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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

Ronny Jackson, who withdrew as the nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs on Thursday, will not return to his role as personal physician to President Donald Trump, according to several reports.

Politico was first to report the news on Sunday evening, and the Washington Post and New York Times later confirmed.

Jackson will return to the White House medical unit, but will not personally serve the President, according to Politico and the Washington Post. Sean Conley, who took over as Trump’s personal physician a month ago, will remain in that role.

White House spokesman Raj Shah on Monday pushed back on reports that Jackson would not return to his position as Trump’s personal physician.

“Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson is currently on active duty, assigned to the White House as Deputy Assistant to the President. Despite published reports, there are no personnel announcements at this time,” Shah said in a statement.

Jackson withdrew as the VA nominee due to allegations that he drank on the job, irresponsibly handed out prescriptions for sleeping pills, and mistreated his employees. Both Jackson and Trump have insisted that the allegations are false, but Jackson bowed out anyway.

Since the allegations surfaced, Trump has attacked Sen. John Tester (D-MT), one of the lawmakers who publicized the accounts of Jackson’s behavior, and threatened to ruin Tester’s re-election chances at a rally Saturday night.

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Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, told the Washington Post on Friday that Republicans on the committee blocked an effort by Democrats to learn more about a phone call Donald Trump Jr. made that may have been related to the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer.

Trump Jr. made three phone calls on June 6, 2016, three days before the meeting, two of which were with Emin Agalarov, the Russian pop star who helped arrange the Trump Tower meeting, according to Democrats’ official response to the Republican report from the House Intelligence Committee released on Friday. In between the two phone calls, Trump Jr. spoke with someone using a blocked phone number, which may have been his dad, Donald Trump, according to the Democrats.

Democrats wanted to subpoena the phone records to determine the identity of that person, but Republicans refused, Schiff told the Washington Post.

“We sought to determine whether that number belonged to the president, because we also ascertained that then-candidate Trump used a blocked number,” Schiff told the Post. “That would tell us whether Don Jr. sought his father’s permission to take the meeting, and [whether] that was the purpose of that call.”

“We asked Republicans to subpoena the records and they refused. They didn’t want to know whether he had informed his father and sought his permission to take that meeting with the Russians,” he added.

President Donald Trump has denied that he was aware of the meeting between Trump Jr., other campaign officials, and a Kremlin-linked promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

Read the full Washington Post report here.

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President Donald Trump on Friday afternoon called Ronny Jackson, the White House physician who withdrew as the nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, “an American hero” for exposing the Washington political system.

“In a very big way, you’re an American hero because you’ve exposed a system for some horrible things,” Trump said he told Jackson over the phone earlier on Friday.

“I’ve had it happen to me with the Russian collusion hoax,” Trump added.

Before calling Jackson a hero, Trump said that it was a “disgrace” to see Jackson’s record tarnished by “false accusations.”

Jackson withdrew his nomination following several reports from congressional Democrats alleging that Jackson drank excessively on the job, was lax in handing out prescriptions for sleeping aids and mistreated his employees. Both Jackson and Trump have insisted that the allegations are false, but Jackson nonetheless withdrew his name Thursday morning.

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The House Intelligence Committee’s report from its Russia investigation published on Friday revealed another meeting former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had with the Russian ambassador before he joined the Trump campaign.

Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn, Jr., met with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at his Washington, D.C. residence on December 2, 2015, according to emails reviewed by the House Intelligence Committee. Flynn’s son described the meeting as “very productive” in an email to the Russian embassy, according to the committee’s report. According to the report, “emails indicate that the meeting was arranged at the request of General Flynn or his son.” Neither Flynn sat with the committee for an interview, leaving congressional investigators with few details about the rendezvous.

The meeting with Kislyak took place about a week before Flynn traveled to Moscow to speak at the Kremlin RT news organization’s annual gala. Flynn sat next to Vladimir Putin at the dinner and was paid by RT to attend the event.

Flynn’s December 2015 meeting with Kislyak also came after he met with President Donald Trump for the first time, but Flynn did not formally join the campaign until 2016.

Flynn resigned as Trump’s first national security adviser in February 2017 after it became clear that he discussed Russian sanctions with Kislyak in late 2016 before Trump took office and allegedly lied to Vice President Mike Pence about it.

