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. John Conyers (D-MI) has no plans to resign right now and will fight the numerous allegations of sexual misconduct he faces, the congressman’s attorney told the Washington Post.

“The congressman is a very deliberate person and doesn’t want to make a hasty decision,” attorney Arnold Reed told the Washington Post on Wednesday. “These allegations are untrue, and Mr. Conyers wants the public to know they are untrue. We will weigh and continue to assess his options.”

Over the past two weeks, allegations of sexual misconduct from several former staffers to Conyers have come to light. BuzzFeed News first reported last week that Conyers’ settled a complaint from a former staffer who alleged she was fired for refusing the congressman’s sexual advances. Since then, several more women have come forward with stories of inappropriate touching and unwanted sexual advances from Conyers.

A few of Conyers’ colleagues in Congress have publicly called for him to resign, and the congressman has reportedly faced pressure in private to step down, but most Democratic members who have spoken publicly on the topic have said that Conyers must make the decision himself.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), has reportedly urged Conyers to resign from Congress behind closed doors, but she and other Democratic leaders in the House have declined to publicly call for Conyers to step down.

“Calling for the resignation of someone does not actually create the resignation,” Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), the House Democratic Caucus chairman, told CNN on Wednesday. “So, the reality is we have a process in place and we are calling for an expedited process with the Ethics committee.”

Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus, which Conyers helped found, have also reportedly urged Conyers in private to leave Congress. However, CBC Chair Cedric Richmond (D-LA) has stated publicly that the caucus will leave the decision up to Conyers.

Though Conyers has so far resisted pressure to resign, he did step down as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. Two sources close to Conyers told Detroit television station WDIV that the congressman has decided against running for re-election in 2018. However, Reed denied to the Washington Post that Conyers has decided not to run again.

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After President Donald Trump on Wednesday morning retweeted several anti-Muslim videos from a far-right British leader, a few Republican senators publicly criticized Trump’s endorsement of the unverified videos.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a vocal Trump critic, simply called the retweets “highly inappropriate.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told MSNBC that while he believes Trump was trying to highlight the threat of terrorism, the decision to retweet the videos was “not helpful.”

“To me the effect is that you’re taking a fringe element in British society and giving it the presidential seal. And David Duke was happy with it. So anything that makes David Duke happy is probably a bad day,” Graham said.

Asked again about the retweets, Graham said that retweeting the anti-Muslim videos “empowers fringe elements on the right who have been associated with religious bigotry.”

“And the last thing you want to do in this war is make it about the religion itself. Radical Islam is the enemy. Most people in the faith are the key to winning this war,” he said.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) suggested to Bloomberg News’ Sahil Kapur that Trump should not have supported videos from the leader of the far-right group Britain First.

Britain First’s Jayda Fransen tweeted videos (two of which have been debunked) purporting to show Muslim people committing violence, and Trump retweeted then early Wednesday morning.

The British government was quick to condemn Trump’s retweets of the videos.

“Britain First seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions,” a spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement. “They cause anxiety to law-abiding people. British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right.”

Despite quick condemnation from the British government, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump’s decision to retweet the videos.

“The threat is real, and that’s what the President is talking about, is the need for national security, the need for military spending, and those are very real things, there’s nothing fake about that,” she told reporters Wednesday.

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The woman who filed a complaint with NBC News against Matt Lauer on Monday night, accusing him of “inappropriate sexual behavior,” met with the New York Times on Monday afternoon, the paper revealed Wednesday morning.

The woman was not ready to tell her story publicly at that time, according to the New York Times.

Both the New York Times and Variety have been working on stories about sexual harassment allegations against Lauer for several weeks, as CNN’s Brian Stelter reported shortly after NBC News announced that Lauer had been fired. Neither outlet has published the results of their investigations.

Civil rights lawyer Ari Wilkenfeld told the New York Times that he was representing the woman who filed the complaint with NBC News that prompted Lauer’s firing. He would not name his client but confirmed that they met with NBC officials Monday.

“My client and I met with representatives from NBC’s Human Resources and Legal Departments at 6 p.m. on Monday for an interview that lasted several hours. Our impression at this point is that NBC acted quickly, as all companies should, when confronted with credible allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace,” Wilkenfeld told the New York Times in a statement. “While I am encouraged by NBC’s response to date, I am in awe of the courage my client showed to be the first to raise a complaint and to do so without making any demands other than the company do the right thing.”

