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Summer Concepcion

Summer Concepcion is the front page editor of Talking Points Memo based in New York City. Previously, she covered the 2016 presidential election for Fusion and worked as a researcher at The Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute. She's an LA native and former Chicago transplant. Reach her at summer@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Summer

President Donald Trump’s former legal spokesperson Mark Corallo met with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, the Daily Beast and NBC News reported on Friday.

The Daily Beast reported, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the matter, that Corallo spoke with Mueller for more than two hours.

According to NBC News’ Ken Dilanian, Corallo’s lawyer Victoria Toensing confirmed that her client met with Mueller’s team on Thursday.

Reached by TPM, Toensing declined to comment further.

The New York Times reported earlier this month that Corallo was expected to tell Mueller about a remark White House communications director Hope Hicks made last year that left him concerned about obstruction of justice.

According to the report, Hicks told Trump that emails from his eldest son Donald Trump Jr. to acquaintance Rob Goldstone nearly a year earlier about a planned meeting with a Russian lawyer would “never get out.”

Hicks’ lawyer told the New York Times that she “never said that” and did not suggest “that emails or other documents would be concealed or destroyed.”

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Former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus warned President Donald Trump that letting Attorney General Jeff Sessions resign would cause a “spiral of calamity” worse than the backlash to his abrupt termination of FBI Director James Comey, according to an upcoming book.

Vanity Fair on Wednesday published an excerpt of “The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency,” by Chris Whipple, based on an interview where Priebus described the aftermath of Comey’s abrupt firing in May 2017.

After Trump terminated Comey, the Justice Department appointed Robert Mueller to oversee the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. According to reports, Trump blamed Mueller’s appointment on Sessions, who had recused himself from the probe months earlier, and lashed out at him.

White House counsel Don McGahn came in to Priebus’ office “pretty hot, red, out of breath,” according to the excerpt, and told the then-chief of staff, “We’ve got a problem.”

According to Priebus, McGahn told him that Sessions had “just resigned.”

“What? What the hell are you talking about?” Priebus said, according to the excerpt. “And I said, ‘That can’t happen.’”

Priebus said that he chased after Sessions into the parking lot, where he found Sessions in a car about to leave.

“I knocked on the door of the car and Jeff was sitting there and I just jumped in and shut the door and I said, ‘Jeff, what’s going on?’” Priebus said.

When Sessions told Priebus that he planned to resign, Priebus replied, “You cannot resign. It’s not possible,” according to the report.

“We are going to talk about this right now,” Priebus said he told Sessions.

According to Priebus, he “dragged” Sessions back to his office and — with help from Vice President Mike Pence and then-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, since ousted — convinced Sessions to reconsider. Sessions nevertheless delivered a resignation letter to the Oval Office that night, according to the excerpt, but Priebus claimed he “persuaded the President to give it back.”

Vanity Fair reported, citing an unnamed White House insider, that Priebus stepped in a month later to keep Trump from demanding Sessions’ resignation.

“He told the president, ‘If I get this resignation, you are in for a spiral of calamity that makes Comey look like a picnic,'” the source told Vanity Fair.

Priebus warned Trump that if he forced Sessions out, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would also resign, and then-associate attorney general Rachel Brand — who resigned last week — would say, “Forget it. I’m not going to be involved with this,” according to Vanity Fair.

According to the report, Priebus succeeded in convincing Trump not to oust his attorney general. A month later, he left the White House — and John Kelly, now facing scrutiny for his handling of abuse allegations against a top aide, took his place as chief of staff.

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House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) told CNN on Wednesday that his committee has launched an investigation into former White House aide Rob Porter following abuse allegations by his ex-wives.

Gowdy confirmed the news in a letter to White House chief of staff John Kelly later Wednesday, stating there is an investigation into “the extent to which any security clearance issued to Porter comported” with “the policies and processes by which interim security clearances are investigated and adjudicated within the Executive Branch.”

Gowdy wrote that his committee “seeks to better understand the criteria and the scope of an investigation for determining whether to issue an interim security clearance generally; who adjudicated his clearance; and what derogatory information was subsequently made available to the White House on Porter, when, and to whom.”

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CNN reported on Tuesday that former White House staff secretary Rob Porter was in “serious” talks about a job promotion before he resigned last week amid allegations that he was physically abusive to his two ex-wives.

“Rob Porter was in serious discussions to be promoted when he abruptly resigned last week from the White House,” CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter. “He was being considered for several other positions, elevated policy roles across the administration, as well as the deputy chief of staff role.”

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Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) on Tuesday said that she’s “extremely disappointed” with the “situation” surrounding domestic abuse allegations against former White House staff secretary Rob Porter and the White House’s response to them.

“I’m not sure of the internal workings of the White House and when they found out what they found out,” Ernst said on CNN. “But I’m extremely disappointed in this situation. Abuse is never okay. It is never okay. And so I feel very bad for those women.”

