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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

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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President Donald Trump said Friday that he wishes former White House staff secretary Rob Porter well, despite reports that the President was “very disturbed” by the domestic abuse allegations against Porter.

“We wish him well, he worked very hard. We found out about it recently and I was surprised by it, but we certainly wish him well and it’s a tough time for him,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

Trump said Porter “did a very good job when he was in the White House” and hopes “he has a wonderful career and he will have a great career ahead of him.”

Trump also assured reporters that “it was very sad when we heard about it,” and that Porter, who Trump said maintained “very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent,” is certainly “also very sad now.”

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The Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union speech, delivered by Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III, was a direct appeal to the immigrants the President made inaccurate statements about in his speech.

“This administration isn’t just targeting the laws that protect us – they are targeting the very idea that we are all worthy of protection,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said the Democrats’ “answer” to Trump’s speech is that “the strongest, richest, greatest nation in the world shouldn’t leave any one behind.”

“To all the Dreamers watching tonight, let me be clear: You are a part of our story. We will fight for you. We will not walk away,” Kennedy said.

Trump’s remarks on the current immigration system, particularly on the diversity visa lottery and the process for family sponsorship, were met with loud boos from Democratic lawmakers during his address.

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Just one year into President Donald Trump’s term, global approval of U.S. leadership fell to its lowest point in nearly two decades, according to a Gallup poll published Thursday.

Gallup reported the most recent approval rating has plummeted to 30 percent from the 48 percent approval rating in the last year of President Barack Obama’s administration, and is 4 points less than “the previous low of 34%” during the last year of President George W. Bush’s administration.

According to the poll, “disapproval of U.S. leadership increased almost as much as approval declined” with a 43% median disapproval, up 15 points from the previous year.

Gallup conducted interviews between March and November 2017 with approximately 1,000 adults aged at least 15 years old. Residents in 134 countries or areas were asked to rate U.S., German and Russian leadership. The poll’s margin of error is 5 percentage points.

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Just hours after President Donald Trump signed Republicans’ $1.5 trillion tax overhaul into law on Friday, the Joint Committee on Taxation found that the legislation will not fully pay for itself through economic growth, despite GOP leadership’s claims.

In a new report, the committee said that the bill is not close to being deficit-neutral, despite the Trump administration’s and Republican leadership’s claims that the tax cuts in the legislation would completely pay for themselves.

After accounting for macroeconomic effects, the committee estimated that the bill will decrease federal revenue by $1.07 trillion over 10 years, a decrease from the $1.46 trillion price tag the committee initially put on the tax measure.

The committee’s new findings echoed its analysis published last month, only hours before the Senate tax bill vote.

Read the full report here:

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The chaos before the storm?

Thursday night reports from Politico and the Washington Post illustrate the GOP’s worries over “a possible bloodbath in the 2018 midterms” following losses this fall in Virginia, New Jersey and Alabama.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “has said privately that both chambers could be lost in November,” Politico reported. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) told donors that “he fears a wave of swing district Republican lawmakers could retire rather than seek reelection,” per Politico.

According to Politico, those close to Trump said he’s well aware of the GOP’s dangers heading into 2018, although he’s reportedly shrugged off setbacks such as Roy Moore’s loss in the Alabama Senate race.

Trump advisers have reportedly stepped in to warn Trump directly about how the GOP’s congressional majority is at stake heading into midterms.

Within hours of celebrating Trump’s legislative win with the tax bill Wednesday, a late afternoon meeting quickly turned into an airing of grievances over how the White House manages the GOP and handles its strategy heading into midterm season. In attendance were White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, counselor Kellyanne Conway, political director Bill Stepien, marketing and data specialist Brad Parscale, communications director Hope Hicks, and political consultant Corey Lewandowski, according to Politico and the Washington Post.

The Washington Post reported that there are “strains inside the White House among the political affairs team, the RNC and some of Trump’s closest counselors on the outside” who are all “competing for Trump’s ear.”

White House advisers told the Post that Kelly “occasionally grumbled about the RNC and its chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel” and that “the RNC is not doing enough to defend the president and that its communications and political operation need to be improved — with more Trump loyalists installed.”

McDaniel herself has told RNC officials that her members are “sometimes at odds” with the White House, per the Washington Post. This tension became especially evident when Trump agreed to pull RNC support from Roy Moore’s campaign, but ended up backing Moore anyway and forcing the RNC to reverse its stance, the Post reported.

Several White House officials told the Post they doubt any major changes will happen at the RNC, but “there is talk of putting more Trump people at the organization or trying to take more control.”

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A Washington Post report Friday night offers a window into President Donald Trump’s often tense relationship with former Massachusetts governor and frequent critic Mitt Romney.

The tension reportedly even boils down to how Romney’s niece, RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, ended up dropping her maiden name in public settings. Nowadays, it is generally absent in Republican Party news releases and social-media accounts.

