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

Ousted Fox News host Bill O’Reilly on Monday attempted to poke holes in the story of the porn actress who was interviewed on “60 Minutes” Sunday about her alleged sexual affair with President Donald Trump.

O’Reilly claimed Stormy Daniels’ “story doesn’t stack” up because she “didn’t want money to attack Donald Trump, but accepted money,” he wrote on Twitter and in a post on his “No Spin News” website. O’Reilly was ousted from Fox News after reports surfaced that he paid several women millions of dollars to settle allegations of sexual misconduct.

She doesn’t want money now either. So why are you on national television with all this garbage? Does that help your daughter?” O’Reilly said. “Another proud day for America.”

Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has admitted to paying Daniels $130,000 in the days leading up the 2016 election, but he has claimed he gave her money in his personal capacity, not on behalf of Trump, who, he says, was not aware of the deal.

Daniels said she was offered the money and pressured into signing a non-disclosure agreement to stay quiet about the sexual affair she allegedly had with Trump more than a decade ago. In recent weeks, Daniels filed a lawsuit against Trump claiming the NDA is null because Trump never signed the agreement. She has said she’s suing Trump to get the rights to share her side of the story back and has promised to return the money.

During the interview that aired on “60 Minutes” Sunday, Daniels shared details about her alleged sexual affair with Trump and said that she was threatened in 2011 after she gave an interview to In Touch Magazine about the affair. Daniels claims a man approached her, told her to stop talking about Trump and used her infant daughter to threaten Daniels’ physical safety.

He leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ And then he was gone,” she told Anderson Cooper Sunday evening. She said she never contacted the police about the incident because she was “scared,” but said she will always remember the man who approached her. Her lawyer said Monday that the man who threatened her was connected to the Trump Organization.

O’Reilly also said Monday that if a person was actually threatening to harm Daniels’ young child, she would have gone to the police.

If someone threatened your young child with harm, would you not go to the police? Even after you saw the man who did it?” he tweeted Monday.

While Daniels has said that her affair with Trump was consensual, Trump has been accused by more than a dozen women of sexual harassment and assault. O’Reilly has been quick to defend the President against his accusers in the past, likely because he maintains his innocence against the allegations against him, despite the fact that he paid more than $30 million to settle with one woman who accused him of harassment.

Read More →

The morning after the “60 Minutes” interview with Stormy Daniels aired, in which the porn actress detailed her alleged affair with President Donald Trump, the President tweeted that “fake news” had “never been more voluminous or more inaccurate.”

That’s the closest the President has come to touching the scandal, as the usually active-on-Twitter Trump has restrained from commenting publicly on Daniels’ allegations. The White House has firmly denied any of Daniels’ claims and much of the blame has fallen on Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who admitted to paying Daniels $130,000 just before the 2016 election out of his own pocket. Cohen claims Trump had no knowledge of the arrangement.

Daniels claims she was given the money as a hush payment and was reportedly pressured into signing a non-disclosure agreement designed to keep her from talking about the affair.

The highly-anticipated “60 Minutes” interview aired on CBS Sunday evening. Daniels outlined the details of the alleged affair, echoing similar claims she made in 2011 when she gave In Touch Magazine an interview about the relationship.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, she also shared that she had been threatened in 2011 after she gave the In Touch interview.     

Read More →

President Donald Trump reportedly had dinner with his personal lawyer Michael Cohen on Saturday night, just one day before the interview with porn actress Stormy Daniels was aired on “60 Minutes,” according to CBS.

In her “60 Minutes” interview, Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, detailed her decade-old sexual encounter with Trump and the $130,000 hush payment she claims Cohen paid her in exchange for her silence in the days leading up to the 2016 election. Daniels also signed a non-disclosure agreement, reportedly designed to keep her silent about the alleged affair, but she has recently filed a lawsuit against Trump for not signing the agreement. The White House has denied the affair.

Cohen has found himself at the center of reports about the alleged affair and has admitted to making the $130,000 payment, but denies that Trump knew anything about it. Cohen has reportedly complained to friends that Trump never repaid him for the hush payment, which could have violated the Federal Election Commission’s campaign finance laws.

Read More →

As President Donald Trump continues to clean house, embattled Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin will reportedly be the next high profile departure from the White House, The Associated Press reported Sunday evening.

According to administration officials who spoke with the AP, Shulkin will be pushed out of the White House this week, with one saying the odds of it happening in the next few days are “50-50.” Trump is reportedly waiting to push Shulkin out until he has decided on a replacement. One person familiar with the discussion told the AP that the White House is currently looking at at least six candidates to head the VA, including Pete Hegseth, who works as a contributor on “Fox and Friends,” Trump’s favorite show.

Shulkin is an Obama-era holdover who has recently come under intense scrutiny over an internal watchdog report released in February that found he had improperly accepted tickets to Wimbledon and that his staff had made changes to an email to give his wife reason to travel to Europe with him, on the taxpayers’ dime. A separate internal investigation, looking into an allegation that Shulkin had his office’s security detail come with him to Home Depot and carry furniture, is set to be released in coming weeks.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has reportedly told Shulkin in recent weeks that he’s uncomfortable with Shulkin’s statements in the media, voicing complaints about internal feuds within his office, according to the AP.   

Read More →

TOKYO (AP) — Former President Barack Obama said Sunday that negotiations with North Korea on its nuclear weapons program are difficult, partly because the country’s isolation minimizes possible leverage, such as trade and travel sanctions against Pyongyang.

“North Korea is an example of a country that is so far out of the international norms and so disconnected with the rest of the world,” Obama told a packed hall in Tokyo.

