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Derick Dirmaier

Derick Dirmaier is the Director of Product and Creative Development at TPM. Contact him at derick@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Timmy

Pence spoke at a New York City event to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the United Nations vote that led to the founding of the state of Israel.

Trump in June backed off a campaign pledge on the embassy move as his Mideast envoy sought to reinvigorate peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The White House said at the time that the president was only delaying — not abandoning — his campaign pledge to relocate the embassy.

With the Trump administration facing a deadline within days on whether to move the embassy, Pence’s comments suggested the administration may be closer to agreeing to a key Israeli wish.

“While, for the past 20 years, Congress and successive administrations have expressed a willingness to move our embassy, as we speak, President Donald Trump is actively considering when and how to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Pence said.

The vice president is traveling to Israel next month and noted that he would deliver an address at the Knesset and visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial during his visit.

Trump has set an ambitious goal of brokering Mideast peace and tapped his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner to help lay the groundwork for direct negotiations. Kushner and other top Trump aides have traveled to the region to meet with Palestinians, Israelis and officials from Arab nations.

“As the president has made clear, our administration is also committed to finally bringing peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Pence said. “As President Trump has said, in his words, ‘We want Israel to have peace.’ And in the recent months, we’ve made valuable progress toward achieving that noble goal.”

WASHINGTON (AP) — After Hurricane Maria damaged tens of thousands of homes in Puerto Rico, a newly created Florida company with an unproven record won more than $30 million in contracts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide emergency tarps and plastic sheeting for repairs.

Bronze Star LLC never delivered those urgently needed supplies, which even months later remain in demand by hurricane victims on the island.

According to an exclusive Associated Press report, FEMA eventually terminated the contracts, without paying any money, and re-started the process this month to supply more tarps for the island. The earlier effort took nearly four weeks from the day FEMA awarded the contracts to Bronze Star and the day it canceled them.

Thousands of Puerto Ricans remain homeless, and many complain that the federal government is taking too long to install tarps. The U.S. territory has been hit by severe rainstorms in recent weeks that have caused widespread flooding.

It is not clear how thoroughly FEMA investigated Bronze Star or its ability to fulfill the contracts. Formed by two brothers in August, Bronze Star had never before won a government contract or delivered tarps or plastic sheeting. The address listed for the business is a single-family home in a residential subdivision in St. Cloud, Florida.

One of the brothers, Kayon Jones, said manufacturers he contacted before bidding on the contracts assured him they could provide the tarps but later said they could not meet the government’s requirements. Jones said supplying the materials was problematic because most of the raw materials came out of Houston, which was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. He said he sought a waiver from FEMA to allow him to order tarps from a Chinese manufacturer and for more time, but FEMA denied the request.

FEMA canceled the contracts Nov. 6, Jones said. The government notified his brother and him a few days later that it would seek $9.3 million in damages unless they signed a waiver releasing the U.S. from any liability. The brothers agreed.

“We were trying to help; it wasn’t about making money or anything like that,” Jones said.

FEMA awarded the company two contracts Oct. 10 to provide 500,000 tarps and 60,000 rolls of plastic sheeting. More than a half dozen others also bid, but FEMA said it could not provide details about their bids.

“The award of a government contract to a company with absolutely no experience in producing the materials sought obviously raises very bright red flags,” said Dan Feldman, professor of public management at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at City University of New York. “I would hope and assume that the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security would begin immediately to take a very hard look at this process.”

A FEMA spokesman, Ron Roth, said the agency’s review process was “somewhat expedited” after Hurricane Maria to respond as quickly as possible to the emergency. But he said the agency did perform its due diligence.

“Submissions from potential contractors are objectively evaluated, and a contract is awarded based on the highest-rated submission,” Roth said.

Such “best value” competitive solicitations take into account past performance and a contractor’s ability to deliver as well as price, said Alan Miller, an attorney who spent 22-years advising federal contracting officials until retiring last year.

