Hhjtzrbjtu7lmqcndp9g

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

President Donald Trump on Thursday morning declined to single out Russia for attempting to interfere in the United States’ 2016 election, arguing that it’s not completely clear that Russia was solely responsible for the hacking attempts.

“I think it was Russia. And I think it could have been other people and other countries. It could have been a lot of people interfered,” Trump said at a press conference in Warsaw, Poland, with Polish President Andrzej Duda. “I said it very simply. I think it could very well have been Russia. But I think it could well have been other countries. And I won’t be specific. But I think a lot of people interfere.”

Rather than going after Russia, Trump hit former President Barack Obama for his delayed response to Russian hacking attempts.

“He did nothing about it,” Trump said of Obama. “They say he choked. Well, I don’t think he choked. I think what happened is he thought Hillary was going to win the election, and he said, ‘Let’s not do anything about it.’”

The Obama administration announced new sanctions against Russia in December in response to the hacking attempts. A recent Washington Post report indicates that the Obama White House was hesitant to act before the November election due to concerns that it would look like they were interfering on Hillary Clinton’s behalf.

MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson noted to Trump that the U.S. intelligence community agreed that Russia was behind the cyber attacks.

In response, Trump noted that while some media outlets reported that 17 intelligence agencies agreed with that assessment, only four agencies agreed. The President was referencing Wednesday testimony from former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who said that not all 17 agencies agreed with the assessment. His remarks prompted corrections from the Associated Press and the New York Times.

Trump then reiterated that he’s not convinced that Russia was solely responsible for interference in the 2016 election.

“I think it was Russia. But I think it was probably other people and/or countries, and I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure,” Trump said.

To back up his skepticism, Trump mentioned the George W. Bush administration claims that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

“When I was sitting back listening about Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction, how everybody was 100 percent sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction,” Trump said. “They were wrong and it led to a mess.”

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) is back in the intensive care unit at a Washington, D.C. hospital due to concerns about infection three weeks after he was shot during congressional Republicans’ baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia.

“Congressman Steve Scalise has been readmitted to the Intensive Care Unit at MedStar Washington Hospital Center due to new concerns for infection. His condition is listed as serious,” MedStar Washington Hospital Center said in a statement Wednesday night.

Scalise was moved out of the ICU about two weeks ago and was in fair condition at the time. The congressman was shot in the hip, and the bullet “caused significant damage to bones, internal organs and blood vessels,” according to the hospital. Scalise had several surgeries to repair the damage.

The day after the White House’s bogus “election integrity” commission asked states to turn over data from their voter rolls, none other than a Republican secretary of state who was named to the commission itself joined a chorus of states declining to comply with the request.

Several states with Democratic secretaries of state, like California and Kentucky, quickly rejected the ask, decrying it as an attempt to bolster voter suppression attempts. The request came in the form of a letter from Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state notorious for supporting restrictions on voting who is the vice chair of the commission.

But notably, Connie Lawson, Indiana’s Republican secretary of state, also declined to fulfill the request on Friday, citing state law that bars her from sharing voters’ personal information. The commission had requested “publicly-available voter roll data,” but specified that it was interested in information including the last four digits of voters’ social security numbers and birth dates.

Lawson was named to the commission, which is headed up by Vice President Mike Pence, the former governor of Indiana, in May.

Under Lawson, the Indiana State Police raided a voter registration office late last year, and she subsequently removed about half a million names from the voter rolls. As a state senator, Lawson also introduced a voter ID bill.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, a climate denier, is launching an initiative at the agency to challenge scientists’ near-universal consensus on climate science by having experts debate scientific studies, E&E News reported Friday.

The initiative will include “red team, blue team” exercises to perform “at-length evaluation of U.S. climate science,” an anonymous administration official told E&E News. The term “red team, blue team” is used by the military to describe exercises aimed at finding vulnerabilities, and it was popularized as a way to debate climate science by Wall Street Journal columnist Steven Koonin.

“The administrator believes that we will be able to recruit the best in the fields which study climate and will organize a specific process in which these individuals … provide back-and-forth critique of specific new reports on climate science,” the official told E&E News.

