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

Charles Kushner, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s father, is trying to take the fall for the family’s calamitous investment in 666 Fifth Avenue to shift blame from his son, according to a CNN report Tuesday morning.

“I pushed Jared to do the deal,” Charles Kushner told CNN, adding that the deal was “bad timing and bad judgment.”

Kushner Companies paid $1.8 billion in 2007 for the skyscraper, a bet that backfired when a crashing market left the property saddled with $1.2 billion in debt. Attempts to recruit foreign investors to salvage the purchase have come back to haunt Jared Kushner, when stories of his meetings linked to the Chinese government leaked while he was working as a foreign affairs liaison on his father-in-law’s transition team.

In the interview with CNN, Charles Kushner alluded to a deal in the works currently to recruit above-the-board investors and mitigate the financial burdens. His attempt to take the blame for his son points to the criticism surrounding the younger Kushner over what some see as a failure to properly divest from his business interests while working in a senior capacity in the Trump administration.

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced that he will be voting for secretary of state nominee Mike Pompeo Monday evening just before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote, a complete reversal from his statements earlier in the week.

His flip-flop will likely lead the committee to pass the nomination on to a floor vote, where enough Democrats have committed their support to ensure Pompeo’s confirmation.

Less than a week ago, Paul was painting himself as staunchly against Pompeo, citing his support of the Iraq War and interrogation methods Paul considers torture as disqualifying factors.

“I think the debate over whether or not America is a country in favor of torture or not is an important one,” he reportedly said at a Wednesday press conference. “I’m going to do everything I can to block them.”

Trump has been leaning on Paul in an attempt to get the Republican bloc in line, a necessity with such a slim Senate majority.

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President Donald Trump is frequently turning to his cell phone to contact advisers, a sign that he is seeking to circumvent chief of staff John Kelly’s gatekeeping and take direct control of who has access to him, CNN reported Monday

Unnamed sources told CNN that Trump is bypassing the White House switchboard, which would give Kelly access to Trump’s daily call log. This system has reportedly benefitted former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who Kelly tried to cut off from Trump earlier in the administration. Trump has also established that he wants National Security Adviser John Bolton and national economic adviser Larry Kudlow to come directly to him without looping in Kelly, a break with precedent.

This revelation is in keeping with recent reports about the increasingly strained relationship between the President and his chief of staff.

This practice reportedly could pose security threats, as cell phones are vulnerable to hacking and eavesdropping, as well as hampering record keeping for historical archiving and accountability.

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There will likely be a special election to fill the seat left by former Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) after the governor reportedly got the attorney general’s support Monday to hold the election as soon as possible to facilitate recovery efforts for a district still on its knees from Hurricane Harvey.

According to the Texas Tribune, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote an opinion stating that courts will likely comply with Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) request to hold the election before November 6 under a state law that allows the governor to override election rules if they interfere with emergency relief.

Farenthold abruptly resigned in early April after being mired in scandal about a taxpayer-funded settlement and general outcry resulting from his habitual sexual harassment, verbal abuse and rage in the workplace.

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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.

Watch below:

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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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