Kate_riga_profile2019

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 rang in Memorial Day—a holiday to honor those who died in active military service—with a tweet listing his accomplishments.

“Nice!”

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Retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, expressed his desire Sunday for a Republican to take on Trump in the 2020 presidential primary.

“I do hope that somebody runs on the Republican side other than the President,” Flake told NBC’s Chuck Todd. “If nothing else, simply to remind Republicans what conservatism is and what Republicans traditionally stood for.”

He hinted that he may be that Republican, saying “it’s not in my plans, but I’ve not ruled anything out.”

He added that if he were to run, he would run as a Republican since he “can’t imagine doing anything else.”

This is not the first time Flake has hinted at his presidential ambitions, rumors about which have run rampant since he decided against running for reelection in his Senate seat back in October 2017.

Watch below:

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For Rep. Tom Garrett (R-VA), it’s been a week of heartbreak.

Tuesday evening, the freshman representative had a dramatic breakup with his chief of staff, Jimmy Keady, sparking rumors that the verklempt congressman would drop his reelection bid and force local GOP officials to scramble to find a quality replacement.

His uninspiring fundraising had already made him a thorn in the party leaders’ collective side as his safely conservative district slid into competition with Democratic candidate journalist Leslie Cockburn’s robust challenge.

In the sober light of Thursday afternoon, Garrett tried to right Tuesday’s wrongs. He reportedly went to Keady and begged for him back, only to be met with rejection. The men split because Keady objected to what sources described to Politico as Garrett’s “misuse of official resources.”

The chief of staff-less Garrett then gave a rambling and, at times, emotional press conference to dispel the resignation rumors and to vent about how “frustrating” it is to serve in the people’s chamber.

Pacing and gesticulating with handwritten notes, Garrett took listeners on a wild ride, invoking Moses, King David, and Thomas Jefferson before assuring the assembled reporters that he is a well-funded and solid candidate.

“God’s got a plan, Tom works hard,” he reeled off to conclude his remarks in the third person.

God’s plan came with a hearty serving of embarrassment Friday, as Garrett’s pain from an on-again off-again chief of staff was compounded by a report detailing accusations by four former staffers who claimed that Garrett and his wife, Flanna, forced them to clean up their dog’s poop, chauffeur their kids from Virginia to D.C., and pick up backup outfits when Garrett got schmutz on his tie.

They chauffeured the dog too: Sophie, the Garretts’ Jack Russell-Pomeranian mix, would reportedly hang out in the House office being so quiet and well-behaved that her owners sometimes forgot about her, forcing staffers to transport her home (after Lysoling any unfortunate accidents out of the rug).

Aides had to carve out time for this ride around schlepping Garrett’s daughters from his first marriage from their home in Scottsville, Virginia to the nation’s capital, a quick three-hour jaunt one way.

The ex-aides said that the calls came early and often, and that interns were often roped into the servitude, somehow lowering the bar for Congress’s most mistreated underclass.

Unsurprisingly, staffers left in hordes, making Garrett’s office the fourth most abandoned of over 400 House offices.

For being the most likely to whine about how hard Congress is while an intern jogs behind with a doggy bag, Tom Garrett is our Duke of the Week.

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Former aides of Rep. Tom Garrett (R-VA) are accusing him and his wife, Flanna, of using them to do tasks far outside the scope of their professional duties, including cleaning up after their dog, chauffeuring their children and fetching backup outfits, according to a Friday Politico report.

A Garrett spokesperson declined to address Politico’s list of accusations, saying, “we see no reason to respond to anonymous, unfounded allegations primarily targeting Congressman Garrett’s wife, made by Politico’s ‘unnamed’ sources. It is easy to spread untruths and even easier to exaggerate and imply wrongdoing when none exists.”

Four unnamed ex-staffers told Politico that they feared professional ramifications if they did not comply with the couple’s demands, and that interns were often roped into the servitude as well.

The former aides reportedly added that they were asked to perform the menial tasks from early on in Garrett’s tenure, that they were sometimes called outside of business hours to run errands and that many of them quit their jobs out of frustration with the way they were being misused, resulting in Garrett’s office having an unusually high turnover rate.

Garrett has made headlines all week, after he abruptly parted ways with his chief of staff Jimmy Keady Tuesday evening and rumors flew that he was considering dropping his reelection bid.

Politico is now reporting that the two men parted because of Keady’s concern that official resources were being misused. Additionally, Garrett reportedly offered Keady his job back Thursday morning before he gave a rambling press conference to dispel the resignation rumors and confirm that he would stay in the race to keep his seat. Keady declined the offer.

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A day after the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit, President Donald Trump hinted to reporters Friday that there still may be a glimmer of hope.

“We’re going to see what happens,” Trump told a reporter who asked if the summit was still off. “We’re talking to them now.”

He even added that the summit may still happen on June 12, the original date set for the leaders’ meeting that had been scheduled to take place in Singapore.

Watch below:

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Despite the anxiety Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) carries as he vies to keep control of the chamber in a seemingly competitive midterm atmosphere, the veteran party leader still has time for fun.

“I enjoyed it, actually,” McConnell said of his viral Narcos-inspired tweet poking fun at former Republican West Virginia Senate candidate Don Blankenship. “It sorta softened my image, don’t you think?” he joked in an interview with Politico Thursday.

