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

In preparation for a likely contentious confirmation process, former CIA Director and Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo is turning to every possible resource for help—including recent secretaries of state who he lambasted while in Congress. 

Politico reported Tuesday that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has offered help and advice, despite Pompeo’s legacy of flagellating her over her response to the 2012 attacks in Benghazi. She reportedly told him in a recent phone call to curb the exodus of career diplomats from the department, a trend that began under Pompeo’s predecessor, Rex Tillerson.

Pompeo reportedly reached out to former Secretary of State John Kerry as well, though it is not clear if Kerry responded. Pompeo once liked a tweet calling Kerry a “traitor.”

Per Politico, Pompeo faces an uphill battle in his confirmation process. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is split 10 to 11 with a Republican majority. Democrats are worried about Pompeo stoking Trump’s pugilistic instincts, and at least one Republican, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), is threatening to withhold his vote over Pompeo’s support of the Iraq War and torture interrogation methods.

Due to this unfavorable composition, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may bypass the committee altogether and bring the nomination directly to a floor vote, according to Politico.

Pompeo’s confirmation hearing will be held on Thursday.

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President Donald Trump cancelled his upcoming trip to South America on Tuesday, and will send Vice President Mike Pence in his place.

“President Trump will not attend the 8th Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru or travel to Bogota, Colombia as originally scheduled,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “At the President’s request, the Vice President will travel in his stead. The President will remain in the United States to oversee the American response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world.”

On Saturday, dozens of Syrians were killed in an alleged chemical attack in the city of Douma. Trump and most Western leaders denounced the attacks, though the Syrian government dismissed the allegations, saying that reports of the attacks are “fabrications.”

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The FBI on Monday raided the office of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, obtaining a search warrant after a referral from the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller according to the New York Times.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the agents also searched Cohen’s home and Manhattan hotel room.

Agents reportedly seized materials related to the $130,000 payment Cohen made to porn actress Stormy Daniels days before the 2016 election to prevent her from speaking out about the alleged affair she had with President Donald Trump. The FBI, the Times reported, seized “records related to several topics.”

The law firm where Cohen had an office issued a statement regarding the raid. “The firm’s arrangement with Mr. Cohen reached its conclusion, mutually and in accordance with the terms of the agreement,” said a statement from Squire Patton Boggs LLP. “We have been in contact with federal authorities regarding their execution of a warrant relating to Mr. Cohen. These activities do not relate to the firm and we are in full cooperation.”

Cohen’s lawyer Stephen Ryan slammed the search. “The decision by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York to conduct their investigation using search warrants is completely inappropriate and unnecessary,” he said in a statement. “It resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney client communications between a lawyer and his clients.”

He added: “These government tactics are also wrong because Mr. Cohen has cooperated completely with all government entities, including providing thousands of non-privileged documents to the Congress and sitting for depositions under oath.”

Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, responded to the news with a tweet:

Jeff Zeleny reported on CNN that Trump is watching the drama unfold from the White House. “I’m told the President has been watching news coverage of this development this afternoon from the White House,” Zeleny said. “I’m told by a White House official this was not coming as a surprise to the president.

“He had a head’s up in some way this had happened earlier today,” he added.

Last month, Daniels sued Trump and the company Cohen set up to make the payment, saying that the nondisclosure agreement she signed for the money should be nullified since Trump never signed it.

She appeared on CBS News’s 60 Minutes to tell her story at the end of March.

Trump spoke out about the case for the first time last week, telling reporters on Thursday that he didn’t know about the payment. He referred questions to Cohen.

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott made his Senate candidacy official on Monday, according to Politico. His challenge of Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) is shaping up to be a major referendum on the Trump administration.

According to Politico, the long-anticipated race is currently polling at a tie, with some giving a small edge to Nelson. Both men have various advantages: Scott has massive personal wealth that he can tap into to help fund his race. Nelson has his record of statewide success and an enthusiastic Democratic base.

Ultimately, per Politico, the race will likely be seen nationwide as evidence that a close connection to Trump helps or hurts in one of the country’s most critical swing states.

