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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.
Mike Dubke, who resigned in May after a short stint as White House communications director, says that during his interview for the post with President Donald Trump, the President asked him whether he should hold a press conference that very day.
Dubke recalled the experience in an interview with Washingtonian published Thursday. Dubke said that when Trump first asked him about holding a press conference in February, Dubke suggested he consult policy experts and pick a date in the future.
“No, I mean today,” Trump replied, per Dubke. “I think we should do a press conference today.”
Trump then proceeded to prepare for and hold that presser as Dubke looked on, he told Washingtonian. As Trump spoke to reporters, Dubke was visible in the background on television even though he’d yet to receive an official offer for the job.
Dubke also told Washingtonian that he struggled with leaks as communications director, and that the constant leaks to the press undermined his work steering the White House’s messaging. Specifically, he regrets not taking action when White House staffers leaked details about a meeting he held with the communications team to the press. He told Washingtonian that at the time, he didn’t feel like he had enough evidence to fire anyone.
“If I had one regret from my time there,” he told Washingtonian, “it’s that I wish I had done that in a couple of cases.”
House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) announced on Thursday morning that he will retire at the end of his term, leaving yet another Republican House seat open in the 2018 midterm elections.
Goodlatte is one of several powerful Republican members of Congress to call it quits ahead of 2018, and his announcement comes two days after Democrats trounced Republicans Tuesday night in several races for state office. Democrats won the governor’s mansion in Virginia, as well the lieutenant governor and attorney general race, and they made significant pickups in the state legislature, prompting some Virginia Republicans to worry about the future of the party in their state.
The congressman said that since his term as chair of the Judiciary Committee will expire in 2018, it’s a good time for him to retire.
“With my time as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee ending in December 2018, this is a natural stepping-off point and an opportunity to begin a new chapter of my career and spend more time with my family, particularly my granddaughters,” he said in a statement.
House Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX), a former Judiciary chair, announced last week that he will retire at the end of 2018, also citing the end of his chairmanship as a factor in his decision. House Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), another powerful member, also recently announced that he will retire at the end of his term.
Several Republican members of Congress have also cited the state of the GOP and politics at large when announcing their retirements, including Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Though some Republicans, such as LoBiondo, merely mentioned political polarization when announcing their retirements, Flake and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) tore into Trump after they decided to ditch Congress.
In a speech announcing his retirement, Flake bashed the “coarseness of our leadership” and the “regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals.” Corker has let loose on Trump since announcing he won’t seek re-election, calling the White House an “adult daycare center” and warning that the President could put the U.S. “on the path to World War III.”
Read Goodlatte’s full statement:
When I first decided to run for Congress there were several things I wanted to achieve for the Commonwealth of Virginia and our nation. I had a strong passion for public service, a love of the law and the judicial system, and a deep appreciation for the people who call western and central Virginia home. These passions led me to serve on the Judiciary and Agriculture Committees throughout my time in the House, and have shaped my work on policies impacting the American people. I’ve had the privilege to serve as Chairman of both of these committees, and I’ve been proud to work on policies that have become law and advance fiscal conservatism, personal liberty, economic growth, and limited government.
For the past 25 years, it has been my honor to represent the Sixth Congressional District of Virginia. I cannot begin to express how blessed I am to have had the opportunity to serve and take part in the great experiment of self-government envisioned by our Founders. It has been a labor of love to work countless hours and travel endless miles on the roads of our District for a quarter of a century.
Every two years, Maryellen and I sat down to discuss whether to run again or not. When we discussed the 2018 election, the conversation ended a little differently than in past years. After much contemplation and prayer, we decided it was the right time for me to step aside and let someone else serve the Sixth District. I will not seek re-election. With my time as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee ending in December 2018, this is a natural stepping-off point and an opportunity to begin a new chapter of my career and spend more time with my family, particularly my granddaughters.
While I’m not running for re-election, my work in the 115th Congress is far from done. There is much that I hope we can accomplish in the next year, including: bolstering enforcement of our immigration laws and reforming the legal immigration system, simplifying the tax code in order to stimulate job growth and benefit families in the Sixth District, enacting criminal justice reform, repealing Obamacare, advancing protections of the freedoms and liberties enshrined in our Constitution, and, of course, continuing first-class constituent service for the citizens of the Sixth District. I look forward to working with the House Leadership, the Senate, and President Trump in bringing real conservative change to our country.
I extend my deepest thanks to the people of Virginia’s Sixth District who have placed their trust in me. It is truly you who are the highlight of my time in elected office. I’ve had the good fortune of having an amazing staff team during my time in Congress – both in my Sixth District offices as well as in the Judiciary and Agriculture Committees. They’ve done excellent work, and I greatly value their commitment to serving the Sixth District and the American people. I’d also like to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in Congress with whom I’ve had the opportunity to work over the years. I genuinely appreciate your friendship and support. And finally, none of this would have been possible without the love and support of my wife, Maryellen, and our children, Bobby, Jen, and Jen’s husband, Matt. They have my enduring love and gratitude.
