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

Dana Boente, the former acting attorney general and acting deputy attorney general who now serves as the FBI’s general counsel, spoke to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team several months ago, the Washington Post reported Tuesday night.

Boente told Mueller’s team about his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey about his interactions with Trump and also gave Mueller’s team handwritten notes, per the Washington Post. Boente’s notes and interview with Mueller’s team could help to corroborate Comey’s memos about his interactions with the President, though Boente did not witness the interactions directly.

Notes obtained by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow appear to show notes from Boente saying that Comey told him Trump spoke about the “cloud” of the Russia probe.

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Following reports in December that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team had subpoenaed a bank for records on President Donald Trump, the President told advisers that he wanted to shut down Mueller’s investigation, the New York Times reported late Tuesday.

Reports at the time indicated that Deutsche Bank received subpoenas for records related to Trump and his family. This set Trump off, and he pushed for Mueller to go, according to the New York Times.

Trump backed down off his plan to quash the Mueller probe after his lawyers scrambled to find out more about the subpoenas and learned from the special counsel’s office that the reports were incorrect, according to the New York Times. After the reports were released in early December, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow told the press that the reports were inaccurate.

The President also reportedly tried to fire Mueller in June 2017 until White House Counsel Don McGahn threatened to quit.

Read the entire New York Times story here.

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President Donald Trump fired off several tweets early Wednesday morning insisting that he is “calm and calculated” after several reports on Tuesday detailed Trump’s anger following the FBI raid on his longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen.

Trump publicly fumed over the raid on Cohen’s residences and office on Monday, calling the FBI’s move “an attack on our country,” and has reportedly continued to vent about the Cohen raid and special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe behind closed doors. Though Trump insisted in his tweets that he has been calmly going about his presidential duties, he again lashed out at the FBI for the “unthinkable” raid on Cohen and defended his need to “fight back” against the Russia probes.

Trump’s unhappiness with the Mueller investigation has long been simmering, and the news of the FBI raid on his longtime lawyer and fixer reportedly sent the President over the edge. Two people close to the West Wing told the New York Times that Trump was close to a “meltdown” on Tuesday. White House aides told the Times that they were worried Trump would fire Mueller.

The President told advisers over the weekend that he wanted to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and FBI Director Christopher Wray, according to the New York Times. His frustration with leadership at the Justice Department only grew after the Cohen raid, and he trained his ire on Rosenstein, the DOJ official who oversees the Mueller probe and who reportedly signed off on the Cohen raid.

Trump is now considering firing Rosenstein, a move he’s entertained before, sources told CNN. Aides also told the New York Times that they believe Trump is considering firing Rosenstein.

The President is also reconsidering whether he will sit for an interview with Mueller’s team, a White House official told CNN.

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President Donald Trump met with attorneys Marc Kasowitz and Jay Sekulow on Tuesday following the FBI’s raid of the office, home and hotel room of Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday, citing a source familiar with the matter.

Though the raid was carried out by the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York, the lawyers view the raid as an extension of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, according to Bloomberg News.

Kasowitz (pictured above) left Trump’s outside legal team in charge of the Russia investigations in July 2017, but traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with Trump Tuesday, per Bloomberg News. Sekulow is the lead outside attorney responsible for the Russia probe now that John Dowd has bowed out.

Since the raid on Cohen’s residences and office, Trump has raged against Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who reportedly signed off on the raid.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking at several other meetings that took place in early 2017, in addition to a previously reported meeting between a Trump adviser and foreign individuals, NJ Advance Media reported on Tuesday.

The report did not provide details on who attended the meeting or exactly when the meetings took place. Per NJ Advance Media:

The sources said several of those meetings took place around the same time as another meeting in the Seychelles between Erik Prince, founder of the security company Blackwater, Kirill Dmitriev, the director of one of Russia’s sovereign wealth funds, and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the effective ruler of the United Arab Emirates (also known as “MBZ”).

The Washington Post reported last year that Prince met with a Russian businessman close to Vladimir Putin in January 2017 in an apparent attempt to set up a backchannel between associates of incoming President Donald Trump and Moscow. One of the participants in that meeting, George Nader, is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.

Read NJ Advance Media’s full report on the additional meetings here.

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After the FBI raided the home, office and hotel room of Michael Cohen, the longtime personal attorney to President Donald Trump, the lawyer representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against Cohen and Trump said he felt sorry for Cohen.

“Part of me feels sorry for him,” Michael Avenatti told MSNBC on Monday evening.

Avenatti suggested that Cohen will have to take the fall for Trump and that he will “fold” when faced with federal investigators.

“He’s going to be expected to be the fall guy, the scapegoat. I don’t think he’s going to hold up,” Avenatti said. “I think, when push comes to shove, he’s going to fold like a cheap deck of cards.”

During appearances on several television shows following the raid, Avenatti speculated on the FBI raid and the Stormy Daniels lawsuit. He told MSNBC’s Ari Melber that he believes Cohen will plead the Fifth Amendment if faced with a deposition in the Stormy Daniels case in light of the raid.

He also speculated that Cohen may have lied to the First Republic Bank when he obtained a loan and set up bank accounts to pay Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her silence on her alleged affair with Trump.

“We have substantial reason to believe that when Michael Cohen opened the bank accounts at First Republic Bank for the purposes of wiring this money, that he was not truthful and honest with the bank as to the purpose of those accounts and what they were designed to be used for,” Avenatti said on CNN.

Avenatti also posted several tweets responding to Trump’s claim that the raid was part of a “witch hunt” and suggestion that the FBI ignored attorney-client privilege.

