Kate Riga

Kate Riga is a news writer for Talking Points Memo based in New York City. Before joining TPM, Kate was the political reporter for The Southampton Press. She is a graduate of Georgetown University and a native of Philadelphia.

Articles by Kate

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner lacks the security clearance level needed to access the most highly classified information, including portions of the President’s daily briefing and intelligence agencies’ contacts and surveillance methodology, according to a Thursday Washington Post report.

Kushner reportedly has a “top secret” clearance designation, the highest the White House can grant without the agreement of the CIA. It is unclear why the CIA is refusing to elevate his designation and whether it has anything to do with his involvement in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Probe.

This is just the latest twist in the saga of Kushner’s security clearance. In a highly unusual arrangement, Kushner had unfettered access to extremely classified information for an entire year despite only having an interim security status while the agencies checked his background.

White House chief of staff John Kelly demoted him to “secret” level in February after outcry about the nonchalant way Trump administration members who lacked proper clearance were able to access classified files and a report that foreign governments planned to manipulate Kushner through his international businesses. Kushner was boosted up to his current designation in May.

Per the Post, some have pointed out that Kushner’s security clearance level likely hinders his ambitious workload, which involves liaising with foreign leaders and sketching out a plan for lasting peace in the Middle East

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Despite the protestations of preeminent intelligence officials, the White House has ordered that classified information about the FBI informant who infiltrated the Trump campaign be made available to all members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees.

According to a Thursday New York Times report, it is unknown if President Donald Trump or another White House official issued the command. The classified documents will center on the FBI informant’s interactions with campaign aides Carter Page and George Papadopoulos in the informant’s attempt to gain knowledge about their Russian contacts.

Intelligence officers—including FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats—warned that releasing the classified information would put both the informant and agency’s sources and methods at risk. The Trump administration steamrolled those concerns, bolstered by Trump’s fury that the FBI “spied” on his campaign, which he considers the “all time biggest political scandal.”

Congressional leaders have already received two briefings on the informant. Even staunch Trump ally Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) came out of the briefing agreeing that the FBI had had enough evidence to warrant the use and actions of the informant.

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At the contentious and chaotic hearing before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees Thursday, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) went after FBI Agent Peter Strzok, taking issue with a peculiar phrase Strzok once texted.

Strzok had texted fellow agent Lisa Page: “Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support.”

Goodlatte read the text and asked Strzok: “What does Trump support smell like?”

Strzok brushed aside the question, saying that he was conveying his shock in the “extraordinary difference in the expression of political opinion and belief” in southern Virginia from northern Virginia where he lives.

Goodlatte then insinuated that Strzok finds Trump supporters ignorant in an attempt to show that Strzok’s personal politics affected his work on FBI investigations.

Watch below:

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Darla Shine, wife of new White House communications aide Bill Shine, has said incendiary things on her radio show, including declaring herself a “sexist,” asserting that women in the military should expect to be sexually harassed and promoting anti-vaccination conspiracy theories.

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

According to a Thursday CNN report, Shine hosted the “Darla Shine Show” in 2008 and 2009. On the show, she labeled herself a “sexist” and sounded off about women serving in the military.

“Why on earth would you fight to go on the submarine ship for months on end? You know there was just a story with these girls, these women who are upset that they are sexually harassed in the military,” Shine said. “What do you think is going to happen when you go on a submarine for 12 months with 4,000 horny soldiers?”

“I hate to say it, but it’s true. They should not even be allowed. The top military should say, ‘No way, you’re not allowed.’ But you know, the feminists have fought for these rights,” she continued. “It’s so stupid. I don’t know why anybody would want that.”

Per CNN, Shine has also promoted many anti-vaccination theories, speculating that the flu pandemic was a government “setup” and that government officials could break into people’s houses and forcibly vaccinate them.

Shine also calls sunscreen a “hoax” and refuses to slather it on her children.

She did open her show with a disclaimer, however: “Warning: This is the ‘Darla Shine Show.’ Everything you hear is Darla’s opinion. Some facts are true; others are made up. So take what you want, use what you can and you get what you get so don’t get upset.”

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Lanny Davis, Michael Cohen’s new lawyer, said Wednesday that he believes President Donald Trump may have committed an impeachable offense when, per former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony, Trump asked Comey not to fire former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Trump has denied this.