“In every circumstance, regardless of the award, whether it’s $400 to the local stationery company for envelopes, or it’s $400 million for a construction contract, the contracting officer is required to make a responsibility determination,” Miller said. “Does this company have the infrastructure; do they have the inventory processes, the production processes, the financial capability, for performing the work?”

Nine bids were received on the first contract for plastic sheeting and eight bids on the second contract for tarps. Roth said Star was determined to be the most qualified.

“FEMA’s initial technical evaluation determined Bronze Star could do the jobs based on their proposals, which confirmed that they could meet the product specifications and delivery dates,” he said.

Kayon Jones, the co-owner of Bronze Star, served in the U.S. Navy from 1997 to 2000, finishing his duty as a seaman storekeeper on the USS Gettysburg, a guided missile cruiser. The contract solicitation gave preference to veteran-owned companies. According to Navy records, Jones was never awarded a Bronze Star, a medal earned by service members who serve heroically in combat.

In an interview, Jones told The Associated Press he picked the name because he has another company with the word star in it. He said his brother, who is also listed on state incorporation documents for the business, served in the Army and is disabled. Army records show Jones’ brother also didn’t receive a Bronze Star, and it provided no evidence of a service-related injury. Richard Jones did not respond to multiple calls and requests through his brother for comment.

“My brother and I, we are both veterans, so we just came up with a name to do business,” Kayon Jones said. “We’re not saying we have a Bronze Star or anything.”

The day after FEMA canceled the Bronze Star contract, it awarded a contract to OSC Solutions Inc. for plastic sheeting for Hurricane Maria victims. The West Palm Beach, Florida-based company has roughly two decades of federal contracting experience and has produced such supplies multiple times.

The FEMA spokesman, Roth, acknowledged the contract problems delayed delivery of tarps to Puerto Rico but said anyone who needs a tarp should now be able to get one.

More than 93,000 tarps have been sent to distribution centers on the island and now are available to cover homes, Roth said. The Army Corps of Engineers’ “Blue Roof” program has provided 11,000 more reinforced tarps installed on homes by contractors.

To date, roughly $88 million in federal money has been awarded to four contractors, including Bronze Star, for tents and tarps, records show. The rescinded contracts with Bronze Star account for 35 percent of the total.

Michael Byrne, Puerto Rico’s FEMA coordination officer, estimated that at least 60,000 blue roofs are needed across the island. About 350 are installed each day, though he said that is expected to increase.

“One of the limiting factors is the availability of the material,” Byrne said.

WASHINGTON (AP) — North Korea abruptly ended a 10-week pause in its weapons testing Tuesday by launching an unidentified missile into the sea, South Korean, Japanese and U.S. officials said, in a move that shuts the door for now on the possibility of a diplomatic opening.

Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the U.S. and South Korean militaries were analyzing the launch data from the missile, which was fired from an area in Pyongsong, a city close to North Korea’s capital. In response, it said South Korea conducted a “precision-strike” drill, without elaborating.

Map shows missile ranges of North Korea’s arsena; 2c x 2 3/4 inches; 96.3 mm x 69 mm;

The launch is North Korea’s first since it fired an intermediate range missile over Japan on Sept. 15, and appeared to shatter chances that the hiatus could lead to renewed diplomacy over the reclusive country’s nuclear program. U.S. officials have sporadically floated the idea of direct talks with North Korea if it maintained restraint.

A week ago, the Trump administration declared North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, further straining ties between governments that are still technically at war. Washington also imposed new sanctions on North Korean shipping firms and Chinese trading companies dealing with the North.

North Korea called the terror designation a “serious provocation” that justifies its development of nuclear weapons.

Early Wednesday in Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga echoed the claims from Seoul that North Korea fired an unidentified missile. He said it landed in the Sea of Japan, possibly within 200 nautical miles of the Japanese coast. He called the provocation unacceptable and said Tokyo has filed a strong protest.

