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

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) is deeply concerned, for no discernible reason, that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is spying on him.

Fox News host David Asman said he’d heard of Gohmert’s worries about Rosenstein and asked for details Monday evening.

“I’ve been told in the past that there was great concern about who I saw, what I did,” Gohmert said. “That I was being monitored, and I was even told that you know everyone that walks into my office…After the 48-page expose I did on Mueller and holding people accountable that need to be accountable, I have to take these more seriously, that people have been telling me.”

Gohmert offered up no evidence to back up his claims, though he did go on to call for Rosenstein’s firing.

Watch below:

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Former colleagues of DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen — from Georgetown University to her stint with the Bush administration to her homeland security career — have theories for why the wonky career bureaucrat they once knew has transformed into the poster child for the Trump administration’s most extreme immigration policies.

According to a Politico Magazine report, her behavior is baffling to some of those familiar with her personality.

“This almost Cruella de Vil press conference that she held was shocking to those of us who know her,” said Arick Wierson, Nielsen’s classmate at Georgetown. “That’s not the Kirstjen we know.”

To others, the about-face can be interpreted as responsibility to stick with the turbulent administration and provide a sense of quiet calm from the inside.

“She is motivated by a sense of duty,” Thad Bingel, Nielsen’s colleague from the Bush administration, told Politico. “She really doesn’t care about getting credit, or in some cases the blame, just that the right result happens.”

Still, others interpreted her evolution as full-on careerism.

“She had a choice: She either loses this spectacular job, or she does the bidding of a President who is using these kids in a game of brinkmanship so he can get his wall,” one of her former homeland security coworkers told Politico.

Whatever her motivation, Nielsen seems to have won over President Donald Trump for now. But the DHS secretary will likely continue performing a delicate dance to appease her famously mercurial boss, with whom loyalty is fleeting and alliances can rise and fall in a matter of days.

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Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) has been repeatedly thwarted in his attempts to gain entry to an immigration detention facility for children age 13 and under in Pleasant Hill, California, according to a Monday McClatchy report.

He has reportedly been trying for a week to get in. He was given approval on Friday only to have it taken away over the weekend.

“Obviously, we want to know the plan to reunify those kids back with their parents,” Denham told McClatchy from outside the facility’s locked door.

Denham said that the facility’s staff had said that they needed a two-week warning before he could tour the facility. He pushed back, wanting to see the children before Congress is back in session, and voiced doubts about how pristine the conditions could be if the staff needs two weeks to prepare for a congressional visit.

“They knew that we were coming,” Denham told McClatchy. “We knew cameras most likely wouldn’t be allowed in, but if they wanted to show the conditions, and what a lovely facility they run, then why wouldn’t they want people to come in and report on it?”

Denham, who faces a tough reelection contest and criticism that visiting the facility is simply campaign showboating, said that he wouldn’t let the issue out of his teeth and intends to try to get into the center again before Congress is called back to session.

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In the never-ending stream of ethical scandals clouding EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s tenure, more bombshells dropped Monday and Tuesday as reports surfaced of Pruitt’s secret calendar, his jockeying to get his wife a cushy job and his manipulation of staffers to save himself money.

According to a CNN report, Pruitt maintained a secret calendar along with his public one, scrubbing events from the public version that he felt would reflect poorly on him.

Kevin Chmielewski, Pruitt’s former deputy chief of staff for operations, told CNN that Pruitt would regularly convene staffers to go through his schedule with a fine-toothed comb to remove any unscrupulous-looking events.

Appointments like Pruitt’s meetings with Cardinal George Pell—who was later charged with multiple counts of sexual assault—and meals with industry bigwigs were deleted from the public record.

Per CNN, these actions could be in violation of federal law prohibiting “falsifying records.”

Simultaneously, a Washington Post report chronicles a host of Pruitt’s previously unknown ethical misdeeds, including using his post as EPA administrator to try to rustle up his wife Marlyn a job paying at least $200,000.   

Pruitt reportedly directed former associate administrator for the Office of Policy Samantha Dravis to contact the Republican Attorneys General Association as part of the job search for his wife. Dravis declined, according to her testimony last week before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, but added that Pruitt insisted that whichever job found for his wife top $200,000 in salary. Per the Washington Post, Dravis ultimately landed Marlyn Pruitt at the Judicial Crisis Network, though the salary fell short of her husband’s demands.

During her testimony, Dravis reportedly added that Pruitt instructed her and another top aide, both of whom are lawyers, to find a loophole in his dubious $50 per night D.C. rental agreement when he vacated the premises early, so he wouldn’t have to pay the penalty fine.

In another penny-pinching episode, Chmielewski told the Washington Post that Pruitt routinely forced aides to charge his expenses to their personal credit cards instead of his.