Justice Department prosecutors are trying to secure a plea deal with Jeffrey Yohai, Paul Manafort’s former son-in-law, in an investigation into Yohai’s real estate dealings, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday morning.
The Journal cited unnamed people familiar with the matter.
The criminal investigation into Yohai by the DOJ and Los Angeles U.S. attorney’s office is separate from the probe into Manafort by special counsel Robert Mueller. However, Manafort is linked to the Yohai investigation, since he was an investor in Yohai’s real estate projects.
Federal investigators have been looking into real estate purchases made by Yohai through shell companies. He bought the properties with a loan from private lender Genesis Capital, using Manafort’s home in New York as collateral, USA Today reported in October. Yohai had planned to renovate and flip the properties, but his plan did not work out and at least one of the companies has now filed for bankruptcy.
In a September court filing, Yohai accused Manafort of misleading the court in a legal battle over how Manafort would purchase the projects out of bankruptcy.
It is not clear what charges federal prosecutors would like Yohai to plea guilty to, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Yoahi’s lawyer, Aaron May, told the Journal in a statement that Yohai “has not been charged with any crime nor has he entered into any plea agreements.”
Two Republican senators have joined with a Democrat to propose a resolution requiring Capitol Hill staffers to undergo sexual harassment training and updating the procedures for reporting and addressing harassment complaints, Politico reported Wednesday evening.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the chair of the Senate Rules Committee, are the Republicans leading the effort, and they have recruited Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) as a Democratic sponsor, according to Politico.
Capito told Politico that their resolution will have similarities to a proposal from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) mandating sexual harassment training, but will go further in that it will make changes to the way complaints are handled.
“It goes a little further but it’s a little tighter in terms of how the rules would change to meet the demands of where we are now,” she said.
Capito also told Politico that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “is fully on board.”
Sexual harassment policies on Capitol Hill have come under scrutiny after several high profile figures like Harvey Weinstein have faced public allegations of sexual misconduct.
Congress does not currently mandate that all staffers receive sexual harassment training, and rules require those alleging harassment to sit for mediation or counseling before actually filing a formal complaint.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) raised concerns about Capitol Hill’s policies for addressing sexual harassment in October, calling the current system “toothless.” She also plans to introduce legislation to update the way complaints are handled.
After offering an update on his health status on Wednesday following an alleged assault by a neighbor last weekend, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) shared two articles from conservative media outlets that cite neighbors disputing reports that the assault was the result of a landscaping dispute.
It’s not clear why Paul shared the stories. It could have been an attempt to defend his landscaping work or an attempt to suggest that his neighbor assaulted him for other reasons. It’s also unclear which neighbors, if any, have the correct understanding of what prompted the alleged assault.
One of Paul’s neighbors, Rene Boucher, in Kentucky assaulted Paul from behind, according to officials. The incident left Paul with six broken ribs and pleural effusion, according to an update from the senator on Wednesday.
Initial reports on the incident suggested that the alleged assault was prompted by a dispute between Paul and his neighbor about the senator’s landscaping. Neighbors told the New York Times that Paul and Boucher argued over things like yard clippings and unraked leaves and said that while the two had different political views, that was not the origin of the tussle. Jim Skaggs, the developer of the gated community where the two live, told USA Today that Boucher and Paul had disputes over landscaping and that Paul “was probably the hardest person to encourage to follow the (homeowner’s association regulations) of anyone out here because he has a strong belief in property rights.”
However, two conservative outlets spoke with neighbors who told a different story.
Neighbors told the Washington Examiner that the property around Paul’s home is well-maintained. The Examiner also reported that Boucher was “aggressively anti-Trump and anti-GOP” on social media, citing screengrabs of Boucher’s Facebook page that were not included in the story. Neighbors who spoke to Breitbart News also said that Paul took good care of his property and said they were not aware of complaints about his landscaping habits.
Republican Ed Gillespie’s loss in the Virginia gubernatorial race Tuesday night left some Virginia Republicans concerned about the party’s future, but Steve Bannon insisted Wednesday night that Democratic gains in Virginia don’t spell trouble for the GOP as a whole.
“Virginia, because of northern Virginia, is really not a purple state anymore. It’s a blue state,” Bannon told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “When Donald Trump wins 304 electoral votes and wins states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, and comes in one point in Minnesota, when he loses Virginia by five points, it shows you how blue it is.”
Bannon said he never had “confidence” that Trump would win in Virginia in the 2016 election.
Though he suggested that a Republican didn’t have a chance of winning a statewide vote in Virginia, Bannon also argued that Gillespie would have performed better had he embraced Trump more. He said that Corey Stewart, a Trump-aligned Virginia Republican who lost to Gillespie in the gubernatorial primary, would have had a better shot.
