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

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) dismissal of House Chaplain Rev. Patrick Conroy earlier this month has stirred up outrage and wide-ranging speculation, according to a Thursday afternoon Washington Post report.

In Ryan’s original press release, the ouster was painted as a voluntary resignation; only in recent days have details fully emerged confirming that it was a firing, according to the Washington Post.

A letter from a bipartisan group of lawmakers is reportedly circulating currently, collecting signatures to request more information from Ryan about the dismissal.

According to the Hill, unnamed sources are guessing that Ryan fired Conroy over as wide a range of issues as voicing disquiet with the GOP tax bill through a prayer to inviting a Muslim to deliver one day’s opening invocation.

Conroy has been the House chaplain since 2011 and, as a Jesuit, is only the second Catholic ever to hold the post.

Read More →

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) was reportedly taken aback that Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) so aggressively pursued allegations against President Donald Trump’s veterans affairs secretary nominee Ronny Jackson, given that Tester faces reelection this year in a state that the President won by over 20 points in 2016. 

“I’m frankly a little surprised at how emboldened he has felt,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told the Washington Post. “He apparently isn’t too worried about the election.”

Trump attacked Tester Thursday morning for his role in the investigation, predicting a personal cost down the line. “For Jon Tester to start bringing up stuff like ‘candy man’ and the kind of things he was saying, well you know, that are statements that are made up,” Trump said on Fox and Friends. “I think Jon Tester has a big price to pay in Montana. I don’t think people in Montana — the admiral is the kind of person that they respect and admire. And they don’t like seeing what’s happened to him.”

Jackson withdrew his nomination Thursday morning after Tester’s office published a summary of the mounting allegations against him.

Read More →

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is now demanding that disgraced former Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) pay for the special election required after he resigned amid accusations of workplace impropriety and a taxpayer-funded sexual harassment settlement.

According to a Dallas News report Wednesday afternoon, Abbott is requesting that Farenthold save taxpayers the cost of the special election after he used $84,000 of their money to pay for a sexual harassment settlement in 2014. Farenthold has reportedly said that he would reimburse the money, but has failed to do so.

Abbott sent Farenthold a letter detailing his demands on Wednesday. “While you have publicly offered to reimburse the $84,000 in taxpayer funds you wrongly used to settle a sexual harassment claim, there is no legal recourse requiring you to give that money back to Congress,” he wrote. “This seat must be filled, and the counties and taxpayers in the 27th Congressional District should not again pay the price for your actions.”

He requested a response by May 2.

The governor’s letter comes on the heels of an opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that a special election was required earlier than the standard November 6 election to fill the seat, in order to facilitate rehabilitations in the area still devastated by Hurricane Harvey. According to the governor’s letter, the special election will be held on June 30.

Read More →

President Donald Trump said that though he is currently choosing not to interfere, he may change his mind and get “involved” with the investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election that is being carried out by his Department of Justice.

“Because of the fact [the investigation] is going on, and I think you will understand this, I have decided I won’t be involved,” he said Thursday morning during an interview on Fox and Friends. “I may change my mind at some point. Because what’s going on is a disgrace.”

Watch below:

Read More →

In an appearance on Fox and Friends Thursday morning, Trump said that his personal attorney Michael Cohen only took on a small percentage of his legal work, but conceded that Cohen did represent him in the “crazy Stormy Daniels deal.”

In the days before the 2016 election, Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump. When the FBI raided Cohen’s office and home in April, agents reportedly took documents related to the payment.

Michael Avenatti, Daniels’ media-savvy lawyer, quickly tweeted a response to the President’s appearance on the Fox News program.

Watch below:

Read More →

A summary of unverified allegations against Veterans Affairs nominee Ronny Jackson obtained by TPM claims Jackson wrote his own prescriptions and drunkenly totaled a government car at a Secret Service going-away party.

The allegations, compiled from 23 colleagues and former colleagues, were released by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT). They’re broken into three categories: prescribing practices, hostile work environment, and drunkenness.

According to the allegations, Jackson gave out large quantities of medications without requiring the recipient to fill out questionnaires or provide any medical history. The practice allegedly once threw White House Medical Unit staff into a panic, when they realized that a large quantity of Percocet was missing without any documentation. It was later discovered that Jackson had given the heavy-duty painkillers to a staffer in the White House Military Office.

In the workplace, Jackson was reportedly an abusive and explosive boss, prone to ingratiate himself with his superiors while mistreating his underlings. The writers of the allegations described him as “volatile,” “despicable,” and “vindictive,” with a penchant for “screaming fits.”

The allegations also paint Jackson as frequently drunk on the job, imbibing while on call and responsible for tending to the President at a moment’s notice. He was allegedly unconscious from excessive drinking when called for on at least one occasion. 

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Jackson denied the allegation about wrecking the car, adding that he intends to stay in the confirmation process. “I have no idea where that is coming from,” Jackson said, according to CNN. “I have not wrecked a car. I can tell you that.”

Originally scheduled to appear before Congress on Wednesday, Jackson has had his hearing postponed indefinitely to give congressional leaders more time to investigate the allegations.

Read the full summary below:

Read More →

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubled down Wednesday afternoon on the White House’s assertion that secretary of veterans affairs nominee Ronny Jackson was thoroughly vetted before a firestorm of accusations against him surfaced this week.

“Dr. Jackson’s record as a White House physician has been impeccable,” she said. “In fact, because Dr. Jackson worked within arm’s reach of three Presidents, he has received more vetting than most nominees.

“Dr. Jackson has had at least four independent background investigations conducted during his time at the White House, including an FBI investigation conducted as part of the standard nomination vetting process,” she continued.

She added that Jackson has been praised by former President Barack Obama, and that none of the allegations swirling around Jackson “came up” during the vetting process.

This week, stories emerged about Jackson drinking on the job, dispensing medications “like candy,” and creating a hostile work environment.

Watch below:

Read More →

Five news organizations are requesting that court documents in former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s criminal case be unsealed.

Arguing that knowledge of the case’s specifics is in the public interest and that those involved in this case deserve less privacy than ordinary citizens due to their high-profile and public roles, the Associated Press, Politico, The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN have joined forces to obtain the documents.

“Under the common law, courts balance the public’s right to information about the workings of the criminal justice system against the legitimate countervailing interests of the government; here, that balance tips decisively in favor of the public,” the memo, submitted Wednesday, reads.

According to CNN, this motion marks the first time that people outside of the government who are not defendants on trial have requested that documents related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia probe be unsealed.

Read More →

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue reportedly told senators Tuesday that he advised President Donald Trump to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the latest of a series of contradictory statements from Trump and his administration about the trade deal.

Trump has been inconsistent on the issue since pulling out by executive order in January. Within a short period, he has ordered aides to look at rejoining the TPP and also tweeted: “I don’t like the deal for the United States. Too many contingencies and no way to get out if it doesn’t work.”

The TPP was a signature piece of former President Barack Obama’s Asia policy, a way to band together with other nations to balance out China’s power. According to the Washington Post, the debate around the TPP reveals greater schisms within the Republican party over trade, as Trump’s protectionist inclinations clash with GOP lawmakers’ concern for their agricultural base.

Read More →

President Donald Trump met with secretary of of veterans affairs nominee Ronny Jackson in the Oval Office Tuesday afternoon after making comments hinting that Jackson should exit the confirmation process, according to CNN.

Watch below:

Read More →