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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

Michael Cohen fired back Friday on why Michael Avenatti should stay out of his federal court hearing next week.

U.S. Judge Kimba Wood ruled Wednesday that Cohen had to respond to Avenatti’s motion to intervene at a status conference related to the criminal investigation into Cohen’s financial dealings. Wood wrote that Cohen “should include citations to any legal authorities that support his position.”

Citing Avenatti’s “tangential relationship” to the legal dispute, Cohen’s legal team argued in a court filing Friday that Avenatti should be barred from the court hearing due to the “inaccurate statements” he has said about Cohen in violation of court rules.

Although Avenatti publicly released “factually accurate information” on Cohen’s confidential banking transactions, Cohen’s legal team said Avenatti “had no lawful source.”

“Avenatti appears to be primarily focused on smearing Mr. Cohen publicly in his efforts to further his own interest in garnering as much media attention as possible,” Cohen’s lawyers said in the filing, citing Avenatti’s numerous national television appearances.

Shortly after Cohen’s filing, Avenatti responded Friday night on MSNBC that Cohen is only complaining because his team has been making “considerable inroads” on Stormy Daniels’ defamation case against him.

“Of course they want to bar me from the courtroom in the proceeding because we’ve made considerable inroads over the last eight weeks,” Avenatti said. “We’ve disclosed some damaging, accurate information relating to Michael Cohen and his activities. And we’re not going anywhere.”

Read the filing below:

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The U.S. Air Force issued an apology Thursday for a tweet “made in poor taste” that praised a mission against Taliban forces while referencing a viral audio clip.

The now-deleted tweet said that “Taliban Forces in Farah city #Afghanistan would much rather have heard” the “#Yanny or #Laurel” audio clip than the deafening sound of “#BRRRT” from an A-10 jet.

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Former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo said he’s “enjoying watching Rudy Giuliani” despite how he “doesn’t exactly agree with all the strategy and the roll-out here in the last several days” during an MSNBC appearance Monday.

Caputo added that he thinks Giuliani “is going to do a good job for the President.”

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Kanye West, who once rapped about “balding Donald Trump taking dollars from y’all,” seems to have won the President’s approval shortly after referring to Trump as his “brother” in a tweet Wednesday.

West’s latest defense of Trump comes amid a rambling Twitter rant where the rapper has drawn public ire for appearing to endorse Trump.

West, however, has countered that notion by saying he doesn’t agree with everything Trump does and that for people in his life “the idea of Trump is pretty much a 50 50 split.”

Almost two hours after his first Kanye-referencing tweet, Trump quote-tweeted “MAGA!” in response to West’s picture of his signed Make America Great Again hat.

This is hardly the first time West has come to Trump’s defense. West dropped by Trump Tower in December 2016 and posed for a photo-op with the then-President elect for unknown reasons.

After his Trump Tower meeting, West explained in a series of tweets that he discussed “multicultural issues” with Trump, including violence in his hometown of Chicago. The Trump-friendly tweets were deleted a couple months later.

This post has been updated.

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Former House Speaker John Boehner announced Wednesday his newest post-congressional venture: the advisory board of a marijuana corporation.

Boehner, along with former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, will join the advisory board of Acreage Holdings, a “multi-state owner of cannabis licenses” headquartered in New York City.

Bloomberg, which first reported Boehner’s new role Wednesday, noted that Boehner said he was “unalterably opposed” to marijuana legalization nine years ago.

“Over the last 10 or 15 years, the American people’s attitudes have changed dramatically,” Boehner told Bloomberg. “I find myself in that same position.”

In a joint statement Wednesday with Weld, Boehner cited how the “protection of the 10th amendment” that “allowed much to occur at the state level” has not resolved the “many negative implications” of federally classifying marijuana as a schedule one drug.

Despite his new role, Boehner told Bloomberg he’s never tried marijuana. He said his change of heart came when he saw how it helped a close friend deal with debilitating back pain, noticed its potential use as “a treatment for veterans” and how he’s been “studying the problems of the U.S. criminal justice system for years.”