“What we had is an establishment candidate. Ed Gillespie won a primary, a very hard-fought primary, versus Cory Stewart, and then really didn’t try to embrace President Trump or really the Trump program until very late when he just kind of basically talked about some of the issues, which I thought he should try to do more of,” Bannon told Hannity, adding that Gillespie never campaigned with Trump or Stewart.
“Gillespie needed to embrace Trump much more,” Bannon added later.
Although several women had accused then-Fox News host Bill O’Reilly of sexual harassment, forcing him to pay out large settlements to his accusers, Fox News stood by O’Reilly, one of the network’s most prominent figures, until April of this year.
A document published by the British government on Wednesday revealed that O’Reilly’s contract with Fox News barred the network from firing O’Reilly over sexual harassment accusations unless the allegations were proven in court. Fox News had to stand by O’Reilly for the remainder of his contract unless one of his accusers won in court.
Jacques Nasser, an independent director on the board of 21st Century Fox, told the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority about the contract provision, according to a summary of his remarks at an October hearing published by the authority.
The Competition and Markets Authority is reviewing 21st Century Fox’s bid to acquire British news outlet Sky News. Fox has seen scrutiny from British regulators over the way the company handled sexual harassment claims against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and O’Reilly.
Nasser said that 21st Century Fox’s board was aware of the settlements O’Reilly paid to his accusers, though not the specific sums, and that the board did not act on the allegations against O’Reilly in part due to the contract provision. Nasser said that some board members wanted to fire O’Reilly immediately, while others wanted to wait for his contract renewal. Ultimately, the board made sure that when O’Reilly’s contract was renewed, it did not include a clause barring the company from firing him over allegations, Nasser said.
A few months later, O’Reilly left the network. He was ousted from Fox News after the New York Times revealed in April that O’Reilly or the company had paid settlements to five women who accused him of sexual harassment. The Times then reported in October that O’Reilly had paid a $32 million settlement to a former Fox News analyst who accused O’Reilly of sexual misconduct in January, only about a month before Fox renewed his contract.
The Competition and Markets Authority is reviewing the possible merger following a review from the UK’s communications regulator, Ofcom. In an August letter, Ofcom wrote that its review of Fox found “significant corporate failures” when it came to “alleged behaviors.” The letter did not specify the allegations, but it’s possible Ofcom was referring to the way Fox handled sexual harassment allegations.
Diverse Democratic candidates scored wins on Tuesday night in cities and states across the country, with female, transgender, and minority candidates making history by winning public office.
Take a look at some of the Democrats who made history Tuesday night with their election victories:
Democrat Danica Roem (pictured above) became one of the first openly transgender women to win public office when she unseated incumbent Virginia Republican state Del. Robert Marshall, who drafted a “bathroom bill” in the state.
Roem will be the first person to campaign as an openly transgender person to take a seat in a statehouse. Stacie Laughton was the first openly transgender woman to win a seat on a state legislature in a 2012 New Hampshire race, but she never took office. Althea Garrison, a transgender woman served a term in the Massachusetts state legislature but did not run as an openly transgender person.
“To every person who has ever been singled out, who has ever been stigmatized, who has ever been the misfit, who has ever been the kid in the corner, who has ever needed someone to stand up for them when they didn’t have a voice of their own,” Roem told supporters Tuesday night. “This is for you.”
Democrat Joyce Craig became the first female mayor of Manchester, the largest city in New Hampshire, when she defeated incumbent Mayor Ted Gatsas. Manchester saw its largest election turnout this decade, helping propel Craig to victory, according the Union Leader.
Charlotte, North Carolina elected Vi Lyles mayor on Tuesday, making her the first female African-American mayor of the city. The Democrat defeated Republican Kenny Smith by more than 15 points, according to unofficial returns.
“With this opportunity you’ve given me, you’ve proven that we are a city of opportunity and inclusiveness,” Lyles said Tuesday night, according to the Charlotte Observer. “You’ve proven that a woman whose father didn’t graduate from high school can become this city’s first female African-American mayor.”
Andrea Jenkins became the first openly transgender black woman to win public office on Tuesday when she won a seat on the Minneapolis City Council.
Seattle voters on Tuesday night elected the city’s first openly lesbian woman to be the city’s mayor, Jenny Durkan. The Democrat is also the first woman to serve as Seattle mayor since 1926.
Democrat Justin Fairfax became the second African-American man to win statewide office in Virginia when he won the lieutenant governor race. Former Gov. Doug Wilder was the first African-American to hold statewide office in Virginia.
Hala Ayala and Elizabeth Guzman
Virginia also elected its first two Latina state delegates when Democrats Hala Ayala and Elizabeth Guzman won their elections.
