Esme Cribb

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Esme

Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday said he would rather build more monuments to “tell the whole story of America” than tear down Confederate monuments in public spaces.

On “Fox and Friends,” Pence said the decision to keep or take down the monuments “should always be a local decision, and with regard to the U.S. capital should be state decisions.”

“But I’m someone who believes in more monuments, not less monuments,” he said. “What we ought to do is we ought to remember our history. But we also ought to celebrate the progress that we’ve made since that history.”

Pence said “communities can have conversations about what displays happen.”

“We ought to be celebrating the men and women who have helped our nation move toward a more perfect union and tell the whole story of America,” he said. “What we have to walk away from is a desire by some to erase parts of our history just in the name of some contemporary political cause.”


President Donald Trump on Monday announced that his administration’s strategy for the war in Afghanistan would be predicated upon unannounced military operations, nondisclosure of troop numbers, unfixed schedules and “killing terrorists.”

In his first nationally televised prime-time speech since his address in January to a joint session of Congress, the President laid out a strategy with several “pillars” but very little specificity about the United States’ ongoing involvement in Afghanistan.

Trump said his “original instinct was to pull out” of that country, but that after studying the conflict he came to certain “fundamental conclusions about America’s core interests in Afghanistan.”

“First, our nation must seek an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made,” Trump said. “Second, the consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable.”

“A hasty withdrawal,” he said, “would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and Al Qaeda, would instantly fill just as happened before Sept. 11.”

Trump cited “the extraordinary sacrifice of blood and treasure” since the Sept. 11 attacks and said the United States “mistakenly withdrew from Iraq” in 2011.

“We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistake our leaders made in Iraq,” he said.

Trump claimed that when he became President, he “was given a bad and very complex hand” and so decided to move forward with a multi-pronged strategy.

“A core pillar of our new strategy is a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions,” he said.

To that end, Trump said the United States would no longer “announce in advance the dates we intend to begin or end military options” or “talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities.”

“I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will,” he said.

Another strategy, according to Trump, would be “the integration of all instruments of American power, diplomatic, economic and military, toward a successful outcome.” He did not clarify how that would work.

Trump said the United States “will not dictate to the Afghan people how to live, or how to govern their own complex society,” and summed that prong of the strategy up tersely: “We are not nation building again. We are killing terrorists.”

He described “terrorists who slaughter innocent people” as “nothing but thugs and criminals and predators and, that’s right, losers.”

Trump also zeroed in on the role Pakistan plays in providing “safe haven” to terrorists in the region, saying the U.S. needs to “change the approach and how to deal with Pakistan.”

“It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace,” he said.

The President declared that he had “already lifted restrictions the previous administration placed on our war fighters that prevented the secretary of defense and our commanders in the field from fully and swiftly waging battle against the enemy.”

“We will also expand authority for American armed forces to target the terrorist and criminal networks that sow violence and chaos throughout Afghanistan,” he said, but did not specify how.

The President opened those remarks with a nod to his statement about the violence that erupted at a white nationalist rally earlier this month in Charlottesville, Virginia. However, he did not mention the city or groups involved by name, as he had after two days of intensifying backlash to his initial comments blaming “many sides” for a car attack that killed one counter-protester and injured at least 19 others.

“The soldier understands what we as a nation too often forget, that a wound inflicted upon a single member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all,” Trump said. “When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry and no tolerance for hate.”

This post has been updated.

President Donald Trump on Monday acknowledged that his newly announced strategy for the war in Afghanistan was at odds with his previous statements on the subject.

“My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts,” Trump said in a nationally televised address at Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia. “But all my life I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.”

In 2013 and 2014, Trump called for a swift withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and harshly criticized former President Barack Obama’s strategy.

Trump said in his address that in studying the conflict, he came to “three fundamental conclusions about America’s core interests in Afghanistan.”

“First, our nation must seek an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made,” Trump said.

His second conclusion, Trump said, was that “the consequences of a rapid exit” would be “both predictable and unacceptable.”

“A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al-Qaeda, would instantly fill just as happened before Sept. 11,” he said. “Third and finally, I concluded that the security threats we face in Afghanistan and the broader region are immense.”

Trump lamented that when he entered office, he “was given a bad and very complex hand,” and said his decisions would mean U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan would “change dramatically.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) on Monday announced that he will skip President Donald Trump’s scheduled campaign-style rally Tuesday in Trump’s first visit to the state since he won the presidency.

Ducey’s spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said in a statement to the Arizona Republic that the governor will instead be “working with law enforcement” to ensure security at the event in Phoenix.

“Gov. Ducey’s focus has been working with law enforcement toward a safe event in downtown Phoenix for all those involved and in the area,” Scarpinato said. “That will continue to be his priority during the event and afterwards.”

