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

A week before the Interior Department is set to auction off parcels of land in Montana for oil and gas leases, Secretary Ryan Zinke pulled a cluster of parcels from the auction on Monday evening.

Zinke, who used to represent Montana in Congress, first made the announcement on Twitter.

Zinke followed up in a statement to the Washington Post, saying that the department needed to study the area more before approving it for auction. Local environmental groups had protested the auction and warned that it could hurt the areas near the Yellowstone river, according to the Washington Post.

“Multiple use is about balance,” Zinke said in the statement. “I’ve always said there are places where it is appropriate to develop and where it’s not.”

Zinke also recently postponed the sale of land in the Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico, the Post noted.

The secretary made headlines earlier in the year when he exempted Florida from an offshore drilling plan after meeting with Republican Gov. Rick Scott. The move was seen as a political maneuver by the Trump administration since Scott is looking at a Senate bid.


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After former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg gave a series of bizarre interviews on cable news shows declaring that he would refused to comply with a subpoena with special counsel Robert Mueller, Nunberg finally relented on Monday night and said he would ultimately cooperate with the Mueller investigation.

“I’m going to end up cooperating with them,” he told the Associated Press.

Nunberg’s conclusion that he should comply with Mueller’s subpoena for his communications with Trump and several key campaign aides came only after a defiant round of interviews in which he brushed off the possibility of going to jail for ignoring the special counsel’s subpoena.

In his first television interview, with MSNBC’s Katy Tur, Nunberg said that Mueller’s document request was “ridiculous” and that he didn’t want to spend 80 hours digging through his emails. He told Tur that it would be “really, really funny” if investigators tried to arrest him over his refusal to comply.

Throughout Monday evening, Nunberg gave several more interviews, which quickly went off the rails. He called White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders a “joke” and a “fat slob,” referred to Carter Page as a “moron,” and suggested President Donald Trump knew about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting that his son and son-in-law attended with a Kremlin-linked lawyer.

During an interview with MSNBC’s Ari Melber Monday evening, it appeared Nunberg was beginning to realize the gravity of his refusal to cooperate with Mueller’s subpoena. He asked a panelist on the show whether he would really go to jail for refusing to cooperate.

Talking to the AP Monday night, Nunberg said he would be more willing to comply with Mueller’s document request if investigators ask for fewer emails.

“I’m happy if the scope changes and if they send me a subpoena that doesn’t include Carter Page,” he said, adding that he never communicated with Page.

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Matt Shuham contributed reporting. 

That escalated quickly.

Shortly after the Washington Post reported Monday that former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg was subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team for his communications with President Donald Trump and other campaign aides, and that Nunberg plans to ignore the subpoena, the former aide joined MSNBC to repeatedly declare that he would not turn over information to Mueller.

Nunberg’s frustration with the subpoena was quickly made apparent in his interview with MSNBC’s Katy Tur.

“What they sent me was absolutely ridiculous. They wanted every e-mail I had with Roger Stone and with Steve Bannon. Why should I hand them e-mails from November 1st, 2015?” Nunberg asked rhetorically. “I’m not going to cooperate when they want me to have — when they want me to come in to a grand jury, for them to insinuate that Roger Stone was colluding with Julian Assange. Roger is my mentor. Roger’s like family to me. I’m not going to do it.”

Nunberg complained that it would take too much time and effort for him to look through more than two years worth of communications — Mueller requested Nunberg send all communications he had with Trump and nine campaign aides, according to the Washington Post. He specifically mentioned that he does not want to sift through all of his emails with Stone and Steve Bannon.

“I’m not going to spend 80 hours because a bunch of FBI agents and a bunch of U.S. attorneys want me — to harass me,” Nunberg said on MSNBC.

In the lengthy, bizarre interview, Nunberg seemed unconcerned that he could be held in contempt of court for refusing Mueller’s subpoena.

“I think it would be really, really funny that they wanted to arrest me because I didn’t want to spend 80 hours going over emails I had with Steve Bannon and Roger Stone,” he said.

Nunberg previously sat down with Mueller’s team, when investigators asked him if Trump took positions on the campaign trail because of his business interests, Nunberg said on MSNBC. He also said that based on his interview with Mueller’s team, he thinks there’s a chance Trump colluded with Russia, though Nunberg did not say he had any evidence of that.

“I think they may,” Nunberg said when Tur asked if Mueller’s team has something on Trump. “I think he may have done something during the election. But I don’t know that for sure.”

“The way they ask questions about anything I heard after I was fired from the campaign to the general election to even November 1, it insinuated to me that he may have done something. And he may well have,” he added when pressed by Tur.

Asked about Nunberg’s comments about what Mueller may have on Trump during the daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “He’s incorrect.”

Nunberg continued making his case on national television at 6:00 p.m. with MSNBC’s Ari Melber.

“Sarah should shut up,” he said of the White House press secretary at one point during the 30-minute interview. “I’m warning her, by the way, to shut her mouth.”

Nunberg said he would refuse to honor the special counsel’s subpoena for his communications with Bannon and Stone, among others, saying of those two in particular: “I communicate with them every day.” He repeatedly said he would not participate with Mueller’s probe if the special counsel was “trying to build a case against Roger.”

“They probably have something on Trump,” he said separately. “Trump did something pretty bad, if I understood.”

“I think they were interested in something with his business,” Nunberg said, referring to the President.

He openly dared Mueller to pursue a prison sentence for contempt of court.

“You know what, Mr. Mueller, if he wants me to go to jail, he can send me to jail and then I’ll laugh about it,” Nunberg said. “And I’ll make a bigger spectacle than I am on your TV show right now.”

At the end of the interview, Nunberg hinted that he may change his mind.

“I would have no problem going to the grand jury, but I, once again, don’t want to have to spend 80 hours going over emails,” he said. 

“You’d rather spend possibly a year in jail than 80 hours going through emails?” asked Maya Wiley, former counsel to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and a panelist on Monday’s show. 

“I’m not going to jail,” Nunberg protested as Melber ended the interview. “You think I’m going to jail?”

He added, as Melber went to commercial: “If Mueller wants to send me to jail, that is a joke.”

The special counsel’s office declined to comment in an email to TPM.

This post has been updated.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed a witness in the Russia probe for all documents that involve President Donald Trump and several key aides between Nov. 1 2015 and now, according to reports from Axios and NBC News.

Axios was first to report on the grand jury subpoena Sunday, and NBC confirmed early Monday morning. Mueller has asked the witness for emails, text messages, work papers, phone logs and other documents, according to NBC News. The subpoena was sent to the witness last month, per Axios.

In addition to documents involving Trump, Mueller is looking for documents that involve nine Trump aides: former adviser Steve Bannon, longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, Rick Gates, outgoing Communications Director Hope Hicks, former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, former bodyguard Keith Schiller and longtime Trump friend Roger Stone. All of those who were subpoenaed worked with Trump before he won the election in 2016, and some of them stayed on at the White House.

The wide-ranging subpoena shows that Mueller is interested in what Trump knew about the goings-on of his campaign, and that the special counsel team is still digging through evidence for its Russia investigation.

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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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