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Esme Cribb

Esme Cribb is social media editor for TPM in New York City. She graduated from City College, where she was editor-in-chief of The Campus, and has previously interned and written for MSF and Contently. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Esme

House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) on Tuesday agreed that President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn is in big trouble for accepting payments from foreign governments as a former military officer.

“Would you say after what you reviewed today that General Flynn is in a heap of trouble?” MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren asked Chaffetz.

“Yes, yes. Clearly — you can’t do this,” Chaffetz replied. “It’s nothing specifically with Mr. Flynn, or Gen. Flynn. It has everything to do with former military officers. They can’t go and take money from a foreign government.”

Earlier Tuesday, Chaffetz and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) told reporters there was “no evidence” that Flynn made the appropriate disclosures about those payments.

“It was inappropriate,” Chaffetz said at a press conference. “And there are repercussions for the violation of law.”

Chaffetz said Tuesday evening that the House Oversight Committee has “pretty much exhausted” its capacity to evaluate Flynn’s actions.

“Now the Department of Defense, and specifically the army, they’ve got to make this final determination,” he said.

He questioned how Flynn got a security clearance given that the committee “could easily figure out” that he took the payments.

“I do have some questions for the DIA,” Chaffetz said, referring to the Defense Intelligence Agency. “But certainly I wouldn’t fault the Trump administration.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday also argued that Trump’s transition and administration were not responsible for vetting Flynn, who served as a top campaign adviser and was a named national security adviser during the transition.

“You fill out the forms and do a background check,” Spicer said. “I don’t know what he filled out or what he did or did not do.”

President Donald Trump on Tuesday took on his next international challenge: retaliating against Canada, whose leaders have apparently “outsmarted” U.S. politicians for years.

The U.S. Commerce Department announced late Monday that Trump’s administration will impose new tariffs on softwood lumber imports from Canada.

Early Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted that Canada “has made business” for dairy farmers “very difficult” as well.

“We will not stand for this. Watch!” he posted.

“People don’t realize Canada’s been very rough on the United States,” Trump said during a White House roundtable with farmers Tuesday afternoon. “Everyone thinks of Canada as being wonderful and so do I, I love Canada, but they’ve outsmarted our politicians for many years.”

“Do you fear a trade war with Canada?” a reporter asked.

“No, not at all,” Trump said. “They have a tremendous surplus with the United States. Whenever they have a surplus, I have no fear.”

He went on to claim “virtually every country” has a trade surplus with the United States.

“We have massive trade deficits,” Trump said. “So when we’re the country with the deficits, we have no fear.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that his country’s economic connection to the United States is “not just a one-way relationship,” according to a report by Canadian broadcaster CTV.

“There are millions of good U.S. jobs that depend on smooth flow of goods, services and people back and forth across our border,” he said. “You cannot thicken this border without hurting people on both sides of it.”

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that construction will “100 percent” begin on his proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border “soon.”

“The wall’s going to get built, folks. In case anybody has any questions, the wall’s going to get built,” Trump told reporters at a photo opportunity during a roundtable with farmers. “The wall is going to get built.”

Trump said Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly told him “we definitely, desperately need the wall.”

“And we’re going to have the wall built. I mean, I don’t know what people are talking — I watch these shows, and the pundits in the morning, they don’t know what they’re talking about,” he said. “The wall gets built, 100 percent.”

Asked when construction would begin, Trump said: “Soon.”

“We’re already preparing. We’re doing plans, we’re doing specifications, we’re doing a lot of work on the wall,” he said. “The wall is very, very important.”

“In your first term?” a reporter asked.

“Well, it’s certainly going to — yeah, yeah, sure,” Trump said. “We have plenty of time. Got a lot of time.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday fervently denied that funding and the beginning of construction on President Donald Trump’s proposed wall on the United States’ border with Mexico will be delayed.

“Yesterday, President Trump reportedly said that he’s going to delay pushing the wall through. Can you just clarify what the status is?” Associated Press reporter Vivian Salama asked Spicer at his daily briefing.

