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

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said Wednesday morning that it would be “difficult” for Republican Roy Moore to win the Alabama Senate race even as Moore refuses to concede.

“I know a lot of people would say it’s never over until it’s over, but the margin of victory for Doug Jones at this time looks like a difficult amount of votes to overcome as the remaining votes out that are there to be counted next week begin to be considered at the local level,” Merill said on CNN when asked how likely it is that Democrat Doug Jones will remain the victor in the special election.

Jones defeated Moore Tuesday night by more than a percentage point, however, Moore refused to concede and raised the possibility of a recount. The margin as of Wednesday morning would not trigger an automatic recount paid for by the state, but Moore could still request and pay for one himself.

Merrill, a Republican who backed Moore in the race, made similar comments Tuesday night on CNN, saying it’s “unlikely” Jones would not become a U.S. senator and said that he secured a decisive victory.

“The people of Alabama have spoken tonight,” Merrill said Tuesday night. “They’ve made their voice heard loud and clear.”

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After Republican Roy Moore’s loss in the Alabama Senate special election, conservatives quickly started pointing fingers.

While some Republicans went after Steve Bannon for backing the ultra-conservative Moore, Fox News host Sean Hannity took aim at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

“I think Mitch McConnell has a lot of culpability in all of this. I was a Mo Brooks supporter from day one,” Hannity said Tuesday night before the networks called the race for Democrat Doug Jones. “And I thought he would be great candidate.”

“The person who came out strongest against Mo Brooks, Matt, was Mitch McConnell,” Hannity continued, talking to GOP strategist Matt Schlapp. “Mitch McConnell literally put himself in the middle of the race time and again, it didn’t work out well for him.”

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), a staunchly conservative Republican, lost the primary for the Alabama Senate seat, leaving Republican voters to choose between Moore and Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), the Republican chosen to temporarily fill the Senate seat by embattled then-Gov. Robert Bentley. The McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund targeted Brooks, who has spoken unfavorably about McConnell, with a barrage of ads during the primary, helping to tank his campaign.

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The FBI agent who was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team in August, Peter Strzok, called President Donald Trump “awful” and an “idiot” during the presidential campaign, according to text messages provided to Congress and obtained by several news outlets.

Strzok was taken off of the Russia probe over the summer when an inspector general probe surfaced the text messages, but prior to his removal, he was reportedly involved in the FBI’s questioning of Michael Flynn. Previously, he had been involved in the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Republicans have pounced on the revelation, arguing it shows bias on Mueller’s team, and Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said this week he would investigate the matter. Jay Sekulow, an outside attorney for Trump, has called for a second special counsel to investigate bias on Mueller’s team. However, some Republicans in the Senate appear to be skeptical of such a move.

The text messages sent to Congress reveal that Strzok exchanged several text messages with Lisa Page, an FBI agent who also worked on the Mueller probe at one point, about Trump and the 2016 election.

“I just saw my first Bernie Sanders bumper sticker. Made me want to key the car,” Page wrote to Strzok in August 2015, according to Politico.

“He’s an idiot like Trump. Figure they cancel each other out,” Strzok replied.

In a March 2016 exchange, Page called Trump a “loathsome human,” according to the Washington Post. In response, Strzok wrote, “Good for Hillary.’’

On Election Day, when it appeared Trump could win the presidency, Strzok texted Page, “OMG this is F*CKING TERRIFYING,’” according to the Washington Post.

Page did at one point express concern that she and Strzok were texting about politics, telling Strzok, “So look, you say we can text on that phone when we talk about Hillary because it cant be traced,” according to CBS News.

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After Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore Tuesday night in the special election to fill a Senate seat representing Alabama, President Donald Trump reminded Twitter early Wednesday morning that he endorsed Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) in the primary.

The President suggested that it was his idea to support Strange over Moore, despite reports that Trump endorsed Strange in part because McConnell asked him too.

Though Trump backed Strange in the Republican primary, he was quick to jump on the Moore bandwagon during the general election. He was reportedly frustrated that he had been convinced to back Strange and quickly deleted tweets backing Strange when Moore won the primary.

Trump stood by Moore even after the Senate candidate faced sexual misconduct allegations from several women, telling supporters at a rally over the weekend to vote for Moore over Jones.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions would not say who he voted for in Tuesday’s Alabama special election to fill the Senate seat he vacated to join President Donald Trump’s administration.

“I voted absentee, yes, and I value the sanctity of the ballot,” he told reporters at an event in Baltimore when asked about the election, according to Politico.

“I would say the people of Alabama are good and decent, wonderful people. I was proud to serve them in the Senate,” he added, per Politico. “They’ll make the right decision.”

Sessions refrained from revealing his choice for the seat despite President Donald Trump’s support for Roy Moore, the Republican candidate faced with sexual misconduct allegations.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) also revealed his stance on Moore, telling CNN on Sunday that he did not vote for Moore in the race and instead wrote in the name of another conservative.

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Alabama Senate GOP candidate Roy Moore rode a horse to the polls on Tuesday to cast a ballot in the Senate race.

