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

White House aide Stephen Miller recounted a story to colleagues when he was so upset at being confronted by a hostile bartender that he threw away $80 of takeout sushi, according to a Monday Washington Post report.

He reportedly had gathered his maritime feast and left the restaurant only to hear his name called from behind him. He turned around to face a bartender who had followed him out. Miller said that the bartender stuck up his middle fingers and hollered curses.

Distraught, Miller dumped the sushi in the trash.

Many Trump administration officials and other Republicans have faced public protests in recent weeks, largely focused on their roles in family separations at the border.

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Former ethics czar Norm Eisen and president of nonprofit Democracy 21 Fred Wertheimer filed a request Monday with the Office of Congressional Ethics to launch an investigation into Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).

The probe would center on allegations that Jordan knew about and ignored rampant sexual abuse while he was an assistant coach for Ohio State University’s wrestling team, and Jordan’s recent assertions that he knew nothing about it.

“There is a direct and irreconcilable conflict between the public statements made by seven former Ohio State student wrestlers that Rep. Jordan knew wrestling team members were being sexually abused by the team doctor, and Rep. Jordan’s denial that he had any knowledge of the abuses,” they write in the letter. “This is a very serious matter that directly reflects on the integrity of the House of Representatives as an institution and on the credibility of its Members.”

They add that if the OCE finds evidence that Jordan has lied about his knowledge and failed to protect his wrestlers, the office should recommend that the House Ethics Committee take up the investigation.

“If it is determined that Rep. Jordan is lying to cover up his failure to protect student wrestlers under his supervision from sexual abuses, the House must hold Rep. Jordan accountable for his lies,” they conclude.

Seven former Ohio State University wrestlers are now accusing Jordan of lying about his ignorance of the sexual abuse many wrestlers suffered at the hands of team doctor Richard Strauss. Strauss committed suicide in 2005 and the university has since opened up an investigation.

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Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani implied to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Sunday that President Donald Trump pressured former FBI Director James Comey to “give the man a break” and drop the investigation into ex-White House national security adviser Michael Flynn.

According to a Monday CNN report, Giuliani said that it was Comey’s own fault if he took that as a serious order.

“[Comey] could have taken it that way, but by that time he had been fired,” Giuliani said. “He said a lot of other things, some of which has turned out to be untrue. The reality is, as a prosecutor, I was told that many times, ‘can you give the man a break,’ either by his lawyers, by his relatives, by his friends. You take that into consideration. But you know that doesn’t determine not going forward with it.”

During his congressional testimony last year, Comey told senators that Trump told him he hoped Comey would “see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Trump has denied this.

Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to FBI officials about his interactions with the Russian ambassador and is working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

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Despite getting unceremoniously booted from the White House, former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt may be welcomed with open arms back in Oklahoma, according to a Sunday New York Times report.

Though it is not yet clear if Pruitt and his family will return to his home state, some prominent politicians there seem to consider him a victim of the liberal mob whose dedication to deregulation outweighs any personal scandals.

“Whatever Scott Pruitt’s problems, whether they were self-inflicted or not, it really doesn’t matter, in my view, because his approach was correct, and that needs to continue,” Dewey F. Bartlett Jr., former Tulsa mayor, told the New York Times. “Now, how Scott will be welcomed back in Tulsa, back in Oklahoma, that will be okay.”

“It’s not like ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,’ necessarily,” he continued. “But I think he’s been seen as a person who tried hard, was pretty successful, and got beat up pretty bad.”

“I think Oklahomans still love him, support him and trust him,” Pam Pollard, the state party chairwoman, told The Associated Press. “We’ll give him the opportunity to tell his side of the story.”

There is reportedly some buzz that Pruitt could run for Sen. James Inhofe’s (R-OK) seat, should the 83-year-old retire soon.

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As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) left a restaurant in Louisville Saturday, a crowd of protestors followed him through the parking lot, chanting about ICE and the border crisis.

At the time, per the Washington Post, hundreds of protestors were posted up outside of the nearby Louisville Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office.

A handful of protestors waited outside the restaurant, crying “where are the children?” and “vote you out” and “where are the babies, Mitch?”

One man lobbed personal insults, saying “we know where you live” and calling the Senator a “turtle head.”

Per the Post, another man drove up in a convertible after McConnell and his dining companions silently got into their car and left. He angrily addressed the protestors, saying: “Let them live their lives. It’s none of your fucking business.”

This is not the first time McConnell has faced public protests in recent days, as he and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, were confronted at Georgetown University by a group of students over the family separations.

Protestors have been favoring the public showdowns since the family separations became widely publicized, addressing many Trump administration officials while they were out to eat.