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D) on Wednesday called on Trump to postpone the rally after violence erupted at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Stanton criticized Trump’s reported plan to “announce a pardon for former Sheriff Joe Arpaio” at the rally.

“It will be clear that his true intent is to enflame emotions and further divide our nation,” Stanton said. “It is my hope that more sound judgment prevails and that he delays his visit.”

President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday took a moment in the afternoon to observe the first total solar eclipse to pass over the United States from one coast to the other since 1918.

White House pool reporter Ted Mann, from the Wall Street Journal, tweeted updates from the nation’s capital, which was not in the path of totality and saw a partial solar eclipse that peaked at 2:42 p.m ET.

Scientists warned during the lead-up to the eclipse that looking directly at the sun during the phenomenon could result in permanent eye damage, but according to Mann, Trump looked at the sun despite a shouted warning.

He and first lady Melania Trump appeared to don protective eyewear as the eclipse progressed.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina hold a briefing at the Justice Department in Washington, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, on leaks of classified material threatening national security, one week after President Donald Trump complained that he was weak on preventing such disclosures. (AP Andrew Harnik)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wear protective glasses as they view the solar eclipse, Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, at the White House in Washington. (AP Andrew Harnik)

Breitbart News apologized for using a photo of soccer star Lukas Podolski on a story published Friday about a gang allegedly smuggling migrants to Spain, which had no relation or connection to Podolski.

In an editor’s note appended to the story, last modified on Sunday, Breitbart London apologized to Podolski for including an image of him in the report on “a gang charging migrants 5,000 euros each to bring them across from Morocco via the Strait of Gibraltar on jet-skis.”

“A previous version of this story included an image of Lukas Podolski on a jet ski. This image appeared as an illustration of a person on a jet ski. Breitbart London wishes to apologise to Mr. Podolski,” Breitbart London wrote. “There is no evidence Mr. Podolski is either a migrant gang member, nor being human trafficked. We wish Mr. Podolski well in his recently announced international retirement.”

Nassim Touihri, Podolski’s manager, told a German newspaper that the situation was “a mess.”

“Lukas distances himself from it and won’t let himself be exploited. Our lawyer is already involved,” Touihri said, according to The Guardian.

Breitbart’s apology came days after Steve Bannon returned to the conservative news website to serve as executive chairman after his departure from President Donald Trump’s administration, where he served as chief White House strategist.

It issued a similar correction days before Bannon joined Trump’s campaign in August 2016, on an article about a Trump campaign rally that was accompanied by a photograph of a crowd during a celebratory parade for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

A story on Breitbart’s front page early Monday afternoon touted Trump’s endorsement of Bannon’s return to the outlet as “competition” for “fake news.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) on Monday said it’s too hard to tell whether President Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee in the 2020 election.

Collins on MSNBC said Trump “had an obligation, a moral obligation, to speak with absolute clarity from the very beginning” in his response to the violence that erupted at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“Unfortunately he wavered back and forth,” Collins said. “I think the President failed to meet the standard that we would have expected a President to do in a time like that.”

“At what point, though, given what we’ve heard from your Republican colleagues too, does that talk turn into action?” Hallie Jackson asked. “At what point, if any, do you not support, for example, his renomination?”

“Well, I didn’t support the President when he was our party’s nominee. That was a very difficult position for me to take,” Collins said. “I’d never taken it before.”

“So what happens — he’s already running for reelection,” Jackson pressed. “What happens next?”

“Well, it’s far too early to tell now,” Collins replied. “There’s a long ways between now and that point.”

“Do you think he will end up the party’s nominee in 2020?” Jackson asked.

“It’s too difficult to say,” Collins said.

President Donald Trump’s administration decided to disband a federal advisory committee on climate change, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration acting administrator Ben Friedman  on Friday informed the chair of the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment that the NOAA will not renew the panel’s charter, which expires Sunday, according to the Washington Post.

The committee is the federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment, according to the Washington Post, and “was established to help translate findings from the National Climate Assessment into concrete guidance.”

Richard Moss, the panel’s chair, warned against disbanding the committee.

“It doesn’t seem to be the best course of action,” he told the Washington Post. “We’re going to be running huge risks here and possibly end up hurting the next generation’s economic prospects.”

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on Saturday said the Republican Party will “be one big happy family” if elected Republicans fall in line behind President Donald Trump.

“If the Republican Party on Capitol Hill gets behind the president on his plans and not theirs, it will all be sweetness and light, be one big happy family,” Bannon said in an interview with the Washington Post.

Bannon said he did not expect that rosy vision to come to pass at any point soon, though: “No administration in history has been so divided among itself about the direction about where it should go.”

David Bossie, the president of Citizens United and Trump’s former deputy campaign manager, on Sunday predicted that Bannon would “be a very loyal soldier to the President as it relates to his agenda from the outside.”