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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

Mick Mulvaney, the director of the White House’s Office of Budget and Management, told banking officials on Tuesday that while he was a congressman, he had a policy of only talking to lobbyists who donated to his campaign, the New York Times reported.

“We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress,” Mulvaney said at an American Bankers Association conference in Washington, D.C., according to the New York Times. “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”

Mulvaney, who also serves as the interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, added that his main priority as a congressman was his constituents.

“If you came from back home and sat in my lobby, I talked to you without exception, regardless of the financial contributions,” he said, per the New York Times.

When asked about Mulvaney’s comments about lobbyists, Mulvaney spokesman John Czwartacki told the New York Times, “He was making the point that hearing from people back home is vital to our democratic process and the most important thing our representatives can do. It’s more important than lobbyists and it’s more important than money.”

During the speech, Mulvaney also urged members of the banking industry to support his legislative proposals to curb the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s power.

Read the New York Times’ full report here.

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During a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday afternoon, President Donald Trump ignored a question about his comment earlier in the day describing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “very open” and “very honorable.”

A reporter asked what Trump meant when he described the dictator as “honorable,” and in response Trump offered a defense of his negotiations with North Korea ahead of a face-to-face meeting with Kim Jong Un.

“I hope that we will be able to deal in a very open and honorable fashion with North Korea,” he said, rather than addressing calling Kim Jong Un himself “open” and “honorable.”

Trump disputed claims that he has already made concessions to North Korea and said that he would like to see denuclearization by the isolated country. Then, after a long tangent about China and his trade policies, Trump said that he cannot predict what will come of talks with North Korea, again failing to answer the original question.

“So the end result is we’ll see. Maybe good things will happen, and maybe we’re all wasting a lot of time, but hopefully it will be good for everybody concerned,” Trump said.

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President Donald Trump on Tuesday afternoon said that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been “honorable” during discussions ahead of a meeting between the two countries about North Korea’s nuclear program.

“He really has been very open and, I think, very honorable from everything we’re seeing,” Trump said, adding that he knows North Korea has made a lot of promises in the past.

Watch the clip of Trump via MSNBC:

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Prosecutors for special counsel Robert Mueller revealed in court filings Monday night that the FBI agents who raided former Trump campaign aide Paul Manafort’s home in July 2017 were searching for information on the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, among other documents.

In a filing arguing that the FBI’s search warrant for Manafort’s home in Alexandria, Virginia, was valid, prosecutors listed the items they were looking for. On the list was any correspondence with those who attended the Trump Tower meeting, as well as any communication with “Aras and Amin Agalorov.” The publicist for the younger Agalarov arranged the Trump Tower meeting, and the Agalarovs worked with President Donald Trump on the Miss Universe pageant in 2013.

In their searches of Manafort’s home and storage unit, agents were also looking for financial and tax records and communications related to his work in Ukraine. Manafort faces several charges stemming from his lobbying work for a Ukrainian political party, but no campaign official has yet to face charges stemming from the Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer. The meeting pitched to the Trump campaign with a promise of damaging information about the Hillary Clinton campaign as part of Russia’s effort to help Donald Trump.

Mueller’s team also submitted filings that list some of the items they seized from Manafort’s home. The list included several redacted pages, but showed that they searched at least eight email addresses and at least three bank accounts.

They also obtained transcripts and videos of testimony that Manafort and his associate Rick Gates gave in 2015 during a business dispute with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripeska.

The revelations on the FBI’s search warrants came in court filings arguing that the warrants to search Manafort’s home and storage unit were valid. Manafort’s lawyers are asking the judge in the Washington, D.C. case to dismiss evidence obtained from the searches, arguing that they were illegal.

Lawyers for Mueller revealed new details about a Manafort employee who gave an agent access to a storage unit containing Manafort’s business documents. The court filing revealed that agents only viewed the content of the storage unit at that time and learned that the employee’s name was listed on the lease, showing that the employee had the authority to grant agents access. The FBI then obtained a search warrant before seizing any records from Manafort’s storage unit.

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White House officials are telling Republican lawmakers to soften their defenses of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who has faced intense scrutiny over his spending habits, two people familiar with the discussions told Bloomberg News.

Pruitt is under fire for renting a room from a lobbyist, taking several first class domestic flights, building a soundproof booth in his office, and other spending decisions. The EPA chief faces several investigations into his actions both in Congress and the executive branch.

Despite Pruitt’s endless stream of scandals, the White House has mostly signaled that they will continue to stand behind Pruitt, with Trump tweeting earlier this month that Pruitt is “doing a great job.” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that while the White House is reviewing some allegations about Pruitt, but that the President still stands behind him.

However, five Republican lawmakers have now called on Pruitt to resign, and the White House’s message to lawmakers about reeling in their defenses of Pruitt may signal that Trump may eventually relent and ditch his EPA chief.