Porter’s two ex-wives, Jennifer Willoughby and Colbie Holderness, accused Porter of physical abuse. Both women gave interviews last week detailing Porter’s alleged behavior, and Porter resigned on Wednesday. The White House — and in particular chief of staff John Kelly — responded to the allegations by expressing support for Porter and citing his denials, though Kelly has since pushed various different narratives about his own response.

Ernst said she is “glad” that Porter’s ex-wives “have come forward.”

“We need to send a very clear signal that it won’t be tolerated, and it won’t be tolerated with our employees,” she said, referring to abuse.

Asked whether Trump is sending that signal, Ernst said, “I think he needs to send a stronger message.”

Politico on Tuesday reported that the White House arranged an off-the-record briefing with Porter and four reporters shortly after the Daily Mail published a photo of Holderness with a black eye she said Porter gave her.

“I think you can’t justify it,” Ernst said of the briefing. “You can’t justify that.”

Ernst added that she believes the women, but hesitated to endorse a congressional investigation into the matter.

“It’s possible that that could be looked into. But how much time are we focusing on those employees, or should we be focusing on other things of a federal scale?” Ernst said. “We can raise this issue and we can talk about this issue and encourage awareness, but we also have national security issues going on that we really need to focus on.”

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Not all Hope is lost in the White House it seems.

According to the New York Times, President Donald Trump shot down recent reports that he has grown increasingly exasperated with his communications director over her handling of the White House’s response to domestic abuse allegations against former aide Rob Porter.

“Hope is absolutely fantastic,” Trump said in a statement to the NYT released through a spokesman Friday. “She was with the campaign from the beginning, and I could not ask for anything more. Hope is smart, very talented and respected by all.”

Other White House officials, including Ivanka Trump and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, came to Hicks’ defense Friday.

Ivanka Trump, who hired Hicks at her company prior to working for the Trump campaign, said Hicks was a “team player.”

“Most importantly, the President has deep respect for her, cares about her greatly, and listens to her,” Ivanka Trump said Friday, per NYT. “That’s not true of everyone. She’s earned that.”

In a statement provided to NYT through an aide, Mnuchin said he had been “impressed” with Hicks since working with her on the campaign. Mnuchin views her “as an invaluable asset to the President” given how “she is exceptionally talented in leading communications for the administration.”

CNN reported earlier Friday that sources familiar with the matter said Trump believes Hicks let her relationship with Porter—whom she reportedly became romantically involved with—muddle her judgement in drafting a statement in Porter’s defense when news of his ex-wives’ domestic abuse allegations broke Tuesday.

According to CNN’s Friday report, Trump was not consulted when Hicks wrote the statement and he thinks the communications director put her own interests above his.

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Former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski excoriated Democrats during a “Fox and Friends” segment Saturday while weighing in on President Donald Trump’s decision to block their rebuttal to Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) controversial memo.

Lewandowski accused Democrats of creating “another partisan issue” with their counter-memo due to putting information that “they knew the White House could not sign off on because of national security reasons.”

Because he and the White House have said that “more transparency is better,” Lewandowski argued that Trump is justified in asking Democrats “to go back and remove the information from the memorandum that would allow the White House to release all of the information.”

Lewandowski, who remained fixated on how Democrats supposedly made Nunes’ memo “about politics,” also blasted the top House Intel Dem Rep. Adam Schiff and other Dems who “want to put the White House in a position of knowing the information that’s in the memo that they sent over cannot be released for national security reasons.”

When asked by Fox host Griff Jenkins if the rebuttal was an effort by Democrats to “take away the fact that this is the most transparent White House we have had in a long time,” Lewandowski said “of course” due to Dems wanting “to do anything they can to disparage this White House.”

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President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday morning about how “peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” without mentioning which people he’s referring to.

Trump’s tweet comes a day after White House speechwriter David Sorensen abruptly resigned after domestic abuse allegations by his ex-wife, and three days after former Trump aide Rob Porter resigned over similar allegations.

While Trump has yet to directly address Sorensen’s resignation, the President told reporters Friday that he wishes Porter well and hopes “he will have a great career ahead of him.”

Trump’s claim that “there is no recovery for someone falsely accused” is at odds with his 2016 election win following news of the mounting list of sexual misconduct allegations he vehemently denied.

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Just two days after former Trump aide Rob Porter resigned over domestic abuse allegations, another White House staffer stepped down following allegations in a similar vein.

David Sorensen, a speechwriter who worked under Trump senior policy advisor Stephen Miller, abruptly resigned Friday night as The Washington Post was reporting on domestic abuse allegations by his ex-wife Jessica Corbett.

Corbett, who first reached out to WaPo a week before news of Porter’s allegations broke, said that Sorensen acted violently and was emotionally abusive toward her during their two-year marriage.

Corbett alleges that during her marriage to Sorensen, partly when he was a top policy adviser to Republican Maine Gov. Paul LePage, he “ran a car over her foot, put out a cigarette on her hand, threw her into a wall and grasped her menacingly by her hair while they were alone on their boat in remote waters off Maine’s coast, an incident she said left her fearing for her life.”