During a Hill TV interview Wednesday, Davis said: “When you have a President lying as part of abuse of power, such as lying about asking Michael Flynn not to be prosecuted, in that case, I believe James Comey and not Mr. Trump, that type of lie is an abuse of power and that could be an impeachable offense.”

During the interview, Davis also commented on the interview Michael Cohen gave with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos earlier this month where he established that his primary loyalty was to his family and his country, not to Trump.

“There’s a reason that he said at the very end of the interview with Mr. Stephanopoulos that he took these contrary positions to Mr. Trump, who he previously said he would take a bullet for, a comment that I believe he would not say today,” Davis said. “The reason he said is, ‘I will not be a punching bag as part of somebody else’s defense strategy.’ This was a declaration of independence two days before July 4,” he added.

Watch the full interview here.


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Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh racked up tens of thousands of dollars of debt from purchasing a boodle of Washington Nationals tickets in the past 10 years, according to a Wednesday Washington Post report. 

According to a preview of Kavanaugh’s financial disclosures provided by the White House, he had between $60,000 and $200,000 in total debt over three credit cards and a loan in 2016. Per the Post, the debts were either paid off or dropped to below the minimum needed to report by 2017.

Deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah told the Post that Kavanaugh’s friends reimbursed him for the tickets and that Kavanaugh has since stopped purchasing season ticket packages.

Though the disclosure forms provide only a fuzzy picture of the judge’s financial standing, since they do not require the reporting of assets like primary residences, Kavanaugh seems to rank near the bottom in terms of the wealth of the current Supreme Court justices. Per the Post, this is in part due to his longevity in the public sector unlike many of his peers who accumulated wealth in private practice.

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Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), weighed down with multiple accusations of lying and negligence from Ohio State University wrestlers he once coached, has sparked a “deep state” conspiracy rampage among his defenders.

According to a Wednesday Vanity Fair report, it all started when Jordan dropped sinister hints during his Friday interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier.

When Baier asked Jordan if he thinks the accusations are part of a conspiracy to bring him down, Jordan said no but added: “I think the timing is suspect when you think about how this whole story came together after the Rosenstein hearing and the Speaker’s race,” referring to his contentious exchange with Rosenstein while the latter was testifying and his own possible bid for the speakership when Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) leaves.

The tin-foil hatted pounced.

The likes of Breitbart and radio host Rush Limbaugh have alleged that ambiguous shadow agents are attempting to fell Jordan out of political motivation.

Jordan only stoked the flames Wednesday, claiming that CNN is “fake news” and that its reporters’ attempts to contact Jordan’s employees and colleagues about his conduct are “desperate” and that their eventual articles are to be trusted.

Remarkably, even a sitting congressman joined in the frenzy, as Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) took to Fox News Wednesday night to support the fringe theories.

“They are people who have loose affiliation with a deep state out to get Jim Jordan and this is the way they are manifesting their hatred for a man who is doing everything to fight for the regular folks in this country,” Gaetz told Fox News’ Lou Dobbs.

Eight of Jordan’s former wrestlers have now stepped forward to claim that Jordan knew about the sexual abuse committed by doctor Richard Strauss, and that his sustained denials are lies.

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With all the hullabaloo around former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s rapid entry to and exit from a new consulting firm, the name Elliott Broidy has surfaced again. As Broidy is a man with his fingers in many pies, here’s a rundown of why he’s involved in the consulting firm debacle.

On Tuesday, Flynn announced that he would be taking the role of global strategies director at new consulting firm Stonington Global LLC, with lobbyist Nick Muzin and his partner Joey Allaham. Flynn’s lawyers retracted his commitment — at least temporarily — a few hours later, saying that the statement was released preemptively due to a “misunderstanding.” All the while, Flynn is still waiting to be sentenced for lying to federal investigators about his Russian contacts, a guilty plea he made in December as part of his cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. 

Here’s where Broidy comes in. Muzin and Allaham’s last venture was a $300,000-per-month contract with the Qatari government to bolster the country’s positive image in Washington. This entailed fostering relationships between the royal family and Trump associates. However, the project came to a grinding halt when Muzin and the Qatari government were smacked with a lawsuit in March by Broidy who claimed that the Qataris hacked into his emails and, with Muzin’s help, disseminated them to journalists to ruin his reputation.

The emails show Broidy’s attempt to offer access to the Trump administration and GOP members of Congress to curry favor and seal deals with foreign governments.

