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

In an excerpt from her forthcoming book, “What Happened” that aired on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday morning, Hillary Clinton described the “uncomfortable” October 2016 debate during which Donald Trump stood close behind her on the stage as she spoke.

“It was incredibly uncomfortable,” Clinton said in the excerpt aired on MSNBC. “He was literally breathing down my neck. My skin crawled. It was one of those moments where you wish you could hit pause and ask everyone watching, ‘well, what would you do?’”

Clinton said she decided to simply carry on.

“I kept my cool, aided by a lifetime of dealing with difficult men trying to throw me off,” she wrote in her book.

Yet she said she still wonders if she should have stopped and told Trump to back off and called him a “creep.”

Clinton also described her book in the excerpt aired on “Morning Joe,” explaining that it is not a “comprehensive account of the 2016 race.” Instead, Clinton’s book will center on her experience as a candidate.

“Every day that I was a candidate for president, I knew that millions of people were counting on me, and I couldn’t bear the idea of letting them down. But I did. I couldn’t get the job done, and I’ll have to live with that for the rest of my life,” Clinton said in the excerpt. “In this book, I write about moments from the campaign that I wish I could go back and do over. If the Russians could hack my subconscious, they’d find a long list.”

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During a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, Tuesday night, Trump returned to his free-wheeling campaign style diatribes, jumping from topic to topic, sharing his unfiltered thoughts on several matters.

As he did during the campaign, Trump peppered his lengthy, raucous speech with asides to the crowd, responding to chants and shouts. The President spoke for more than an hour, lashing out at his critics and renewing the push for several of his campaign promises.

He began his speech by bashing the media and defending his response to the deadly car attack in Charlottesville, conveniently leaving out the fact that he initially blamed “many sides” for the violence there. Trump also touched on several other topics, like the potential to pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio, funding for the border wall, and NAFTA.

And though he was expected to use his speech to slam Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and prop up one of his primary challengers, the President showed just a little bit of restraint by only offering a few lines criticizing the Republican senator from Arizona.

Below are some of the highlights from Trump’s speech:

Rehashed response to Charlottesville

At the beginning of the rally, Trump defended the way he responded to the violence in Charlottesville during a “Unite the Right” rally and counterprotest. He complained that the “dishonest” media does not like to report that he “spoke out forcefully against hatred, bigotry, and violence, and strongly condemned the neo-Nazis, the white supremacists, and the KKK.”

Trump pulled out a transcript of the initial remarks he made after the deadly car attack but omitted the fact that he blamed “many sides” for the violence.

His defense was met with chants of “CNN sucks” from the crowd, prompting Trump to lament that the network fired Jeffrey Lord, a pro-Trump analyst who tweeted a Nazi salute.

While discussing the “dishonest” media, Trump singled out Fox News as his favorite network. He praised Sean Hannity, perhaps the host most favorable to Trump, and called “Fox and Friends” the “absolute most honest show.”

While on the topic of Charlottesville, Trump also made sure to say he was disappointed by the renewed push to remove Confederate statues from public land.

“They are trying to take away our history and our heritage,” he told the crowd.

Hinted that he could pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Trump did not announce that he would pardon Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, as the White House had said earlier in the day. But he did hint that he could pardon the sheriff at some point.

“So was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?” Trump asked the crowd in Phoenix. “You know what, I’ll make a prediction: I think he’s going to be just fine, okay? But I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy. But Sheriff Joe should feel good.”

Bashed McCain and Flake

The President was expected to go after Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and potentially praise one of his primary challengers, Republican state Sen. Kelli Ward. But Trump did not mention Flake or Ward by name, and offered only a subtle jab at Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

Trump mentioned that Republicans were “one vote away” from passing a bill to repeal Obamacare, a reference to McCain’s dramatic vote cast against the bill.

“I will not mention any names,” Trump said, patting himself on the back for acting “presidential.”

The President then turned to Flake, again not actually mentioning his name.

“And nobody wants me to talk about your other senator, who’s weak on borders, weak on crime. So I won’t talk about him,” Trump said.

Threatened shutdown over border wall funding

Trump visited the southern border before his speech in Phoenix on Tuesday, and mentioned his proposed border wall during the rally. He suggested that he would push to tie funding for the wall to a must-pass government spending bill in the fall, even if that risks shutting down the government.

“The obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it, but believe me, if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” Trump told the crowd.

Suggested he will nix NAFTA

Trump brought up one of his most prominent campaign trail promises on Tuesday night, his pledge to re-negotiate or terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement. In April, the President was prepared to terminate NAFTA, but was persuaded to instead seek re-negotiation. But Tuesday night, he suggested he could still change his mind again.

“Personally, I don’t think we can make a deal because we have been so badly taken advantage of,” he said of the trade agreement. “I think we’ll end up probably terminating NAFTA at some point.”