In Washington, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted that President Donald Trump was briefed on the situation “while missile was still in the air.”

Trump didn’t address the launch when asked about it while visiting the Capitol on Tuesday.

The Pentagon’s initial response was to call it a “probable” missile launch. Col. Rob Manning, a spokesman, said the Defense Department assessing the situation and has no further information to provide, including what kind of missile may have been launched.

Trump has ramped up economic and diplomatic pressure on the North to prevent its development of a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike the U.S. mainland.

Tuesday’s launch came as the U.S. discussed with South Korea next steps on North Korea. The South’s top nuclear negotiator Lee Do-hoon was in Washington for talks with his Joseph Yun, the U.S. envoy for North Korea policy.

The focus of former national security adviser Mike Flynn’s tangle of business dealings with Turkey is one man: Fethullah Gulen, an ailing septuagenarian Muslim cleric who lives in a Pennsylvania compound.

Plenty of ink has been spilled about the hundreds of thousands of dollars Flynn received to produce negative PR materials about Gulen and about Flynn’s alleged discussions with Turkish officials about forcibly removing him from the U.S.

What’s received less attention is why Turkey would take such extraordinary steps to take down the aging cleric, and why President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government thought Flynn would be able to facilitate them.

The former top U.S. intelligence official’s well-compensated work for Turkey is just one tentacle of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sprawling investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. But it speaks directly to the central question of how foreign actors may have attempted to influence the actions of top Trump campaign figures.

TPM spoke to five Turkey experts to get a sense of Erdogan’s anti-Gulen crusade in the U.S., and how Flynn fit into those schemes.

Why is Turkey so desperate to discredit Gulen?

Flynn is hardly the first American that Turkey has used to lend credence to Erdogan’s campaign against the man he believes orchestrated a failed July 2016 coup against him. In the past few years, Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has launched a lobbying blitz in the U.S. aimed at discrediting Gulen and his Hizmet, or “service,” movement.

Firms like Amsterdam & Partners and Flynn’s consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, receive lucrative contracts to paint the cleric—who promotes a moderate, pro-market version of Islam through a worldwide network of well-funded schools and charitable institutions—as a suspect actor bent on undermining Turkey’s democracy. This effort has been aided by anti-Islam groups like ACT! for America and outlets like Breitbart News, which routinely characterize Gulen as the head of a “shadowy and corrupt cult.

Aaron Stein, a Turkey expert at the non-partisan Atlantic Council, told TPM that Berat Albayrak, Erdogan’s son-in-law and Turkey’s energy minister, is “behind” these lobbying efforts. Albayrak attended a Sept. 19, 2016 meeting with Flynn Intel Group, where discussions of removing Gulen from the U.S. were reportedly first raised.

“There is documented evidence that he oversees efforts within the United States through cut-out organizations to funnel money to lobbyists and PR firms who try to change the narrative on Gulen,” Stein said of Albayrak. “That definitely happens.”

Experts caution that there are legitimate concerns about financial misdeeds by some Gulen-linked institutions and about the secretive ways in which the cleric leverages political influence in Turkey through his network. But they say that Erdogan’s crusade against Gulen, who has lived in the U.S. since 1999, is primarily about self-preservation.

The two men were political allies until about 2010, when Erdogan’s consolidation of power prompted what former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey James Jeffries described to TPM as a “series of ever more dramatic confrontations.” By 2013, these involved politically-motivated prosecutions of Erdogan allies by Gulen-linked prosecutors and a subsequent purging of Gulenists from the judiciary.

Why hasn’t the U.S. extradited the cleric?

In an Election Day editorial in The Hill penned on behalf of his Turkish lobbying client, Flynn described Gulen as a “shady Islamic mullah” behind the coup attempt who should immediately be turned over to “our NATO ally.”

This closes mirrors Turkey’s stance on how “perplexing and deeply frustrating” it is that the U.S. has not yet turned over the man who “masterminded” the effort to overthrow Erdogan’s government.

