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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

Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA) revealed on Sunday that he will not seek re-election in his district in the suburbs of Philadelphia, which was redrawn to favor Democrats earlier this year.

Costello told the West Chester paper the Daily Local News that he was leaving Congress due to the current “political environment.”

“Whether it’s (President Trump’s rumored affair with porn start) Stormy Daniels, or passing an omnibus spending bill that the president threatens to veto after promising to sign, it’s very difficult to move forward in a constructive way today,” he said. “Plus I think there is a lot of hate out there, from the left especially, and it’s a very angry environment.”

Read the latest reporter’s sum-up (Prime access) on voting rights »

Costello’s decision comes after the state Supreme Court redrew the congressional map in Pennsylvania after ruling that the old map draw by Republicans was unconstitutional. Republicans have fought the decision and attempted to impeach state Supreme Court justices appointed by Democrats.

In an interview later on Sunday, Costello admitted to MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt that the new map was a factor in his decision to retire.

“The combination of what I’ve had to deal with, just in terms of having a young family, what the state Supreme Court did — which I think was obscene — along with the political environment has me — led me to the decision,” he said. “It’s been a very tough decision for me to make, but I think I’m making the right decision.”

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President Donald Trump begrudgingly signed the spending bill Congress passed this week, but he swore that he would never sign something like it again.

“I will never sign another bill like this again,” he said at press availability scheduled at the last minute Friday afternoon.

Trump said that he was only signing the massive spending bill because he wanted to ensure that the military has proper funding and expressed frustration that Democrats were able to secure funding for programs they favor.

“There are a lot of things I’m unhappy about in this bill,” he said.

The President also complained about the rushed nature of the spending deal, which was released Wednesday night, passed by the House on Thursday, and then passed by the Senate early Friday morning.

“You tell me who can read that quickly,” he said.

Trump’s announcement that he signed the bill came after he published a tweet Friday morning threatening to veto it, complaining that it lacked sufficient money for the border wall. Though the White House had stated earlier that Trump would sign the bill, his tweet put the spending bill in jeopardy for a few hours.

Trump also called for Congress to give him the ability to issue a line-item veto, a power that was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the 1990s.

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White House Counsel Don McGahn is considering leaving President Donald Trump’s administration later this year, though nothing is set in stone, Politico reported on Friday morning.

Politico reported, citing sources familiar with McGahn’s thinking, that he has “signaled interest” in returning to the law firm Jones Day, which handles legal matters for Trump’s campaign.

McGahn is eager to leave but his departure may depend on whether he can find a replacement of whom Trump approves, according to Politico. He has expressed a desire to leave by this summer, but may wait until after the midterm elections in November, according to the report.

McGahn’s time in the White House, like the rest of Trump’s administration, has been marked by turmoil related to the federal Russia probe. He reportedly threatened to quit last summer after Trump ordered him to fire special counsel Robert Mueller (and subsequently backed off). He also engaged in a heated debate in September 2017 with White House lawyer Ty Cobb over how much the administration should cooperate with Mueller’s probe.

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Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing Stephanie Clifford, the porn actress known as Stormy Daniels who is suing President Donald Trump, on Thursday sent letters to the Trump Organization and two banks asking them to preserve documents relevant to Clifford’s lawsuit against President Donald Trump.

Clifford is suing Trump and the firm set up by his longtime attorney, Michael Cohen, to pay Clifford in exchange for her silence about her alleged relationship with Trump. She claims in the complaint that the nondisclosure agreement she signed barring her from talking about the alleged relationship is invalid because Trump did not sign it.

Avenatti wrote a letter to the Trump Organization noting links between the company and the payment Cohen made to Daniels. He noted that Cohen reportedly used his Trump Organization email when arranging the payment to Clifford, and that another lawyer who worked with the Trump Organization was involved in a February arbitration between Clifford and the company created by Cohen, Essential Consultants.

“In light of the unmistakable links between you and the defendants in this lawsuit, including, among other things, Mr. Cohen’s affiliation with your organization, and his use of his Trump Organization e-mail account and other office resources to effectuate a transaction flagged by a U.S. bank as potentially suspicious criminal activity, we intend on serving a subpoena for the production of records within your possession regarding this transaction when permitted to commence discovery in this action,” Avenatti wrote in the letter.

He asked for the Trump Organization to preserve a wide range of documents about Clifford, Cohen, Trump and interactions between them.

Avenatti asked First Republic Bank, the bank that reportedly flagged Cohen’s payment to Daniels as suspicious, to preserve records related to the transaction and any correspondence with the Trump organization or family. He also asked City National Bank, the bank that received the payment, to preserve records.

Read the letters:

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In congressional Republicans’ latest attempt to undermine the Russia investigation, House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) on Thursday evening issued a subpoena to the Justice Department demanding documents on the surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server and the decision to fire Andrew McCabe from the FBI.

As Mueller’s investigation into potential ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia intensifies, Republicans in Congress have been increasingly critical of the Justice Department and FBI’s investigative process and accused investigators of operating with bias against Trump. On Thursday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to release their partisan report on Russian meddling, which questions part of the intelligence community’s assessment on Russian election interference.

The subpoena issued by Goodlatte on Thursday followed two previous requests to the Justice Department. Last year, Goodlatte and House Oversight Committee Chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC) requested documents on the Hillary Clinton email investigation. At the time, the two chairmen wanted to know why the FBI made announcements about the Clinton probe but not the investigation into the Trump campaign, and they wanted more information on the decision not to charge Clinton. Goodlatte said that he was also asking for documents on McCabe’s firing since his ouster was ostensibly linked to his actions during the Clinton investigation.

In February, Goodlatte wrote that he was concerned about “potential abuses” of the surveillance process and asked for documents on requests to surveil Trump associates.

