Nicole_lafond_profile2019

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

To illustrate his argument that President Donald Trump could not be prosecuted, subpoenaed or indicted while he’s a sitting President, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said the President could’ve shot former FBI Director James Comey instead of firing him and Trump would remain safe.

“If he shot James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day,” Giuliani told HuffPost on Sunday. “Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.”

Giuliani was referencing comments Trump made during the 2016 campaign, when he boasted he could shoot someone on New York City’s Fifth Avenue and he would not lose support from his base.

More than a year ago, Trump fired Comey as FBI director, a move special counsel Robert Mueller is probing as potential obstruction of justice.

After the New York Times reported that Trump’s lawyers sent Mueller a 20-page letter in January outlining their argument that Trump could not be indicted, Giuliani spent the weekend bolstering those claims. He told HuffPost that Trump’s constitutional authority as President is broad enough to protect him from an indictment in the Russia probe or any federal investigation.

“I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is,” he said.

Read HuffPo’s full story here.

Read More →

Before his home, hotel and office were raided by federal investigators, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer had some high-profile political aspirations in his hometown of New York City.

Namely, he wanted to run it.

According to Axios sources who witnessed the conversations, Cohen told a group of people on election night that he “already” had the political “bug” and that Trump’s election was the “beginning of a dynasty.”

“Nobody’s going to fuck with us. I think I’m going to run for mayor,” he reportedly told his friends while celebrating at Manhattan’s 6th Avenue Hilton Hotel.

Later that evening, as Cohen was leaving a victory party at that hotel, a person in the crowd yelled “Cohen for mayor!”

Cohen subtly responded to the encouragement by first-pumping, according to Axios.

When asked about his mayoral ambitions on Sunday, Cohen told Axios that he’s a fan of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Despite many friends suggesting that I run for mayor… I obviously chose not to,” he said. “Additionally, I believe that Mayor de Blasio is doing a fine job for our city.”

Read More →

In a 20-page letter that President Donald Trump’s legal team sent special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators in January, the President’s lawyers argued that Trump can’t obstruct justice because he has uninhibited authority over any federal probe, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The letter, obtained by the Times and written by Trump lawyers (at the time) John Dowd and Jay Kekulow, contends that Trump or any sitting president can’t obstruct a federal investigation because the Constitution allows a president to shut down a probe or pardon those convicted.

The letter was reportedly sent as an attempt to keep Trump from getting subpoenaed into sitting for an interview with Mueller’s team of investigators as they probe Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign.

Just minutes before the Times piece published, Trump tweeted a routine attack on the “Witch Hunt Hoax,” before suggesting that Mueller’s team was leaking “my lawyers letters to the Fake News Media.”

Read the Times’ full report here. 

 

Read More →

ABC is reportedly considering ways it could run a version of the “Roseanne” show without the star Roseanne Barr, whose racist tweet led to the shows cancelation earlier this week.

TMZ was first to report on Friday that ABC was exploring the possibility of “rebranding” the show to focus on the character Darlene instead of Rosanne, who is played by Barr. Two sources familiar with the matter told CNN that talks are just preliminary, but the idea is appealing to ABC because it’d keep those who were working on the show employed.

ABC would likely have to buy out Barr, who has a “significant financial interest in the show,” Variety reported earlier this week.

The show was promptly canceled this week after Barr apologized and received significant backlash for a racist tweet she posted about former President Obama administration adviser Valerie Jarrett. She’s since deleted that Twitter apology and has vowed to fight for “FAIRNESS,” claiming she was “smeared” over a “stupid mistake.”

 

Read More →

Former President Barack Obama is scheduled to headline fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in late June, according to Politico.

The events will serve as the first of many supportive moves the former president plans to make to boost Democrats in the midterm elections.

The DNC fundraiser will be a gala dinner in Los Angeles on June 28, with tickets ranging from $2,700 for general admission and $100,000 for better seating, photos and other benefits. The DCCC event will be held in the Bay Area on June 29, hosted in the private home of Liz Simons and Mark Heising. The fundraiser will also include House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), with tickets starting at $10,000, Politico Playbook reported.

