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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

While former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci is questioning the narrative in a new book about the Trump White House, he’s also using the book to back up the expletive-ridden tirade that got him fired this summer.

In an interview with CNN Thursday morning, Scaramucci said a lot of what’s outlined in excerpts of journalist Michael Wolff’s new book published Wednesday “does not seem right to me,” particularly stories about the atmosphere on election night. In the excerpts from book, “Fire and Fury: Inside Trump’s White House,” Wolff claims that Trump didn’t actually want to win and was satisfied with the fame he would gain from his presidential bid.

“Certainly we had great uncertainty around the campaign and the tightness of the polls, but nobody wanted to win more than the President of the United States and, frankly, nobody worked harder,” Scaramucci said. “I think that’s a bunch of nonsense.”

He then questioned why CNN wasn’t trying to verify the quotes or the narratives shared in excerpts of the book, like Trump reportedly eating cheeseburgers in his bed or Ivanka Trump claiming she wanted to be the first female president or White House counselor Kellyanne Conway holding a finger gun to her head in response to some of Trump’s public comments.

While Scaramucci questions the validity of the rest of the book, he claims Wolff’s excerpts verify what Scaramucci said in a profane rant — in which he said Bannon is trying to “suck his own cock” — over the summer: that Bannon is only interested in promoting his own brand.

“I think he’s for Steve,” Scaramucci said of Bannon. “At the end of the day, what I said, taking out the expletives, he’s for Steve and we are — if you love your country, President Donald Trump is our President and let’s go out and help him. …. (I think Bannon) started focusing on his own brand and it was damaging and not the right thing to do.”

On Wednesday, Trump effectively cut ties with Bannon amid reports that Bannon publicly attacked Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and his son Donald Trump Jr.

In one excerpt from the book, Bannon apparently told Wolff that the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Trump Jr., Kushner and a Kremlin-linked lawyer was “treasonous.” 

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White House staffers will no longer be able to use their personal cellphones at work starting Friday, Bloomberg News reported Wednesday and the White House confirmed on Thursday.

The ban was enacted by chief of staff John Kelly, Bloomberg reported. In a statement shared with TPM, the White House said the ban was put in place for security reasons. One unnamed aide told Bloomberg that there were too many devices connected to the White House WiFi and officials were concerned that personal phones weren’t as secure as government phones.

The security and integrity of the technology systems at the White House is a top priority for the Trump administration and therefore the use of all personal devices for both guests and staff will no longer be allowed in the West Wing,” the White House said in its statement. “Staff will be able to conduct business on their government-issued devices and continue working hard on behalf of the American people.”

While the President has consistently complained about his White House’s penchant for leaking information to the press, an aide told Bloomberg that the ban was not put in place because of leaks.

In October, MSNBC reported that the Secret Service was planning to ban the use of personal cellphones in the West Wing, citing security concerns. That report came amid news that John Kelly and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s personal cell phones had been compromised potentially as early as December 2016.

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After announcing he was dissolving his bogus voter fraud committee to avoid tumultuous legal battles, President Donald Trump on Thursday promoted what he said was the need for voter ID laws.

“System is rigged, must go to Voter I.D.,” Trump tweeted. “As Americans, you need identification, sometimes in a very strong and accurate form, for almost everything you do … except when it comes to the most important thing, VOTING for the people that run your country.”

Trump’s message runs counter to the emphasis of the voter fraud commission, which has emphasized the need to purge voter rolls over voter ID laws.

Trump also tweeted that it was “mostly Democratic states” that refused to share voter data because “they know that many people are voting illegally.”

Trump issued an executive order Wednesday evening, effectively dissolving his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. In a statement, he said he made the decision because he wanted to avoid “endless legal battles at taxpayer expense.” The commission is facing numerous lawsuits from civil rights and privacy groups who complain the panel is being used to push for voting restrictions and that the data requests violate privacy laws.

