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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

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said a lawsuit filed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau acting director — who was appointed by outgoing CFPB head Richard Cordray — Sunday evening is “just the latest” example of “lawless” behavior by the agency. Cotton also suggested anyone who disobeys President Trump’s pick for the post, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, should be fired.

“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a rogue, unconstitutional agency,” Cotton said in a statement posted on Twitter Monday morning. “Leandra English … doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on, as her own general counsel has conceded and the Department of Justice has concluded. The President should fire her immediately and anyone who disobeys Director Mulvaney’s orders should be fired summarily. The Constitution and the law must prevail against the supposed resistance.”

English, who was appointed as acting director of the agency by Cordray on his way out, filed a lawsuit Sunday night to keep Mulvaney from leading the bureau. In her lawsuit, English cited the Dodd-Frank Act as rationale for what allows her to hold the post until a new director is confirmed by the Senate.

Trump named Mulvaney acting director upon Cordray’s resignation. The White House and the Department of Justice said Trump’s authority surpasses that of the previous director — who was appointed by former President Barack Obama — citing the Vacancies Reform Act.

The agency’s legal counsel has even sided with the White House, saying in a memo obtained by Politico that “the President possesses the authority to designate an acting director for the bureau” and advising all staff to follow Mulvaney’s direction. Both English and Mulvaney were on site Monday, both claiming to run the agency, CNN reported.

Republicans have been vocal critics of the department ever since it was created as a watchdog group for consumers after the 2008 financial crisis. In his previous job as a member of Congress, Mulvaney called the agency a “joke” and is expected to overhaul much of what it has done.

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President Donald Trump pitched a new reality TV concept on Twitter Monday morning.

Claiming he is everyone’s “favorite President,” Trump suggested holding a “contest” to see which news network is “the most dishonest, corrupt and/or distorted” in it’s coverage of “your favorite President (me).”

He made sure to indicate that the contest would definitely include CNN, but definitely not Fox News, and the winner would receive the prize of a “FAKE NEWS TROPHY.”

Trump has made it crystal clear that he hates CNN since the 2016 campaign. He even spent time tweeting about the network over the holiday weekend, saying Fox News is “MUCH more important in the United States than CNN” and said the network represents the U.S. “very poorly” to the rest of the world. That was met with a swift rebuke from CNN.

The President also criticized another news organization Monday that he regularly calls out for its negative coverage of him, NBC, saying “their rates are terrible, nobody cares!” Trump’s “Apprentice” franchise, which contributed to his fame and wealth, aired on NBC.

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Former 2016 presidential candidate Carly Fiorina said Sunday that the President all but endorsing Roy Moore, despite mounting allegations of sexual misconduct against him, is “all about politics” and isn’t reflective of the recent uprise in harassment allegations being taken more seriously in the public eye.

“That’s why when politicians talk about this it doesn’t have a lot of credibility. This has been going on in politics for a long time. Democrats try and defend their own, Republicans try and defend their own,” she said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“It’s a little bit like what George Washington warned us 200 years ago: The problem with politics and political parties is they care about winning above all else. Donald Trump cares about a vote in the Senate— no more, no less,” she said.

President Donald Trump has defended GOP Senate candidate Moore against multiple women’s allegations that Moore pursued relationships or made inappropriate sexual advances toward them when they were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s. The accusations against Moore are just the latest in a string of women coming forward alleging sexual harassment and assault against powerful men in politics, as well as media and Hollywood. Fiorina said she believes the women.

“I think in virtually all of the cases, there has been corroboration of the women’s stories. In virtually every case, it’s not one woman who comes forward, it’s not only one woman. It’s three or four or five or six,” she said. “I think what we all need to think about, but frankly particularly men need to think about, in virtually all of these cases people knew what was going on. You cannot tell me that no one knew what was going on with Roy Moore or John Conyers or Al Franken or Charlie Rose or Roger Ailes or (Harvey) Weinstein. People knew. Men knew and women knew.”

Fiorina said she thinks the culture that protects men who harass women won’t change until other men start to come forward and stop respecting the men who “abuse their position of power in return for sex.”

