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

Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary Marc Lotter will leave the White House at the end of the month to serve as a “top surrogate” outside the administration, Lotter told TPM on Friday.

Axios first reported Lotter’s move, citing sources with knowledge of the situation.

Lotter told TPM there’s no definitive plan for what all his work on the outside will entail, but his promotion of President Donald Trump and Pence’s policies will include TV appearances, among other things.

“It gives me an ability to expand upon and the ability to talk about their messages and what they’re doing in their political efforts,” he said, calling it a more “expansive” role.

He will stay at the White House until the end of September to help transition the office and hire someone to replace him as press secretary, he said.

Lotter said he met Pence in 1996 when they were both working in the media. He went on to serve in Pence’s administration when he was governor of Indiana and on his gubernatorial re-election campaign.

He was hired as Pence’s traveling press secretary when Trump announced Pence as his running mate and has been serving under the Vice President since Trump was sworn into office.

Read More →

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer doesn’t think President Trump would make a deal with Democrats that doesn’t include funding for his border wall.

Appearing on “Fox and Friends” Friday morning, Spicer said he doesn’t think it’s “a news flash” that President Donald Trump is reaching across the aisle to come up with a plan for immigration because he’s a “CEO businessman” who knows how to “strike a good deal” when he sees it.

“I think Washington needs to wake up and understand that his is a guy who is going to make the best deal for the country when he can. And if that’s with Republicans, it’s going to be Republican. If it’s with Democrats, it’s going to be with Democrats. If it’s with a bipartisan group of individuals, it will be with them,” he said. “It shouldn’t be any kind of surprise that he’s going to make the best deal possible at every turn.”

But he doesn’t think that “best deal” on immigration will exclude funding for a border wall because the President has made it “a huge priority.”

So, like it or not, I don’t see how you get a deal done that doesn’t include the wall,” he said. “Because that’s been a major priority of this President. So he is going to get the best deal he can, he is going to negotiate. That’s what he has always done. And I think at the end of the day he is going to make sure that his priorities are a part of any deal that gets made.”

Spicer’s comments come after Trump met with Democrats Wednesday and reportedly came to an agreement on a deal that would enhance border security and put protections in place for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — which he recently announced he would end.

Trump told reporters Thursday that funding for the wall would “come later,” a move that caused a melt down from far-right members of Congress Thursday and angered immigration hardliners among the President’s base. 

Read More →

During a meeting with President Trump on Wednesday to discuss a deal on DACA in which she was the only woman at the table, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reportedly asserted herself early on.

In a sweeping piece outlining the confusion that ensued after Trump agreed to a deal with Democrats that would protect recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and enhance border security without funding for the border wall, The Washington Post reported that Pelosi spoke up after being interrupted by the 10 men at the table.

When Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross asked what the President would get out of a deal with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Pelosi reportedly began to answer, saying Trump would get the cooperation of Democrats.

But she was interrupted by several men at the table who spoke over her and each other.

“Do the women get to talk around here?” Pelosi reportedly asked.

She wasn’t interrupted again, two people familiar with the meeting told the Post.

Read More →

A Department of Homeland Security attorney said Thursday that the agency is considering extending the deadline for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who want to renew their status before it ends in six months.

President Donald Trump’s administration announced last week that it would end the DACA program that protects undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors from deportation in March 2018. Any DACA recipients whose work permits expire before that date were told they could apply to renew their status for another two years, but applications must be in by Oct. 5.

But after a U.S. district judge repeatedly urged the administration to extend the deadline, Department of Homeland Security Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brett Shumate said Thursday said the agency is already considering that option, according to Politico and Reuters.

“We will definitely take your concerns back to our clients,” Shumate said at a federal hearing in Brooklyn Thursday, Reuters reported.

A Homeland Security spokesperson told Politico Thursday that the deadline is still in effect, but that the agency is evaluating the impact the deadline may have on recipients who live in the areas impacted by Hurricane Irma and Harvey.

The federal hearing on Thursday was part of a lawsuit filed by a DACA recipient whose work permit was revoked last year, Politico reported. The suit could soon be amended to include complaints against Trump’s decision to end the program.

Trump made moves to end DACA, which was created via executive order by former President Barack Obama, because he said it was implemented illegally and he wanted to give Congress time to come up with a legislative fix for the issue.

On Thursday, the President said he was close to working out a deal with Democratic leaders in Congress that would enhance border security and protect DACA recipients.

Trump has been sympathetic toward DACA recipients in the past and tweeted Thursday questioning whether anyone actually wants to deport the 800,000 young people who were brought to the U.S. “through no fault of their own.”