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Late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel tweeted a statement Sunday to put an end to his battle with Fox News host Sean Hannity.

The feud started when Hannity blasted Kimmel for making fun of first lady Melania Trump in a recent Late Show segment and dredged up clips from “The Man Show,” a Comedy Central show Kimmel co-hosted that used sketches to mock a stereotypically boorish male perspective. In the tweets, Hannity labeled Kimmel “Harvey Weinstein Jr.” and #pervertkimmel.

In the days-long exchange, the men taunted each other about their shows’ ratings, bashed each other over their treatment of women, and used off-color jokes to accuse each other of toadying to either former President Barack Obama or President Donald Trump.

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Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) brandished a loaded handgun at a meeting with constituents on Friday, declaring afterward “I’m not going to be a Gabby Giffords.”

According to the Post and Courier, he pulled out the loaded gun at an event about gun violence to demonstrate that the weapon is only dangerous in the hands of criminals.

He reportedly followed up his comment about the former Arizona congresswoman who was shot in 2011 with “I don’t mind dying, but whoever shoots me better shoot well or I’m shooting back.”

Per the Post and Courier, he maintained that he would bring his gun out at more constituent events in the future, saying, “I’m tired of these liberals jumping on the guns themselves as if they are the cause of the problem. Guns are not the problem.”

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Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) abruptly resigned Friday afternoon, listing his legislative accomplishments and saying that he knows “in his heart that it is time to move along.”

Back in December, Farenthold decided not to run for reelection when his term would have been up in January 2019 following a series of damning allegations regarding his discrimination and rage in the workplace.

Shortly after the news broke that he had paid $84,000 in taxpayers’ money to settle a claim with former staffer Lauren Greene when she charged him with sexual harassment and gender discrimination, the House Ethics Committee opened up an investigation prompted by a different former staffer’s complaint of widespread verbal abuse and sexual harassment in the office.

Farenthold vowed to pay back the misused money, but still has not done so. National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers released a statement calling for the repayment after Farenthold’s resignation.

“I hope Blake is true to his word and pays back the $84,000 of taxpayer money he used as a settlement,” Stivers wrote. “As I have said repeatedly, Congress must hold ourselves to a higher standard and regain the trust of the American people.”

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Fox News host Sean Hannity has spent the past two days calling late night TV host Jimmy Kimmel “Harvey Weinstein Jr.” in tweets attached to clips of “The Man Show,” a Comedy Central show that went off the air in 2004.

“The Man Show” starred Kimmel and Adam Corolla and aired sketches meant to mock the stereotypically piggish male perspective with sketches and live shows. Hannity has shared two clips: one where Kimmel has an object in his pants and asks women to feel it and guess what it is, the other where he sports a large fake penis under his shorts and asks passing women to tell him if “size matters.”

Using the hashtag #pervertkimmel, Hannity has called on Kimmel to apologize. Kimmel responded by chastising Hannity for comparing the real-life sexual assaults by former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein to the sketches, which Kimmel said involved only women who signed waivers agreeing to participate in the sketches.

The feud between the two started after Kimmel showed a clip on his show Thursday where first lady Melania Trump’s Slovenian accent was exaggerated when she was reading to children at the White House Easter egg roll. Hannity accused Kimmel of “attacking” Trump.  

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President Donald Trump’s aides use Fox News host Jeanine Pirro’s show, “Justice with Judge Jeanine,” to catch Trump’s attention and mold his views through his preferred medium, according to a Thursday Washington Post report.

They also reportedly make appearances to prevent the President from calling in himself, as he did in late February“Someone has to be on the show every week,” an unnamed official told the Washington Post.“He will listen more when it is on TV,” added an unnamed senior official about pitching policy to the President.

Despite their aversion to extended conversations with the press, both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have recently sat down for on-the-record conversations with Pirro, a longtime ally, to promote her new book on the Trump administration.

Pirro’s new book is called “Liars, Leakers and Liberals: The Case Against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy” and will come out in June, according to the Washington Post.

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