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Just a few minutes after NBC’s “Today” co-host Savannah Guthrie announced live on air that the network had fired Matt Lauer due to a complaint of “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace,” President Donald Trump fired off a tweet reacting to the revelation.

Trump, who has been accused himself of sexual misconduct by several women, simply reacted with “Wow” before accusing the NBC of producing “fake news.” The President also suggested that something in NBC News Chair Any Lack’s past warrants further scrutiny, though it’s not clear if Trump was accusing Lack of peddling lies or of inappropriate behavior.

Trump followed up later to suggest that Phil Griffin and Joe Scarborough also be fired from NBC News, again not offering specifics on why they should be let go.

His tweet about Lauer and NBC News came after a tweet celebrating CNN’s decision not to attend the White House Christmas party.

Trump has pounced on sexual misconduct allegations against Lauer and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), but he has stood by Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore as he faces allegations of sexual misconduct from several women. Trump has questioned whether Moore’s accusers are telling the truth in public statements, but he has not reacted to the revelations on Twitter.

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NBC News announced Wednesday morning that the network fired “Today” host Matt Lauer following a complaint of “inappropriate sexual behavior” filed on Monday night.

“Today” co-host Savannah Guthrie read aloud a memo from NBC News Chair Andy Lack on air explaining the decision to terminate Lauer’s contract with the network.

“On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment,” Lack said in the memo. “While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”

Guthrie said that NBC employees learned of the news on Wednesday morning and said that they are “devastated” and still “processing” the news. She said she is “heartbroken” for both Lauer and the colleague who came forward with the complaint.

“We are grappling with a dilemma that so many people have faced these past few weeks. How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly? And I don’t know the answer to that,” Guthrie continued. “But I do know that this reckoning that so many organizations have been going through is important, it’s long overdue, and it must result in workplaces where all women, all people feel safe and respected.”

In the memo, Lack added that NBC News is “deeply saddened by this turn of events.”

“But we will face it together as a news organization – and do it in as transparent a manner as we can,” he said.

NBC News terminated Lauer before any allegations became public. However, CNN’s Brian Stelter reported on “New Day” that the New York Times and Variety have been investigating Lauer.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and members of the Congressional Black Caucus have privately urged Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) to resign from Congress given the recent allegations of sexual misconduct aired by several former Conyers staffers, according to several reports out Tuesday evening.

Pelosi has not publicly called on Conyers to step down, though she said Monday that she met with one of his accusers and that she believes her. Yet, she has urged him in private to step down, according to the Washington Post and the Associated Press.

Conyers also met with the Congressional Black Caucus, which he helped found, on Tuesday, and some CBC members encouraged him to step aside, according to several reports. The AP reported that CBC members explained to Conyers why he should resign but told the congressman that the decision was up to him, citing an unnamed senior House aide. The Detroit News reported that leaders of the caucus urged Conyers to resign, citing a Democratic source on Capitol Hill.

In a statement after the meeting, CBC Chair Cedric Richmond (D-LA) said that he supports Conyers’ decision to step down as the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee and that a decision to resign from Conyers should be left up to Conyers.

“Today I met with John and we had a very candid conversation about the seriousness of the allegations against him, which he vehemently denies. I told him that I agreed with his decision to step down as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee at this time. I also told him that I encourage and expect him to fully cooperate with the ethics investigation. He said he would,” Richmond said in the statement. “Any decision to resign from office before the ethics investigation is complete is John’s decision to make.”

Going into the Tuesday afternoon meeting, members of the CBC were split on how Conyers should approach the allegations, according to Politico. Some wanted Conyers to resign, while others would like to wait for the House Ethics Committee to investigate the allegations, per Politico.

Conyers was spotted on a flight back to Michigan Tuesday night, per the AP, and he was not spotted at evening votes in the House, per the Washington Post.