For example, Pruitt reportedly stuck former scheduler Sydney Hupp with a $600 charge for a hotel room for his family during the transition. When Hupp told Pruitt’s chief of staff Ryan Jackson of the payment to get repaid, he told her that the transition reimbursement window had passed. The incident concluded with Jackson leaving $600 in cash in Hupp’s desk drawer.

Per CNN, Pruitt is now facing at least 14 federal investigations into his management and spending habits as EPA administrator.

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Kristin Mink, teacher and mother, confronted EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt while he ate lunch Monday at a D.C. restaurant, urging him to resign before his many scandals force the issue.

“We deserve to have somebody at the EPA who actually does protect our environment, somebody who believes in climate change and takes it seriously for the benefit of all of us, including our children,” she said, holding her young son. “I would urge you to resign before your scandals push you out.”

According to video footage, Pruitt did not respond but listened, drumming his fingers on the table.

Mink wrote in her Facebook video post that Pruitt and his dining companion left the restaurant with a security detail before she had made it back to her seat.

“He’s corrupt, he’s a liar, he’s a climate change denier, and as a public servant, he should not be able to go out in public without hearing from the citizens he’s hurting,” she wrote on the Facebook post.

Pruitt has now joined the ranks of Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and White House aide Stephen Miller, all of whom have been on the receiving end of some form of public protest while out to eat in recent weeks.

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The White House went on the offensive Monday, attacking Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) via its official government Twitter account for supporting “criminals” and the “animals of MS-13.”

Harris fired back.

Warren did not reply on Twitter, though she participated in a “Families Belong Together” rally last weekend, saying: “The president’s deeply immoral actions have made it obvious we need to rebuild our immigration system from top to bottom, starting by replacing ICE with something that reflects our morality and that works,” per Politico.

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First lady Melania Trump has raked in at least $100,000 and as much as $1 million from an unusual licensing agreement with Getty Images that makes news outlets unwittingly funnel money to her. The photos are also tagged with a glaring stipulation: they can only be used to accompany positive stories.

According to a Monday NBC report, the positive stipulation is clearly listed on the photos in question — almost 200 images of the first family — but there is no mention of the Trumps’ royalties.

The information was unearthed in President Donald Trump’s most recent financial disclosure.

At least a dozen outlets reportedly used the photos in 2017, including Yahoo News, Marie Claire and NBC itself.

Per NBC, many of the restricted photos had been used before 2017, but no evidence of the royalties surfaced in financial reports before the one released in May.

Multiple photos were taken down by various outlets when contacted by NBC. “We were not aware of this specific arrangement with Getty nor was our editorial influenced by it,” said a spokesperson for Yahoo. “We have removed the image from Yahoo Lifestyle.”

The White House declined to comment on the royalties to NBC.

“President Trump’s recent Public Disclosure Report, which included information regarding Mrs. Trump’s income and assets, was filed after being certified by the White House Ethics Counsel and the Office of Government Ethics,” a spokesperson said. “The report speaks for itself.”

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Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called President Donald Trump “the most undemocratic president in modern American history” on Sunday in an interview with the BBC’s Andy Marr.

She added that she would not classify Trump as a fascist, as her definition of a fascist is “somebody who uses violence to achieve what he wants.”

“And by the way, it’s not easy as a former diplomat to be in a foreign country and criticize one’s own President,” she added. “But I am concerned.”

Albright led the State Department under President Bill Clinton and has criticized Trump before, saying that he has a “lack of democratic instinct of any kind” and a “disdain for the press and the judiciary and the electoral process.”

Watch below:

h/t CNN.

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White House counsel Don McGahn, Legislative Affairs director Marc Short and Domestic Policy Director Andrew Bremberg have told coworkers that they will delay their departures from the White House until President Donald Trump’s new Supreme Court nominee is confirmed, according to a Sunday ABC report.

McGahn’s team will reportedly spearhead the confirmation process, a prospect rosy enough that he will be able, at least temporarily, to put aside his increasing difficulties in dealing with the President.

Per ABC, Short is now expected to stay on until October to help coordinate Senate offices — previously, he planned to leave in July.

Bremberg has pushed back plans to leave, though he has not confirmed to ABC that the decision is directly linked to the confirmation process, which he will help coordinate in a minor role.

Trump said last week that he has winnowed his list of Supreme Court candidates to five, and plans to announce his pick on July 9.

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A draft bill ordered by President Donald Trump and leaked to Axios Sunday reveals Trump’s desire to have the ability to raise tariffs without congressional approval and in complete disregard of international agreements.

The bill would directly contradict major rules of the World Trade Organization, including already agreed to tariff ceilings and the policy about setting tariffs on different countries.

An unnamed source told Axios that the bill would never muster the requisite congressional support, and White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short reportedly called it “dead on arrival.”

Despite the fact it will likely never emerge from the draft stages, the bill is a stunning look at Trump’s disregard for international agreements and the U.S. checks and balances system in favor of giving himself complete, unilateral power over his pet issues.

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