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

President Donald Trump on Monday indicated that he would support Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) if the senator decided to run for re-election, snubbing former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s reported consideration of a Senate run.

Asked whether he was encouraging Hatch to run for another Senate term, Trump told reporters in Utah, “Yes.”

“Mitt’s a good man,” Trump said, according to a pool report, when a reporter asked if he was trying to send the former nominee a message with his endorsement of Hatch. “He’s a good man.”

Trump called Hatch a “fighter” during a speech at the Utah State Capitol later Monday.

“We hope you will continue to serve your state and your country and the Senate for a very long time to come,” he said to Hatch.

Hatch in April said he would “consider” retiring if Romney ran for his seat.

“If I could get a really outstanding person to run for my position, I might very well consider it,” Hatch told the National Journal. “Mitt Romney would be perfect.”

The Atlantic reported in April that Romney, formerly governor of Massachusetts and the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, was considering the possibility of running for Hatch’s seat.

Romney last made a bid for government service in December 2016, when Trump considered him as a candidate for secretary of state, but turned away after Romney refused to apologize for critical remarks he made about Trump on the campaign trail.

Sources told TPM’s Cameron Joseph in October that Hatch is leaning toward retirement, and gave Romney his blessing to run for Hatch’s seat if he does decide to leave the Senate, but had not made a final decision.

This post has been updated.

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Monday said they will meet with President Donald Trump and congressional Republican leaders after the White House “reached out” to them.

“We’re glad the White House has reached out and asked for a second meeting,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement. “We hope the President will go into this meeting with an open mind, rather than deciding that an agreement can’t be reached beforehand.”

Schumer and Pelosi in November refused to attend a meeting with Trump and Republican lawmakers after Trump blasted them on Twitter and said he did not “see a deal” as a potential outcome.

The Democratic leaders on Monday said there “is a bipartisan path forward” on all the matters they hope to address in the meeting scheduled for Thursday. Chief among those issues is funding for the federal government, which runs out Friday at midnight.

“As negotiations with our Republican counterparts continue, we are hopeful the President will be open to an agreement to address the urgent needs of the American people and keep government open,” they said.

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Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, whom multiple women have accused of sexual misconduct, claimed in an interview published Monday that “immorality” in politics has “sunken to a new low.”

“What do you feel like you’ve learned through this particular race?” One America News Network reporter Emerald Robinson asked Moore.

“I think immorality has sunken to a new low, and I think in this race I have been very much impressed with the lack of morality in political advertisements,” Moore said. “They say anything, they do anything, just to win. They don’t care who they hurt.”

Numerous women have accused Moore of sexual misconduct, and several have alleged that Moore pursued them when they were teenagers. Leigh Corfman said Moore initiated a sexual encounter when she was 14 years old, below the age of consent in Alabama, and he was in his early 30s. Beverly Young Nelson accused Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 16 years old.

Moore has denied the allegations and remained in the race amid calls from elected Republicans for him to drop out. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell softened his tone on Moore on Sunday, and said “the people of Alabama” should decide whether Moore belongs in the Senate.

President Donald Trump, no stranger to running a campaign amid a flood of sexual misconduct allegations, on Monday urged Alabama voters to support Moore.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Sunday said he didn’t think Democratic lawmakers would be “very smart” to force a government shutdown if Republicans do not agree to implement protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children.

“That’s a ridiculous position. There is no crisis,” McConnell said on ABC News’ “This Week,” of the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants whose legal protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program were thrown into question when President Donald Trump rescinded the program in September.

He said Trump has given lawmakers “until March to address the issue,” but said “there’s no emergency.”

“I don’t think that Democrats would be very smart to say they want to shut down the government over a non-emergency that we can address any time between now and March,” McConnell said. “That’s an very untenable position.”

The last time a political party forced the U.S. government to shut down, Republicans were trying to defund Obamacare in 2013, a strategy which ultimately failed.

“I can’t imagine that they’d want to shut down the government over an issue that’s not an emergency,” McConnell said, referring to Democratic lawmakers.

“Well, Republicans have a majority in the House and the Senate,” George Stephanopoulos pointed out.

“Look, there’s not going to be a government shutdown,” McConnell replied. “It’s just not going to happen.”

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on Sunday said she thinks the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election is leading to “the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice.”

“I think what we’re beginning to see is the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice,” Feinstein said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

“I think we see this in the indictments, the four indictments and pleas that have just taken place, and some of the comments that are being made,” she added. “I see it in the hyper-frenetic attitude of the White House: the comments every day, the continual tweets.”

