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 has been harboring a simmering hatred of the FBI headquarters in D.C., calling it “one of the ugliest buildings in the city,” according to a Sunday Axios report.

“Even the building is terrible,” he said to an unnamed source. “It’s one of the brutalist-type buildings, you know, brutalist architecture. Honestly, I think it’s one of the ugliest buildings in the city.”

“This is prime real estate, right on Pennsylvania Avenue,” he reportedly added. “This is a great address. They need to stay there. But it needs a total revamp.”

Per Axios, Trump told Chief of Staff John Kelly that he wants to be intimately involved in the remodeling, down to the cost per square foot.

The FBI has not drawn up a new building plan and Congress has not approved any money for the project, but a senior White House official told Axios that FBI officials are “working with [the General Services Administration] for optimum design for the Bureau’s needs and at lowest budget, fastest timetable, etc.”

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In the crescendo to his frenzied media tour to mitigate the fallout from Michael Cohen’s tapes, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani walked back his assertion that President Donald Trump definitely did not know about the infamous Trump Tower meeting.

In an abrupt departure from his statements just four days ago, Giuliani told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota Monday that “nobody can be sure of anything” when she asked how he could be sure that Trump did not know about the meeting beforehand.

On Thursday, Giuliani had told Camerota’s fellow CNN anchor Chris Cuomo: “[Trump] didn’t know about it. I know that. I’ve been over this in great detail.”

Giuliani is suddenly uncertain about circumstances surrounding the meeting as well, as he dodged a definitive answer when Camerota asked him if the unknown number Don Jr. called just before and after the meeting was the President’s.

“I don’t know,” Giuliani said before pivoting to other subjects.

Watch below:

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Of all the skeletons that routinely get wrenched from closets during congressional campaigns, Virginia’s 5th District has shone a light on a strange one: Bigfoot erotica.

Journalist Leslie Cockburn, the Democrat taking on Republican former Air Force intelligence officer Denver Riggleman for Rep. Thomas Garrett (R-VA)’s vacated seat, tweeted Sunday calling Riggleman a “devotee of Bigfoot erotica.”

Her accusations about Virginia GOP Senate nominee Corey Stewart come from Riggleman’s refusal to outrightly deny that he would campaign with him.

Stewart has reportedly endorsed a known white nationalist and met with the leader of the Charlottesville rally. In keeping with the spirit of the campaign, Stewart’s spokesperson recently called majority-black communities “shitholes.”

Cockburn followed up her startling tweet with another picture of a nude and censored Bigfoot from Riggleman’s Instagram page.

Riggleman reportedly called the accusations “absurd” and said that the Bigfoot posts are part of an old military joke. However, he has co-authored at least one book on the mythical beast: “Bigfoot Exterminators Inc. The Partially Cautionary, Mostly True Tale of Monster Hunt 2006.”

Riggleman and Cockburn are fighting for Garrett’s seat, which he was forced to give up after accusations flooded in from aides accusing him and his wife of forcing them to fulfill tasks—like picking up after their dog and shuttling their children around—that fell far outside the purview of their professional duties.

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Two men, dressed in full “Russian soldier” garb in the California heat, have been standing guard over President Donald Trump’s vandalized Hollywood Walk of Fame star since Wednesday, according to a New York Post report.

Trump’s star was reportedly shattered by Austin Clay, who turned himself in to police and now faces felony charges. This second destruction of Trump’s star since he took office sparked protests and all-out fights.

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Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani did a marathon circuit on the Sunday shows, showing his face on multiple networks to convince viewers that Michael Cohen is untrustworthy in an attempt to undermine his credibility before he inflicts more damage on President Donald Trump.

Giuliani was dispatched as clean-up after audio was leaked by Cohen’s lawyer to CNN of Trump and Cohen discussing a hush money payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

He told Fox News’ Chris Wallace Sunday that Cohen is a “pathological liar,” “manipulator” and “scoundrel.”