Corbett provided WaPo records of text messages and emails showing that “Sorensen berated her with vulgar language and she discussed the deteriorating marriage with others.” She also gave WaPo a photo of her hand bearing a scar she said was from the the cigarette Sorensen put out on her.

Although she didn’t file a police report, Corbett told WaPo that she spoke with the FBI in October about Sorensen’s abusive behavior last fall as he underwent a background check by the bureau.

Sorensen denies the allegations and claims that Corbett was the one who “victimized him,” per WaPo, saying he had “never committed violence of any kind against any woman in my entire life.”

“In fact, I was the victim of repeated physical violence during our marriage, not her,” Sorensen said in a lengthy statement. Sorensen told WaPo that he consulted with an attorney and was “considering legal options to address her defamation.”

Sorensen alleges that Corbett “punched him on multiple occasions,” per WaPo. He described one incident where he “attempted to leave in his car and she ran after him as he was pulling away, injuring herself in the process,” and another where “she grabbed the steering wheel as he drove on a highway and punched him in the face during an argument.”

Sorensen also provided photos to WaPo of what he said were injuries, such as bruises and scrapes, Corbett inflicted on him.

Sorensen told WaPo in a text message that he resigned because “didn’t want the White House to have to deal with this distraction.”

WaPo reports that while Sorensen said he’d “hoped never to have to discuss his ex-wife and their tumultuous marriage,” he views news of the allegations as “an opportunity to highlight the grossly underreported and unacknowledged issue of female-on-male domestic violence.”

Corbett acknowledged that several abusive incidents involved alcohol and that “she slapped Sorensen a number of times after he called her a vulgar term.” However, she maintained to WaPo that she never went beyond slapping him and that her claims are “100 percent true and that is why he had to resign.”

According to WaPo, White House officials said they learned of the allegations Thursday night, prior to WaPo requesting comment.

“We immediately confronted the staffer, he denied the allegations and he resigned today,” spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement Friday evening, per WaPo.

Corbett told WaPo it was “scary” that her ex-husband had White House access after the abuse allegations she recounted to the FBI.

“Everyone can think you’re the most wonderful guy, but you’re throwing women into walls by night,” Corbett said.

Sorensen told WaPo that “like many domestic abusers,” Corbett was “especially adept at controlling her rage so that no others witnessed her physical attacks.”

Sorensen and Corbett’s marriage was finalized in September, per records reviewed by WaPo.

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President Donald Trump announced Friday night that he refuses to release the Democratic rebuttal of Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) memo alleging anti-Trump bias among the Justice Department and FBI’s highest ranks.

“Although the President is inclined to declassify the February 5th Memorandum, because the Memorandum contains numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages, he is unable to do so at this time,” White House counsel Donald McGahn said Friday in a letter to the House Intelligence Committee.

Trump now requests revisions to the counter-memo, sending the rebuttal back to the committee.

“Given the public interest in transparency and in these unprecedented circumstances, the President has directed that Justice Department personnel be available to give technical assistance to the Committee, should the Committee wish to revise the February 5th Memorandum to mitigate the risks identified by the Department,” McGahn wrote.

Trump reiterated Saturday morning the need for revisions to the “very political and long response” memo.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the top House Intel Democrat who Trump claimed is “one of the biggest liars and leakers” in DC, hit back at the irony in the President’s request for revisions when the White House approved publishing the Republicans’ “deeply flawed and inaccurate memo” without redactions.

Nunes argued, however, there’s “no surprise” that revisions are needed for the Democratic memo that “contains many sources and methods.”

“Schiff pledged to seek the input of the Department of Justice and FBI regarding the memo’s public release, and it’s no surprise that these agencies recommended against publishing the memo without redactions,” Nunes said in a statement Friday night. “Intelligence Committee Republicans encourage the minority to accept the DOJ’s recommendations and make the appropriate technical changes and redactions so that no sources and methods are disclosed and their memo can be declassified as soon as possible.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to remove Nunes as House Intel chair over editing the controversial memo before sending it to the White House for review, said Trump’s refusal is “a stunningly brazen attempt to cover up the truth about the Trump-Russia scandal from the American people.”

“The President’s decision to block the Democratic memo from release is part of a dangerous and desperate pattern of cover-up on the part of the President. Clearly, the President has something to hide,” Pelosi said in a statement Friday night. “The U.S. intelligence community has concluded, and members of Trump’s cabinet agree, that the Russians interfered in our election and plan to do so again. America’s intelligence and national security are being politicized. Why won’t the President put our country before his personal and political interests?”

Trump’s refusal to declassify the Democrats’ rebuttal contradicts how he told reporters earlier Friday that it was going to “be released soon,” in line with the five days he was given to decide its fate after the House Intel voted unanimously Monday for its release.

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