Caitlin MacNeal

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Articles by Caitlin

After bringing on a new attorney to his outside legal team, Joseph diGenova, on Monday, President Donald Trump is weighing additional changes for his team of attorneys handling the Russia investigations, the New York Times reported late Monday.

Trump has told associates recently that he is considering firing Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer who handles the Russia probes and the loudest voice urging Trump to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to the New York Times. Trump told Cobb on Monday that he was not going to fire him, however, per the Times.

John Dowd, a member of Trump’s outside legal team, is considering resigning out of frustration that he cannot control the President, two people briefed on the matter told the New York Times. Dowd was angered by Trump’s decision to hire diGenova, viewing it as a move to minimize his role on Trump’s legal team, two sources told the Washington Post. Dowd told the Times that he has no plans to leave and told the Post that he was happy with diGenova’s hire.

Trump is also still considering hiring Emmet Flood, an attorney who represented Bill Clinton during the impeachment process, according to the Washington Post.

The potential for a shakeup on Trump’s legal team comes as the President escalates his attacks on the Russia investigation. Over the weekend, Trump fired off several angry tweets, using Mueller’s name for the first time. Dowd also called for Mueller’s firing over the weekend and was forced to clarify that he was not speaking for the President in making that statement after first stating that he was. The incident prompted Cobb to issue a statement ensuring that Trump was not considering firing Mueller.

Trump has been complaining recently that his lawyers are not doing enough to protect him, a person with knowledge of Trump’s actions told the Washington Post.

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President Donald Trump plans to hire a new attorney, Joseph E. diGenova, for his outside legal team handling the Russia investigations, the New York Times reported Monday afternoon, citing three people told about the decision.

DiGenova, a Washington, D.C. lawyer and former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, has pushed the conspiracy theory that FBI officials framed Trump. He told the Daily Caller in January that the FBI “created false facts so that they could get surveillance warrants.” DiGenova also served as independent counsel in the Bill Clinton passport investigation in the 1990s.

DiGenova will not play a leading role on Trump’s legal team but will be a “more aggressive player,” according to the New York Times.

Victoria Toensing, DiGenova’s wife, represents former Trump campaign co-chair Sam Clovis; Erik Prince, the Blackwater CEO and informal Trump adviser who reportedly met with a Russian businessman in the Seychelles early last year; and and an informant in the Uranium One conspiracy theory pushed by conservatives.

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After firing off a series of tweets aimed at special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and fired FBI official Andrew McCabe on both Saturday and Sunday mornings, Trump again lashed out at the Russia probe Monday morning.

Trump often fires off tweets on weekend mornings, but his ire toward Mueller was especially apparent this past weekend. He also openly celebrated the firing of McCabe just two days before the FBI official’s retirement benefits would have kicked in, renewing his claims that McCabe was biased toward Democrats.

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When Hope Hicks announced last month that she would resign from her role as White House communications director, she had been contemplating the move for a while, according to a profile of Hicks published by New York magazine Sunday night.

Hicks had considered leaving her prominent role twice before, according to New York magazine. In August 2017, Hicks told Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner that she was unhappy and floated moving to a different role in the administration, but Ivanka Trump and Kushner encouraged her to wait for chief of staff John Kelly to bring changes to the West Wing, per the report. In December 2017, Hicks considered leaving again when her lease in Washington, D.C. was up, according to New York magazine.

Hicks resigned in late February a couple of weeks after key White House aide Rob Porter, whom Hicks was reportedly dating at the time, was ousted from the administration over accusations from his ex-wives that he was abusive.

Read New York magazine’s profile of Hick here.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller sent questions to President Donald Trump recently, around the same time that Trump published angry tweets on Saturday aimed at Mueller and the Russia probe, according to the New York Times.

Mueller’s team sent the questions as a preliminary step in negotiations for an interview with the President, and the special counsel’s office would ask Trump questions in the interview, according to the New York Times.

Mueller’s team and Trump’s attorneys are looking to set the specifics of the interview within the next few weeks, according to Axios. In negotiations with Trump’s lawyers, Mueller has focused on post-election activity, including the firings of James Comey and Michael Flynn, per Axios.

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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Sunday criticized the Trump administration’s decision to fire Andrew McCabe from the FBI just days before he qualified for his full retirement benefits.

“I don’t like the way it happened. He should’ve been allowed to finish through the weekend,” Rubio said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” when asked about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to fire McCabe Friday night.

