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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

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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Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney on Sunday said he finds allegations of sexual misconduct that multiple women have made against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore “credible,” but is not sure “who to believe.”

“Would you believe that the women who’ve come out against Roy Moore are credible?” Andrea Mitchell asked Mulvaney on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

“I believe they’re credible. I don’t know who to believe,” Mulvaney replied.

Pressed on that apparent contradiction, he claimed Mitchell has “arrived at a certain conclusion because of a certain political persuasion.”

“I run the Office of Management and Budget in Washington, D.C. You work for NBC News in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “My guess is we’ve not spent that much time looking at the specifics of these allegations.”

“I have no political ax to grind here other than to ask you whether you believe they are credible,” Mitchell replied.

“I believe that the folks who vote in the Alabama election are going to ultimately decide that,” Mulvaney said, returning to the White House line. “And that’s the right folks to make those decisions.”

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Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) on Sunday said she hopes Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who several woman have accused of sexual misconduct, “does not end up being” in the Senate.

“I’ve never supported Roy Moore and I hope that he does not end up being in the United States Senate,” Collins said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Collins said it was “too early to say” whether the chamber would vote to expel Moore if he wins his race in November, but said she did not find his denials of the allegations against him “to be convincing at all.”

“I read his explanation, I listened to his radio interview,” she said. “So from my perspective, these are credible allegations against him.”

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Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, issued a subpoena in October to more than a dozen members of President Donald Trump’s campaign, the Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday.

The Wall Street Journal reported, citing an unnamed source familiar with the matter, that Mueller requested documents and emails from a number of top officials on Trump’s campaign, but did not ask any of them to testify before his grand jury.

According to the report, the subpoena was a surprise to Trump’s campaign, which is providing documents on an “ongoing basis” in response.

A spokesperson for Mueller did not respond to the Wall Street Journal’s request for comment.

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Another woman on Thursday accused former President George H.W. Bush of groping her in 1992, when he was in office, during a photo op, according to a CNN report.

CNN reported that the woman, who requested that her name be withheld, was at a Michigan fundraiser for Bush’s re-election campaign and took a “family photo.”

The woman told CNN that everybody in the photo, including her father and herself, “got closer together” for the photo.

“It was like ‘Holy crap!'” she said, according to CNN, referring to the moment when Bush grabbed her rear. “It was like a gentle squeeze.”

The woman said that she smiled for the photo, according to the report, and told herself “it was probably an accident.” She told CNN that she reconsidered that evaluation after other women came forward with accusations against Bush.

“All the focus has been on ‘He’s old,'” she said. “OK, but he wasn’t old when it happened to me.”

Her ex-husband and best friend both told CNN that the woman told them about the incident shortly after it took place.

Bush’s spokesman Jim McGrath declined to comment to CNN on the woman’s allegation.

Six other women have accused the former President of grabbing them during a photo op. One woman, Roslyn Corrigan, said she was 16 years old when Bush inappropriately grabbed her.

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The White House on Thursday said President Donald Trump thinks the allegations eight women have made about sexual misconduct by Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore are “very troubling.”

“The President believes that these allegations are very troubling and should be taken seriously,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a press briefing.

She stopped short of calling for Moore to drop out, saying that Trump “thinks that the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their next senator should be.”

Gena Richardson on Wednesday night said that Moore asked her out several times in 1977, the year she turned 18. Richardson told the Washington Post that when she acquiesced and went on a date with him, Moore gave her an unwanted, “forceful” kiss.

Richardson was the eighth woman to come forward accusing Moore of making improper sexual advances. One, Beverly Young Nelson, said Moore sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager, and another, Leigh Corfman, said Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14 years old.

Trump in 2016 was considerably more dismissive of allegations of sexual misconduct—forcible kissing, groping and ogling—that multiple women made against him.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is scheduled to give an on-camera press briefing at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday, for the first time since President Donald Trump returned from a 12-day trip to Asia. Watch live below:

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) on Thursday asked for an ethics investigation into himself over a news anchor’s allegations that in 2006 he forcibly kissed her and groped her while she was asleep. He said he will “gladly cooperate” with such a probe.

“The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women,” Franken said in a statement. “There’s more I want to say, but the first and most important thing—and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine—is: I’m sorry.”

Leeann Tweeden, a morning anchor on Los Angeles station KABC, on Thursday accused Franken of “aggressively” kissing her backstage on a United Service Organizations (USO) tour in 2006 and of later groping her while she was asleep, an act documented in a photograph. The alleged incidents occurred before Franken held public office.

“I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate,” Franken said. “The fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.”

Franken said the photograph was “completely inappropriate.”

“It’s obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what’s more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it—women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me,” he said. “While I don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.”

In an earlier statement, Franken offered Tweeden his “sincerest apologies” and said he “shouldn’t have done” what he did in the photograph.

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Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), accused on Thursday of forcibly kissing and groping a woman on a USO tour in 2006 before he was in office, has made the prevention of sexual assault and violence against women one of his signature issues as a lawmaker.

