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 in December asked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein whether he was on Trump’s “team,” CNN reported Wednesday.

The reported comments are the latest example in a troubling pattern of Trump appearing to request loyalty from Justice Department or FBI officials, who have traditionally operated independently of the White House’s political agenda.

Citing unnamed sources familiar with a meeting between Trump and Rosenstein, the network reported that Trump wanted to know the direction of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

According to CNN, Trump also asked Rosenstein whether he was “on my team.”

“Of course, we’re all on your team, Mr. President,” Rosenstein responded, according to the report. On the subject of Mueller’s investigation, CNN reported, Rosenstein demurred.

Trump also brought up Rosenstein’s upcoming testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, CNN reported, citing an unnamed source briefed on the matter.

Another source told CNN that Trump made suggestions to members of Congress regarding what they should ask Rosenstein during the hearing.

News outlets have previously reported that Trump has pressed members of his administration about whether they are loyal supporters of his. He reportedly asked former FBI director James Comey in January 2017 whether he would pledge loyalty. In June 2017, Comey said he “got the sense” from Trump during a private dinner that his “job would be contingent” on whether he “demonstrated loyalty.”

The Washington Post and New York Times reported last week that in May 2016, after he abruptly terminated Comey, Trump asked the new acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, now also ousted, who he voted for in the 2016 election.

Trump has turned his frustration with Mueller’s ongoing investigation toward Rosenstein in recent weeks, CNN reported last week. Trump has even floated the idea of firing him as well, though advisers have so far convinced him otherwise.

Legal experts told TPM on Monday that if during his investigation Mueller finds that Trump broke the law, he would need Rosenstein’s approval to act on that finding.

Read More →

Missouri attorney general Josh Hawley (R) last month blamed the state’s “human trafficking crisis” on the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the Kansas City Star reported Wednesday.

Citing audio it obtained of Hawley’s remarks at a “Pastors and Pews” event in December 2017, the Kansas City Star reported that Hawley said “the sexual revolution has led to exploitation of women on a scale that we would never have imagined, never have imagined.”

“We have a human trafficking crisis in our state and in this city and in our country because people are willing to purchase women, young women, and treat them like commodities,” Hawley said, according to the report. “There is a market for it. Why is there? Because our culture has completely lost its way.”

Hawley claimed that “the false gospel of ‘anything goes’ ends in this road of slavery.”

“It ends in the slavery and the exploitation of the most vulnerable among us. It ends in the slavery and exploitation of young women. It will destroy our families,” he said, per the Kansas City Star. “You know what I’m talking about, the 1960s, 1970s, it became commonplace in our culture among our cultural elites, Hollywood, and the media, to talk about, to denigrate the biblical truth about husband and wife, man and woman.”

Hawley is running for the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) in the state’s 2018 Senate election.

One of his opponents for the party nomination, Courtland Sykes, has already made waves on the gender and sexual politics front by claiming that feminists have “nasty, snake-filled heads” and are “career-obsessed banshees” and “nail-biting manophobic hell-bent feminist she-devils.”

Read More →

Donald Trump Jr., President Donald Trump’s eldest son, on Tuesday claimed he “got a leg workout” from standing up in agreement so often during his father’s first official State of the Union address.

“I think it was phenomenal,” Trump Jr., who watched the speech from the gallery, told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “I mean, and you could see it, not just from the Republicans. I mean, I got a leg workout just standing up every five seconds because he hit every point.”

While Trump got his share of standing ovations during the speech, which clocked in at one hour and 20 minutes and was the third-longest of its kind in the last 50 years, they did not come every five seconds.

Read More →

President Donald Trump on Tuesday made a point of noting the patriotism of those who “proudly stand for the national anthem” in his first State of the Union address, apparently reviving his enmity with NFL players who knelt during the anthem as an act of protest.

“Young patriots like Preston teach all of us about our civic duty as Americans,” Trump said, referring to a young guest who organized the placement of American flags and red carnations on U.S. military graves. “Preston’s reverence for those who have served our Nation reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance, and why we proudly stand for the national anthem.”

Trump in September 2017 went on an extended tear against NFL players who knelt during the national anthem, many of whom did so to protest racism and police brutality. During a rally in Alabama, he said that any “son of a bitch” who protests during the national anthem should be fired.

Read More →

President Donald Trump boasted on Tuesday, during his first State of the Union address, that the U.S. stock market “has smashed one record after another.”

Trump has often cited the stock market as a marker of his presidency’s success, and during the official address he claimed it has gained “$8 trillion and more in value in just this short period of time.”

“The great news for Americans’ 401k, retirement, pension, and college savings accounts have gone through the roof,” Trump said.

His remarks appeared at odds with current market data; the Dow Jones industrial average closed Tuesday nearly 363 points down after its biggest two-day drop since the Brexit vote in June 2016 sparked uncertainty.

Read More →

The White House on Tuesday released excerpts of President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address, scheduled for later in the evening, to pool reporters.