 

An Obama aide told Politico that he plans to also headline a fundraising event for the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.

Read More →

Rep. Tom Garrett (R-VA), who has had a tumultuous week that culminated with him announcing he won’t seek reelection on Monday and admitting he’s an alcoholic, reportedly requested an investigation this week into certain members of his congressional staff, NPR reported Friday.

According to an IT incident receipt that was shared with NPR, Garrett ordered the “audit of several employees” on Wednesday. The request was made through a tech support office, operated by the head administrative officer of the House, according to NPR.

It’s unclear who was audited or what information Garrett was looking for. According to the source who shared the IT ticket with NPR, the request is not illegal, but it is rare that a lawmaker requests that type of surveillance of staff.

Garrett reportedly fired his chief of staff last week, raising suspicions about whether he would seek reelection. To combat rumors, Garrett hosted a bizarre, free wielding press conference to assure voters he planned to run again for his seat. But after a report came out that Garrett and his wife made staffers do demeaning things — like drive their children around or pick up the family dog’s poop — Garrett announced Monday that he was calling it quits. He also tearfully admitted he’s an alcoholic.

Read NPR’s full report here.

 

Read More →

For those masochists among us who have followed Roseanne Barr’s Twitter timeline over the past seven years, it’d be less-than- jolting to learn the comedian and recently revived sitcom actress tweeted something racist this week.

Since she joined Twitter in 2011, Barr’s timeline has served as a watering hole for conspiracy theorists and racist trolls alike, providing ammo for fringe groups’ arsenals, regardless of political ideology.

A brief overview: Barr has been an enthusiastic propagator of Pizzagate, vehemently asserts that 9-11 was an inside job, has occasionally climbed aboard the vaccine-truther train, regularly promotes anti-Jewish and Holocaust denying tweets, while simultaneously labeling Israel a “Nazi state” and retweeting arguments about Palestinian violence.

Despite this record of unhinged rhetoric, Barr managed to shock the masses (and her ABC bosses) with a clearly racist tweet this week, buried in a thread of conspiratorial comments about members of former President Barack Obama’s administration, who, according to Barr, deployed FBI agents to spy on the former French president.

“muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj,” she wrote at 2:45 a.m. Tuesday.

The tweet, clearly referencing former Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, was deleted posthaste. But the sitcom star was not fast enough: As is inevitable when celebrities let loose in the Twitterverse, someone had taken a screenshot. The distinctly racist comment about Jarrett, who is African American, went viral by sunrise.

The backlash prompted Barr to tweet an apology (also now deleted) for “making a bad joke about her politics and her looks” and vowing to leave Twitter for good. (She didn’t.)

Within hours of releasing her apparently disingenuous apology, ABC announced it had canceled her self-titled reboot, “Roseanne,” a sitcom about a working-class family in Illinois that originated in the 1980s and was rebooted this year with a new plot involving political themes. (Barr’s character was a Trump supporter, as Barr is in real life, and her sister Jackie voted for Hillary Clinton.)

After the show was cancelled, Barr continued to post defensive tweets and retweets justifying her behavior. She shared a post that suggested she thought Jarrett was white. In a since-deleted tweet she claimed she was “Ambien tweeting” at the time she made the “joke.” (“Racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication,” the manufacturer behind the sleep aid tweeted.) Barr later told followers that their encouragement had inspired her to “do something” to assert her freedom of speech. She ended the day Thursday begging for more followers and requesting “prayers for healing of our divided nation.”

The President, predictably, couldn’t resist the urge to dive in to the political mud slinging. Instead of criticizing ABC for cancelling Barr’s show — of which he was, apparently, a big fan — he used the melee as an excuse to re-up his attacks on the media, posting a less-than-subtle tweet questioning why he hadn’t received an apology from the CEO of Disney for the “HORRIBLE” things said about him on ABC News.

Despite her tumultuous week on Twitter, Roseanne is back at it: Her latest Twitter crusade amplifies anti-Muslim troll Amy Mek’s claims that journalist Luke O’Brien of The Huffington Post was “endangering” her family by writing about them.