The actual narrative is not so clear. Experts told TPM evidence that the U.S. Justice Department helped gather suggests that Gulenists played a significant role in the coup, but that Turkey has failed to prove that he was personally behind it. The attempted putsch was most likely the work of a coalition of groups, they said.

David Tittensor, an Australian religion professor who authored a book on the Gulen movement, said the evidence “didn’t meet the standard to initiate an extradition and warrant process” through the U.S. State Department and judicial system. Some of the alleged Gulen-linked coup plotters say they were tortured or that their confessions were forced, Tittensor noted.

He said the impasse with the DOJ could have prompted officials to hold secret talks with Flynn.

“Possibly the fact that these kind of talks were happening speaks to the lack of an evidence base that has been provided thus far and that they were looking for an alternative in order to get what they want, which is to get Gulen out of the U.S. and back to Turkey,” Tittensor said.

Flynn pushed Turkey’s line on Gulen in exchange for cash

Flynn was forced to belatedly register as a foreign agent earlier this year for accepting $530,000 from Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin to produce negative PR materials about Gulen.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly investigating Flynn Intel Group’s work for Alptekin, who has close ties to Erdogan’s government. Mueller’s team is also reportedly probing two alleged meetings in New York between Turkish officials and Flynn about forcibly removing Gulen from the U.S.

Former CIA Director Jim Woolsey told the Wall Street Journal that he was startled by the plans to “whisk” Gulen away that he heard at the first meeting on Sept. 19, 2016, which was attended by Alptekin, Turkey’s energy and finance ministers, and members of Flynn Intel Group.

Discussions of a $15 million payout for Flynn and of possibly “transporting Mr. Gulen on a private jet to the Turkish prison island of Imrali” did not unfold until the second discussion in December, according to the Journal’s reporting.

Both sides have stridently denied that any such discussions occurred.

What if Turkey gets its wish?

Gulen is currently the “pawn in the middle” of U.S.-Turkey relations, as George Washington University international affairs professor Scheherazade Rehman put it, and it’s not clear that Erdogan wants his return as much as he professes to.

For one, Gulen’s presence here provides negotiating leverage, as Jeffries, the former U.S. ambassador, pointed out.

“It gives them a good talking point to put the U.S. under pressure,” Jeffries said. “And the Turks like that, that’s how they do foreign policy.”

Though Jeffries said the Turkish people and government do want answers for the coup, which resulted in the deaths of some 300 people, other experts noted that Gulen’s return through traditional legal channels, which remains unlikely, could undermine the Erdogan administration’s account of how the coup unfolded.

“If he comes back then that will force an actual trial,” said Josh Hendrick, a Loyola professor on Islamic political identity who wrote a book on Gulen. “It will force a ‘prove it.’ All the inconsistencies in the narrative could come out.”

Erdogan has used the coup as cover to fire and jail his political opponents and consolidate power.

Did Flynn try to advance the extradition?

Not long after Trump and Flynn entered the White House, the FBI was reportedly asked to conduct a new review of Turkey’s extradition request. Though NBC reported that the FBI turned it down because there was no additional evidence to alter the Obama administration’s assessment of it, it remains unclear if Flynn or State Department officials made the request.

When questioned on the matter by House Judiciary Committee member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) at a hearing this week, Attorney Jeff Sessions said only that he knew the “Turkish government continued to press the federal government” on Gulen’s return and that though his department “had a role to play in that,” he was unable to discuss it.

The Atlantic Council’s Stein said it was not necessarily surprising that a new administration would want a review of such a sensitive situation.

“What is noteworthy is the reasons why they asked for it,” he said. “Was Mike Flynn on the take and was he fulfilling a contractual quid pro quo?”

Correction: This piece has been updated to correct an editing error. Erdogan, not Gulen, has used the coup as cover to fire and jail his political opponents and consolidate power.

