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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

Rep. David Brat (R-VA), a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who was part of the recent negotiations on the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said on Wednesday that it can be challenging to negotiate with President Donald Trump because it’s hard to tell what he’s thinking.

“He’s very good, but you don’t know what the deal is he’s got in his mind,” Brat told New York Magazine about Trump’s negotiating style. “So that’s, like, are we in, like, the middle of a negotiating thing? Or is he at the end of it? Or is he at the beginning of it? And you don’t know, right? So that’s the hard part for us, we’re like, ‘We think he wants this, but we know how he negotiates, so where are we?'”

Later in the interview, Brat again said that it’s hard to decipher what Trump is looking for in legislation and indicated that the President is not focused on details.

“I mean, you know strategically, roughly, what he wants. But in this city, roughly’s not it. He’s big picture: ‘Look, repeal Obamacare, replace it with something that makes some sense.’ But then when you get down in the weeds in our conference, and the Senate hasn’t even weighed in yet … and he’s like, ‘Are you kidding, you guys are arguing over that? When this is the goal?’ And I think he’s amazed,” Brat told New York Magazine.

Brat said that Trump acted similarly on the budget process, and that he will go into future negotiations with more details in mind.

“He’s learned that if you don’t weigh in, that what comes out of the sausage factory is not always pretty,” Brat said.

House Oversight Chair Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) on Wednesday said that he will re-introduce a bill vetoed by President Barack Obama that would impose limits on presidential pensions now that Obama has reportedly accepted $400,000 for a speech.

“The Obama hypocrisy on this issue is revealing,” Chaffetz told USA Today. “His veto was very self-serving.”

He later tweeted USA Today’s headline, which reads, “Obama’s $400,000 speech could prompt Congress to go after his pension,” with the phrase “Yes, it will.”

The bill, which was sponsored by Chaffetz last year, would cap presidents’ pensions at $200,000 with an additional $200,000 for expenses like paying staff. With the bill, titled the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act, the president’s pension would see cuts when the president’s income exceeds $400,000.

Congress passed the bill last year with support from both parties, but Obama vetoed it, citing concerns that the legislation would immediately cut off the salaries of former presidents’ staffers without a transition period.

Rep. Elijah Cummings’ (D-MD) office on Wednesday indicated that he would be open to reviving the legislation with some tweaks.

“Cummings definitely supports the concept, and if we can work out the technical issues with the bill that arose late in the last Congress, we expect he would strongly support it again,” Cummings spokeswoman Jennifer Hoffman told USA Today.

A staffer hired by the Trump administration for a prominent role in the State Department has been accused of sexual assault by five cadets at The Citadel military college, where he was a student, ProPublica reported on Wednesday.

Steven Munoz, a former staffer on Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign, will serve as the assistant chief of visits at the State Department, where he will help arrange foreign leaders’ visits to the United States. Before he was hired at the State Department, Munoz worked as a consultant for the Trump campaign and for the Inaugural Committee, per ProPublica.

Accusations of sexual assault against Munoz first surfaced back in 2012, when Buzzfeed News obtained an email showing that he was accused of inappropriate behavior by younger cadets while he attended The Citadel.

One cadet said that Munoz made unwelcome sexual advances in 2010, and another said that Munoz assaulted or groped him on three separate occasions in 2012, the Post and Courier newspaper reported at the time without naming Munoz. An email obtained by Buzzfeed News confirmed that Munoz was the suspect.

When initial accusations of sexual assault against Munoz surfaced in the press in 2012, his lawyer, Andy Savage, told the newspaper that the allegations were merely political attempts to hurt Munoz and Santorum.

Now, ProPublica reports that five students at The Citadel have accused Munoz of sexual assault while he was a student there. One incident was reported in 2010, prompting The Citadel to give Munoz a warning, and the other four incidents were reported after Munoz graduated in 2011, according to ProPublica.

One student said he woke up with Munoz on top of him, kissing and groping him, according to the report. In another incident, Munoz allegedly jumped on a student in bed during a trip to Washington, D.C. for the Conservative Political Action Conference.

The Citadel investigated those incidents and in 2014 found that they “likely occurred,” according to ProPublica. A local prosecutor declined to prosecute Munoz, however.

Read the whole ProPublica report here.

After proposing their own amendment to the House GOP bill to repeal Obamacare and huddling with President Donald Trump, two key Republican members who had opposed the bill announced Wednesday that they will now support the legislation.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) emerged from a meeting with the President to tell reporters at the White House that they’re now comfortable backing the American Health Care Act.

“I think it is likely now to pass in the House,” Upton told reporters, according to Bloomberg News.

Upton and Long surprised Republicans earlier in the week when they came out against the bill because of an amendment offered by moderate Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ). That amendment, which prompted the House Freedom Caucus to officially support the AHCA, would allow states to apply for waivers from certain Obamacare mandates.

The MacArthur amendment was met with skepticism from other moderate Republicans who were worried about the impact the waivers could have on coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions, however.

The amendment proposed by Upton and Long would secure an additional $8 billion to cover people with pre-existing conditions, according to Politico.

In a statement to Politico, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) said Upton and Long “will find broad support” for their amendment in the House Freedom Caucus.

But it’s not yet clear that the AHCA will maintain enough conservative votes and gain enough moderate votes to pass in the House with this addition.

Following speculation this week that Sean Hannity would leave Fox News, the host told staffers in a meeting Tuesday that he will not be leaving the network, according to a Politico report.

