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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

The Department of Justice on Monday filed a lawsuit to block AT&T’s merger with Time Warner, the parent company of President Donald Trump’s longtime cable network enemy CNN.

Makan Delrahim, who leads the antitrust division at the Department of Justice, said in a statement that the merger “would greatly harm American consumers.”

“AT&T/DirecTV’s combination with Time Warner is unlawful,” Delrahim said. “Absent an adequate remedy that would fully prevent the harms this merger would cause, the only appropriate action for the Department of Justice is to seek an injunction from a federal judge blocking the entire transaction.”

Politico first reported Monday afternoon, citing an unnamed source familiar with the matter, that the Justice Department planned to file a lawsuit blocking the merger. CNN also reported the potential lawsuit, citing an unnamed source, as did the Associated Press.

According to CNN, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said last week that the company would seek an expedited hearing if the Justice Department legally challenged the merger.

The Financial Times and Politico reported earlier in November that the Justice Department told AT&T that it would need to sell off CNN or make other concessions in order to obtain the department’s approval for the merger.

Trump has directed his ire at CNN since he was a candidate, in the early days before he expanded the definition of “fake news” beyond the one network to encompass others he also dislikes.

Read the Justice Department’s filing:

This post has been updated.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday told reporters that before they could ask her a question, they would have to list things for which they are thankful.

“This will be our last press briefing before the Thanksgiving holiday in this room,” Sanders said at the start of the daily briefing. “So I want to share a few things that I’m thankful for and I think it would be nice for you guys to do so as well before asking your questions.”

Sanders said it is “no secret” that she is “clearly very thankful” for the White House press corps, as well as her family, faith, first responders, members of the U.S. military and “the incredible privilege of serving this president and the American people.”

“So this is how it’s going to work today, since I’m here and I get to call on you,” she said. “If you want to ask a question, I think it’s only fair, since I’ve shared what I’m thankful for, that you start off with what you’re thankful for. So anybody want to be first on what they’re thankful for?”

Sanders called on American Urban Radio Networks reporter April Ryan first.

“I’m thankful for life. I’m thankful for my children. I’m thankful for 20 years in this job,” Ryan said. “I’m thankful to be able to talk to and question you every single day.”

“I feel the gratefulness there,” Sanders replied.

“Now my question,” Ryan pressed on. “I hope you felt the passion of my thankfulness.”

Later in the briefing, another reporter offered, “I’m very thankful for you calling on me regularly.”

“I am thankful for the First Amendment,” ABC News’ Cecilia Vega added before her question.

“Ooh, yes! We’re thankful for that,” a different reporter chimed in.

Some reporters not in the Brady briefing room also made contributions.

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National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was unsparingly critical of President Donald Trump at a July dinner with Oracle CEO Safra Catz, according to a report BuzzFeed News published on Monday.

McMaster called Trump an “idiot,” a “dope” and said he has the intelligence of a “kindergartner,” BuzzFeed reported, citing five unnamed sources with knowledge of McMaster’s and Catz’s conversation.

A sixth unnamed source told BuzzFeed News that McMaster made similar comments directly to the source in private, and said Trump did not have the smarts to understand the subjects the National Security Council deals with.

The White House referred TPM’s request for comment to the National Security Council, which did not immediately reply. Michael Anton, a spokesman for the council, told BuzzFeed News that “actual participants in the dinner deny that General McMaster made any of the comments attributed to him by anonymous sources.”

“Those false comments represent the diametric opposite of General McMaster’s actual views,” Anton told BuzzFeed News.

Oracle also vehemently denied that McMaster made any such remarks.

“None of the statements attributed to General McMaster were said,” Oracle senior VP for government affairs Ken Glueck told BuzzFeed News.

Two unnamed sources with knowledge of the situation told BuzzFeed News that members of Trump’s administration threatened retaliation against “several figures with knowledge of the July dinner” if they spoke to BuzzFeed News.

Glueck, however, denied that Oracle issued its response under pressure from the White House: “Ridiculous.”

McMaster would not be the first high-ranking member of Trump’s administration to call his boss’ intelligence into question: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly called Trump a “moron” at a meeting in July with Trump’s national security team and other members of the administration.

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The New York Times has suspended White House correspondent Glenn Thrush amid allegations of sexual misconduct made in a report Vox published on Monday.

