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

Leigh Corfman, one of the first women to go public with allegations of sexual misconduct against Alabama Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore, said her decision to come forward was not politically motivated.

She’s voted as a Republican for “years and years and years,” she said Monday during an interview with NBC’s “Today” show.

“But this isn’t political for me. This is personal. It’s very close to my heart and I’ve lived with this for a very long time,” she said, speaking publicly for the first time since The Washington Post detailed the incidents surrounding the inappropriate sexual encounters Moore allegedly pursued with her when she was just 14-years-old and the former judge was in his 30s. Multiple women have come forward since the story broke Nov. 9 and Moore has denied all the allegations, calling it a political attack from the media.

Many of Moore’s supporters have argued that if Corfman and the other women were telling the truth, they would’ve come out earlier in Moore’s political career.

Corfman said she weighed coming forward for years during his various campaigns, but decided against it because she was a single mother with young children.

“When you’re in that situation, you do everything you can to protect your own,” she said Monday. “I sat in the Courthouse a lot thinking ‘I’m going to go in, I’m going to confront him.’ This was 2000, 2001, and I wanted to walk into his office and say, ‘Hey remember me? You need to knock this stuff off. I need to go public.’ My children were small so I didn’t do it.”

She said the second time she contemplated coming forward with her allegations her children were older and she asked them to make the decision. Her kids were afraid of the social repercussions of their mother coming forward, so they decided not to do it at the time, she said.

“So when The Washington Post sought me out, I didn’t go looking for this, this fell in my lap. It literally fell in my lap and I had to make a decision,” she said. “I told them at that time, the reporters, they were all just wonderful to me, that if they found additional people that I would tell my story.”

Moore and his wife, Kayla Moore, have also floated accusations that the women who came forward were paid by the Post to make up their stories, which Corfman strongly refuted.

“Absolutely not, absolutely not. If anything, this has cost me. I’ve had to take leave from my job,” she said.

When asked by “Today” show host Savannah Guthrie what she makes of Moore’s defense that he doesn’t know who she is, Corfman responded chillingly.

“I wonder how many mes he doesn’t know,” she said.

Watch the full interview below:

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Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) said he is a fan of the Republican tax bill that’s currently moving its way through the Senate, but he thinks his party leaders are exaggerating its importance to 2018 reelections for members of his party.

“To pretend this tax bill is world-changing is the way politicians in Washington, D.C. regularly pretend that every bill being debated is the thing that will usher in heaven,” he said to reporters after speaking to a group of 500 evangelical conservatives Saturday, the Associated Press reported.

Republicans passed the $1.5 trillion bill through the House last week, but it has been met with some tension in the Senate. Senate Republican leaders hope to tack on a provision to its version of the tax plan that would repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate, but some key Republicans, like Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), have already expressed concern over including that in the Senate bill.

Regardless of whether Republicans are able to drum up the votes they need to pass some type of major tax legislation – the party has failed to pass major legislation since President Donald Trump was elected, like not being able to repeal and replace Obamacare – Sasse wouldn’t equate tax reform to immediate reelection for Republicans. A bigger threat to the party are the efforts by former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who is challenging nearly all Republican senators seeking reelection in 2018, Sasse said.

Bannon “is trying to run to the front of the parade” of conservatives’ frustration with the Republican establishment, he said, according to AP. “The party I’m in is going through a split between two sides. … The really, really important debates of our time, the really big things we need to do, really can’t be reduced to a political spectrum of right versus left.”

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The people of Alabama understand the “battle” former Judge Roy Moore is facing in his Senate bid, according to Kayla Moore, the wife of embattled Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Kayla Moore spoke as the headliner at a press conference with his supporters Friday from the steps of Alabama’s state capitol, in an effort to stand by Roy Moore and attack the people who apparently seek to destroy his shot at the U.S. Senate.

The “liberal press” — specifically The Washington Post — supporters of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Roy Moore’s opponent Doug Jones and the Washington Republican establishment were among the culprits waging a war against her husband, Kayla Moore said. She thanked all of Roy Moore’s supporters for their “prayers,” messages and phone calls since the Post first reported on the allegations of multiple women who claim Roy Moore pursued relationships or unwanted sexual contact with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.

“We are in a battle. … The people of Alabama know him. They have seen what he has done, fighting for life, fighting against abortion and fighting for the acknowledgement of God. Fighting for traditional marriage and fighting for the Second Amendment and our rights, given by God, protected by our Constitution,” she said in remarks that were consistently interrupted by cheers from the crowd gathered.

