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

At least one member of President Donald Trump’s inner circle believes Donald Trump Jr. was wrong to set up the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with a Kremlin-linked lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Steve Bannon told author Michael Wolff that the meeting was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic,” according to The Guardian. Wolff spoke to Bannon for a book out next week titled “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which The Guardian obtained early.

“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately,” Bannon told Wolff in reference to the Trump Tower meeting, per The Guardian.

Bannon did not officially join the Trump campaign until about two months after that meeting.

He told Wolff that if the Trump campaign wanted to set up such a meeting, it should take place “in a Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire, with your lawyers who meet with these people.”

Bannon also predicted that special counsel Robert Mueller would focus on money laundering and would snag Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.

“They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV,” he told Wolff, according to The Guardian.

“This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmann first and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to fucking Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr and Jared Kushner,” he added, per The Guardian. “It’s as plain as a hair on your face.”

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Kayla Moore infamously attempted to defend her husband against accusations that he is anti-Semitic by telling the crowd at a December rally that one of the Moores’ lawyers “is a Jew.”

However, at least one Jewish attorney who represented a member of Roy Moore’s family voted for Democrat Doug Jones in the Alabama special election.

Richard Jaffe defended Moore’s son, Caleb Moore, when he faced charges for drug possession in 2016. Jaffe told the Washington Post on Tuesday that he campaigned for Jones and voted for him in the race.

“My reaction to that, irrespective of who they were referring to, was rather shocked,” Jaffe told the Post when asked about Kayla Moore’s comment. “I was certainly disturbed. Not personally, but as a member of a minority.”

Jaffe said it was not clear to him whether he was the attorney to Moore’s wife was referencing in December.

“All I know is that there have been a lot of people and news organizations trying to identify that person, the Jewish lawyer. They haven’t been able to yet,” he said.

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The founders of Fusion GPS, the firm that compiled the dossier alleging ties between Donald Trump and Russia, urged Congress to release their testimony about the dossier to the public in an op-ed published by the New York Times Tuesday night.

“Republicans have refused to release full transcripts of our firm’s testimony, even as they selectively leak details to media outlets on the far right. It’s time to share what our company told investigators,” Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch wrote in the op-ed.

They accused conservatives of pushing “mendacious conspiracy theories” about the dossier and Fusion GPS’ motives for compiling it.

As special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe has intensified, Republicans in Congress have increasingly focused on the Trump dossier and some conservatives have claimed that the dossier was the impetus for the Russia probe. A group of GOP members on the House Intelligence Committee, led by Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA), are reportedly running a probe into the Justice Department’s handling of the dossier, and GOP lawmakers have called for a special counsel to investigate the FBI’s approach with the dossier. Some Republicans in Congress also now believe that the dossier was part of Russia’s disinformation campaign during the presidential election, per the Washington Examiner.

In their op-ed, Simpson and Fritsch pushed back on allegations that the dossier was the catalyst for the Russia probe. They wrote that the dossier was not as central to the FBI’s investigation as some Republicans have claimed and that the firm has been unfairly maligned by Trump’s allies.

“We don’t believe the Steele dossier was the trigger for the F.B.I.’s investigation into Russian meddling. As we told the Senate Judiciary Committee in August, our sources said the dossier was taken so seriously because it corroborated reports the bureau had received from other sources, including one inside the Trump camp,” they wrote.

“The intelligence committees have known for months that credible allegations of collusion between the Trump camp and Russia were pouring in from independent sources during the campaign,” the continued. “Yet lawmakers in the thrall of the president continue to wage a cynical campaign to portray us as the unwitting victims of Kremlin disinformation.”

Read the full New York Times op-ed here.


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President Donald Trump hurled more inflammatory rhetoric at North Korea on Tuesday night, bragging that his nuclear button is “much bigger & more powerful” than Kim Jong Un’s nuclear button.

The President’s tweet followed a comment from Kim Jong Un on Monday that his button to launch a nuclear weapon at the United States is “always on the desk in my office.” That threat stood in contrast to Kim’s attempt to re-open talks with South Korea ahead of the winter olympics.

Trump has dismissed diplomatic efforts with North Korea throughout his presidency and has a tendency to launch threats at the country’s leader. In October, he criticized his own secretary of state’s efforts to hold talks with North Korea, and in November, he warned North Korea not to “try us.”

The President’s tweet touting his nuclear button was just one of a series of angry tweets he sent throughout the day on Tuesday. Back from a trip to his Mar-a-Lago resort, Trump lashed out at the media, Pakistan, and Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

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Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) announced on Tuesday afternoon that he will not seek re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2018.

“Although I will miss serving you in the senate, I look forward to spending more time with my family,” Hatch said in a video published to his Twitter account.

