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

Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) is preparing to subpoena documents related to the Justice Department Inspector General’s review of how the FBI handled its 2016 investigation of Hillary Clinton, Politico reported Monday evening.

Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) and another GOP committee source told Politico that Goodlatte’s subpoena is “imminent” and comes as part of Republicans’ frustration with the Department of Justice’s pattern of slow rolling the release of documents related to the review.

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz’ investigation into the handling of the Clinton probe has already led to the firing of former Deputy Director of the bureau Andrew McCabe Friday, just days before he was scheduled to retire.

Over the weekend, Goodlatte hinted that he might make moves to obtain the documents associated with the review, telling Fox News on Sunday that he wanted to “have those documents” and “actions are going to have to take a new level here very soon.” 

Read the Politico report here. 

Read More →

A male student who reportedly entered Great Mills High School in Maryland on Tuesday morning and shot two other students with a handgun has died from his injuries, St. Mary’s Country Sheriff Tim Cameron told reporters Tuesday.

The alleged shooter struck a male and a female student and both were transported to a local hospital, according to Cameron. The male victim is in stable condition and the female’s condition is critical, he said. While it is unclear how the alleged shooter died, a school resource officer opened fire to attempt to halt the attack, Cameron said.

The shooting occurred just before classes started at Great Mills on Tuesday. The school resource officer and student witnesses are currently being questioned at the high school. The rest of the building has been evacuated, the sheriff said.

Local police told parents to avoid coming to the high school and instructed them to go instead to Leonardtown High School to reunite with Great Mills students there, according to the AP.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan both tweeted that they were monitoring the situation and said their “prayers” are with the students.

Read More →

Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asked Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) this week to hold a hearing and request documents from voter-profiling firm Cambridge Analytica following reports that the company exploited information from millions of Facebook users without their permission.   

According to reports from The New York Times and Observer of London who spoke with a company whistleblower, Cambridge Analytica not only took and misused data from more than 50 million Facebook users, it reportedly used that information to influence users in favor of President Donald Trump’s campaign.

In a letter to Grassley, Feinstein called the reports “egregious” and “extremely troubling.”

 “I believe the Judiciary Committee needs to look into exactly what happened,” Feinstein said. “That’s why I call on Chairman Grassley to join me in seeking testimony from Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix, whistleblower Christopher Wylie and Professor Aleksandr Kogan, who reportedly harvested the data from Facebook. I am also hopeful he will support document requests to Cambridge Analytica and Trump campaign officials.”

She said the company’s alleged actions could be violations of campaign finance laws and could be seen as part of a larger conspiracy to “defraud the United States.”

These reports raise serious allegations, and the American people need to know how this happened, who knew about it, why steps were not taken sooner to bring it to an end, and what can be done to protect their privacy and the integrity of our elections going forward,” Feinstein said in a letter to Grassley Sunday. “I urge the Committee to get to the bottom of these questions by holding hearings on these matters, compelling the production of documents as well as the attendance of relevant witnesses.”

Read the letter to Grassley below:


Read More →

The White House on Monday doubled down on its stance that it is not planning to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, despite tweets from President Trump indicating his frustration with Mueller and the Russia probe.

“There are no conversations or discussions about removing Mr. Mueller,” spokesperson Hogan Gidley told reporters onboard Air Force One on Monday.

Gidley reiterated that Trump believes Mueller’s probe into his campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election is the “biggest witch hunt in history” and added that Trump has a “well established frustration” with the investigation.

The comments follow Trump’s own tweets over the weekend, when he expressed frustration with Mueller and the apparent political affiliations of some of the members of his investigative team. Trump reportedly has also found himself more emboldened in recent weeks to make his own decisions and has ignored the advice of his closest advisers, according to The New York Times. 

The Sunday morning tweet was the first time that Trump has called out Mueller by name on Twitter, ignoring advice from his allies and administration officials who have suggested he let the investigation run its course. Trump has been vocal since he entered the Oval Office that he believes the probe is a partisan hoax. 

Read More →

President Donald Trump in recent days is feeling more emboldened to behave how he wants to, rather than listening to the advice from his closest allies, The New York Times reported Sunday.

According to more than a dozen sources who are close with Trump and who spoke with the Times, the President has thrown caution to the wind when it comes to keeping quiet on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. That was evidenced in Trump’s tweet this weekend, calling out Mueller for the probe. Trump has reportedly previously been encouraged by aides to stay silent on the issue, so as to avoid provoking Mueller, according to the Times.

Over the weekend, Trump tweeted about Mueller’s team of “13 hardened Democrats,” suggesting bias within that probe. Sources close with Trump, like longtime political operative Roger Stone Jr., have suggested that Trump’s recent moves mark a new age of confidence for Trump who is not concerned about getting rid of White House officials he doesn’t want to work with any longer. 

Last week, Trump fired his secretary of state, and accepted the resignation of his chief economic adviser. He is reportedly expected to announced further shakeup later this week.

