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Nicole Lafond

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.

Articles by Nichole

In true Trumpian form, the President used the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy as an opportunity to brag about himself to supporters.

At a rally in North Dakota on Wednesday, President Donald Trump made the baseless claim that the “very special guy” (Kennedy) chose to retire during his presidency because Kennedy thinks Trump will pick the “right” replacement.

“I’m very honored that he chose to do it during my term in office because he felt confident for me to make the right choice and carry on his great legacy,” he said in remarks met with shouts and applause from supporters. “That’s why he did it.”

Trump also told the crowd that his SCOTUS pick would sit on the high court for 40 to 45 years.

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump told reporters that he would begin the search for a nominee “immediately” and said the pick would come from the list of 25 conservative judges that his campaign compiled early on during the 2016 election.

Kennedy, who served on the Supreme Court for 30 years, announced on Wednesday that he would retire at the end of July, which has already ignited a partisan skirmish in Congress over whether lawmakers should confirm a Supreme Court justice during an election year.

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President Donald Trump reacted to news that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring in real time on Wednesday, telling reporters that the search for a new justice will begin “immediately.”

“Hopefully we’re going to pick somebody who will be just as outstanding,” he said, referencing Kennedy.

Trump thanked Kennedy for his years of service and said he is a man of “tremendous vision” and “tremendous heart.”

“So I just want to thank Justice Kennedy for the years of tremendous service,” he said. “He is a very spectacular man. Really is a spectacular man. And I know that he will be around hopefully for a long time to advise and I believe he will be teaching and doing other things. So thank you to Justice Kennedy.”

He told reporters that his pick will come from an existing list of 25 “highly educated, highly intelligent, hopefully tremendous” conservative judges that he’s been referencing since the early days of his campaign.

Kennedy announced his retirement Wednesday afternoon, effective at the end of July.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reacted to news that the fourth most powerful Democrat in the House lost his primary bid to a rookie on Wednesday by predicting the Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) “may” be seen “in the public sector again” one day.

“Joe Crowley is a very valued member of Congress, a great gentleman, as you saw in the dignity of his concession last night to Alexandria (Ocasio-Cortez),” she said. “We’ll miss him, but he has extraordinary talent and we may see him in the public sector again.”

Pelosi added that Democratic members will have a chance to choose Crowley’s replacement in party leadership.

Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive Democratic candidate who was backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and the Democratic Socialists of America, beat out the incumbent lawmaker in a stunning win Tuesday.

Pelosi said Wednesday she didn’t think that what happened in the New York Queens district was reflective of a broader trend in the party.

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The Secret Service is reportedly set to begin safeguarding White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at her home as soon as this week, NBC was first to report.

Two sources familiar with the matter who spoke to CNN confirmed the news but didn’t say how long the additional protective measure would last or why Sanders needed the additional security.

The uptick in security for the press secretary comes days after Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant in Virginia because the staff wasn’t comfortable serving her. Sanders claimed she was asked to leave because she works for President Donald Trump.

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Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is escalating efforts on behalf of the House GOP to demand documents from the Department of Justice related to the Russia probe.

The House Rules Committee on Wednesday will advance Jordan’s resolution — which requests that the DOJ turn over records related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation — forcing the House to consider the request this week, Politico reported. Jordan’s measure asks the DOJ to hand over the requested documents by July 6.

The measure is unenforceable, but would “for the first time put the Republican-led House on record demanding sensitive documents,” in Politico’s words.

A coalition of House Republicans have been demanding documents related to the Russia investigation for months, a request they think the DOJ is steamrolling in order to protect Mueller. The DOJ has been hesitant to hand over the whole trove of records in order to protect classified information and government sources.

Read the full Politico report here.   

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After facing significant blowback for wearing a jacket that said “I don’t really care, do u?” to and from her first visit to a migrant children’s detention center in Texas last week, first lady Melania Trump plans to make a second trip.

ABC News was first to report that the first lady was planning to visit another detention center, but her spokesperson did not offer further details about the date and location of the next visit.

Last week, Trump traveled to McAllen, Texas and toured a facility that’s housing children who were separated from their parents under her husband’s immigration policy of prosecuting anyone caught illegally crossing the border.

