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

Although politicians on the right and the left called out the President for his response to the Charlottesville, Va. attack — either by name or by denouncing his comments — President Donald Trump decided to lash out against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Twitter Thursday morning.

On Wednesday Graham released a statement denouncing Trump for blaming both “sides” for the violence that broke out at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville last weekend.

“Through his statements yesterday, President Trump took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally and people like Ms. Heyer,” Graham said, referencing the woman, Heather Heyer, who was killed during the rally. “I, along with many others, do not endorse this moral equivalency.”

But the President claims he never made that type of comparison, despite remarks he made to media at a rocky press conference Tuesday, saying “not all of these people were neo-Nazis, believe me.”

He also said people on the “alt-right” and the “alt-left” were to blame for the violence, even though it was a self-proclaimed white supremacist who allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters and killing Heyer.

Trump called Graham’s comments a “disgusting lie” and referenced Graham’s reelection in 2020, saying the people of South Carolina “will remember” Graham’s comments.

He then blamed the media for misrepresenting “what I say about hate, bigotry, etc. Shame!”

The President’s initial statements about the attack said there was violence on “many sides,” failing to condemn the white supremacist, Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis who gathered in the city Saturday. He finally called out the violent groups 48 hours later and then proceeded to blame both sides again the next day.

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Vice President Mike Pence is standing by President Trump in the wake of Trump’s off-the-rails press conference in he assigned blame to “both sides” for violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.

“What happened in Charlottesville was a tragedy and the President has been clear on this tragedy and so have I. I spoke at lengths about this heartbreaking situation on Sunday night in Colombia. And I stand by the President and I stand by those words,” Pence said, speaking from Chile on Wednesday. He said he is planning to end his weeklong trip to Latin America early and return to the U.S. Thursday. Pence was originally scheduled to return to the U.S. on Friday.

Trump said Tuesday that the “alt-right” and the “alt-left” were to blame for the violence that broke out at a rally in Charlottesville, Va., when a self-proclaimed white supremacist allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters and killing one woman named Heather Heyer.

The vice president said Wednesday “our hearts are in Charlottesville” with the family and friends who gathered to “say farewell to a remarkable young woman.”

“We’ve been praying, we’ve been praying for God’s comfort for her family and her friends and we are also praying in America, we will not allow the few to divide the many,” he said. “The strength of the United States of America is always strongest, as the President has said so eloquently, when we are united. Around our shared values and so it will always be.”

Pence’s comments come after Trump has received widespread criticism — and praise from known white supremacists — for his comments during an unhinged press conference where he seemed to defend white supremacists. 

“I think there’s blame on both sides,” Trump said Tuesday.

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During a segment on “Fox and Friends” Wednesday morning, host Abby Huntsman brought left- and right-leaning guests on the air to debate protesters tearing down monuments of Confederate soldiers, but the guests took the conversation in a different direction.

When asked what she makes of protesters tearing down the statues in her home state of North Carolina, Wendy Osefo, a John Hopkins University professor and political commentator, said the discussion needs to be “beyond a monument.”

“This is about hatred, this is about white supremacy and to have Heather Heyer killed on U.S. soil by Nazis, Deandre Harris beaten and bludgeoned by Nazis,” she said. “This is not talking points here, this is not partisanship, this is human life and as a mother, to hear the President of these United States not sit here and condemn what has happened — as a black woman of two black boys, my heart bleeds.”

Huntsman attempted to steer the debate back to the Confederate statues several times, but GOP strategist Gianno Caldwell gave a tearful monologue in response, saying he came to the interview “with a heavy heart” and said he “couldn’t sleep at all” last night because of the President’s response to violence at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a self-proclaimed white supremacist allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing a woman named Heather Hayer.

The President took 48 hours to condemn the white nationalists and neo-Nazis and later said at a press conference that both the “alt-right” and the “alt-left” were to blame for the violence. 

Caldwell said he felt “betrayed” by Trump.