Though his viral tweet may have given the stern Senate leader some reprieve, he faces uphill battles in 2018. “If you look at history, it’s pretty clear that two years into any new administration is dicey territory for the party of the President. I don’t think this year will be any different. The wind is going to be in our face,” McConnell told Politico. “We have three vulnerabilities: Arizona, Nevada and Tennessee.”

He reportedly added that he feels confident about the GOP’s chances of defeating Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), though he acknowledged the power of the incumbency advantage. “Even though incumbents can be defeated, most of the time it’s hard,” McConnell told Politico. “So I think a realistic assessment of the landscape is, yes, the Senate certainly is in play.”

Though the House has been the subject of most midterm speculation, the party that wins the Senate will have inordinate power to sink or approve Trump’s nominees, a crucial factor in McConnell’s crusade to get as many conservative judges pushed through as possible.

“If we’re able to hold the Senate, the President’s — in my view — outstanding appointments are likely to be confirmed for the four years of his term,” McConnell told Politico. “So I think holding the Senate has a huge impact on the success of the administration.”

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The fear of President Donald Trump’s steady erosion of democratic norms is causing an unusual uptick in cross-party organizing, as Democrats and Republicans quietly join forces to bring back a political center, according to a Thursday New York Times report.

Though much of the collaboration reportedly happens in secret meetings and private email correspondence, some of the network’s efforts have affected real change, including amicus briefs its members filed to block the AT&T/Time Warner merger and the bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller, for which members had lobbied.

Per the Times, this bipartisan coalition is quietly readying national protests should Trump egregiously infringe on Mueller’s work as one of its primary groups, Patriots and Pragmatists, watches its numbers rise. Another way for these people to convene is called the “Meeting for the Concerned,” a semimonthly and confidential forum.

Ian Bassin, a former Obama White House lawyer, told the Times of the real risk that exists for Republicans to get involved in distinctly anti-Trump endeavors. “There is a troubling dynamic happening where anytime a conservative expresses concerns, they get branded a Never Trumper and are excommunicated from the American right,” he said.

Nevertheless, as these groups’ ranks swell and discussion ranges from the ideals of democracy to funding a centrist challenger to Trump in 2020, a new brand of bipartisanship flourishes just under the surface of a historically fractured and contentious political climate.

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With a month elapsed since President Donald Trump sent 1,600 troops to the U.S. Mexico border, the president of the border patrol union is calling the move “a colossal waste of resources,” according to a Thursday Los Angeles Times report.

“When I found out the National Guard was going to be on the border I was extremely excited,” union president Brandon Judd told the Times, adding that past deployments have lifted the heavy workload for stationed officers. “That has not happened at all” with Trump’s deployment, he added.

He reportedly said that the National Guard’s effectiveness has significantly dropped off from past deployments since this time, they must stay out of the “public eye” and can’t even man lookout posts.

“We generally support the administration, but we’re not going to be cheerleading when things are not going well,” Judd told the Times.

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President Donald Trump’s outside lawyer Rudy Giuliani said he thinks that the pair of Thursday DOJ briefings on the FBI informant could significantly speed up arrangement of an interview between Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, according to a Thursday Politico report.

“We want to see how the briefing went today and how much we learned from it,” Giuliani told Politico. “If we learned a good deal from it, it will shorten that whole process considerably.”

Giuliani also gave his two cents about Democrats’ concern that White House representatives—Chief of Staff John Kelly and Trump lawyer Emmett Flood—were included in the second briefing with congressional leaders, a break with precedent.

“I’d assume they’ll be very careful we don’t get information we shouldn’t get,” he told Politico, specifically referencing the FBI informant. “I don’t want the guy’s identity. I don’t want classified information. What I need to know is, ‘What’s the basis for their doing it?’ Most important, ‘What did the informant produce?'”

He reportedly added that he had given the President a 30-minute crash course on the most recent developments in the Trump-Russia probe Wednesday evening at the Palace Hotel in New York where a Republican campaign event was happening.

“His mood was excellent,” Giuliani told Politico. “He feels we’re on offense now.”

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Rep. Tom Garrett (R-VA) took to the microphone on Thursday to dispel rumors that he may drop his reelection bid: “I am absolutely, positively running.”

In a Facebook live video, he bemoaned the plodding legislative process in the House, saying “it’s like pounding your head perpetually against a stone wall.” He attributed his fleeting thoughts of resigning to this frustration, and added that quitting has occurred at some point to “everyone here” in Congress.

He also fielded questions about his chief of staff, Jimmy Keady, with whom he abruptly parted ways on Tuesday evening. “My chief of staff wasn’t fired, because if you’re fired, the last thing I say to you is ‘we’d love to have you if you’d like to stay,’ so by definition he wasn’t,” he said. “It’s been a pleasure to be his friend and to work with him, and sometimes in life you decide to do different things.”

He addressed the speculation that he may have been spurred to retire by his lackluster fundraising numbers. “I don’t like fundraising much,” he said. “But we’ve turned a corner, we’re doing extraordinarily well, and we’re going to be fine.”

Asked about his strategy coming out of this patch of uncertainty, he reeled off his motto: “God’s got a plan, Tom works hard.”

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