Republicans in Congress and President Trump are actively exploring a new target in their ongoing campaign against the Affordable Care Act: the individual mandate.

For weeks, Trump has been pushing GOP legislators to include a provision repealing the mandate in their already-unwieldy tax reform package, and while the policy is not yet in the text of the bill, Republicans in the House and Senate are fighting to insert it. Should that fail, the Trump administration reportedly has an executive order in the works to dismantle as much of the mandate as possible—though he wouldn’t be able to completely eliminate it with a stroke of his pen.

Regardless of whether mandate is undermined by legislative or executive action, doing so would further roil the Affordable Care Act’s individual marketplace, which has already been kneecapped by a host of budget and policy changes this year. It would sow more chaos in an open enrollment period already hampered by misinformation public confusion.

Here are five points to keep in mind as the mandate becomes the next piece of Obamacare to come under fire:

Read More →

The full transcript of Carter Page’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee released Monday night sheds some new light on his contacts with Russian officials and how he relayed those conversations to the Trump campaign.

Though much of what Page discussed had previously been leaked to the press or discussed by other Trump campaign advisers, the 243-page transcript yielded some key new information.

For the first time, Page acknowledged that he had a “private conversation” with Russia’s deputy foreign minister during a July 2016 trip to Moscow. He also told lawmakers that he communicated with members of the Trump campaign about what he would say in a speech he delivered during that visit, contradicting previous statements about making the trip in his capacity as a private citizen.

The transcript of Page’s testimony, which was made public by his request, also lays bare the frustration felt by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers who tried to keep the questioning on track.

Some highlights from Page’s meandering, nearly eight-hour-long interview are below.

Page confirmed Trump campaign altered Ukraine platform

The Trump campaign has quibbled about the extent of its involvement in softening the language on Ukraine in the GOP platform during the Republican National Convention, but Page confirmed that staffers were directly involved.

“As for the Ukraine amendment, excellent work,” Page wrote in a July 14, 2016 email to fellow Trump aide J.D. Gordon and several others.

Page said the email reflected his “personal opinion” and denied personally having any involvement in the change, which removed language promising that the U.S. would provide “lethal defensive weapons” to the Ukrainian army to fend off Russian military intervention. The revised text instead offered “appropriate assistance.”

Though Gordon and others on the campaign have strenuously denied involvement, Texas delegate Diana Denman previously told TPM that he halted the national security committee’s discussion of her original amendment to “clear it with New York.” Denman said this was the only amendment set before the committee that she recalled Trump staffers intervening to table.

Like Papadopoulos, Page seemed to overstate his insider knowledge

Like George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian connections, Page seemed to overstate his insider knowledge about Russian politics.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) pressed Page to account for an email he sent after his July 2016 trip to deliver a speech at Moscow’s New Economic School promising campaign staffers “some incredible insights and outreach” he received from “a few Russian legislators and senior members of the Presidential administration here.”

It turns out those “insights” were gleaned from watching TV.

Page told Schiff that all he meant to convey in that email was that he would pass on “general things that I learned from listening to speeches” and “watching Russian TV in my few days in Moscow.”

Schiff replied, “This is not what you conveyed to the campaign.”

Page also notified campaign staffers that he would “speak alongside the chairman and CEO of Sberbank,” one of Russia’s largest financial institutions, during that visit. He told the committee that the Sberbank CEO “didn’t actually show up at all.”

Page proposed having Trump travel to Russia

In another similarity to Papadopoulos, Page thought it would be a good idea for Trump to travel to Russia in the middle of the campaign, despite scrutiny of the GOP candidate’s friendly rhetoric towards Russia.

In a May 16, 2016 email to Gordon and fellow campaign adviser Walid Phares, Page suggested that Trump could “raise the temperature a little bit” by traveling to Russia in his stead, and that he would be “more than happy to yield this honor to him.”