Franken on Thursday said he “certainly” did not remember the incident “in the same way” as Leeann Tweeden, who accused Franken of kissing her over her protestations and later groping her in a photograph. Franken offered his “sincerest apologies.”

The senator’s curt statement stood in contrast to his previous extensive championing of legislation to support survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

In 2009, Franken introduced a provision to the next year’s defense appropriations bill that banned federal funding for “defense contractors who forced employees to mandatory binding arbitration in the case of rape, assault, wrongful imprisonment, harassment, and discrimination.”

In a statement at the time, Franken championed the amendment’s passage as “a great victory for victims of assault and discrimination who deserve their rightful day in court.”

The senator said the provision was inspired by the story of an employee for a defense contractor in Iraq, Jamie Leigh Jones, who alleged she was raped by coworkers.

“I will continue to stand up for folks like Jamie Leigh and everyone who needs a voice in Washington,” he said.

In 2011, Franken joined other Democratic senators to introduce the Arbitration Fairness Act (he reintroduced the bill in 2015) to “eliminate forced arbitration clauses in employment, consumer, and civil rights cases.” Such clauses often apply to employees alleging workplace harassment.

Franken gave an emotional speech on the Senate floor in 2012 about the Violence Against Women Act, during which he cited the work Sheila Wellstone, the late wife of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN), did with survivors of domestic violence.

“The VAWA reauthorization bill is another step toward a more just society as Sheila described it,” Franken said. “And I look forward to it becoming law.”

In 2016, after former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against the network’s then-president Roger Ailes and alleged she was fired after rejecting his advances, Franken and a number of other Democratic lawmakers allied with Carlson to reintroduce the arbitration legislation in 2017.

Amid the flood of allegations against Harvey Weinstein, whom dozens of women have accused of sexual harassment, assault or rape, Franken in October praised the accusers who have come forward as “incredibly brave.”

“It takes a lot of courage to come forward, and we owe them our thanks,” Franken wrote in a Facebook post. “And as we hear more and more about Mr. Weinstein, it’s important to remember that while his behavior was appalling, it’s far too common.”

Also in October, Franken pushed a bill to establish federal funding to train first responders and members of law enforcement in interviewing possible survivors.

Franken sponsored the legislation after a former intern raped a 19-year-old university student, Abby Honold, who reached out to Franken’s office to discuss the subject.

The senator has also tweeted, often and authoritatively, about the importance of supporting survivors.

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A news anchor on Thursday accused Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) of forcibly kissing her and groping her while she was asleep in an act documented by a photographer in 2006, before he ran for office.

Leeann Tweeden, a morning anchor on Los Angeles station KABC, said she was part of a United Service Organizations (USO) tour in 2006 to entertain troops stationed in the Middle East. At the time, Tweeden said, she was “a TV host and sports broadcaster, as well as a model familiar to the audience from the covers of FHM, Maxim and Playboy,” and did not expect to play a large part in the performance.

Tweeden wrote in an essay for KABC that it was her ninth time on such a tour, which Franken, then a comedian, headlined. Tweeden said she agreed to play a part in one of Franken’s skits.

“When I saw the script, Franken had written a moment when his character comes at me for a ‘kiss’. I suspected what he was after, but I figured I could turn my head at the last minute, or put my hand over his mouth, to get more laughs from the crowd,” she wrote.

According to Tweeden, Franken insisted on rehearsing the kiss backstage, and “continued to insist” over her protestations until she agreed so he would stop “badgering” her.

“We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth,” Tweeden wrote. “I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time.”

Tweeden said nobody saw the incident, and that she did not tell the tour’s sponsor or the USO rep involved. She said she never “had a voluntary conversation” with Franken again and avoided being alone with him for the remainder of the tour. Franken responded with “petty insults,” according to Tweeden.

On the plane ride home to Los Angeles, Tweeden wrote, she “immediately fell asleep” after takeoff, exhausted after the tour.

“It wasn’t until I was back in the US and looking through the CD of photos we were given by the photographer that I saw this one,” she wrote.

In the photograph, included in Tweeden’s piece, Franken is looking directly into the camera and grinning. He is reaching toward Tweeden’s chest. Tweeden’s eyes are closed, and the person sitting next to her also appears to be asleep.

“I couldn’t believe it. He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep,” Tweeden wrote. “I told my husband everything that happened and showed him the picture.”

Franken apologized to Tweeden in a statement obtained by TPM: “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”

In a second statement Thursday afternoon, Franken offered a fuller apology.

“The first and most important thing—and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine—is: I’m sorry,” he said. “To Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women.”

He asked for an ethics investigation into himself and said he will “gladly cooperate” with such a probe.

“The fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed,” Franken said. “I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate.”

Tweeden said she is “still angry” about what she says Franken did.

“Every time I hear his voice or see his face, I am angry. I am angry that I did his stupid skit for the rest of that tour,” she wrote. “Senator Franken, you wrote the script. But there’s nothing funny about sexual assault.”

This post has been updated.

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