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

The House Freedom Caucus warned President Donald Trump to lay off Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) on Monday, the lame duck representative having become one of Trump’s favorite targets.

According to a Monday Hill report, caucus members had a closed-door meeting to discuss Trump’s intra-party attacks and solidify their committee to stand with Sanford.

“Everybody in there is very supportive of Mark Sanford, and I think that’s one of the things that overwhelmingly they believe that the President is getting bad political advice,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) reportedly said after the meeting.

The group also released a statement pledging its support. “Mark Sanford has been a strong, independent voice fighting for the people of South Carolina’s First District. We continue to support him, he is a valued member of the House Freedom Caucus, and it’s our honor serving with him,” the statement reads. “His thoughtful consideration of legislation and willingness to put constitutional principles ahead of the party line is commendable and will be missed.”

Trump brought up his favorite punching bag during a Monday night rally in South Carolina, saying he “never liked [Sanford] too much.”

Trump also took a jab at Sanford’s extramarital affair, when the former governor claimed to be hiking the Appalachian Trail while in actuality spending time in Argentina with his mistress, though Trump confused the name of the trail during his mockery.

“The Tallahassee Trail, must be a beautiful place,” Trump said. “Unfortunately for him, he didn’t go there.”

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A couple dozen protesters gathered outside of White House aide Stephen Miller’s vacant D.C. condo on Monday, objecting to his hand in the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

According to a Monday USA Today report, Miller was with President Donald Trump at a rally in South Carolina when the “concerned D.C. residents” marched to his home, chanting and handing out flyers.  

Though Miller’s absence may have blunted the protest, it’s coming at a time that national scrutiny is being focused on the public shaming of Trump administration officials.

This is the second direct protest of Miller, who last week was heckled at a Mexican restaurant in D.C. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was shouted out of a restaurant and was protested at her home. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was booted from a restaurant when staff refused to serve her.

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An entire 48 hours after the fact, President Donald Trump’s lackluster Twitter defense of Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders after she was booted from the Red Hen restaurant is the tip of a much larger dissatisfaction iceberg, according to a Monday New York Times report.

In the tweet, he called her a “fine person,” choosing to focus on maligning the cleanliness of the restaurant, which actually shines in comparison to the myriad health code violations his own establishments have faced.

The lukewarm response is a public display of private conversations and musings the President has reportedly been entertaining lately as he questions his press secretary’s toughness. Per the New York Times, ever since she did not walk out during comedian Michelle Wolf’s roast at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Trump has sustained doubts about her strength.

Those qualms have only intensified lately, as Trump has reportedly been asking around for people’s opinion of Sanders, a classic sign of his growing discontent with a staffer. He has also been threatening to “grade” her performances at the daily White House press briefings from now on, though some sources told the New York Times that he made the threat in jest.

The fickle President’s mercurial emotions are reportedly adding to a sense of unease in the White House, an atmosphere heightened by the recent string of public confrontations of Trump administration staffers, including Sanders.

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After Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) called for continued protests against Trump administration staffers in public spaces, President Donald Trump unloaded a threatening tweet Monday, warning her to “be careful what you wish for.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in fact did not join Waters’ call for public demonstration, but tweeted a plea for civility in response to Waters’ comments.

Waters made her comments at a “Keep Family Togethers” rally in Los Angeles on Saturday.

“For these members of his Cabinet who remain and try to defend him they’re not going to be able to go to a restaurant, they’re not going to be able to stop at a gas station, they’re not going to be able to shop at a department store, the people are going to turn on them, they’re going to protest, they’re going to absolutely harass them until they decide that they’re going to tell the President ‘no I can’t hang with you, this is wrong this is unconscionable and we can’t keep doing this to children,’” she said then.

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An Oregonian national guardsman who left a violent comment about immigrants on an online fundraising page is now facing an unknown punishment, according to a Monday Washington Post report.

“Waste of money,” Gerod Martin wrote on the Facebook page for the online fundraiser working toreunite an immigrant parent with their child. “They’re lucky we aren’t executing them.”

The Oregon National Guard confirmed that Martin is a private first class guardsman and that he will face some punishment for the comment. Martin has reportedly been a member of the National Guard since 2013.

The Facebook page has received over $20 million in donations to date.

