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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

In planned testimony for his Wednesday hearing with the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook did not go far enough in its efforts to curb foreign influence, eliminate fake news, and protect users’ privacy. He will testify before Congress over two days this week.

“We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here,” he wrote in the planned testimony, which was released on Monday ahead of his appearances.

Zuckerberg confirmed in the testimony that the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian troll farm, reached an estimated 126 million people with its Facebook content in two years and an additional 20 million through Instagram. The IRA also purchased ads on Facebook, which were seen by about 11 million people in the U.S., according to Zuckerberg. He wrote in the testimony that Facebook shut down the IRA’s accounts in August 2017.

Facebook has already begun rolling out initiatives to prevent abuse on such a wide scale in the future, including changes to its advertising policy and new security technologies.

Zuckerberg also addressed Cambridge Analytica, the British data firm that worked for President Donald Trump’s campaign and collected Facebook user data through a personality quiz. He wrote in his testimony that Facebook will make it easier for users to remove applications that collect their personal data.

Read Zuckerberg’s planned testimony:

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President Donald Trump on Monday said that his trade policies will ultimately benefit American farmers, even though tariffs announced by China in response to new tariffs to be imposed by the United States would hurt American soybean farmers.

Trump said at a cabinet meeting that he hopes to work out a trade deal with China and that if Chinese leaders push for policies that hurt American farmers, he will “make it up to” the farmers.

“In the end, they’re going to be much stronger than they are right now. Don’t forget, farmers have been trending downward over an eight-year period. Their numbers have trended downward, in some cases, significantly,” Trump said. “But the farmers will be better off than they ever were. It will take a little while to get there, but it could be very quick actually.”

“We’re doing very well on trade and trade deals. I think deals will be made. I think we’re going to make deals with a lot of countries that have taken advantage of us,” the President added.

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Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing porn actress Stormy Daniels, told CNN Monday morning that he will release a composite sketch of the person who allegedly threatened Daniels to stay quiet about her alleged affair back in 2011.

Avenatti said on CNN’s “New Day” that he will release the sketch on Tuesday and will offer a reward to anyone who can identify the person. He would not reveal the size of the reward or say whether he is working with the police to identify the individual.

“So my client sat down with Lois Gibson, she’s the foremost forensic artist in the world,” Avenatti said on CNN, adding that he hopes it will prompt people to come forward about the alleged threat.

He also indicated that there is additional evidence that the threat took place.

“There is significant evidence that this actually happened. We’re going to release that in the coming weeks,” he said on CNN.

Daniels detailed the alleged threat in her interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” She said it took place shortly after she sat for an interview with a sister publication to In Touch magazine about her alleged encounter with President Donald Trump, who was then a businessman and reality television host.

She told CBS that when she was in a Las Vegas parking lot heading to a fitness class when a man came up to her and said, “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.” He then looked at her daughter and said, “That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom,” according to Daniels.

Daniels is suing Trump, seeking to be released from a hush agreement she signed barring her from talking about her alleged relationship with Trump. She argues that the agreement is invalid because Trump never signed it.

Watch a clip of Avenatti’s CNN interview:

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Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump, renewed the motion to depose Trump and his longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen.

The filing states that Daniels would like to depose both Trump and Cohen for no more than two hours and seeks the production of documents from Trump and Cohen about the hush agreement Daniels signed barring her from talking about her alleged affair with Trump. Daniels is seeking to be released from the agreement through the lawsuit and argues that the agreement is invalid because Trump never signed it.

Avenatti initially filed the motion to depose Trump and Cohen late last month, but the judge ruled that the motion was premature. Now that Trump and Cohen have formally pushed for the lawsuit to be settled in private arbitration, Avenatti has resubmitted his motion to request depositions and document production.

Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 shortly before the election as part of her agreement not to talk about her alleged relationship with Trump. Cohen has insisted that he made the payment on his own, and Trump said last week that he was unaware of the payment. Avenatti likely wants more information on Trump’s knowledge of the agreement and payment from the depositions and document production.

 

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Following a Saturday report in the Washington Post indicating that White House chief of staff John Kelly’s influence over President Donald Trump and the White House has diminished since the beginning of his tenure, both Trump and his trade adviser on Sunday bashed the piece as incorrect.

“He serves the president, he has the president’s ear, he runs the West Wing well. That’s all I know, that’s all I see,” Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” when asked about Kelly. “He has the confidence of the President.”

“When you read stuff in The Washington Post, frankly, that’s fake news most of the time,” Navarro added.

According to the Washington Post report, clashes between Kelly and Trump have been on the rise as the President seeks to make more decisions on his own. Kelly’s credibility also took a hit due to the way he handled the domestic abuse allegations made against former staffer Rob Porter.

Read the full Washington Post report here.

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Michael Anton, the top spokesman for the National Security Council will leave his role in the administration, the White House confirmed Sunday night.

“Michael is one of the smartest and most talented individuals I’ve ever worked with – not to mention an amazing chef. He has been more than a colleague, he is a true friend. Everyday I got to work with Michael was a good day and he will be greatly missed,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Reporting did not indicate that Anton left due to bad blood, but his departure coincides with beginning of John Bolton’s run as national security adviser. Anton was brought on by former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI last year, but spent most of his time working under H.R. McMaster.