A large swath of states repeatedly rejected the commission’s requests for voter data. The commission initially asked states for information like addresses, military status and the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers. The commission later requested publicly available voter data, but many Democratic and Republican-majority states continued to refuse. 

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Just minutes after President Trump released a blistering statement attacking Steve Bannon’s mental state, Trump’s eldest son mocked the former White House chief strategist for losing a Republican seat in Alabama.

Donald Trump Jr. retweeted Bloomberg reporter Sahil Kapur, who said Alabama now has “one U.S. senator who is a Democrat and another who used to be a Democrat,” referencing Sens. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Doug Jones (D-AL) who was just sworn into office on Wednesday.

“Thanks Steve. Keep up the great work,” Trump Jr. said.

The tweets were referencing Bannon’s efforts to help the controversial former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore beat out the incumbent Republican Luther Strange — whom Trump backed — in the state’s Republican primary election. Bannon continued that support of Moore until the vicious end of the Alabama special election last month, despite a slew of allegations of sexual misconduct against the candidate. Jones won the election, becoming the first Democrat to win a Senate race in the deep red state in 25 years.

Moments later, Trump Jr. retweeted former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, who essentially claimed that people should have paid attention to his criticisms of Bannon this summer. Scaramucci served in the White House for less than two weeks and was fired after he gave a profanity-laden interview to The New Yorker, claiming Bannon was trying to “suck his own cock.”

Trump Jr. said Scaramucci “pretty much nailed it” with his comments on Bannon.

He later claimed he read the comments section on Breitbart, Bannon’s far-right news outlet, and said the media executive has “nothing” left if he loses Breitbart readers.

Trump Jr.’s tweet came just after his father effectively cut ties with Bannon amid reports that Bannon publicly attacked Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Trump Jr.

In an excerpt from author Michael Wolff’s new book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” Bannon apparently told Wolff that the Trump Tower meeting between Trump Jr., Kushner and a Kremlin-linked lawyer was “treasonous.”   

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Rich Hobson, who managed embattled Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore’s campaign, is planning to announce a congressional bid of his own.

With intentions of running against Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) in the state’s Republican primary, Hobson confirmed to CNN on Wednesday that he’s diving into the race to do what’s best for “Alabama and the USA,” not because he has beef with Roby.

The Republican incumbent did not defend Moore when multiple women came forward alleging the former state Chief Justice pursued relationships or made inappropriate sexual advances toward them when they were teens and he was in his 30s, CNN reported. Roby has also publicly said she did not vote for President Trump and criticized him when the “Access Hollywood” tape came out in the 11th-hour of the 2016 election.

Hobson said he decided a year ago that he was going to run against Roby, who fully intends on running for reelection, her chief of staff told CNN.

Moore suffered a shocking defeat in Alabama last month when Democratic candidate Doug Jones won the special election to claim Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ seat in the Senate.

Hobson did not immediately return TPM’s requests for comment.

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Showtime’s political documentary series will return this spring, but with a new female host, Alex Wagner, to replace Mark Halperin, the former political journalist who fell from grace when multiple women accused him of sexual harassment and assault last year.

Wagner, a CBS News anchor and former MSNBC host, will take Halperin’s spot on “The Circus,” The New York Times reported Tuesday. She’ll be joined by the show’s other original hosts John Heilemann and Mark McKinnon. 

Heilemann and Halperin have been longtime partners in covering politics. The pair have written books, had a television movie and a Bloomberg TV show, which were dropped when allegations of sexual misconduct came out against Halperin in October.

At least five of Halperin’s female colleagues at ABC News claimed the prominent political journalist made unwanted and aggressive advances toward them, including propositioning employees for sex and pressing his genitals, while clothed, against at least three women’s bodies without their consent, CNN originally reported. Halperin has denied the claims and has said any relationships he had with colleagues was consensual. He has apologized for “conduct that was often aggressive and crude.”

