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 protester on Tuesday threw Russian flags at President Donald Trump as he walked through the U.S. Capitol and shouted, “Trump is treason!”

“Why is Congress talking about tax cuts when they should be talking about treason?” the protester, who identified himself as Ryan Clayton from activist group Americans Take Action, shouted as Trump walked to a scheduled lunch with Republican senators.

Clayton tosssed the Russian flags at the President from where he stood among the White House press corps, and shouted, “Trump is treason!”

“This President conspired with agents of the Russian government to steal an election. We should be talking about treason in Congress, not about tax cuts,” Clayton shouted as he was apprehended by uniformed officers.

Clayton and Jason Charter, a fellow member of Americans Take Action, passed out nearly 1,000 Russian flags as a prank at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February before they were removed from the premises by security.

“I asked people if they wanted a Trump flag and they took it,” Charter told TPM in February. “Many Trump supporters were proudly waving their Russian Trump flag.”

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Khizr Khan on Tuesday criticized the White House’s response to the ongoing scrutiny of President Donald Trump’s call to a U.S. soldier’s widow, and advised “dignity and restraint.”

“I have two words to say to the White House and to this President,” Khan, the father of a U.S. soldier killed in the Iraq War, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “Dignity, most dignity and restraint. He is void of both.”

He said Trump’s “advisers should have written that on a piece of paper” and “put it in front of him: most dignity and restraint.”

Trump’s campaign attacked Khan and his family intermittently from July to October 2016 after Khan spoke against Trump’s candidacy at the Democratic National Convention last year.

Kelly last week brought Trump’s smear campaign against Khan back into the spotlight when he listed concepts that Kelly suggested were no longer “sacred.”

“Gold Star families, I think that left in the convention over the summer,” Kelly said from the White House podium, though it was unclear whether he was criticizing Khan for his remarks or Trump for his attacks on Khan, though his overall remarks were a defense of his boss.

Khan on Tuesday said Kelly “from the very first day” should have advised Trump on what to say to four bereaved families of U.S. soldiers killed in Niger.

“It should have been done from the get-go,” Khan said, “because he’s the closest to the President at this moment.”

He said Kelly “should have told him when he was advising him what to do, how to call.”

Khan said Kelly “knows the character” of the President he serves—a “lack of empathy, lack of decency”—and should have advised him to show “restraint.”

He also said Kelly should have exhibited restraint in his remarks from the White House briefing room.

“When he came to the press room, he should have refrained himself, making situation worse, and that was not done, unfortunately,” Khan said.

Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, one of the soldiers killed in the ambush in Niger, on Monday said Trump’s remarks made her “very angry.”

“The President said that he knew what he signed up for but it hurts anyway,” she said. “It made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said it.”

“We owe tremendous respect, restraint and dignity to this wonderful lady,” Khan said of Myeshia Johnson. “My sympathies are with them.”


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President Donald Trump sent the grieving family of a U.S. Army corporal killed in Afghanistan a personal check for $25,000 dated last week, months after he promised to send it, a local ABC station reported late Monday.

WTVD reported that Chris and Jessie Baldridge, the parents of Army Cpl. Dillon Baldridge, who died in Afghanistan in June, said Monday they received a $25,000 personal check from Trump’s New York address.

According to images published by WTVD, the check was dated Oct. 18, the same day that the Washington Post reported on Trump’s promise months earlier to write Chris Baldridge a check from his “personal account.”

In a letter to Chris Baldridge, Trump claimed, “I am glad my legal counsel has been able to finally approve this contribution to you.”

A White House spokesperson told CNN last week that the delay between Trump’s promise and its fulfillment—which took several months—was because “there were other agencies involved” in the process.

“There is a substantial process that can involve multiple agencies anytime the President interacts with the public, especially when transmitting personal funds,” the spokesperson said. “The check has been sent.”

“I hope this will make things a bit easier, but nothing will ever replace your son, Dillon,” Trump wrote. “He was an American hero.”

Jessie Baldridge told WTVD that she and Chris Baldridge were “moved and grateful” for the letter and check.

“We promise to use the money to honor Dillon’s legacy,” she said.

The Washington Post report on Trump’s promise to the Baldridges came amid scrutiny of his remarks to another Gold Star family.

Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, who was killed in Niger earlier in October, on Monday said Trump “couldn’t remember” her husband’s name when he called to express his condolences.

“I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name,” she said. “And that was hurting me the most because if my husband is out here fighting for our country, and he risked his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name?”

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is still putting on a good face when it comes to his relationship with President Donald Trump.

“He gets mad at me at times, he yells at me at times, but he respects me,” Christie told GQ in an interview published Monday.

Christie told GQ that he would yell back at Trump, but does so “less now that he’s President.”

