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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

The attorney for former FBI lawyer Lisa Page countered House Republicans’ uproar over her client’s refusal to comply with the House Judiciary Committee’s subpoena to testify, calling their “bullying tactics” “unnecessary.”

“There is no basis for claims that Lisa has anything to hide or is unwilling to testify. The record shows otherwise,” Page’s attorney Amy Jeffress said in a statement Wednesday. “Lisa has already cooperated with multiple investigations underway in Congress and at the Department of Justice. She provided more than 36 hours of testimony to DOJ’s Office of Inspector General and has cooperated fully with another congressional committee.”

Jeffress said in a statement Tuesday night that Page would not comply with the GOP’s subpoena to testify on Wednesday because lawmakers had failed to provide Page with enough information on their intended scope of questioning and the FBI had declined to share crucial documents with Page, according to Politico.

Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee responded to the refusal with suspicion on Tuesday evening, with Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) suggesting Page “has something to hide” and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) calling her refusal “indefensible.”

In her statement on Wednesday, Jeffress said Page has every intention of cooperating with the investigation, but that her client requests to “be treated as other witnesses have under the Committees’ own rules.”

“She has offered to voluntarily appear before the Committees later this month,” Jeffress said. “She simply needs clarification of the scope of the Committee’s interest in interviewing her and access to relevant documents so that she can provide complete and accurate testimony.”

Jeffress said she received word from the Justice Department late Tuesday night that they had granted her request to “review the relevant documents.”

“We are working to arrange that process quickly so that we can move forward with her appearance before the Committees,” she said.   

Page and her anti-Trump texts with another FBI official, Peter Strozk, are at the heart of Republican hysteria over what they claim is political bias at the center of the Russia probe. Strzok has already sat for 11 hours worth of closed door interviews with the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees.

While Strzok did eventually work as an investigator in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe — and was removed from the investigation once Mueller found the messages — he was working on the Hillary Clinton email probe at the time he sent the texts to Page about stopping Trump from becoming President.  

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s latest attack on one of the U.S.’s closest allies, Germany, furthers their “disturbing” belief that “the President is more loyal to President Putin that to our NATO allies.”

During a breakfast with other NATO leaders on Wednesday morning, Trump blasted Germany for a pipeline project it has formed with Russia, claiming the partnership makes Germany “totally controlled” and “captive to Russia.” He then repeated his tired line that NATO allies should increase their spending on defense, especially if Germany is making deals with Russia.

Read the full statement from Pelosi and Schumer.

“President Trump’s brazen insults and denigration of one of America’s most steadfast allies, Germany, is an embarrassment.  His behavior this morning is another profoundly disturbing signal that the president is more loyal to President Putin than to our NATO allies.

“If the president leaves the Putin meeting without ironclad assurances and concrete steps toward a full cessation of Russian attacks on our democracy, this meeting will not only be a failure – it will be a grave step backward for the future of the international order and global security.  A successful meeting means real action, now.

“The president needs to remember that, as Commander-in-Chief, his duty is to protect the American people from foreign threats, not to sell out our democracy to Putin.”

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In an exclusive interview with Vice News broadcast Tuesday, Emin Agalarov, the Russian pop star whose real estate mogul father worked with Donald Trump to bring the Miss Universe Pageant to Moscow in 2013, admitted that he was the main instigator behind the now infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

Agalarov helped arrange the meeting because someone asked his father to set up a conversation between the Trump campaign and Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who later admitted to being a government informant. Agalarov told Vice he didn’t know Veselnitskaya before the meeting and also denied knowing the person who asked his father to arrange it.

“I never met her. I think my father met her a few times,” Agalarov told Vice. “I think somebody asked him to help her set that meeting knowing that we were acquainted with the Trump family. And obviously my father, being my father, said, ‘Sure, I’ll help as much as I can.’ And the next step was to call me and say, ‘Some people want to meet Trump people and ask if that could happen and please if you can make that happen.’”

During testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Donald Trump Jr. claimed that he didn’t remember if he had spoken with Agalarov before the meeting, which he attended, along with Veselnitskaya, Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort.

But Agalarov confirmed to Vice that he did speak with Trump Jr. about the logistics of the meeting ahead of time.

“I said, ‘Listen, there’s some people that want to meet you.’ They obviously want something that could potentially help them resolve things that you could be interested in or maybe not,” he told Vice. “If you can spare a few minutes of your time, I’d be grateful. If not, no problem. Obviously Don Jr., obviously being Don Jr., said, ‘Of course. I’ll do it if you’re asking.’”