Later, on CBS, Giuliani added that he considers Cohen capable of “doctoring” the tapes. He doubled down on the charge to CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on Monday, accusing Cohen of tampering with the tapes by cutting it off at an unflattering point for the President.

This is a drastic change in tone from Giuliani’s previous praise of Cohen as an “honest, honorable lawyer” and in strategy from Trump’s insistence that Cohen would never flip on him.

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Speaking in New York on Sunday, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gave herself “at least five more years” on the bench, according to a CNN report.

“I’m now 85. My senior colleague, Justice John Paul Stevens, he stepped down when he was 90, so think I have about at least five more years,” she said in remarks made after a production of “The Originalist,” a play about her late friend and colleague Antonin Scalia.  

She has reportedly already hired a full slate of law clerks to last her through 2020.

She added that her optimism about America’s fate comes from her late husband, Marty.

“My dear spouse would say that the true symbol of the United States is not the bald eagle—it is the pendulum,” Ginsburg said. “And when it goes very far in one direction you can count on its swinging back.”

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Following last week’s episode of his show “Who Is America?” which was so damning it forced the resignation of a GOP Georgia lawmaker, host Sacha Baron Cohen found his newest victim in former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Posing as Israeli counterterrorism expert General Erran Morad, Cohen begins his conversation with Moore, recorded back in February, by talking about complicated technology that enables the Israeli military to detect tunnels dug by Hamas to launch stealthy terrorist attacks.

Moore, clearly thinking the interview is legitimate, conveys Alabama’s support of Israel. Cohen jokes drily in response: “In Alabama, people have always been free, whatever their religion or race or sexuality.” Moore, missing the sarcasm replies, saying “it’s our heritage.”

Cohen then says that the technology has been altered to identify sexual predators, especially pedophiles. Multiple agonizing minutes pass as Cohen pulls out a security wand, waving it against himself before turning it on Moore and triggering a loud beeping.

“It must be faulty. It’s malfunctioning,” Cohen says as the machine blares. “Is this your jacket? Did you lend the jacket to somebody else?” he asks in a tone of concern as Moore grimaces.

Despite the many accusations from multiple women this year, Moore said that he has “never had an accusation of such things.” “Certainly, I’m not a pedophile,” he continued. “Maybe Israeli technology has not developed properly.”

He then announced that he was concluding the interview, shook Cohen’s hand, and walked off the set.

Per the Daily Beast, Moore released a preemptive statement before the episode aired Sunday saying that he is embroiled in “several court cases presently to defend my honor and character against vicious false political attacks,” and that if the episode is released, he “may very well be involved in another.”

Watch the clip here:

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This week Mariia Butina, the Ginny Weasley of illegally acting as a foreign agent, has understandably sucked a lot of air out of the room with her sudden arrest and the revelation that the FBI has long had her in its sights.

But her sidekick, her main squeeze, the Harry to her Ginny, Paul Erickson has his own alleged part in the plot and an absolutely bonkers backstory to boot.

Note: Erickson was not explicitly named in the charges brought against Butina, but the description seems to closely match his history and role in her life.

Erickson has had a long and storied past, getting his start in politics through college Republicans. His career since then has been varied and often bizarre, including writing a comedy routine to help get Ronald Reagan reelected, producing an anti-communism film and being an agent for John Wayne Bobbitt, a Virginia native who experienced an abrupt separation from a much-valued body part (a.k.a. his wife hacked off his penis while he was sleeping).

More recently, he tried to make inroads with the Trump campaign, offering Russian contacts he said he made through the NRA. It is not clear how the campaign responded to the email.

But in between the penis publicity and support of brutal dictators, Erickson still found time to fall in love. He and Butina met in Moscow in 2013. The gun lovers’ eyes locked above the racks of AK-47s and grenade launches and bang — shot to the heart.

