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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

West Virginia Senate candidate, coal baron and ex-convict Don Blankenship said in a statement Monday that he is “Trumpier than Trump” and that “no one” can tell his fellow West Virginians how to vote.

The statement was issued in response to President Donald Trump’s tweet urging voters to choose anyone in Tuesday’s West Virginia Republican Senate primary other than Blankenship.

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National security officials and Republicans are preparing contingency plans behind the scenes should President Donald Trump’s CIA director nominee Gina Haspel fail to be confirmed, according to a Monday CNN report.

One of the rumored plans is to groom Susan Gordon, the deputy director of national intelligence, for the job. Gordon has worked in the CIA for decades, specializing in intelligence technology.

Haspel is slated to face tough confirmation hearings on Wednesday, where her participation in a Bush-era torture program will certainly be raised. She reportedly considered backing out of the process on Friday due to the likely grueling questioning.

 

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Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said that he feels “pretty good” about his recent media tour, and that the President’s legal team has “straightened everything out” and is “setting the agenda,” according to a Sunday Washington Post report.

“Everybody’s reacting to us now, and I feel good about that because that’s what I came in to do,” he reportedly added.

Giuliani said that that the plan for the weekend was for Trump to focus on foreign affairs, while the lawyers dealt with matters related to Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit and Michael Cohen’s legal trouble. They promised to only “bother” the President when necessary.

Giuliani has embarked on a wide-ranging cable news tour in recent days, making contradictory statements about Trump’s reimbursement of Cohen’s $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, a bombshell he first dropped on Wednesday.

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President Donald Trump defended his CIA director nominee Monday, saying that Gina Haspel has been attacked for being “too tough on terrorists.”

Haspel is set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, during which questions about her participation in a Bush-era torture program will be raised. She reportedly considered backing out of the process on Friday due to the likely tough questioning.

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Invoking the specter of Roy Moore’s Senate loss in Alabama, President Donald Trump tweeted Monday urging Republicans to choose any candidate in Tuesday’s West Virginia Republican Senate primary other than coal baron and ex-convict Don Blankenship.

Blankenship recently spent a year in prison for his failure to prevent a fatal mine explosion and has spent the last few weeks of the campaign attacking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his family, calling them “China people.”

Some say that Blankenship has gained some momentum in his race against two establishment candidates in recent weeks, despite his many flaws.

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Former DOD and CIA chief of staff Jeremy Bash says that CIA director nominee Gina Haspel is going “full steam ahead” into Wednesday’s confirmation hearings, despite her brief consideration of withdrawing.

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President Donald Trump doubled down on his “witch hunt” characterization of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe Friday, saying that a group of “angry Democrats” is running an “unfair” investigation.

“You have a group of investigators that are all Democrats,” Trump said. “In some cases, they went to the Hillary Clinton celebration that turned out to be a funeral.

“In all fairness, Bob Mueller worked for Obama for eight years,” he added.  

Trump spoke to reporters during two separate gaggles, one as he was leaving the White House and the other at Joint Base Andrews before departing for the NRA convention in Dallas.

It is unclear to whom the President is referring, as Mueller and his overseer, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, are Republicans. In addition, Mueller worked for former President Barack Obama for about two years, after being appointed by the Bush administration for a ten-year term.

Another theme Trump reiterated in both appearances is that he is being persecuted by the investigation. “I have to find that we’re going to be treated fairly,” he said, referring to a potential sit-down with Mueller. “Because everybody sees it now and it’s a pure witch hunt.

“If you fight back because you people say something wrong, or they leak like they’ve been doing, if you fight back they say, oh, that’s obstruction of justice,” Trump said.

In between praising himself and his administration for Friday’s job numbers and his talks with North Korea, Trump invariably reverted to his anger at the probe.

“All I’m telling is you that this country is right now running so smooth and to be bringing up that kind of crap, and to be bringing up witch hunts all the time, that’s all you want to talk about,” he said.

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White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Friday that she was unaware of President Donald Trump’s reimbursement to Michael Cohen for a hush money payment to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 campaign, despite the fact that she was running the campaign at the time.

“I had never heard about that during the campaign,” Conway told a CNN reporter. “I was the campaign manager. A lot crossed my desk.”

She added that she was still unaware of the payment last year while working in the White House. She did not specify exactly when she found out.

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Fox News host Neil Cavuto delivered a closing monologue Thursday questioning President Donald Trump’s habit of calling news stories “fake news” while the President lies frequently and leaves false facts uncorrected.

“How can you drain the swamp if you’re the one that keeps muddying the waters?” Cavuto asked. “I guess you’re too busy draining the swamp to ever stop and smell the stink you’re creating. That’s your stink. Mr. President, that’s your swamp.”

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The Republican-majority Missouri House and Senate have set a special session to consider impeaching Gov. Eric Greitens (R) who has been hit with multiple criminal charges, according to a Friday Washington Post report.

Next month, Greitens will go on trial for a felony charge stemming from a photo he allegedly took of a naked woman with whom he was having an affair to use as blackmail to ensure her silence. Last month, he was hit with two felony charges for using the donor list of a veteran charity to fundraise for his campaign without getting the organization’s permission.

According to the Washington Post, House Speaker Todd Richardson said that this is the first time in history that Missouri’s state government has called a special session. It is reportedly slated to begin on May 18.

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