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

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Monday that his colleagues can’t count on President Trump to stand up for the GOP Senate health care bill, if it comes down to it.

“Here’s what I would tell any senator, if you count on the President to have your back, you need to watch it,” he said in an interview with MSNBC’s Garrett Haake.

He went on to defend the Senate’s version of the health care bill, which he called “better” than the House’s plan.

“Here’s what I told the House guys, you need to understand the Senate’s a different animal. I don’t think the House bill was mean. I’m not sure it was as well-constructed as it could have been,” Graham said. “Our bill is better. It saves more money. I think, in many ways, it has a softer transition.”

Graham’s comments come as Senate Republicans push for a vote on their health care plan, which four GOP senators have said they may vote against.

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President Donald Trump’s policies and character have had a negative impact on how the rest of the world views the United States, according to a Pew Research report that surveyed more than 40,000 residents from 37 nations around the globe.

A median of just 22 percent of respondents said they have confidence in Trump’s leadership, according to the report that gathered opinions from February to May 2017. A similar survey conducted at the end of former President Barack Obama’s presidency found 64 percent of respondents from the same countries indicated they were confident in Obama’s ability to make decisions.

The decline in approval of the U.S. President was sharpest in Europe, Asia, Mexico and Canada. Only two countries gave Trump a better score than Obama: Russia and Israel.

The countries that indicated they had lost confidence in the U.S. President also said their overall image of the United States had decreased, down from 64 percent saying they have a favorable view of America at the end of the Obama administration to 49 percent currently.

Of all his policies, Trump’s plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was the most unpopular, with a median of 76 percent of people from all 37 countries saying they were opposed to the plan. Other unpopular policies include: withdrawing from international trade and climate agreements, as well as Trump’s travel ban.

The President’s character was also a factor in his negative rating around the globe, with the majority of those surveyed saying Trump is arrogant, intolerant and even dangerous. Among the positive characteristics tested in the survey, most said they think Trump is a strong leader.

The results for Pew’s surveys are based on in-person and over-the-phone interviews and come from national samples, unless noted differently.

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) says Democrats should campaign on a single-payer health care plan in 2018 and 2020.

She said former President Barack Obama tried to use a more conservative model when writing the Affordable Care Act, but she told The Wall Street Journal Tuesday that Democrats should push for a health care plan similar to Canada and the United Kingdom.

“Now it’s time for the next step. And the next step is single payer,” she said, adding that the key to Democratic wins is adopting a more “progressive” approach.

“The progressive agenda is America’s agenda. It’s not like we’re trying to sell stuff that people don’t want,” she said. “It’s that we haven’t gotten up there and been as clear about our values as we should be, or as clear and concrete about how we’re going to get there.”

Warren’s comments come as Senate Democrats fight to defend Obamacare against repeal this week, while Republicans push for a vote on their health care plan. At least four GOP senators have indicated they may vote against the Republican plan, which could leave 22 million people uninsured, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s score on the bill.

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During Monday afternoon’s no-camera, audio only press briefing, CNN’s senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta interrupted other reporters twice to question White House press secretary Sean Spicer about why the briefing wasn’t being broadcast live.

“We should turn the cameras on, Sean. Why don’t we turn the cameras on? Why don’t we turn the cameras on?” Acosta asked, talking over another reporter’s question. “Why don’t we turn the cameras on, Sean? They’re in the room, the lights are on.”

But Spicer refused to acknowledge Acosta or his question, which prompted the CNN reporter to post a series of tweets about the off-camera briefings, saying the move is an attempt to “get the coverage without the accountability.”

Just a few minutes later, another reporter asked if the off-camera briefings will be the new normal, to which Spicer responded, “We’ll see.”

Acosta interrupted again, asking why the cameras were off, as Spicer called on Trey Yingst, from the One America News Network.

“You are a taxpayer-funded spokesman for the United States, can you give us an explanation to why the cameras are off? It’s a legitimate question,” Acosta said, as Yingst asked Spicer, to “get this out of the way” and address why the cameras are off.

“Some days we’ll have them, some days we won’t. The President’s going to speak in the Rose Garden today, I want the President’s voice to carry the day today, and I think, so look, this is nothing inconsistent from what we had since day one,” Spicer said.

Appearing on CNN with host Ana Cabrera after the briefing, Acosta said the White House hasn’t taken a question from CNN for several weeks, calling the off-camera briefings an “erosion” of traditions in Washington.

“Make no mistake, this is a gradual erosion of the exceptions of the traditions that have been in place in this city for about a quarter of a century now, that these briefings be held on camera,” he said.

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President Donald Trump on Monday afternoon gloated about the Supreme Court’s decision to partially enforce his administration’s 90-day travel ban on immigrants from six majority-Muslim countries, calling the stay a “victory for national security.”

“As President, I cannot allow people into our country who want to do us harm. I want people who can love the United States and all of its citizens, and who will be hardworking and productive,” he said in a statement. “My number one responsibility as Commander in Chief is to keep the American people safe. Today’s ruling allows me to use an important tool for protecting our nation’s homeland.”

The Supreme Court announced Monday morning that it would review Trump’s revised executive order on immigration. That order had been blocked by two federal appeals courts since he first announced it in March, after the initial version of the travel ban was similarly tied up in the courts.

The court will hear arguments in October. Until then, a limited version of the ban will be enforced, allowing visitors from Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen to come into the country if they have a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” That includes people who have job offers or have been accepted to study in the United States.

Trump said in his statement that the SCOTUS ruling allows his travel ban on “six terror-prone countries and the refugee suspension” to become “largely effective.”

He also touted the fact that the court’s decision was unanimous, saying he was “particularly gratified” by the 9-0 determination.

