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

The Senate voted decidedly in favor of a motion supporting NATO on Tuesday while President Donald Trump heads into the European summit, spouting off insults and accusations at America’s allies.

According to a Tuesday Hill report, Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) were the only lawmakers to vote against the nonbinding motion.

The motion was proposed by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), who called America’s commitment to NATO “ironclad.”

Trump has been sounding off on his many perceived grievances with NATO as he begins the summit, taking issue with a defense spending agreement he does not understand and complaining that Americans are taking on a lopsided burden within the alliance. He has also angered some of the U.S.’ closest allies by levying steep tariffs.   

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Though the elevation of former Fox News co-president Bill Shine to deputy White House communications chief of staff seems to draw even closer together the natural bedfellows of the Trump administration and Fox News, it’s actually exacerbating tensions between the two.

According to a Tuesday BuzzFeed News report, Shine’s acrimonious departure from Fox News will likely make him disinclined to do his old employer any favors. He was forced out more than a year ago due to claims that he helped cover up former CEO Roger Ailes’ alleged sexual harassment.

“The media consensus that this closes the circle between Fox and the White House is wrong,” a Fox News source told BuzzFeed. “Bill was fired under unhappy circumstances and felt thrown under the bus by his protégés who did not publicly defend him and now have replaced him.”

In addition, Shine’s great friend, Fox News host Sean Hannity, lobbied intensely for Shine to get the White House position, making him increasingly isolated within the network.

Hannity disputed this account on his radio show Tuesday, but he was reportedly already stepping on toes at the network because of his friendship with President Donald Trump and comfort with influencing him about Hannity’s own pet projects and causes.

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Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is pulling out all the stops in a sweeping damage control effort as more former Ohio State wrestlers come forward to accuse him of being negligent of and later lying about rampant sexual abuse on the team while he was coach.

According to a Tuesday Politico report, Jordan has hired the conservative PR firm Shirley & Banister Public Affairs. The firm got to work immediately, launching StandWithJimJordan.com, a website plastered with statements of support for the embattled congressman.

“We reached out to Jim as soon as we saw the story,” Diana Banister, the Shirley & Banister employee spearheading the effort, told Politico. “We reached out to the congressman because he’s a friend. He has a situation on his hands, and we wanted to be of help, of counsel, whatever we could do for him.”

Jordan has consistently denied any knowledge of the abuse many former wrestlers say they suffered at the hands of team doctor Richard Strauss, who committed suicide in 2005. Ohio State University has since opened an investigation into Strauss’ behavior.

Jordan’s colleagues in Congress are rallying to his side, choosing to disregard the stories of, as of Wednesday morning, eight former wrestlers on Jordan’s team.

“I 100 percent support Jim Jordan. He is a man of integrity and honor, and always fights for the underdog,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) told reporters Tuesday. “He was an assistant coach … one of many coaches. And to suggest this was somehow Jim Jordan’s fault? That’s just not accurate.”

“I don’t know happened 20 years ago at Ohio State, but the only person I know in this whole thing is Jim, and Jim to me has been an honest person — all the time,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) also said Tuesday. “I think if he saw something, he would say something.”

“I have always known Jim Jordan to be honest, and I’m confident he would stand up for his athletes, just like he’s always stood up for what’s right,” Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) said Tuesday in a statement. “I’m glad that Jim is committed to working with the investigators to see that the full truth comes out and justice is served.”

Many have less faith in Jordan’s claims of ignorance. On Monday, ethics experts requested an Office of Congressional Ethics probe into Jordan’s denials and past conduct, requesting that the investigation be handed over to the House Ethics Committee if any wrongdoing is found.

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When asked about his administration’s missing the deadline to reunite families separated at the border, President Donald Trump insinuated that the separations are a deterrent, saying that the families should not have come illegally.

“Well, I have a solution. Tell people not to come to our country illegally,” Trump told reporters Tuesday on his way out of the country for his Europe trip. “That’s the solution. Don’t come to our country illegally. Come like other people do. Come legally.”

When asked if he means that he is punishing the children, Trump doubled down.

“I’m saying this: We have laws. We have borders. Don’t come to our country illegally,” he said. “It’s not a good thing. And as far as ICE is concerned, the people that are fighting ICE? It’s a disgrace. These people go into harm’s way. There is nobody under greater danger than the people from ICE. What they do to MS-13, and everything else.”

He then turned the subject to attacking Democrats.

“So we ought to support ICE, not do what the Democrats are doing,” Trump continued. “Democrats want open borders, and they don’t mind crime. We want no crime, and we want borders where borders mean something. And remember this: Without borders, you do not have a country.”

Members of the administration have often flip-flopped on whether or not the child separations are designed to scare people off from entering the country illegally.

Watch below:

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Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) is mulling a challenge to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in November, spurred on by heir-apparent Rep. Joe Crowley’s (D-NY) shocking primary defeat by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez last month.

According to a Monday Politico report, Ryan won a third of the caucus’ votes in his last run for leadership after the 2016 election.

