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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

The first Charlottesville, Virginia city council meeting since the deadly attack on counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in the city erupted on Monday night when several residents began shouting down city council members.

Residents attending the meeting took the council members to task for the way the city handled the rally of white nationalists earlier this month.

“You had multiple opportunities to intervene and you did not intervene one time.  We told you exactly what you needed to do and you did nothing,” one man said at the meeting, according to local NBC affiliate WVIR.

At one point during the meeting, two people climbed onto the dais to hold a large sign reading, “Blood on your hands,” prompting some councilors and city staff to flee the room, per WVIR.

As the meeting became increasingly unruly, police intervened and arrested removed individuals, according to the New York Times. When the police detained three people, the crowd in the room broke out into chants of “Shame” and “Shut it down,” per the Times.

At that point, the only city official left in the room was Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy, who negotiated with the angry crowd, the Times reported. He worked out with residents that each would be allowed a turn to speak during the meeting.

Residents in attendance blasted the city for allowing the “Unite the Right” rally to take place and called for the resignation of Mayor Mike Signer, chanting “Signer must go!” They also urged the council to push for the removal of Confederate monuments from the city.

After residents were finished speaking, the city council moved to start the process of removing Confederate statues from the city. The council approved a motion to drape those statues in black fabric to commemorate the victims of the attack, according to WVIR.

President Donald Trump on Monday night announced his administration’s plan for the war in Afghanistan, but only after Trump angrily questioned military leaders over their proposals and moved past staff infighting over what his approach should be.

Presented with plans to send additional troops into Afghanistan in July, Trump furiously grilled national security officials on the proposal, the New York Times reported.

“We’re losing,” Trump said, according to an anonymous person in the room who spoke with the Times. “What does success look like?”

Trump’s initial resistance to increasing troops in Afghanistan, combined with a sharp divide among his top aides, delayed his decision on a strategy for months, the Washington Post reported.

While National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster backed the plan to increase troops, since-ousted chief strategist Steve Bannon vehemently opposed that proposal, per the Post. After Defense Secretary James Mattis sided with McMaster, Breitbart News launched a campaign against the national security adviser, which only irked more administration staff members, per the Post.

During the aides’ battle for Trump’s support, McMaster showed Trump a photograph from 1972 of Afghan women walking through Kabul in miniskirts to prove that it was possible for the country to adopt Western norms, the newspaper reported.

Chief of staff John Kelly eventually forced Trump to make a decision, calling a meeting at Camp David last Friday to finalize an approach in Afghanistan, per the Post.

After a wave of charities pulled fundraising events from President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago club in the wake of his response to the Charlottesville attack, a local New Jersey charity announced Monday that it would no longer hold an event at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

“United Ways in every community denounce racism, bigotry and prejudice in all forms. We strongly reject the divisive worldview of groups like the white nationalists and neo-Nazis that incited the violence in Charlottesville, VA,” United Ways of Monmouth and Ocean Counties said in a Facebook post.

“Based on recent events, we have decided to relocate our upcoming event from Trump National Golf Club to a new venue which will be announced shortly. We thank all of our supporters who stand with us to embrace ideas that unify us and make us stronger. To live better, we must Live United,” the group added in its statement.

The local chapter of United Ways follows in the footsteps of several major charities who yanked events from Trump’s Palm Beach club last week over Trump’s failure to condemn white nationalists, including the American Cancer Society, the Salvation Army, and the American Red Cross.

The United Ways statement was more pointed than some of those issued by major charities, as the post explicitly said the organization made the decision due to “recent events” and denounced racism and white nationalists.

 

The evening before President Donald Trump’s rally in Arizona, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) told reporters that he is not concerned about the potential for Trump to back one of the Republican primary challengers to Flake in his 2018 re-election bid.

“I don’t worry about it at all,” Flake told reporters in Arizona on Monday when asked about Trump’s criticism of him on Twitter, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In a tweet last week, Trump called Flake “toxic” and declared that the senator is “weak” on immigration issues and crime. The President applauded Republican state Sen. Kelli Ward for challenging Flake, an atypical move for a president.

