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

This week’s highlights from the impeachment probe:

Mulvaney blows it: Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney might not have much time left in President Trump’s good graces. When you’ve lost Sean Hannity, Trump’s often not far behind. During a stunning press briefing on Thursday, Mulvaney made a litany of befuddling admissions, most notably offering that, yes, Trump did mention the conservative conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton’s email server and Russian election meddling in 2016 while withholding military aid from Ukraine. A defiant Mulvaney argued the conversation was “absolutely appropriate” and also bluntly told reporters to “get over it.”

We learned a lot from congressional testimonies: House investigators heard from four current and former administration officials this week who offered Congress several nuggets of new information for the House’s impeachment inquiry. Fiona Hill revealed that former national security adviser John Bolton instructed her to tell White House lawyers about Rudy Giuliani and Trump’s pressure campaign. State Department official George Kent said he was instructed by Mulvaney to butt out of Ukraine affairs and focus on the other countries in his portfolio when he spoke up about the pressure campaign. Ex-State Department official Michael McKinley testified that he resigned after nearly 40 years of service because he felt the department wasn’t properly defending diplomats caught up in the impeachment inquiry. EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland distanced himself from Trump and Giuliani during his testimony, saying he was disappointed by Trump’s directive to work through his personal lawyer on Ukraine matters.

Giuliani’s friends plead not guilty: Two of the four Giuliani associates who were charged with conspiracy last week pleaded not guilty before a judge in New York on Thursday. Andrey Kukushkin was arrested last week and David Correia surrendered himself to police at JFK airport on Wednesday. The pair are mentioned in the indictment against two Giuliani business associates for campaign finance violations, and were part of an apparent attempt to secure recreational marijuana sale licenses.

Subpoena defiance: The Department of Defense, Giuliani and Energy Secretary Rick Perry all indicated this week that they don’t intend to comply with House investigators’ subpoenas for documents and testimony.

Giuliani could be next: Thanks to a drip-drip of news, this week we learned that Giuliani might not be safe from criminal prosecution. ABC News and CNN were first to report that Giuliani’s business dealings are the subject of a criminal investigation. By mid-week, the Wall Street Journal learned that Giuliani’s bank records have at least been viewed by federal investigators. And on Wednesday, it was reported that there might be a counterintelligence component of federal investigators’ probe into Giuliani.

Conflicts of interest reach new height: During his tumultuous presser on Thursday, Mulvaney made another striking admission. Not only did he announce that the G-7 summit would be held at Trump’s Doral resort, but that the President personally pushed for the event to take place at his property. From the White House podium, Mulvaney hyped up the resort as the perfect fit for the summit and even suggested that Trump wouldn’t personally profit from the endeavor. The White House on Friday at least seemed to acknowledge that such a deal could be a violation of the Emoluments Clause. We’ll stay on top of this one.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Thursday described her meeting with President Trump as a “meltdown” and said she was likely “excusing” herself from the room or telling Trump that “all roads lead to Putin” when an iconic photo of the gathering was snapped.

During the White House meeting Wednesday on the rapidly deteriorating situation in Syria, Pelosi said she told Trump that he needed to have a plan on how to fight ISIS after abandoning the Kurdish forces on the border.

Trump apparently told the room he pulled the U.S. troops out of Syria to fulfill his campaign promise to bring the troops home. Pelosi claims she retorted by questioning why U.S. troops remained in Saudi Arabia and Trump admitted it was because the country was paying the U.S. for them.

According to Pelosi, Trump was quickly hot under the collar over her questioning.

“I think I was excusing myself from the room,” she said of the photo. “I conveyed to the President in the meeting about the 354-60 vote in the House disapproving of his Syria actions, A. B, my concerns about all roads leading to Putin. … At that moment I was probably was saying ‘all roads lead to Putin.'”

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Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, will criticize President Trump for the Ukrainian pressure campaign — which Sondland helped orchestrate — and will express his disappointment in being forced to work through unofficial channels on Ukraine-related matters during his Thursday testimony, according to his prepared testimony, which was first obtained by the Wall Street Journal. 

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