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New conditions set by President Donald Trump’s lawyers make it look increasingly unlikely that Trump will agree to be interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller of his own volition, according to a Friday New York Times report.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani reportedly said that their new demands include Mueller concluding that Trump has committed a crime before their interview, and deeming the interview absolutely crucial to concluding the investigation.

Giuliani admitted that Mueller is unlikely to agree to these conditions, though he still could always subpoena Trump and force the interview.

Per the New York Times, Trump’s legal team also wants Mueller to offer proof that he has overturned every other stone before requesting an interview with Trump, and that Trump is the only person who can provide the information he’s seeking.

This is reportedly part of a greater shift in strategy by team Trump to sway public opinion against Mueller and his probe, as they fear that Democrats winning the House in November would mean an inevitable beginning of impeachment processes. They want to discredit the probe before that time.

“Nobody is going to consider impeachment if public opinion has concluded this is an unfair investigation, and that’s why public opinion is so important,” Mr. Giuliani said.

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Interim EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler railed against President Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign in a now-deleted Facebook post, calling him a “bully” and lacking acumen as a businessman.

According to a Friday Politico report, Wheeler was then working as an environmental adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’s campaign.

“[A]s a businessman, he really hasn’t been that successful. He is a successful PR person, but not a businessman,” he wrote on Facebook in February 2016. “[H]e has more baggage then all of the other Republican candidates combined.”

“He is a bully,” he continued. “This alone should disqualify him from the White House.”

Wheeler, a veteran coal industry lobbyist, told Politico that he recanted after he heard Trump speak on energy issues that June.

“He gave a 40-minute energy speech where he didn’t use notes or a teleprompter,” he told Politico. “And as I have stated previously it was the most comprehensive energy speech by a presidential candidate I had ever heard.”

Trump seemed unbothered by the one-time criticism when he spoke to reporters on Thursday.

“[Wheeler] has been with me actually a long time,” Trump said. “He was very much an early Trump supporter. He was with us on the campaign. He is a very environmental person. He’s a big believer, and he’s going to do a fantastic job.”

Trump’s unusual “let bygones be bygones” attitude may be due to Wheeler’s seeming commitment to an even more aggressively deregulatory tenure than former Administrator Scott Pruitt, and unlikeliness to follow in Pruitt’s scandal-swamped footsteps.

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Despite former administrator Scott Pruitt’s departure from the EPA, investigators will continue to look into the more than a dozen probes launched due to his management and spending behavior while in office.

According to a Friday Politico report, as many as four reports from the EPA’s inspector general will be released this summer. An investigation into Pruitt’s 24/7 security detail may be completed as early as this month.

If the IG finds illegal activity, it would fall to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to decide whether or not to prosecute.

Alleged scandals that emerged in his last week, including a secret calendar and using his aides to secure his wife a high-paying job, may exacerbate Pruitt’s existing woes.

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Six former Ohio State University wrestlers have now come forward to deny Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-OH) assertions that he did not know about the team doctor’s habitual sexual abuse while he was assistant coach. Now, new details paint a culture of “sexual deviancy” and “voyeurism” surrounding the team — making Jordan’s ignorance seem even more unlikely.

According to a Friday Politico report, members of the wrestling team would be frequently harassed by men who attended or worked for the university. The former wrestlers reportedly said that the men would masturbate while watching them shower and even engage in sexual acts in the wrestlers’ workout areas.

Larkins Hall, the building where the team was housed, was reportedly such a vulnerable target for these men that there are online postings describing how easy it was to watch the naked wrestlers.

Per Politico, head coach Russ Hellickson had to physically drag the voyeurs out of the building on multiple occasions, and reportedly begged the university to move the team to a private facility.

These damning alleged details come on top of the many accounts of sexual abuse at the hand of team doctor Richard Strauss, who committed suicide in 2005. The university has since opened an investigation into his alleged assaults, which many former wrestlers maintain was widespread knowledge throughout the team.

Jordan, who served as Hellickson’s right hand man from 1986 to 1994, has consistently denied that he knew anything of the various abuses.

“Conversations in a locker room are a lot different than allegations of abuse,” Jordan told Fox News’ Bret Baier on Friday. “No one ever reported any abuse to me. I would have dealt with it.”

But former members of the team assert that the culture surrounding the team was impossible to ignore.

“Coaching my athletes in Larkins Hall was one of the most difficult things I ever did,” said a former wrestling coach and colleague of Jordan to Politico. “It was a cesspool of deviancy. And that’s a whole ’nother story that no one has addressed.”

“Was there some deviant behavior? … Was there behavior when guys were coming into the sauna and showers, was there sexual misconduct? No one is denying that,” former wrestler George Pardos said of Larkins Hall to Politico.

