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

Chance the Rapper walked back his support of Kanye West’s affection for President Donald Trump on Friday, releasing a statement asserting that his backing of West is divorced from his dislike for Trump and promising future advocacy to make up for the conflation.

“We have to talk honestly about what is happening and has been happening in this county and we have to challenge those who are responsible, as well as those who are giving them a pass,” he wrote. “If that happens to include someone I love, someone who is my brother-in-Christ and someone who I believe does really want to do what is right, it is not my job to defend or protect him. It’s my job to pick up the phone and talk to him about it.”

Chance the Rapper added that he personally would never support someone who talks about his hometown of Chicago like it’s “hell on earth” and that while he does believe that black people should get to choose their political ideologies, his comments were poorly timed.

The statement comes on the heels of a Friday morning Trump tweet thanking Chance the Rapper for “getting it” after Chance the Rapper tweeted that “black people don’t have to be Democrats” while West was receiving criticism for his relationship with the President.

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President Donald Trump continued his online lovefest with rapper Kanye West in a tweet Friday morning, including shoutouts to Chance the Rapper and Dr. Darrell Scott, a pastor and member of Trump’s transition team.

Though the affection between Trump and West was made public back in 2016 when West visited Trump Tower after the election, it has been recently reignited by West’s tweetstorm articulating his support for the President.

Scott and Chance the Rapper both posted tweets this week supportive of either the President or West’s autonomy to politically support whomever he chooses.

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House Chaplain Rev. Patrick Conroy spoke out in a Thursday New York Times report about his firing, confirming that he was blindsided by Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) decision and was never told why he has been dismissed.

“I was asked to resign, that is clear,” Conroy told the New York Times. He added that it is “unclear” why.

“I certainly wasn’t given anything in writing,” he continued. “Catholic members on both sides are furious.”

The only possible rationale Conroy could identify is a prayer he delivered the day that the House was marking up the GOP tax bill.

“May all members be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle,” he prayed then. “May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”

According to the New York Times, Ryan approached him a week after the prayer, warning him to stay out of politics.

Conroy reportedly said that he had never been scolded for being too political in his seven years in the House, adding that just as a hospital chaplain prays about health issues, the chaplain for Congress prays about the politics of the day.

Though Conroy does not plan to fight his dismissal, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are irate about the decision and seeking answers. Per the New York Times, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) are leading the charge to collect signatures on a letter to Ryan demanding his rationale and the standards to which future chaplains will be held.

Conroy, a Jesuit and only the second Catholic to ever hold the post, has served since being nominated by former speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in 2011. His last day is scheduled for May 24.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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:

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