Anton is known for an essay he wrote during the 2016 election making the case for conservatives to back Donald Trump as a presidential candidate.

He told Politico that he will become a lecturer and writer at Hillsdale College’s Kirby Center.

“I will be forever grateful to President Trump for the opportunity to serve my country and implement his agenda,” Anton told Politico.

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The lawyers representing Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels are locked in a petty battle over the timing of correspondence between the lawyers about upcoming filing deadlines.

The lawyers representing a business set up by longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen complained in a Thursday court filing that Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing porn actress Stormy Daniels, had been slow to respond to an email even though he appeared on cable news shows.

Brent Blakely, one of the lawyers representing Essential Consultants, LLC, the business used to pay Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her silence, emailed Avenatti on April 3 to set up time to discuss an potential extension on a filing. However, Avenatti took more than a day to get back to him and proposed a weekend call, which would provide little time to submit the extension request, according to the lawyers for Essential Consultants.

“Mr. Avenatti did not respond to Mr. Blakely’s email for over thirty (30) hours, and when he did respond, Mr. Avenatti offered to schedule the call over the weekend (i.e. at least 2 days later),” the Thursday filing reads. “In the interim, on April 4, 2018, Mr. Avenatti appeared on at least three national television shows to discuss this case.”

The complaint came in a request to the judge for an extension to submit a filing. In that request, lawyers for Essential Consultants also accused Avenatti of being uncooperative as they sought more time to submit that filing.

Avenatti responded in a Friday filing and said that he had not acted improperly. He wrote that he responded to Blakely’s April 3 email the next morning, and that he suggested a call over the weekend because he knew Blakely had to be present at a trial during the week. He also defended his refusal to agree to an extension for the lawyers representing Essential Consultants because he feel’s it’s appropriate to stick to the schedule laid out by the judge.

“Notwithstanding the unfortunate personalized attacks lodged against Plaintiff’s counsel (which Plaintiff believes are completely irrelevant, have no place in Defendants’ filing, and which Plaintiff does not intend to respond to), the timeline laid out by Defendants’ counsel only confirms that Plaintiff’s counsel has conducted himself appropriately and that Defendants only have themselves to blame for the predicament they find themselves in relating to timing,” Avenatti wrote.

Avenatti’s client, Stormy Daniels, filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump and Essential Consultants seeking to be released from a hush agreement she signed shortly before the election that barred her from discussing her alleged relationship with Trump. Daniels argues that because Trump himself never signed the agreement, it is invalid.

Read the filings:

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President Donald Trump once again suggested that he will stand by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt for now, despite the onslaught of reports about Pruitt’s spending habits and rental agreement with a lobbyist.

In a Friday morning tweet, Trump attacked a CNN report from Thursday that Trump has floated replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions with Pruitt. Trump did not explicitly deny that he considered such a change, but blasted the “Fake News Media” over the report.

He also said that Pruitt is “doing a great job but is TOTALLY under siege,” attempting to blame the negative attention Pruitt received this week on the press.

Trump also told reporters on Thursday that he still has confidence in Pruitt. The Washington Post reported Thursday night that Trump has privately complained about Pruitt over the past week but has so far resisted advisers’ calls to fire Pruitt.

Despite Trump’s assurances that he supports Pruitt, the EPA administrator is not necessarily in the clear. The President has a tendency to make last-minute decisions to fire members of his cabinet shortly after the White House has suggested such a move won’t happen.

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On his first full day in office, President Donald Trump was perplexed when he watched a recorded video of a drone strike on a foreign terror suspect in which the CIA waited to strike until the suspect was alone, according to the Washington Post.

The recording showed that the waited until the terror suspect walked away from the house in which his family was residing to fire, a part of the agency’s push to limit civilian casualties, per the Washington Post.

“Why did you wait?” Trump asked, one meeting participant told the Washington Post.

It’s not clear how much of an explanation Trump received about the particular drone strike before he asked why CIA operatives waited.

Trump offered harsh rhetoric about the battle against the Islamic State while on the campaign trail. In 2015, he proposed that the U.S. “take out” the families of terrorists.

Read the full Washington Post report here.

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In a speech Thursday afternoon, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto tore into President Donald Trump over his comments about immigration and the southern border.

Peña Nieto told Trump that if he is unhappy with immigration trends in the United States, he should take the issue up with Congress, and not lash out at Mexico.

“President Trump: If you wish to reach agreements with Mexico, we stand ready, as we have proved until now, always willing to engage in a dialogue, acting in earnestness, in good faith and in a constructive spirit,” Peña Nieto said, according to the Washington Post. “If your recent statements are the result of frustration due to domestic policy issues, [due] to your laws or to your Congress, it is to them that you should turn to, not to Mexicans.”

“We will not allow negative rhetoric to define our actions. We will act only in the best interest of Mexicans,” he added.

Trump paid particular attention to immigration and the southern border this week, obsessing over a caravan of Central American immigrants traveling north to the U.S. The caravan will end in Mexico, but some will head to the U.S. seeking asylum. The coverage of the caravan prompted Trump to fire off several angry tweets earlier in the week and order the National Guard to the southern border to support Border Patrol officers there.

On Thursday, Trump escalated his rhetoric and claimed that women in the caravan have been “raped at levels that nobody’s ever seen before.”

 

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