The Russian pop star also confirmed that his publicist, Rob Goldstone, was exaggerating when he told Trump Jr. that the people attending the meeting had dirt on Hillary Clinton in order to “cater to the Trumps,” in Vice’s words. 

Agalarov called it a “strange and ridiculous accusation” that he influenced the U.S. election in any way and also denied knowledge of sending prostitutes to Trump’s hotel room while he was in Moscow in 2013.  

“Mr. Trump came to Moscow with 87 of the most beautiful ladies in the world,” Emin told Vice. “I would never even offer it because I can never live up to the high level of the most amazing and beautiful women surrounding us constantly.”

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Vice President Mike Pence is launching a damage control campaign in the Midwest this week, meeting with key donors to offer reassurances as President Donald Trump’s trade war threatens to devastate soybean and pork production and other key parts of the agricultural industry.

Pence will have one-on-one meetings with Midwestern donors in Kansas City, Cedar Rapids and Chicago, Politico reported. He plans to highlight the strengths of the Trump administration, like Trump’s Supreme Court pick and the Republican tax cut passage, according to a Republican operative who spoke with Politico.

The vice president will also fundraise for three incumbent House Republicans by foreshadowing the potential damage to the Republican Party if Democrats win back control of the House.

The troubleshooting tour comes on the heels of Trump’s latest 25 percent tariff on $34 billion in Chinese goods. The move was met swiftly with equivalent retaliation from China, which has already begun to harm the Midwestern soy and pork industry. The head of a national soybean association told Politico that farmers have already lost 20 percent of their income in soybeans nationally since Trump launched his trade war.

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Lisa Page, the former FBI lawyer whose anti-Trump texts with another agency official has fueled Republicans’ conviction that the Russia probe was politically motivated, does not plan to comply with a GOP subpoena to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

Page’s attorney, Amy Jeffress, said that the committee did not provide Page with enough information on its intended line of questioning and the FBI has declined to share crucial records for Page to review, according to Politico.

“As a result, Lisa is not going to appear for an interview at this time,” Jeffress said in a statement shared with Politico.  

Page was set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, a day before the committee’s public hearing with Peter Strzok, the agency official she exchanged scathing texts with about then-candidate Donald Trump. Trump has become increasingly obsessed with Strzok and Page in recent weeks and even tweeted about the pair, who were reportedly having an affair when the texts were exchanged, while flying to Belgium for the NATO conference on Tuesday.

House Republicans seized on the news that Page intended to defy the subpoena, with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) claiming in a statement that Page “has something to hide” and saying she had “no excuse” to not appear before the committee.

Both Strozk and Page have already testified before congressional committees, according to Politico.  

While Strzok did eventually work as an investigator in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe — and was removed from the investigation once Mueller found the messages — he was working on the Hillary Clinton email probe at the time he sent the texts to Page.

Strzok even had a significant role in reopening the Clinton investigation just weeks before the 2016 election– he co-wrote the first draft of former FBI director James Comey’s letter to Congress announcing he was reopening the investigation.

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Judge T.S. Ellis has granted Paul Manafort’s request to move to a jail closer to the Washington, D.C. area so he can better prepare for his trial.

Manafort is currently being held in custody at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia, located more than 100 miles from Alexandria, Virginia, where his trial will be held later this month.

Ellis ordered that Manafort be transported from Northern Neck to the Alexandria Detention Center until his trial “to ensure the defendant has access to his counsel and can adequately prepare his defense,” he wrote in the court filing.

The decision was in response to a series of requests Manafort made late Friday, seeking to delay his trial due to challenges in preparing while in jail and to move the trial to Roanoke, Virginia, a more politically “balanced” part of the state.

In the Virginia case, Manafort faces charges of bank and tax fraud. He’s also set to stand trial in Washington, D.C. in September, facing money laundering and failure to register as a foreign lobbyist charges. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Manafort’s bail was revoked last month by the judge overseeing his case in Washington, D.C. after special counsel Robert Mueller accused Manafort of trying to interfere with a witness. Manafort is being held in solitary confinement in the Northern Neck jail to ensure his safety, and his lawyers complained to the judge overseeing Manafort’s case in Washington, D.C. that the situation made it challenging to prepare for trial.