Broidy at the time was lobbying hard against Qatari interests in D.C., accusing the country of promoting Islamic extremism. He also owned a defense contractor that had huge contracts with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, both of which are regional enemies of Qatar.  

Qatar has been spending bucketloads of money in the U.S. to secure Trump’s support against Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which, along with Bahrain and Egypt, began a devastating boycott of Qatar last year. Saudi Arabia and the UAE accuse Qatar of harboring and financing terrorists. They also despise Qatar’s Al Jazeera and reportedly want to dethrone the young emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

Broidy’s emails revealed another bombshell, unrelated to his international interests or Flynn’s consulting firm, that got his name into the news. The leaked emails told the story of Broidy’s $1.6 million hush money payment to former Playboy model Shera Bechard when she became pregnant during their affair. That payment was arranged by his colleague at the RNC, Michael Cohen.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan addressed the allegations swirling around Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) — that he knew about and ignored widespread sexual abuse on the Ohio State University wrestling team he coached — in a press conference Wednesday, standing behind his “friend,” a man of “honesty” and “integrity.”

“Jim Jordan is a friend of mine,” Ryan said. “We haven’t always agreed with each other over the years, but I’ve always known Jim to be a man of honesty and integrity. I also want to make sure that Ohio State conducts the review of this doctor and what he did — that’s important so campuses are safe. I’m glad Jim is supporting that review.”

Ryan continued, addressing a letter sent Monday by former ethics czar Norm Eisen and president of nonprofit Democracy 21 Fred Wertheimer calling for an Office of Congressional Ethics investigation into Jordan’s conduct.

“With respect to ethics, the Ethics Committee here investigates things that members do while they’re here, not things that happened a couple decades ago when they weren’t in Congress,” Ryan said.

Jordan has consistently denied any knowledge of the abuse many former wrestlers say they suffered at the hands of team doctor Richard Strauss. Jordan launched a full-scale PR defense Tuesday to fight back against the, as of Wednesday afternoon, eight accusations leveled by former wrestlers who say that Jordan did know about the abuse and is lying about his ignorance.

Watch Ryan’s press conference here.

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Mere hours after the announcement was published introducing former national security adviser Michael Flynn as the global strategies director of new consulting firm Stonington Global LLC, Flynn’s lawyers swooped, insisting that the announcement was a product of a “misunderstanding” and that Flynn was not a part of the new firm – at least not yet. 

According to a Tuesday Wall Street Journal report, Flynn’s attorneys hurriedly issued a statement to scuttle the arrangement. “General Flynn has not joined Stonington and did not personally issue any public statement,” lawyers Robert Kelner and Stephen Anthony said Tuesday. “He was aware that a statement was being drafted, but he did not intend that it be issued at this time.”

Flynn’s statement yesterday expressed his enthusiasm to “put my 33 years of experience in the military and serving Presidents of both parties in the White House to good use in helping companies and governments enhance the goals of freedom and liberty.”

This bizarre announcement and reversal is happening as Flynn waits to be sentenced for lying to federal investigators, appearing in court Tuesday for the first time since he pled guilty in December. Flynn has been cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller for months, and has seen his sentencing date repeatedly pushed back, indicating the Mueller is still mining valuable information from the retired general. He could face up to six months in jail for lying to FBI officials about his Russian contacts, and has also admitted working as an agent for Turkey during the 2016 campaign.

With Flynn out of the picture, for now, the firm’s other members will push on. Controversial lobbyist Nick Muzin and his partner Joey Allaham, whose most recent work involved an ill-fated $300,000 per month contract to boost Qatar’s image by connecting the royal family and Trump associates, released a statement in response to  Flynn’s lawyers.

“We cannot comment on General Flynn’s considerations about the timing of the announcement, but we have faith in his patriotism and long history of service to our country,” Muzin and Allaham told the Journal. “We look forward to working together.”

Though the two men reportedly did not know Flynn personally as they formed the firm, they recruited him for his “experience.”

They’ve hit the ground running, producing a hokey promotional video and official website. They advertise that the firm will “help private investors and sovereign-wealth funds develop and execute investment strategies.”

Flynn’s son, Michael Flynn Jr., was also offered a spot in the new company. It is unclear if Flynn Jr., who is known to peddle conspiracy theories like Pizzagate, remains involved with the firm.

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