“So the liberal press, The Washington Post, who endorse Hillary Clinton and also endorsed our opponent, gets involved in the race along with the human rights campaign, the DNC and the Washington establishment,” she said. “All of the very same people who were attacking President Trump are also attacking us. I personally think he owes us a thank you.”

She claimed the Post had called “everybody I have ever known for the last 40 years” and said the publication prints “whatever anyone says” without fact-checking claims.

In its initial story about the allegations against Roy Moore, the Post reporters said they first started pursuing the story when they heard multiple rumors about the misconduct while working on a different story in Alabama. The Post was able to corroborate every account from the women with additional witnesses, including some of the women’s mothers and friends who knew about the alleged incidents when they first happened.

Both Roy and Kayla Moore have repeatedly denied all the allegations against Roy Moore and have called out one woman who claimed the former judge sexually assaulted her and signed her yearbook when she was in high school. Roy Moore’s attorney has asked for the yearbook to be turned over to a third party to examine whether the signature is real, which has been the campaign’s main line of defense against the reports.

Kayla Moore has been publicly attacking The Washington Post for the past week. On Wednesday, she posted the name and phone number of a Post reporter who had been calling friends of the Moore family, claiming the paper was on a witch hunt against them. She’s since edited the post to remove the reporter’s name and number, but added a link that lets people report “inappropriate news organization contact” on the campaign website. The family has also threatened to sue the Post and a local news outlet,

Kayla Moore ended the press conference, which featured testimony from multiple women, defending her husband’s credentials and his history of being a “gentleman.”

“I have been married to my husband for over 32 years. He was a graduate of West Point and served our country in Vietnam and has always been an officer and a gentleman,” she said. “He is a loving father and a grandfather. Most important, he is a Christian. So let me set the record straight … He will not step down.”

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Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) is a big fan of the “me too” movement and said she has had “too many” instances throughout her life where she’s been the victim of sexual misconduct, but she said it’s going to take more than a social media hashtag to make systemic changes.

During an interview with CNN on Friday morning, Dingell spoke about a “prominent, historical” figure in Congress who she said used to act aggressively toward her. She also recounted an instance in which she said this man placed his hand on her leg and was trying to move it up her thigh before she took his hand off. A female colleague noticed the contact and switched seats with her.

“We watch out for each other. That’s the other thing we need to do, but we’ve got to change. People need to speak up, men and women need to speak up and say it’s not okay,” she said.

CNN host Alisyn Camerota pressed Dingell several times throughout the interview to share who the man was, but Dingell refused, saying there are still “consequences” to the “me too” stories.

“Women are still going to play the consequences. That’s what I want to figure out. How do we protect the survivor so that in the end they’re not labeled a troublemaker? It sounds great for the moment, but are they going to be able to get the next job?” she said.

For too many women those ‘me too’ stories are going to have consequences,” she continued. “Economic, if you’re a waitress, if you’re on the factory floor or small business, if you target the small business, where’s their job? … I would still pay a price if I were to name some of them.”

Dingell’s remarks follow the introduction of legislation Wednesday — spearheaded by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) — that would overhaul the way Congress handles sexual harassment complaints. That bill was spurred on by a number of people who have gone public with stories of sexual harassment and assault by prominent men, from Capitol Hill to Hollywood.

After movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused by several prominent actresses of sexual misconduct, people across the world started sharing their personal stories of harassment and assault online, using the hashtag #metoo.   

When LA radio host Leeann Tweeden shared her story of alleged sexual misconduct by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) on Thursday, she tweeted a link to an op-ed with the same “me too” hashtag.

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Leeann Tweeden, the LA radio host who came forward with sexual misconduct allegations against Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) Thursday, said she didn’t share her story to lead Franken to resign from Congress.

“That’s not my call. I didn’t do this to have him step down. I think Al Franken does a lot of good things in the Senate, you know, I think that’s for the people of Minnesota to decide,” Tweeden said on Good Morning America Friday. “I’m not calling for him to step down, that was never my intention. … I just wanted him to understand what he did was wrong.”