Asked about Trump’s support for Ward, Flake said, “That’s not my realm. That’s somebody else’s. I just — I’m running my own campaign. It’s going well. And what the president does, that’s his prerogative,” per the LA Times.

Trump will hold a rally in Arizona Tuesday night, sparking speculation that he could bash Flake and support one of his primary challengers from the stage. Trump’s ire with Flake is likely due in part to the senator’s recent book tour during which he repeatedly criticized Trump.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Monday night criticized President Donald Trump for failing last week to fully condemn the white nationalists at a rally in Charlottesville, acknowledging that the President “messed up.”

During a televised town hall on CNN, Ryan was asked about Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville. The speaker applauded Trump’s second stab at responding to the attack, describing it as “pitch perfect.” But he criticized Trump for later faltering at a press conference.

“Then, the next day, I think it was in New York on an infrastructure press conference, in answer to a question, I think he made comments that were much more morally ambiguous, much more confusing,” Ryan said. “And I do think he could have done better. I think he needed to do better.”

The speaker then praised Trump for his tweet applauding the counterprotesters in Boston who spoke out against a “free speech” rally over the weekend and said that the President made progress in his Monday night speech on Afghanistan.

“The soldier understands what we as a nation too often forget, that a wound inflicted upon a single member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all,” Trump said Monday night. “When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry and no tolerance for hate.”

Ryan said that was “exactly what a president needs to say and what we needed to hear.”

“So I do believe that he messed up in his comments on Tuesday, when it – it – it sounded like a moral equivocation, or at the very least moral ambiguity, when we need extreme moral clarity,” he added.

CNN moderator Jake Tapper then pointed out that Trump said that there were “very fine people” at the rally in Charlottesville, arguing that it was “morally wrong,” not “ambiguous” for Trump to say that. Ryan agreed.

“You’re not a good person if you’re there. That’s just so very clear. So I totally agree with that,” Ryan said. “It was not only morally ambiguous, it was – it was equivocating. And that was wrong. That’s why I think it was very, very important that he – that he – he has since then cleared that up. And I think it was important that he did that tonight.”

Though Ryan criticized Trump’s response to Charlottesville, he stopped short of supporting a censure of the President, arguing that it would become a “partisan hack-fest.”

 

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Monday condemned white nationalists and declared that there were “no sides” to the violence at a rally earlier this month in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“The immediate condemnations from left, right, and center affirmed that there is no confusion about right and wrong here. There are no sides,” Ryan said in a statement on Monday. “There is no other argument. We will not tolerate this hateful ideology in our society.”

The statement comes about a week after President Donald Trump failed to fully denounce white nationalists in the wake of a car attack at the rally that killed one counter-protester and injured at least 19 others. The President initially blamed “many sides” for the violence.

“I still firmly believe this hate exists only on the fringes. But so long as it exists, we need to talk about it. We need to call it what it is. And so long as it is weaponized for fear and terror, we need to confront it and defeat it,” Ryan’s statement continued. “That is why we all need to make clear there is no moral relativism when it comes to neo-Nazis. We cannot allow the slightest ambiguity on such a fundamental question.”

The statement is Ryan’s most robust response to the attack and to Trump’s comments on it. Last week, the speaker wrote that “white supremacy is repulsive” shortly after Trump’s off-the-rails press conference during which he backslid into blaming “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville.

Ryan said in the statement that “the notion that anyone is intrinsically superior to anyone else runs completely counter to our founding principles.” He did not directly call out Trump, but said American leaders have a responsibility to promote those principles.

“Those principles make America special. They by no means make us perfect. We may never fully eradicate this scourge. After all, this republic is defined by its often winding pursuit of a more perfect union,” the statement read. “But it is that chase that sets us apart. It is the notion we are always trying to be better. This goes especially for our leaders. Those of us entrusted with the privilege to serve and represent the American people have an obligation to challenge us to push beyond the passions of the moment.”

Read Ryan’s full statement here.

The University of Texas at Austin removed several confederate statues overnight on Sunday following an announcement from the school’s president, Gregory Fenves.

“Last week, the horrific displays of hatred at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville shocked and saddened the nation. These events make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism,” Fenves said in a Sunday statement.

