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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

A construction company owned by the Chinese government has been hired to work on the Trump’s new golf club in Dubai, McClatchy reported on Monday.

The Trump Organization’s partner on the project, DAMAC Properties, hired the Middle East subsidiary of the China State Construction Engineering Corporation despite President Donald Trump’s pledge upon taking office that his family business would not enter into any new contracts with a foreign government.

It is not clear from DAMAC Properties’ announcement exactly when China State Construction Engineering Corporation was awarded the contract. The statement from the company indicates that the contract was awarded in January or February 2017.

A Trump Organization official told McClatchy that the Trumps licensed their name to DAMAC properties to build the golf club, which they will manage it. The official said that DAMAC Properties chose China State Construction Engineering Corporation to “undertake some infrastructure work and to build one of their hospitality developments,” and that the residential development the Chinese company is working on is separate from the golf club.

Trump had also pledged that his businesses would refrain from starting any new deals with foreign companies. However, in February the Trump Organization re-engaged in a deal in the Dominican Republic.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) told CNN last week that he has not yet decided whether he will run for re-election in 2018.

“As far as what am I going to do in the future, I’m still contemplating the future,” Corker told CNN in an interview published Monday morning. “It’s a tremendous privilege to do what I do, and to weigh in on the big issues. … But I have not decided what I’m going to do in the future.”

Corker’s comments to CNN confirm President Donald Trump’s claim that the senator has been discussing whether he should retire. The senator told CNN that he likely spoke with Trump about his deliberations on re-election.

“Oh, I mean, I talk to the President about almost everything,” Corker said. “We spend a lot of time together. We play golf. We, you know, they talked to me about being potentially vice president, secretary of state, so I’ve had multiple conversations about the future with lots of people. So, I’m sure when we played golf, the topic came up.”

In August, after  Trump’s failure to condemn white nationalists in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Corker criticized Trump’s management style, arguing that the White House needs “radical changes.”

In response, Trump tweeted that Corker had asked him whether he should run in 2018 and suggested that Corker is unpopular in Tennessee.

Corker seemed unfazed by Trump’s tweet, telling CNN, “I thought his tweet was fine.” And he did not back down from his criticism of the Trump administration.

“I don’t make comments like the ones I’ve made without thinking them through in advance,” he told CNN.

Ousted White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said in an interview that aired Sunday that President Donald Trump’s decision to punt to Congress on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program could risk the Republican majority in the House.

“I’m worried about losing the House now because of this — of — because of DACA. And my fear is that with this six months down range, if we have another huge — if this goes all the way down to its logical conclusion, in February and March it will be a civil war inside the Republican Party that will be every bit as vitriolic as 2013. And to me, doing that in the springboard of primary season for 2018 is extremely unwise,” Bannon said on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

The Trump administration announced that it would rescind DACA, which protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as minors from deportation, in six months. The President called on Congress to reinstate the policy through legislation, and the disagreements within the Republican party on how to address DACA are already apparent.

Bannon said that DACA recipients should “self-deport” when their work permits run out.

“There’s no path to citizenship, no path to a green card, and no amnesty. Amnesty is non-negotiable,” he said on CBS.

Steve Bannon, the ousted White House chief strategist, told CBS’ “60 Minutes” in an interview that aired on Sunday that President Donald Trump made a huge mistake when he fired James Comey as the director of the FBI.

Bannon would not confirm reports that he opposed firing Comey while he was still on the White House payroll, but he argued that the FBI is an institution in Washington, D.C., that cannot be changed by changing its leader.

“I am a big believer that this city, it’s a city of institutions, not individuals. And I think you have to look at it as institutions. The FBI is the institution. The speaker of the house is an institution. The majority leader is an institution,” he said on “60 Minutes.” “The Justice Department is an institution. They have an institutional logic of how they proceed and what they’re going to do. And you can’t get caught up in individuals.”

Bannon noted that Comey’s firing led to special counsel Robert Mueller.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that if James Comey had not been fired, we would not have a special counsel,” he told CBS’ Charlie Rose. “We would not have the Mueller investigation in the breadth that clearly Mr. Mueller is going.”

Rose asked Bannon if he considered the firing of Comey to be the “biggest mistake in political history.” Bannon replied that it’s the biggest mistake in “modern political history.”