“Our President has literally betrayed the conscience of our country. The very moral fabric in which we have made progress when it comes to race relations in America. He has failed us. And it’s very unfortunate that our President would say things like he did in that press conference yesterday when he says there are ‘good people on the side of the Nazis. They weren’t all Nazis and they weren’t all white supremacists.’ Mr. President, good people don’t (pal) around with Nazis and white supremacists. Maybe they don’t consider themselves white supremacists and Nazis, certainly they hold those views. This has become very troubling for anyone to come on any network and defend what President Trump did and said at that press conference yesterday is completely lost and the potential to be morally bankrupt. I’m sorry, no I believe that and I’m being very honest as one who has been talking about these issues for a very long time. I’m sorry that this is where we are right now. I hope the President learns a lesson from his press conference on yesterday. It’s disturbing.”

Cable news hosts and guests have expressed their frustrations with President Donald Trump since his provocative press conference Tuesday.

On Tuesday evening, Fox News co-host Kat Timpf called his remarks “disgusting” and said she felt as though she could cry over his comments. “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican, called Trump the President of the white nationalist movement.

Watch the Fox and Friends interview below:

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Expressing grave concern over President Donald Trump’s provocative comments at a press conference Tuesday — where he defended white supremacists by saying both “sides” were to blame for violence that broke out at a rally last weekend — “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough said Trump has officially placed himself on the wrong side of history.

“He is now the President, not only of America, but the white nationalist movement. David Duke saying ‘thank you, Mr. President, for your courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville,'” Scarborough said, referencing tweets from the former Ku Klux Klan leader who thanked Trump for his remarks on Twitter Tuesday. “David Duke, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, Klans members, they stand on one side and apparently the rest of America and the world stands on the other.”

During the press conference Tuesday, the President said both the “alt-left” and the “alt-right” were responsible for violence at a recent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.

On Saturday, a group of white nationalists gathered to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee memorial in the southern town, when a self-proclaimed white supremacist allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing one woman and injuring more than a dozen people.

 “The President has chosen sides and it is very clear not only morally, especially morally, but also politically, he has chosen the wrong side,” Scarborough said.

He said it is now “up to the rest of us” to decide how to respond and he called on fellow Republicans to avoid indifference or “granting Donald Trump the sort of moral equivalency that Donald Trump granted Nazis, white supremacists and Klans members.”

A former Republican congressman, Scarborough recently announced he would be leaving the GOP party because of the President’s actions and his party’s failure to confront Trump.

“Time and time and time again, they turn the other way. And they’re doing the same thing now,” he said on CBS’ “Late Show” with Stephen Colbert last month.

Watch the full video below:

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Dialing back his provocative rhetoric, President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday morning saying North Korea’s leader made a “very wise” and “well-reasoned” choice when he decided to back down from threats of launching a missile at Guam, a U.S. territory.

The tweet came after a week of back-and-forth threats between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un following reports that North Korea had successfully developed a nuclear warhead that could fit inside a ballistic missiles.

Trump told reporters that the country’s nuclear capabilities would be met with “fire and fury” if Kim didn’t back down. North Korea responded by drafting an attack plan to launch at missile at Guam.

On Tuesday, North Korean state media reported that Kim had decided not to launch the missile, but threatened he may change his mind “if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

Despite heightened tensions between the two countries, a Politico and Morning Consult poll published Wednesday found that the majority of Americans were no more in favor of military action against North Korea this month than they were in July.

Both last month and this month, 78 percent of voters said the U.S. should continue taking a diplomatic approach to get North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program.

Forty-six percent of voters said they thought Trump’s “fire and fury” comments were appropriate and 39 percent thought it was inappropriate to say. About 28 percent said they have no confidence in Trump to handle threats from North Korea, the poll found.

The poll was conducted from Aug. 10 to 14 and surveyed 1,997 registered voters. The margin of error was +/- 2 percentage points.

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A co-host of “The Fox News Specialists” said she couldn’t believe what she had just heard regarding President Donald Trump’s press conference on Tuesday, where he railed against the “alt-left” and claimed that both “sides” were to blame for the violence that broke out in Charlottesville, Va. over the weekend.

“It is honestly crazy for me to have to comment on this right now because I’m still in the phase where I am wondering if it was actually real life, what I just watched,” Kat Timpf said. “It was one of the biggest messes I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe it happened.”

