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Summer Concepcion

Summer Concepcion is the front page editor of Talking Points Memo based in New York City. Previously, she covered the 2016 presidential election for Fusion and worked as a researcher at The Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute. She's an LA native and former Chicago transplant. Reach her at summer@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Summer

Kanye West, who once rapped about “balding Donald Trump taking dollars from y’all,” seems to have won the President’s approval shortly after referring to Trump as his “brother” in a tweet Wednesday.

West’s latest defense of Trump comes amid a rambling Twitter rant where the rapper has drawn public ire for appearing to endorse Trump.

West, however, has countered that notion by saying he doesn’t agree with everything Trump does and that for people in his life “the idea of Trump is pretty much a 50 50 split.”

Almost two hours after his first Kanye-referencing tweet, Trump quote-tweeted “MAGA!” in response to West’s picture of his signed Make America Great Again hat.

This is hardly the first time West has come to Trump’s defense. West dropped by Trump Tower in December 2016 and posed for a photo-op with the then-President elect for unknown reasons.

After his Trump Tower meeting, West explained in a series of tweets that he discussed “multicultural issues” with Trump, including violence in his hometown of Chicago. The Trump-friendly tweets were deleted a couple months later.

This post has been updated.

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Former House Speaker John Boehner announced Wednesday his newest post-congressional venture: the advisory board of a marijuana corporation.

Boehner, along with former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, will join the advisory board of Acreage Holdings, a “multi-state owner of cannabis licenses” headquartered in New York City.

Bloomberg, which first reported Boehner’s new role Wednesday, noted that Boehner said he was “unalterably opposed” to marijuana legalization nine years ago.

“Over the last 10 or 15 years, the American people’s attitudes have changed dramatically,” Boehner told Bloomberg. “I find myself in that same position.”

In a joint statement Wednesday with Weld, Boehner cited how the “protection of the 10th amendment” that “allowed much to occur at the state level” has not resolved the “many negative implications” of federally classifying marijuana as a schedule one drug.

Despite his new role, Boehner told Bloomberg he’s never tried marijuana. He said his change of heart came when he saw how it helped a close friend deal with debilitating back pain, noticed its potential use as “a treatment for veterans” and how he’s been “studying the problems of the U.S. criminal justice system for years.”

“When you look at the number of people in our state and federal penitentiaries, who are there for possession of small amounts of cannabis, you begin to really scratch your head,” Boehner told Bloomberg. “We have literally filled up our jails with people who are nonviolent and frankly do not belong there.”

Asked about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent move to roll back Obama-era policies allowing state legal marijuana markets to flourish, Boehner said he “almost chuckled to [himself].”

“I don’t know why they decided to do this,” Boehner told Bloomberg. “It could be that the attorney general is trying to force the Congress to act.”

Boehner hopes that his background in politics will help Acreage Holdings navigate “murky legal issues.”

“We’re there to provide advice to Acreage in terms of how they work with state and federal governments, how they work with local governments and advice on what states look promising,” Boehner told Bloomberg.

Bloomberg notes that neither Boehner nor Weld have made a financial investment in Acreage.

Boehner isn’t a stranger to serving on corporate advisor boards. He previously served as a board member for tobacco company Reynolds American Inc. and adviser for global firm Squire Patton Boggs US LLP.

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President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale took to Twitter on Monday to excoriate CNN’s Jim Acosta for “breaking protocol” at the White House Easter Egg Roll.

Parscale tweeted hours later that “the White House should pull credentials” from Acosta because he “yelled questions, as he continues to do at inappropriate times.”

CNN footage of the White House Easter Egg Roll shows Acosta asking Trump about the “NO MORE DACA DEAL!” declaration he tweeted Sunday.

“What about the DACA kids? Should they worry about what’s going to happen to them, sir?” Acosta asked Trump while he was in a crowd of children attending the event.

“The Democrats have really let them down. They had this great opportunity,” Trump said in response to Acosta’s question. “The Democrats have really let them down. It’s a shame. And now people are taking advantage of DACA and that’s a shame.”

“Didn’t you kill DACA, sir? Didn’t you kill DACA?” Acosta yelled back as loud music played in the background.

In his first tweet, Parscale tweeted a story by The Daily Caller. In 2012, a reporter from The Daily Caller made headlines for “heckling” then-President Barack Obama in the middle of his Rose Garden remarks.

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A former Fox News contributor who called the network a “propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration” in his resignation letter last week continued his scathing critique in a Washington Post op-ed Friday.

Retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters reaffirmed in the op-ed that he decided to not renew his contract as Fox News’ strategic analyst due to “the network’s propagandizing for the Trump administration.”

“Today’s Fox prime-time lineup preaches paranoia, attacking processes and institutions vital to our republic and challenging the rule of law,” Peters wrote.

Peters expressed regret for his “error” in “waiting so long to walk away” because he thought he “could make a difference by remaining at Fox and speaking honestly.”

