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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

President Donald Trump’s children are worried that reports on chaos inside the White House will hurt the family brand and have been pushing for changes, according to a Wednesday night Washington Post report.

Per the Post:

Trump’s three oldest children — Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric — and Kushner have been frustrated by the impression of chaos inside the White House and feel that their father has not always been served well by his senior staff, according to people with knowledge of their sentiments. The Trump heirs are interested in any changes that might help resuscitate the presidency and preserve the family’s name at a time when they are trying to expand the Trump Organization’s portfolio of hotels.

“The fundamental assessment is that if they want to win the White House in 2020, they’re not going to do it the way they did in 2016, because the family brand would not sustain the collateral damage,” said one well-connected Republican operative, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the president’s family. “It would be so protectionist, nationalist and backward-looking that they’d only be able to build in Oklahoma City or the Ozarks.”

Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, have been battling with White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, per the Washington Post. Bannon’s removal from the National Security Council’s Principals Committee has been followed by a flood of reports indicating that Bannon’s influence in the White House has decreased and that he’s been at odds with Kushner and other Trump aides.

Neither Trump nor his daughter, Ivanka Trump, who works as an unpaid adviser to the President, have divested from their interests in Trump brands.

The President declined to completely separate himself from his businesses after winning the election and instead passed the reins to his two oldest sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump. Trump pledged that he would have no knowledge of the business while in office, but Eric Trump said last month in an interview that he planned to give his father at least quarterly updates on the business’ finances.

A lawyer for Ivanka Trump, who has an office in the White House, has acknowledged that the President’s daughter has not eliminated her conflicts of interest entirely by stepping down from her leadership role in both the family business and at her own clothing and accessories company. It was also revealed in financial disclosures late last month that Ivanka Trump still has a stake in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Both the President and Ivanka Trump also are facing unfair competition lawsuits from small businesses who argue that their various Trump brands have had an unfair advantage over competitors since they entered the White House.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has recorded a robocall urging Republicans to turn out to vote in next week’s highly anticipated special election to fill a Georgia congressional seat.

The Washington Post first reported that Ryan had recorded the call on Thursday morning. A House GOP political aide confirmed to TPM that Ryan had recorded a call through House Republicans’ campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The speaker recorded a message urging people to vote for a Republican candidate in the election but did not endorse one candidate in the race, the aide told TPM. It wasn’t clear how long the robocall campaign would run or how much the NRCC was spending on the calls.

Ryan’s effort to turn out the GOP vote comes after the Cook Political Report moved the historically ruby-red district’s rating to a Republican toss-up this week. It also follows a closer-than-expected result in a Tuesday special election for a Kansas congressional seat, where the GOP candidate won the solidly Republican district by a single-digit margin.

Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff has been leading the crowded field in the Georgia race. A poll released last week showed him leading the pack with 43 percent, followed by Republicans Karen Handel and Bob Gray with 15 and 14 percent support, respectively.

The special election to fill the seat left open by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price will function as a jungle primary, with all candidates, regardless of party, competing against each other on April 18. If no candidate clears 50 percent, the top two candidates will compete in a June runoff election.

Democrats have been hopeful that they can turn the district blue by harnessing voters’ unhappiness with President Donald Trump, who won the district suburban Atlanta district by just one point in November. Republicans, for their part, have been targeting Ossoff relentlessly, making long-shot attempts to tie him to terrorism.

 

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A state Republican lawmaker in North Carolina on Wednesday called President Abraham Lincoln a “tyrant,” comparing him to Adolf Hitler.

State Rep. Larry Pittman made the remark in a Facebook post responding to criticism of his bill that would reverse the Supreme Court ruling striking down a ban on same-sex marriage, according to the Charlotte Observer. The Republican leader of the North Carolina House said that the bill will not go up for a vote, per the Charlotte Observer.

Pittman first defended his bill by arguing that it would not reinstate a ban on same-sex marriage but would uphold “the law of this State in spite of the opinion of a federal court that had no business interfering,” according to screengrabs posted by IndyWeek.

After commenters on Facebook continued to criticize Pittman, with one telling him that the “Civil war is over,” Pittman brought up Hitler and Lincoln.

“And if Hitler had won, should the world just get over it?” he wrote. “Lincoln was the same sort if (sic) tyrant, and personally responsible for the deaths of over 800,000 Americans in a war that was unnecessary and unconstitutional.”

Pittman appears to have taken down his Facebook page as of Thursday morning.

His comments drawing a comparison between Hitler and Lincoln came one day after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer incorrectly stated that Hitler did not use chemical weapons. Spicer later apologized for his mistake.

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White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Wednesday night said that President Donald Trump has been trying to make it clear that he has been setting the policy agenda with his recent lukewarm comments about White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.

“I think he values Steve’s commitment to the team and helping to advance his agenda. But I think he also wants to make sure that everybody understands when you look back in the 1980s and the 1990s, the policies that this president is now espousing and championing here in terms of trade policies, economic policies, they’re policies that he’s held in some cases for two, three, four decades,” Spicer said on Fox News when asked about Trump’s recent comments about Bannon.

“And then he wants to make sure that he’s very clear that he won this election because of the policies that he’s been laying out for decades and the commitment that he’s had to the American worker, to growing our economy and keeping our country safe,” Spicer continued. “And I think the line has been blurred up a little bit. He wanted to make it very clear. But at the same time, express confidence in the team that’s here and the talent that he has assembled.”