Soon after, Erickson allegedly poured his energies into helping his radiant Russian, who was having trouble getting a visa, get into the U.S. of A.

During one of her visits on a tourist visa in 2015, Erickson took his lady love to a rustic and romantic getaway: a summer camp to teach kiddies the importance of sharing, responsibility and the unalienable right of a civilian to own a military-grade weapon.

When, according to court documents, Butina and the puppet masters pulling her strings decided that it was time for her to settle in America permanently, Erickson did what every good boyfriend does and bought her flowers and some LLCs, which he claims were set up to help her pay for grad school.

From day to night, he transitioned from doting boyfriend to dedicated teacher, reportedly completing homework assignments for his 30-years-younger girlfriend. He couldn’t remember how to do the math.

The great love story of our time was on track to progress — boxes were packed, U-Hauls were loaded. The lovebirds were ready to take on the big metropolitan hub of glitz, glamor and life in the fast lane: Sioux City.

At the last minute, FBI agents (noted buzzkills) swooped in and arrested Butina, giving her a new outfit to match her hair.

Erickson was bereft.

When the court action started and his sweetheart sat and watched as prosecutors laid out damning evidence of her efforts to influence GOP bigwigs on behalf of Russian operatives, Erickson was (probably) paddle boarding in a sea of his own tears — but he still had their love as his rock, his solace, his reason for being.

Until one lawyer, innocuous looking in a tailored suit and shiny shoes, uttered a devastating, shattering, earth-shaking word: “disdain.” He said that privately, Butina had expressed “disdain” at the idea of living with and being with Erickson. In a shocking turn of events, it seemed that she was spending her 20s dating someone in his 50s with an ulterior motive. Crushing.

No charges have been brought against Erickson yet. So far, he has escaped the fate of his once beloved, who sits behind bars waiting for her trial to begin. But free or imprisoned, Erickson still has to bear the greatest suffering of all: a broken heart.

For getting the ultimate, public, humiliating “she’s just not that into you” by a bunch of lawyers, Paul Erickson is our Duke of the Week.

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In a video posted to her YouTube channel, a flustered and discombobulated Roseanne Barr screams about Obama administration aide Valerie Jarrett, shrieking, “I thought the bitch was white! Fuck!” at the top of her lungs.

When the video begins, she is talking to an off-camera producer who’s encouraging her to speak like she’s giving a presidential address. She seems to have a hard time understanding him and keeps dropping her head into her hands.

“I’m trying to talk about Iran,” she says loudly to the producer. “I’m trying to talk about Valerie Jarrett wrote the Iran Deal. That’s what my tweet was about.”

“I know,” he responds. “You’ve explained this literally 300 times.”

“I thought the bitch was white!” Barr screams. “Goddamnit! I thought the bitch was white! Fuck!”

She then takes a drag on her cigarette and looks offscreen.

The video is titled “Roseanne explains the Valerie Jarrett tweet.”

In late May, Barr tweeted about Jarrett, saying that she was the offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes. The backlash was so intense that ABC cancelled the “Roseanne” reboot.

Barr has a history of racist and generally unhinged tweets, and has specifically likened a black Obama administration official—former national security adviser Susan Rice—to an ape before.

Watch below:

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Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, said Friday on MSNBC that it’s really Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats’ own fault that he didn’t know about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invitation to the White House until the news broke publicly.

“If you’re going to give a speech at Aspen, call the national security adviser. Check in with the White House,” Schlapp told NBC’s Peter Alexander. “He wasn’t prepped for the interview. It is his fault…The Cabinet has an obligation to stay hooked up with the President.”

On Thursday, while giving a live televised interview at the Aspen Security Forum, Coats first heard the news that President Donald Trump had invited Putin to visit in the fall. “Okay,” he said, chuckling as the crowd laughed. “That’s going to be special.”

Trump’s aides are reportedly worried that he’ll be miffed by Coats’ reaction and take it as a personal slight.

Watch Schlapp’s comments below:

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