He will likely be placed in protective custody when he arrives at the Alexandria Detention Center, given his high profile status, Alexandria Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Amy Bertsch told TPM Tuesday. Once Manafort arrives at the new facility, he will go through the jail’s intake process, which includes a new booking. If placed in protective custody, he’ll have limited contact with other inmates and will get two hours outside of his cell each day, she said.  

Read the order from Ellis below:

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Another Ohio State University wrestler has accused Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) of  knowing about alleged sexual abuse by the team’s doctor and told CNN that Jordan “snickered” when the athlete told him about an incident with Dr. Richard Strauss. 

The latest wrestler to come forward, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told CNN that Jordan was a “phony” for denying that he knew about the alleged abuse when he was an assistant coach for the wrestling team.

“I remember coming up and saying, ‘Strauss held my balls longer than normal.’ He just snickered,” the wrestler said.

The former athlete said he remembered approaching Jordan and a group of wrestlers and saying “something to the effect of ‘his hands are cold as shit; he checked out every hair on my ball,’” the wrestler told CNN, adding that Jordan walked away and said, “I have nothing to do with this.”

The athlete who spoke with CNN — who also voted for Jordan when he first ran for office — is the eighth former wrestler to come forward alleging that Jordan was aware of Strauss’ abuse. Jordan has denied all the allegations and has called the scandal a conveniently timed political attack.

“He’s sitting here and directly lying,” the wrestler said, adding that he supports fellow OSU wrestler Mike DiSabato, who has been public about his assertions of abuse and Jordan’s knowledge of the incidents.

A former White House ethics chief has submitted a request to the Office of Congressional Ethics to probe Jordan’s knowledge of the alleged abuse.

Strauss died of suicide in 2005 and and OSU is currently probing the allegations of sexual abuse by former athletes.

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President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani is reportedly still taking foreign clients through his security firm, despite saying he was not involved in the company before joining Trump’s legal team, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Giuliani told the Post that he is still representing clients in Brazil and Colombia, and also gave a paid speech to a controversial group based in Iran. He defended his work to the Post, offering that he is working pro bono and has never lobbied the President while working overseas.

I’ve never lobbied him on anything,” Giuliani told the Post. “I don’t represent foreign government in front of the U.S. government. I’ve never registered to lobby.”

Giuliani also told the Post that he keeps his work for his clients confidential, never discusses it with Trump and even turns away clients that he thinks may raise an issue. But ethics experts say the work presents conflict of interest concerns and likely requires Giuliani to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act.

One of Giuliani’s clients is Kharkiv, Ukraine. The mayor of Kharkiv is a well known member of the Party of Regions, the political group at the focal point of the federal investigation into Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

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President Donald Trump told reporters on Tuesday that he has not asked his Supreme Court pick, who will replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, about his views on abortion.

“No, I haven’t, I really haven’t,” Trump told reporters in response to questions about whether he’s addressed the issue with his nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

“Last night was an incredible, Brett Kavanaugh got great reviews, actually from both sides. It’s a beautiful thing to watch, ” he told reporters, according to the pool report.

The conservative judge’s stance on abortion and upholding Roe v. Wade will likely determine whether Kavanaugh earns confirmation votes from at least two Republican female senators. 

During his 2006 Senate confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh was pressed on his thoughts on Roe v. Wade as a precedent of the court, by now- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Kavanaugh said he would follow the ruling, but declined to share his personal opinion on abortion.

“Senator, on the question of Roe v. Wade, if confirmed to the D.C. Circuit, I would follow Roe v. Wade faithfully and fully. That would be binding precedent of the court. It’s been decided by the Supreme Court,” he said. “I’m saying if I were confirmed to the D.C. Circuit, senator, I would follow it. It’s been reaffirmed many times.”

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The Department of Defense on Monday said it anticipates being reimbursed for all the time and resources it’s devoting to detaining immigrant families on its military bases, Foreign Policy reported.

A Pentagon spokesperson said in a statement that the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services would be responsible for caring for the 32,000 immigrants in detention, and would need to reimburse the DOD for its work preparing to house the families on bases.

“DOD is not going to have any involvement, any interaction with the children or the families,” the spokesperson said.

The Pentagon is currently conducting environmental reviews at two of its military bases, according to Foreign Policy and DHS has asked the Pentagon to build tents to house up to 4,000 family members, starting with Fort Bliss in Texas and New Mexico.

As part of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance border crossing policy, immigrant families who enter the U.S. illegally have been being separated for months. Trump directored border patrol agents to stop separating immigrant children from their parents and asked the Pentagon to help find a new place to hold those caught crossing the border.    

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