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

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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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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