“When you look at the number of people in our state and federal penitentiaries, who are there for possession of small amounts of cannabis, you begin to really scratch your head,” Boehner told Bloomberg. “We have literally filled up our jails with people who are nonviolent and frankly do not belong there.”

Asked about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent move to roll back Obama-era policies allowing state legal marijuana markets to flourish, Boehner said he “almost chuckled to [himself].”

“I don’t know why they decided to do this,” Boehner told Bloomberg. “It could be that the attorney general is trying to force the Congress to act.”

Boehner hopes that his background in politics will help Acreage Holdings navigate “murky legal issues.”

“We’re there to provide advice to Acreage in terms of how they work with state and federal governments, how they work with local governments and advice on what states look promising,” Boehner told Bloomberg.

Bloomberg notes that neither Boehner nor Weld have made a financial investment in Acreage.

Boehner isn’t a stranger to serving on corporate advisor boards. He previously served as a board member for tobacco company Reynolds American Inc. and adviser for global firm Squire Patton Boggs US LLP.

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President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale took to Twitter on Monday to excoriate CNN’s Jim Acosta for “breaking protocol” at the White House Easter Egg Roll.

Parscale tweeted hours later that “the White House should pull credentials” from Acosta because he “yelled questions, as he continues to do at inappropriate times.”

CNN footage of the White House Easter Egg Roll shows Acosta asking Trump about the “NO MORE DACA DEAL!” declaration he tweeted Sunday.

“What about the DACA kids? Should they worry about what’s going to happen to them, sir?” Acosta asked Trump while he was in a crowd of children attending the event.

“The Democrats have really let them down. They had this great opportunity,” Trump said in response to Acosta’s question. “The Democrats have really let them down. It’s a shame. And now people are taking advantage of DACA and that’s a shame.”

“Didn’t you kill DACA, sir? Didn’t you kill DACA?” Acosta yelled back as loud music played in the background.

In his first tweet, Parscale tweeted a story by The Daily Caller. In 2012, a reporter from The Daily Caller made headlines for “heckling” then-President Barack Obama in the middle of his Rose Garden remarks.

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A former Fox News contributor who called the network a “propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration” in his resignation letter last week continued his scathing critique in a Washington Post op-ed Friday.

Retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters reaffirmed in the op-ed that he decided to not renew his contract as Fox News’ strategic analyst due to “the network’s propagandizing for the Trump administration.”

“Today’s Fox prime-time lineup preaches paranoia, attacking processes and institutions vital to our republic and challenging the rule of law,” Peters wrote.

Peters expressed regret for his “error” in “waiting so long to walk away” because he thought he “could make a difference by remaining at Fox and speaking honestly.”

Peters said his troubles with Fox began around Fall 2016 when he was “blocked” from speaking on Russian affairs and the intelligence community — two subjects he said he “could offer real expertise” on.

“I did not hide my views at Fox and, as word spread that I would not unswervingly support President Trump and, worse, that I believed an investigation into Russian interference was essential to our national security,” Peters said.

Peters noted that he was “excluded from segments that touched on Vladimir Putin’s possible influence on an American president, his campaign or his administration.”

In the few months leading up to his resignation, Peters said he became a “disgruntled employee” who “hated walking into the Fox studio.”

Despite his criticism, Peters said that the network “never tried to put words in [his] mouth” nor was he explicitly told he was “taboo on Trump-Putin matters.”

Peters concluded his op-ed by stressing “there are many honorable and talented professionals at the Fox channels” despite how “Trump idolaters and the merrily hypocritical prime-time hosts are destroying the network.”

In an email to TPM Friday, Fox News spokesperson Caley Cronin denied Peters’ allegation that he was “blocked” from discussing certain subjects.

“There is no truth to the notion that Ralph Peters was ‘blocked’ from appearing on the network to talk about the major headlines, including discussing Russia, North Korea and even gun control recently,” Cronin said. “In fact, he appeared across both networks multiple times in just the past three weeks.”

Read Peters’ op-ed in The Post here.

This post has been updated.

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Former House Speaker John Boehner and former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor downplayed the rumors that House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) resignation is imminent, according to a Washington Post report Thursday.

