Tom Kludt

Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Tom

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on Monday officially succeeded the late Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) as the president pro tempore of the Senate -- the longest serving member of the chamber's majority party.

According to the Washington Post, the Senate passed a resolution giving Leahy the distinction "less than two hours" after Inouye passed Monday evening from respiratory complications. 

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Commitee, released a statement Monday indicating that the panel will hold a hearing in the next congressional session "to help in the search for understanding and answers" following last week's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

The statement:

“Few events in my lifetime have emotionally roiled the Nation – all of us – as deeply as have the senseless killings last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut.  Wrenching images and personal stories that spilled out from that tragedy have forever been imprinted on our collective memories.

“In my family, and I know in families from coast to coast, parents called their children.  Brothers called sisters.  Neighbors reached out to neighbors.  Over the weekend and again today, in discussions across church pews, on the sidewalk, in the grocery line, at the worksite and in our offices, we all have struggled for words to describe our feelings of shock and immeasurable sadness.

“Last night President Obama gave voice – our voice – to let these stricken families know how deeply we want to help relieve their suffering, as we share, through the small ways we can, in their grief.

“Many questions about this unspeakable tragedy have yet to be answered. 

“As the President has pointed out, it is unlikely that any single step, or package of steps, can erase the chance of such a tragedy happening again.  We know that sometimes things happen that are beyond understanding.  We also know that situations vary widely from state to state and from community to community.  But we must take on the responsibility of searching for answers. 

“Congress can and should be part of this national discussion and search for answers.  The Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing early in the next congressional session to help in the search for understanding and answers.  I expect that other committees will also take part in this national discussion.

“If there are practical, sensible, workable answers to prevent such unspeakable tragedy, we should make the effort to find them.”

Ohio Gov. Jon Kasich (R) on Monday halted the planned execution of a killer who argued that his obesity precludes a humane execution, the Associated Press reports:

Kasich followed a recommendation of mercy by the state parole board, which said it didn't doubt Ronald Post's guilt but said there were too many problems with how he was represented 30 years ago. Post, who weighs 450 pounds, never raised the issue of his size with the board.

In its Friday decision, the parole board rejected arguments made by Post's attorneys that he deserves mercy because of lingering doubts about his "legal and moral guilt" in a woman's death, but it said it couldn't ignore perceived missteps by his lawyers.

Post was scheduled to die Jan. 16 for killing Elyria motel clerk Helen Vantz in a 1983 robbery.


The apparent suspect in Sunday's deadly shooting of two Topeka, Kan. police officers died Monday morning after an armed standoff at his home, the Topeka Capital-Journal reports:

Law enforcement officers had last named David Edward Tiscareno, 22, of Topeka, as the lead suspect in the shooting. Officers had been stationed outside 304 S.W. Western from 1:30 a.m. to about 7 a.m. on a report that a suspect could be found at the residence. They used loudspeakers and sounded sirens in an to attempt to make contact with the suspect for more than one hour.

Shortly after 6 a.m. Monday, officers deployed gas and shots were fired, the release states. The suspect had a gun and was hit, it says, but the sheriff’s office didn’t immediately know whether the suspect fired his weapon.

After the altercation, a body was seen lying face down outside the home. The body was loaded into an ambulance and taken from the scene.

No one could yet confirm the injured person was Tiscareno.

Fifty-four percent of Americans support stricter gun control laws, while a little more than half are in favor of a ban on semi-automatic handguns, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Monday.

The pollsters noted that between 50 and 52 percent of Americans have supported tighter gun control laws since 2008, lower than the high-water mark of 67 percent in both 1999 and 2000.

Meanwhile, the 52 percent who endorse a ban on semiautomatic handguns is also comparable to what's been shown in recent ABC/WaPo polls. Monday's survey also showed that 59 percent support a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips. More than half of respondents said that last week's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. reflect “broader problems in American society” rather than a mere isolated incident. 

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports:

The Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Inspector General announced Monday that it is beginning an audit of agency employees' use of private email accounts and "aliases" or false names in conducting official business.

In November, Republican leaders of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee began their own investigation into the alleged use of private emails after the Daily Caller reported that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson used alias email accounts, including one under the name of "Richard Windsor." At that time, it requested inspectors general for several federal agencies, including EPA, to conduct their own investigations.

Dina Manfredini, who assumed the distinction as the world's oldest person less than two weeks ago, died Monday at a care center outside of Des Moines, Iowa, the Associated Press reports. She was 115. 

CNN anchor Don Lemon on Monday made an impassioned plea for more stringent restrictions on assault weapons like the one used by Adam Lanza in last week's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

"Who needs an assault rifle to go hunting?" Lemon said during a broadcast on the cable news network. "You can't even use the prey that you kill with an assault rifle if you indeed do it. No one needs an assault rifle to go out and shoot a deer. No one needs an assault rifle that's capable of shooting 10, 20, 30 rounds off at the same time to shoot a duck or to shoot quail. It does not make sense."



South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) on Monday will announce Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) as the successor to outgoing Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), the New York Times reports

Haley will make the official announcement at noon EST. 


Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) on Monday said President Barack Obama was "really magnificent" in his efforts to comfort the community of Newtown, Conn. in the wake of last week's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary.

"I thought the president was really magnificent. First, he spent a lot of time with the families that have lost loved ones and with the first responders and that was very important to them," Lieberman said on MSNBC. "He was just very comforting and very strengthening and he was himself very moved. Secondly, I thought his speech was powerful both in evoking our tradition of faith in times of crisis in America and comforting, but really most significant out of all, he had a real resolve last night that was deeply appreciated in that high school auditorium, which is that these tragedies must end."