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

A majority of Americans approve of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign in the 2016 election, according to a new Washington Post-ABC poll. Smaller majorities also approve of Mueller looking into President Donald Trump’s businesses and hush money paid to women with whom Trump allegedly had affairs. 

Overall, 69 percent of respondents support Mueller’s investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, 64 percent support his probe of Trump’s business dealings, and 58 percent support his investigation into money paid to silence women about their alleged affairs with Trump.

When that data is broken down by respondents’ political allegiences, Republicans disapprove of Mueller’s investigation into all three of those areas by 51 percent, 62 percent, and 64 percent, respectively.

Both Democrats and Independents support all three areas of investigation by sizable margins: Democratic approval tops 80 percent for each focus; Independents support each focus by 70 percent, 65 percent, and 59 percent respectively.

According to the Washington Post, the poll was conducted from Sunday to Wednesday. That means that news of the FBI raid on Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen’s properties broke during the interviews.

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A former senior editor at American Media Inc. told CNN that Chairman and CEO David Pecker has a long history of killing negative stories about President Donald Trump to curry his favor.

Per CNN, the editor, Jerry George, worked for AMI, publisher of The National Enquirer, for 28 years before being laid off in 2013. He said that while he has no personal knowledge of the recently reported episode where AMI allegedly bought and killed former Trump Tower doorman Dino Sajudin’s story about Trump’s illegitimate child, it fits the broader trend at the company.

George reportedly said that Pecker, a longtime friend of Trump’s, would routinely quash any story that cast the then-businessman and reality television host in an unflattering light. Pecker would also sometimes require that pitches be run by Trump Organization officials. George added that Pecker liked to point out to Trump the favors that he did for him, and that Trump recognized Pecker’s loyalty, tweeting that he should be named editor of Time Magazine.

According to CNN, AMI rebutted these claims, saying that Sajudin’s story died when reporters found it to be false. A statement from the company reportedly added that they “emphatically deny any suggestion that there might have been be any ‘partnership’ created which might influence any business ties in regard to AMI.”

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Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) is hammering a congressional office for its lax cyber protection of servers holding complaints of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.

Until Wyden pressed the issue with the congressional Office of Compliance in late February 2018, the Washington Post reports, the information was stored by an outside contractor on an insecure server. Now, the servers are reportedly offline in a congressional facility.  

According to the Post, Wyden wrote a scathing letter to the office’s Deputy Executive Director Paula Sumberg. “The OOC’s astonishingly lax security measures provide the means for hostile actors to access, modify, delete, or disseminate embarrassing and compromising information about legislative branch staff who have reported incidents of sexual harassment,” the Senator wrote.

He asserted his shock that the office would “watch as other federal government institutions were systematically targeted by foreign intelligence agencies and decide that it did not need to take even the most rudimentary steps to protect itself and the sensitive data which has been entrusted to it.”

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President Donald Trump allegedly asked former FBI Director James Comey to investigate the existence of the rumored “pee tape” to allay the suspicions of first lady Melania Trump, according to a copy of Comey’s upcoming memoir obtained by the New York Post.

As the New York Post reports, Comey wrote that during a meeting with Trump, the President voiced his concern that Melania thought reports about the tape were even “one percent true.”

The Washington Post reported that the President went on to assure Comey that the rumor in the so-called “Steele dossier” published by Buzzfeed in January 2017 was untrue, asking Comey if he thought Trump was the kind of man who needed to solicit prostitutes and, in a follow-up call, reminding Comey of his germophobia which, he said, would make it impossible for him to partake in the activities described. The Washington Post also has a copy of the book.

Comey’s memoir, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” is due to be released on Tuesday.

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In search warrants executed this week, FBI agents sought Michael Cohen’s communications with a bank about his taxi medallion business in addition to information about his $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels before the election, the Washington Post is reporting.

The bank is New York-based Sterling National Bank, the Post reported.

In another revelation from the FBI raid on Michael Cohen’s properties, the Post writes, investigators may be examining financial actions by Cohen that used his taxi business as collateral.

As TPM has previously reported, Cohen rubbed shoulders with Ukrainian Simon Garber and Russian Evgeny “Gene” Freidman in the taxi business, both of whom have run into financial and legal trouble during their operations.

Unnamed sources told the Washington Post that Cohen is being investigated for crimes including bank fraud and campaign finance transgressions.