During a provocative press conference Tuesday, the President said both the “alt-left” and the “alt-right” are responsible for violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville Saturday.

A group of white nationalists gathered to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee memorial in the southern town, when a self-proclaimed white supremacist allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors and killing one woman.

Timpf called the comments “disgusting” and said she was surprised it took Trump 48 hours to condemn the white supremacists or call the attacker a terrorist because “he’s done that before, before he’s had all the facts.”

“He’s not measured in his criticism,” she said. “It shouldn’t be some bold statement to say ‘Yes, a gathering full of white supremacist Nazis doesn’t have good people in it. Those are all bad people period. The fact that that is controversial, I don’t know if I should just laugh— I have too much eye makeup on to start crying right now. It’s disgusting.

Watch the video below:


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The White House is asking Republican members of Congress to follow the President’s lead as he blames “both sides” for the violence that broke out in Charlottesville, Va. during a white supremacist rally over the weekend, according to a memo obtained by The Atlantic.

Just hours after President Donald Trumps gave a provocative press conference — claiming that both the “alt-left” and the “alt-right” are to blame for the deadly violence that broke out in Charlottesville when a self-proclaimed white supremacists allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter protestors  — the White House gave Republicans guidance on how to discuss Charlottesville.

This kind of memo is sent to Republicans on a daily basis, The Atlantic reported.

The memo asked Republicans to use similar rhetoric as the President that “both sides of the violence in Charlottesville acted inappropriately, and bear some responsibility.”

“The President was entirely correct. … Despite the criticism, the President reaffirmed some of our most important founding principles: We are equal in the eyes of our creator, equal under the law, and equal under our Constitution,” the memo said.

The White House claimed Trump has been a voice “for unity and calm” and has called for the “end of violence on all sides so that no more innocent lives would be lost.”

The talking points also suggested that Trump, “with no ambiguity,” condemned the hate groups by name and blamed the media for reacting with “hysteria” to the President’s talking points that counter-protestors “showed up with clubs spoiling for a fight.”

It took the President two full days to condemn the white nationalists and neo-Nazis who gathered for the rally that turned violent Saturday.

“We should not overlook the facts just because the media finds them inconvenient: From cop killing and violence at political rallies, to shooting at Congressmen at a practice baseball game, extremists on the left have engaged in terrible acts of violence,” it said.

The memo also outlined the “swift action” Trump is taking to hold the “hate groups” accountable, including the Department of Justice’s opening of a civil rights investigation into the alleged car attack.

“Leaders and the media in our country should join the President in trying to unite and heal our country rather than incite more division,” it said.

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The conservative National Review is calling for the removal of Confederate monuments from public spaces, saying they should be reserved for museums and other locations.

“The monuments should go. Some of them simply should be trashed; others transmitted to museums, battlefields and cemeteries. The heroism and losses of Confederate soldiers should be commemorated, but not in everyday public spaces where the monuments are flashpoints in poisonous racial contention, with white nationalists often mustering in their defense,” editor Rich Lowry wrote in a piece published Tuesday.

He argued the recent violence that broke out at a white supremacist rally that started as a protest of the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a Charlottesville, Virginia park, should be an “inflection point in the broader debate” over whether the monuments of Confederate soldiers serve a purpose in the public sphere.

For supporters of the Confederate monuments, removing them from parks and avenues will be a blow against their heritage and historical memory. But the statues have often been part of an effort to whitewash the Confederacy,” Lowry said. “And it’s one thing for a statue to be merely a resting place for pigeons; it’s another for it to be a fighting cause for neo-Nazis.”

Lowry said even Lee himself was opposed to building Confederate monuments after the war, saying he thought it would be “wiser” to “not keep open the sores of war.”

“After Charlottesville, it’s time to revisit his advice,” Lowry said.

Lowry is referencing the deadly violence at a white supremacist rally over the weekend, when a self-proclaimed white nationalist allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing one woman.

Read the whole editorial here.

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On Monday, Boston officials announced plans to block a free speech rally scheduled in the city this weekend.