New Jersey voters elected their first female African-American lieutenant governor Tuesday night, Sheila Oliver. The Democrat was also the first black woman to serve as the New Jersey state assembly speaker.
“This may not be the first glass ceiling I have broken, but it is certainly the highest,” Oliver said Tuesday night, according to the Huffington Post. “And I hope somewhere in this great state of New Jersey, a young girl of color is watching tonight and realizing that she does not have a limit to how high she can go.”
Pennsylvania elected its first openly transgender person to public office when Tyler Titus won a seat on the Erie School Board.
Hoboken, New Jersey elected its first Sikh mayor Tuesday night, Ravi Bhalla. He is one of the first Sikhs to win a mayoral race in the U.S., following in the footsteps of former Charlottesville Mayor Satyendra Huja.
Bhalla faced racist flyers in the last days of the campaign that read, “Don’t let TERRORISM take over our town.”
Yesterday, a flyer w/ word “terrorist” above a pic of me was circulated in Hob. Of course this is troubling, but we won’t let hate win. pic.twitter.com/Ri9xrYF4Al
Wilmot Collins became Montana’s first black mayor when he won the mayoral race in Helena Tuesday night. Collins came to the U.S. in 1994 as a refugee from Liberia and now works for the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.
St. Paul, Minnesota, elected its first black mayor Tuesday night, Melvin Carter.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday called into a meeting between two White House aides and a group of Senate Democrats to attempt to assure the Democrats that the Republican tax cut bill will not benefit him or other rich Americans, according to reports from NBC News and the Washington Post.
Trump told those present at the meeting that he had spoken with his personal accountant about the legislation, who told the President that he would suffer financially as a result of the bill, people in the room told the Washington Post and NBC News.
“My accountant called me and said ‘you’re going to get killed in this bill,'” Trump said, according to NBC News.
Trump also claimed that the legislation will hurt rich people in general, despite analysis from experts indicating that the plan will benefit wealthy Americans and corporations.
“The deal is so bad for rich people, I had to throw in the estate tax just to give them something,” he said, according to the Washington Post.
Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, was present at the meeting and confirmed Trump’s general comments to NBC News. Short told NBC that Trump was discussing individual tax rates and that the repeal of the estate tax is a separate issue.
Trump’s call to the Democrats came as they huddled with Short and Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, to discuss the tax bill.
Corey Lewandowski, the former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, said on Tuesday night that he now remembers receiving an email from Carter Page about a trip to Moscow despite claiming in March that he did not grant Page permission to take the trip.
Page told the House Intelligence Committee last week that he informed Lewandowski in an email about his plans to travel to Moscow in July 2016. Page said that Lewandowski approved of the trip as long as Page did not go as a representative of the Trump campaign.
Back in March, Lewandowski distanced himself from Page when the former campaign adviser first claimed that the Trump campaign had approved the Moscow trip. Lewandowski told Fox News in March that he had never met Page and told USA Today that he did not grant anyone permission to travel to Russia.
“I’m very clear about this,” he told USA Today. “I granted nobody permission to do that.”
He was less sure whether he emailed with Page, telling USA Today in March, “I can’t say unequivocally I’ve never responded to an email to somebody.”
Lewandowski changed his tune slightly on Tuesday night.
Fox News’ Martha MacCallum asked Lewandowski to “reconcile” Page’s testimony with his claims from March.
“There is no reconciliation necessary,” Lewandowski replied. “To the best of my recollection, I don’t know Carter Page. To the best of my knowledge, Carter Page never had a DonaldTrump.com email address, had no formal role in the campaign that I’m aware of, was never compensated by the campaign.”
He then appeared to say that he did allow Page to take the Moscow trip.
“And so when a low-level volunteer decides that they want to take a trip overseas and doesn’t report to me or work for the organization, what jurisdiction would I potentially have of telling him or her they can or could not travel overseas?” Lewandowski told MacCallum. “All I was clear about was, if you are going to travel, please do not pretend to be part of the campaign and say that you are part of the campaign.”
MacCallum asked Lewandowski to confirm that he does remember the email from Page. In response, Lewandowski said that his memory has just been “refreshed” but that he was too busy at the time to pay much attention to the email.
“Well, no — you have to remember, in the context of the campaign world – now, my memory has been refreshed — but to be clear, from what I understand and what I recall, that email was sent on June 19th of 2016, so about 18 months ago,” he said. “It also happened to be Father’s Day on a Sunday, and it also happened to be the day prior to me being terminated from the campaign, so with all due respect, there were many other things on my mind that day other than trying to understand why a volunteer was telling me he may or may not be traveling outside the country.”
MacCallum asked once more if Lewandowski remembered the email. In response he said that he did not remember the email “at the time” but now recalls seeing it.
“What I recall is now seeing that email has been brought back to my attention. I didn’t recall it at the time,” Lewandowski said.