“I think he tweeted about this earlier,” Spicer replied. “His priorities have not changed. There will be a wall built.”

Spicer said that there is “plenty of planning that can be done” in the current fiscal year.

“Our priorities are clear going into FY17, the remainder of budgeting for that, and we’ll continue to ask for more in FY18,” he said, referring to fiscal years 2017 and 2018.

“So it’s delayed for now,” Salama pressed.

“No, I didn’t — no, no, no, no. I never — no one said delayed. No, no,” Spicer said.

White House officials over the weekend signaled uncertainty as to whether Trump would be willing to sign a must-pass spending bill to avert a government shutdown if it did not include funding for his proposed border wall.

The Washington Post reported on Monday, citing an unnamed White House official, that Trump privately told conservative journalists he “was open to delaying funding for wall construction.”

White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said Tuesday morning that funding the wall “can happen later this year and into next year.”

Spicer appeared to remain adamant, however, telling ABC’s Jon Karl that Trump has not backed down.

Trump himself took to Twitter to exhort followers: “Don’t let the fake media tell you that I have changed my position on the WALL.”

“So is the President no longer insisting that there is money for the wall in this current appropriations bill?” Karl asked Spicer during the briefing.

“The President’s priorities are clear for FY17. There’s a lot of things that we can do in the remaining months,” Spicer said again. “And then as we go into FY18 we’ll continue to ask for more.”

“So the President is not insisting that he has money for actual construction of the wall?” Karl asked.

“Look, I’m not going to get — we are still in discussions with the House and Senate leadership. But I think the President’s been very clear that he wants a wall,” Spicer said. “He wants it done as soon as we can do it.”

Ivanka Trump on Tuesday said that she doesn’t like suggestions that she is her father’s “accomplice” because the “intonation” isn’t “productive.”

Asked by NBC News’ Hallie Jackson to respond to headlines questioning whether she will exert a moderating influence on her father’s agenda or be his “loyal accomplice,” Trump expressed her distaste for the word in an interview for TODAY.

“Well, I don’t like the intonation of that, which, you know, assumes that, I think, you know, I don’t like the word accomplice, because, you know, in this context, I don’t know that that’s productive,” she said.

Trump said that her father “curates ideas and he likes to hear from people with divergent viewpoints.”

“That’s not always true in politics,” she said. “That’s actually seldom true.”

Earlier in April, Trump took issue with critics who say she is “complicit” in her father’s presidency and agenda.

“If being complicit is wanting to, is wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact, then I’m complicit,” she said, coming up with a new definition of the word to apply to herself.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday pledged to “confront anti-Semitism,” professing a firm stance on a subject that his administration has repeatedly stumbled over in its early months.

“This is my pledge to you. We will confront anti-Semitism,” Trump said in remarks at the U.S. Capitol as part of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Days of Remembrance. “We will stamp out prejudice. We will condemn hatred. We will bear witness and we will act.”

Trump said that as President he “will always stand with the Jewish people.”

“I will always stand with our great friend and partner the state of Israel,” he said.

Trump specifically cited the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis, a statistic his administration omitted from its statement in January on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“Two out of every three Jews in Europe were murdered in the genocide. Millions more innocent people were imprisoned and executed by the Nazis,” Trump said. “We are here today to remember and to bear witness, to make sure that humanity never, ever forgets.”

He said that anti-Semitism “continues all around the world.”

“We’ve seen anti-Semitism on university campuses, in the public square and in threats against Jewish citizens,” Trump said.

He said those who deny the Holocaust happened are “filled with such hate, total hate.”

“Those who deny the Holocaust are an accomplice to this horrible evil and we’ll never be silent. We just won’t,” Trump said. “We will never, ever be silent in the face of evil again.”

The White House’s statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day was just one example of its haphazard response to anti-Semitism, not helped by the fact that prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer praised the statement as “especially Trumpian” and lauded its “de-Judification” of the Holocaust.