Feinstein said she believes President Donald Trump fired James Comey as head of the FBI “directly because he did not agree to lift the cloud of the Russia investigation.”

“That’s obstruction of justice,” she said.

Trump’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn on Friday pleaded guilty to a single charge of making false statements to the FBI, and agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election as part of his plea.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Sunday said he is “going to let the people of Alabama decide” whether Alabama Republican candidate Roy Moore, who numerous women have accused of sexual misconduct, should be elected to the Senate.

“We’re going to let the people of Alabama decide, a week from Tuesday, who they want to send to the Senate, and then we’ll address the matter appropriately,” McConnell said on ABC News’ “This Week.”

“Do you believe that Judge Moore should be in the Senate?” George Stephanopoulos asked McConnell.

“I’m going to let the people of Alabama make the call,” he replied. “The Ethics Committee will have to consider the matters that have been litigated in the campaign should that particular candidate win.”

McConnell on Sunday took a far softer position on Moore, and the accusations against him, than he did previously. Earlier in November, McConnell said that Moore “should step aside,” and that he believed the women accusing Moore of misconduct.

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Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) on Sunday said he “did not read” the entire text of the Republican tax overhaul bill that cleared the Senate on Saturday before he voted to pass it.

“I’m not going to say I read every single letter on every single page, because 470 pages, in its last hour, I did not read 470 pages,” Scott said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Scott said he nevertheless “went through the entire bill.”

“Have I read every aspect of that bill before it was fused together? The answer is yes. We have had the chance over the last three years since I’ve been on the committee to work on every aspect of the bill,” he said, referring to the Senate Finance Committee. “The question that they’re actually addressing is not whether or not you’ve read the bill, it’s whether you’ve read the bill in its current form.”

Republicans voted to advance the bill, which will explode the deficit and repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate, early Saturday.

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A conservative activist in May 2016 told a member of President Donald Trump’s campaign that he could help set up a meeting between Trump, then the GOP nominee, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

The New York Times reported, citing an email the activist, Paul Erickson, sent to Trump campaign adviser Rick Dearborn in May 2016, that Erickson said he wanted advice from Dearborn and Jeff Sessions—then an Alabama Republican senator, now attorney general—on how to proceed.

According to the report, the email was part of a collection of campaign-related documents given to Congressional investigators, and its contents were “described in detail” to the New York Times.

“Putin is deadly serious about building a good relationship with Mr. Trump,” Erickson wrote in the email, according to the New York Times. “He wants to extend an invitation to Mr. Trump to visit him in the Kremlin before the election. Let’s talk through what has transpired and Senator Sessions’s advice on how to proceed.”

Erickson said Russia would use the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Kentucky to make “first contact” if Trump’s campaign was amenable.

According to the report, it was not clear how Dearborn responded, though he forwarded a similar email from a West Virginia resident to Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and now-senior adviser.

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President Donald Trump on Sunday said people who lost money when the stock market reacted to an inaccurate ABC News report about his former adviser Mike Flynn should “consider” suing the network.

“People who lost money when the Stock Market went down 350 points based on the False and Dishonest reporting of Brian Ross of @ABC News (he has been suspended), should consider hiring a lawyer and suing ABC for the damages this bad reporting has caused,” Trump tweeted.

Ross on Friday reported that Trump directed Flynn to make contact with Russia while he was a candidate. ABC News later corrected its reporting to reflect that Trump allegedly gave Flynn that instruction after he was elected, not during his campaign.

The network suspended Ross for four weeks without pay and said his reporting “had not been fully vetted through our editorial standards process.”

“We deeply regret and apologize for the serious error we made yesterday,” ABC News said in a statement.

According to CNN, while the Dow fell more than 350 points after ABC News aired the report, it largely recovered and closed only 41 points lower than it opened.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday said that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson should be “just fine” to do his job, despite reports that the White House plans to oust him.

“The secretary of state’s a pretty tough guy. I think he’ll be just fine carrying his job out,” Sanders said at her daily press briefing.

The New York Times reported Thursday morning that the White House has developed a plan to replace Tillerson with with current CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and to replace Pompeo with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).

“As we’ve said many times before, as many of you love to write these type of stories, when the President loses confidence in someone, they will no longer serve in the capacity that they’re in,” Sanders added.

Pressed to say whether Tillerson is exempt from that category, Sanders said, “As the President said on the record, and several of you were in the room in the Oval today, the secretary of state is here.”

The White House has previously expressed Trump’s confidence in administration officials who have been fired hours later, as well as some who remain in their positions; confidence appears to be a matter of cosmetics rather than certainty.

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