Conyers faces allegations of sexual misconduct from several former female staffers. Buzzfeed News first reported last week that Conyers reached a settlement with a former staffer who alleged she was fired for rejecting his sexual advances. Since that report, other women have come forward to describe Conyers’ inappropriate behavior. Deanna Maher, who served as Conyers’ deputy chief of staff in his Michigan office, described to the Detroit News in a report published Monday several incidents during which Conyers made unwanted advances or touched her inappropriately.


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The day after news broke that a top State Department staffer tasked with carrying out a reorganization of the agency had resigned, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday defended his plan to overhaul the department.

During a question and answer session following a speech Tillerson gave at the Wilson Center, the think tank’s director, former Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), asked Tillerson about the proposed budget cuts at the State Department and reports that there is a “hollowing out” at the agency.

Tillerson rejected the characterization.

“There is no hollowing out. These numbers that people are throwing around are just false. They’re wrong,” he said.

“I’m offended on their behalf when people say somehow we don’t have a State Department that functions,” he added later, referring to State Department employees. “Because I can tell you it’s functioning very well from my perspective.”

Tillerson said that the State Department’s budget is “just not sustainable” and argued that by slashing the agency’s budget, the Trump administration would be returning funding closer to historic levels.

He also defended his plans to restructure the agency, which has come under scrutiny recently. After a group of senators sent a letter to the State Department warning that Tillerson’s staffing decisions “threaten to undermine the long-term health and effectiveness of American diplomacy,” a spokeswoman for the department acknowledged that there is a “morale issue.”

Tillerson said on Tuesday that State Department staff has been highly involved in the effort to restructure the agency, and he said that he simply wants to help State Department staffers operate efficiently. He also said that while he instated a hiring freeze, he has made a significant number of exceptions, and he argued that the department has not seen as significant of a drop in staff as some reports suggest.


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Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci resigned from his position on the advisory board for the Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy on Tuesday after threatening to sue a student and student-run newspaper over a critical op-ed.

“This morning, Anthony Scaramucci informed The Fletcher School that he is resigning his position on the school’s Board of Advisors, effective immediately. We thank Mr. Scaramucci for his past service to Tufts and wish him well,” Admiral James Stavridis, the dean of the Fletcher School, said in a statement Tuesday.

More than 300 students and faculty members have signed a petition urging the school to remove Scaramucci from the advisory board. The school was set to discuss the petition with Scaramucci at a public event Monday, University spokesman Patrick Collins told the Boston Globe Monday.

However, the school postponed the event when Scaramucci threatened to sue The Tufts Daily, the student newspaper at the university, and Camilo A. Caballero, a graduate student who wrote an op-ed criticizing Scaramucci.

Scaramucci’s lawyer claimed that the op-ed included “false and defamatory allegations of fact” and threatened to sue The Tufts Daily and Caballero unless the op-ed was retracted.

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A senior official at the State Department tasked with reorganizing the agency has left the position just three months after she was appointed to the position.

Bloomberg News was first to report Maliz Beams’ departure from her role as counselor on Monday night, and several outlets later confirmed that she has resigned. Deputy chief of staff Christine Ciccone will take over Beams’ efforts to restructure the agency, per Bloomberg News.

Beams’ resignation follows acknowledgement from the State Department that the plans to restructure the agency have caused morale to plummet.

“Admittedly, the department could do a better job of communicating every single step along the way of the redesign process,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said earlier in November. “There is a morale issue and the department realizes that we need to say more.”

The State Department also had to defend its plans to reorganize the agency in a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee following a letter from senators. The lawmakers expressed concern about Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s staffing decisions, writing that his staffing patterns “threaten to undermine the long-term health and effectiveness of American diplomacy.”

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Following a report in the New York Times that President Donald Trump has privately questioned the authenticity of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape released last year, “Access Hollywood” host Natalie Morales made a point to tell viewers that the tape is authentic.

“We wanted to clear something up that has been reported across the media landscape,” Morales said Monday.

“Let us make this perfectly clear: The tape is very real,” she continued. “Remember his excuse at the time was ‘locker-room talk.’ He said every one of those words.”

The New York Times reported over the weekend that Trump suggested to a senator earlier this year that the “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Trump bragged about groping women, was fake. Trump made the same suggestion to an adviser recently, per the New York Times.

However, at the time the tape was released, Trump acknowledged that he made the comments and apologized.

Asked about the New York Times report Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump has not “changed his position” on the tape.

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