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Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump, blasted Fox News host Martha MacCallum after she told viewers Monday night that Avenatti “abruptly” cancelled a planned appearance on her show.

On Sunday, Avenatti lamented to CNN that Fox News has not requested his appearance on the network as frequently as CNN and MSNBC but said he planned to give an interview to Fox News this week.

MacCallum pushed back on Avenatti’s assessment that Fox News did not want to interview him and announced Monday night that Avenatti “abruptly cancelled” an appearance on her show scheduled for Tuesday.

Avenatti lashed out at MacCallum on Twitter, objecting to her characterization of his decision to cancel the interview and calling her “classless.” He claimed that he had to cancel the appearance because something came up with a case. Avenatti later suggested he appear on Sean Hannity’s show.

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Fox News host Sean Hannity came out swinging Monday after The Guardian published a report on several companies linked to Hannity that have purchased millions of dollars worth of real estate over the past decade.

“It is ironic that I am being attacked for investing my personal money in communities that badly need such investment and in which, I am sure, those attacking me have not invested their money,” Hannity said in a statement released by Fox News. “The fact is, these are investments that I do not individually select, control, or know the details about; except that obviously I believe in putting my money to work in communities that otherwise struggle to receive such support.”

The Guardian’s report noted that two apartment buildings purchased by the Hannity-linked companies obtained loans backed by the Housing and Urban Development Department. The current HUD secretary, Ben Carson, has appeared on Hannity’s show, but the Fox News host said that he never personally communicated with HUD about the loans.

“I have never discussed with anybody at HUD the original loans that were obtained in the Obama years, nor the subsequent refinance of such loans, as they are a private matter. I had no role in, or responsibility for, any HUD involvement in any of these investments. I can say that every rigorous process and strict standard of improvement requirements were followed; all were met, fulfilled and inspected,” he said in the statement.

Hannity also appeared to take issue with The Guardian’s description of the LLCs used to purchase the properties as “shell companies.”

“The LLC’s are REAL companies that spend real investment money on real properties,” the Fox News host said in a statement.

The Guardian’s report detailing Hannity’s real estate investments followed the revelation last week that he is a client of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer.

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National Security Adviser John Bolton served as the chair of an anti-Muslim nonprofit, the Gatestone Institute, through March 2018, NBC News revealed in a Monday morning report.

Bolton began as chair of the group based in New York in 2013 and only left the month before he started as President Donald Trump’s third national security adviser.

The Gatestone Institute has published articles warning that “jihadists” may be “taking over Europe” and peddled pieces with headlines like “Germany Confiscating Homes to Use for Migrants,” as NBC News noted. The organization has also published pieces insisting that “no-go zones” exist in Europe, a myth parroted by anti-Muslim conservatives.

Bolton himself did not author the anti-Muslim posts on the Gatestone Institute’s website, but he still chose to associate himself with the group.

Read NBC News’ full report on Bolton and the Gatestone Institute here.

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White House counselor Kellyanne Conway bristled on Sunday when CNN’s Dana Bash asked about tweets critical of the White House published by Conway’s husband, George Conway, a prominent lawyer.

“It’s fascinating to me that CNN would go there,” Conway responded when Bash asked about the tweets. “We’re now going to talk about other people’s spouses and significant others just because they either work in the White House or at CNN? Are we going to do that? You just went there.”

Conway said that Bash’s question “was meant to harass and embarrass.”

The White House adviser’s husband deleted a few tweets last month that were critical of President Donald Trump and the administration. He said it was “absurd” that the White House denied plans to fire H.R. McMaster as national security adviser shortly before McMaster was indeed fired. He also published a tweet saying that a report that a lawyer for Trump discussed pardoning Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn “flabbergasting.”

Watch Kellyanne Conway respond to Bash’s question via CNN:

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Fox News host Sean Hannity has links to several shell companies that own millions of dollars worth of real estate throughout the United States, The Guardian revealed in a Sunday night report.

The report detailing Hannity’s real estate holdings comes after it was revealed in court last week that the Fox News personality is a client of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer who is under federal investigation for his business dealings. Following the revelation in court, Hannity said that he sought Cohen’s advice on real estate but insisted the conversations were informal.

Over the past decade, shell companies linked to Hannity spent at least $90 million on more than 870 homes across several states, according to documents reviewed by The Guardian.

Two of the properties the shell companies purchased in 2014 in Georgia were bought using loans insured by the Housing and Urban Development Department, according to The Guardian. The loans were first obtained under the Obama administration, but were increased under the leadership of Ben Carson, who has been a guest on Hannity’s show. Hannity was listed as the principal of the shell companies used to buy those properties, per The Guardian.

Several of the properties bought by the shell companies were foreclosures purchased in 2013 at a discounted rate, according to The Guardian.

Read The Guardian’s full report here.

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