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

Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) on Sunday joined a handful of his Republican peers in calling for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to resign.

Republican Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) have also called for Pruitt’s resignation.

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White House director of legislative affairs Marc Short voiced his doubts Monday morning about secretary of state nominee Mike Pompeo’s chances of earning a positive recommendation from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which would be an unprecedented snub for such a high-profile cabinet position.

“I’m not giving up on the committee vote, but I think your information is well-sourced and I think that it looks iffy for this afternoon, but we still think that we’re going to get the votes when we get to the full floor of the Senate,” he told MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson.

The committee’s narrow Republican majority of 11 seats to the Democrats’ 10 was nullified when Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced that he would join the Democratic bloc in their opposition.

Senate Republicans will still hold a full Senate vote this week when Pompeo will likely be confirmed due to Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s (D-ND) defection to the Republican side, though without a positive recommendation from the committee and by a likely historically low margin.

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Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney who is so loyal to his client that he’d rather “jump out of a building” than turn on him, has reportedly endured years of abuse and embarrassment at Trump’s hands.

“Donald goes out of his way to treat him like garbage,” longtime Trump advisor Roger Stone told the New York Times in a Friday afternoon report.

Through the years, Cohen’s portfolio under Trump has been large, though it contained little legal work. He reportedly laid groundwork for Trump’s business deals, helped with PR and media, and furthered Trump’s political ambitions.

He even dabbled in marriage counseling, reportedly approaching Melania Trump at a Mar-O-Lago fundraiser earlier this year to apologize if his payment to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election caused her any pain. However, his boundless devotion was rarely met with appreciation.  

Trump reportedly often threatened to fire Cohen when deals fell through, despite the fact that Cohen traveled to find Trump business deals in places as far flung as Eastern Europe and California.

Per the Times, Cohen has been fully committed to Trump’s political ventures for years, far earlier than most observers took any notice. In 2012, Cohen scouted out the presidential field as Trump considered a run, meeting with operatives and offering to partially fund an exploratory website with money raised for his own potential Senate bid. Despite that display of devotion, Cohen was given no official role in Trump’s 2016 campaign, and Trump frequently allowed him to be humiliatingly shut out by campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Now, as Cohen faces the possibility of significant jail time or legal fees and the reality that flipping on Trump could mitigate some of those punishments, the power dynamic between the men has shifted. Regardless, the Times reports that the President has been largely distant since the FBI raids on Cohen’s office and home last week, leaving his old friend isolated.

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Former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore is raising money for his legal defense fund by using the Washington Post’s recent Pulitzer Prize win for investigative journalism—which the paper won for its reporting on Moore’s alleged past of sexual misconduct.

“The Washington Post just won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for their lies and slander against me and my family,” a fundraising email sent on Friday read. “Meanwhile, I’m being sued for standing up and defending myself and my family from the ruthless lies and attacks.”

The email goes on to ask the recipients to donate money to assist Moore in his “fight against the forces of evil.”

Leigh Corfman filed a defamation suit against Moore in January, after he attempted to discredit her accusations aired during his failed campaign that he sexually touched her when she was 14.

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Retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) lavished praise on the leading Democrat in the race to replace him, earning him a slap on the wrist by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Washington Post reported Thursday evening.

Corker reportedly called former Gov. Phil Bredesen, his close friend, a “a very good mayor, a very good governor, a very good business person,” on Wednesday, raising the ire of leading Republican contender Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and her Washington supporters.

Per the Post, McConnell reprimanded Corker on the Senate floor, telling him that his comments were “unhelpful” and reminding him that Republicans were in their current position because Corker chose to retire. Bredesen only joined the race when Corker opted out.

President Donald Trump reportedly joined the chorus, calling Blackburn personally to assure her that he does not share Corker’s sentiments.

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Former FBI Director James Comey weighed in Thursday afternoon on the criminal referral from the Justice Department’s Inspector General to the D.C. U.S. attorney’s office concerning former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s reported lying to federal investigators.

“Conflicted,” he responded to CNN’s Jake Tapper when asked how he felt hearing the news. “I like him very much as a person, but sometimes even good people do things they shouldn’t do.”

Comey added that he would be a likely participant in the proceedings if prosecutors decide to pursue criminal charges. “Given that the IG’s report reflects interactions that McCabe had with me and other senior executives, I could well be a witness.”

The referral is based on the findings that McCabe lied to either Comey or investigators four times about the disclosure of sensitive material to the press. Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe in March after the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility recommended his dismissal upon receipt of that report.

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Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) glowing profile of President Donald Trump for Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2018 has drawn widespread ridicule from those who remember his well-publicized feud with Trump in 2016.

Though the men started out friends, the strain of campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 soon sent their emotions boiling over. Trump tweeted an unflattering picture of Cruz’s wife, Heidi, next to a model shot of his wife, Melania, prompting Cruz to hit back, calling Trump a “sniveling coward” and telling him to “leave Heidi the hell alone.”

Soon after, Trump took aim at Cruz’s family again, insinuating that his father was involved in the assassination of former President John Kennedy. Cruz unloaded at a news conference soon after, calling Trump “utterly amoral,” “a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country’s ever seen,” and “a serial philanderer.”

When Trump did clinch the nomination, Cruz drew boos and headlines by refusing to endorse him during his speech at the Republican National Convention, telling listeners to “vote your conscience.”

Cruz has changed his tune under a Trump presidency, touting his relationship with the President and advocating for his agenda on the campaign trail as he heads into a seemingly surprisingly competitive election against Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX).   

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is reportedly threatening Senate Democrats with longer work weeks to keep those up for reelection off the campaign trail if they continue to hold up President Donald Trump’s nominees.

White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short told a group of Republican donors that McConnell plans to use this tactic to specifically pressure red-state Democrats, according to the Washington Examiner. This group reportedly includes vulnerable senators like Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Joe Manchin (D-WV). Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

Lacking the numbers to block Trump’s picks all together, Democrats have been taking advantage of floor rules to delay the process as long as possible and limit the number of appointees who can be confirmed during Trump’s tenure.  

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Male Democrats in the Senate are reportedly planning to join all the female senators in a push to overhaul Capitol Hill’s harassment policies, though they are currently finding very little support from the Republican men.

The House passed its own bundle of legislation to modernize the policy, but the Senate has dithered in following suit, prompting the bipartisan group of 22 female senators to send a letter demanding action to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), according to Politico.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has been leading the charge to round up the men, though he has reportedly not received any concrete commitments from male Republicans. All of the male Democrats, except Schumer, since he will be receiving the letter, have signed on.

Politico reports that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) does plan to sign the letter, though he stopped short of a definite statement, saying only that changing the policies is “the right thing to do” when asked if he would sign.

The letter is reportedly expected to be released Thursday.

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