Tweeden went public with her story of alleged sexual misconduct on Thursday, claiming Franken “aggressively” kissed her while they were rehearsing for an USO tour in 2006 and allegedly groped her while she was sleeping. Franken initially apologized and disputed parts of her claims, but put out a statement later Thursday asking for Congress to conduct an ethics probe into the allegations against him. The alleged incidents occurred before Franken held public office.

Tweeden said Thursday she accepted Franken’s apology and thanked him for his sincere reaction. On Friday she said she came forward because she wanted to contribute to changing the culture that looks at sexual harassment and assault as a joke.

“How he treated me and how abusers, who, I think, do that under the guise that it’s funny or that ‘I can get away with it because I’m a comedian’ and ‘it was funny,’” she said. “It’s never funny, but when you shine a light and go ‘that’s the culture, that the change that we need to make’ and go ‘that’s never funny,’ but people have gotten away with that forever.”

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President Donald Trump has been selective about his outrage over recent accusations of sexual misconduct involving high-profile politicians.

While the President hasn’t personally offered any response to mounting allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct toward teenage girls when Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore was in his 30s, Trump on Thursday was quick to condemn Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) for new groping allegations.

Trump called the 2006 photo of Franken reaching out toward an LA radio host’s chest while she was sleeping “really bad.” Trump seemed to suggest that Franken may have done more than what the photo reveals. He also called Franken a hypocrite for championing women’s rights when he had alleged inappropriate sexual behavior in his past.

Los Angeles radio host Leeann Tweeden wrote an op-ed Thursday with her story about Franken’s alleged sexual misconduct — claiming he “aggressively” kissed her during a 2006 USO tour rehearsal and groped her while she was sleeping. Franken initially apologized, but disputed part of her version of the story. He put out a longer, more apologetic statement later Thursday and asked Congress to conduct an ethics probe into the allegations.

While the White House has said Trump thinks the allegations against Moore are “very troubling,” the President’s personal silence on Moore since the news broke last Thursday is deafening.

At least eight women have come forward in the past week alleging that Moore pursued relationships or made unwanted sexual advances toward them when they were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s. One woman said Moore attempted to initiate a sexual encounter with her when she was 14. On Monday, another woman accused Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 16.

Moore has denied all accusations and has responded by trying to discredit the accusers and threatening to sue The Washington Post — which broke the first story — and the Alabama Media Group, which publishes several local Alabama newspapers.

As more men and women across the country come forward with stories of sexual misconduct by men in powerful positions, Trump has been noticeably quiet on the issue.

During the campaign Trump himself faced accusations of sexual misconduct by multiple women. In the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape that surfaced during the campaign, Trump bragged about his aggressive behavior toward women.

Trump has repeatedly denied all the allegations, claiming recently they’re all “fake” and “made up.”

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Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore on Thursday criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for his response to the sexual misconduct allegations against Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and tried to equate the situation to his own.

McConnell has been vocal about wanting Moore to step aside from the Alabama Senate race since reports of the allegations against Moore surfaced last Thursday, which were first reported by The Washington Post and each account was corroborated with other witnesses.

At least seven women have come forward over the past week accusing Moore of pursuing relationships or unwanted sexual contact with them when they were teens and he was in his 30s. One of the women claimed Moore attempted to initiate a sexual encounter with her when she was 14. On Monday, a woman claimed Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16.

Moore has denied all allegations of sexual assault and misconduct, but didn’t outright deny during at interview last week with Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he may have dated teens when he was in his 30s.

Those accusations differ from allegations that Los Angeles radio host Leeann Tweeden made against Franken on Thursday. 

Tweeden claimed that Franken “aggressively” kissed her backstage at a United States Organizations tour in 2006 — before Franken was in office — and later groping her while she was sleeping. Franken apologized for the incident in a statement, but disputed part of her account of the incident.

Franken put out a second statement Thursday, asking for an ethics investigation to be undertaken and he would “gladly cooperate.”

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she is “not concerned” about the potential appointment of a special counsel to investigate the so-called Uranium One scandal Republicans have homed in on in recent weeks.

During an exclusive interview with Mother Jones Wednesday, Clinton said reports that the attorney general had asked top prosecutors to look into appointing a special counsel to probe the sale of a uranium company to Russia represented a “politicization of the Justice Department.” She defended her actions, saying the Uranium One story “has been debunked countless times.”