Three of the statues being removed, including one of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, will be relocated to a campus exhibit. The fourth statue, which depicts former Texas Gov. James Hogg, may be relocated to another spot on the campus, Fenves said.

Fenves said he made the decision to remove the statues after a discussion with students, university staff, and alumni.

“The University of Texas at Austin is a public educational and research institution, first and foremost. The historical and cultural significance of the Confederate statues on our campus — and the connections that individuals have with them — are severely compromised by what they symbolize,” he said in the statement. “Erected during the period of Jim Crow laws and segregation, the statues represent the subjugation of African Americans. That remains true today for white supremacists who use them to symbolize hatred and bigotry.”

A spokesman for the university, Gary Susswein, told the Austin American-Statesman that the statues were removed after dark with little warning due to public safety concerns.

Before the events of last week, Steve Bannon had come to an agreement with White House chief of staff John Kelly in July that he would leave the White House in mid-August in a low-key, civil manner, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

However, President Donald Trump’s response to the Charlottesville attack and Bannon’s phone call to the American Prospect prompted a much more abrupt departure on Friday afternoon, the New York Times reported, citing unnamed White House aides and associates to Trump and Bannon.

Bannon urged Trump not to give way to his critics regarding the President’s failure to fully condemn white nationalists, clashing with Kelly, per the Times. Following Trump’s initial response, Bannon and Kelly agreed to push his departure date to early September, according to the Times. But Bannon’s impromptu interview with the American Prospect about policy toward China and North Korea irked Kelly, and Bannon was then quickly let go, the New York Times reported.

Though Bannon’s time in the White House came to a rather abrupt end on Friday, his star had been fading for a while as he clashed with other members of Trump’s staff. Last week, Trump was no longer willing to side with Bannon, in part because he believed Bannon was leaking stories about White House infighting to the media, per the Times.

Bannon frequently butt heads with Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

The former chief strategist places some blame for his departure on Kushner. Bannon told friends that he believes Kushner asked Rupert Murdoch to urge Trump to fire Bannon, according to Vanity Fair.

President Donald Trump on Sunday night published a tweet saying that his thoughts and prayers are with U.S. Navy sailors after he bungled his response to reporters’ shouted questions about the collision of a Navy destroyer that left sailors injured and missing.

Ten sailors are missing after a Navy destroyer, the USS John McCain, collided with an oil tanker on Sunday.

When Trump arrived back in the Washington, D.C. area Sunday night, reporters shouted questions to him about the incident with the USS John McCain. It’s not clear what the President heard over the sound of Marine One.

“That’s too bad,” Trump replied to the reporters, appearing unaware of the collision.

In a series of tweets Saturday afternoon, President Donald Trump said that there were “anti-police agitators” in Boston but also praised people who came out to protest “bigotry and hate.”

Trump was responding to protests in Boston earlier Saturday where thousands of counterprotesters came out to speak out against those attending a “free speech” rally on the Boston Common. The President’s comments on the protests in Boston were relatively measured compared to his remarks about the violence last weekend in Charlottesville, when he failed to fully condemn white nationalists.

Trump began his series of tweets sent over the course of a couple hours, by claiming that there were “anti-police agitators” out in Boston.

The “free speech” rally ended early, around 1 p.m., with limited confrontation between the rally-goers and the counterprotesters. But as police escorted out the rally attendees, some of the protesters did confront officers. Police said that they made a few arrests during the counterprotest. The Boston police department also said that some were throwing rocks and bottles, but did not specify whether they were rally attendees or counterprotesters.

After that tweet, Trump followed up with comments applauding the counterprotesters and arguing that sometimes protests are necessary for healing.

The “free speech” rally in Boston had been planned before the violence in Charlottesville a week ago. The organizers distanced themselves from white nationalists, but there was concern that white supremacists and neo-Nazis could show up to the rally. In anticipation of this, as well as a large counterprotest, the Boston police arranged a large presence and used barriers to keep the rally attendees separated from the counterprotesters.

However, the number of counterprotesters far outweighed the handful of people who showed up for the “free speech” rally. The rally ended early without any of the planned speakers making remarks.

 

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