Pruitt has previously said that he would support such a debate over climate science at the EPA, but this report is the first indication that he’s moving toward starting one. The agency did not immediately respond Friday to TPM’s request for comment.

He told Breitbart News earlier in June that he would like to facilitate this type of debate at the EPA.

“What the American people deserve, I think, is a true, legitimate, peer-reviewed, objective, transparent discussion about CO2,” he said.

Though Pruitt reportedly has started this initiative, it’s not clear that he’ll try to challenge the endangerment finding, the EPA determination that greenhouse gas emissions damage the climate, which the agency has used to justify regulation of greenhouse gases, per E&E News’ report. Pruitt vowed that he would not touch the endangerment finding during his confirmation hearing earlier this year.

 

 

In response to a letter from congressional Democrats, the Office of Government Ethics this week asked the White House Counsel’s office to review whether a top White House ethics official violated ethics rules himself.

Several Democrats sent a letter to OGE Director Walter Shaub in May that asked him to look into whether Stefan Passantino, the White House’s ethics official, violated ethics rules barring him from being involved in personnel matters for former clients who are executive branch appointees.

Democrats raised concerns to Shaub because Passantino shared with Bloomberg News the administration’s determination that Carl Icahn, who serves as an adviser to President Donald Trump, is not an official White House employee, according to Shaub’s letter. Passantino used to work at the law firm that provided services to Icahn.

Shaub wrote in his Wednesday letter to the Democrats that he did not have enough information to reach a conclusion on the matter.

“OGE lacks the information needed to assess this news report,” Shaub wrote, adding that he is not aware of whether Passantino was involved in forming the White House legal opinion that Icahn is not a White House employee.

Shaub said he has asked the White House counsel to look into the matter and determine “whether action is warranted.” He said that the White House “is in a position to ascertain the relevant facts and is responsible for monitoring its appointees’ compliance with ethics requirements.”

Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state, on Thursday evening said she would not comply with a data request from President Donald Trump’s “election integrity” commission, joining several other states in rejecting the request.

In her statement, Grimes called out the bogus commission as an attempt to bolster conservative voter suppression efforts.

“The president created his election commission based on the false notion that ‘voter fraud’ is a widespread issue — it is not. Indeed, despite bipartisan objections and a lack of authority, the President has repeatedly  spread the lie that three to five million illegal votes were cast in the last election,” Grimes said in the statement. “Kentucky will not aid a commotion that is at best a waste of taxpayer money and at worst an attempt to legitimize voter suppression efforts across the country.”

A spokesman for the secretary of Massachusetts also said Thursday that the state would not comply with commission’s request.

“They’re not going to get it,” spokesman Brian McNiff told Commonwealth Magazine. “It’s not a public record.”

The Vermont secretary of state said Friday morning that the state will not give the commission all of the data it asked for.

Kris Kobach, vice chair of the commission and Kansas secretary of state known for his obsession with voter fraud, sent letters to states on Thursday asking them to turn over publicly-available data on the voters in their states.

Officials in California and Virginia quickly announced that they would not fulfill Kobach’s request.

As the Senate struggles to come up with a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare that wins the approval of 50 Republican senators, a Republican senator on Friday morning suggested repealing the Affordable Care Act now and devising a replacement later. President Donald Trump quickly jumped on board.

However, it’s not clear that Republican senators would back this approach given that some have previously opposed such a strategy. The fact that the Senate GOP leadership has yet to come up with a deal that at least 50 senators can agree upon may also make some senators wary of punting on a replacement, especially those who have concerns about the current draft bill now.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), wrote a letter to Trump Friday morning suggesting a plan to repeal Obamacare now, with a year-long delay in implementation, setting up Congress to work on a replacement plan this summer.

“On the current path, it looks like Republicans will either fail to pass any meaningful bill at all, or will instead pass a bill that attempts to prop up much of the crumbling ObamaCare structures. We can and must do better than either of these – both because the American people deserve better, and because we promised better,” Sasse wrote in the letter.

He asked Trump to call on Republicans to repeal Obamacare in early July if they cannot reach an agreement on a comprehensive plan by then.

“We should include a year-long implementation delay to give comfort to Americans currently on ObamaCare that a replacement plan will be enacted before expiration,” Sasse added.