This story has been updated.

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Instead of hosting a gathering to celebrate the end of Ramadan like the past three administrations, President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump released a statement on Saturday offering “warm greetings” to Muslims at the start of Eid al-Fitr.

Muslims in the United States joined those around the world during the holy month of Ramadan to focus on acts of faith and charity.  Now, as they commemorate Eid with family and friends, they carry on the tradition of helping neighbors and breaking bread with people from all walks of life,” the statement said. “During this holiday, we are reminded of the importance of mercy, compassion, and goodwill.  With Muslims around the world, the United States renews our commitment to honor these values.”

The last three presidents have hosted the traditional iftar dinner, often inviting members of Congress and influential members of the Muslim community to the White House.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also broke from tradition by not having the dinner at the State Department this weekend.

The break from custom comes with news Monday that the Supreme Court will let the White House partially enforce its 90-day travel ban from six mostly Muslim countries— Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The court will hear arguments on the case this fall.

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Speaking to “Fox and Friends” host Monday morning, first daughter Ivanka Trump, who works as an adviser to President Donald Trump, told Fox’s Ainsley Earhardt she tries “to stay out of politics.”

That was her response to questions about her father’s tweeting habits. The White House adviser called her father’s political instincts “phenomenal” and said he was able to pull off something “pretty remarkable” by getting elected.

“He did something no one could have imagined he would be able to accomplish. There were very few who saw it early on, and I feel blessed to have arrived from day one and before,” she said. “I don’t profess to be a political-savant, I leave the politics to the other people and work on issues I deeply care about.”

As an adviser to the President, Ivanka Trump said she counsels her father on a “plethora of things” and says it’s “normal” for the two to “not have 100 percent aligned viewpoints on every issue.”

“I think that would be a strange scenario. I don’t think anyone operates like that with a parent or within the context of an administration. And I think all the different viewpoints being at the table is a positive thing,” she said. “I think one of the things that in this country we don’t have enough of is dialogue and substantive dialogue where people who have different opinions can speak freely and candidly.”

She said there’s too much emphasis on what people are against, adding she’s “more interested in being for something than against something.”

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Photos of former FBI director James Comey walking into the New York Times building with his wife surfaced online Thursday night, prompting conservative news outlets to wildly speculate that Comey could be going to the newspapers’ offices to dish more dirt.

The Daily Mail published the first report, saying Comey was seen entering the Times building with his wife, Patrice Failor, wearing sunglasses with “his gaze forward as he marched through the front entrance of the Eighth Avenue building which houses the publication.”

The report stated Comey drew second glances from “stunned by-passers” as he entered the building, but included a comment from a spokeswoman for the Times who said the former FBI director didn’t visit the newsroom.

“That statement does not rule out the possibility that he met with a Times reporter elsewhere,” the article read, adding that Comey was in the building for three hours and was photographed at a charity event there.

According to tweets from New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, Comey was in the building to attend a ceremony for the Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (CASA) at the Covington and Burling law firm, which is housed in the same building as the Times. Comey and his wife have been foster parents in the past, Haberman noted.

She also posted photos from the event she said she received from a “person close to Comey:”

Times reporter Nick Confessore chimed in as well, explaining there are multiple tenants who occupy offices in the New York Times building besides the newsroom:

But the newspaper’s denial that Comey visited the newsroom did not stop other conservative news outlets, including The Conservative Treehouse, Free Republic and Truthfeed, from running with the Daily Mail story, nor Fox News from reporting on the incident Friday morning alongside a chyron reading “Sneaky Visit.”

Fox reported that The New York Times received a “special visitor” and aired photos that Daily Mail photographers took of Comey and Failor entering and leaving the building. Throughout the rest of the “Fox and Friends” segment Friday, the show’s co-hosts repeatedly said that Comey’s “visit” comes after the former FBI director confirmed that he passed information about private conversations he’d had with the President to the media.

Co-hosts Steve Doocy and Ed Henry eventually backtracked, saying they were “learning more about the incident” and that Comey was actually visiting a law firm inside the building that “was hosting some sort of charity event for abused kids.”

“Great if he was doing charity work. It does not erase the fact there’s been all kinds of leaks at The New York Times. Period, end of story,” Henry said.

Watch below via Media Matters:

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White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Friday denied that President Donald Trump tried to intimidate James Comey by tweeting about “tapes” of their conversations—which the President has since said he doesn’t actually possess—even as he claimed the tweet forced the former FBI director to “tell the truth.”

“Quite the opposite,” Spicer said in an interview on Fox News, when asked if intimidation was Trump’s intention. “I think the President made it very clear that he wanted the truth to come out. He wanted everyone to be honest about this and he wanted to get to the bottom of it and I think he succeeded in doing that.”

Rather than calling the tactic intimidation, Spicer went on to say that the President tweeted “Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” in order to force the former FBI director to tell the truth about their interactions.

“The reality is that he wanted to make sure the truth came out and by talking about something like tapes it made people have to—made Comey in particular think to himself, ‘I’d better be honest, I’d better tell the truth about the circumstances regarding the situation,’” Spicer said.

Spicer claimed the tactic had been successful, noting Comey testified under oath that he told Trump that the President wasn’t under investigation personally.

“He had been honest and told the President on three separate occasions that the President wasn’t under investigation and what we know now is there was no collusion and the only person who actually leaked was, in fact, Director Comey,” he said.

On an unrelated note, when asked about reports of a switch-up in the White House communications department that could see him stepping away from the briefing podium and into a more administrative role, Spicer said, “I wouldn’t read everything that you see in some of the Washington-based publications.”

“We continuing to fight hard for the President’s message, agenda and priorities and we’ll continue to do that every day,” he said.

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