Hatch’s announcement comes after he led Senate Republicans to pass tax cut legislation last month as chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. He is one of the most senior members in the Senate and has served as a senator for four decades.

His retirement clears the way for Mitt Romney to launch a Senate bid. TPM reported in October that Hatch was seriously considering retirement and that he told Romney he would support him should Romney run for the Senate seat. Romney is leaning toward a Senate run, and is especially motivated to do so with the retirements of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), two outspoken Trump critics.

Should he run for Hatch’s seat, Romney could face opposition from Trump allies like Steve Bannon, who reportedly opposes Romney as the GOP nominee for the seat.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders would not say whether Trump will campaign for the Republican nominee for the Utah Senate seat.

“I don’t think we’ve made a determination in terms of campaigning but the President certainly has the greatest and deepest amount of respect for Sen. Hatch and his over four decades of experience in the Senate,” Sanders said at the daily press briefing when asked if Trump was sad to see Hatch retire and if the President would campaign for the GOP nominee for the Utah Senate seat. “He’s particularly thankful for the senator’s leadership and massive effort that he played and the role that he played in getting the tax cut and reform package passed, and the President certainly praises his service and is very sad to see Sen. Hatch leave, and knows that he will certainly be missed.”

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Democrat Doug Jones, who will be sworn in as a senator representing Alabama this week, announced on Tuesday that his chief of staff will be Dana Gresham, a former assistant secretary for government affairs at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Before joining the Obama administration, Gresham worked for several members of Congress on Capitol Hill. With Gresham’s hiring, Jones will be the only Democratic senator with a black chief of staff. Two Republican senators have black chiefs of staff.

Gresham’s hiring comes after advocacy groups urged Jones to hire people of color to lead his Senate staff given that minority voters helped propel Jones to a stunning victory in deep-red Alabama. In a December letter, seventeen groups, including, the  Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the NAACP and the National Urban League, wrote to Jones and asked him to hire at least one person of color to work in one of the top three staff positions in his Senate office.

This post has been updated.

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President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning accused former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin of violating security protocols in the State Department by using her personal email for government work.

Trump suggested that Abedin has not been properly punished for her email use and has been protected by members of the “Deep State” in the Justice Department.

Trump’s tweet about Abedin came not long after “Fox and Friends” promoted a report from the conservative news website the Daily Caller on Abedin’s email use. The report noted that Abedin forwarded State Department passwords to her personal Yahoo email account.

The President used the report on Abedin’s email use to suggest that there are members of the “Deep State” in the Justice Department working to protect allies of Hillary Clinton and hurt the Trump administration. Trump demanded that the Justice Department “act on” former FBI Director James Comey, though he did not specify Comey’s alleged wrongdoing.

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Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, released a video on Monday defending the freedom of the press.

The senator warned that the “republic will not work if we don’t have shared facts.”

“The only way the republic can work is if we come together and defend each other’s rights to say things we differ about,” Sasse says in the video.

Sasse noted that digital media allows people to exist in “echo chambers” with people who agree with them, which he argued is a “recipe for a new kind of tribalism.”

The senator ended the video by saying that “it’s not helpful to call the press the enemy of the American people” in an apparent dig at Trump. Just one day earlier, the President mentioned the “Fake News” media in a tweet.

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Anthony Scaramucci, who served a short stint as White House communications director in July, on Monday pushed back on a Daily Beast report that he could return to the Trump administration.

Scaramucci’s tweet followed a Monday night report in the Daily Beast that Scaramucci has been telling friends that President Donald Trump and other members of the Trump family want him to return to the administration. Three sources close to Scaramucci told the Daily Beast that the former communications director brags that he speaks with the President over the phone.

After his ouster from the Trump administration over the summer, Scaramucci vowed to go quiet. But recently, he has made appearances on cable news to defend the Trump administration.

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President Donald Trump on Friday jumped into the Florida gubernatorial race with a tweet praising Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), a Trump supporter, as a “brilliant young leader” and “true FIGHTER!”

Politico reported earlier in December, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the conversation, that Trump promised DeSantis his support when the congressman flew on Air Force One with him earlier in the month.

According to the report, DeSantis and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) traveled with Trump when the President held a rally in Pensacola, Florida, ahead of the Alabama special election. On the plane, according to Politico, Trump told DeSantis that he would help in the Florida gubernatorial race, and told him, “You’re my guy.”

Over the summer, DeSantis introduced a resolution that would have ended funding for special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe within six months of its passage and would have prohibited the probe from examining any events before June 2015, when Trump announced his presidential campaign.

DeSantis has not formally announced his decision to enter the race, but is expected to throw his hat in the ring, and a political committee has already been set up to raise money from his traditional donors.

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