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

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has directed Justice Department prosecutors to ask FBI officials involved in a probe into the Uranium One deal for more information on the closed investigation, NBC News reported Thursday morning, citing unnamed law enforcement officials.

Led by President Donald Trump, Republicans have sought to deflect attention paid to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe by questioning Hillary Clinton’s role in the Uranium One deal as secretary of state. The deal, which was approved by several agencies in the U.S. government, allowed the Russian nuclear energy agency to acquire a stake in Uranium One, a Canadian company with uranium extraction operations in the U.S. Conservatives have tried to link the approval of the deal to donations made to the Clinton Foundation despite the fact that Clinton’s state department was just one of nine agencies tasked with approving the deal.

Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Stephen Boyd previously told House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) that DOJ lawyers would give Sessions recommendations on whether the Justice Department should appoint a special counsel to investigate the Uranium One deal, and the interviews are part of an effort to offer those recommendations.

The FBI previously investigated the deal but closed the probe without filing charges. A senior law enforcement official told NBC News that there were allegations of corruption surrounding the deal. Clinton has denied that she played any role in approving the deal.

Read NBC News’ full report here.

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A group of Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have been conducting a secret investigation for weeks to search for evidence that top officials at the Justice Department and FBI improperly handled the so-called Trump dossier, Politico reported Wednesday evening, citing four people familiar with the GOP members’ plans.

The band of Republicans are concerned that officials at the Justice Department and FBI worked to hurt President Donald Trump or help his Democratic opponent in 2016, Hillary Clinton, according to Politico.

The group led by Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) has not told Democrats on the committee about their probe but have spoken with the House general counsel about their work, per Politico. It’s not clear how many members of the committee are part of this group, but an aide with knowledge of the meetings told Politico that Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) is not involved. They are using documents and interviews with former Obama administration officials obtained as part of the committee’s main Russia probe, Politico reported.

News of the secret probe running parallel to the committee’s official Russia investigation comes as Republicans in Congress are increasingly critical of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team. Republicans pounced on the revelation that an FBI agent who worked on Mueller’s team sent text messages critical of Trump during the 2016 campaign. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley announced that he would investigate “bias” of the agent who sent those text messages, who was reportedly involved in the FBI’s questioning of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Donald Trump Jr. this week suggested that officials at the FBI have been working against his father. Also this week, two Republican committee chairs in the House asked the Justice Department to make three officials at the FBI available for interviews. The Republicans are seeking information on the decision-making surrounding the Hillary Clinton email probe and the Russia probe.

Read Politico’s full report here.



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Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday night would not say whether he believes special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is conducting a fair investigation of President Donald Trump and his campaign’s potential collusion with Russia.

During an interview on Fox News, host Laura Ingraham asked Pence twice whether he thinks the Mueller team is impartial, and the vice president avoided answering both times.

Ingraham told Pence that it appears that there are “loyalists” to former President Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton on Mueller’s probe, likely a reference to newly revealed text messages from an FBI agent who used to work on Mueller’s team criticizing Trump.

“Knowing what you know and probably what you’ve seen about some of these investigators who are still working in this office, do you have faith that this will be a fair and impartial investigation going forward?” she asked Pence.

“Well let me say, we’re fully cooperating with the special counsel, and we’ll continue to. But I have to tell you, it’s just not been a focus of mine or of this president,” Pence replied before telling Ingraham that the administration is focused on tax cuts and improving the American economy. “So we’ll let the special counsel do their job and continue to cooperate.”

Ingraham pressed further, telling Pence that some Republicans believe that the Mueller team is operating “in an unfair manner.”

“I can just tell you and your viewers that we’re just going to continue to cooperate,” Pence responded before again touting Trump’s focus on boosting the military and the economy.

Pence also told Ingraham that he has not been interviewed by Mueller’s team.

Watch part of the interview via Fox News. Ingraham brings up the Mueller probe near the 4 minute mark.

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A Republican state lawmaker in Minnesota argued this week that she should not meet with a group of high school students because by doing so she would risk being falsely accused of sexual misconduct.

In a Facebook post explaining her refusal to meet with student members of the Alexandria Area High School Democrats, Franson alluded to Roy Moore, the Alabama GOP Senate candidate accused of initiating an inappropriate sexual relationship with a high school girl while he was in his 30s.

