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

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.

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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:

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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:

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President Donald Trump is “absolutely” planning to sign a resolution condemning hate groups, the White House said Wednesday, after both the Senate and the House passed a resolution in the wake of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The measure formally condemns the acts of the white supremacists that gathered in Charlottesville last month to protest the removal of a Confederate statue. The rally ended in violence when a man affiliated with the white supremacists allegedly drove his car through a crowd of counter-protesters and killed one woman.

The resolution passed unanimously in the Senate on Monday and cleared the House on Tuesday. A White House spokesperson told Politico that there were “no announcements” on whether Trump would sign the measure when asked about it Tuesday evening.

But White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders cleared up any speculation Wednesday.

“The President was clear in his initial statement that he condemned hatred, bigotry, racism of all forms. He continues to stick to that message. He’s been very consistent in that fact,” she said during a press briefing Wednesday. “In terms of whether or not he’ll sign the joint resolution, absolutely, and he looks forward to doing so as soon as he receives it, which he hasn’t done as (of when) I came out here earlier.”

Trump was hesitant to formally condemn white supremacists and other hate groups in his initial response to the violence in Charlottesville. Once he did condemn them, 48-hours after the attack, he quickly dialed back on those statements during a press conference in which he blamed “both sides” for the violence. He claimed there were “fine people” on both sides of the protest.

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While he’s made it clear in the past that he is not an advocate of recreational marijuana use, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) announced new medical marijuana research legislation Wednesday in a bill that would make it easier to conduct research on the plant for medical use.

But his statement introducing the roll-out of the Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act of 2017 wasn’t as dry as the bill’s title sounds.

It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana,” Hatch said in a statement introducing the bill and its co-sponsors, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC).

“To be blunt, we need to remove the administrative barriers preventing legitimate research into medical marijuana, which is why I’ve decided to roll out the MEDS Act,” he said.

Hatch will introduce the bill on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon. He said he’s bringing the legislation forward because the country hasn’t had the chance to properly delve “into the weeds” on the effectiveness of marijuana as medical treatment.

“I urge my colleagues to join Senator Schatz and me in our joint effort to help thousands of Americans suffering from a wide-range of diseases and disorders,” he said. “In a Washington at war with itself, I have high hopes that this bipartisan initiative can be a kumbaya moment for both parties.”

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Former President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced his foundation’s first set of civic engagement programs coming this fall, which are all designed to expand opportunities for young people in the U.S. and around the world.

The programming at each event will reflect feedback Obama received from young people and supporters about what his Foundation should offer, he said.

“We asked you what this organization ought to look like. What its goals should be. What work is going on out there that we should lift up,” he said in an email to supporters. “And you delivered beyond what we could have hoped for. Based on what we’ve heard from you, I’m here to tell you what’s next.”

He said the organization is going to “focus on empowering and equipping civic innovators and young leaders” with what they need to “create change in their communities.”

“We’ll spotlight the incredible individuals and projects around the world that are making an impact, and convene those that are tackling challenges in their own backyards,” he said.

The first event, a one-day civics training program, will be held in Chicago on Oct. 14, as well as in Boston and Tempe, Arizona in November.

About 150 young people will attend each training to learn how to get involved in their local municipalities for the first time. The trainings will be hosted by the Obama Foundation and other partner organizations. 

At the end of October, Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama will host a two-day summit in Chicago for young people from all over the world to gather and share ideas and problem solve.

The foundation also announced its Obama Foundation Fellowship program and its plans to ally with the My Brother’s Keeper organization.

“A diverse set” of 20 young people will be chosen for the two-year fellowship, according to the Foundation.

“From the day we launched the Foundation, I told you that even as we experiment, even as we try and fail as humans do, there would be one constant in our work — our commitment to progress,” Obama said. “Democracy is a job for all of us. What are you going to do about it? I’ve never been more certain that we’ll rise to the occasion — together.”

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Congress on Tuesday passed a bipartisan resolution condemning white supremacists and other hate groups and sent it to President Trump’s desk, Politico and The Hill reported.

With the bill on its way to the White House, sponsors urged President Donald Trump to not hesitate in signing it.

“Tonight the House passed my resolution condemning hate groups and the Charlottesville attack. POTUS should send a clear message and sign it ASAP,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), who co-sponsored the legislation in the Senate, tweeted Tuesday evening.

The resolution is designed to formally condemn the “shameful and hate-filled acts” of white supremacists and other hate groups in Charlottesville, Virginia last month who gathered to protest the removal of a Confederate statue, according to Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), who sponsored the bill in the House.

