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

Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Tuesday night updated his viewers on his baseless conspiracy theory about the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich even though he has promised not to talk about Rich anymore.

He began by reiterating his pledge not to talk about Rich for the time being before telling his audience that he’s still digging and complaining that he’s been called a conspiracy theorist.

“I have to start tonight on a personal note of something that happened last week. Now, I was asked by the family of the DNC staffer that was killed in July to pull back covering the story of the death because their son and their family was hurting,” he said on his show. “Now out of respect for the family’s wishes, well, I decided for the time being not to discuss it unless there were further developments.”

“But I also promised you, my audience, my loyal audience, that I will not stop investigating. I will not stop asking questions,” he continued. “And at a very high level, the bottom line here is the family wants the truth and I think the country deserves the truth, because this impacts so much of what the narrative in this country is now about, which is the left and their conspiracy theory. Now I can report, I am making progress. We will have a lot more coming probably sooner than later.”

He then complained that he has been labeled a conspiracy theorist “because I dare to ask questions” and claimed that liberals are trying to get his show cancelled by going after his advertisers. Several companies have pulled ads from the show following his relentless coverage of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory, though USAA has said it will again begin airing ads on “Hannity.”

Hannity’s update Tuesday night followed a very similar update last week during which he said he would stop talking about Seth Rich for the time being.


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President Donald Trump on Wednesday morning published a short series of tweets about former campaign aide Carter Page following a report on “Fox and Friends” about claims from Page that the House Intelligence Committee had delayed a planned session with him.

Trump used the “Fox and Friends” report to blast the Russia probe and the attention paid to Page’s ties to Russia as a “witch hunt.”

His tweet followed a brief segment on “Fox and Friends” reporting that Page sent a letter to the House Intelligence Committee on Monday claiming that the committee had delayed its plans to interview him. One of the hosts of “Fox and Friends” also highlighted a Tuesday night report from Fox News’ Catherine Herridge that Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee had pushed for Page’s testimony to be delayed, citing a “source familiar with the matter.”

However, it’s not clear that the committee ever scheduled an interview with Page.

Page claimed last week that he had tentatively scheduled a hearing with the committee on June 6. However, the committee would not confirm that Page was set to testify that day, and one Democrat on the committee, Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) told Politico that he had not heard that the committee had confirmed a hearing date with Page.

Page is one of several Trump campaign aides who has come under scrutiny by federal investigators due to his links to Russian officials. Page left the campaign in September 2016 after a brief stint there. Since his ties to Russia have surfaced, Trump officials have tried to distance themselves from Page, making Trump’s mention of Page on Wednesday morning somewhat peculiar.

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White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday said that President Donald Trump developed a “fairly unbelievable” relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week during the European leg of his first trip abroad as President.

“I think the relationship that the President has had with Merkel he would describe as fairly unbelievable,” Spicer said at the daily press briefing when asked about Merkel. “They get along very well. He has a lot of respect for her. They continue to grow the bond that they had during their talks in the G7.”

Spicer’s insistence that Trump and Merkel got along well comes after Trump made negative comments about the United States’ trade relationship with Germany. He told European Union officials last week that Germany is “very bad on trade,” and on Tuesday morning criticized Germany for not contributing enough to NATO.

Spicer also told reporters that the White House views Germany and other European countries as important allies. He said that last week Trump “re-affirmed the need to deepen and improve our transatlantic relationship.”

Yet following Trump’s trip abroad, Merkel said Sunday that “the times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days.”

Spicer insisted on Tuesday that those remarks actually were “great.”

“That’s what the President called for. He called for additional burden-sharing. The secretary general of NATO said that the President’s calls are what’s moving them in the right direction,” Spicer said. “The President is getting results. More countries are stepping up their burden-sharing. That is a good thing for them. It’s a good thing for NATO and it’s a good thing for America.”

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Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, offered a different explanation for his decision to step aside from the panel’s investigation of Russian interference in the U.S. election at a fundraiser in California in early April, the day after he stepped down from the probe.

He also hinted that he was eager to return to the probe, which he painted as an attempt by Democrats to explain away Hillary Clinton’s election loss.

Nunes told attendees at the Tulare County Lincoln Dinner that he stepped aside in order to protect vulnerable Republican House members from facing questions about his actions from the media, according to a video of the event published by the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday. The video was provided to the newspaper by someone who attended the event and filmed part of Nunes’ remarks.

