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

A spokesman for Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore’s campaign on Tuesday appeared dumbfounded when asked whether he knew that there is no legal requirement for elected officials to be sworn in using a Christian bible.

“Judge Moore has also said that he doesn’t think a Muslim member of Congress should be allowed to be in Congress. Why? Under what provision of the Constitution?” CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Moore spokesman Ted Crockett.

Moore in 2006 said that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim elected to Congress, should not be sworn in because Moore claimed the Quran was not compatible with the Constitution.

“Because you have to swear on the Bible,” Crockett responded. “You have to swear on a Bible to be an elected official in the United States of America. He alleges that a Muslim cannot do that ethically, swearing on the Bible.”

“You don’t actually have to swear on a Christian Bible. You can swear on anything, really. I don’t know if you knew that. You can swear on a Jewish Bible,” Tapper said. “The law is not that you have to swear on a Christian Bible.”

Crockett fell silent for several seconds.

“You don’t know that?” Tapper added.

Crockett remained silent for several more seconds, then said, “I know that Donald Trump did it, when we made him President.”

“Because he’s Christian and he picked it,” Tapper replied. “That’s what he wanted to swear in on.”

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A spokesman for Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore on Tuesday said that Moore “probably” still thinks gay sex should be illegal.

Asked whether Moore thinks Christian theology should be the foundation for U.S. law, Moore’s campaign spokesperson Ted Crockett said on CNN, “This country was founded on the Christian Bible.”

“This country has the separation of church and state, and we have laws that are not rooted in the Christian Bible,” CNN’s Jake Tapper replied.

“Jake, you don’t understand,” Crockett replied.

“I think I understand perfectly,” Tapper replied. “But here’s my question for you, sir, does he think that homosexual conduct should be illegal? It’s a yes or no question.”

“Probably,” Crockett said.

“He probably thinks homosexual conduct should be illegal. And what would the punishment be for a man having sexual relations with another man or a woman having sexual relations with another woman?” Tapper asked.

“It’s just a sin, okay?” Crockett said.

Pressed to elaborate further, he said, laughing, “I don’t know. I am not going to make that decision.”

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday said President Donald Trump’s vague remark that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) “would do anything” for campaign donations was not a “sexist” innuendo “at all.”

“I think that the President is very obvious,” Sanders said at her daily briefing.

She said Trump’s criticism of Gillibrand was “the same sentiment that the President has expressed many times before when he has exposed the corruption of the entire political system.”

“In fact, he’s used similar terminology many times when talking about politicians of both parties, both men and women,” Sanders said.

Trump on Tuesday called Gillibrand a “lightweight” and “flunky” of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) who “would do anything” for campaign contributions.

Gillibrand, who on Monday called on Trump to resign over allegations of sexual misconduct that numerous women made about him last year, said Trump’s remark was a “sexist smear” that was “intended to silence” her.

“This has nothing to do with her being a female?” ABC News’ Cecilia Vega asked Sanders, referring to Gillibrand. “What is he alleging would happen behind closed doors with her?”

“He’s not alleging anything. He’s talking about the way that our system functions as it is,” Sanders said. “He’s used that same terminology many times in reference to men. There is no way that this is sexist at all.”

“Is Gillibrand owed an apology for the misunderstanding of the President’s tweet this morning?” American Urban Radio Networks’ April Ryan asked Sanders. “Many, including the senator, think that it’s about sexual innuendoes.”

“I think only if your mind is in the gutter would you have read it that way,” Sanders replied. “So, no.”

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Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) is scheduled to announce Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) appointed replacement on Wednesday.

Dayton’s office announced in an advisory sent out Tuesday that the governor will announce his appointment to replace Franken at 10 a.m. local time from the Minnesota State Capitol.

Franken announced last week that he will resign from the Senate in the “coming weeks” after numerous women accused him of sexual harassment and misconduct. He denied some of the allegations and touted his own political record as a “champion of women.”

Dayton is expected to name Lt. Gov. Tina Smith as Franken’s replacement. Minnesota will hold a special election in November 2018 for a candidate to complete Franken’s term through 2020.

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Tuesday said President Donald Trump’s tweet insinuating that she would “do anything” for campaign contributions was a “sexist smear” that was “intended to silence” her.

“I see it as a sexist smear. I mean, that’s what it is,” Gillibrand told reporters in a news conference. “It’s intended to silence me.”

Gillibrand said Trump’s tweet was “part of the President’s effort at name-calling.”

“It’s not going to silence me,” she said. “It’s not going to silence the women who have stood up against him directly. And it’s not going to silence the millions of women out there that have been speaking out every day since his inauguration about things they disagree with.”

Gillibrand has taken strong positions amid sexual harassment allegations on Capitol Hill. She and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) in November introduced legislation to overhaul the way Congress handles sexual harassment complaints. Gillibrand was the first senator to call on Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) to resign after several women accused him of sexual misconduct.