“The behavior attributed to Glenn in this Vox story is very concerning and not in keeping with the standards and values of The New York Times,” Eileen Murphy, the senior vice president of communications for the New York Times, told Vox in a statement. “We intend to fully investigate and while we do, Glenn will be suspended.”

Murphy said the New York Times supports Thrush’s “decision to enter a substance abuse program” and “will not be commenting further” in the meantime.

One 23-year-old woman, who Vox did not name in its report, said Thrush “left her in tears” on a street corner in Washington, D.C., after they shared a few drinks and “she resisted his advances.”

The woman said Thrush tried to hold her hand after they left a bar for a stroll, and led to her to a dimly lit path where he kissed her, causing her to panic. The woman’s friend, fellow journalist Bianca Padró Ocasio, called her and ordered her an Uber.

According to the woman, while she waited for the car, Thrush began kissing her again, but walked off when he noticed that she had started to cry.

Vox’s editorial director Laura McGann, who authored the report, also accused Thrush of unexpectedly kissing her five years ago when they both worked for Politico.

McGann said she “joined Thrush and a handful of other reporters for a few rounds at the Continental, a Politico hangout in Rosslyn, Virginia.”

“At first, nothing seemed strange, until the crowd had dwindled down to Thrush, me, and one other female colleague,” she wrote. “Thrush tossed a $20 bill at her and told her to take a cab and leave us, ‘the grown-ups,’ alone.”

McGann said Thrush “slid into my side of the booth, blocking me in.”

“I was wearing a skirt, and he put his hand on my thigh. He started kissing me,” she wrote. “I pulled myself together and got out of there, shoving him on my way out.”

McGann said Thrush sent her an “apologetic email” in the morning. A male reporter told her recently, McGann said, that Thrush “told him about the incident, except with the roles reversed.”

“I had come onto him, the reporter said Thrush told him, and he had gently shut it down,” McGann, who was a reporter at TPM a decade ago, said. “The source said that Thrush frequently told versions of this story with different young women as the subject.”

Another unnamed Politico staffer said she and Thrush talked for most of the night at a Politico party, where she had a lot to drink before Thrush offered her a ride home, and both of them somehow ended up at her home instead.

“I remember stopping him at one point and saying, ‘Wait, you’re married,'” the staffer said. “I remember that by the time he left, I didn’t have much clothes on.”

The staffer said she did not believe she was pressured or “a victim,” but said she regrets not telling more women—she spoke to two—about Thrush’s behavior.

Another unnamed woman told Vox that Thrush kissed her ear at a Politico party in 2013.

“It all happened very quickly. And he leaned in very quickly,” she told Vox. “At the time, I remember thinking … adults sometimes kiss each other on the cheek. Then sometimes they miss and slobber on your ear. It was my way of thinking this wasn’t as weird as I thought.”

Thrush did not deny the allegations in a response to McGann on Sunday.

“I apologize to any woman who felt uncomfortable in my presence, and for any situation where I behaved inappropriately. Any behavior that makes a woman feel disrespected or uncomfortable is unacceptable,” he said in a statement.

He said the incident with the 23-year-old woman “was a life-changing event” for him.

“The woman involved was upset by my actions and for that I am deeply sorry,” Thrush said. “Over the past several years, I have responded to a succession of personal and health crises by drinking heavily. During that period, I have done things that I am ashamed of, actions that have brought great hurt to my family and friends.”

Thrush said he has “resumed counseling and will soon begin out-patient treatment for alcoholism.”

“I am working hard to repair the damage I have done,” he said.

Thrush and his New York Times colleague and frequent writing partner Maggie Haberman in September announced a book deal with Random House for a book on President Donald Trump’s administration. A Random House spokesperson told Politico, “This matter recently came to our attention and we are looking at it closely and seriously.”

A spokesperson for MSNBC, where Thrush is a contributor, told Politico that the network is “awaiting the outcome of the Times’ investigation.”

“He currently has no scheduled appearances,” the spokesperson told Politico, of Thrush.

This post has been updated.

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Marc Short, the White House’s director of legislative affairs, on Sunday said that if allegations of sexual misconduct against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore were not “credible,” President Donald Trump would be actively campaigning for him.

“You work for the President. Does the President believe the women or not?” George Stephanopoulos asked Short on ABC News’ “This Week.”