Page told the committee he did not know that Papadopoulos was separately pushing a Trump trip to Russia, and that he was “envisioning” a visit akin to Barack Obama’s well-received 2008 trip to Germany as a Democratic presidential candidate.

Lawmakers from both parties seemed frustrated by the rambling conversation

Throughout the interview, Page repeatedly provided more information than lawmakers requested or insisted that he’d had no contact with a certain individual only to double-back and say he may have actually met them in passing. These rhetorical tics seemed to grate on his questioners.

Schiff, in particular, repeatedly told Page that he was “not asking” for the answers he provided. He chided the former Trump aide for responding to questions about his Russia contacts with answers about Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and Page’s own writings on lifting U.S. sanctions against Russia.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was similarly withering in an exchange in which he asked Page to define the words collusion, coordination and conspiracy. When Page replied that all seem to refer to “things you shouldn’t be doing,” Gowdy cracked that “you can coordinate lunch,” and continued to push the point until Page provided straight answers.

CNN reported that lawmakers described Page’s testimony as occasionally confusing and contradictory.

The campaign tried to distance itself from Page

Towards the end of his marathon testimony, Page revealed that the Trump campaign and transition tried to sever ties with him early this year as the FBI investigation was ramping up.

Page divulged that he received letters in January from the campaign’s law firm, Jones Day, instructing him not to “give the wrong impression that you’re part of the administration or the Trump campaign.”

Page said he had never misstated his relationship to the campaign, and only spoke to the media “to try to clear up this massive mess which has been created about my name.”

Trump staffers apparently tried to cut off these conversations with the press. Page said he had his first and only conversation with Steve Bannon in mid-January, when the former White House chief strategist contacted Page to tell him it was “probably not a good idea” for him to appear on MSNBC.

Page told lawmakers he understood Trump staffers’ concerns and lamented that he was “the biggest embarrassment surrounding the campaign.”

House Republicans unveiling their 429-page tax reform bill Thursday morning promised it would bring simplicity and prosperity to all.

“On net, everyone’s better off,” Rep. David Brat (R-VA) enthused to reporters in the hallway outside the room where lawmakers were briefed on the bill.

But like the current tax system, the House GOP plan would have winners and losers.

The draft released Thursday lowers the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent, nearly doubles the standard deduction, and keeps a loophole for hedge fund managers that President Trump had promised to eliminate. 

To partially make up the cost, the proposal gets rid of a host of deductions—including those for medical expenses, moving expenses, hiring veterans, investing in poor neighborhoods, alimony, employee achievement awards, adoptions, the interest paid on student loans, most electric cars, and state and local taxes—while putting new limits on several others, like the interest paid on home mortgages.

Rep. Dan Donovan (R-NY) urged his colleagues and the press not to sweat these details. “I’m looking at the plan overall,” he said. “If you pick out a part and only look at one thing, one thing could look great, but the elimination of other things might diminish the importance of that. Or something might look bad, but when you see the other benefits people get, it could be okay.”

Yet a firestorm of criticism began to ignite as soon as details of the plan began to leak out earlier this week, with major outside organizations on the left and right announcing their opposition to the bill. Here are the five most controversial provisions tucked into the text that could doom Republicans’ top legislative goal.

Read More →

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye on Tuesday said he believed President Donald Trump’s use of the name “Pocahontas” (D-MA) is an ethnic slur.

“I feel that the way it was used, yes, it was,” Begaye told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, who had asked if he considered the attack an “ethnic slur.” “Pocahontas is a real person. It’s not a caricature, it’s not someone that’s just made up. This is a person, a young lady, a Native American woman that played a critical role in the life of this nation, and to use that person in that way is unnecessary and it’s being culturally insensitive.”

The White House has said assertions that the attack is racist are “ ridiculous.

Three Navajo Code Talkers — World War II veterans Fleming Begaye Sr., Thomas Begay and Peter MacDonald — stood beside Donald Trump Monday as he called Warren “Pocahontas,” an attack referencing her previous claims, without evidence, that she had Native American heritage.