Read the full NYT report here.   

Read More →

Hillary Clinton on Saturday apologized for comments she made earlier this month when she claimed that states that supported her during the election were more wealthy than those who supported President Donald Trump.

In a lengthy Facebook post Saturday, Clinton clarified the intention of her remarks, that cities that do better economically “typically lean Democrat and and places where there is less optimism about the future lean Republican.”

“That doesn’t mean the coasts versus the heartland, it doesn’t even mean entire states,” she wrote. “In fact, it more often captures the divisions between more dynamic urban areas and less prosperous small towns within states. As I said throughout the campaign, Trump’s message was dark and backwards looking.”

She claimed that she meant for her “backwards” comments to reference his policy stances, not be reflective of the people or places that went for Trump.

I don’t need to list the reasons, but the foundation of his message, ‘Make America Great AGAIN’ suggests that to be great we have to go back to something we are no longer. I never accepted that and never will,” she said.

Read her full statement here.

Read More →

A local Washington, D.C. lawmaker has apologized for posting a video on social media blaming the Rothschilds, a wealthy banking family who have often been at the center of anti-Semitic attacks, for climate change and an unexpected snow.

“Man, it just started snowing out of nowhere this morning, man. Y’all better pay attention to this climate control, man, this climate manipulation,” Trayon White Sr., who sits on the local city council, said in the video. “And D.C. keep talking about, ‘We a resilient city.’ And that’s a model based off the Rothschilds controlling the climate to create natural disasters they can pay for to own the cities, man. Be careful.”

White later apologized and deleted the video off of social media, but he has reportedly made similar comments tying the Jewish family to climate change in the past, according to The Huffington Post.

I want to apologize to the Jewish Community and anyone I have offended,” he wrote in a social media post later. “The Jewish community have been allies with me in my journey to help people. I did not intend to be Anti-Semitic, and I see I should not have said that after learning from my colleagues.”

The director of the Anti-Defamation League in Washington, D.C. told TPM in a statement Monday that the group “welcome(s)” White’s apology.

“Councilman White Sr.’s offensive comments in a video on Facebook only served to perpetuate a classic and erroneous anti-Semitism conspiracy theory – that somehow Jews are clandestinely controlling world events,” D.C. Director Doron Ezickson said.

“At a time when anti-Semitic incidents have risen dramatically in the United States, it’s important that all of our elected officials fight all forms hate – including anti-Semitism,” Ezickson continued. “We welcome Councilman White Sr.’s apology and are glad to hear he is learning about the meaning behind his words. ADL stands ready to work with our country’s leaders, at all levels, to help them avoid rhetoric that can foster hate and bigotry.”

Read More →

The American Civil Liberties Union on Sunday called out Presidential Donald Trump for what it called “unconstitutional and unenforceable” non-disclosure agreement that he reportedly makes his staffers sign.

“Public employees can’t be gagged by private agreements, these so-called NDAs are unconstitutional and unenforceable,”Ben Wizner said, ACLU’s director of speech, privacy and technology projects said.

The Washington Post was first to report on the document which includes $10 million fines for violations of sharing information about the President. Several White House staff who were initially cautious about signing the document, reportedly did so because they thought the agreement was not enforceable. The agreement is designed to keep ex-employees from discussing Trump and White House happenings. Trump first started requesting the NDAs in reposes to leaks to the media, according to the Post. 

Read More →

Chief of staff John Kelly reassured White House staffers Friday morning that there were not going to be any personnel changes “at this time,” according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

The reassurance came amid reports of a planned staff shakeup and comments from President Donald Trump this week suggesting there “will always be change” in the White House. On Friday, Sanders told reporters about the meeting, in which she said Kelly told staff they “shouldn’t be concerned” about their jobs.

“We should do exactly what we do every day and that’s to come to work and do the very best that we can,” she said. “That’s exactly what we’re focused on and many of us have relayed that to staffers that weren’t part of that meeting.”

NBC News’ Peter Alexander pressed her further, citing Trump’s own comments this week indicating further staff turnover: “We’re getting very close to having the Cabinet and other things that I want.”

“And he just nominated two new people to part of his cabinet, so we are getting close,” she shot back. “We would like those two individuals to be quickly confirmed and quickly put through that process so they can take a seat at the table, so they can continue to engage with the President on big issues that actually matter to the American people.”

When asked why there was still a need for change more than a year into Trump’s presidency, Sanders said that “policy priorities” guide personnel decisions.

“Look, as we’ve said many times before, you want the right people for the right time,” she said. “As policy priorities change, that means sometimes you’re going to have personnel change. That’s not different for this administration as it has been in any other administration and we’ll continue to add new staff regularly.”

The comments follow Trump’s decision to fire his secretary of state over Twitter earlier this week and amid reports that Trump plans to fire his National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in coming days. The White House has denied those reports. 

Read More →