In addition to conducting his own investigation of the DOJ’s actions in 2016, Goodlatte has called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to investigate the matter.

“There is evidence of bias, trending toward animus, among those charged with investigating serious cases. There is evidence political opposition research was used in court filings. There is evidence this political opposition research was neither vetted before it was used nor fully revealed to the relevant tribunal,” he wrote in a letter with Gowdy earlier in March.

Read Goodlatte’s Thursday letter and subpoena:

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In an interview that aired on CNN Thursday night, former Playboy model Karen McDougal offered a detailed account of her alleged relationship with President Donald Trump.

McDougal, who is now suing the media group that purchased her life rights in order to suppress the story of her encounters with Trump, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that her only regret about her time with Trump was that he was married.

McDougal said she felt “terrible” about what she did and apologized to Melania Trump, who was married to Trump at the time of the alleged relationship.

She also said she was “disgusted” when she saw the “Access Hollywood” tape of Trump bragging about groping women. She said that Trump was always respectful toward her.

McDougal told Cooper that she voted for Trump in 2016 and that her intention in signing the contract with American Media, Inc. was to keep her story under wraps while furthering her career. However, she said that AMI has not given her as much space in its publications as she was promised, and she feels misled by the deal.

The former model also shared the story of her first intimate encounter with Trump. She told CNN that he tried to pay her.

“After we had been intimate, he tried to pay me,” she said. “I don’t even know how to describe the look on my face, it must have been so sad, because I never have been offered money like that before.”

She told Trump that she’s “not that kind of girl,” and said that when she left, she started crying.

“It really hurt me, but I went back,” she said. “I was crying in the backseat of the car like I said, I got home and I was crying a lot. I felt terrible about myself.”

Watch the interview via CNN:

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President Donald Trump on Thursday affirmed that he would still like to speak with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team for the Russia investigation.

“Yes. I would like to,” Trump told reporters at the White House when asked if he would talk to Mueller, according to a White House pool report.

Trump has said before that he would like to talk to the special counsel’s investigators. In January, he said that he wanted to talk to Mueller’s team as soon as possible and that he would do so “under oath.”

Though Trump has shown willingness to talk with investigators, some members of his legal team have cautioned against it. John Dowd, who resigned from Trump’s outside legal team on Thursday, reportedly out of frustration that the President was not taking his advice, wanted Trump to avoid a sit-down interview.

Trump’s legal team has been engaged in informal negotiations with Mueller’s team about an interview with the President for weeks. They have given the special counsel office descriptions of key events pertinent to the probe, hoping that the information would help efforts to limit any in-person interview with Trump, according to the Washington Post.

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John Dowd, an attorney on President Donald Trump’s outside legal team handling the Russia investigation, resigned on Thursday, according to reports from the New York Times, the Washington Post, and NBC News.

Dowd had been considering leaving Trump’s legal team for a while and ultimately decided to resign because the President was ignoring his advice, a person briefed on the matter told the New York Times. Dowd was also frustrated by Trump’s decision to bring Joseph diGenova onto the legal team and felt the move meant he was sidelined, the Washington Post reported earlier this week.

The Washington Post described Dowd’s departure as a “mutual decision” made when Trump lost confidence in Dowd’s strategy and Dowd became frustrated with changes on the legal team. Dowd felt that it was a bad idea for Trump to sit for an in-person interview with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, while Trump pushed for his ability to do so, as the New York Times noted. Dowd and Trump clashed on legal strategy in recent weeks, according to the Washington Post, though the paper did not specify the disagreement.

It’s not clear who will lead the legal team, which now consists of Jay Sekulow, the team’s spokesman, and diGenova.

Dowd’s resignation closely followed his statement on Saturday calling for Mueller to step down. He first said he was speaking on behalf of the president, only to walk it back and say that he was speaking only for himself.

Trump has also told associates that he is considering firing Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer in charge of the Russia investigation, the New York Times reported earlier in the week. The President has told Cobb that he is safe, however, per the Times.

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The New York Times obtained correspondence between George Nader, an adviser to the United Arab Emirates who met with Trump aides during the transition, and Elliott Broidy, the Republican National Committee’s deputy finance director and a top fundraiser for President Donald Trump.

In a story based on the correspondence published Wednesday evening, the New York Times detailed how Nader and Broidy worked to influence the Trump White House by advocating for the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and pushing the interests of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Nader is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, as the New York Times first reported earlier in March. Mueller is looking at whether Nader funneled money from the UAE to the Trump campaign, per the New York Times. Nader met with a Russian fund manager and Erik Prince, the Blackwater founder and an informal Trump campaign adviser, according to the New York Times. Mueller’s team is also looking at a December 2016 meeting between Nader, UAE officials, and Trump associates, according to CNN.

Read the New York Times’ full report here.

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Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) said on Wednesday that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is not to blame for the $31,000 dining set his agency purchased for the secretary’s suite.

Instead, Tenney blamed the “deep state,” a term paranoid Trump administration officials use to describe career government employees that Trump’s allies believe are working to undermine President Donald Trump.

“Somebody in the deep state ― it was not one of his people, apparently ― ordered a table, like a conference room table or whatever it was, for a room,” Tenney said on WUTQ radio’s “Talk of the Town.” “And that’s what the cost was. Ben Carson tried to — he said, ‘You know how hard it is to turn it back because of the way that the procurement happens?'”

HUD purchased a $31,000 dining set for Carson’s office suite, an order Carson cancelled once the media learned of the big purchase. Carson has said that he had little to do with the process and testified earlier this week that he left the task to his wife.

Asked about Carson’s testimony placing responsibility on his wife, Candy Carson, Tenney said, “I don’t know that he’s blaming his wife.”

H/t Huffington Post

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