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

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson considered leaving the Trump administration recently when negotiating with the White House over his department’s budget, people close to Carson told the New York Times in a story published Monday morning.

“There are more complexities here than in brain surgery,” Carson told the New York Times about his position leading HUD. “Doing this job is going to be a very intricate process.”

Carson was frustrated by the steep cuts to HUD imposed by Trump and had to negotiate for an extra $2 million, according to the New York Times.

Under the deep budget cuts pushed by President Donald Trump, HUD purchased a $31,000 new dining set for Carson’s office, allegedly without the secretary’s approval. Facing big budget cuts and scrutiny in the press, Carson ordered HUD to cancel the order for the new dining set last week.

Read the full New York Times profile of Carson here.

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After spending the weekend publishing angry tweets defending his call for tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, President Donald Trump on Monday morning indicated that he may nix plans for the tariffs if he’s pleased with the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Trump’s Monday morning tweets may signal a shift on tariffs after Republicans and foreign leaders expressed concern over his tariff threats. It’s not clear whether a new NAFTA agreement would prompt Trump to nix tariffs on Mexico and Canada, or on all foreign countries.

His message about NAFTA Monday came after he published several tweets over the weekend defending his push for tariffs. On Saturday, Trump threatened to impose tariffs on cars imported from Europe. On Sunday, he insisted that it was time for a “change” to save the steel and aluminum industries in the U.S.

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House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) on Saturday complained about a segment from CBS late night host Stephen Colbert mocking the Republican memo accusing the Obama administration Justice Department of abusing the surveillance system.

During an interview, Fox News’ Neil Cavuto played a clip from Colbert’s Friday night segment about the House Intelligence Committee and asked for Nunes’ thoughts.

“This is the danger that we have in this country,” Nunes said after watching the clip. “The left controls not only the universities in this country, but they also control Hollywood in this country, and the mainstream media, so conservatives in this country are under attack.”

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Meghan McCain on Friday took Matt Schlapp, the chair of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), to task for declining to defend Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) when the CPAC crowd let out boos when President Donald Trump mentioned the senator’s vote against Obamacare repeal.

“I have to tell you when President Trump called out my dad and led a crowd of booing I was so upset. I was so hurt. I know it’s about policy. I don’t understand why Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski aren’t also brought up if you want to talk about the Obamacare debate,” Meghan McCain said on ABC’s “The View.”

Trump singled out John McCain during his CPAC speech last week. The President did not mention the senator by name, but singled out his last minute vote against a repeal bill, prompting the crowd to jeer.

Meghan McCain asked Schlapp why conservatives can’t respect her father as he undergoes treatment for brain cancer.

“Why at this moment when he’s suffering from the worst brain cancer that exists and going through chemo, why there can’t be a modicum of respect for my family at this moment from CPAC?” she asked.

Schlapp told her she made a “very good point,” prompting Meghan McCain to note that Schlapp defended the booing on Twitter.

“Your father is a national hero. He has served his country. He has fought for his life beforehand he’s fighting for his life now. And I think we all respect that,” Schlapp responded before noting that it was only about “disagreement on policy questions.”

“He’s a good man,” Schlapp said before he was cut off by the co-hosts of “The View.”

Conservative commentator Anna Navarro told Schlapp he should have defended McCain’s character on stage at CPAC, earning applause from the audience at “The View.”

Watch the clip:

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President Donald Trump has asked chief of staff John Kelly for help in pushing his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner out of their official White House positions even as he encourages the two to remain as aides, the New York Times reported Thursday night, citing unnamed White House aides.

Trump has also said that his daughter and son-in-law should have never come to the White House, according to the New York Times.

The President has grown particularly frustrated with Kushner recently, given the news that his security clearance was downgraded and the uptick in scrutiny of the Kushner family business, two people familiar with Trump’s thinking told the Times.

Read the New York Times’ full report here.

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After President Donald Trump suggested several policy proposals frowned upon by the National Rifle Association in a meeting on Wednesday, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence met with an NRA leader Thursday night.

Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s lobbying arm, tweeted Thursday night tat he met with Trump and Pence and assured NRA supporters that the White House is not pushing for gun control measures.

Trump confirmed the meeting in a brief tweet of his own, but the White House offered few additional details on the meeting.

Friday morning, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at the white House that the only promise Trump made in the meeting with Cox was to “continue to support the Second Amendment,” adding that Trump is interesting in improving background checks.

Asked about Trump’s suggestion on Wednesday that the age to purchase rifles be raised to 21, Sanders said, “Conceptually, he still supports raising the age to 21. But he also knows there’s not a lot of broad support for that. But that’s something he would support.” She added that Trump believes that policy measure may best be enacted at the state level.

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Leaders on the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded recently that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee leaked Sen. Mark Warner’s (D-VA) text messages to Fox News in February, the New York Times reported Thursday, citing two congressional officials briefed on the matter.

Fox News in February published text messages that Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, exchanged with Adam Waldman, a lawyer for a Russian oligarch, in an attempt to set up an interview with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who authored the so-called Trump dossier. Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee quickly downplayed the text messages and indicated they had no problem with Warner’s attempts to reach Steele.