The docu-series will still offer a behind-the-scenes look at politics without the famed co-host. Wagner told the Times she hopes to discuss “questions of American identity” in her role. 

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Former Vice President Joe Biden will escort Sen.-elect Doug Jones (D-AL) to his swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday morning, according to CNN and local reports from Alabama.

While the state colleague typically accompanies a new senator to the swearing-in ceremony, Jones did not ask Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) to attend, AL.com and WAAY TV reported Tuesday evening. A Jones spokesperson did not immediately return TPM’s request for confirmation. 

The former Democratic Vice President is a family friend of Jones’ and campaigned for him during his Senate bid in October. Following a contentious special election to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ seat in the Senate, Jones was officially certified as Alabama’s next senator last Thursday, despite an 11th-hour attempt by his opponent — former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore — to block the certification of the election.

Jones’ ceremony is scheduled for noon on Wednesday and he plans to do his swearing-in on a personal family Bible, according to AL.com.

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“Stay Tuned!”

On Monday, President Donald Trump plans to make his consistent disdain for the media official by announcing the “MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR,” he tweeted on Tuesday evening.

The subjects for Trump’s distinctions will range from “Dishonesty” and “Bad Reporting” in a variety of categories, he said.

In November, Trump pitched his “FAKE NEWS TROPHY” concept on Twitter, saying he’d like to get to the bottom of which networks are the “most dishonest, corrupt and/or distorted in it’s political coverage of your favorite President (me).”

Evidently, Fox News gets a mulligan from this particular competition.

Trump has been consistent and monotonous in his outrage against the media for years. His criticism of the press escalated during his 2016 campaign, in which he began to appropriate the term “fake news” as part of his opprobrium for outlets like The New York Times, CNN, MSNBC and The Washington Post.

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Former Minnesota congresswoman and failed 2012 presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is mulling whether she should run for Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) seat in a 2018 special election.

In an interview last week on television pastor Jim Bakker’s show, Bachmann said people have been contacting her about running for Franken’s seat, which will be available following the senator’s planned resignation Tuesday. In a defiant, emotional speech from the Senate floor last month, Franken announced he would be leaving Congress following weeks of mounting allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

Multiple women publicly accused Franken of sexual misconduct and groping. Franken apologized to one woman and combatted the stories of others. After a sixth woman came forward accusing Franken of misconduct, a flood of female Democratic senators called on him to step aside, which he did a day later.

Bachmann said she is weighing a Senate bid, but she is concerned about what it will “cost” her and her family.

“The question is should it be me? Should it be now? … There’s a price you pay and the price is bigger than ever because the swamp is so toxic,” she said, according to a recording of the interview published by Ring Wing Watch Tuesday. “I didn’t shed a tear when I left the contest because I fulfilled the calling God gave me, so the question is, am I being called to do this now? I don’t know.”

Bachmann dropped out of the presidential race in January 2012 after a sixth-place showing in the Iowa caucuses that month. In the interview with Bakker last week, she said that despite dropping out of the race, she was “wildly successful” in bringing the need to repeal and replace Obamacare to the forefront of Republican platform, an effort she claimed God called on her to do.

She said she’s apprehensive about returning to the political climate today, which is “like nothing we’ve ever seen before.”

“I mean it is really tough, if you’re going against the tide in D.C., if you’re trying to stand for biblical principles in D.C. and you stick your head up out of the hole, you do— the blades come whirling and they’re gonna chop you off,” she said, just before Bakker claimed that the press is trying to “kill” Trump. “It’s not an easy place to be.”

As a Tea Party loyalist, Bachmann would likely face strong opposition in the state with a Democratic governor who has appointed his own Democratic Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to serve in Franken’s seat until a special election can be held in November 2018. Smith is reportedly planning to run for seat in November after Gov. Mark Dayton was pressured to choose a Democratic replacement who would be willing to campaign for the seat. 

Watch a clip of the interview below:

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LiveWire