He then pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russian officials. Flynn is now cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

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The Russian lawyer who attended the meeting with Trump campaign officials at Trump Tower in June 2016 finally acknowledged her ties to the Kremlin in a forthcoming NBC interview previewed by the New York Times.

Natalia Veselnitskaya, who attended the meeting promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton, previously denied that she had ties to the Russian government, calling herself a private lawyer. Her links to Russian government officials has been previously documented, but the New York Times revealed new ties on Friday.

In an interview that will air on NBC News on Friday, Veselnitskaya says she was an informant for Yuri Y. Chaika, the Kremlin’s prosecutor general, even though she previously denied ties to Chaika.

“I am a lawyer, and I am an informant,” she told NBC News. “Since 2013, I have been actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general.”

Newly released emails also show that Veselnitskaya worked with Chaika’s office to reject the U.S. Justice Department’s request to Russia for documents needed for a fraud case against a Russian real estate firm, according to the New York Times. Veselnitskaya helped draft the Russian government’s response to the record request rejecting the demand and defending the Russian firm, according to the emails.

Richard Engel’s interview with Veselnitskaya will air Friday night on“NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” and on MSNBC’s “On Assignment with Richard Engel.”

Read the New York Times’ full account here.

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President Donald Trump on Thursday downplayed the amount of legal work his longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen carried out for him, but his description of Cohen’s role doesn’t line up with Cohen’s account of his work for Trump in early 2017.

“Let’s just say I have no shortage of work. It encompasses all aspects of his life from his business to the personal,” Cohen told the Wall Street Journal in a January 2017 interview, published in a profile of Cohen Thursday night. “It’s private between Mr. Trump and myself unless it’s made public because of a lawsuit or a news story.”

Cohen did not provide details, but his description gave the impression that he was kept very busy with his work for Trump before he took office. Cohen was known as Trump’s fixer and notable arranged a hush agreement with porn actress Stormy Daniels, paying her $130,000 in the fall of 2016 to keep silent about a past sexual encounter with Trump.

The President, however, tried to distance himself from Cohen on Thursday morning, now that his longtime attorney is under investigation for his business dealings. The President told “Fox and Friends” that Cohen managed “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work and that he has “many attorneys,” minimizing Cohen’s role on his legal team.

Before Trump took office in January 2017, Cohen was expecting a role in the White House, possibly as Trump’s chief of staff, but the offer never came, according to the Wall Street Journal. In the weeks leading up to the Inauguration, Cohen complained that he was still in the dark about a possible White House job, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Since Trump left for Washington, D.C., it seems Cohen felt left out. In a call with Trump in late 2017, he told his former boss that he missed him.

“Boss, I miss you so much,” Cohen told Trump, per the Wall Street Journal. “I wish I was down there with you. It’s really hard for me to be here.”

Read the Wall Street Journal’s full profile of Cohen here.

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Former FBI Director James Comey on Thursday evening pushed back on President Donald Trump’s claim earlier in the day that he is “a leaker” and “a liar.”

“He’s just wrong,” Comey told Fox News’ Bret Baier when asked about Trump’s claim. “Facts really do matter, which is why I’m on the show to answer your questions. That memo was unclassified then. It’s still unclassified. It’s in my book. The FBI cleared that book before it could be published. That’s a false statement.”

In a Thursday morning interview on “Fox and Friends,” Trump accused Comey of leaking classified information when he had a friend send a memo on his interactions with Trump to someone in the media.

Comey contended that none of his memos were classified at the time he shared some of the information with a friend, and he said that the information that made it to the press remains unclassified.

Watch Comey’s Fox News interview:

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A former correspondent for NBC News accused retired NBC anchor Tom Brokaw of sexually harassing her during the 1990s in interviews with Variety and the Washington Post.

Linda Vester said Tom Brokaw made several unwanted advances despite her signals that she did not want to be involved with him romantically. She told the Washington Post that she is telling her story now because she’s frustrated with the way NBC News has handled the aftermath of Matt Lauer’s firing over sexual misconduct allegations.

“I am speaking out now because NBC has failed to hire outside counsel to investigate a genuine, long-standing problem of sexual misconduct in the news division,” she told the Washington Post.