“A man’s life was destroyed in AL,” Franson wrote in a Facebook message seen by ThinkProgress. “40 years ago he met with minors alone and they recently accused him of horrendous actions. In the world of we must believe every sexual harassment claim, I would think my approach is beyond reasonable. All it takes is one perceived action and my life is destroyed. The life of my family is destroyed. That is a risk I will not take.”

Franson was not immediately available for comment to TPM.

Her explanation came after she initially refused to meet with the group in her office. She told the students on Twitter that she would not meet with partisan groups in her office.

Franson told Minneapolis television station KMSP on Monday that she offered to meet with the students in a public place but said she would not sit down with them in private. She said it has “nothing to do with me not wanting to meet with Democrats, it has everything to do with we all have to be careful in today’s world.”

Jack Ballou, the founder of the AAHS Democrats, told ThinkProgress that he was “shocked” by Franson’s Facebook post referencing Moore. He has been blocked by Franson on social media, but ThinkProgress told him about the Facebook post.

“If any of what she said was true, she could have just told us initially that she doesn’t meet with minors,” Ballou told ThinkProgress. “I’m also so confused how she started defending Roy Moore… last year I met with Mary through the student page program, one on one at her office. She had no issue then.”

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Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) on Tuesday lashed out at the media over the coverage of her decision to support the Republican tax bill, charging that the press has been “unbelievable sexist” while covering her negotiations with GOP leaders.

“I cannot believe that the press would have treated another senator with 20 years of experience as they have treated me,” Collins told reporters on Tuesday, according to Bloomberg News.

“They’ve ignored everything that I’ve gotten and written story after story about how I’m duped,” she added, per Politico. “How am I duped when all your amendments get accepted?”

She also said that a reporter, who she did not name, noted that she did not cry in a piece about the tax bill, according to Politico. Politico identified the report as a piece in the New York Times about a meeting Collins had with a group opposed to the tax plan. The Times later removed that reference, per Politico.

“I can’t imagine a reporter writing that about a male senator meeting with the same group, and, in fact, I have proof because they met with Jeff Flake,” Collins said, according to Politico. “So it’s been extremely discouraging to see the press coverage on this given the significant impact that I’ve had on this bill.”

After Collins rejected several bills proposed by Republican leaders to repeal Obamacare, reporters watched her closely as the GOP moved on to tax cuts.

Despite the fact that the tax bill includes a provision to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, Collins announced on Monday that she would vote for the tax bill. She agreed to support the bill after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and President Donald Trump promised to back two bills aimed at lowering health insurance premiums.

However, it’s not clear that the two bills would pass in the House — several GOP members in the House said on Tuesday that they do not see their chamber backing the bills.

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During a speech Tuesday night in Palm Beach, Florida, Donald Trump Jr. suggested that there are top officials in the United States government working to undermine the Trump administration, feeding the conspiracy theory pushed by some Trump officials earlier in the year that the “deep state” is working against President Donald Trump.

Trump Jr. did not specifically mention the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, but he referenced text messages sent by a former member of Mueller’s team about his father, suggesting that he believes that investigators on the Russia probe are out to destroy his father.

Trump Jr. brought up the agent’s August 2016 mention of an “insurance policy,” which the Wall Street Journal reported was used to convey that the agent believed the FBI needed to aggressively investigate potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in case Trump won the presidency.

Trump Jr. asked the audience to imagine if an agent in a bureau led by a conservative director had sent something similar about Barack Obama in 2008.

“What do you think would happen? Do you think the media would cover that? Yeah,” Trump Jr. said. “Do you think it would be brushed under the rug like, ‘Oh, thats nothing. It doesn’t mean anything.’ There’d be revolution in the streets. So I’m glad that this is coming out now, because it is good, because real people have to see this.”

He went on to suggest that the text messages suggest that the system is in fact rigged against his father.

“My father talked about a rigged system throughout the campaign, and people went, ‘Oh, what are you talking about?’ But it is,” Trump Jr. said. “There are people at the highest levels of government that don’t want to let America be America.”

Watch a clip of Trump Jr.’s speech via CNN:

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Shortly after Scott Pruitt began as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Pruitt had his office in the agency’s Washington, D.C., headquarters checked for covert surveillance devices, The Hill reported Monday evening.