Peters said his troubles with Fox began around Fall 2016 when he was “blocked” from speaking on Russian affairs and the intelligence community — two subjects he said he “could offer real expertise” on.

“I did not hide my views at Fox and, as word spread that I would not unswervingly support President Trump and, worse, that I believed an investigation into Russian interference was essential to our national security,” Peters said.

Peters noted that he was “excluded from segments that touched on Vladimir Putin’s possible influence on an American president, his campaign or his administration.”

In the few months leading up to his resignation, Peters said he became a “disgruntled employee” who “hated walking into the Fox studio.”

Despite his criticism, Peters said that the network “never tried to put words in [his] mouth” nor was he explicitly told he was “taboo on Trump-Putin matters.”

Peters concluded his op-ed by stressing “there are many honorable and talented professionals at the Fox channels” despite how “Trump idolaters and the merrily hypocritical prime-time hosts are destroying the network.”

In an email to TPM Friday, Fox News spokesperson Caley Cronin denied Peters’ allegation that he was “blocked” from discussing certain subjects.

“There is no truth to the notion that Ralph Peters was ‘blocked’ from appearing on the network to talk about the major headlines, including discussing Russia, North Korea and even gun control recently,” Cronin said. “In fact, he appeared across both networks multiple times in just the past three weeks.”

Read Peters’ op-ed in The Post here.

This post has been updated.

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Former House Speaker John Boehner and former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor downplayed the rumors that House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) resignation is imminent, according to a Washington Post report Thursday.

“The idea that he’s going to walk out of there in the middle of the fight is ludicrous,” Boehner, Ryan’s predecessor, told the Post on Wednesday.

Cantor, in a separate telephone interview Wednesday with the Post, said “absolutely not” when asked about the Ryan retirement rumors.

“The notion that Paul Ryan is just going to abdicate and leave is preposterous,” Cantor told the paper.

Boehner and Cantor’s comments were a direct response to remarks from Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), who told a local news outlet Monday that the Capitol Hill “rumor mill” suggests Ryan is “getting ready to resign in the next 30 to 60 days” and that Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) would replace him.

According to a Politico report Thursday, Scalise said that while he “wouldn’t rule out” a bid for speaker if the opportunity arose, the talk surrounding Ryan’s retirement are just “rumors.” For now, Scalise told Politico that he remains focused on “working with President Trump to advance a conservative agenda.”

On Tuesday, Ryan’s spokesperson AshLee Strong told TPM that “the speaker is not resigning.”

The Post noted that both former House GOP leaders find the idea of Ryan resigning to be “blasphemy” largely due to “Ryan’s sense of duty” and “what it would say about the Republican chances in November” for the midterm elections.

While Cantor believes Ryan’s resignation would be a “signal of surrender,” Boehner argued that “Paul’s a stand-up guy” who’s “going to be the leader of the team all the way through the election.”

According to the Post, if Republicans lose the majority come November, Ryan has “little interest” in serving as minority leader.

Both Boehner and Cantor suspect that Ryan will “do what’s best for him, for [his wife] Janna” when it comes to the House Speaker’s post-midterms plans.

This post has been updated.

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President Donald Trump is considering a recommendation from his National Security Council to expel Russian diplomats from the U.S. in response to a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in the UK, according to Bloomberg and CNN reports Saturday.

Bloomberg, citing two people familiar with the matter, reports that Trump agrees with his advisers on the recommended expulsions that are “likely to be announced Monday.” Both people, however, cautioned that his “decision may not be final.”

Aides told Bloomberg that despite Trump being “prepared to act,” he “wants to be sure European allies will take similar steps against Russia before doing so.” CNN also reports that Trump had been waiting to see what European Council members would do.

Since the March 4 poisoning of Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury, the UK has expelled its Russian diplomats and 10 European countries announced on Friday that they would follow suit.

U.S. officials are reportedly “working through the weekend to develop a coordinated response with the Europeans,” Bloomberg reports, following British Prime Minister Theresa May’s gathering of support this week to condemn Russia in light of the poisoning.

Bloomberg and CNN report that advisers reached expulsion recommendations at a National Security Council meeting Wednesday and “honed the proposals” Friday. Bloomberg notes that Trump held discussions Friday with U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, outgoing National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and others.

“The United States stands firmly with the United Kingdom in condemning Russia’s outrageous action,” Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah told Bloomberg on Saturday. “The president is always considering options to hold Russia accountable in response to its malign activities. We have no announcements at this time.”

Last week Trump joined May, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a statement declaring “there is no plausible alternative explanation” to Russian responsibility in the poisoning.

However, the Washington Post reported Tuesday that Trump ignored his advisers’ briefing instructions to condemn the poisoning and to “NOT CONGRATULATE” Russian president Vladimir Putin following his re-election victory.

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President Donald Trump is reportedly mulling over whether to maintain his silence on his alleged pre-presidency affairs with porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, according to a Wall Street Journal report Friday.