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Tom Bossert will leave his role as White House homeland security adviser, the White House confirmed Monday morning.

“The President is grateful for Tom’s commitment to the safety and security of our great country. Tom led the White House’s efforts to protect the homeland from terrorist threats, strengthen our cyber defenses, and respond to an unprecedented series of natural disasters. President Trump thanks him for his patriotic service and wishes him well,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

The announcement of Bossert’s exit came one day after John Bolton started as national security adviser. Bloomberg News’ Jennifer Jacobs reported that Bolton asked Bossert to resign.

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Michael Cohen, the longtime personal attorney of President Donald Trump, on Monday asked a federal judge in California to dismiss porn actress Stormy Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against him.

Daniels added the defamation complaint to her lawsuit against Trump last month, arguing that Cohen insinuated that she was a liar when he denied that Daniels and Trump had an affair in a February statement. Daniels is suing Trump over the hush agreement she signed barring her from discussing her alleged affair with Trump. She argues that the agreement is invalid because Trump never signed it.

In the motion to dismiss the charge on Monday, Cohen’s lawyer argued that Cohen’s statement was true, noting that Daniels at one point denied the affair with Trump. She has since detailed the alleged relationship and said she only denied the affair due to the hush agreement she signed. The statement was also a “hyperbolic expression,” not defamatory, Cohen’s lawyer argued. He also contended that Daniels did not suffer any damages as a result of Cohen’s statement, and that her income has actually increased due to media attention.

Lawyers for Cohen and Trump have pushed for the lawsuit filed by Daniels to be settled in private arbitration, but Daniels has pushed forward with the complaint. Over the weekend, her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, renewed a motion to depose both Trump and Cohen and to obtain documents from them about the hush agreement and Cohen’s $130,000 payment to Daniels.

The FBI raided Cohen’s office on Monday and seized documents related to Cohen’s payment to Daniels, as well as records pertaining to other topics, according to the New York Times. The FBI obtained a search warrant following a warrant from special counsel Robert Mueller, per the Times.

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Lawyers for Paul Manafort on Monday asked the federal judge overseeing Manafort’s Washington, D.C. indictment to suppress evidence special counsel Robert Mueller’s team obtained by carrying out a search warrant in Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia, home.

Manafort’s lawyers argued that the warrant allowing investigators to “indiscriminately” seize all financial documents and electronic devices from 2006 on was overly broad. In the filing, lawyers for Manafort argued that the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment requires search warrants to be more specific than the one use by Mueller’s team. They also argue that investigators took electronic devices that were beyond the scope of the warrant, such as an iPod.

The warrant attached to Manafort’s filing shows that investigators sought a wide range of financial records, correspondence, evidence of false statements, and electronics used to carry out the alleged offenses.

Investigators were looking for documents related to the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting Manafort attended with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and a Kremlin-linked lawyer, which shows Mueller’s team is investigating that meeting. They were also looking for evidence of campaign contributions from foreign nationals, a crime Manafort has not been charged with. These details indicate that investigators were not only looking into Manafort’s Ukraine work, but his time on the Trump campaign.

The application for the warrant reveals new details about a former associate of Manafort’s who told the FBI about documents in Manafort’s possession. This is the second known Manafort associate to cooperate with investigators — Rick Gates, Manafort’s deputy, reached a plea deal with Mueller’s team earlier this year and is cooperating with investigators. This individual spoke with investigators in July 2017 shortly after making several visits to Manafort’s residence. The FBI raided Manafort’s home less than 10 days after speaking to the former employees about the documents.

Filings submitted over the weekend revealed that one of Manafort’s former employees told FBI investigators about the storage unit and let them into Manafort’s storage unit to view the labels on boxes of documents. Monday night’s filing shows that this former employee also told investigators that Manafort used his home as an office and kept records there, and that he specifically saw Federal Election Commission documents in Manafort’s residence.

The warrant and application also reveals some of the stores at which Manafort spent millions on luxury goods. The original indictment against Manafort alleged that he spent $1.3 million at clothing stores in Beverly Hills and New York and more than $1 million on antique rugs. According to the warrant and the application for a warrant, Manafort shopped at J & J Oriental Rugs in Alexandria, where he spent $360,000. He also shopped at House of Bijan in Beverly Hills and Alan Couture in Manhattan, and he spent $21,000 on a watch, according to the filings.

Manafort faces charges of money laundering, tax evasion, and failure to disclose foreign lobbying in an indictment brought against him in Washington, D.C. The charges stem from Manafort’s lobbying work for a Ukrainian political party. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges, as well as to the charges in a separate Virginia indictment stemming from the same work.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into a $150,000 payment from a Ukrainian steel mogul to President Donald Trump’s foundation in September 2015 in exchange for a talk Trump gave, the New York Times reported Monday, citing three people briefed on the matter.

After the special counsel’s office subpoenaed the Trump Organization earlier this year, the company turned over documents on the payment from Victor Pinchuk to Trump’s foundation, according to the New York Times. The donation, given in exchange for a 20 minute appearance over video stream by Trump for a conference in Kiev, was solicited by Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen, per the Times.

The FBI raided Cohen’s office, home, and hotel room on Monday, but it’s not clear whether this payment was among the reasons for the raid.

In a statement to the New York Times, the Victor Pinchuk Foundation said it asked Trump to speak to help “promote strengthened and enduring ties between Ukraine and the West.” The foundation noted that their donation to Trump’s foundation came “when there were multiple candidates for the Republican nomination for president and it was by no means assured that Mr. Trump would be the Republican nominee in 2016.”

Read the entire New York Times report here.

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