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

Following his rhetoric from over the weekend, President Donald Trump tweeted Monday morning questioning why Obamacare shouldn’t “hurt” insurance companies and why “should Congress not be paying what public pays?”

The comments follow threats he made on social media over the weekend to end “BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress” if Republicans couldn’t come to an agreement on Obamacare repeal, apparently alluding to cutting cost sharing reduction payments to insurance companies and an employer contribution to lawmakers’ health insurance.

On Sunday, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said the President would decide on whether to end these Obamacare subsidies this week.

Trump’s tweets closely resemble remarks White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney made about the issue on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

“I think his attitude is this, and his attitude is pretty simple,” Mulvaney said. “What he’s saying is, look, if Obamacare is hurting people — and it is — then why shouldn’t it hurt insurance companies and more importantly perhaps for this discussion, members of Congress?”

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Last week, President Trump launched repeated public attacks on his attorney general, announced on Twitter major policy about who can serve in the military, was criticized for his highly political speech at a Boy Scouts rally, replaced his chief of staff after his communications director gave a profanity-laced interview, and Republicans failed to repeal Obamacare.

“This has been a great week for the President,” Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), a staunch Trump ally, said on CNN Monday morning.

“I was at the jamboree, you know, 40,000 Boy Scouts shouting ‘We love Trump, we love Trump.’ Banning transgenders, which is probably supported by the vast majority of Americans,” he said.

CNN host Alisyn Camerota cut him short saying “he didn’t tell the Pentagon, the joint chiefs of staff were taken by surprise. How is that a great rollout of a new policy?

“President Trump is President Trump. He is the commander-in-chief. He can roll things out however he wants,” Collins said.

On Friday we were in New York City talking about ms-13 (gangs), something that is the scourge of America, he’s taking the fight to the criminal element, dealing with North Korea, dealing with Russia, and now he has solidified the inner circle of the West Wing with John Kelly, Anthony Scaramucci, two great individuals,” he said. “I think it’s all coming together extremely well as we move into tax reform.”

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After reportedly getting “razzed” at a Milwaukee Brewers game in Wisconsin over the weekend, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) got in a confrontation with a Cubs fan.

“You’re a big shot,” Christie said, after bending over for a face-to-face with the fan.

“Appreciate that,” that fan shouted at him, according to video tweeted out by a reporter from a local TV station WISN12News.

The fan, Brad Joseph, told the local station that he originally yelled out Christie’s name when he passed him on the stairs and “told him that he sucked” and called him a “hypocrite because I thought it needed to be said.”

Christie then turned around and got in his face for about 30 seconds, according to Joseph and asked him if he wanted to “start something.”

“(He) was yelling at me. First he told me, ‘Why don’t you have another beer?’ which I thought was a decent come back, and I thought that was kind of funny,” Joseph told the local station. “Then he started calling me a tough guy.”

According to the video, the discussion ended there, with Christie walking away, nachos in hand.

Christie, who is not seeking reelection after he reaches his term limit in January, recently came under fire when he was photographed on a public beach with his family, even though the beach was closed after the government shut down because of a stalemate between him and his state’s legislature.

Christie’s son works for the Milwaukee Brewers.

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After suggesting that the Senate should nuke its rules in order to get an Obamacare repeal bill passed, President Donald Trump signaled that he isn’t too worried about the effort to dismantle his predecessor’s signature legislative achievement.

“It’s going to be fine,” Trump said told reporters as he stepped off Air Force One for an event in Long Island, New York Friday afternoon.

During a speech that was supposed to be centered on the administration’s efforts to wipe out the MS-13 gang, Trump couldn’t help but attack Congress for its failure to repeal Obamacare, and he patted himself on the back for being “right” about the law.

“They should have approved health care last night, but you can’t have everything. Boy, oh boy. They’ve been working on that one for seven years. Can you believe that?” he said. “The swamp. But, we’ll get it done. We’re going to get it done. You know, I said from the beginning, ‘let Obamacare implode and then do it.’ I turned out to be right. Let Obamacare implode.”

The President has gone back and forth on how to deal with Obamacare in the past several months, from urging Congress to come up with a replacement plan that wasn’t so “mean,” to telling senators they should just repeal Obamacare and replace it later, to tweets last night in which he said it’s better to just “let Obamacare implode, then deal.”

The repeal bill failed Friday after Republican Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R- AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) joined with the Democrats to block the plan that only required a simple majority in order to pass.

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After delivering the decisive vote that effectively killed the skinny Obamacare repeal bill in the Senate early Friday morning, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) asked his colleagues on “both sides of the aisle” to work together and “stop the political gamesmanship.”