Trump was widely criticized after images of the words splashed across the back of her jacket surfaced. First lady spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham initially told TPM that the jacket had no hidden message, but President Donald Trump later tweeted that the jacket was a message to the “fake” news media.

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Former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday evening told “The Daily Show’s” Trevor Noah that he “respect(s)” the way White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders handled getting booted from a Virginia restaurant over the weekend.

“She was very dignified, she didn’t chew them out, she didn’t pitch a fit, she didn’t call them ‘immigrant loving thugs’ or whatever,” he said. “She just got up and left and offered to pay, so maybe what I’d like to see is this be the beginning of something where it would be better if we started talking to each other again.”

Clinton said it would have been “better” if the owner of the rural eatery, Red Hen, hadn’t asked Sanders to leave, but he said he also respected the way the owner handled the situation. He added that that kind of demonstration can sometimes be effective on a policy level, recounting a time when a man began protesting at church because Clinton hadn’t budgeted enough funding to combat AIDS.

“And he was absolutely right,” he said.

While he said he thought Sanders handled the situation well, he said the heckling of those who work for President Donald Trump will likely continue.

“It’s hard to pour that poison down people’s throats and not have some of it come back and bubble up,” he said. “You can’t foment as much hatred as been’s fomented by the administration without having a blowback, so if they want to have more civility, they need to take the lead and stop the name calling.”

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After the stunning primary defeat of prominent Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) Tuesday evening, President Donald Trump mused on Twitter that perhaps the incumbent lawmaker wouldn’t have lost if he had been “nicer, and more respectful,” to Trump.

The only fault in the President’s logic? The fourth most powerful Democrat in the House lost to a 28-year-old progressive challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was backed by the Democratic Socialists of America and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

“Wow! Big Trump Hater Congressman Joe Crowley who many expected was going to take Nancy Pelosi’s place, just LOST his primary election,” he tweeted late Tuesday. 

Minutes later he piled on Democrats further, seizing on his own assumption that there’s a “red wave” coming to Congress and claiming the Democratic Party is in “Turmoil” because of its policies.  

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President Donald Trump on Tuesday reacted to news that the Supreme Court voted to uphold a third, diluted version of his travel ban, calling the ruling the “final word,” despite his initial irritation with the more muted measure.

Proclaiming it a “big victory for our country,” Trump answered a reporter’s questions on whether the decision was “final.” He said it was “pretty much” final and claimed that the administration was just “waiting” for the Supreme Court to make a decision, despite being forced by federal courts to change the executive order several times after facing a slew of legal challenges.   

“Well I think it is pretty much the final word, it’s the Supreme Court, ya know?” he said. “We went up, we’d win it, we’d lose it, we just waited for the Supreme Court, so yeah, that’s the final word, that’s Supreme Court.

“Now, do I want to go in with a different one, maybe a different variety? I don’t think there’s any reason,” he continued. “That’s a very strong victory.”

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled to uphold a thinner version of Trump’s original travel ban. The current iteration bans immigrants and refugees from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, Venezuela and Chad.

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Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) lamented the “mischaracterization” of the travel ban as a “Muslim ban,” telling reporters on the heels of a Supreme Court ruling to uphold a version of the ban that President Donald Trump is just “trying to keep the country safe.”

“This is part of the ‘Never Trump Resistance’ to mischaracterize this as being a Muslim ban,” he said Tuesday in response to questions about SCOTUS’ 5-4 ruling to uphold it. “This is not a Muslim ban, not anything that President Obama didn’t do when he was president, so I’m not surprised the Supreme Court ruled the way they did.”

The ban will uphold Trump’s latest iteration of the ban, which focuses on immigrants and refugees from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, Venezuela and Chad.

Conservatives have regularly pointed to claims that former President Barack Obama “identified” the seven countries included in Trump’s travel ban, which has been repeatedly debunked. The Obama administration did enact visa restrictions on Iraq for six months in 2011 and Congress passed laws during his administration to complicate visa applications for people from several of those countries in order to tighten travel security screenings.

Per the Washington Post’s fact check on Republicans’ claims:

“So while the Obama administration expanded the list of countries, it sought to keep the focus on travel, not nationality. Trump, by contrast, has taken the opposite approach — keeping the focus on a person’s nationality.”

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