Vester told Variety that Brokaw made his first unwanted advance in 1993 when she had just been brought on as a full-time correspondent. He grabbed her from behind and began tickling her waist in a conference room “out of the blue,” Vester said. At the time, she was not well-acquainted with Brokaw, who she described as “the most powerful man at the network.”

Then in early 1994, Brokaw invited himself to her hotel while she was in New York on assignment, despite her attempts to ward off his advances, Vester told Variety. When Brokaw showed up at her hotel room anyway, he tried to forcibly kiss her, Vester said. She resisted and told him she did not want that kind of relationship with him, prompting him to leave, Vester said.

Brokaw also invited himself to Vester’s apartment in London in 1995, she said. Seated on a couch, Brokaw put his hand behind her head to try to force her to kiss him, Vester told Variety. Vester said she broke away and told him to leave.

In a statement to the Washington Post, Brokaw denied Vester’s allegations.

“I met with Linda Vester on two occasions, both at her request, 23 years ago, because she wanted advice with respect to her career at NBC,” he said in a statement issued by NBC. “The meetings were brief, cordial and appropriate, and despite Linda’s allegations, I made no romantic overtures towards her, at that time or any other.”

Another woman who asked to remain anonymous told the Washington Post that Brokaw also acted inappropriately toward her in the 1990s. The woman was a production assistant at the time and looking for a promotion at the network. She told the Post that when she arrived to work one day during the winter, Brokaw took her hands.

“He put my hands under his jacket and against his chest and pulled me in so close and asked me, ‘How is your job search going?’ ” she said, adding that he then invited her to his office to discuss her job search. She did not go to his office and left the network soon after, she told the Post.

 

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Federal prosecutors argued in a Thursday morning letter that documents seized in an FBI raid on Michael Cohen’s home, office and hotel room are unlikely to contain a large percentage of material subject to attorney-client privilege because two of Cohen’s three clients have downplayed the legal work Cohen carried out for them.

Prosecutors noted that since Cohen revealed that one of his three clients was Sean Hannity, the Fox News host has since said that Cohen has never represented him in a legal matter. Attorneys for the government also cited an interview President Donald Trump, another Cohen client, gave on “Fox and Friends” just a couple hours before the letter was produced in which the President claimed that Cohen only managed “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work.

“These statements by two of Cohen’s three identified clients suggest that the seized materials are unlikely to contain voluminous privileged documents, further supporting the importance of efficiency here,” prosecutors wrote in the letter.

The argument came in a footnote on a letter notifying the judge in the case that the prosecution now supports the appointment of a third party “special master” to review the seized materials for potential privileged documents.

Cohen and the prosecutors in the case have been locked in a back and forth over the process investigators will employ to throw out any privileged materials seized in the FBI raid. Cohen’s lawyers have argued that prosecutors will not be able to fairly sort through the materials, and President Donald Trump pushed for his lawyers to review the seized materials before the government does. Prosecutors pushed back on this request, calling Trump’s position “extreme.”

Lawyers for Cohen and the prosecution will attend a hearing on Thursday to discuss the process for reviewing the seized materials.

Read the letter:

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President Donald Trump on Thursday morning distanced himself from the federal investigation into the business dealings of his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen, claiming that he knows “nothing” about Cohen’s business practices and that Cohen represented him in only a “fraction” of his legal matters.

“I don’t know his business, but this doesn’t have to do with me. Michael is a businessman. He’s got a business. He also practices law. I would say probably the big thing is his business, and they’re looking at something having to do with his business,” Trump said during a lengthy phone interview with “Fox and Friends.” “I have nothing to do with his business, I can tell you.”

Asked about Cohen’s work representing him, Trump claimed that Cohen only handled “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work.

“I have many attorneys,” Trump said.

“He represents me like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me,” the President continued, referencing Cohen’s payment to Daniels and work negotiating a hush agreement with the porn actress. “You know, from what I see, he did absolutely nothing wrong. There were no campaign funds going into this, which would have been a problem.”

Trump also shrugged off Cohen’s decision to plead the Fifth Amendment in the civil case filed by Daniels against him. During the campaign, Trump criticized Hillary Clinton staffers who pleaded the Fifth Amendment in the email probe.

“Because he has got other things. He has businesses,” Trump answered on “Fox and Friends” when asked why Cohen is pleading the Fifth. “I hope he’s in great shape. But he has got businesses, and his lawyers probably told him to do that. But I’m not involved.”

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