“The Crowley race changed a lot for a lot of us,” Ryan told Politico “There was a lot of assumption that he was going to be moving forward in leadership, and so losing that election put everybody in a state of mind to reevaluate what was happening.”

Crowley’s loss has also inspired some other ambitious Democrats to eye leadership positions.

Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) has reportedly said that he’d be interested in the whip position if Democrats get the majority. Reps. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) and Barbara Lee (D-CA) are both considering Crowley’s job as caucus chairman. Per Politico, Sanchez and Lee spent their Fourth of July break contacting allies and colleagues about their possible bids.

With Crowley’s shakeup and a promising landscape to wrest back House control, many Democratic caucus members see this time as an ephemeral window to leapfrog into esteemed leadership positions that would usually take years to earn.

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With Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination announcement less than 12 hours old, Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are diving right into the confirmation campaign, according to a Tuesday Bloomberg report.

Pence has Tuesday morning booked with local television and radio shows in states President Donald Trump won in the 2016 election.

He will then reportedly keep up his busy schedule, planning to be on a call with White House allies to whip up support, to be present at Kavanaugh’s introduction in McConnell’s office, to interview with far right radio host Rush Limbaugh, to eat lunch with Republican senators and to appear on two national televised interviews.

McConnell’s office told Bloomberg that Kavanaugh will meet with senators individually this week, and that the Judiciary Committee will announce the date for confirmation hearings after a thorough review of Kavanaugh’s extensive records.

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Due to his years in George W. Bush’s White House Counsel’s Office and as his staff secretary, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is likely connected to millions of pages of records, giving Democrats a chance to overzealously request documents and slow the confirmation process.

According to a Monday Politico report, Kavanaugh is not the only nominee to come with paper baggage—Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Elena Kagan also had held White House jobs before their nominations.

However, due to his posting as staff secretary, Kavanaugh likely came into contact with millions of documents and emails that rotated through the office.

By requesting to see all of the documents, which are public record and available for vetting, Democrats may be able to throw a wrench in the confirmation process and push Kavanaugh’s hearing until after the August recess.

Former National Archives official Sharon Fawcett told Politico that working through a million documents in a month would not be possible. She added that some documents would have to be “prioritized” to complete the job in such a short timespan, bringing up the question of who will decide which documents to release.

Per Politico, senators will also want to see documents from when Kavanaugh was working as a prosecutor for Whitewater Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, many of which are not public.

Some of those documents may get Kavanaugh into trouble, as he reportedly routinely leaked details of the Lewinsky probe to reporters, setting up unflattering parallels with the almost leak-proof probe of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

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Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) released a statement Monday in support of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) who has been embroiled in accusations that he knew of and ignored the rampant sexual abuse pervading the Ohio State University wrestling team he coached—all of which he now denies.

According to a Monday Politico report, Scalise chose to believe Jordan over the seven former wrestlers who have now stepped forward to contradict Jordan’s claims of ignorance.

“I have always known Jim Jordan to be honest, and I’m confident he would stand up for his athletes, just like he’s always stood up for what’s right,” Scalise said in the statement. “I’m glad that Jim is committed to working with the investigators to see that the full truth comes out and justice is served.”

Several of the former wrestlers maintain that Jordan definitely knew that team doctor Richard Strauss was habitually abusing many of them and their peers while he was working as assistant coach, despite his denials.

Strauss committed suicide in 2005 and the university has since opened an investigation into his actions. Ethics experts sent a letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics Monday calling for an investigation into Jordan’s claims that he was ignorant of the widespread abuse.

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Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), widely regarded as Democrats’ best chance to sink Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, hedged their bets after the announcement Monday to obfuscate how they’ll vote on the candidate.

According to a Monday Politico report, both women notably declined President Donald Trump’s invitation to the White House during the announcement ceremony.

However, Collins released a statement indicating a positive reaction to Trump’s choice, citing Kavanaugh’s “impressive credentials and extensive experience,” though she did not confirm which way she would vote.

Murkowski’s response was reportedly more tepid, saying only that she intends to participate in a “rigorous and exacting” vetting process.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who famously joined Collins and Murkowski in sinking Republicans’ attempt to repeal Obamacare, indicated that if he is well enough to return to the Senate and vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation, he’d support the nominee.

Per Politico, McCain in a statement said that Kavanaugh is “a fair, independent, and mainstream judge who has earned widespread respect from his peers.”

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Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, shared a Facebook post Monday claiming that Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) was being falsely accused of lying about his knowledge of rampant sexual assault while coaching wrestling at Ohio State University.

“Jim Jordan is under attack, with false accusations, because he threatens the elite,” she wrote on the post with the video below.

Jordan has now been accused by seven former Ohio State University wrestlers of lying about his ignorance of the sexual abuse many players suffered at the hands of team doctor Richard Strauss.

The university has opened an investigation into the now-deceased Strauss’ conduct and ethics experts are calling on the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate Jordan’s claims of ignorance.

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