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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

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will hold the daily press briefing on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. ET.

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After a new batch of homophobic blog posts that appear to be written by liberal MSNBC host Joy Reid surfaced on Monday, Reid claimed that she was a victim of a hack.

MSNBC in turn promoted Reid’s claims that she was hacked, sending reporters a statement and letter from Reid’s lawyer claiming that her blog had been hacked.

Reid first addressed past homophobic comments on her old blog in December, when the first batch of posts were surfaced by Twitter user @Jamie_Maz. At the time, Reid apologized for the posts. But when @Jamie_Maz surfaced new homophobic posts from that same time period on Monday, Reid claimed she was hacked.

“In December I learned that an unknown, external party accessed and manipulated material from my now-defunct blog, The Reid Report, to include offensive and hateful references that are fabricated and run counter to my personal beliefs and ideology,” Reid said in a statement to Mediaite on Monday, adding that she has been working with a cybersecurity expert and had contacted law enforcement.

The Internet Archive, the group that runs the Wayback Machine and held the archives of Reid’s old blog, responded on Tuesday and said they found no indication that the Wayback Machine versions of Reid’s blog posts were tampered with. The Internet Archive ran its review of the posts after Reid’s attorneys asked for the posts to be removed and indicated they had been hacked at Reid’s blog or in the Wayback Machine.

“When we reviewed the archives, we found nothing to indicate tampering or hacking of the Wayback Machine versions. At least some of the examples of allegedly fraudulent posts provided to us had been archived at different dates and by different entities,” the Internet Archive wrote in a blog post. “We let Reid’s lawyers know that the information provided was not sufficient for us to verify claims of manipulation.”

The Internet Archive added that after they declined to remove the posts, the archives disappeared due to an action carried out by an unauthorized third party.

Following the Internet Archive’s pushback, MSNBC circulated a statement from a cybersecurity consultant working for Reid, Jonathan Nichols. He claimed that the login information for Reid’s blog “was available on the Dark Web and that fraudulent entries — featuring offensive statements — were entered with suspicious formatting and time stamps.” He said that Reid’s attorney wrote to Archive.org about the posts in December but said that Reid “at no time claimed that the Wayback Machine was hacked.” He also said he believes some of the posts circulated recently were never on the blog, “suggesting that these instances may be the result of screenshot manipulation.”

The archives of Reid’s old posts no longer appear to be available. Posts reviewed by the Washington Post included comments speculating that Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was gay and a post claiming that “most straight people cringe at the sight of two men kissing.”

The newly surfaced blog posts and Reid’s response drew skepticism and criticism on Tuesday. The LGBT advocacy group PFLAG National announced on Tuesday that it rescinded its plan to give Reid its Straight for Equality in Media award this year.

“When we extended our invitation to Ms. Reid to honor her at our 45th anniversary celebration, we did so knowing about the blog posts from the late 2000s regarding Charlie Crist. We appreciated how she stepped up, took ownership, apologized for them, and did better—this is the behavior and approach we ask of any ally. However, in light of new information, and the ongoing investigation of that information, we must at this time rescind our award to Ms. Reid,” PFLAG National president Jean Hodges said in a statement.

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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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