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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 a lengthy, wide-ranging press conference Monday about the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election, the committee's chair, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), repeatedly defended the Trump administration.

He declared that he has seen no evidence that aides to President Donald Trump were in contact with Russian officials before the election and dismissed calls for a special prosecutor to look into the matter. He also fiercely defended the White House's attempts to get members of Congress to push back on reports about Trump aides' alleged contacts with Russia, applauding the effort as a move for greater transparency.

The Intelligence Committee chair even went to bat for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned following reports that he talked with the Russian ambassador about U.S. sanctions before Trump's inauguration.

Here are the five main takeaways from Nunes' comments Monday:

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Rep. Darell Issa (R-CA) said on Friday that a special prosecutor should investigate allegations that aides to President Donald Trump were in contact with Russian officials before the election.

During an interview on HBO's "Real Time," host Bill Maher asked Issa whether there would be an investigation into allegations that Trump aides had been in contact with Russians in addition to Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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Former President George W. Bush on Monday morning told NBC's "Today" that the media is crucial to democracy.

"I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. We needed independent media to hold people like me to account," Bush said. "Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power."

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday said that President Donald Trump's budget, which will be sent to Congress in March, will not propose cutting funding for all social safety programs.

"We are not touching those now,” Mnuchin said on Fox News’ "Sunday Morning Futures” when Maria Bartiromo asked if the administration planned to cut funding for programs like Social Security and Medicare. “So don't expect to see that as part of this budget.”

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Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) on Thursday warned that some congressional Republicans may no longer have the guts to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act after facing pressure from constituents at town halls this week.

Brooks said on WBHP's "The Morning Show with Toni & Gary," first flagged by CNN, that he believes "a significant number" of his colleagues "are being impacted by these kinds of protests and their spine is a little bit weak."

"And I don't know if we're going to be able to repeal Obamacare now because these folks who support Obamacare are very active, they're putting pressure on congressmen and there's not a counter-effort to steel the spine of some of these congressmen in tossup districts around the country," he said.

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Following reports that White House Chief-of-Staff Reince Priebus asked the FBI to dispute a story saying aides to President Donald Trump were in contact with Russian officials before the election, senior administration officials insisted that FBI officials came to Priebus to say the reporting was inaccurate.

The officials told reporters that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe brought up to Priebus during a one-on-one meeting on Feb. 15 that a New York Times story on the subject was "bullshit," according to a White House pool report.

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White House aide Sebastian Gorka took a break from chewing out his critics to tell the audience Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference that the United States government should work to quash the ideology of "jihad" both abroad and at home.

Gorka said that the U.S. will make "the black flag of jihad" as "repugnant" as the Nazi flag.

"The brand of jihad has to be destroyed," he said, adding that it must be "vilified" in America as well as in the Middle East.

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As the week comes to a close, Republican lawmakers home in their districts continued to face pointed questions from constituents about President Donald Trump and the Affordable Care Act.

Those who did face the public in town halls were met with jeers and pressure to be a check on Trump. Two Republican members of Congress were asked about Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Some lawmakers avoided the public by either canceling planned events or refusing to engage with protesters.

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During a town hall in Florida on Thursday freshman Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) called for President Donald Trump to release his tax returns following a question from an attendee.

Donna Waters, a 56-year-old Pensacola resident, told Gaetz, "There are allegations that a hostile foreign country is committing acts of undeclared war by infiltrating the highest levels of our government," according to CNN.

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