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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

Former President Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page compared Fox News host Sean Hannity to the world renowned radio journalist Edward R. Murrow, who gained prominence for his coverage of World War II and helped end the anti-communist persecutions led by former Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) in the 1950s.

During an interview with Hannity on Monday evening, Page thanked the Fox News host for his diligence in getting “to the bottom of things” surrounding the coverage of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“I have to thank you because you have been the Edward R. Murrow of this whole process,” Page said. “It’s been so completely out of control going back really a year and a half now. So your and your team, they used to call it the Murrow boys. Your team with Gregg (Jarrett) and Sarah (Carter) and everyone, to dig through and actually get to the bottom of things, I mean there is a lot of people — appreciate that.”

Murrow was one of the only journalists who covered McCarthy’s investigation into alleged communist activity within the State Department in the 1950s and who consistently questioned McCarthy’s anticommunist crusade, later known as “McCarthyism.” Many on the left called McCarthy’s probe a witch hunt that ultimately damaged the civil liberties and careers of intellectuals and artists, similar to the wording Trump uses to describe the Russia investigation. 

Hannity responded to Page’s praise on Monday saying the “media is going to love that comment” and then asked whether the American people have been lied to “by the media and by (Rep.) Adam Schiff (D-CA) on a regular basis?”

“It’s been nonstop, absolutely,” Page said.

Page has found himself at the center of the probe into Russian meddling and whether the Trump campaign worked with the foreign power to sway the election because of his numerous contacts with people linked to the Russian government while he worked for the campaign.

A Republican memo, crafted by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) staffers, released earlier this month purports to show that the FBI acted inappropriately in securing a warrant to surveil Page over his Russian contacts.

Page has appeared on Hannity’s show multiple times throughout the investigation. The former Trump campaign aide has consistently maintained his innocence and Hannity routinely asks questions that reinforce sentiment.

“The government by the way spied on you, four different warrants for a full year,” Hannity said Monday, before asking if there’s anything that they might have found that could implicate him for working with Russia to sway the election.

“I have no fear whatsoever,” Page said.

Watch a segment of the interview with Page below:

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Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) on Monday told President Donald Trump that a “culture of death,” “psychiatric drugs” and a lapse in morality are contributing to the increase in mass shootings in America.

He also said guns are not to blame because “there have always been guns.”

“This culture of death is becoming pervasive and if it’s not addressed by all the imperfect people in this room with a sense of purpose and sense of aspiration, I think we are going to see a continued trajectory that is not good,” he said during a governors meeting at the White House on Monday.

“There have always been guns in homes and fewer rules. It isn’t to say that these rules and restrictions are necessarily bad, but what has changed is what we do or don’t do as it relates to acknowledging the value and dignity of every human life,” he continued. “When you couple that with the number of psychiatric drugs that are increasingly systemic and have very severe warnings associated with them related to depression and suicidal thoughts, you put all these things in a mess and no one among us is bold enough or willing to step up and challenge of the fact that this is a problem. This is why it goes unchecked.”

He then called on Trump and his fellow governors to “seize the opportunities” to call Americans “to higher action as it relates to our mores.”

Monday was not the first time Bevin, a National Rifle Association-backed supporter of gun owners’ rights, has blamed mass shootings on cultural and moral issues, or on “psychiatric drugs.”

Last month, after an armed student attacked a school in his state and killed two and injured 18, Bevin blamed violence in movies, video games and music lyrics for desensitizing young people to violence. During an interview on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” last week, Bevin made similar claims and said that since guns have been around for decades, blame shouldn’t be cast on weapons.

“Fifty and one hundred years ago, children did not slaughter other children at school. What has changed? It isn’t the gun,” he said.

He then blamed a number of other cultural forces for the uptick in school shootings: video games, music, movies, television, drugs and broken homes.

“We have to look at what has changed in society and not have a knee-jerk response that another rule and another regulation is the answer,” he said on Fox News last week.

Kentucky is one of the top 10 states with the least restrictive gun laws, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The state does not require background checks for purchases, doesn’t license firearms owners and doesn’t regulate assault weapons.  

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President Trump on Monday criticized the officers who failed to confront the shooter at Stoneman Douglas High School, boasting that “I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon.”

“You never know until you’re tested,” he said during a meeting with governors at the White House on Monday. “But I think, I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon and I think most of the people in this room would’ve done that too because I know most of you.”

He also said it was “frankly disgusting” and “really a disgrace” that an armed school resource officer who was assigned to the high school didn’t enter the building for four minutes after the gunfire started. At least three other officers reportedly held back from entering the building during the massacre.

Trump’s Monday remarks aren’t the first time the President has criticized those officers. Trump used the incident to prop up his proposal that teachers should be armed to combat school shooters. He claimed last week that teachers “love” their students more than a security guard does and would go further to protect them.

In the wake of a school shooting at the Parkland, Florida high school on Valentine’s Day, Trump has suggested several reforms to prevent mass shootings: arming teachers, banning bump stocks, reforming background checks for gun purchases and increasing the minimum age for buying a rifle to 21.