He then suggested Congress cancel its August recess to work on a replacement plan, passing that by Labor Day.

Trump quickly praised this plan.

Senate leaders pitched this approach in January. But the plan was quickly shelved when at least four senators opposed that strategy. It’s possible those Senate Republicans would raise concerns about that approach again, especially given that the caucus has been unable to reach agreement on a suitable replacement plan.

Yet, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who initially opposed this strategy in January, threw his support behind the approach on Friday morning.

The co-hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Mika Brzezinksi and Joe Scarborough on Friday morning published an op-ed in the Washington Post declaring that President Donald Trump is “not well” and that he should stop watching their show.

Trump launched a vicious, personal attack on Brzezinksi Thursday morning, tweeting that she was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” at his Mar-a-Lago resort around New Year’s Eve. His tirade drew condemnation from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Brzezinski and Scarborough called out Trump for his “obsession” with their show.

“The president’s unhealthy obsession with ‘Morning Joe’ does not serve the best interests of either his mental state or the country he runs. Despite his constant claims that he no longer watches the show, the president’s closest advisers tell us otherwise. That is unfortunate. We believe it would be better for America and the rest of the world if he would keep his 60-inch-plus flat-screen TV tuned to ‘Fox & Friends,'” they wrote.

They also disputed Trump’s claim that they tried to see him at Mar-a-Lago around New Year’s Eve.

“Mr. Trump claims that we asked to join him at Mar-a-Lago three nights in a row. That is false. He also claimed that he refused to see us. That is laughable,” they wrote in the Washington Post, adding that Trump had actually invited them to join him.

The co-hosts ridiculed Trump for criticizing Brzezinski’s appearance and disputed that she had a face lift.

“Putting aside Mr. Trump’s never-ending obsession with women’s blood, Mika and her face were perfectly intact, as pictures from that night reveal. And though it is no one’s business, the president’s petulant personal attack against yet another woman’s looks compels us to report that Mika has never had a face-lift,” they wrote.

They also revealed that the White House at one point threatened them with a negative story in the National Enquirer.

“This year, top White House staff members warned that the National Enquirer was planning to publish a negative article about us unless we begged the president to have the story spiked. We ignored their desperate pleas,” the co-hosts wrote.

 

President Donald Trump on Wednesday night tweeted a chart showing that federal government spending on the Medicaid program will increase over time under the Senate’s draft bill to repeal Obamacare, but the chart is misleading since Medicaid spending would have grown at a faster rate under current law.

Medicaid spending will technically increase under the Senate bill, but with inflation, those dollars will not go as far over time. The Senate bill puts a cap on the federal government’s spending per Medicaid enrollee, and the Medicaid program will see a massive cut compared to spending under Obamacare.

A chart from Vox shows that by 2026, the federal government’s spending on Medicaid would be much lower under the Senate bill than it would be under current law.

President Donald Trump was particularly upset with the hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Thursday morning, publishing particularly nasty tweets attacking Mika Brzezinski for going to his Mar-a-Lago resort after what he said was a “face lift.”

Though Trump has continuously attacked the media now that he’s occupying the Oval Office, his Thursday morning attack on Brzezinksi was atypically personal and vicious.

It’s unclear exactly what prompted the tweets, but Trump has a longstanding feud with Brzezinski and “Morning Joe” co-host Joe Scarborough. The two spoke with Trump regularly during the 2016 campaign, forcing them to defend their initially cozy coverage of Trump. However, the co-hosts have become increasingly critical of the President since.

The Thursday tweets were somewhat reminiscent of Trump’s attack on former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly. Trump blasted Kelly after a debate moderated by Fox News, saying he thought she must have had “blood coming out of her wherever.”

In an apparent response to Trump’s rage-fueled tweet, Brzezinski tweeted a picture of a Cheerios box with the tag line “made for little hands.”

A spokesperson for MSNBC also issued a statement to Trump’s attack on the “Morning Joe” co-hosts saying it’s a “sad day for America” when the President spends his time engaging in such attacks.

Mark Kornblau, a spokesman for NBC, also responded on Twitter.

LiveWire