“It is nothing but a false charge that the Trump administration is trying to drum up in order to avoid attention being drawn to them. I mean, even (Rep.) Trey Gowdy (R-SC), someone who is hardly a fan of mine, said that there doesn’t seem to be the basis for a special counsel,” she said. “Taking myself out of it, this is such an abuse of power and it goes right at the rule of law.”

Some Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have decided the sale of Uranium One while Clinton was head of the State Department is the real Russia story and have claimed there was some type of link between the sale of the company to Russian interests in 2010 and donations to the Clinton Foundation. Clinton has maintained there was no link between the two and has cited that there were nine different federal agencies that signed off on the deal.

If they send a signal that we’re going to be like some dictatorship, like some authoritarian regime, where political opponents are going to be unfairly, fraudulently investigated, that rips at the fabric of the contract we have, that we can trust our justice system,” she said. “With all of our problems, you know them and I know them, ultimately we have to stand up for that, we have to believe that, we have to fix the problems when they occur and when justice is denied, but moving into the political realm is something we’ve never seen.”

She said if Attorney General Jeff Sessions decides to appoint a special counsel to investigate the deal, “nothing will come of it” but it will “cause a lot of terrible consequences,” like “demoralizing” the American people’s opinions of the justice system.

“It will also send a terrible signal to our country and the world that somehow we are giving up on the kind of values that we used to live by and we used to promote worldwide,” she said. “I’m not concerned, because I know that there is no basis to it. I regret if they do it because it will be such a disastrous step into politicizing the justice system.”

Watch the interview below:

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After lawyers for Alabama Senate GOP Candidate Roy Moore’ held a press conference requesting the yearbook of a woman who accused Moore of sexual assault — she claims Moore signed her yearbook when she was in high school — the woman’s lawyer said she would hand it over.

But to Congress, not the Moore campaign.

Beverly Young Nelson, the woman who said Moore sexually assaulted her in his car when she was 16, and her attorney Gloria Allred sent a letter to the Senate Ethics Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee requesting a hearing so that both Nelson and Moore could testify under oath, Allred said on CNN Wednesday night.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Moore’s lawyers requested Nelson’s yearbook so they could have a handwriting expert examine the signature. Allred said she would be happy to oblige if it were an “independent expert” who could examine it during a hearing.

Allred said she has additional evidence to corroborate her client’s claims, but she dodged questions about whether Moore presided over Nelson’s divorce case, saying she didn’t want to share more information until there was a hearing.

“There is no legal process, except the one I am proposing, which is essentially a political process combined with a legal process,” she said. “We have evidence that we have not revealed to the press and we’re not going to reveal it breadcrumb by breadcrumb. We will be happy to answer all questions and provide all evidence at the hearing if there is one. We think that’s the way to do it.”

Allred also said she’d like to see Moore “subpoenaed if he won’t appear voluntarily.”

“He can deny it if he wants as long as it’s under oath. Let him be cross-examined,” she said.

Nelson is just one of seven women who have come forward with similar accounts of Moore pursuing unwanted relationships or unwanted sexual contact with them when they were teens and he was in his 30s. At least one was younger than 16-years-old at the time, which is the age of consent in Alabama.

Moore has denied all of the accusations and said he did not know Nelson.

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The chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) did not hesitate to ditch the Republican Senate candidate from Alabama, Roy Moore, who has been accused by multiple women of inappropriate sexual advances toward them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.

During an interview on CNN’s “New Day” Thursday morning, Stivers, who has donated to the Moore campaign, said he “believe(s) these women” and said the Republican candidate should step aside.

“I have subsequently asked for my money back and that was before these allegations came forward,” Stivers said Thursday. “I do believe Roy Moore should step aside. It’s up to him at this point. I don’t think anybody can manipulate anybody into doing anything, but I hope he will step aside. … I believe the women.”

While Stivers is not a member of the Senate, he said it would “be a problem” if Moore is actually elected in December and said he would “probably move to take some action” if that happens.

I’m not going to put pressure on the Senate. They need to manage their own affairs in the United States Senate,” he said. “I think it would be a problem and I would probably move to take some action.”

Moore has denied all the accusations against him and has vowed to stay in the race.

Stivers is just the latest Republican to abandon Moore after multiple women have come forward with eerily similar accounts of Moore pursuing unwanted relationships or unwanted sexual contact with them when they were teens. At least two were under 16-years-old at the time, which is the age of consent in Alabama.  

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) fundraised for Roy Moore. Stivers donated to the Moore campaign. TPM regrets this error. 

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