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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

While President Donald Trump praises and simultaneously distances himself from Paul Manafort in public, he’s privately bragging to advisers that the trial proves special counsel Robert Mueller has reached a dead end on the Russia probe and has nothing on his family.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is scheduled to deliver an on camera press briefing at 1:00 p.m. ET Thursday. Watch live below:

Ivanka Trump broke with her father and boss on Thursday when asked if she thinks the media are the enemy of the people, as President Trump habitually asserts when he finds coverage to be unflattering.

Speaking at an Axios-hosted discussion on the Trump administration’s efforts to improve access to workforce and vocation training, Axios executive editor Mike Allen asked Ivanka Trump if she thinks the media is the “enemy of the people.”

“No, I do not,” she said.

“That’s not a view that’s shared in your family,” Allen said.

“I can share my own personal perspective, I’ve certainly received my fair share of reporting on me personally that I know not to be fully accurate, so I’ve, you know, had — have some sensitivity around why people have concerns and gripes, especially when they sort of feel targeted, but no. I do not feel that the media is the enemy of the people.”

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Prosecutors assisting special counsel Robert Mueller’s team filed a brief on Thursday, defending their efforts to introduce photo evidence of Paul Manafort’s opulent spending, arguing the photos are proof of the lavish lifestyle Manafort sought to maintain, and why he might have turned to bank fraud to preserve it.

Citing nine different fraud cases, prosecutors argued that courts have consistently allowed prosecutors to show evidence of a defendant’s spending and lifestyle in tax and bank fraud proceedings and said the inclusion is not “unduly prejudicial.” They also argued that evidence of the payments to the luxury vendors — with money allegedly from foreign bank accounts — further illustrates that Manafort acted “willfully” to deceive his bookkeepers and “ultimately the IRS.”

Prosecutors concluded that photos of Manafort’s lifestyle — including expensive clothing and graphics outlining a renovation he made to the electrical wiring at his Hamptons home — provide proof of the lifestyle that Manafort had grown accustomed to, and why, when he lost a source of income in 2014, he might have resorted to fraud.

“Indeed, the government is entitled to refute the common argument that a wealthy person has no need to commit bank fraud, by demonstrating that Manafort had grown accustomed to his material wealth,” prosecutors said in the briefing.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis reprimanded prosecutors on Wednesday for focusing too much on the details of the luxury items that Manafort purchased allegedly with undisclosed funds and money he stored in foreign bank accounts.

“Mr. Manafort is not on trial for having a lavish lifestyle,” Ellis said Wednesday while cutting off a prosecutor’s line of questioning about the items.

Photos of some of Manafort’s costly apparel — which includes a $15,000 jacket made of ostrich — were made public by Mueller’s team Wednesday.  

Read Thursday’s filing below:

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The new president of the University of Virginia plans to uphold the appointment of President Trump’s former director of legislative affairs as a senior fellow at the school’s Miller Center, despite professor resignations and widely circulated petition condemning the hiring.

“I think it was the right call,” UVA President James Ryan told the Washington Post on his first day in the new gig, adding that Marc Short would be able to contribute valuable insight to the campus center — that focuses on U.S. presidents and policy — as “someone who has been on the front lines of this presidency, who can help us try to understand it.”

Short, who left the White House last month, is set to starting teaching at the UVA business school and serve as a senior fellow starting in August, but two UVA history professors have already resigned from the Miller Center in protest of the appointment. A group of professors and alumni started an online petition last month, asking the university to revoke the appointment and not allow the school to be used as a “waystation for high-level members of an administration that has directly harmed our community and to this day attacks the institutions vital to a free society.”

The petition — which, as of 8:00 a.m. ET Thursday, had accumulated 3,389 signatures — also cited the Trump administration’s botched response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last year, when Trump said both sides were to blame for the violence that left a counter-protester dead.

It is unconscionable that we would add to our university a person who served in a high-level position for the administration that first empowered, then defended, those white nationalists,” the petition said.

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While his lawyers are prepared to risk a court fight over a subpoena from Robert Mueller’s team to keep the President from speaking to investigators in-person, President Donald Trump is reportedly pushing his lawyers to continue negotiations for an interview with the special counsel.

According to three people briefed on the matter who spoke to the New York Times, Trump is set on doing the interview with Mueller because he’s convinced he can persuade investigators of his own theory: That their own probe is a “witch hunt.”

According to the Washington Post and the Times, Mueller’s team sent Trump’s lawyers a letter earlier this week, conceding to allow Trump to answer some obstruction of justice-related questions in writing rather than in-person. Investigators still want to press Trump on issues related to obstruction, like the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, according to the Post. While Mueller is still gunning for the chance to ask follow up questions in person, Trump’s legal team likely will continue to not allow it because they think it will legally expose Trump.

The two sides have been stuck in a standoff since March, when Mueller’s team suggested it could subpoena Trump for an interview. Trump has been enthusiastic about the prospect of a sit-down with Mueller, regularly claiming he can prove there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia to meddle in the 2016 election.

Trump, for the first time Wednesday, appeared to order his Justice Department to end the probe, which he has become increasingly exasperated with in recent weeks. The White House and Trump’s lawyers later claimed that Trump was just stating his opinion when he said Attorney General Jeff Sessions should end the investigation “right now.”  

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The White House defended President Donald Trump’s cryptic assertion that an I.D. is necessary for purchasing groceries, telling reporters Wednesday that Trump was talking about buying alcohol.

“If you go to a grocery store and you buy beer and wine, certainly you’re going to have to show your ID,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said when asked about Trump’s comments from the night before at a rally in Florida. She said he wasn’t talking about himself when he made the comment because Trump doesn’t drink alcohol.

I’m pretty sure everybody in here who has been to a grocery store that’s purchased beer or wine has probably had to show their I.D. If they didn’t, then that’s probably a problem with the grocery store,” she said.

Trump has been criticized for being out of touch since he made the comments on Tuesday night. A reporter even opened the line of questioning by asking “When was the last time the President went to a grocery store?”

Trump defended his push for voter identification policy to prevent voter fraud by claiming on Tuesday that people need a photo I.D. to buy groceries.

“If you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card, you need ID,” he said Tuesday. “You go out and you want to buy anything, you need ID and you need your picture.”

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