For posting a tweet so racist that even Trump couldn’t be bothered to use his 280-character megaphone to defend it outright, Barr is our Duke of the Week.

Read More →

The Environmental Protection Agency spent $1,560 on a dozen custom-made fountain pens adorned with the EPA seal and the signature of Administrator Scott Pruitt, the Washington Post reported Friday.

The pens were purchased from a local Washington jewelry store, Tiny Jewel Box, and approved by EPA scheduling director Millan Hupp, who has been entangled in several reports of Pruitt’s questionable behavior in recent months. Hupp was reportedly given a massive raise that Pruitt improperly arranged and used her official business time to search for an apartment for Pruitt and his wife.

“The cost of the Qty. 12 Fountain Pens will be around $1,560.00,” a staffer emailed Hupp in August, according to a trove of thousands of emails released because of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club, an environmental organization. “All the other items total cost is around $1,670.00 which these items are in process. Please advise.”

“Yes, please order. Thank you,” Hupp reportedly responded later the same day.

The purchase sign-off by Hupp is significant because it pokes holes in Pruitt’s repetitive defense that career staffers within his department are the ones signing off on excessive and expensive purchases that he’s come under fire for, like a $43,000 sound proof phone booth and an unprecedented around-the-clock security detail. Hupp is a top aide who has worked closely with Pruitt since his Oklahoma days.

EPA spokesman John Wilcox told the Post that the pens were purchased to serve as “gifts” to Pruitt’s “foreign counterparts and dignitaries upon his meeting with them.”

“This adheres to the same protocol of former EPA administrators and were purchased using funds budgeted for such a purpose,” he told the Post.

The New York Times reported earlier this spring that Pruitt was interested in ordering new fountain pens, stationary and leather notebooks that didn’t include the EPA seal, but rather his name “featured prominently.” Pruitt also reportedly wanted to redesign the agency’s “challenge coin,” by omitting the EPA seal and adding “symbols more reflective of himself and the Trump administration.” The items ended up including a small version of the seal and the coins were never order, according to the Times.

Read More →

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow’s defense of President Donald Trump’s preemptive tweet hinting at a positive jobs report on Friday, calling his comment proper because he “didn’t put the numbers out there.”

Sanders also confirmed to CNBC that Trump was given the jobs report on Thursday evening, adding fodder to the argument of business journalists and former administration officials who have spoken out about Trump’s inappropriate tweet.

More than an hour before the monthly jobs report was set to release on Friday morning, Trump tweeted that he was “looking forward” to it, a comment many have claimed was Trump’s cryptic way of suggesting the report would be positive.

Experts have claimed that the tweet has already had an impact on the markets and Market Watch even reported that the tweet may have been a violation of federal rules barring officials from talking about data before it’s released. Former economic officials have argued that the rule is in place to prevent insider trading.

Read More →

Business journalists and former administration officials are sounding the alarm after President Donald Trump tweeted hinting the monthly jobs report would be positive an hour before its release.

Just before 7:30 a.m. ET, Trump tweeted that he was “looking forward to seeing the employment numbers” when the report was released at 8:30 a.m. ET, a move that reporters, like Business Insider’s Pedro da Costa, are claiming has already influenced markets.

Experts and former officials have said that at best, Trump broke with expected precedent and at worst, he appeared to violate federal rules barring officials from commenting on data before its release.

Former Obama administration economic official Jason Furman spoke out on Twitter minutes after Trump’s tweet, suggesting that the President should be blocked from viewing the report ahead of its release if he was, in fact, attempting to give his followers a hint about the report.

Others, like David Wessel, a journalist and the director of the fiscal and monetary policy branch of the Brookings Institution, chalked it up to another Trump public relations nightmare that could’ve been avoided.

Some former officials were divided on the significance of the President’s tweet. Tony Fratto, the former deputy press secretary for the George W. Bush administration, said Trump didn’t break any statutes, while former Obama White House cabinet secretary Chris Lu suggested that “misuse” of the federal jobs data “leads to dismissal.”

The White House did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.

Read More →

LiveWire