The New Jersey governor, whose approval numbers hit historic lows, appeared to be angling for a job in Trump’s administration, and in March was finally named chairman of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

For that privilege, he appeared behind Trump at a press conference where some described his expression as that of someone being “held hostage,” a charge Christie denied, endured Trump’s jibes about banning him from eating Oreos, weathered a report that Trump used him as a “manservant” to fetch his McDonald’s order, and was forcibly ordered meatloaf at the White House.

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A member of President Donald Trump’s opioid commission said in an interview published Monday that the panel is not optimistic that its recommendations will lead to any action to address the nationwide crisis.

Former Democratic Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy, a member of Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, told the Washington Post that “the worry is that” the commission’s final report of recommendations to combat the crisis, due for release Nov. 1, “won’t be adopted.”

Kennedy said that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who is the commission’s chair, told him that the success of Trump’s presidency could depend on the President’s response to the opioid crisis.

“Christie doesn’t mince words,” Kennedy told the Washington Post. “He said, ‘If he doesn’t recognize this as the issue of our time, his presidency is over.’”

Trump in August said he would declare the opioid crisis a national emergency, and last week said he would take that “very important step” sometime “in the next week.”

Politico reported that White House officials were blindsided by his announcement. No emergency declaration has yet been forthcoming.

Trump’s administration faces a number of setbacks when it comes to taking any action to combat the nationwide opioid epidemic. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services remains leaderless after Tom Price resigned as secretary in September amid questions about his use of private aircraft.

The Drug Enforcement Administration remains leaderless after Chuck Rosenberg stepped down as acting head in September after criticizing Trump’s remarks Rosenberg said “condoned police misconduct.”

And Trump’s pick to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), withdrew his name from consideration in October after the Washington Post and CBS News reported that Marino pushed legislation making it harder for the DEA to freeze shipments of opioids from companies with suspicious sales.

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President Donald Trump on Sunday struck an ominous tone with his remarks on North Korea, saying the United States is “prepared for anything” but that it would be “nice not to do that.”

“We’re prepared for anything. We are so prepared like you wouldn’t believe,” Trump said in an interview on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo.”

“You would be shocked to see how totally prepared we are if we need to be,” he added. “Would it be nice not to do that? The answer is yes. Will that happen? Who knows.”

The White House last week said Trump will ask U.S. allies to put pressure on North Korea regarding its nuclear program when he travels to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines from Nov. 3 to Nov. 14.

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President Donald Trump on Sunday continued to deny Rep. Frederica Wilson’s (D-FL) account of his call to the widow of a U.S. soldier killed in Niger.

“I was so nice. Look, I’ve called many people. And I would think that every one of them appreciated it. I was very surprised to see this to be honest with you,” Trump said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo.”

He claimed the call “was a very nice call.”

“And by the way, I spoke of the name of the young man, and I — it was a really — it’s a very tough call. Those are the toughest calls,” Trump said. “These are tougher than dealing with the heads of countries, believe me. These are very, very hard calls. They’re sad and sometimes, you know, the grieving is so incredible.”

Wilson last week said she was in a car with Sgt. La David T. Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson, when Trump called.

“She was in tears. She was in tears. And she said, ‘He didn’t even remember his name,’” Wilson told the Washington Post.

Trump denied Wilson’s account of events, though the congresswoman’s account was corroborated by Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, and continued to attack Wilson through the weekend.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Sunday said President Donald Trump’s administration has a “blind spot” when it comes to Russia.

“I think that the Trump administration is slow when it comes to Russia. They have a blind spot on Russia I still can’t figure out,” Graham said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

Trump in August signed legislation imposing tough new sanctions on Russia but in October blew past the legislation’s deadline for issuing “regulations or other guidance” on the subject.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Sunday said he is “waiting” to find out what kind of health care bill President Donald Trump would be willing to sign.

“If there’s a need for some kind of interim step here to stabilize the market, we need a bill the President will actually sign, and I’m not certain yet what the President is looking for here,” McConnell said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

He said he’s “waiting” to “hear from” Trump about what kind of legislation he would be willing to sign.

“I’ll be happy to bring a bill to the floor if I know President Trump would sign it,” McConnell said.

Asked about Trump’s comment that he would not blame himself for legislative inaction, McConnell said, “Well, I think he’s getting a lot more done than he’s giving everybody credit for.”

“I think the President ought to give himself a little more credit,” he added.

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President Donald Trump on Saturday afternoon claimed a controversial dossier alleging ties between himself and Russia has been “discredited” (it hasn’t) and claimed a Russian firm spent a “tiny” amount of money on political Facebook ads.

Lawyers representing the firm that assembled the so-called Trump dossier on Friday asked a judge to block House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) subpoena to the firm’s bank for the identity of the client who commissioned the document.

Trump attacked the dossier on Thursday as well. While much of the information it contains has not been substantiated, a number of the claims in the document have been reinforced by new information.

The “tiny” amount of money Trump referred to that was spent on Facebook ads during the 2016 election by a Russian “troll farm” was $100,000.

Facebook in October said an “estimated 10 million people” saw those ads.

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