  • Together, we are building a SAFE, STRONG, and PROUD America.
  • We want every American to know the dignity of a hard day’s work; we want every child to be safe in their home at night, and we want every citizen to be proud of this land that we love.
  • Just as I promised the American People from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history.
  • Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the Middle Class and small businesses.
  • Since we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses – many of them thousands of dollars per worker.
  • This is our New American Moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American dream.
  • Tonight, I want to talk about what kind of future we are going to have, and what kind of nation we are going to be. All of us, together, as one team, one people, and one American family.
  • Americans love their country. And they deserve a government that shows them the same love and loyalty in return.
  • For the last year we have sought to restore the bonds of trust between our citizens and their government.
  • In our drive to make Washington accountable, we have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in history.
  • We have ENDED the war on American Energy – and we have ENDED the War on CLEAN COAL. We are now an exporter of energy to the world.
  • America has also finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies, our jobs and our nation’s wealth.
  • America is a nation of builders. We built the Empire State Building in just one year – isn’t it a disgrace that it can now take ten years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?
  • I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve.
  • Struggling communities, especially immigrant communities, will also be helped by immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American Workers and American Families.
  • So tonight I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, to protect our citizens, of every background, color, and creed.
  • As we rebuild America’s strength and confidence at home, we are also restoring our strength and standing abroad.
  • Last year I pledged that we would work with our allies to extinguish ISIS from the face of the earth. One year later, I’m proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated almost 100 percent of the territory once held by these killers in Iraq and Syria. But there is much more work to be done. We will continue our fight until ISIS is defeated.
  • Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation. I will not repeat the mistakes of the past Administrations that got us into this dangerous position.

President Donald Trump is scheduled to deliver his first State of the Union address on Tuesday at 9:10 p.m. ET. Watch live below:

Former Fox News anchor Andrea Tantaros on Monday alleged that Roger Ailes, the late ousted CEO of the network, used “hidden cameras” inside the network’s offices to record “female talent” as they changed clothes.

In a new filing as part of a lawsuit Tantaros filed last year against Fox News, Ailes and former Fox News co-president Bill Shine, among others, Tantaros alleged that Ailes “was recording female employees disrobe without their consent in their offices” and during a trunk show the network’s wardrobe department conducted bi-annually, “both through audio and with hidden cameras.”

“Fox News operates more like a rogue political campaign and cutthroat cult rife with rampant harassment, misogyny, and bullying than it does a news organization,” the lawsuit alleged. “Fox News is a company that isn’t afraid to spy, hack, bully or weaponize any tool or method at its disposal.”

Fox News said in a statement to TPM that it “moved for sanctions against the lawyer who filed Andrea Tantaros’ Original lawsuit and he has since withdrawn.”

“None of the four lawyers currently representing Tantaros in the action signed her new complaint, which she purports to have written herself,” Fox News said in its statement. “Her outlandish claims lack any factual basis.”

Tantaros is representing herself in the complaint, part of one of two lawsuits she filed in the last two years; in the first, filed in August 2016, Tantaros alleged that former Fox News star Bill O’Reilly (later ousted) and former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) contributed to sexual harassment and a culture of “misogyny” at the network.

In the second, filed in April 2017, Tantaros alleged that Fox News carried out a campaign of “illegal electronic surveillance and computer hacking” against her after she filed the first lawsuit. Read the amended complaint below:

Read More →

House Oversight Committee chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC) on Monday excoriated the Department of Health and Human Services for its “pattern of nonresponsiveness and wanton disregard” for information requests by the Oversight Committee.

In a letter to newly minted HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Gowdy cited the committee’s “well settled” and “broad” power to request information from executive branches.

“More often than not, agency respondents choose to cooperate voluntarily, expeditiously, and in good faith with our requests,” Gowdy said. “The Department, since October of last year, has departed from this cooperative posture.”

Gowdy said that the department has “missed mutually-agreed deadlines, produced meager and incomplete sets of information (much of which is available publicly), and taken a posture of nonchalance with respect to the Committee’s requests.”

He cited the committee’s requests for information regarding disaster preparedness in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, documents related to the federal response to the opioid epidemic, information regarding Obamacare’s cost-sharing reduction payments, agency guidance, a plan for compiling said guidance and information related to the HIPAA and HITECH health privacy and security rules.

According to Gowdy, in all cases, the department provided insufficient information and was slow to respond to requests or provide status updates, sometimes to the point of never responding at all.

With regard to the committee’s request for information related to HIPAA and HITECH, Gowdy noted that the department missed its own deadline to produce documents, and said, “If you have read this far, it will come as no surprise the Department has not done so.”

“The Department’s pattern of nonresponsiveness and wanton disregard for the Committee’s requests for information undermines our ability to perform our oversight duties of the Department and its programs,” Gowdy said. “Furthermore, the Department has provided no compelling reason-legal or otherwise-for withholding documents from the Committee. This creates the appearance the Department’s legislative affairs function has fallen into a state of permanent disrepair.”

He gave the department a deadline of Feb. 5 to produce all documents and information that the committee has requested.

“Otherwise, the Committee may use compulsory process to obtain those materials,” Gowdy said.

Read More →