“Obviously, George, if he did not believe that the women’s accusations were credible he would be down campaigning for Roy Moore. He has not done that,” Short replied.

He said Trump “has concerns about the accusations, but he is also concerned that these accusations are 38 years old.”

The earliest accusations of sexual misconduct against Trump himself are barely older than that; one woman told the New York Times in October 2016 that Trump groped her on a flight “more than three decades earlier.”

“I don’t think you have seen him go down there and campaign for him. I don’t think you have seen him issue an endorsement. You have not seen him issue robocalls,” Short said. “You should certainly be able to infer by the fact that he has not gone down to support Roy Moore his discomfort in doing so.”

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President Donald Trump on Sunday said he “should have left” three UCLA basketball players in custody in China because one of the player’s fathers suggested Trump did not have much to do with his son’s release.

“Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal,” Trump tweeted. “I should have left them in jail!”

LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo Ball, a UCLA freshman who was detained in Hangzhou following allegations of shoplifting, on Friday said “Who?” when asked about Trump’s involvement in his son’s release from custody.

“What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing,” LaVar Ball told ESPN. “Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”

Trump on Wednesday tweeted, “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!”

All three players thanked Trump and publicly apologized on Wednesday, a day after they returend to Los Angeles.

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Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has no plans to resign after a radio host accused him of forcibly kissing and groping her years ago, according to a spokesperson.

“No,” a spokesperson for Franken told the Star Tribune on Saturday. “He is spending time with his family in Washington, D.C., and will be through the Thanksgiving holiday.”

According to the spokesperson, Franken is “doing a lot of reflecting.”

Leeann Tweeden, a Los Angeles anchor, on Thursday alleged that Franken “aggressively” kissed her while they were rehearsing for an USO tour in 2006 and later groped her while she was sleeping, an act documented in a photograph she posted.

Franken apologized to Tweeden in two separate statements, asked the Senate for an ethics investigation into himself and said he will “gladly cooperate” with such a probe. Senators in both parties joined his call for an investigation.

Tweeden said she did not come forward “to have him step down.”

“I think Al Franken does a lot of good things in the Senate, you know, I think that’s for the people of Minnesota to decide,” she said on Friday. “I just wanted him to understand what he did was wrong.”

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Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin on Sunday said he “didn’t realize” photographs of himself and his wife, actress Louise Linton, holding a sheet of the first $1 bills to bear Mnuchin’s signature, would be posted online.

“I didn’t realize that the pictures were public and going on the internet and viral,” Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday.”

He said that “people have the right to do that.”

“People can express what they want. That’s the great thing about social media today,” Mnuchin said. “People can say and communicate what they want.”

And communicate they did.

Jacquelyn Martin, the photographer, told the Associated Press that she “had a feeling that this would take off.”

“I knew for sure this image would get some interest,” she said.

“Some folks, and I’m looking at the picture here, which you can’t see, say that you two look like two villains from a James Bond movie,” Chris Wallace told Mnuchin. “What were you thinking?”

“I guess I should take that as a compliment that I look like a villain in a great, successful James Bond movie,” Mnuchin replied.

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Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney on Sunday said the White House is all right with taking a provision to repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate out of Senate Republicans’ tax bill if the provision is “an impediment” to its passage.

“If we can repeal part of Obamacare as part of a tax bill, and have a tax bill that is still a good tax bill that can pass, that’s great,” Mulvaney said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Mulvaney said that if the provision “becomes an impediment to getting the best tax bill we can, then we’re okay with taking it out.”

“So I think it’s up to the Senate and the House to sort of hammer out those details,” he said.

“As of now, do you think it’s an impediment?” Jake Tapper asked.

“I don’t, actually,” Mulvaney said.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), one of three senators who voted against the Senate’s previous unsuccessful effort to repeal Obamacare, on Sunday said she has not yet decided whether to vote against the tax bill that includes the repeal provision.

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Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who voted against the Senate’s previous effort to repeal Obamacare, on Sunday said she has not yet decided whether she will vote against a tax bill that includes a provision repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate.

“I haven’t reached that conclusion yet, because I think there are going to be future changes,” Collins said on ABC News’ “This Week.”

She said “the biggest mistake was putting a provision from the Affordable Care Act into the Senate bill.”

“That’s not in the House bill,” Collins said. “And I hope that will be dropped.”

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