Some players added that even if the words “abuse” and “assault” were not used, which wasn’t uncommon for the time, Jordan certainly knew what was going on.

Dunyasha Yetts, another former wrestler, said that when he got injured, he asked Jordan to come see Strauss with him so he would not be groped. Jordan’s office has reportedly denied the allegation.

“Yeah, you can say we never told you those words because we didn’t know those words, which is true,” Yetts said in reference to framing the incidents in sexual assault terms. “But for him to say he didn’t know? I asked him to come in there with me!”

Per Politico, the allegations are tearing the close-knit Ohio State University wrestler-alumni community apart, as some rush to Jordan’s defense while others express anger and disbelief that he would feign ignorance to protect his own skin.

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All great empires must fall. All great heroes must meet their match. All great legacies must fade from life to be inscribed in stone and story for us to remember until the end of time.

Scott Pruitt, would-be conqueror of Chick-fil-As, pillager of dirty mattresses, avenger of testimony given by his loyal aides, has toppled.

Surrounded by courtiers from the lands of oil and coal and seated at the right hand of a benevolent overlord, Lord Pruitt was thought to be untouchable. His routings of the kingdoms of clean air and drinkable water put him on a pedestal few could reach.

But recently, there had been rumblings all throughout the land.

This week, Pruitt scandals broke with the same regularity they have been for months.

We found out that he keeps a sneaky gcal so we don’t find out about his shoulder rubbing with decidedly unholy cardinals and the industry executives he supposedly regulates. We found out that he went to the mat for his beloved wife, seeking only the best for her: a $200,000 job she didn’t deserve. And we found out that a lifetime of loyalty is simply not enough for Pruitt. One misstep, like being forced to tell the truth under oath, and you’re out forever.

But none of this is new for the administrator. He’s been fielding slimy stories of his leaked misdeeds for months with little more than a light slap on the wrist from Trump in between gushing praise of his deregulatory legacy.

That’s why this week felt different. A senior administration official told CNN Thursday that Pruitt was “inching forward to the tipping point” of getting booted from the administration.

As the Washington Post reported, Pruitt was also fresh out of allies. Chief of Staff John Kelly had reportedly made it his personal mission to see Pruitt ousted. The White House counsel’s office disliked him, for obvious reasons, and even Trump administration acolytes like Fox News host Laura Ingraham had had enough. And on top of all of that, according to the Post, one of the many federal investigations launched into Pruitt’s actions as agency head was about to come to fruition — the OMB reportedly found that the $43,000 soundproof phone booth Pruitt had installed was a violation of federal law. The report has not yet been released.

So the ever courageous Trump sent Kelly to do his dirty work and get the resignation while tweeting about it from the safe and cushy confines of Air Force One. He dismissed his beloved EPA Administrator without even speaking to him. And Pruitt responded with a letter of resignation so obsequious, it practically oozes.

This is a good moment to pause and look back upon the soaring vista of charges that were not enough to dethrone the King of Coal, the multitude of scandals Trump found inadequate to outweigh the incalculable havoc Pruitt was wreaking on the planet at his behest.

  • a sweetheart deal on a swanky D.C. condo for relative pennies a night
  • deploying his aides to secure a White House internship for his daughter
  • deploying his aides to secure a Chick-fil-A franchise for his wife
  • deploying his aides to secure any other job for his wife when Chick-fil-A didn’t work out — with the prerequisite that it pay at least $200,000
  • using EPA resources to secure a used Trump Tower mattress (yeah, still have no idea what that was about, but it skeeves me out)
  • insisting on bulletproof vehicles
  • TACTICAL PANTS.
  • globetrotting on trips that seemingly very little to do with the environment or its protection
  • ’round-the-clock security so Pruitt had pals to both prevent the bevy of assassination attempts every low-profile Cabinet member faces and to hang out with at the Rose Bowl
  • giving his favorite pet staffers enormous raises even though the White House said no
  • using the sirens on his aforementioned bulletproof behemoths to cut through traffic and get his tapenade on at Le Dip

Here and here are two more non-exhaustive lists because this man does corruption like most of us breathe.

Dearest Scott, Trump would have forgiven you if you shot him in broad daylight on Fifth Avenue, so long as your other hand was dumping toxic paint into the Hudson. You have achieved what none of us thought was possible.

You have plumbed the depths of the misdeeds a person can carry out during one measly year and a half in office so extensively that you got Trump — whose personal ethics allow for stiffing hardworking contractors, using millions of taxpayer dollars to golf as a weekly respite from the stress of his rigorous Fox News viewing schedule, and stacking the White House with his inept family members — to kick you out.

For whipping up such a malodorous stench of corruption that even Trump in nose plugs couldn’t waft it away, the finally dethroned Scott Pruitt is our Duke of the Week.

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