The EPA paid $3,000 to Edwin Steinmetz Associates to conduct the sweep in March, according to documents obtained and reviewed by The Hill. The person at the EPA who gave the documents to The Hill said that the search did not uncover any devices.

Pruitt has taken unprecedented steps to secure himself and his conversations as EPA administrator. He has a 24/7 security details with 18 agents, perhaps in part due to the high number of threats he has received. The EPA also spent $25,000 to build a sound-proof booth for Pruitt.

Asked about the sweep for surveillance devices, EPA spokesperson Jahan Wilcox stressed in a statement security decisions are made by the EPA’s Protective Service Detail and that at least one previous administrator had a similar sweep done.

“Administrator Pruitt has received an unprecedented amount of threats against him and security decisions are made by EPA’s Protective Service Detail,” Wilcox said in a statement to TPM. “A similar security sweep was done for EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.”

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Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) said on Monday that he regrets not waiting for the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate sexual misconduct allegations made against Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) before calling on Franken to resign.

“I have stood for due process throughout my years as a prosecutor and in chairing the Judiciary Committee.  I regret not doing that this time.  The Ethics Committee should have been allowed to investigate and make its recommendation,” Leahy said in a statement.

Leahy initially urged Franken to step down on the same day that several female Democrats led a wave of senators to call on Franken to step down over the allegations that he groped or forcibly kissed several women.

“While the facts from case to case can differ, and while there are sound reasons for weighing evidence in such cases in a deliberate and carefully considered process, Senator Franken’s situation has become untenable,” Leahy said at the time. “I am concerned that even a prompt Ethics Committee investigation and recommendations will not come soon enough. He has to step aside.”

The day after several Democratic senators called on Franken to resign, he announced that he would step down, though he has yet to set an exact date.

Leahy’s public statement on Monday followed a comment from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) that it was premature to push Franken to resign and a Politico report that Leahy told Franken in private that he regretted calling on him to resign.

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The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the Jill Stein campaign to turn over documents for the committee’s Russia probe, committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC) confirmed to reporters on Monday.

“I think it’s safe to say we have two other campaigns we are just starting on,” Burr told reporters, identifying one of those campaigns as Stein’s, according to CNN. Burr did not reveal the second campaign that the committee has started looking at, per CNN.

When asked what his committee is looking for by investigating the Stein campaign, Burr said he was looking for potential “collusion with the Russians,” per the Washington Post.

Dennis Trainor Jr., who worked as Stein’s communications director and acting manager from January 2015 to August 2015, told Buzzfeed News on Monday that Stein contacted him last week to tell him that the Senate committee had asked the campaign to turn over documents. Trainor told Buzzfeed that while he worked on the campaign, he used his cell phone as his primary point of contact and that he spoke with producers from the Kremlin-backed RT News about booking Stein on their programs. Trainor said he was waiting for additional instructions from the committee.

Trainor told Buzzfeed that as of right now, he plans to cooperate with the probe and that he believes Stein will publish any documents they turn over to the committee to her website.

Stein was present at the December 2015 dinner in Moscow for RT also attended by Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who recently pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

In a statement Monday night, Stein said that she was not paid to attend the dinner.

“Our communications with Russian individuals regarding an invitation to speak on international relations at the RT 10th anniversary media conference will confirm what we stated publicly at that time and since: that we did not accept any payment or even reimbursement for the trip,” Stein said in a statement, per the Washington Post.

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Earlier this year, President Donald Trump talked about reversing his decision to nominate Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court following reports that Gorsuch was critical of Tump during a private meeting with a senator, the Washington Post reported Monday night, citing people with knowledge of the discussions.

Trump was irked by reports that Gorsuch told Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) that the President’s attack on a federal judge was “demoralizing” and “disheartening,” according to the Washington Post. Trump told at least one person that he was concerned Gorsuch was not “loyal” to him, according to the Washington Post. The President told several aides that he was tempted to nix Gorsuch’s nomination.

Trump also complained in a meeting with Republican leaders in Congress that Gorsuch may end up being a “liberal” judge, per the Washington Post. A senior White House official disputed that description of the meeting to the Post.

In a Tuesday morning tweet, Trump denied that he considered nixing Gorsuch.

Marc Short, the director of legislative affairs, and White House spokesman Raj Shah also both denied to the Washington Post that Trump ever considered pulling Gorsuch’s nomination.

Read the Washington Post’s full report here.

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