Read More →

Despite initial indications that he may not sign it, President Donald Trump signed an anti-white supremacists resolution into law Thursday evening, condemning the white supremacists that started a violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last month.

The law, Resolution 49, cleared both the Senate and House earlier this week by unanimous votes. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), who introduced the resolution in the Senate, urged the President to “send a clear message” and sign it into law after it passed in the House Tuesday.

The White House released the following statement Thursday evening announcing the President’s decision to sign it:

S.J.Res. 49, which condemns the violence and domestic terrorist attack that took place during events between August 11 and August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia, recognizing the first responders who lost their lives while monitoring the events, offering deepest condolences to the families and friends of those individuals who were killed and deepest sympathies and support to those individuals who were injured by the violence, expressing support for the Charlottesville community, rejecting White nationalists, White supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and other hate groups, and urging the President and the President’s Cabinet to use all available resources to address the threats posed by those groups.”

When asked about the resolution initially, a White House spokesperson told Politico they had “no announcements” about the resolution on Tuesday evening. On Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters the President would “absolutely” sign the resolution.

But later Thursday when speaking to reporters, Trump revisited his “many sides” rhetoric, blaming the “bad dudes” on the “other side” for the violence that broke out at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville that turned deadly.

The comments and subsequent resolution come after Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) met with the President to discuss his response to the white nationalist event and explain the position that counter-protestors and members of the “antifa” group are not morally equivalent to white supremacists.

Read More →

Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) said President Donald Trump following through with an immigration agreement with Democrats that doesn’t include funding for a border wall would be a death wish for his reelection.

The former congressman-turned-conservative-talk-radio-host appeared on MSNBC Thursday and was asked how the agreement, which Trump made with Democratic leaders Wednesday night, would impact Trump’s base. Walsh called the deal “devastating” and said Trump’s “dead” if he follows through.

“This is a betrayal. Look, this issue is different. Republican voters will not line up lock, step and barrel behind President Trump,” he said. “This issue got Trump elected, period. No amnesty. Build the damn wall. … If he betrays that promise, he’s dead. He is dead among his base. Millions and millions of voters will abandon him.”

The tentative agreement Trump and the Democrats reached Wednesday would provide protections for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as well as an agreement on amping up border security. But, there will be no funding for Trump’s border wall right now.

Trump appeared to confirm those reports Thursday, saying the wall would “come later” and tweeting in defense of DACA recipients.

When asked why this issue was so crucial to Trump’s base, Walsh reiterated that the promise of a border wall is what got him elected.

This was the primary issue of his campaign, so if he walks away finally from this one I think he’s done,” he said. “If there’s no wall, forget about it. … If he doesn’t, he won’t get reelected.”

Read More →

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Thursday called Democrats’ “agreements” with President Donald Trump “productive” and a “very positive step” toward protecting DACA recipients.

Outlining the conversation he had with the President and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Wednesday evening, he said the White House and Congress still need to work out the details, or “put meat on the bones,” of the agreement.

“We agreed that the President would support enshrining the DACA protections into law,” Schumer said, speaking from the Senate floor. “What remains to be negotiated are the details of border security with the mutual goal of finalizing all the details as soon as possible. While both sides agreed that the wall would not be any part of this agreement, the President made clear he intends to pursue it at a later time and we made clear that we would continue to oppose it.”

Trump corroborated Schumer’s statements Thursday morning before heading to Florida to assess Hurricane Irma damage, saying the parties are “working on a plan for DACA” and that the border wall would come “later.”

Schumer said Democrats are “for border security” but not the wall.

“We’ll never pay for the wall. It’s expensive, it’s ineffective, it involves a lot of difficult eminent domain, taking people’s property and apparently it’s not being paid for by Mexico,” he said. “ It sends a terrible symbol to the world about the U.S., about who we are, about what kind of country we are.”

He called the wall a “medieval solution to a modern problem” and said the two Democrats spoke with the President about different solutions that could incorporate “our best technology,” like drones, military sensory equipment and even rebuilding roads.

“There is still much to be done. We have to put to the meat on the bones of the agreement. Details will matter, but it was a very, very positive step for the President to commit to DACA protections without insisting on or even a debate about border walls,” Schumer said.

His comments come after there were conflicting reports about what kind of agreement the Democrats made with the President Wednesday evening.

Pelosi and Schumer put out a statement Wednesday saying they had come to a deal on DACA legislation and that funding for the border wall wouldn’t be included. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later said Trump didn’t agree to no funding for the wall.

