shortly after, saying he “apparently” looked like a “neo-Nazi and got stabbed for it. … Luckily I put my hands up to stop it so he only stabbed my hand.” The post has since been removed, BuzzFeed reported. 

Police began to question his story after they couldn’t find surveillance video evidence of the alleged attacker fleeing the scene as Witt had claimed. They also found video of Witt purchasing a knife from a sporting goods store around the same time he reported that the attack took place, the Denver Post reported. 

“Where he was confronted with the all the information listed above, Mr. Witt subsequently admitted to accidentally cutting himself with the knife while parked in his car in front of the sporting goods store and admitted making up the story about being attacked,” Sheridan police said in their statement.

Witt, a U.S. Navy boatswain’s mate who lives in San Diego, was charged with falsely reporting a crime to authorities.

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has activated the state’s entire National Guard to aid in search and rescue efforts as Texans evacuate flooded homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

That will put an additional 3,000 people on the ground in parts of Texas most deeply impacted by the category-four storm when it made landfall over the weekend, the governor’s office announced Monday.

“It is imperative that we do everything possible to protect the lives and safety of people across the state of Texas as we continue to face the aftermath of this storm,” Abbott said in a statement. “The Texas National Guard is working closely with FEMA and federal troops to respond urgently to the growing needs of Texans who have fallen victim to Hurricane Harvey and the activation of the entire Guard will assist in the efforts already underway.”

Deploying the entire National Guard brings the number of guardsmen on the ground in Texas to 12,000. The additional guardsmen will help with search and rescue efforts, as well as helping in the recovery efforts once people are safe.

“We will not rest until we have made every effort to rescue all of those in harm’s way,” Major General John Nichols said. “We will remain here as long as we are needed.”

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