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

Articles by Summer

The White House confirmed President Trump declined Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s phone call request on Friday amid growing political and social turmoil in the country.

“Since the start of this Administration, President Trump has asked that Maduro respect Venezuela’s constitution, hold free and fair elections, release political prisoners, cease all human rights violations, and stop oppressing Venezuela’s great people,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. ‘The Maduro regime has refused to heed this call, which has been echoed around the region and the world. Instead Maduro has chosen the path of dictatorship.”

The statement also said the US is in solidarity with Venezuelans and Trump will speak to Maduro when “democracy is restored.”

‘The United States stands with the people of Venezuela in the face of their continued oppression by the Maduro regime,” Sanders said. “President Trump will gladly speak with the leader of Venezuela as soon as democracy is restored in that country.”

The statement came shortly after Trump told reporters that all options remain on the table in response to anti-democratic actions in Venezuela, including military intervention.

The Trump administration has already placed sanctions on Venezuela in the wake of a crackdown on opposition leaders.

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While visiting Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia on Thursday, Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer said that despite President Trump’s intended transgender military ban, “any patriot” should be allowed to serve.

“We will process and take direction on a policy that will be developed by the secretary (with) direction from the President — and march out smartly,” Spencer told reporters, according to The Daily Press. “As I said before, on a fundamental basis, any patriot that wants to serve and meets all the requirements should be able to serve in our military.”

Spencer was confirmed a week after Trump’s tweets on his plans to ban transgender people from serving in the military, a move that would reverse an Obama-era policy allowing transgender individuals to serve openly.

Spencer’s comments came as Trump said he is “doing the military a great favor” with the intended ban. Earlier this week, five active-duty service members filed a lawsuit against Trump claiming his directive violates the Equal Protection component of the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth Amendment.

Spencer isn’t the only one at odds with Trump, as the President has come under fire from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and the Coast Guard.

A Quinnipiac poll released last week found a majority of American voters believe transgender individuals should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military.

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Amid growing tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, two key aides to Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley have resigned.

Haley tweeted on Wednesday night that Communications Director Jonathan Wachtel and Chief Of Staff Steven Groves were leaving due to “family concerns.”

Two people with contacts inside the U.S. Mission to the United Nations confirmed the resignations to Politico, although an exact date for when the resignations will take effect is unclear. The resignations were first reported by journalist Laura Rozen.

Before joining Haley’s staff, Groves served as a research fellow at the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, while Wachtel reported on the UN for Fox News.

Politico also reported that “despite his conservative bona fides, Groves never really broke into Haley’s inner circle.” Groves argued for the U.S. to end relations with the UN Human Rights Council over its criticism of Israel and should pull out of the Paris Climate Accord.

Haley recently oversaw the passage of a UN Security Council resolution imposing new sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear program.

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A day after controversial White House adviser Sebastian Gorka defended President Trump’s silence on the bombing of a Minnesota mosque, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) released his own critical response.

“The President’s failure to condemn the terrorist attack on the Bloomington Islamic Center is an outrage,” Ellison said in a statement through the DNC, where he serves as deputy chair. “It suggests that his oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, including the right to equal protection under the law, only extends to people who meet certain racial and religious criteria.”

Although the explosion broke windows and damaged a room at the mosque as worshippers prepared for morning prayers, nobody was found injured. The FBI is seeking suspects and has yet to determine whether it was a hate crime.

Since the attack, public outcry from local leaders continues to increase over Trump’s silence.

“Every second that goes by that he fails to address the attack shows that he is not serious about his oath,” Elllison said of Trump.

Appearing on MSNBC Tuesday, Gorka said Trump would speak out about the Minnesota attack after the conclusion of an investigation. Gorka also suggested that the incident could be a hoax, saying, “When you have people fake hate crimes in the last six months with some regularity, I think it’s wise, don’t you, to find out exactly what’s going on before you make statements, when in fact they can turn out to be not who you are expecting?”

Ellison said Gorka’s comments demonstrate what the congressman said was the administration’s “disdain for the Muslim American community.”

Ellison criticized Gorka for how his comments defending Trump serve as a distraction and demonstrate “disdain” towards Muslims.

“Even worse, Sebastian Gorka, one of Trump’s top aides, is trying with no evidence whatsoever to distract the public’s attention from the real story: that a group of Americans who were peacefully worshipping were the target of a terrorist act,” Ellison said. “By minimizing the attack and insinuating that the ‘left’ is behind this act, the Trump administration is once again showing its disdain for the Muslim American community.”

As the first Muslim elected to Congress, Ellison has faced anti-Muslim messages by Republicans in his own state. Ellison also called Trump’s move to instate a Muslim travel ban “the typical behavior of a dictator.”

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As the public outcry increases over President Trump’s silence after a mosque in Minnesota was bombed, controversial White House adviser Sebastian Gorka defended the President’s decision to remain tight-lipped so far.

“When we have some kind of finalized investigation, absolutely,” Gorka said on MSNBC when host Stephanie Ruhle asked him if the White House would issue a statement on the bombing. “All initial reports are false. You have to check them, you have to find out who the perpetrators are … Let’s allow the local authorities to provide their assessment and then the White House will make its comments.”

Ruhle pressed Gorka further by pointing out how quick Trump was to comment on the recent London attack before information was confirmed.

“Sometimes an attack is unequivocally clear for what it is,” Gorka said. “When somebody shouts Allahu Akbar as they’re stabbing a police officer, it’s pretty clear it’s not a case of the mafia robbing a bank, wouldn’t you say so?”

When co-host Ali Velshi asked Gorka if he considers the bombing of a mosque as “fuzzy ground,” the White House adviser referred to “alleged hate crimes by right-wing individuals” he claimed were “propagated by the left.”

“When you have people fake hate crimes in the last six months with some regularity, I think it’s wise, don’t you, to find out exactly what’s going on before you make statements, when in fact they can turn out to be not who you are expecting?” Gorka said.

Ruhle then suggested Trump could still denounce the bombing without having to jump to conclusions on who the perpetrator is. Gorka replied that would be “fine” and he’s “sure the President will do that.”

Gorka ended the interview by refusing to give “social media advice” to Trump and urging the public to “hold your horses, count to 10, and the President will do what he deems fit.”

A controversial member of Trump’s cabinet, Gorka previously came under fire for his reported ties to anti-Semitic movements in his parents’ native Hungary and supporting a nationalist Hungarian militia, among other things.

Recently, Gorka has served as the Trump administration’s favored surrogate to spar with cable news personalities on the President’s behalf.

Watch the exchange below:

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