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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

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Tuesday afternoon called on the House Ethics Committee to investigate the sexual harassment allegations against Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) that surfaced Monday night.

“As members of Congress, we each have a responsibility to uphold the integrity of the House of Representatives and to ensure a climate of dignity and respect, with zero tolerance for harassment, discrimination, bullying or abuse. As I have said before, any credible allegation of sexual harassment must be investigated by the Ethics Committee,” Pelosi said in a statement.

BuzzFeed News reported Monday night that Conyers’ office paid a settlement to a former staffer who alleged that she was fired after refusing the congressman’s sexual advances. In affidavits obtained by BuzzFeed, several Conyers staffers described the congressman’s behavior toward female employees, which allegedly included rubbing a staffer’s leg, rubbing a staffer’s hand and inviting female staffers to stay with him in his hotel room.

Conyers on Tuesday acknowledged that he paid the settlement to the staffer but denied the allegations.

“I expressly and vehemently denied the allegations made against me, and continue to do so,” he said in a statement. “My office resolved the allegations – with an express denial of liability – in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation. That should not be lost in the narrative.”

In her Tuesday afternoon statement, Pelosi also called for Congress to pass the Me Too Act, legislation sponsored by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) in the House that would overhaul the system for filing and addressing complaints of sexual harassment in Congress.

Under the current system, staffers must undergo counseling before they can file a sexual harassment complaint, and the accusers are not provided legal counsel. Speier argues that these two factors make the process burdensome for victims. It was revealed recently that the Office of Compliance, which handles sexual misconduct complaints, has paid out more than $17 million in settlements over the past 20 years.

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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s wife, Lolita Zinke, sent Interior Department staffers scrambling this year with two separate requests regarding travel plans with her husband on official trips, according to documents published Monday.

The travel itineraries and emails were obtained through a Freedom of Information act lawsuit filed by the Western Values Project and were first reported on by Politico. The documents were subsequently published by the Washington Post.

The documents confirm that Lolita Zinke accompanied her husband on at least two official trips, one to Norway and Alaska in May, and another to California in April. The department’s inspector general last week told Interior officials that they did not properly document the secretary’s travel and complained that the watchdog had been unable to determine which trips Lolita Zinke attended with the secretary.

Ryan Zinke, as well as other cabinet leaders, has come under scrutiny for his use of private and military planes to fly within the U.S. and abroad. Zinke has attended personal and political events during some of the trips for which he used a non-commercial plane, including attending a meeting with the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team, which is owned by a major donor to Zinke’s 2014 congressional campaign.

In May, staffers learned that Lolita Zinke would be staying in Alaska longer than expected and would join her husband for dinner with Gov. Bill Walker. Zinke offered to pay for his wife’s meal at the dinner, per the emails. The documents also indicate that staffers had to scramble at the last minute to accommodate the last-minute change in travel plans.

“We spent the whole day finalizing everything… and now all shot to hell,” one staffer wrote in an email upon hearing the change in Lolita Zinke’s plans.

The change in plans for Zinke’s wife came after a staffer warned that she would likely not be able to fly back to Washington, D.C., on a military plane if she was not accompanied by her husband, and would then need to fly commercial, the emails show.

Emails also show that Lolita Zinke helped craft the guest list of invitees to a Young America’s Foundation town hall at the Reagan Ranch in Santa Barbara, California, during the secretary’s April trip to California.

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Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, on Monday reached a settlement with company shareholders that requires third-party insurers to pay 21st Century Fox $90 million to help recoup financial damage cause by Fox News’ sexual harassment scandal.

The company also agreed to establish a committee at Fox News tasked with creating an inclusive workplace called the Fox News Workplace Professionalism and Inclusion Council as part of the settlement, 21st Century Fox announced on Monday.

“The Workplace Council gives our management team access to a brain trust of experts with deep and diverse experiences in workplace issues,” Fox News Channel Co-President Jack Abernethy said in a statement Monday.  “We look forward to benefiting from their collective guidance.”

The settlement reached Monday resolves a complaint filed by the City of Monroe Employees’ Retirement System, a 21st Century Fox shareholder.

The complaint filed by the City of Monroe Employees’ Retirement System notes that there was a “systematic, decades-long culture of sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and retaliation that led to a hostile work environment at Fox News Channel” and claims that executives did not do enough to address those issues. The complaint argues that the publicity about the sexual harassment at Fox News, as well as the large settlements paid to accusers, caused financial harm to the company.

The settlement requires insurers representing Roger Ailes’ estate and Fox News officers, including Rupert Murdoch, Lachlan Murdoch and James Murdoch, to pay $90 million to 21st Century Fox for the benefit of the company’s shareholders. It also mandates the establishment of the workplace council. The defendants did not admit to any wrongdoing in the settlement.