WaPo notes a specific request from Trump earlier this year for McDaniel to stop using her maiden name publicly as she took over as RNC Chair. Advisers said the request happened when Trump told others that mention of the name Romney “often prompted boos at his events.”

A senior Trump administration official and adviser told WaPo the President was “pleased” when McDaniel mostly stopped using the Romney moniker.

McDaniel’s maiden name drop is just one piece of the puzzle in the strife between Trump and Mitt Romney. WaPo mentions Trump’s snub of Romney’s reported consideration of a Senate run by indicating that he would support Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) if the senator decided to run for re-election.

Although Romney has yet to announce a Senate run, one conservative strategist who spoke anonymously to WaPo expressed that “if elected, Mitt Romney would take the role as America’s number one ‘never Trumper.’”

Similar sentiments were echoed when sources close to Romney told TPM in October that while he was initially not keen on a Senate run, the retirements of Trump-critical Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Bob Corker (R-TN) and John McCain’s (R-AZ) ongoing health problems have left a void Romney thinks desperately needs to be filled.

The strategist also anticipated that a Romney run would mean “a full-on carpet bombing from conservatives coming his way.”

Earlier this week at a rally for Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, former White House adviser Steve Bannon attacked Romney by alleging he hid behind his religion to avoid in the Vietnam War. However, top Utah GOP lawmakers clapped back at Bannon’s remarks.

Officials at the White House and RNC declined WaPo’s request for comment on the exchange between Trump and McDaniel on dropping her maiden name.

Cassie Smedile, a GOP spokeswoman for McDaniel, called the fuss over the matter “silly” as she pointed to recent fundraiser invites in which the RNC had used McDaniel’s full name, while claiming there was no internal prohibition on using Romney.

The White House also declined WaPo’s request for comment.

“The president has full confidence in the chairwoman who has led the Republican Party toward record-breaking fundraising,” White House spokesperson Raj S. Shah told WaPo.

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A New York Times report Saturday detailed President Donald Trump’s complicated relationship with TV news and his heavy consumption of it.

People close to Trump estimate that he spends “at least four hours a day, and sometimes as much as twice that, in front of a television,” sometimes on mute, “marinating in the no-holds-barred wars of cable news and eager to fire back.”

Trump reportedly begins his day around 5:30 each morning tuning into TV in the White House’s master bedroom. He flips to CNN for news, moves to “Fox & Friends” for “comfort and messaging ideas,” and sometimes MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” because it “fires him up for the day.”

Aides also monitor “Fox & Friends” in the morning “the way commodities traders might keep tabs on market futures to predict the direction of their day.” They’ve learned that if Trump does not immediately tweet about “something memorable” on Fox, he may be saving it for later viewing on his “Super TiVo” recorder and instead watch MSNBC or CNN live—both of which put him “in a foul mood to start the day.”

These habits set the stage for how the “ammunition for his Twitter war is television.”

In Trump’s world, “no one touches the remote control” except for himself and the technical support staff. He reportedly “keeps an eye on scrolling headlines” on a 60-inch screen during dining room meetings.

As he watches the news, he “shares thoughts with anyone in the room, even the household staff he summons via a button for lunch or one of the dozen Diet Cokes he consumes each day.”

However, Trump doesn’t like being viewed as someone who watches so much TV that it “reinforces the criticism that he is not taking the job seriously.”

NYT notes that during his recent trip to Asia, Trump was told of a list of 51 fact-checking questions for this article, including one about his “prodigious television watching habits.” Trump then pushed back on the assertion—and slammed the media while at it.

“I know they like to say—people that don’t know me—they like to say I watch television,” Trump said. “People with fake sources—you know, fake reporters, fake sources. But I don’t get to watch much television, primarily because of documents. I’m reading documents a lot.”

Trump’s constant need to consume TV is reportedly chronic enough that one former top adviser told NYT that he “grew uncomfortable after two or three days of peace and could not handle watching the news without seeing himself on it.”

NYT’s insider look into Trump’s TV news consumption habits comes the same day he railed against CNN and ABC over erroneous reports.

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Another lawmaker joins in the chorus of those vehemently opposed to Trump’s Saturday visit to the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum opening.

Trump’s visit to the museum already began facing backlash in the days leading up to the event, most notably with civil rights movement leader Rep. John Lewis skipping it due to finding the President’s attendance as an “insult.”

Hours before the event, Rep. Al Green (D-TX) went on MSNBC to voice the hypocrisy behind Trump’s visit, citing how the President “has been antithetical to the movements that are in place currently to help African Americans.”

“He’s opposed to Black Lives Matter,” Green said. “He’s opposed to the efforts by the football players to take on police brutality.”

Green also expressed Trump’s attendance as a vanity move.

“He’s just going for the wrong reasons,” Green said. “He can have his photo op, but he won’t have the opportunity to have the credibility of persons who have rich histories in civil rights associated with him to add any degree of legitimacy to his effort.”

This isn’t the first time Green unleashed his fierce opposition to the President. He most recently made headlines with the House overwhelmingly voting to kill his Trump impeachment effort.

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