“The idea that he’s going to walk out of there in the middle of the fight is ludicrous,” Boehner, Ryan’s predecessor, told the Post on Wednesday.

Cantor, in a separate telephone interview Wednesday with the Post, said “absolutely not” when asked about the Ryan retirement rumors.

“The notion that Paul Ryan is just going to abdicate and leave is preposterous,” Cantor told the paper.

Boehner and Cantor’s comments were a direct response to remarks from Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), who told a local news outlet Monday that the Capitol Hill “rumor mill” suggests Ryan is “getting ready to resign in the next 30 to 60 days” and that Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) would replace him.

According to a Politico report Thursday, Scalise said that while he “wouldn’t rule out” a bid for speaker if the opportunity arose, the talk surrounding Ryan’s retirement are just “rumors.” For now, Scalise told Politico that he remains focused on “working with President Trump to advance a conservative agenda.”

On Tuesday, Ryan’s spokesperson AshLee Strong told TPM that “the speaker is not resigning.”

The Post noted that both former House GOP leaders find the idea of Ryan resigning to be “blasphemy” largely due to “Ryan’s sense of duty” and “what it would say about the Republican chances in November” for the midterm elections.

While Cantor believes Ryan’s resignation would be a “signal of surrender,” Boehner argued that “Paul’s a stand-up guy” who’s “going to be the leader of the team all the way through the election.”

According to the Post, if Republicans lose the majority come November, Ryan has “little interest” in serving as minority leader.

Both Boehner and Cantor suspect that Ryan will “do what’s best for him, for [his wife] Janna” when it comes to the House Speaker’s post-midterms plans.

This post has been updated.

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President Donald Trump is considering a recommendation from his National Security Council to expel Russian diplomats from the U.S. in response to a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in the UK, according to Bloomberg and CNN reports Saturday.

Bloomberg, citing two people familiar with the matter, reports that Trump agrees with his advisers on the recommended expulsions that are “likely to be announced Monday.” Both people, however, cautioned that his “decision may not be final.”

Aides told Bloomberg that despite Trump being “prepared to act,” he “wants to be sure European allies will take similar steps against Russia before doing so.” CNN also reports that Trump had been waiting to see what European Council members would do.

Since the March 4 poisoning of Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury, the UK has expelled its Russian diplomats and 10 European countries announced on Friday that they would follow suit.

U.S. officials are reportedly “working through the weekend to develop a coordinated response with the Europeans,” Bloomberg reports, following British Prime Minister Theresa May’s gathering of support this week to condemn Russia in light of the poisoning.

Bloomberg and CNN report that advisers reached expulsion recommendations at a National Security Council meeting Wednesday and “honed the proposals” Friday. Bloomberg notes that Trump held discussions Friday with U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, outgoing National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and others.

“The United States stands firmly with the United Kingdom in condemning Russia’s outrageous action,” Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah told Bloomberg on Saturday. “The president is always considering options to hold Russia accountable in response to its malign activities. We have no announcements at this time.”

Last week Trump joined May, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a statement declaring “there is no plausible alternative explanation” to Russian responsibility in the poisoning.

However, the Washington Post reported Tuesday that Trump ignored his advisers’ briefing instructions to condemn the poisoning and to “NOT CONGRATULATE” Russian president Vladimir Putin following his re-election victory.

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President Donald Trump is reportedly mulling over whether to maintain his silence on his alleged pre-presidency affairs with porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, according to a Wall Street Journal report Friday.

WSJ reports that Trump, who has previously denied the allegations, privately discussed with his advisers about the possibility of “publicly” fighting the allegations “on Twitter or elsewhere.”

Both Daniels and McDougal have sued to end nondisclosure agreements preventing them from speaking freely about their encounters with Trump prior to his presidency.

Trump’s advisers reportedly assured him that “there is no sign the allegations are hurting him with voters” and that fighting back publicly “would look inappropriate for the President to engage in a public spat with.”

Despite Trump’s silence on the allegations, his advisers told WSJ that he watches the extensive cable news coverage on Daniels and McDougal “closely.”

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