“Every single one of the men who has been exposed in the last several weeks was respected and so, I think men need to decide— ‘I’m not going to respect a man who disrespects women, I’m going to withhold my respect from him. Unless he respects others.’ That will be a watershed moment,” she said.

In a Medium post published last week, Fiorina hinted at her own experiences with harassment in the workplace. When asked about those incidents on Sunday, she said she has “of course” been harassed throughout her career.

“Every women I know has,” she said. “I don’t mean I’ve been raped or assaulted in some of the ways these women have. But what was I groped by a friend of my family? Of course. Was I propositioned? Of course. Was I introduced as a bimbo? Of course. Did I have on occasion men banging on my hotel room door and then lying about it the next morning? Of course. … The perennial abuse of power by men over women has been with us for a long time.”

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said he thinks the President is “mistaken” to think Alabama Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore will be a legislative win in Congress and that his party should learn a lesson from nominating “somebody like Roy Moore.”

“I don’t know what winning looks like for Roy Moore,” Graham said, appearing on “State of the Union” on CNN Sunday. “If he wins, you get the baggage of him winning. … If you lose, you give the Senate seat to a Democrat at a time where we need all the votes we can get. The moral of the story is, don’t nominate somebody like Roy Moore who could actually lose a seat that any Republican could win.”

Graham’s comments come after President Donald Trump all but endorsed Moore over the weekend when he railed against Moore’s Democratic opponent Doug Jones on Twitter and defended himself for originally endorsing incumbent Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL)

“The last thing we need is Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet,” Trump tweeted Sunday morning. “Jones would be a disaster!”

Trump has previously defended Moore against the allegations of sexual misconduct against him by multiple women who claim Moore pursued relationships or made inappropriate sexual advances toward them when they were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s. But top congressional Republicans’ opinion on the matter are in stark contrast with the President’s. Republicans like Graham, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) have called the allegations against Moore credible and said Moore should step aside.

“From a party perspective, we’ve got to look long term, not short term. What I would tell President Trump, ‘If you think winning with Roy Moore is going to be easy for the Republican Party, you’re mistaken,’” Graham told CNN Sunday. “I’m not going down the road he’s going, that’s up to the President.”

 

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) appeared alongside Graham on “State of the Union” Sunday and was also asked about groping allegations against his fellow Democratic Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who was recently accused of sexual misconduct by two women. Franken has apologized and asked the Senate Ethics Committee to probe the accusations.

“Al Franken has acknowledged what he did was wrong and it was wrong. He’s also submitted his whole case to the Senate Ethics Committee. I think that was the right thing to do,” Durbin said. “Let’s have a hearing, an investigation. Let’s let this reach whatever conclusion it’s going to reach, but through due process. … You have to say Al Franken has faced it and he’s done it in a responsible way. I think that’s the way to approach it.”

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A retired police officer who worked juvenile cases in Gadsden, Alabama for 37 years said it was well known that Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore “liked young girls” decades ago, but her department never got an official complaint, so there “was really nothing we could do about it.”

“I didn’t realize it until some time later that when they said he liked young girls, I just thought he liked young ladies, you know, younger than him, maybe in their 20s,” Faye Gary told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC Tuesday. “I had no idea, or we had no idea that we were talking about 14-year-olds. But we never got a complaint on it.”

She said the officers were “advised” that Moore had been suspended from the local mall because “he would hang around the young girls” who worked there and that it “got into a place of where they say he was harassing.” Police were also warned to keep an eye on Moore at sporting events and “make sure that, you know, he didn’t hang around the cheerleaders,” Gary said.

Police were on the lookout “every day” for a complaint to come in on Moore, she said, as his behavior was known “not only in our department, but in the courthouse too.”

Moore has been accused by multiple women of either pursing relationships or making inappropriate sexual advances toward them when they were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s. Moore has flatly denied all the allegations and has said the claims are just part of a political attack on his campaign by the media.

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Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) wife, Kelley Paul, said her family hasn’t spoken to the neighbor who allegedly attacked her husband in a decade, “other than a casual wave from the car.”

That revelation from Kelley Paul, in an op-ed for CNN published Wednesday, pokes holes in the theory that the alleged assault was the result of an ongoing trivial dispute between the two neighbors.