“The vote last night presents the Senate with an opportunity to start fresh. It is now time to return to regular order with input from all of our members – Republicans and Democrats – and bring a bill to the floor of the Senate for amendment and debate,” he said in a written statement later on Friday, adding he has “great faith” in the two chairs of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will work together to come up with a bipartisan bill.

Here’s the full statement, released Friday around noon:

“The United States Senate has a rich history of comity, trust and bipartisanship. Sadly, those essential qualities have been absent in recent years and we have seen the world’s greatest deliberative body succumb to partisan rancor and gridlock. Our inability to address the pressing health care needs of the American people with meaningful and lasting reform is inexcusable. 

The vote last night presents the Senate with an opportunity to start fresh. It is now time to return to regular order with input from all of our members – Republicans and Democrats – and bring a bill to the floor of the Senate for amendment and debate. I have great faith in the ability of the Senator from Tennessee, Lamar Alexander, the Senator from Washington, Patty Murray, and others to work together in a bipartisan fashion to craft a bill that increases competition, lowers costs, and improves care for the American people. I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to trust each other, stop the political gamesmanship, and put the health care needs of the American people first. We can do this.”

The bill failed early Friday when McCain joined early opposers Lisa Murkowski (R- AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) to team up with the Democrats to block the bill. McCain, who was just diagnosed with brain cancer, flew back to the Senate earlier this week to vote in favor of a motion to proceed.

McCain said he finally decided to vote against the measure because it offered no replacement “to actually reform our health care system” and he didn’t want to make the same mistake as Democrats did with Obamacare by ramming a bill through Congress without bipartisan support, according to an early morning statement.

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Following the defeat of the GOP’s “skinny” Obamacare repeal bill in the Senate early Friday morning, the hosts of the President’s favorite show, “Fox and Friends,” took a page from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: blame the Democrats.

They played a clip of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) comments after Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) cast his “no” vote, effectively tanking the bill. Schumer said Democrats “are not celebrating,” but rather “relieved that millions and millions of people who would have been so drastically hurt by the three proposals put forward will at least retain their health care.”

Host Brian Kilmeade criticized Schumer’s comments, calling Obamacare an “out of control blob that cannot be retained and needs to be restructured.”

“Do you believe Democrats can fix it?” host Ainsley Earhardt said.

“Not alone, I will tell you that,” Kilmeade said.

Then they pulled up clips of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Schumer taking a photo after the vote, and both Warren and Schumer meeting with protesters outside and taking photos with the crowd.

The hosts weren’t happy.

“So you heard Chuck Schumer say we are not celebrating, yet you see some of the images out of Capitol Hill last night in the middle of the night, people were taking selfies. There were a lot of happy faces,” host Steve Doocy said.

Kilmeade went on to say he’s amused by the young people who were outside “celebrating” and taking pictures with Warren after she spoke to the crowd in the middle of the night, congratulating protesters for being required to have insurance, as if it were something they might not want.

“Congratulations, you now will pay a fine or you will have to have insurance. Congratulations healthy people are paying for sick people,” he said.

“Congratulations because now people who need health care can’t afford it because these premiums are astronomical,” Earhardt said.

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After Republican senators failed to pass a skinny Obamacare repeal bill early Friday morning, one GOP congressman is calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to step down.

During an interview with CNN on Friday, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) said the news that three Republicans — Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R- AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) — tanked a bill that only needed a simple majority to pass was an “abject failure of the United States Senate” and questioned whether top leadership needed a shakeup.

“It was a failure from the newest member Luther Strange (R-AL) at the bottom to the very top with Mitch McConnell as majority leader,” he said, urging senators to stay in D.C. until “the job gets done.”

“Now is not the time to leave the American people in a lurch. Now is not the time to leave American health care at risk,” he said. “I hope they won’t quit. If they’re going to quit, by golly, maybe they ought to start at the top with Mitch McConnell leaving his position and letting somebody new, somebody bold, somebody conservative take the reins so they can come up with a plan that can get through the United States Senate.”

He clarified his statements, saying it was not “necessarily anything bad about Mitch McConnell himself personally,” but said he has a job to do.

“And if he can’t do it, as ‘The Apprentice’ would say, ‘you’re fired.’ Get somebody who can,” he said.

McCain, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer and returned to the Senate this week to vote on a motion to proceed on Obamacare repeal, delivered the decisive blow after Collins and Murkowski had already cast votes against the plan. He issued a statement afterward saying he couldn’t just pass the Senate’s plan without some type of replacement legislation.