“That said, that there’s an inspector general report that’s due and work that’s being done, and after he had retired if that report would’ve indicated wrongdoing or something that was actionable, there’s things that could’ve been done after the fact,” the senator added. “But 48 hours to go before retirement, I would’ve certainly done it differently, given the fact there’s still this report out there that hasn’t come in.”

Several Republicans on Sunday criticized Sessions’ firing of McCabe, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing on McCabe’s firing.

Watch a clip of Rubio’s interview via NBC:

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National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster on Friday afternoon brushed off a question about reports that he will leave the Trump administration by noting that everybody will leave the White House eventually.

“Sarah said it straight yesterday. Everybody’s going to leave the White House sometime,” he told ABC News, laughing, when asked if he has plans to leave.

Pressed on whether he’s leaving soon, McMaster replied, “I’m doing my job.”

Several reports recently have indicated that McMaster could be the next top official to leave the White House. The Washington Post reported Thursday evening that President Donald Trump had decided to fire McMaster, but that he will take his time in officially ousting his national security adviser while he lines up a replacement.

Following that report, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted that McMaster will not be leaving at this time.

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Asked about claims that porn actress Stephanie Clifford, who uses the stage name Stormy Daniels, was physically threatened in order to keep quiet about her alleged affair with President Donald Trump, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee on Friday said that the White House does not condone any threats.

“Obviously we take the safety and security of any person seriously, certainly would condemn anyone threatening any individual,” Sanders said.

She would not address alleged threats made to Clifford, however, and referred reporters to Trump’s outside legal counsel.

“I have no knowledge of that situation,” she said, adding that she hasn’t spoken to Trump about the matter.

Clifford’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, told MSNBC Friday morning that Clifford was “physically threatened” to remain silent about her alleged affair with Trump. He later told TPM’s “Josh Marshall Podcast” that he and Clifford both fear for their “physical safety.”

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Listen to the interview on “The Josh Marshall Podcast” »

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing porn actress Stephanie Clifford in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump, told TPM’s “Josh Marshall Podcast” on Friday that both he and Clifford, who uses the stage name Stormy Daniels, fear for their physical safety.

Avenatti told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” earlier Friday morning that Clifford has been “physically threatened,” but he emphasized to TPM later on Friday that he and his client are taking at least some of those threats seriously.

“I think she’s very concerned about her physical safety right now, and I think she has very — or a lot of reasons to be concerned. I likewise am slightly concerned about my physical safety,” Avenatti told TPM’s Josh Marshall. “There’s been a series of death threats that have been received by her and me. There’s a lot of kooky people out there. Many of those threats we laugh off, some of which we don’t laugh off. But regardless of the death threats, or threats of injury to us or our families, we’re not going home. We’re not packing up.”

Avenatti would not go into detail on the nature of the threats when Marshall followed up to ask whether any of the threats appeared to be credible. However, Avenatti said that the intimidation Clifford has faced should be addressed in her upcoming “60 Minutes” interview, set to air March 25, and he indicated that he believes viewers will find the threats serious.

“I think when the interview airs, people are going to hear in detail what happened, and they’re going to judge for themselves as to whether that was some kook, if you will, some wing-nut, that just happened to come out of the blue, or if it was more than that. And I think they’re going to conclude it was certainly more than that,” he said.

Later in the interview, Marshall asked if “surrogates” of President Donald Trump have bullied Clifford or spread false narratives about Clifford.

Avenatti replied that Trump allies have done “both,” but would not indicate who the individuals were or how closely connected they are to the President.

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Former White House aide Steve Bannon, now in Europe touting his “populist-nationalist movement,” said in an interview published Wednesday that he is “fascinated by” Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

Bannon made the comment to Nicholas Farrell, who in 2003 authored a biography of the dictator.

“You put the juice back in Mussolini,” Bannon said, referring to Farrell’s book. “He was clearly loved by women. He was a guy’s guy. He has all that virility. He also had amazing fashion sense, right, that whole thing with the uniforms. I’m fascinated by Mussolini.”

Bannon has described himself as an “economic nationalist” and “a fire-breathing populist.” During his brief stint at the White House, he pushed for President Donald Trump and cabinet officials to roll back regulations and supported Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies.

When Farrell asked Bannon whether his ideology is similar to fascism, Bannon replied, “This is all theoretical bullshit. I don’t know. Populism, fascism — who cares?”

Read the full interview at the Spectator.

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