The Boston Free Speech rally was organized by a group that claims to be different than the white supremacists who organized a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend that ended in deadly violence, despite having similar speakers and supporters.

Some supporters tweeted Monday that the rally — scheduled for Saturday on the Boston Common— had been cancelled because city officials revoked the group’s permit request, but the city said the group never applied for a permit, according to Mass Live.

Boston Free Speech later posted on Facebook that the group had submitted a permit in July and it had been approved by the city. They also said the rally on Saturday is not cancelled.

The Boston Police Department Commissioner confirmed Monday that the group still does not have a permit for the rally because they never applied to the correct city department, Boston’s WBUR reported. The group can still rally without a permit.

Boston’s mayor and Massachusetts’ governor held a press conference Monday to discuss the planned rally, saying they would do everything they could to keep the gathering from happening and that Boston rejects racism, white supremacy and hatred, Mass Live reported.

“Boston does not welcome you here, Boston does not want you here, Boston rejects your message,” Mayor Marty Walsh said. “We’ll do anything in our power to keep hate out of our city.”

Walsh said the city is working to figure out who the organizers are and he said he planned to ask the group to postpone the rally. If they did arrive, he said the city would allow them to advocate for free speech, but not violence, threatening behavior or vandalism.

Police Commissioner William Evans said that regardless of whether the group gets a permit, they still have a protected right to gather if they choose to, according to the Boston Globe.  

“We’ve handled major demonstrations, and I don’t find this any different,” he said. “It’s pretty sad that we have to waste so many resources on such a group . . . with such hatred coming to Massachusetts.” 

The moves to block the rally come in response to a request from several Boston civil rights groups, who asked Walsh for a meeting to discuss how the city plans to keep citizens safe during the Free Speech rally on Saturday.

The gathering is scheduled to be held exactly one week after a self-proclaimed white supremacist allegedly drove his car into a group of counter-protesters at a white nationalists rally in Charlottesville, killing one person.

On its Facebook page, the group claimed it is not associated with the Charlottesville rally, but previously scheduled speakers included several prominent alt-right voices like Gavin Mcinnes, who has since backed out, and Joe Biggs, formerly of Infowars. Augustus Invictus, who spoke at the Charlottesville rally, was also scheduled to speak at the rally, but was uninvited by the group, the Boston Globe reported.

US Senate candidate Shiva Ayyadurai is also scheduled to speak and told the Globe he would be there to support free speech if the rally happens. 


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Texas A&M University officials have canceled a planned “White Lives Matter” rally at the school scheduled for next month, in light of Saturday’s deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va. at a white supremacists rally.

The rally was scheduled for Sept. 11 on a plaza at the center of campus, KBTX-TV reported.

University officials said the event organizer — Preston Wiginton — did not have the permission of the university to hold the rally on campus and announced the gathering to the media under the headline “Today Charlottesville, Tomorrow Texas A&M,” according to a statement from the school.

After consultation with law enforcement and considerable study, Texas A&M is cancelling the event scheduled by Preston Wiginton at Rudder Plaza on campus on September 11 because of concerns about the safety of its students, faculty, staff, and the public,” the statement said. “Linking the tragedy of Charlottesville with the Texas A&M event creates a major security risk on our campus. Additionally, the daylong event would provide disruption to our class schedules and to student, faculty and staff movement.”

In December 2016 Texas A&M allowed Wiginton to share his views on campus, but said that in light of the rally in Charlottesville over the weekend, in which a self-proclaimed white supremacist drove his car through a crowd of counter-protestors and killing one, the school decided to cancel the gathering.

“In this case, circumstances and information relating to the event have changed and the risks of threat to life and safety compel us to cancel the event,” the university said. “Finally, the thoughts and prayers of Aggies here on campus and around the world are with those individuals affected by the tragedy in Charlottesville.”

The event was meant to be similar to the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, with white supremacist Richard Spencer scheduled to speak.

Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX), a graduate of Texas A&M, reacted to the news of the event, telling the local TV station that “racism, bigotry and violence have no place in America.”

“We as a nation must stand united as a nation of laws. I am confident that our community can once again peacefully come together to counter hatred and division by exemplifying unity and the core values we cherish,” he said.

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