In its statement announcing the settlement, 21st Century Fox said that the council will “will advise Fox News and its senior management in its ongoing efforts to ensure a proper workplace environment for all employees and guests, strengthen reporting practices for wrongdoing, enhance HR training on workplace behavior, and further recruitment and advancement of women and minorities.”

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Rep. Dave Trott (R-MI), who announced in September that he would not run for re-election in his swing district in Michigan, told CNBC on Monday that President Donald Trump was a “factor” in his decision to retire.

He told CNBC that he decided to leave the House because it’s “just not the right time for me to be in Washington.”

“We’re not that productive and that certainly isn’t just a consequence of President Trump. They weren’t that productive before he ever got there,” Trott said.

Asked if Trump’s presidency contributed to his decision to retire, Trott said, “It’s a factor.”

“We have different styles, and I sometimes don’t understand some of the things he does and says. But then, I didn’t have 63 million people vote for me ever, so maybe not for me to say, but I think it’s a very partisan environment. And I think that problem has been exacerbated under President Trump,” Trott told CNBC.

Prompted to offer examples, Trott pointed to Trump’s remarks in the wake of the deadly attack at a Charlottesville counter-protest to a white nationalist rally. The congressman also noted that Trump “blamed the Senate” for Republicans’ failure to repeal Obamacare.

“I’m not sure Reagan would have had a problem with the Senate,” Trott said.

Watch the interview via CNBC:

Rep. Dave Trott: 80% chance tax reform gets done by end of the year from CNBC.

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Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) settled a complaint in 2015 from a staffer who claimed that she was fired for refusing the congressman’s sexual advances, BuzzFeed News reported Monday night, citing affidavits from the process and people familiar with the settlement.

Conyers made sexual advances on more than one female staffer and asked at least one woman to perform sexual favors for him, according to affidavits obtained by BuzzFeed News. BuzzFeed published three of the affidavits and four people involved in the case confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the documents are authentic.

At the end of the complaint process, Conyers paid the former staffer a $27,000 settlement and the staffer signed a confidentiality agreement, according to BuzzFeed News. The settlement was paid out of Conyers’ office budget, not out of the fund designated for such settlements in the Office of Compliance, per BuzzFeed. That office had paid about $17 million to settle more than 260 complaints over the past 20 years, according to the Washington Post.

The woman who filed the complaint about Conyers and ultimately agreed to the settlement told BuzzFeed News that she felt she had no other option.

“I was basically blackballed. There was nowhere I could go,” she told BuzzFeed.

BuzzFeed News originally obtained the documents related to the case from Mike Cernovich, a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist who pushed the Pizzagate conspiracy theory. The outlet then confirmed the documents’ authenticity with four people involved in the case, including the woman who accused Conyers of sexual misconduct.

The former staffer alleged that Conyers once asked her to work out of his hotel room, where he then talked about his sexual desires and told her to “touch it,” referring to his penis, according to BuzzFeed. On another occasion, Conyers asked the staffer to stay with him in his hotel room, and when she declined, he asked her to “just cuddle up with me and caress me before you go,” per BuzzFeed News.

In affidavits published by BuzzFeed, three other former staffers described Conyers’ behavior with female staffers. In one affidavit, a staffer alleged that Conyers rubbed her hand in a sexual manner prompting her to tell him she did not want a sexual relationship with him. She said she was later fired from her position in Conyers’ congressional office. This staffer also said Conyers asked another staffer for sexual favors.

One staffer to Conyers described in an affidavit that the congressman would rub a woman’s legs, invited staffers to his hotel room and apartment, and would ask staffers to provide transportation for women with whom it was believed he was having affairs.

In yet another affidavit, a staffer alleged that Conyers asked another staffer for sexual favors. The staffer said that Conyers wanted to fire a staffer for being “too old.”

Read Buzzfeed News’ full report here.

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In a statement marking Transgender Day of Remembrance Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that transgender people should not face discrimination, offering a contrast from President Donald Trump’s proposed policies regarding transgender people.

“On Transgender Day of Remembrance, the United States honors the memory of the many transgender individuals who have lost their lives to acts of violence,” Tillerson said in the statement. “Transgender individuals and their advocates, along with lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex persons, are facing increasing physical attacks and arbitrary arrests in many parts of the world. Often these attacks are perpetrated by government officials, undermining the rule of law.”

“Transgender persons should not be subjected to violence or discrimination, and the human rights they share with all persons should be respected,” he added.