His announcement to staff follows a report in the Daily Beast that Hannity was negotiating an exit from Fox News now that Bill Shine has resigned. Hannity has also been accused of inappropriate behavior by a former Fox News contributor who said he would not invite her back onto his show after she turned down an invitation to his hotel room.

The Fox host on Monday night addressed “friends in the media” watching the show and said that “all the lies you’ve heard about me are not true.”

President Donald Trump on Wednesday will meet with two key House Republicans, Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who said this week that they cannot support the Obamacare repeal bill, CNN reported Wednesday morning.

Long told CNN that he and Upton will meet with Trump and that the two House lawmakers are working on a new amendment to the American Health Care Act. Politico also reported that an amendment is in the works and that Trump would meet with Long and Upton on Wednesday.

Both Long and Upton surprised Republican leaders this week when they came out against the bill now that it would include a new amendment from Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ). The amendment would allow states to apply for waivers from some Obamacare mandates.

Long, an ally of Trump, announced his opposition on Monday, saying that the “MacArthur amendment strips away any guarantee that pre-existing conditions would be covered and affordable.” The conservative group Club for Growth quickly attacked Long for opposing the bill.

Upton, a prominent Republican in the House who has worked on efforts to repeal Obamacare for years, came out against the bill on Tuesday, also citing the MacArthur amendment and concern about Americans with pre-existing conditions.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday night bashed his FBI director, James Comey, and Hillary Clinton, after Clinton placed some blame on the FBI for her loss in the 2016 election.

In two tweets published around 11 p.m. Trump said that Comey aided Clinton by not recommending charges following a probe into her use of a private email server.

During an interview at a Women for Women International luncheon on Tuesday, Clinton said that she was “on the way to winning” the presidency until Wikileaks published her campaign staffers’ emails and the FBI reopened its investigation into her emails.

President Donald Trump is expected to appoint Teresa Manning, an activist who opposes birth control and abortion, to run the Health and Human Services office that oversees family planning for low-income Americans, PoliticoPro reported.

Manning, who used to work for the National Right to Life Committee and Family Research Council, has argued in the past that contraception does not work.

“Contraception doesn’t work. Its efficacy is very low, especially when you consider over years, which you know a lot of contraception health advocates want — to start women in their adolescent years when they’re extremely fertile, incidentally, and continue for 10, 20, 30 years,” she told WBUR in 2003. “Over that span of time, the prospect that contraception would always prevent the conception of a child is preposterous.”

Manning also argued that allowing women to buy the morning-after pill over the counter was “immoral” in a 2001 statement while she worked at the Family Research Council. She has also pushed the debunked claim that abortion can increase a woman’s risk of getting breast cancer.

As deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Population Affairs at HHS, Manning would oversee Title X funds that help low-income women afford birth control and preventative health care.

Following the PoliticoPro report about Manning’s pending appointment, Democrats and pro-choice groups denounced the Trump administration’s choice.

“This is the fox guarding the hen house, and women with low incomes will pay the price. It is a cruel irony to appoint an opponent of birth control to oversee the nation’s only federal program dedicated to family planning,” Dawn Laguens, vice president of Planned Parenthood, said in a Monday statement.

Teresa Manning has spent her career denying science and peddling fiction about family planning and abortion,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) said in a statement Tuesday. “Her appointment to oversee our nation’s family planning program is yet another step in the Trump Administration’s dangerous campaign to roll back women’s reproductive rights and undermine the immense progress we have made to reduce teen pregnancy and abortions, both at an all-time low, in part because of funding through the Title X family planning program.”

News of Manning’s pending appointment comes after Trump appointed Charmaine Yoest, an anti-abortion leader, to be the assistant secretary for public affairs at HHS. He also brought on Katy Talento to help shape the White House’s health policy. Talento has claimed that chemical birth control causes abortions and hurts a woman’s chances to have a baby later in life.

Ivanka Trump pleaded with her father to issue a vigorous, sincere apology for his notoriously vulgar comments about women on a leaked 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape—and left the room visibly upset when Donald Trump would not take her advice, according to a Tuesday report in the New York Times.

Donald Trump at first only agreed to “say he was sorry if anyone was offended,” which bothered his daughter, per the New York Times:

Ivanka Trump made an emphatic case for a full-throated apology, according to several people who were present for the crisis discussion that unfolded in Mr. Trump’s 26th-floor office. Raised amid a swirl of tabloid headlines, she had spent her adult life branding herself as her father’s poised, family-focused daughter. She marketed her clothing line with slogans about female empowerment and was finishing a book on the topic. As she spoke, Mr. Trump remained unyielding. His daughter’s eyes welled with tears, her face reddened, and she hurried out in frustration.

In the tape, Trump bragged to former “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush that he could do “anything” with women, including “grab” them by their genitals. Trump ultimately issued an apology for those comments, but dismissed the remarks as nothing more than “locker room banter.”

President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning complained that he had needed Democratic support for the deal to fund the government through September, and he suggested a government shutdown in September to fix the “mess” in Congress, hinting that he does not want to negotiate with Democrats on the next budget.

The President’s call for a shutdown is odd given that Republicans control Congress and the White House.

Trump’s public grousing about the spending deal struck between Democrats and Republicans on the Hill undermined efforts by the White House and GOP leaders to portray the deal as a win for him.

Trump also proposed that the Senate eliminate lawmakers’ ability to filibuster legislation to make it easier for Republicans to pass the next budget – and the Obamacare repeal bill still stuck in the House – without Democratic votes.

The spending deal agreed upon by Republicans and Democrats in Congress does not include funding for Trump’s signature campaign promise, a wall along the southern border. The measure also includes provisions opposed by the White House like Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico and a $2 million increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health.

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