Trump in February told a Jewish reporter to “sit down” for asking questions about his administration’s response to recent waves of anti-Semitic acts, and said that he finds charges of anti-Semitism “repulsive.”

“I am the least anti-Semitic person you’ve ever seen in your entire life,” Trump claimed.

Jewish community leaders in March met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions after at least the fourth wave of threats made against Jewish organizations since January.

And in April, Trump’s top official spokesman Sean Spicer faced backlash when he said that Adolf Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.” Those remarks were striking given that Hitler killed millions of Jews, including German citizens, many in gas chambers.

In a clarification issued just minutes later, Spicer claimed that Hitler “was not using the gas on his own people,” and appeared to coin the phrase “Holocaust centers” for what most call concentration camps.

Spicer subsequently issued another three clarifications and said the next day that he “screwed up.”

“I made a mistake,” he said. “I think I’ve let the President down.”

The Anti-Defamation League offered later that week to hold a Holocaust education training for Spicer “and anyone at the White House who may need to learn more about the Holocaust.”

Ivanka Trump got a chilly reception at an international summit to promote women’s economic empowerment on Tuesday when she tried to promote her father as a great advocate for women and families.

“I’m very, very proud of my father’s advocacy, long before he came to the presidency but during the campaign, including in the primaries,” Trump said on a panel at the Women20 summit in Berlin. “He’s been a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive in the new reality of—”

The crowd responded to her comments with muttering and grumbling.

“You hear the reaction from the audience, so I need to address one more point,” the panel’s moderator, Miriam Meckel, cut in. “Some attitudes toward women your father has publicly displayed in former times might leave one questioning whether he’s such an empower-er for women.”

“I certainly heard the criticism from the media, and that’s been perpetuated,” Trump replied.

She cited “the thousands of women who have worked with and for” her father as a “testament to his belief and solid conviction in the potential of women.”

Meckel did not specify which of President Donald Trump’s comments might call his attitudes toward women into question, though one example might be the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Trump bragged about how his fame enabled him to grab women “by the pussy” and forcibly kiss them.

Josh Earnest, formerly White House press secretary in President Barack Obama’s administration, said on Sunday that he does not “feel a ton of sympathy” for Sean Spicer, his counterpart in President Donald Trump’s White House.

“Sean’s not the victim of a bait and switch. It’s not like he met President Trump on his first day,” Earnest said in remarks at George Washington University, according to a report by CNN. “He knew what he was getting into.”

Earnest said that he doesn’t “feel a ton of sympathy” for Spicer as a result.

He also said that Spicer has a “very different set of responsibilities” to the ones Earnest had during his stint as top White House spokesman.

“He works for somebody who is famously thin-skinned and somebody who has demonstrated over and over again that he doesn’t care that much about telling the truth,” Earnest said. “And who, at least in some of his record, doesn’t appear to have much of an appreciation for how important independent journalism is in the success to our democracy.”

He noted that Spicer has to contend not only with his mercurial boss, but also with a deluge of internal leaks, many critical of him in particular.

“There have been number of times where Sean has been the center of some firestorm — where within 24 hours there are anonymous White House officials criticizing him,” Earnest said. “The job of being the White House press secretary is hard enough without having people that are supposed to be on your team criticizing you and undermining you in public.”

“I was very fortunate to be on a team of people that hung close together,” he added.

President Donald Trump on Monday joked that Nikki Haley could “easily be replaced” as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations if members of the organization’s security council don’t like her.

“Does everybody like Nikki? Because if you don’t like Nikki — otherwise she could easily be replaced,” Trump said at a working lunch with ambassadors on the U.N. Security Council, to laughter from Haley and others present. “No, we won’t do that, I promise.”

Trump went on to say the United Nations is “an underperformer but has tremendous potential,” according to a White House transcript of his remarks.

“I think that the United Nations has tremendous potential — tremendous potential — far greater than what I would say any other candidate in the last 30 years would have even thought to say,” he said. “I know it hasn’t lived up to the potential.”

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