Trump confirmed that he didn’t demand funding for the wall, both on Twitter and in speaking to reporters Thursday. Many prominent members of Trump’s base have spoken out against the President over the decision.

Read More →

President Donald Trump’s decision to work with Democrats on immigration may be the final straw for a news outlet that has supported him from the start of his campaign.

After news broke that Trump had come to an agreement with Democrats on saving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in exchange for a border security deal that didn’t include funding for building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, Breitbart News posted an article slamming Trump for the move.

The headline, “Amnesty Don,” picked up traffic from Trump supporters on Twitter and was trending in Washington, D.C.-based tweets, Breitbart reported.

The far-right-leaning publication, whose executive chairman is former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, reported that salvaging the DACA program — shielding 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors from deportation — would be a sell-out to the Trump base.

While it quickly became a rallying cry for members of Trump’s base who were upset about reports of the deal, Wednesday night was not the first time “Amnesty Don” was used against the President. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough used the phrase last year when the President appeared to change his position on immigration reform issues, The Hill reported.

Trump tweeted and spoke to reporters Thursday morning, clarifying that no official deal had been reached with Democrats on DACA or border security proposals, but he said the “wall will come later.”

He also tweeted implying that he did not want to deport DACA recipients.

Read More →

In a new interview promoting her campaign tell-all, Hillary Clinton said former President Barack Obama didn’t announced what he knew about Russian meddling in the 2016 election partially because of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Clinton said she is “very understanding” of the position that Obama found himself in when deciding how much to tell the public about the investigation, saying she knew he “struggled” with the decision and found himself “facing some pretty difficult headwinds,” like McConnell’s “unpatriotic” threats.

“Mitch McConnell, in what I think of as a not only unpatriotic but despicable act of partisan politics, made it clear that if the Obama administration spoke publicly about what they knew, he would accuse them of partisan politics, of trying to tip the balance toward me,” she told the New Yorker’s David Remnick. “Even though, as you point out, the President thought I was going to win—thought that all the way up until the night before the election.”

She said the role that McConnell played in that discussion and the role that former FBI Director James Comey played, “in refusing to acknowledge in any way” that there was an investigation made for some high political stakes for the President.

But she still thinks Obama should have said something.

“I would have, in retrospect now, wished that he had said something because I think the American people deserved to know.”

The interview with the New Yorker is just the latest in a string of interviews Clinton has given on the 2016 election as part of a book tour. Her new memoir on the campaign and subsequent defeat is called “What Happened.”

Listen to the full interview below:

Read More →

Appearing on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Wednesday, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer continued to defend his former boss President Donald Trump.

But not the former communications director who only lasted 10 days in the White House.

While Spicer formally resigned from his position the day Anthony Scaramucci was hired as communications director, he didn’t officially leave the White House until the end of August. When asked if he resigned because he was feuding with Scaramucci, Spicer said those allegations weren’t true. He said his rationale for leaving “wasn’t personal.”

It wasn’t like I had anything against Anthony. I didn’t feel — Anthony has been very successful in business, he’s made a ton of money, but I didn’t feel as though he had the qualifications or the background to work in the communications office,” he said. “And my view was if I’m going to have to partner with somebody that I don’t believe had the skill set to execute the job, then it was incumbent on me to either step aside or make my voice known.”

He said he told the President that and decided to step down from his role.

Just 10 days later, Scaramucci was ousted from the White House after he gave an obscenity-laced interview to the New Yorker. Kimmel asked if Spicer was “cackling like a maniac” when he read the article, which Scaramucci clearly didn’t realize was on the record.

“I don’t think it’s right to relish in somebody else’s problems, just as a person I don’t think thats right, but again I think it proved my point and that to do this job is one in which I think you have to have the proper background and training,” he said.

In a mostly gentle interview, Kimmel pressed Spicer on issues like his first briefing as press secretary, in which Spicer exploded on reporters for asking about the inauguration crowd size — Spicer admitted “I don’t think it was probably the best start” — and his outlandish comments early on in his tenure at the White House.

When asked about whether he thought it was “dangerous to delegitimize the press” Spicer said he thought it was a “two-way street.”

He said journalists are constantly painting Republicans and conservatives in a bad light.

“If we don’t want to lump every journalist into the same thing (as fake news) then don’t lump every Republican and conservative into the same box,” he said, adding he thinks “we could all use a dose” of “taking down the temperature” when it comes to the relationship between reporters and the White House press office.

“I think there are some areas that could deserve a reset, hopefully, I think Sarah (Huckabee Sanders) has done a really phenomenal job of really trying to take the tone down and get back,” he said.

Watch the full interview below:

Read More →