Two House Republicans from North Carolina who signed on to a brief urging the end of political gerrymandering say they did so by accident, the Raleigh News and Observer reported on Friday.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) (pictured above), both conservative House members, signed a high-profile amicus brief for a Supreme Court case out of Wisconsin, urging the court to rule against political gerrymandering. Republicans including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich also signed onto the brief, breaking from most of the Republican Party.

A spokesman for Meadows told the News and Observer that the congressman’s name was added in “error.”

“As he does with all action items, Congressman Meadows indicated he would be willing to review the amicus brief but never intended to formally sign on,” Meadows spokesman Ben Williamson said. “His name was added in error and has been removed from the brief.”

A spokeswoman for Jones, Allison Tucker, told the News and Observer that Jones’ name was added to the brief “due to a misunderstanding” and that his name had been removed as well.

House conservatives were fuming Friday morning as the Republican conference voted on a deal President Donald Trump struck with Democrats to fund aid for Hurricane Harvey alongside measures to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling through mid-December.

Before the crucial vote, Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin and White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney met with House Republicans at the Capitol to try to persuade holdouts to back the deal. Conservatives on the Hill oppose raising the debt ceiling without simultaneously passing fiscal reforms, and Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), chair of the Republican Study Committee, told leadership Thursday night that he and other conservatives would oppose the deal.

Walker was far from pleased following the Friday morning meeting. He was particularly irked by Mnuchin’s closing pitch to House Republicans, which he described as “weak.” Walker said that the Treasury secretary told GOP members, “Vote for the debt ceiling for me.”

“That did not go well in the room at all,” Walker told reporters following the meeting. “You could hear the murmurs in the room.”

Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) said he thought Mnuchin’s arguments in the meeting were “intellectually insulting.”

“How in the world did we get trapped into linking a clean debt ceiling increase over the long run with Harvey funding? To me that’s very cynical. I don’t like it,” Brat told reporters after the meeting.

“He doesn’t get it,” Brat complained, referring to Mnuchin.

Walker said that Mnuchin and Mulvaney were unable to answer questions from members about how the White House would approach votes on the budget and debt ceiling in December. Brat also lamented that the pair were not able to lay out a plan for “fiscal sanity” to be employed later this year.

The irony of Mulvaney, who was a fiscal hawk as a member of Congress and a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, pitching Republicans on a clean debt ceiling increase was apparent.

Walker told reporters “it got a little warm for Mulvaney at times” as members reminded him about his position on the debt ceiling while serving in the House.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) told reporters after the meeting that he’d asked Mulvaney if he had any openings in the Office of Management and Budget, joking that the budget chief could perhaps hire some Republican members of Congress so that they could change their thinking on the debt ceiling. Issa said he made the comment in “good humor.”

“It was the only time I’ve seen Director Mulvaney quiet and speechless in at least five years,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) said of Issa’s quip.

Despite the irony, Meadows did not seem upset that Mulvaney was pitching a clean debt ceiling hike.

“He has a different job and a different boss now,” Meadows told reporters.

The deal passed easily in the House, albeit with 90 “no” votes. Not all conservatives opposed to clean debt ceiling hikes were persuaded to support the bill: Rep. Joe Barton was one of four House Republicans from Texas to vote against aid for their own state.

“I’m not a happy camper about this process,” he told reporters, arguing that leaders should not tie difficult votes to hurricane relief aid.

During an interview with CBS’ Charlie Rose this week, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon claimed that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) lost a role in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet following Christie’s perceived lack of support for then-candidate Trump after the release of lewd comments Trump made about women.

In a clip that aired Friday morning on CBS, Bannon revealed how some of Trump’s allies reacted to the October release of Trump’s “Access Hollywood” tape. Bannon revealed that Reince Priebus, then the chair of the Republican National Committee, told Trump that he would likely lose the presidential race after the tape was publicized. Bannon said that he told Trump at the time that he had a “100 percent probability of winning.”

The ousted chief strategist told Rose that the weekend following the release of that tape was a “litmus test” for those surrounding Trump, and that the President’s allies should back him no matter what.

“You can criticize him behind, but when you side with him, you have to side with him. And that’s what Billy Bush weekend showed me. Billy Bush Saturday showed me who really had Donald Trump’s back to play to his better angels,” Bannon said on CBS.

Asked if he “took names” that weekend, Bannon said he did, and revealed that Christie “was not looked at for a Cabinet position” because of his reaction to the tape.