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Former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore late last week endorsed a Republican Senate candidate in Missouri who recently made vexed statements about feminists and women.

In his endorsement, Moore called the candidate, Courtland Sykes, a “man of vision and principle” and someone with “impeccable character, courage and Christian faith.”

“We need men like Courtland Sykes in the Senate of the United States, a leader who will not only say what is right, but also a leader who will do what is right!” Moore said in a sweeping endorsement of the candidate.

Sykes, who has modeled much of his campaign policy after President Donald Trump, is one of four Republicans vying to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) in the general election, including the state’s Attorney General Josh Hawley, whom Trump has offered his support. Sykes drew scrutiny after he posted a statement on his campaign Facebook page last month, clarifying his “views” on women’s rights.

He said he favors women’s rights because his fiancee “orders” him to, but he said he asks his fiancee, illustrator Chanel Rion, for a “small price” in return.

“I want to come home to a home cooked dinner at six every night, one that she fixes and one that I expect one day to have daughters learn to fix after they become traditional homemakers and family wives,” he said, before launching into a tirade against “radical feminism’s crazed definition of modern womanhood.” He claimed feminists have “snake-filled heads” and outlined the bright future he envisions for his future daughters.

“I want them to build home-based enterprises and live in homes shared with good husbands and I don’t want them (to) grow up into career-obsessed banshees who forgo home life and children and the happiness of family to become nail-biting manophobic hell-bent feminist she devils who shriek from the tops of a thousand tall buildings they are (sic) think they could have leaped over in a single bound — had men not ‘suppressing them,’” he said. “It’s just nuts.”

In light of recent questions regarding my views on Women's Rights, attached is my full statement from September 2017.

Posted by Courtland Sykes for Senate on Tuesday, January 23, 2018

That Moore would endorse a candidate with such outspoken views on women is not entirely surprising.

As the failed Senate candidate who lost the seat that’s been held by Republicans in the ruby-red state for a quarter century, Moore’s campaign was laden with controversy. Moore was a former state Supreme Court Justice who was twice removed from his position for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments statue from the state judicial building and for attempting to block same-sex marriage licensing after it became the law of the land in 2015.

Throughout the course of his campaign, Moore’s past controversial comments on Muslims and LGBT folks came to light. He was also accused by multiple women of either pursing relationships or making inappropriate sexual advances toward them when they were teens and his was in his 30s.

Moore lost the Senate bid for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ former seat to Democrat Doug Jones.

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Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told The Washington Examiner that the committee was weighing whether to support President Donald Trump’s proposal of increasing the age for rifle purchases from 18 to 21-years-old.

“I don’t know. We’ll see where that goes. I think it’s on the table,” she told the Washington Examiner in an article published Monday. “We have to look at the whole picture.”

She said Trump has been “thoughtful” in his propositions following the latest school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a 19-year-old former student attacked the school. 

“I think the President’s been very thoughtful in what he’s proposing,” she said. “He’s listening to these parents. I think universally, we want to make sure our schools are safe. Period.”

In addition to voicing support for raising the purchasing age for rifles — which the National Rifle Association opposes — Trump has also called for arming teachers, comprehensive background check reform and for a ban on bump stocks, an accessory used to make a semi-automatic weapon function like an automatic rifle. This device was used in the Las Vegas attack at a country music festival last year, when a gunman killed 50-plus people. 

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While in South Korea representing the U.S. delegation to the Olympics Sunday, White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump suggested to NBC News that she isn’t entirely sold on arming teachers, but said it’s a topic that “needs to be discussed.”

“To be honest, I don’t know,” she said, responding to a question about whether training teachers to carry concealed weapons would make students safer. “Obviously there would have to be an incredibly high standard for who would be able to bear arms in our school, but I think there is no one solution to creating safety.”

Ivanka Trump then dodged a question about whether she advises her father on this topic and rather said it wasn’t necessarily a “bad idea” to arm “qualified” school staff.

I think that having a teacher who is armed who cares deeply about her students or his students and who is capable and qualified to bear arms is not a bad idea, but it is an idea that needs to be discussed,” she said.

In response to shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead, President Donald Trump has seized on the idea of arming 10 to 40 percent of teachers and school staff members who are “adept” at using weapons or who have a military background. During a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week, he claimed that teachers “love” their students more than security guards do, and would likely be more willing to use a weapon to defend them.

Surveillance footage revealed last week that during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14, an armed security guard and several deputies waited outside the school or took cover after the shooting started. One guard later resigned.

In addition to suggesting that some teachers should be armed, President Trump has also proposed increasing the age limit from 18 to 21-years-old for purchasing a rifle, which the National Rifle Association opposes.

He’s also said he wants background checks for gun purchases to undergo comprehensive reform, so factors like a person’s mental health history are included in the check.

Watch a clip of the NBC News interview with Ivanka Trump below:

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President Donald Trump on Friday said that White House chief of staff John Kelly will ultimately “make that call” regarding whether to waive or revoke Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s interim security clearance.