Tillerson’s statement comes months after Trump announced a ban on transgender people serving in the military. Trump claimed that allowing transgender people to join the military comes with “tremendous medical costs and disruption.” Trump’s proposed ban has been stalled in the courts — a federal judge in October blocked the ban.

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Another woman accused Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) of sexual misconduct Monday, telling CNN that the senator grabbed her butt while the two took a photo together at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010.

Lindsay Menz told CNN in an interview published Monday morning that she met Franken in the summer of 201o at the state fair and posed for a picture with him after a brief conversation. When her husband went to snap the photo, the senator “pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear,” Menz said.

“It was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek,” she told CNN. “It wasn’t around my waist. It wasn’t around my hip or side. It was definitely on my butt.”

In a statement to CNN, Franken said he feels bad that Menz felt “disrespected” but said he did not recall taking the photo.

“I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don’t remember taking this picture,” Franken said in the statement. “I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.”

Menz is the first woman to accused Franken of sexual misconduct while he was a sitting senator. Los Angeles radio host Leeann Tweeden accused Franken of forcibly kissing her and groping her in 2006, before he took office as a senator. Franken apologized to Tweeden but also said he didn’t remember the incident “in the same way.” The senator called for the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate that incident and said he would fully cooperate.

Menz’s family recalls her relaying the story to them immediately after the picture was taken. Both of her parents told CNN that Menz told them that Franken grabbed her butt while taking the picture. Her husband, who took the photo, told CNN that Franken pulled his wife close to him for the photo.

“He reached around her and kind of pulled her into him,” Jeremy Menz told CNN. “He pulled her in and pushed his head against her head. It was over pretty quick.”

Read CNN’s full report here.

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White House adviser Kellyanne Conway on Monday morning stopped short of explicitly encouraging voters to back GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, but hinted that a Moore win would help President Donald Trump’s tax cut plans.

During an appearance on “Fox and Friends,” Conway touted Trump’s plans to cut taxes and bashed Democrats’ opposition to the Republican plan before emphasizing that the tax plan would likely be endangered if Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate, wins a Senate seat.

“Doug Jones in Alabama, folks, don’t be fooled. He’ll be a vote against tax cuts. He’s weak on crime, weak on borders. He’s strong on raising your taxes. He’s terrible for property owners. And Doug Jones is a doctrinaire liberal which is why he’s not saying anything and the media are trying to boost him,” Conway said.

Fox co-host Brian Kilmeade then asked, “So vote Roy Moore?”

“I’m telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through,” Kellyanne replied.

She said that if the media were really concerned about the allegations that Moore made inappropriate sexual advances on teenage girls, then Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) “would be on the ash heap of bygone, half-funny comedians.”

“He still has his job,” she said, referring to Franken, who has been accused of sexual misconduct. “What’s Bob Menendez doing back here? That’s the best my state of New Jersey can do?”

The hosts of “Fox and Friends” then noted to Conway that several Republican leaders have pulled their support from Moore.

“I just want everybody to know Doug Jones, nobody ever says his name and they pretend he is some kind of conservative Democrat in Alabama. And he’s not,” Conway said in response.

Asked if Trump would campaign for Moore, Conway said he has no plans to do so.

As allegations of sexual misconduct pile up against Moore, the White House has refrained from completely pulling its support from the Republican Senate candidate. Trump has yet to publicly weigh in on the allegations, even though he quickly slammed Franken when the senator was accused of sexual misconduct. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday declined to say whether the President believes Moore’s accusers and said that it’s up to voters in Alabama to decide whether Moore is fit for office.

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After a border patrol officer died while working along the United States-Mexico border on Sunday, President Donald Trump responded with a tweet promoting his push for a wall along the southern border.

Two agents were injured while responding to unspecified activity along the southern border, and one later died in the hospital on Sunday morning, according to CNN. Following the agent’s death, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke offered her thoughts and prayers to the agent’s family.

“On behalf of the quarter of a million front line officers and agents of DHS, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Agent Martinez and to the agent who is in serious condition,” she said in a statement.

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After Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) was caught worrying out loud that the GOP would become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, the President lashed out at Flake on Twitter, calling the senator “unelectable.”

Trump claimed that Flake knew his comments were live but misspelled “mic,” a shorthand for microphone.

The President also suggested Flake would vote against the Republican tax cut legislation, though the senator has not come out against the bill. A spokesman for Flake, Jason Samuels, confirmed on Twitter Sunday night that Flake has not yet decided how he will vote on the bill.

On Friday night, Flake was caught on a live microphone telling Mesa Mayor John Giles, “If we become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast.”

Flake’s comments should not come as a surprise, however. When he announced he would not seek re-election to his Senate seat, he tore into Trump and the Republican party in a speech on the Senate floor.

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