“The fact is, neither Rand nor I have spoken to the attacker in 10 years – since before his wife and children moved away. … Nobody in our family has, nor have we communicated with anyone in his family,” she said of Rene Boucher, a retired anesthesiologist who was arrested and charged with assault. “With Rand’s travel to D.C. in the last seven years, he has rarely seen this man at all.”

She went on to call out the media for reporting that there was any type of alleged dispute between her husband and Boucher, saying “the only ‘dispute’ existed solely in the attacker’s trouble mind.” She called the incident, which left Rand Paul with six broken ribs, pleural effusion and pneumonia in his damaged lung, a “deliberate, blindside attack.”

“Despite this, he refused to give in to the pain and was determined to fly back to Washington last week to do his job,” she said. “This has been a terrible experience; made worse by the media’s gleeful attempts to blame Rand for it, ridiculing him for everything from mowing his own lawn to composting.”

Reports of the motive behind Boucher’s alleged attack have been contradictory. Some neighbors have told reporters that the pair have been feuding for years over yard waste; others have reported that the attack was politically motivated. That claim was disputed by Boucher’s lawyer when Boucher pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge after he was arrested.

Rand Paul himself appeared to mock the stories about there being a neighborly dispute  between himself and Boucher when he tweeted two articles from conservative outlets that cite neighbors saying the alleged assault was not the result of a landscaping disagreement.

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The editorial board at one of the most influential publications in Rep. John Conyers (R-MI) home district wants their representative to resign.

In an editorial published Wednesday, the paper praised Conyers’ valiant history as a “stalwart” leader in the civil rights movement and his work in Congress the past 53 years to pass major voting rights and health care reform legislation. Because of that success as a lawmaker, the paper said it reached its conclusion with “an incredible amount of disappointment.”

BuzzFeed was first to report Tuesday that Conyers paid a $27,000 settlement to a former staffer after she complained to the compliance office that she was fired because she resisted Conyers’ sexual advances. The BuzzFeed report was based on sworn affidavits made by the alleged victim and three other former staffers. The allegations in and of themselves are enough cause for Conyers’ resignation, the Detroit Free Press said.

“In the current climate of revelations about powerful men abusing their positions and committing horrific acts of harassment, abuse or assault on women, those allegations should be enough to spur a dedicated congressional inquiry,” the editorial said. “Without a doubt, Congress has a real problem, and one that the American people deserve to see resolved.”

The paper also took issue with Conyers’ decision to quietly settle the complaint through his congressional office when it could have been done through the compliance office, which pays for the settlement of complaints from employees for members of Congress. The editors said that sort of handling is commonplace in the private sector, but should “never, ever happen where public dollars (and public accountability) are concerned.”

“John Conyers Jr. must go – after 53 years in Congress, after a stellar career of fighting for equality, after contributing so much to southeast Michigan and the nation,” they wrote. “It’s a tragic end to his public career. But it’s the appropriate consequence for the stunning subterfuge his office has indulged here, and a needed warning to other members of Congress that this can never be tolerated.”

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Before all-but endorsing Alabama Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore Tuesday afternoon, behind closed doors President Trump has been skeptical in recent weeks about the mounting allegations of sexual misconduct against the former judge, according to Politico.

Trump has said he doubted the stories of the women who have come forward recently claiming Moore pursued relationships or made inappropriate sexual advances toward them when they were teens and Moore was in his 30s, according to two White House advisers and two people familiar with the matter who spoke to Politico.

The White House advisers said Trump compared the allegations to what he faced just weeks before the 2016 election when a number of women came forward alleging Trump had harassed them — claims he continues to deny, just like Moore.

Before leaving Washington on Tuesday to hole up in his Mar-a-Lago resort for Thanksgiving with his family, Trump appeared to let some of those private sentiments slip.

“Let me just tell you, Roy Moore denies it. That’s all I can say. He denies it. And, by the way, he totally denies it,” he told reporters Tuesday. “He says it didn’t happen. And, you know, you have to listen to him also. You’re talking about, he said 40 years ago this did not happen.”