He stressed that the effort to get North Korea to give up nuclear weapons remains difficult, but said countries working together, including China, South Korea and Japan, to pressure the North is better than nations working alone.

He noted that past U.S. efforts on Iran’s nuclear weapons were more successful because there was more leverage, but that there’s little commerce and travel with North Korea to being with.

“That makes them less subject to these kinds of negotiations,” he said of North Korea.

Obama was speaking at an event sponsored by a Japanese nonprofit group during an Asia-Pacific trip that included earlier stops in Singapore, New Zealand and Australia. Obama’s work after leaving office has been focused on nurturing young leaders.

Obama, welcomed by a standing ovation, said that the U.S.-Japan alliance remains strong, and that the U.S. is committed to defending Japan.

“North Korea is a real threat,” he said.

“Our view has always been that we would prefer to resolve these issues peacefully,” he said, adding that otherwise “the cost in terms of human life would be significant.”

He acknowledged that progress on a nuclear-free world will likely take a long time as long as Russia and the U.S. can’t agree to reduce their stockpiles.

Obama also reflected on his 2016 visit to Hiroshima, one of two Japanese cities where the U.S. dropped atomic bombs in the closing days of World War II. His visit was the first by an American president.

Almost all American presidents tend to be relatively popular in Japan, which views the U.S. as its most important ally. But many Japanese particularly appreciate Obama’s efforts on denuclearization and remember with fondness his trip to Hiroshima and his message of working toward a world without nuclear weapons.

“It was an extraordinarily powerful moment for me,” Obama recalled.

Read More →

President Donald Trump is not completely convinced that seasoned Washington attorney Joseph diGenova and his wife, attorney Victoria Toensing, are the right fit to join his legal team, CNN reported Friday.

While Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow announced Monday that diGenova had been added to Trump’s legal team, a source familiar with the matter told CNN that no one has been officially hired yet. Trump reportedly met with the lawyer couple Thursday and “liked their message,” but wasn’t fully convinced to bring them on the team, CNN reported.

Trump is reportedly concerned about conflicts of interests with Toensing’s other clients. According to the sources who spoke with CNN, Toensing represents clients like Trump-affiliated public relations specialist Mark Corrallo and former Trump campaign co-chair Sam Clovis, both of whom have been interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller for his investigation into Russian meddling and the Trump campaign.

The news comes as attorney John Dowd resigned Thursday from Trump’s legal team. Dowd reportedly left because of diGenova’s hiring.

Read More →

President Donald Trump is scheduled to hold a news conference at 1:00 p.m. ET Friday. Watch live below:

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway hinted on Friday that she would consider taking over as White House communications director.

During an interview with “Fox and Friends,” Conway was asked about an article in the Atlantic that said Conway was moving closer toward accepting President Donald Trump’s offer to head the communications shop, a job she has said she’s been offered “many times.”

“I’m here to support the President however he sees is most important,” she said. “I don’t have any personnel announcements at this time. The President controls the timing, tone and content of all those personnel announcements.”

She went on to praise the communications team in the White House and said she would do “whatever is best.”

“My best and highest use here as counselor to the President, that takes on any number of different tasks, and one has been in terms of policy, that’s been my major portfolio here,” she said. “But I think to be effective, communication directors, as we have seen, you also have to know policy, you have to be right in.”

Her mention of the role of policy in the communications shop may be a hint that she’s had a change of heart about the position. In an different interview with “Fox and Friends” earlier this month, Conway said “no,” she wasn’t interested in the job because she “work(s) on policy here at the White House.”

The communications department has been without a director since former head Hope Hicks resigned late last month.

Read More →

President Donald Trump on Friday said he is “considering a veto” of Congress’ $1.3 trillion spending bill that finally passed in the Senate around midnight Friday.

In a tweet, Trump cited the lack of a plan in the bill for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — which he ended last year — and a partially funded border wall.

The White House on Thursday said Trump would support the bill, despite opposition from conservatives over some of the provisions included in the legislation, like a lack of full funding for Trump’s wall.

Those naysayers may have gotten the President’s ear.

“I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even named in the Bill) and the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded,” he said.

If Trump doesn’t sign the bill, which is widely considered a compromise among lawmakers, the government will shut down at midnight.

While the bill does not include a legislative fix for DACA recipients, it does include some funding for border security — $1.6 billion for physical barriers and technology, an amount relatively smaller than what the $25 billion the White House has previously requested.

The spending package passed the House 256-167 on Thursday and cleared the Senate by a 65-32 vote early Friday morning.

Read More →

President Donald Trump’s outgoing lawyer John Dowd told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that Trump approved of a statement the lawyer released over the weekend, calling for an end to special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign.

“(Trump) thought it was a good statement. And I still do,” Dowd told the Journal on Thursday, just after he resigned from Trump’s personal legal team.

On Saturday, Dowd released a statement, calling on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to end Mueller’s Russia probe “in light of recent revelations.” Dowd was referencing news that Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired former FBI deputy Director Andrew McCabe for his handling of the bureau’s investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Sessions terminated McCabe just hours before he was set to retire from the FBI, compromising his pension.

Initially, Dowd told reporters that he made the statement on behalf of Trump, but later walked that back, saying he was speaking for himself. Later on Saturday, Trump mirrored Dowd’s remarks, tweeting that the investigation “should never have been started.” 

While Dowd would not publicly say why he resigned on Thursday, people close to the legal team said Dowd was frustrated by Trump’s decision to add attorney Joseph deGenova to his legal team, according to the Journal. Dowd has denied those claims.

Read More →