On Monday, she called on Trump, who numerous women have also accused of sexual misconduct, to resign.

Early Tuesday morning, Trump called Gillibrand a “lightweight” who “would do anything” for campaign contributions.

“You cannot silence me or the millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines to speak out about the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office,” Gillibrand responded.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on Tuesday accused Trump of “trying to bully, intimidate and slut-shame” Gillibrand.

“Do you know who you’re picking a fight with?” Warren tweeted. “Good luck with that.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) called Trump “a misogynist, compulsive liar, and admitted sexual predator” on Tuesday.

“Attacks on Kirsten are the latest example that no one is safe from this bully,” she tweeted. “He must resign.”

This post has been updated.

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The New Yorker on Monday announced it had “severed ties” with prominent political reporter Ryan Lizza over what the magazine called “improper sexual conduct.”

“The New Yorker recently learned that Ryan Lizza engaged in what we believe was improper sexual conduct,” a New Yorker spokesperson said in a statement to TPM. “We have reviewed the matter and, as a result, have severed ties with Lizza. Due to a request for privacy, we are not commenting further.”

Lizza was the magazine’s Washington correspondent, a CNN political analyst and an adjunct lecturer at Georgetown University.

“We have just learned of the New Yorker’s decision,” a CNN spokesperson told TPM in a statement Monday afternoon. “Ryan Lizza will not appear on CNN while we look into this matter.”

“Georgetown recently learned of the New Yorker’s actions,” a spokesperson for the university told TPM. “Classes have concluded for the fall semester at the University. Mr. Lizza will not be teaching any classes next semester.”

Lizza said in a statement that he was “dismayed” by the New Yorker’s description of his behavior, which he characterized as “a respectful relationship with a woman I dated.”

“The New Yorker was unable to cite any company policy that was violated,” he claimed. “This decision, which was made hastily and without a full investigation of the relevant facts, was a terrible mistake.”

Wigdor LLP, an employment law firm in New York, on Monday said it is representing “the victim” of Lizza’s “misconduct.”

“Although she desires to remain confidential and requests that her privacy be respected in no way did Mr. Lizza’s misconduct constitute a ‘respectful relationship’ as he has now tried to characterize it,” the firm said in a statement.

In July, then-White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci called Lizza and regaled him with a profanity-laced rant about then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and then-chief White House strategist Steve Bannon.

As of Monday afternoon, Lizza’s staff biography on the New Yorker’s website had been converted to the past tense.

This post has been updated.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is scheduled to give an on-camera press briefing at 2 p.m. ET on Monday. Watch live below:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Monday said that he would have a “hard time” working with a colleague that he thinks “molested a child,” referring to allegations against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Graham on CNN said that if Moore wins the special election on Tuesday, Republicans “can’t deny him” a seat in the Senate, but “the moment he’s seated he becomes a member of the body.”

“The Senate has its own way of dealing with membership in the body,” Graham said. “There’ll be an Ethics Committee investigation, and if the Ethics Committee, in a bipartisan manner, supports the allegations of these women that he in fact is a child molester, then my view is, that’s inconsistent with being a member of the body.”

Numerous women have accused Moore of sexual misconduct, and of pursuing them sexually when they were teenagers and he was in his early 30s. One woman, Leigh Corfman, alleged that Moore initiated a sexual encounter when she was 14 years old, two years below the age of consent in Alabama.

“I’ll have a hard time, quite frankly, keeping somebody in the body that I think molested a child, but we’ll see what happens,” Graham said.

He said that if Moore wins, he “will be the gift that keeps on giving for Democrats.”

“It will define the 2018 election, at least 2018,” Graham said. “To think you can elect Roy Moore without getting the baggage of Roy Moore is pretty naive. I wished he would have stepped aside.”

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United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley on Sunday said the women who accused President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct “should be heard,” breaking with the White House’s line that Trump’s election win settled questions about their allegations.

“Women who accuse anyone should be heard,” Haley said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

Referring to the women who accused Trump of sexual misconduct, a set of allegations spanning four decades, Haley said, “I think we heard from them prior to the election.”

“I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up,” she said.

“And does the election mean that’s a settled issue?” host John Dickerson asked.

“You know, that’s for the people to decide. I know that he was elected,” she said. “But, you know, women should always feel comfortable coming forward. And we should all be willing to listen to them.”

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Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) on Sunday said the Senate Ethics Committee will “immediately” open an investigation into Alabama Republican candidate Roy Moore, who numerous women have accused of sexual misconduct, if Moore is elected to office.

“If he wins we have to seat him. Then there will immediately be an ethics investigation,” Scott said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

He said the panel will “perhaps even talk with some of the folks who are witnesses” to Moore’s alleged misconduct.

“I’ve always said that so far, as far as I can tell, the allegations are significantly stronger than the denial,” Scott said.

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