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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

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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Fired former FBI Director James Comey made another dig at President Donald Trump on Twitter over the weekend, writing on New Year’s Eve that he hopes 2018 brings “more ethical leadership focused on truth and lasting values.”

Comey has previously used his non-alias Twitter account — he used to tweet under the cover of theologian Reinhold Niebuhr — to troll the President, occasionally tweeting quotes from the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Winston Churchill relevant to the Trump news of the day. His new book, set to publish in May, is titled “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership,” likely referencing Comey’s claims that Trump asked for his “loyalty” months before firing him.

Comey was abruptly dismissed by Trump not long after Comey confirmed his agency was investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election and links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Before the firing, the President apparently told Comey, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” Trump denies asking for that pledge.

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Hoda Kotb was officially named the new co-host of NBC’s “Today” show on Tuesday, replacing former co-host Matt Lauer who was fired in November following allegations of sexual misconduct.

“This has to be the most popular decision NBC News has ever made and I’m so thrilled,” co-anchor Savannah Guthrie said of Kotb’s debut on “Today” Tuesday. “You are a partner and a friend and a sister and I am so happy to be doing this.”

Kotb has been filling in as a co-anchor since Lauer left. The decision was first announced by NBC News Chairman Andy Lack before the show Tuesday, NBC reported.

Lauer was fired on Nov. 28 after a female colleague came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct. Multiple reports surfaced following his firing, with women claiming egregious allegations of misconduct and assault.

Kotb and Guthrie will be the first pair of women to co-anchor “Today.” Kotb began her career with NBC as the co-host of the “Today” fourth hour in 2008, which she will continue to do alongside her new position, NBC reported.

She also hosts “The Hoda Show” for Sirius XM radio.

Watch the announcement on “Today” below:

   

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After six days of unrest in Iran that has left at least 20 people dead, President Donald Trump is siding with the protesters whom Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the “enemies of Iran.”

In tweets on Monday and Tuesday morning, Trump suggested it was “TIME FOR CHANGE” in Iran and applauded the protesters for “finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime.” In his tweets, Trump also criticized former President Barack Obama for the nuclear arms treaty struck with Iran during his presidency.

The protests began on Thursday in Mashhad over Iran’s economy and an uptick in the costs of food. It’s since expanded to several cities and demonstrators are beginning to aim their protest at Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Trump has been a longtime, vocal critic of the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran. He has said the 2015 deal — which limits Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear arsenal in exchange for lifting sanctions against the country — the “worst deal ever negotiated” and said in October that he plans to “decertify,” but not pull out of the pact.

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