In January, the House Intelligence Committee requested copies of the text messages from the Senate committee, and days later Fox News published the texts, a person familiar with the matter told the New York Times.

Markings on the text messages published by Fox News indicated they came from the House committee, according to the New York Times. A lawyer for Waldman also concluded that the leak likely came from House Republicans, per the Times.

The lawyer for Waldman complained to the House committee, and Burr, apparently frustrated by the leak, requested a meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) about the matter, per the New York Times. Ryan told Burr that he heard the complaints but noted he did not run the committee, the congressional officials briefed on the matter told the New York Times.

Burr and Warner told the Times in a joint statement that they did meet with Ryan but did not request any specific action. Burr denied to CNN on Thursday that the committee concluded that their counterparts in the House were behind the leak or that he raised the issue with Ryan.

Nunes spokesman Jack Langer did not deny that the House committee majority was behind the leak in a statement to the Times.

“The New York Times, a prominent purveyor of leaks, is highlighting anonymous sources leaking information that accuses Republicans of leaking information,” Langer said. “I’m not sure if this coverage could possibly get more absurd.”

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After President Donald Trump concerned Republicans on Capitol Hill by floating the possibility of raising the age to purchase rifles to 21 years old and seizing guns from those who may post a threat, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway insisted that Trump’s meeting Wednesday was “not about gun control.”

During an interview on “Fox and Friends” Thursday morning, Conway described Trump’s meeting with lawmakers about addressing gun violence in the wake of the deadly school shooting in Florida.

“This meeting was not about gun control. This meeting — let’s not forget — is about school safety,” Conway said. “We’re talking about all of this in the context of the tragedy that occurred in Parkland, Florida.”

Co-host Steve Doocy then noted that the National Rifle Association took issue with some of the comments Trump made at the meeting and put out a statement charging that the “the gun control proposals discussed would make for bad policy that would not keep our children safe.” Doocy asked how the NRA should be involved in Trump’s efforts to enact policy following the shooting.

Conway said that the NRA is “at the table,” noting that Trump met recently with officials from the gun group. She reiterated that the meeting was “about school safety” and emphasized that Trump previously called for some teachers to be armed.

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President Donald Trump continues to stew in his anger with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who Trump believes has not properly defended him or gone after the FBI corruption alleged by conservatives, according to a Wednesday evening Washington Post report.

Trump has referred to Sessions as Mr. Magoo, a cartoon elderly man with poor vision, people who have spoken with Trump told the Washington Post.

For Sessions’ one year anniversary of his confirmation as attorney general, his colleagues gave him a bulletproof vest, a person familiar with the matter told the Post.

The details about Trump’s strained relationship with Sessions surfaced in a report from the Post that Mueller’s team is looking at Trump’s pressure on Sessions to resign over the summer and whether Trump was looking for more control over the Russia probe by attempting to push out Sessions.

Though Trump’s broadsides against Sessions peaked over the summer, Trump has not stopped criticizing his own attorney general, often over Twitter. Just this week, Trump said that it was “disgraceful” that Sessions did not launch a separate investigation into the way the Justice Department handled surveillance orders.

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Two major loans to the Kushner Companies for real estate projects came after Jared Kushner, a senior adviser in the Trump administration, met with officials from those financial institutions at the White House, the New York Times reported Wednesday night.

Kushner, who left his role at the family company upon taking a job in the White House, met with Joshua Harris, one of the founders of Apollo Global Management, several times at the White House early last year as Harris was advising the administration on infrastructure, according to the New York Times. In November, Apollo lent the Kushner Companies $184 million to refinance a mortgage on a building in Chicago, per the New York Times. The loan was larger than the average loan Apollo typically approves, according to the New York Times.

Kushner met with Michael Corbat, chief executive at Citigroup, in the spring of 2017 at the White House, where the two talked about financial and trade policy, per the Times. A source told the New York Times that they did not talk about Kushner’s family business. After that meeting, Citigroup lent Kushner Companies $325 million to finance buildings in Brooklyn, the Times reported.

A spokesman for Kushner’s lawyer Abbe Lowell, Peter Mirijanian, told the New York Times that Kushner “has taken no part of any business, loans or projects with or for” Kushner Companies since he started as a White House staffer. Kushner Companies spokeswoman Christine Taylor also denied that Kushner played a role in obtaining the loans.

Charles V. Zehren, a spokesman for Apollo Global Management, told the New York Times that Harris was not involved in the loan approval process for the Kushner Companies loan and that the loan application “went through the firm’s standard approval process.”

Citigroup spokeswoman Danielle Romero-Apsilos told the Times that its loan to Kushner Companies had nothing to do with Jared Kushner and that Citigroup worked on the loan with the Kushner Companies’ business partner.

The New York Times story is just the latest story to break about Kushner’s role in the White House recently. He had his security clearance downgraded, and a Washington Post report revealed that several foreign officials discussed ways to manipulate Kushner, in part through his financial woes.

The Washington Post report’s timing just after Kushner’s security clearance downgrade has left Kushner paranoid that people are out to get him, according to a Wednesday night CNN report.

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