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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

With the expectation that President Donald Trump will soon sign an executive order to temporarily shut down the United States' refugee resettlement program, the Department of Homeland Security has postponed planned trips abroad to interview refugee applicants, according to a Reuters report.

Trump is reportedly planning to sign an executive order soon that would suspend the country's refugee program for 120 days and end the admittance of Syrian refugees indefinitely. The order would also suspend issuing visas for those coming from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 30 days, according to the New York Times.

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Two Democratic members of Congress on Thursday sent a letter to the White House counsel informing him that several reported gag orders sent to federal agencies violate several laws, citing a memo directing employees at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) not to speak with members of Congress.

In the letter, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said that the acting head of HHS sent a memo to employees barring them from communicating with public officials. There have also been several reports that employees at other agencies have been sent gag orders restricting their communications.

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Mike Pompeo, the new CIA director under President Donald Trump, apparently only learned about a draft executive action paving the way for the CIA to reintroduce waterboarding and "black site" prisons through news reports on Wednesday.

Yahoo News, citing an unnamed source, reported that Pompeo was "blindsided" by the draft memo, which was first reported by the New York Times, and that he was never consulted about the executive order. Politico reported that both Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis were unaware of the draft order until the Times published its piece.

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After President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive action ordering the construction of a wall along the United States' border with Mexico, Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) issued a scathing statement criticizing Trump's order.

"The facts have not changed. Building a wall is the most expensive and least effective way to secure the border," Hurd said in a Wednesday statement. "Each section of the border faces unique geographical, cultural, and technological challenges that would be best addressed with a flexible, sector-by-sector approach that empowers the agents on the ground with the resources they need. A wall may be an effective tool in densely populated areas, but a variety of tools are needed between Brownsville, Texas and San Diego, California."

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President Donald Trump continues to offer praise for Fox News, telling ABC News' David Muir in an interview that aired Wednesday night that only Fox News covered his speech at the CIA fairly.

"That speech was a home run," Trump said. "We see what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming and — and they were all CIA."

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In an interview with ABC News' David Muir that aired on Wednesday night, President Donald Trump defended his debunked claims that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election and attacked the author of a study who found that there is not widespread voter fraud in the United States.

Muir told Trump that his claim that three to five million people voted illegally has been "debunked," telling Trump that a Pew report he has cited does not provide evidence of widespread fraud.

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Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the chair of the House Oversight Committee, told reporters on Wednesday that he is looking into the lease for President Donald Trump's Washington, D.C., hotel.

"I did request from the [General Services Administration] the full unredacted contract,” Chaffetz told reporters, according to Politico. “It’ll be interesting to see what they produce and what their take on it is.”

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The Office of Special Counsel, an agency that protects whistleblowers in the federal government, on Wednesday issued a reminder that any non-disclosure agreements or policies on employee communications must include language notifying federal employees of their whistleblower rights.

"Under the anti-gag provision, agencies cannot impose nondisclosure agreements and policies that fail to include required language that informs employees that their statutory right to blow the whistle supersedes the terms and conditions of the nondisclosure agreement or policy," the OSC press release said.

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