Speaking after McCain cast his “no” vote, McConnell called the bill’s failure a “clearly disappointing moment” for the GOP.

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A seemingly stunned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wasn’t shy about the “clearly disappointing moment” his party had just endured and openly blamed Democrats for not engaging “in a serious way” to help the American people, after Republicans failed to pass a skinny Obamacare repeal bill early Friday morning.

“I imagine many of our colleagues on the other side are celebrating, probably pretty happy about this,” McConnell said from the Senate floor after the plan was blocked by three Republicans. He said he felt “regret” and “disappointment” that his party couldn’t drum up a simple majority to pass the minimalistic repeal bill.

“This is a disappointment, a disappointment indeed,” he said. “Our constituents have suffered through an awful lot under Obamacare, we thought they deserved better, which is why I, and many of my colleagues, did as we promised, voted to repeal this failed law.”

The skinny repeal ultimately failed early Friday when Republican Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R- AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) joined with the Democrats to block the bill. McCain, who was just diagnosed with brain cancer, flew back to the Senate earlier this week to vote in favor of a motion to proceed.

He finally decided to vote against the measure because it offered no replacement “to actually reform our health care system” and he didn’t want to make the same mistake as Democrats did with Obamacare by ramming a bill through Congress without bipartisan support, he said in a statement.

McConnell thanked “everybody in the conference” who spent “endless” hours trying to come to a consensus and his “friends” in the House. He also praised the President and the Vice President for their engagement in the process.

McConnell spent most of his time at the podium blaming Democrats for the bill’s failure and said he is interested to see what they suggest.

“I suspect they are pretty satisfied tonight. I regret to say they succeeded in that effort. Now, I think it’s appropriate to ask, what are their ideas?,” he said. “It’s time for our friends on the other side to tell us what they have in mind and we’ll see how the American people feel about their ideas.”

Watch McConnell’s remarks below:

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Instead of apologizing, newly minted White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci is blaming the reporter who published his shocking, profanity-laced rant, where he attacked White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief White House strategist Steve Bannon.

Just four hours after New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza published the contents of his conversation with Scaramucci — who called up Lizza out of the blue demanding the reporter reveal who leaked him information about a recent White House dinner and profanely unloading about his frustration with leakers — he tweeted that he “made a mistake trusting a reporter” and said it “won’t happen again.”

According to Lizza’s report, Scaramucci never indicated he wanted the Wednesday conversation off the record or on background as he proceeded to call White House Priebus a “fucking paranoid schizophrenic,” threatened to fire “everyone in the comms team” and said he wanted to “fucking kill all the leakers.”

He claimed that Priebus would be asked to resign “shortly” and said Bannon was trying to create an identity for himself “off the fucking strength of the President.”

He also accused Bannon of some particularly obscene behavior: “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock.”

Shortly after the story published, Scaramucci took to Twitter to explain that he “sometimes” uses “colorful language” and said he would refrain from it in the future.

Lizza has since confirmed to reporters that he recorded the conversation and tweeted early Friday morning that sometimes things happen “the same as the movies.”

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The hosts of “Fox and Friends” opened up their show Thursday morning by touting a full page advertisement Fox News purchased in the New York Times, following a recent feud between the two news organizations.

The full page ad featured a photo of the show’s three hosts with the quote “…the most powerful TV show in America” across the top, credited to The New York Times.

The quote references a recent piece by Times TV critic James Poniewozik, who said the show was powerful not only because the President watches it, but also because the hosts treat President Donald Trump as a fourth virtual host by allowing him to interact via Twitter with everything they discuss.

Like clockwork, Trump tweeted about the advertisement 40 minutes later, expressing shock over the Times quote.

The advertisement follows a recent feud between the competing news outlets, in which a New York Times spokesperson demanded an apology and retraction after Fox reported — online and on “Fox and Friends” —that a 2015 Times piece fumbled plans for the U.S. to capture an ISIS leader.

The Fox story was based on comments Gen. Tony Thomas, who leads the U.S. special operations command, made at the Apsen Security Forum. Thomas told Fox that the U.S. was close to capturing ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi until a lead about the capture was published in a “prominent national newspaper,” which caused the lead to go dead. 

The President also tweeted about the topic after the “Fox and Friends” segment.

A Times spokesperson reached out to the network asking for an apology and a retraction, calling the segment “malicious and inaccurate” and clarifying that the Times story was based on a statement from the Pentagon, which would have been what made Baghdadi aware of the capture, not the Times article.

The Times also claimed the reporter described the article to the Pentagon before it was published and they had no objections to the piece. 

h/t HuffPost.

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