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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

President Donald Trump pulled out all the stops at a Thursday rally in Great Falls, Montana.

He made fun of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and the #MeToo movement in one fell swoop, praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, attacked ailing members of his own party and repeatedly brought up the failed nomination of his VA Secretary candidate Ronny Jackson, placing the blame with Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT).

In one of his favorite talking points, Trump went after Warren for her claims of Native American ancestry, making a confusingly sinister joke about using a genetics testing kit to force the Senator to validate her lineage.

“We will take that little kit, but we have to do it gently because we’re in the #MeToo generation, so we have to be very gentle, and we will very gently take that kit and we will slowly toss it,” he said to laughter per an AP report.

Warren shot back on Twitter.

Back at the rally, Trump alighted on Russia and his upcoming summit with Putin.

“Putin’s fine,” Trump said per the New York Times. “He’s fine. We’re all fine. We’re people. Will I be prepared? Totally prepared. I’ve been preparing for this stuff my whole life.”

Trump then took aim at Tester, calling him a “liberal Democrat” and maligning him for “shameful, dishonest attacks on a great man, a friend of mine,” referring to Jackson whose confirmation was sunk when accusations came out from former employees of harassment, drunkenness on the job, and unethical medicine distribution.

A Trump rally would not be complete these days without an attack on Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), a task which he takes to with great enthusiasm.

“I said it the other day, yes, she is a low-IQ individual, Maxine Waters. I said it the other day,” he said. “I mean, honestly she is somewhere in the mid-60s. I believe that.”

Trump then turned his attention to his own party, targeting in turns former President George H. W. Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

In a meandering digression, Trump took aim at the ailing former President’s slogan, popularized in his 1988 nomination speech.

“Thousand points of light,” Trump said, per CNN. “What does that mean? I know one thing. Make America Great Again we understand. Putting America first we understand. Thousand points of light, I never quite got that one. What the hell is that? Has anyone ever figured that one out? It was put out by a Republican wasn’t it.”

He then attacked McCain, again bringing up his vote that helped kill the Republicans’ attempt to repeal Obamacare.

The President made a bit of news en route to the freewheeling rally as well, teasing to reporters on Air Force one that he had narrowed his Supreme Court candidates “down to four people and I think of the four people, I have it down to three or two.” He added that he would decide by Sunday and announce Monday, per the Hill.

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President Donald Trump officially announced Thursday that former Fox News co-president and Roger Ailes ally Bill Shine has joined the White House communications department as assistant to the President and deputy chief of staff.

“He brings over two decades of television programming, communications, and management experience to the role,” the White House said in a statement. “Previously, Mr. Shine served as Co-President of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.”

Shine accepted the job about a week ago.

He was forced to leave his old job at Fox News in May 2017 due to accusations that he had helped cover up sexual assault claims by retaliating against or threatening victims.

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An activist group won the right to fly a nearly 20-foot “angry baby” Trump blimp from Parliament Square Gardens in London during President Donald Trump’s visit to the UK next week, according to a Thursday Sky News report.

Protesters gathered thousands of petition signatures and raised more than $20,000 to fly the inflatable Trump, diaper-clad and holding aloft an iPhone in its minuscule hand, during two hours of the President’s visit and an accompanying “stop Trump” march in central London on July 13.

Though it was reportedly a battle with the London mayor’s office to win permission, officials ultimately decided that the balloon was a legitimate form of protest.

“The mayor supports the right to peaceful protest and understands that this can take many different forms,” a spokesperson said. “His city operations team have met with the organizers and have given them permission to use Parliament Square Garden as a grounding point for the blimp.”

Activists are reportedly hoping to take baby Trump on a global tour after the immense support the stunt gained in London.

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A senior administration official said that scandal-ridden EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is “inching forward to the tipping point,” according to a Thursday CNN report.

The official added that there are doubts about Pruitt’s longevity within the administration as soon as he starts being featured in Democratic campaign ads as an exemplar of the Trump swamp.

White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said Tuesday that the administration is aware of the most recent ethically dubious episodes unearthed about Pruitt.

“The President feels as though Scott Pruitt has done a really good job with deregulating the government, to allow for a thriving economy, that’s important to him, but these things matter to the President as well, and he’s looking into those,” Gidley said. “When we have an announcement, we’ll make it.”

This week, news broke that Pruitt maintained a secret calendar with meetings he thought were too unpalatable for his public schedule; aides revealed the lengths Pruitt had them go to to obtain his wife a high-paying job; and Pruitt told Trump he should fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and give Pruitt the interim job.

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As President Donald Trump levies tariffs and threats against China for “stealing American jobs,” a Chinese factory says it’s been hired to manufacture flags for Trump’s 2020 campaign, according to a Tuesday episode of NPR’s “Indicator” podcast.

Factory owner Li Jiang told NPR that his workers are producing hundreds of thousands of blue and white Trump flags similar to those they manufactured for his 2016 campaign. Per NPR, the Trump campaign ordered so many more flags than the Clinton campaign in 2016 that Chinese locals near the factory joked that they knew the outcome of the election before anyone.

Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., the committee organizing Trump’s reelect run, has publicly committed to buying American, saying that “we put America First and take great pride in selling 100% Made in the USA products to our supporters throughout the country.” It is unclear if the committee was the body that entered into the contract with the Chinese factory.

Jiang told NPR he was unconcerned about the possibility that his flags could be a casualty of the escalating American-Chinese trade conflict.

“We are not so worried because first of all, we have a big price advantage over our competitors,” he said. “And our clients are very smart. They would always go to the cheapest place. If China is cheap, they go to China. If America is cheap, they go to America.”

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Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti said Wednesday that he would run against President Donald Trump in 2020 if no other viable Democratic candidate stepped up.

He then headed off any critiques of his lack of political experience by pointing to Trump’s victory.

Avenatti doubled down on his position later on CNN, telling Jim Sciutto that he has “brains, heart and courage,” or “three things that this President lacks.”

He added that he would prioritize immigration reform, job creation in the heartland, and pro-choice policy.

“So look, I hope somebody that’s competent enough to beat this guy — and that’s the question, who can beat him? I hope that person steps forward,” he said. “If they don’t, I will.”

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Former Ohio State wrestlers are accusing Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) of turning a blind eye to rampant sexual abuse by the team doctor while he was coach twenty years ago, according to a Tuesday NBC News report. 

Officials at Ohio State reportedly announced that they were investigating the conduct of Dr. Richard Strauss, who died in 2015 but served as team doctor from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Per NBC, Jordan worked as assistant coach from 1986 to 1994.

The congressman has vehemently denied any awareness of the systematic abuse. “Congressman Jordan never saw any abuse, never heard about any abuse, and never had any abuse reported to him during his time as a coach at Ohio State,” his spokesperson told NBC.

Jordan’s former players reacted strongly to Jordan’s denial.

“It’s sad for me to hear that he’s denying knowing about Strauss,” former wrestler  Dunyasha Yetts said. “I don’t know why he would, unless it’s a cover-up. Either you’re in on it, or you’re a liar.”

Read the full report here. 

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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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