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Former congressman Steve Stockman (R-TX) has been found guilty on 23 felony counts for misspending $1.25 million of donor funds on sometimes-bizarre personal and campaign expenses, according to the Texas Tribune.

Stockman, who served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, will remain in federal custody until sentencing in August because he is considered a flight risk. His legal team reportedly plans to appeal the verdict in the meantime.

“Mr. Stockman is keeping his head up and we’re looking forward to getting through to the next stage of this,” Stockman’s defense attorney, Sean Buckley, told the Texas Tribune.

Stockman used the contributions from Illinois shipping magnate Dick Uihlein and Baltimore money manager Stanford Rothschild Jr. on expenses including spying on political opponents, dolphin boat rides, and bulk purchases of pop-up Advent books published by his brother.

Rothschild passed away before the trial, but Uihlein testified that he intended the lion’s share of his $800,000 to go towards a house for conservative interns and a tabloid to boost Stockman’s chances in an ultimately unsuccessful 2014 congressional bid. Stockman used most of that money on other expenses.

According to the Texas Tribune, Stockman was charged with aides Thomas Dodd and Jason Posey, both of whom pleaded guilty and testified against the former congressman.

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White House Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly called President Donald Trump “dishonorable” in a call with former FBI Director James Comey shortly after his firing, the Daily Beast reported. In Comey’s upcoming memoir, the former FBI Director reportedly writes that his firing by Trump made Kelly “sick.” 

When Kelly called Comey moments after he learned that Comey had been fired from television reports, per the Daily Beast, Kelly was emotional and said that he intended to quit because of it. According to two unnamed sources who read Comey’s upcoming memoir, Comey persuaded Kelly to stay in his role as Secretary of Homeland Security because Trump desperately needed people of character to guide and advise him.

This account of the phone call differs from the version that Kelly has told staffers, a senior White House official told the Daily Beast.

Nevertheless, Comey’s account may inflame already tense relations between Trump and Kelly, which reportedly have worsened in recent weeks. As more of Kelly’s allies in the West Wing have left or been fired — including former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — Kelly’s influence in the White House has decreased.

Comey’s memoir, “A Higher Loyalty,” is slated for release on Tuesday.

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Ahead of the media blitz sure to accompany the release of former FBI Director James Comey’s new memoir, the Republican National Committee is preparing a response, complete with a website and talking points, in an attempt to discredit Comey and his book.

The website, lyincomey.com, is strewn with quotes from prominent Democrats bashing Comey after his July 5, 2016 statement on the FBI’s investigation into then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails, punctuated by black and white photos of the former FBI director looking shifty. 

“Comey is a liar and a leaker and his misconduct led both Republicans and Democrats to call for his firing,” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement to CNN. 

According to the Washington Post, the website is just one prong of the RNC’s attack plan, which also involves a “war room” to respond to Comey’s TV appearances, an ad campaign, and an organized movement to send out Trump spokespeople to rebut Comey’s statements on different shows.

The White House has signed off on the RNC’s plan to attack the former Republican, CNN reports. It’s a sign of the intense anxiety administration officials feel about Comey’s press tour, and about President Donald Trump’s possible reaction to it.

The memoir is likely to paint an unflattering portrait of Trump and his interactions with Comey, who he fired nearly a year ago. Comey was heading the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, an investigation with which Trump was becoming increasingly frustrated, reportedly describing it as a “cloud” hanging over his presidency. The dismissal led Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint Special Counsel Robert Mueller to oversee the probe.

Comey’s book, “A Higher Loyalty,” is slated to be released on Tuesday; Comey will begin his press tour with an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Sunday evening.

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Asked whether House Speaker Paul Ryan’s retirement will spark an exodus from Congress, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she hopes that Republicans will stay.

“We certainly hope that Republicans will continue to remain in the House, especially those that support the President’s agenda,” she said at Wednesday’s press briefing. “Those that are campaigning, we look for a number of them coming out and also supporting the President’s agenda.”

Watch below:

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On Wednesday morning, a commercial bolstering Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s credentials and advocating that he complete his Russia investigation aired during Fox and Friends in the Washington D.C. market.

According to the Washington Post, the ad came from a group called Republicans for the Rule of Law led by Bill Kristol, editor at large at the Weekly Standard. The group’s website displays quotes from many Republican lawmakers supporting Mueller and his work.

President Donald Trump is known to be an avid viewer of the show, often tweeting about and focusing on issues raised during the programm. His staffers make guest appearances on Fox News shows frequently, to pitch policy and mold the opinions of the President.

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