“The reporters and the national news were going to chase David and every other member of Congress around the country for the next two weeks. Basically what I said, I said, ‘Well, screw you,’” Nunes said at the fundraiser, referring to neighboring Rep. David Valadao (R-CA). “So I did something that they never thought I would do and I stepped aside, and I gave them a gift.”

At the time, Nunes said he stepped down from the probe due to complaints he said “leftwing activist groups” filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics. He had come under fire for going directly to President Donald Trump with information he alleged showed that the Obama administration asked for the names of Trump transition officials to be improperly unmasked in intelligence reports on foreign nationals.

Nunes told the attendees at the April fundraiser that he would return to the helm of the Russia probe as soon as the ethics charges against him were cleared up.

“And guess what? When these ethics charges are gone then I’m going to be back again,” he said.

He also complained about Democrats’ focus on the Russia investigation, claiming that Democrats only want to talk about Russia’s election meddling in order to excuse Hillary Clinton’s loss to Trump.

“The Democrats don’t want an investigation on Russia. They want an independent commission,” Nunes said at the fundraiser. “Why do they want an independent commission? Because they want to continue the narrative that Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump are best friends, and that’s the reason that he won, because Hillary Clinton could have never lost on her own; it had to be someone else’s fault.”

“They have tried to destroy this Russia investigation, they’ve never been serious about it,” he added.


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Mike Dubke has resigned as the White House communications director, just a few months after he started in the role.

Axios was first to report Dubke’s resignation, which he submitted on May 18, and several news outlets subsequently confirmed Dubke’s departure.

Dubke confirmed to CNN Tuesday morning that he had submitted his resignation and said that he “a good conversation with the President” after informing him he would be stepping down. Dubke did not offer a specific reason for leaving the White House, telling CNN that he was resigning “for a number of reasons — for personal reasons.”

“It has been a privilege to serve this president,” Dubke told CNN.

It’s not yet clear when Dubke will leave the White House, but he could depart as soon as Tuesday, according to the Washington Post.

Dubke joined the Trump administration in February from Crossroads Media, a Republican political consulting firm that had been critical of Trump. He was one of just a few top advisers who had not worked on the campaign and he “struggled to build alliances with some colleagues on the senior staff,” according to the Washington Post.

His resignation may be the first move in a Trump administration staffing shakeup, according to Axios and the Washington Post.

In a statement issued Tuesday morning, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus confirmed Dubke’s resignation and thanked him for his service. Priebus did not say wheun Dubke’s last day at the White House will be.

“I want to thank Mike Dubke for his service to President Trump and this administration.  We appreciate Mike and are very grateful for his service to President Trump and our country,” Priebus said in the statement. “Mike tendered his resignation just before the President’s historic international trip and offered to remain onboard until a transition is concluded.  Mike will assist with the transition and be a strong advocate for the President and the President’s policies moving forward.”

This post has been updated.

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Back in the United States after his first major trip abroad, President Donald Trump has returned to his habit of responding to the news in angry early-morning tweets.

On Tuesday morning, he began by reiterating that he’s unhappy about the current state of trade between the U.S. and Germany.

Last week, he complained to European Union leaders in Brussels that Germany is “very bad on trade.”

In a second tweet Tuesday morning, Trump dismissed the focus on the probe into Russia’s election meddling and any links between Russia and the Trump campaign as “Fake News.”

Trump also published a series of tweets bashing the media on Sunday, claiming that any media reports using anonymous sources may be “made up by fake news writers.” The Sunday tweetstorm came after a series of reports on senior adviser Jared Kushner’s role in communicating with Russian officials before Trump took office.

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White House senior adviser and son-in-law to the President Jared Kushner receives a separate intelligence briefing from President Donald Trump, earlier in the morning than when Trump sits for his briefing, the Washington Post reported Monday night, citing two unnamed White House officials.

Kushner often joins Trump for his intelligence briefing as well, according to the Washington Post. Trump in November had reportedly said that he wanted Kushner to have access to the presidential intelligence briefings.

Kushner has come under increased scrutiny recently as reports have revealed that he has become a focus of the FBI’s Russia investigation. Kushner also reportedly sought to establish a secret line of communication with the Russian government before Trump took office.

Trump’s intelligence briefings feature visual aides like videos and “killer graphics,” CIA Director Mike Pompeo told the Washington Post.

Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, told the Post that Trump takes the intelligence briefings very seriously.

“A president who I think came into the office thinking he would focus on domestic issues — ‘make America great again’ — has learned that you inherit the world and its problems when you’re president of the United States,” Coats told the Post.

“One time he came in and said, ‘All right, what’s the bad news this morning?’ ” he continued. “You can see the weight of the burden on the shoulders of the president.”

Read the Washington Post’s full report on intelligence briefings here.

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A Republican state lawmaker prompted a scuffle in the Texas House on Monday when he told his Democratic colleagues that it had called Immigration and Customs Enforcement on protesters in the capitol who were speaking out against a new immigration law.

Republican state Rep. Matt Rinaldi acknowledged in a Facebook post that he called ICE on people protesting SB4, a new law that will allow law enforcement to ask about the immigration status of anyone they detain. When Rinaldi told his colleagues in the state House that he had called ICE, he started a verbal altercation, according to Democratic members of the state House.

Democratic state Rep. Ramon Romero Jr. told reporters that Rinaldi told them, “I called ICE — fuck them,'” according to the Texas Tribune. Romero said that Rinaldi also said “Fuck you” directly to Democratic lawmakers, per the Texas Tribune.

At that point, Democratic state Rep. Cesar Blanco noted to Rinaldi that Italian Americans were also once immigrants, according to Romero.

Blanco told reporters that Rinaldi responded, “‘The difference between me and them is that I love this country.'”

Democratic state Rep. Justin Rodriguez told reporters that Rinaldi threatened to shoot one of his colleagues.

“There was a subsequent exchange between my brother Poncho and Representative Rinaldi and there was a threat made from Rinaldi to put a bullet in one of my colleague’s heads,” Rodriguez said of Rinaldi, according to the Texas Observer. “That kind of threatening language he needs to be called out and held accountable for.”

In a Facebook post, Rinaldi claimed that he was assaulted by Romero and threatened by Democratic state Rep. Alfonso “Poncho” Nevárez. Rinaldi said that he said he would use his gun in self-defense.

Democratic lawmakers said that the scuffle on the House floor did not lead to any physical violence, countering Rinaldi’s claim that he was assaulted, according to the Texas Tribune.

Video captured by KVUE shows lawmakers pushing each other on the state House floor.


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President Donald Trump’s golf courses in the United States display a coat of arms taken from another prominent American family with just one small tweak, according to a New York Times report out Sunday.

Trump uses the coat of arms belonging to Joseph Edward Davies, the third husband of Marjorie Merriweather Post, according to the Times. Post built Mar-A-Lago, the Florida resort now run by Trump. Davies’ coat of arms shows three lions with a chevron pattern, with the word “integritas,” Latin for integrity, at the bottom. Trump uses the same coat of arms, but replaced “integritas” with “Trump,” per the Times.

Trump never asked the family for permission to use the coat of arms, Joseph D. Tydings, a former senator and Davies’ grandson, told the New York Times. Tydings said that some members of his family wanted to sue Trump but that he argued against taking on the real estate mogul.

“I just told the other members of my family that you can’t win on this,” he told the New York Times. “You’ll borrow for two generations to sue him.”

Trump got in trouble with Scottish authorities when he tried to use the coat of arms at a golf course, there, however. He now uses a different coat of arms at his golf courses in Scotland, according to the Times.

Read the full report at the New York Times.

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In an interview with an Australian media outlet published Monday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that he does not believe Jared Kushner’s reported suggestion that the Trump transition team establish a secret backchannel to the Russian government followed typical procedures.

“I don’t like it, I just don’t,” McCain told Australian outlet ABC regarding the Washington Post report that Kushner asked the Russian ambassador to set up a secret communications channel between the Trump team and the Kremlin using Russia’s embassy in the U.S.

“I know some administration officials are saying this is standard procedure. I don’t think it’s standard procedure prior to the inauguration of the President of the United States by someone who is not in an appointed position,” McCain told ABC.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster both defended Kushner’s reported request for a backchannel on Sunday, arguing that such a move is typical and helpful.

McCain also told ABC that he sees Russian President Vladimir Putin as a greater threat than the Islamic State.

“I think ISIS can do terrible things,” he said. “But it’s the Russians who tried to destroy the very fundamental of democracy and that is to change the outcome of an American election.”

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