During a press conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Trump responded to a question about Kushner’s clearance with praise for his daughter Ivanka Trump, as well as Kushner’s “outstanding” work.

“I think he has been treated unfairly,” Trump said of Kushner. “He is a high-quality person. He works for nothing. Nobody ever reports that. He gets zero. He doesn’t get a salary, nor does Ivanka, who is now in South Korea. Long trip. Representing her country. And we cannot get a better representative.”

Trump also touted Kushner’s work in the Middle East and claimed that Kelly — who he said “is doing a terrific job, by the way” — inherited a “broken” security clearance system. He left it up to Kelly to “make that call” regarding whether to waive Kushner’s security clearance.

“It shouldn’t take this long,” Trump said, apparently referring to the process of receiving a permanent security clearance.

He claimed that some of the staff members still waiting for a permanent clearance are “people with not a problem in the world,” and said Kelly will decide what to do about Kushner’s interim clearance.

“That will be up to Gen. Kelly. Gen. Kelly respects Jared a lot. And Gen. Kelly will make that call,” Trump said. “I won’t make that call. I will let the general, who is right here, make that call.”

Former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who was fired earlier in February amid allegations of domestic abuse, operated under an interim security clearance while the FBI probed the allegations. According to several reports, White House officials were aware of both the allegations against Porter and the impact on his clearance.

Kelly last week announced that he will revoke top clearances for any aide with an interim security clearance whose background check has been pending since last June or earlier.

Kushner, who has quietly updated his personal financial disclosure with foreign contacts and financial assets several times since he started working in the West Wing, has worked under an interim clearance for more than a year.

Trump on Friday said that Kelly is “going to do what’s right for the country” with regard to Kushner’s clearance.

“I have no doubt he will make the right decision,” Trump said. “Okay?”

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At the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday, President Donald Trump again called for the arming of teachers in order to prevent school shootings. He suggested that if a teacher had a gun in Parkland, Florida last week, “the teacher would have shot the hell out of” the gunman “before he knew what happened.”

Trump also doubled down on his claim that 10 to 20 percent of teachers are likely “gun adept” or have served in the military before becoming teachers and would likely be willing to carry a concealed weapon at school. He pointed to reports that the school resource officer at the high school in Florida stayed outside instead of entering the building when shots were fired as evidence that it would be better to arm teachers than hire security guards. He then claimed that teachers “love” their students more than a security guard does.

“These teachers love their students and the students love their teachers in many cases,” he said. “And I would rather have somebody that loves their students and wants to protect their students than somebody standing outside that doesn’t know anybody and doesn’t know the students, and frankly, for whatever reason, decided not to go in even though he heard lots of shots being fired inside.”

The President said there were not “enough tears in the world” to mourn the 17 people who were killed in the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week and said his administration is interested in talking to all Americans about how to stop mass shootings.

“We have to do something that works,” he said.

Before telling the crowd of conservatives that he supports comprehensive background check reform, Trump reiterated his backing of the Second Amendment and claimed that there is “nobody” who respects the National Rifle Association as much as him. But alas, “we really do have to strengthen up, really strengthen up background check. We have to do that,” he said.

Trump notably did not mention that he also supports increasing the minimum age for rifle purchases nor his call to ban bump stocks. The NRA has been vocal about its opposition to increasing the rifle purchasing age to 21 and has only asked for a “review” of the bump stock device that allows semi-automatic weapons to function like automatic rifles.

Earlier in his speech, Trump called on supporters to vote in the midterm elections, claiming if Democrats win, they’ll “take away your Second Amendment.

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President Donald Trump on Friday reminded the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference to get “off their ass” and vote in the midterms so that Democrats don’t “take away your Second Amendment.”

“Don’t be complacent,” he said. “If they get in, they will repeal your tax cuts, they will put judges in that you wouldn’t believe. They’ll take away your Second Amendment, which we will never allow to happen. They’ll take away your Second Amendment. Remember that. They will take away those massive tax cuts, and they will take away your Second Amendment.”

He then asked the crowd whether they’d rather have their “massive” tax cuts or their Second Amendment rights. The crowd’s reaction was clearly in favor of guns.

“Second Amendment, tax cuts? Second Amendment? I’m going to leave it at the Second Amendment,” he said. “I don’t want to get into that battle.”

The comments about gun rights come as Trump has indicated his support for at least three proposals that would tighten gun laws, in the wake of the most recent school shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead.

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During his second speech as president at the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday, President Donald Trump made a joke about his bald spot, saying he tries “like hell to hide” it.

“What a nice picture that is,” he said, referencing a video feed of himself speaking.
“Look at that. I would love to watch that guy speak,” he said, as he turned around and pretended to fix the back of his hair.

“Oh, boy. Oh, I try like hell to hide that bald spot, folks. I work hard at it. Doesn’t look bad. Hey, we’re hanging in. We’re hanging in. We’re hanging in there, right? Together we’re hanging in.”

The joke comes after a video of the wind blowing Trump’s bald spot out into the open went viral weeks ago.

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