Moore, known for his opposition to same-sex marriage and racist comments, is facing off against Democrat Doug Jones to fill the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Moore has refused to drop out of the Senate race despite allegations from several women that he pursued inappropriate relationships with them while they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.

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With renewed attention being paid to a sexual harassment settlement Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) paid to a former aide, the New York Times revealed on Monday that two other aides submitted formal complaints about the office environment.

One aide complained that Farenthold’s chief of staff, Bob Haueter, treated female staffers differently, and another aide, Elizabeth Peace, complained that a female staffer made “inappropriate sexualized commentary in the workplace,” according to the New York Times. Farenthold spokeswoman Stacey Daniels told the Times that a lawyer reviewed those complaints and did not find evidence of gender bias of inappropriate sexual comments.

Peace told the New York Times that the level of inappropriate behavior in the office would not have taken place “if the congressman hadn’t already set the tone.”

One former aide, who spoke to the Times on condition of anonymity, said that staff regularly commented on women’s bodies.

“There were numerous lewd comments that were made either about female reporters’ breast size, or other reporters’ breast size as well as female lobbyists and their appearance that would go on,” the aide said. “On any given week you were prone to either ridicule, rude comments, acts of aggression or rage.”

Lauren Greene, the former aide who received a settlement from Farenthold for alleged sexual harassment, said that the congressman liked redheads and “regularly drank to excess, and because of his tendency to flirt, the staffers who accompanied him to Capitol Hill functions would joke that they had to be on ‘redhead patrol’ to keep him out of trouble.”

Lawyers for Farenthold acknowledged to the New York Times that “some staff occasionally joked that Rep. Farenthold finds redheads attractive.”

Farenthold reportedly paid a $84,000 settlement to Greene after she sued him in 2o14. Greene said she was fired after complaining that a staffer told her that Farenthold had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about her.

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This post has been updated.

In a letter to the leaders of the House Oversight Committee, more than 50 Democratic congresswomen asked the committee to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against President Donald Trump.

The female lawmakers noted that at least 17 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct and argued that Trump’s comments on the “Access Hollywood” tape “appear to back up the allegations.”

“In the time of ‘Me Too,’ women across the country are coming forward with their own harrowing stories of sexual harassment and assault. Members of Congress have also come under scrutiny and investigation, with some resigning, for improper sexual conduct. We cannot ignore the multitude of women who have come forward with accusations against Mr. Trump,” they wrote. “With that said, the President should be allowed to present evidence in his own defense.”

The leaders of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, Reps. Lois Frankel (D-FL) (pictured above), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), and Jackie Speier (D-CA), led the effort to send the letter to the House Oversight Committee.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) on Tuesday morning backed the female lawmakers’ call for the Oversight Committee to investigate the sexual misconduct claims against Trump and called on Chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC) to launch a probe.

“Congress is in the midst of a critical and long-overdue examination of allegations against its own Members—both before and after they were elected to Congress. The Oversight Committee is charged with examining similar allegations against Executive Branch employees and the President. It is extremely hard for Republicans to argue that Congress should ignore these multiple allegations. They deserve a bipartisan review, and I hope Chairman Gowdy will launch an investigation immediately,” Cummings said in a statement.

The letter comes after several Democrats in Congress called for Trump to resign over the sexual misconduct allegations made before the 2016 election. The revelations about Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Alabama GOP candidate Roy Moore, and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), have prompted renewed scrutiny of Trump’s behavior. Several of Trump’s accusers on Monday urged Congress to launch a formal probe of claims of sexual misconduct made about Trump.

Read the letter:

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Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced on Monday night that he will write a book about his experience working for President Donald Trump during the campaign and in the White House.

“I looked back at the coverage of the campaign, the transition and the first six, seven months of this White House and realized the stories that are being told are not an accurate represent [sic] of what President Trump went through to get the nomination, to transition to the White House and then his first six months in office,” Spicer told Fox News’ Sean Hannity Monday night.

“I’ve decided that it is incumbent upon me to set the record straight,” he added.

He said that his book is scheduled to come out in the summer of 2018.

Spicer left the White House over the summer after spending several months defending Trump from behind the briefing room podium. He notoriously claimed that the crowd at Trump’s inauguration was the largest ever, which he said he later regretted.

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Monday afternoon called on President Donald Trump to resign as accusations of sexual misconduct against the President have seen renewed scrutiny.

“President Trump should resign. These allegations are credible; they are numerous. I’ve heard these women’s testimony, and many of them are heartbreaking,” Gillibrand said on CNN.

Gillibrand said that it’s unclear whether Trump will ever hold himself accountable, and so if he does not “immediately” resign, Congress should investigate the allegations made about his behavior.

The senator’s comments came the same day that several of Trump’s accusers held a press conference to reiterate that Trump groped or harassed them and to call on Congress to investigate the allegations about the President’s conduct before taking office. Several other Democratic senators recently suggested that Trump resign after placing pressure on Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) to resign over sexual misconduct claims.

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