Those claims were first used to attack Warren in her bid for the Senate in 2012. Trump revived the attack in 2016, adding “Pocahontas,” in 2016.

“This was a day when the Code Talkers were being honored,” Begaye said on CNN. “They’re war heroes that helped put an end to the war. We are enjoying freedom today as it is because of their work, because of what they did, their sacrifices. Some of them did not return. This annotates that last sentence Some of those that were there with us in the oval office yesterday, they were injured there on the islands when they were there in the campaign.”

“This was a day to honor them, and to insert something like that, the word Pocahontas as a jab to a senator, that belongs on the campaign trail. It doesn’t belong in the room when our war heroes are being honored.”

He added later: “When you’re in the midst of great heroes, you need to respect them and leave everything else aside and just honor them and thank them.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, added his voice shortly afterward:

This post has been updated.

Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci resigned from his position on the advisory board for the Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy on Tuesday after threatening to sue a student and student-run newspaper over a critical op-ed.

“This morning, Anthony Scaramucci informed The Fletcher School that he is resigning his position on the school’s Board of Advisors, effective immediately. We thank Mr. Scaramucci for his past service to Tufts and wish him well,” Admiral James Stavridis, the dean of the Fletcher School, said in a statement Tuesday.

More than 300 students and faculty members have signed a petition urging the school to remove Scaramucci from the advisory board. The school was set to discuss the petition with Scaramucci at a public event Monday, University spokesman Patrick Collins told the Boston Globe Monday.

However, the school postponed the event when Scaramucci threatened to sue The Tufts Daily, the student newspaper at the university, and Camilo A. Caballero, a graduate student who wrote an op-ed criticizing Scaramucci.

Scaramucci’s lawyer claimed that the op-ed included “false and defamatory allegations of fact” and threatened to sue The Tufts Daily and Caballero unless the op-ed was retracted.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Tuesday said they will not attend a “show meeting” at the White House after President Donald Trump blasted them on Twitter.

“Rather than going to the White House for a show meeting that won’t result in an agreement, we’ve asked Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan to meet this afternoon,” Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement, referring to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Majority Leader Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Trump is scheduled to meet with congressional leaders Tuesday afternoon to work on a deal to pass a bill that would fund the government and prevent a shutdown early in December. He blasted “Chuck and Nancy” in an early morning tweet the Democratic leaders cited.

“I don’t see a deal!” Trump posted.

“Given that the President doesn’t see a deal between Democrats and the White House, we believe the best path forward is to continue negotiating with our Republican counterparts in Congress instead,” Schumer and Pelosi said.

The Democratic leaders said they “don’t have any time to waste.”

“If the President, who already said earlier this year that ‘our country needs a good shutdown,’ isn’t interested in addressing the difficult year end agenda, we’ll work with those Republicans who are, as we did in April,” they said. “We look forward to continuing to work in good faith, as we have been for the last month, with our Republican colleagues in Congress to do just that.”

In a joint statement, Ryan and McConnell fired back and issued an ultimatum.

The Republican leaders said that Democratic lawmakers are “putting government operations, particularly resources for our men and women on the battlefield, at great risk by pulling these antics.”

“We have important work to do, and Democratic leaders have continually found new excuses not to meet with the administration to discuss these issues,” they said. “There is a meeting at the White House this afternoon, and if Democrats want to reach an agreement, they will be there.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that Schumer’s and Pelosi’s refusal to come to the meeting was “disappointing.”

“The President’s invitation to the Democrat leaders still stands and he encourages them to put aside their pettiness, stop the political grandstanding, show up and get to work,” she said.

Sanders said the meeting “will proceed as scheduled with Speaker Ryan, Leader McConnell and administration officials.”

“If the Democrats believe the American people deserve action on these critical year-end issues as we do, they should attend,” she said.

This post has been updated.

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