The rally ended in violence when a man affiliated with the white supremacists allegedly drove his car through a crowd of counter-protesters and killed one woman.

“I hope this bipartisan action will help heal the wounds left in the aftermath of this tragedy and send a clear message to those that seek to divide our country that there is no place for hate and violence,” Connolly said in a statement he tweeted.

While the resolution is on its way to the President’s desk, the White House has not taken an official stance on whether it will sign the measure, according to Politico reporter Kyle Cheney, who tweeted that a White House spokesperson said there were “no announcements” on the resolution yet.

The bipartisan resolution will likely force Trump to officially and formally condemn white supremacists, a stance he was hesitant to take after the violence in Charlottesville.

He blamed “both sides” for the violence and claimed there were “good people” on both sides of the protest.

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Republican members of Congress and Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) are “denying reality” by refusing to acknowledge the role that climate change has played in the two recent hurricanes that have rocked U.S. coastal communities in the past month, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) told Politico Tuesday.

“It’s denying reality,” Nelson said. “You can call it politics or whatever, but the Earth is getting hotter. This storm is another reminder of what we’re going to have to deal with in the future.”

As a former astronaut, Nelson said climate change and the greenhouse effect have warmed the waters and caused sea levels around Florida to rise in recent decades, which helped fuel the size of Hurricane Irma, he said, saying the issue is not political.

“It’s certainly going to be an important issue, and if certain people such as the one you mentioned is my opponent, there’s a significant contrast in what we believe,” Nelson told Politico, referencing Scott, who will likely be Nelson’s opponent in the 2018 Senate race and has questioned climate science in the past.

He said he thinks Republicans should explain why they think “99.5 percent of scientists” are wrong climate change.

“It’s ironic isn’t it?” Nelson said, questioning why politicians are so quick to believe government scientists when they make predictions about when hurricanes are coming, but not on climate change predictions.

“They accept the hurricane information, but deny the climate information.”

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Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) and his wife are recovering from injuries they sustained when they were involved in a car accident Tuesday.

The couple sustained “non-life-threatening injuries” when the car they were driving east on I-40 was rear-ended and flipped multiple times, Loudermilk’s office said in a statement sent to TPM. The impact caused their vehicle to leave the road and flip multiple times eventually coming to rest on the passenger’s side.

A spokeswoman said the couple was driving to Washington, D.C. after coming home to Georgia to assist in Hurricane Irma relief efforts. 

“Both the congressman and Mrs. Loudermilk were transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries where they were treated and released,” the spokeswoman added. “They have been instructed to return to Georgia for follow-up treatment.”

While he wasn’t harmed then, Loudermilk was also present on the baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia in June when a man opened fire at a congressional Republican baseball practice. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was shot and is still recovering from injuries.

 “The Loudermilk’s immediately acknowledged God’s hand in protecting them from serious injury, and they would appreciate your thoughts and prayers as they recover,” the spokeswoman said.

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The aid Mexico promised the U.S. to help with victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas will now be redirected back to Mexico after the country was hit by a magnitude 8.1 earthquake that killed 95 people and a hurricane of its own.

The Mexican government announced its decision in a statement on Monday, saying it “unfortunately” wouldn’t be able to provide the aid it had promised Texas because Mexico needed to “channel all available logistical support to the families and communities that have been affected” into its own country.

Last month, the Mexican government released a statement promising help in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

While President Donald Trump never responded to the country’s offer, Mexico’s foreign secretary had been in communication with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott about the aid and sent a detailed note of its offer to the State Department on Aug. 28.

On Sept. 6, Mexico received word that the U.S. had accepted its offer, but would only need “logistical support” from the country, as the need in Texas had “declined considerably,” according to the statement from Mexico.

While it had to withdraw its promise to help the U.S., the Mexican government expressed sympathy over the devastation in Florida after being struck by Hurricane Irma.

“The Mexican government expresses its full solidarity with Florida given the severe damage done by Hurricane Irma,” the statement said. “Mexico will be alert to developments related to this hurricane in the coming days and hopes that Florida, Texas and Louisiana soon recover from the damage caused by the hurricanes that have struck them.”

Trump has not offered condolences or aid to Mexico in the wake of the country’s two natural disasters, but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray on Monday to express sympathy.

“He emphasized … that the U.S. government stands ready to assist our neighbors in Mexico during this difficult time,” a State Department spokesperson told The Los Angeles Times.

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