Bannon was recently removed from the National Security Council’s Principals Committee, and the move was followed by a flurry of reports that Bannon’s influence in the White House is waning. Amid infighting in the administration, Trump reportedly had to sit Bannon down with Jared Kushner and other White House aides and tell them to work it out.

When asked about those reports in two interviews this week, Trump appeared to distance himself from Bannon.

“I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late,” Trump told the New York Post when asked if he had confidence in Bannon. “I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve. I’m my own strategist and it wasn’t like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary.”

“Steve is a good guy, but I told them to straighten it out or I will,” Trump added to the Post in an interview published Tuesday night.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published Wednesday, Trump said that the reports on Bannon were “overblown” but described Bannon merely as a “a guy who works for me.” Trump again said that he was his “own strategist.”

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Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) faced a raucous crowd at a town hall in Aurora, Colorado, on Wednesday night, where constituents grilled him on his support for the House bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Coffman spoke to the crowd for about two hours, with health care as the main topic on voters’ minds. The Republican congressman was sometimes confronted with jeers and shouting, according to the Denver Post.

“I’m sorry to say I was shocked when you declared your intention to vote for the American Health Care Act,” one attendee, Steven Haas, told Coffman, according to Politico. “That is not the way we do things here in Colorado.”

Another audience member expressed concern that Republicans would push a bill that eliminated protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

“Are you going to side with Trump or are you going to … stand with your constituents?” the audience member asked, according to CNN.

“I don’t think that’s right. Somehow he thinks that the Democrats are going to come around if it implodes,” Coffman replied, per CNN. “I think we need to fix it. And we need to fix it now.”

Before the town hall started, Coffman told Politico that he supported the American Health Care Act as a good “starting point” and said it would be “tough” for him to back legislation that reduced protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Toward the end of the town hall, Coffman called for the resignation of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who recently incorrectly stated that Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons.

“Spicer made a terrible mistake yesterday,” Coffman said, per CNN. “He needs to go.”

The Republican lawmaker was also pressed about support for President Donald Trump, with constituents criticizing him for not representing their interests.

“When the majority of your constituents’ input to you strongly disagrees with the Republican party position on notable issues, what will it take for you to vote with your constituents?” one attendee asked, according to 9 News.

“I think I’ve won a few elections around here. So I think majority of the people in this district believe that I’m representing them,” Coffman answered, per 9 News.

He told the crowd at one point that he will only speak out against Trump when it is “something significant.”

“The people, Republicans, when Obama was President, everything was ‘What are you doing to stand up to the President? what are you doing?’ Every time the President does something, ‘Why aren’t you speaking out against the President?’ Now I’m getting the same thing from the left,” Coffman said, according to 9 News. “When I disagree with the president, I will speak out with the President. I’m not going to do it every other day. It’s when there is something significant.”

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Though the Trump administration has requested deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget, the department is looking for an increase in security for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, the New York Times reported this week.

The EPA has asked to add 10 security agents to provide a 24/7 security detail for Pruitt, which would be the first time an EPA administrator has had around-the-clock security, according to the New York Times.

According to an E&E News report resurfaced on Wednesday by Quartz, the EPA’s criminal enforcement office had expected the request for additional security.

The EPA currently does not have enough agents to provide a 24/7 detail, and between 2008 and 2010, the administrator’s security staff ranged from six to eight employees, according to E&E News. Past administrators only had door-to-door security protections where agents would accompany them to and from work, and travel with them to events and trips, per the report.

Myron Ebell, who led President Donald Trump’s EPA transition team, told E&E News in February that the additional security agents could help protect Pruitt from protesters and his department’s own employees.

“I think it’s prudent given the continuing activities by the left to foment hatred, and the reported hostility within the agency from some unprofessional activists,” he said.

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President Donald Trump believes "it's not too late" to ask for James Comey's resignation, but he indicated during a Tuesday interview on Fox Business Network that he doesn't currently have plans to dismiss the FBI director.

"No, it's not too late," Trump said when Maria Bartiromo asked if it was too late to fire Comey. "But you know I have confidence in him. We’ll see what happens. It’s going to be interesting."

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President Donald Trump on Tuesday tried to clarify his administration's policy toward Syria after ordering missile strikes on a Syrian air base last week in response to a chemical attack.

"We’re not going into Syria because you know there were some questions,” Trump told Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo. “But when I see people using horrible, horrible chemical weapons—which they agreed not to use under the Obama administration, but they violated it."

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The FBI obtained an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor the communications of Carter Page, a campaign aide to President Donald Trump, for its probe into any connections between the Trump campaign and Russia, the Washington Post reported Tuesday night, citing unnamed law enforcement and other American officials.

The FBI received the secret order after arguing to the FISA court that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as a Russian agent, the officials told the Washington Post. However, Page has not been accused of committing any crimes.

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President Donald Trump would not say whether he has confidence in Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon, who was recently removed from his spot on the National Security Council's Principals Committee.

The New York Post's Michael Goodwin asked Trump in an interview published Tuesday night whether he has confidence in Bannon. In response, Trump did not say whether he has confidence in Bannon, and instead downplayed Bannon's role in his campaign and emphasized that that he is his "own strategist."

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