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller has reached out to Roger Stone’s friend, comedian Randy Credico, for an interview, according to a Sunday Daily Beast report.

Credico told the Daily Beast he would not speak to Mueller unless he received a subpoena. He added that Stone and his allies have been accusing him of cooperating with Mueller, even claiming that he has worn a wire.

“There was a reason why I didn’t submit to a voluntary interview, and that is because I had already been pummeled by Stone and his crew as being a rat,” Credico told the Daily Beast. 

Stone reportedly countered this claim.  “I have only badgered him to tell the truth,” he said. “I have never urged him not to cooperate with any official inquiry—only to tell the truth.”

Credico was subpoenaed by the House in November.

Stone has reportedly told Congress that Credico was a backchannel between him and Julian Assange, prompting interest due to the Wikileaks release of emails during the campaign.

Credico reportedly denied Stone’s allegation. 

Mueller seems to be bearing down on Stone and delved into his finances last month, according to CNN.

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David Bossie, former Trump deputy campaign manager, told black Democratic strategist Joel Payne that he is “out of his cotton-picking mind” on Fox and Friends Sunday.

The two were sparring over General Michael Hayden when Bossie dropped the racist comment. Payne retorted immediately. “Let me tell you something,” he said. “I’ve got some relatives who picked cotton. And I’m not going to allow you to attack me like that on TV.”

Bossie later apologized via tweet.

Per CNN, Fox News declined to say if it would suspend Bossie, who’s been with the network since February 2017, but a spokesperson did issue a statement. “David Bossie’s comments today were deeply offensive and wholly inappropriate,” the statement said. “His remarks do not reflect the sentiments of Fox News and we do not in any way condone them.”

Payne went on MSNBC to address the comment, saying “unfortunately, that’s just par for the course with this President and with the people that surround him.”

Watch below:

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President Donald Trump came to his press secretary’s defense Monday morning, calling the restaurant that refused to serve Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her family “filthy,” “disgusting” and in need of a paint job.

The co-owner of The Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia asked Sanders and company to leave Friday after the staff reportedly expressed discomfort in having to serve her.

“This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals,” Red Hen co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson told the Washington Post.

Soon after the incident, Sanders tweeted from her government account.

The episode is the latest in a string of Trump staffers being protested in public places. Last week, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and White House aide Stephen Miller were heckled by protesters at Mexican restaurants, and protesters blasted audio of immigrant children crying at Nielsen’s home.

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EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is under investigation for retaliating against employees who questioned his spending and management habits, according to a Sunday Politico report.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is reportedly reviewing claims from at least six current and former employees who were moved to different positions, took temporary leave, or were fired after pushing back against Pruitt on issues including his 24-hour security detail which has so far cost taxpayers $4.6 million.

The probe is one of around a dozen centered on Pruitt’s actions as head of the EPA.

A person who lodged one of the complaints and wished to remain anonymous told Politico that the allegations have credence. “These are highly educated, professional people who don’t complain. They do their job, they do it well and they’re tired of being abused by career employees who enable [Chief of Staff] Ryan Jackson and Scott Pruitt to get away with what they’re doing,” the source said.

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In a flood of new emails released due to a Sierra Club lawsuit, correspondence between EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s landlord and Pruitt’s chief of staff reveals a close relationship complete with lobbying on behalf of companies and discussion of possible EPA job candidates.

According to a Sunday New York Times report, landlord and lobbyist J. Steven Hart and Pruitt chief of staff Ryan Jackson communicated frequently about EPA matters.

Pruitt has repeatedly denied that Hart ever lobbied the EPA after suspicions were raised last year over the downtown D.C. condo he obtained for a scant $50 a night from Hart’s wife. Per the New York Times, at least two of the 13 federal investigations into Pruitt’s conduct as head of the EPA concern the living arrangement.

The emails reveal that Hart suggested many candidates for EPA jobs to Jackson, including a family friend whose potential hiring Hart said he and Pruitt discussed. He also reportedly lobbied Jackson on behalf of companies including Coca-Cola and Smithfield Foods, offered to try to sway Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) on an EPA candidate during dinner, and gave his advice on the Paris Agreement.

A Pruitt spokesman told the New York Times that Hart and Jackson were merely good friends from their days in Oklahoma and that their correspondence “did not impact any agency policy outcomes.”

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