“I told him, ‘The plane leaves at 11 o’clock in the morning. If you’re on the plane, you’re on the team.’ Didn’t make the plane,” Bannon recalled from a conversation he had with Christie.

It’s not completely clear what Bannon was referring to during the CBS interview. After the “Hollywood Access” tape was released, Christie said Trump’s comments on the tape were “unacceptable” and that he was “disturbed and disappointed by it and embarrassed for him and his family.”

The New Jersey governor did not pull his support for Trump at that time, but he did have a much lower profile as a campaign surrogate following that weekend.

The tape dropped just before a debate, and Christie reportedly visited Trump Tower in New York to help Trump prepare. However, he was not seen at the debate, which is perhaps the trip to which Bannon was referring.

A senior political campaign strategist for Christie’s presidential campaign disputed Bannon’s version of the events in a statement to the International Journal Review.

This post has been updated.

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-NY), a moderate who often bucks his own party, announced late Thursday that he will not seek re-election to the House in 2018.

Dent, the co-chair of the moderate Tuesday Group in the House, first revealed that he would retire in an interview with the Washington Post.

“Accomplishing the most basic fundamental tasks of governance is becoming far too difficult,” he told the Washington Post. “It shouldn’t be, but that’s reality.”

Dent told the Post that waited until Thursday to tell House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, House Republicans’ fundraising arm. He said that Ryan and Stivers would prefer for him to seek re-election, but that he had decided this summer to retire.

He followed up with a statement explaining his decision to leave Congress.

“I have done my best to make a meaningful, positive impact. As a member of the governing wing of the Republican Party, I’ve worked to instill stability, certainty and predictability in Washington. I’ve fought to fulfill the basic functions of Government, like keeping the lights on and preventing default,” he said. “Regrettably, that has not been easy given the disruptive outside influences that profit from increased polarization and ideological rigidity that leads to dysfunction, disorder and chaos.”

Dent said in the statement that he would “continue my role, both inside and soon outside of government, of giving voice to the sensible center and working to solve problems for the American people through smart policy — the product of negotiation, cooperation and inevitably, compromise.”

His decision to retire in 2018 leaves Republicans to defend yet another swing district without an incumbent running. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) have both already announced they will not run for re-election in districts that Republicans could have trouble maintaining.

During his meeting with congressional leaders on Wednesday, President Donald Trump supported a proposal from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to eliminate the need for Congress to vote to raise the debt ceiling altogether, according to several reports out Thursday.

Schumer suggested such a deal in the meeting, and Trump agreed that it was a good idea, according to the Washington Post, Politico, and Reuters. The two reached a “gentleman’s agreement,” a White House official told the Washington Post. Schumer said that Democrats would work on a proposal that could potentially come up for a vote in December, according to the reports.

Trump and Schumer reached an agreement to pursue this plan in the same meeting in which Trump backed Democrats’ proposal to tie Hurricane Harvey aid to legislation funding the government and raising the debt ceiling through mid-December.

The President then acknowledged to reporters on Thursday that he would consider eliminating the debt limit entirely.

“It could be discussed,” Trump said at a cabinet meeting when asked by reporters if he would be open to nixing the debt ceiling. “There are a lot of good reasons to do that.”

A plan to nix the need to vote on raising the debt ceiling could face opposition from Republicans. Conservatives in Congress regularly refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless it is paired with budget cuts.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Thursday rejected the idea of eliminating Congress’ need to vote on raising the debt ceiling.

“There’s a legitimate rule for the power of the purse in Article 1 powers, and that’s something we defend here in Congress,” he said at a press conference Thursday.

 

 

During a meeting with members of his Cabinet on Thursday afternoon, President Donald Trump indicated he would consider eliminating the debt ceiling entirely.

“It could be discussed,” Trump said when asked if he would be willing to nix the debt limit altogether, according to a White House pool report. “There are a lot of good reasons to do that.”

Trump’s comments came just one day after he rolled Republicans in Congress by siding with Democrats in agreeing to a three-month extension of the debt limit, tied to a short-term funding bill and Hurricane Harvey aid.

Raising the debt limit has become a daunting task in Congress, as conservative Republicans refuse to support a debt limit hike unless it is paired with budget cuts or fiscal reform. Given that stance, it’s not likely Republicans will be pleased that Trump would entertain completely lifting the limits on the federal government’s borrowing ability.

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