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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

Former President George W. Bush is a little disheartened by the state of the country under President Donald Trump, but the former President said he is still "optimistic" about the future of the United States.

"I’m optimistic about where we’ll end up. I mean, yes, I don’t like the racism, I don’t like the name-calling, and I don’t like the people feeling alienated. Nobody likes that," Bush told People Magazine about the state of the U.S. in an interview published late Monday. "On the other hand, we’ve been through these periods before and we’ve always had a way to come out of it. I’m more optimistic than some.”

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In an interview that aired Tuesday morning on "Fox and Friends," President Donald Trump said that he was fine with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's decision to look through his staffers' phones, but Trump said he would not have taken the same approach.

"Sean Spicer is a fine human being. He's a fine person. I would have done it differently. I would have gone one-on-one with different people," Trump said when asked about a report that Spicer had communications staffers turn over their devices for a "phone check" in an attempt to find leakers.

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During an interview taped Monday for "Fox and Friends," President Donald Trump said that former President Barack Obama is behind protests at Republican town halls and that Obama loyalists are also behind leaks from the Trump administration.

Fox News' Brian Kilmeade suggested to Trump that Obama's organization, perhaps a reference to Organizing For Action, was behind the raucous crowds at town halls held by Republican lawmakers and asked Trump if he felt Obama was behind the protests.

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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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