WSJ reports that Trump, who has previously denied the allegations, privately discussed with his advisers about the possibility of “publicly” fighting the allegations “on Twitter or elsewhere.”

Both Daniels and McDougal have sued to end nondisclosure agreements preventing them from speaking freely about their encounters with Trump prior to his presidency.

Trump’s advisers reportedly assured him that “there is no sign the allegations are hurting him with voters” and that fighting back publicly “would look inappropriate for the President to engage in a public spat with.”

Despite Trump’s silence on the allegations, his advisers told WSJ that he watches the extensive cable news coverage on Daniels and McDougal “closely.”

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Incoming national security adviser John Bolton, the third under President Trump’s administration, reportedly has plans for a “massive shakeup” at the National Security Council that involves the removal of “dozens” of White House officials, according to a Foreign Policy report Friday.

When he replaces current National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster next month, the former ambassador to the United Nations and fierce foreign policy hawk will reportedly start with holdovers from the Obama administration, multiple sources told Foreign Policy.

Bolton is reportedly targeting “officials believed to have been disloyal to Trump, those who have leaked about the president to the media, his predecessor’s team, and those who came in under Obama.”

“Bolton can and will clean house,” one former White House official told Foreign Policy, while another source said “he is going to remove almost all the political [appointees] McMaster brought in.”

A second former White House official bluntly warned that “everyone who was there during Obama years should start packing their shit.”

Bolton reportedly held a call with longtime advisors Thursday evening soon after Trump tapped him for his new role, which included GOP consultant Matthew Freedman who will “help manage the transition.” Freedman, however, disputed any knowledge of the call and told Foreign Policy that “there is no list.”

Although it’s unclear if Bolton would get on board with “the staff purge his allies and advisors are pushing,” some names that have been reportedly floated around include deputy national security advisor for strategy Nadia Schadlow and McMaster deputy Ricky Waddell.

A source close to Bolton told Foreign Policy that any staffing changes would “take time, given the need to process security clearances,” which means Bolton’s current staff will be in place for the summit meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in May.

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Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe had choice words surrounding his firing last week by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a Washington Post op-ed published Friday night.

“I have been accused of ‘lack of candor.’ That is not true. I did not knowingly mislead or lie to investigators,” McCabe wrote in the WaPo op-ed, referring to Sessions citing a yet-to-be released inspector general report that he said found the former No. 2 at the FBI making “an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor – including under oath – on multiple occasions.”

Echoing his comments to the New York Times fresh off of his firing, McCabe said he “answered questions as completely and accurately” as he could “when asked about contacts” that were “fully within [his] power to authorize as deputy director.” He added that he “took the initiative to correct” some of his answers that were “not fully accurate or may have been misunderstood.”

McCabe then zeroed in on the “very public and extended humiliation” he and his family were subjected to by President Trump and his administration over the past year. Citing Trump’s tweet that the firing signaled “a great day for democracy,” McCabe said he was “sad, but not surprised” to see “unhinged public attacks” continue after his time at the FBI. Prior to McCabe’s firing, Trump had often used the Democratic state legislative campaign McCabe’s wife ran and lost in 2015 as dubious evidence of political bias.

“President Trump’s cruelty reminded me of the days immediately following the firing of James B. Comey, as the White House desperately tried to push the falsehood that people in the FBI were celebrating the loss of our director,” McCabe said. “The president’s comments about me were equally hurtful and false, which shows that he has no idea how FBI people feel about their leaders.”

McCabe’s denial of the dishonesty allegations has raised the specter that the actions against him were meant to impair his credibility as a witness against Trump for the firing of Comey. On the night of his firing, McCabe released a statement amplifying his claims that his firing was the culmination of the “Administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the … Special Counsel investigation.”

ABC News reported Wednesday that McCabe authorized a criminal investigation into Sessions’ testimony to Congress in early 2017 where he denied having contacts with Russians during the 2016 campaign.

McCabe served in the FBI for more than two decades, and for a time was its acting director while current FBI Director Christopher Wray awaited confirmation.

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Donald Trump Jr.’s wife, Vanessa, filed for divorce Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court, according to a Page Six report.

Vanessa Trump reportedly filed for an uncontested proceeding where “she’s not expecting a legal battle over custody of the couple’s five children or their assets.”

The couple married in November 2005, but the New York Post first reported Wednesday that they had been “living separate lives” despite not being legally separated.

Trump Jr.’s social media habits had reportedly caused a rift in their marriage, the Post reported Wednesday.

Two sources told the Post that Trump Jr. “appears to have changed recently, and friends are concerned about him.”

Their concerns were increased by Don Jr.’s tweeting, including when he liked a tweet linking antidepressants to mass murder, and another liking a tweet attacking a teen survivor of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

The two sources added that Vanessa Trump has been “uncomfortable with the intense focus on the Trump family” because she is “a very low-key person.”

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