The White House has mostly steered clear of taking a direct stance on the issue publicly since the allegations surfaced, but Trump reportedly personally gave White House counselor Kellyanne Conway permission to appear on “Fox and Friends” Tuesday to slam Moore’s candidate Democrat Doug Jones, Politico’s sources said. During that interview she made veiled suggestions that Trump needed Moore’s vote to pass tax reform legislation.

Trump has also reportedly been asking advisers for polling updates in Alabama as well this past week, and has been curious about whether locals believe the allegations against Moore. Despite calls from congressional Republican leaders for Moore to drop out of the race, the President didn’t see the benefit in coming out against Moore, according to Politico.

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It’s nearly Thanksgiving and President Donald Trump is tweeting about gratitude.

Or, a lack thereof.

In a series of tweets on Wednesday morning, Trump called the father of a UCLA basketball player who shoplifted and was arrested while in China earlier this month an “ungrateful fool!” and said “IT WAS ME” who helped get his son home safely.

The President called LaVar Ball, the father of UCLA Bruins player LiAngelo Ball, “just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair.” Trump said LaVar Ball “could have spent the next five to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you.”

Trump has been vocal about his expectations of gratitude from the basketball players ever since they were released from detainment. When the players were en route back to the U.S. Trump asked on Twitter whether they would thank him for helping negotiate their release. All three players thanked the President at a press conference when they returned.

Trump responded with a poetic tweet, in which he told the players “you’re welcome,” guided them to thank Chinese President Xi Jinping and told all three to “HAVE A GREAT LIFE!”

LaVar Ball, the chief executive of the sports apparel company Big Baller Brand, has refused to thank Trump for intervening to help get his son home. In an interview with ESPN on Friday he said that “everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out,” referring to Trump. He told CNN on Monday that he would give praise if it were due.

“How’d he help? If he helped, I would say thank you,” he said.

That didn’t sit well with the President, who has said he spoke with Xi during one of their meetings in Beijing about the UCLA players’ detainment. He tweeted over the weekend that he “should have left them in jail!” and claimed shop lifting is “a very big deal in China, as it should be (five to 10 years in jail).”

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CBS News has terminated its contract with longtime reporter and anchor Charlie Rose after The Washington Post reported on eight women’s “extremely disturbing” allegations against him, said CBS News President David Rhodes.

Rhodes said he was “deeply disappointed and angry” and said the termination was “effective immediately.”

“Despite Charlie’s important journalistic contribution to our news division, there is absolutely nothing more important, in this or any organization, than ensuring a safe, professional workplace – a supportive environment where people feel they can do their best work. We need to be such a place,” Rhodes said. “I’ve often heard things used to be different. And no one may be able to correct the past. But what may once have been accepted should never have been acceptable.”

In order to maintain CBS News’ “credibility” reporting on “extraordinary revelations” at other media outlets, CBS needs to maintain credibility managing what should be “basic standards of behavior,” Rhodes said, which is why they acted so swiftly with Rose.

“I’m deeply disappointed and angry that people were victimized—and even people not connected with these events could see their hard work undermined,” he said. “If all of us commit to the best behavior and the best work – that is what we can be known for.”

Rose has been a co-host of “CBS This Morning” since the show’s inception and is also a contributing correspondent for “60 Minutes.”

The Post published a scathing report on Monday evening, detailing the allegations of eight women who claimed Rose made unwanted sexual advances toward them. According to the women, those advances included inappropriate phone calls, walking around naked in front of them and groping them. The alleged incidents spanned over two decades, started in the late 1990s, according to the Post.

Rose was suspended less than two hours after the Post published its piece and Rose later posted a statement on Twitter appoligizing for his “inappropriate behavior” and saying he didn’t think all the accusations were accurate. He said he thought he was “pursuing shared feelings” at the time.

On “CBS This Morning” Tuesday, Rose’s former co-hosts Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King were brutally honest about the disturbing nature of the allegations and their disappointment in Rose.

“This has to end. This behavior is wrong. Period,” O’Donnell said.

PBS also announced Tuesday it was terminating its relationship with Rose and cancelling distribution of his programs, according to New York Times reporter John Koblin.

PBS had already said Monday night that it would no longer distribute Rose’s nightly “Charlie Rose” show after the allegations surfaced, PBS News Hour reported.

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