Called for Senate to nuke the filibuster

While Congress has been away for the August recess, Trump has stayed relatively quiet on legislation. But Tuesday night he called for the Senate to change its rules so that they could easily pass Obamacare repeal, tax cuts, and funding for the border wall. He echoed his past calls for Senate Republicans to nix the legislative filibuster, which allows the minority to force bills to be passed with 60 votes instead of just 51. Eliminating the filibuster would not have helped Republicans pass Obamacare repeal, however, because they were not even able to get 50 GOP senators on board.

“If we don’t, the Republicans will never get anything passed. You’re wasting your time,” Trump said Tuesday night. “We have to get rid of the filibuster rule. Right now, we need 60 votes. We have 52 Republicans. That means that eight Democrats are controlling all of this legislation.”

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A Florida charity for children on Tuesday joined the wave of nonprofits ditching President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in the wake of the President’s failure to fully condemn white nationalists after a car attack left a counter-protester dead at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“Unicorn Children’s Foundation is focused on its mission to build communities of acceptance, support and opportunity for children and young adults challenged by special needs and neurodiversity. We are not a political organization and do not condone hatred or bullying on any level as our kids have dealt with the pain of being called different on a very personal level,” the Unicorn Children’s Foundation, a Boca Raton-based charity, said in a Facebook post.

“Due to the political turbulence associated with this choice of venue it would be a disservice to our supporters and our children to hold our event at Mar-a-Lago,” the group added in the post announcing that it would no longer hold a luncheon at Trump’s Palm Beach club. “We prefer the conversations to be centered off the venue and instead focused on how we can help kids with special needs excel in their communities.”

Several charities, including large national organizations like the American Cancer Society and the Salvation Army, have pulled their fundraising events from Mar-a-Lago in the wake of Trump’s response to Charlottesville. A total of 16 charities have ditched Trump’s Florida club since the deadly white nationalist rally earlier this month, according to the Washington Post’s count. The Palm Beach Post reports that a total of 21 groups have yanked events from Mar-A-Lago “in recent months.”

At least one charity, a New Jersey chapter of United Ways, has also pulled an event from Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, noting that the charity condemns “divisive worldview of groups like the white nationalists and neo-Nazis that incited the violence in Charlottesville.”

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The first Charlottesville, Virginia city council meeting since the deadly attack on counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in the city erupted on Monday night when several residents began shouting down city council members.

Residents attending the meeting took the council members to task for the way the city handled the rally of white nationalists earlier this month.

“You had multiple opportunities to intervene and you did not intervene one time.  We told you exactly what you needed to do and you did nothing,” one man said at the meeting, according to local NBC affiliate WVIR.

At one point during the meeting, two people climbed onto the dais to hold a large sign reading, “Blood on your hands,” prompting some councilors and city staff to flee the room, per WVIR.

As the meeting became increasingly unruly, police intervened and arrested removed individuals, according to the New York Times. When the police detained three people, the crowd in the room broke out into chants of “Shame” and “Shut it down,” per the Times.

At that point, the only city official left in the room was Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy, who negotiated with the angry crowd, the Times reported. He worked out with residents that each would be allowed a turn to speak during the meeting.

Residents in attendance blasted the city for allowing the “Unite the Right” rally to take place and called for the resignation of Mayor Mike Signer, chanting “Signer must go!” They also urged the council to push for the removal of Confederate monuments from the city.

After residents were finished speaking, the city council moved to start the process of removing Confederate statues from the city. The council approved a motion to drape those statues in black fabric to commemorate the victims of the attack, according to WVIR.

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President Donald Trump on Monday night announced his administration’s plan for the war in Afghanistan, but only after Trump angrily questioned military leaders over their proposals and moved past staff infighting over what his approach should be.

Presented with plans to send additional troops into Afghanistan in July, Trump furiously grilled national security officials on the proposal, the New York Times reported.

“We’re losing,” Trump said, according to an anonymous person in the room who spoke with the Times. “What does success look like?”

Trump’s initial resistance to increasing troops in Afghanistan, combined with a sharp divide among his top aides, delayed his decision on a strategy for months, the Washington Post reported.

While National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster backed the plan to increase troops, since-ousted chief strategist Steve Bannon vehemently opposed that proposal, per the Post. After Defense Secretary James Mattis sided with McMaster, Breitbart News launched a campaign against the national security adviser, which only irked more administration staff members, per the Post.

During the aides’ battle for Trump’s support, McMaster showed Trump a photograph from 1972 of Afghan women walking through Kabul in miniskirts to prove that it was possible for the country to adopt Western norms, the newspaper reported.

Chief of staff John Kelly eventually forced Trump to make a decision, calling a meeting at Camp David last Friday to finalize an approach in Afghanistan, per the Post.

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After a wave of charities pulled fundraising events from President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago club in the wake of his response to the Charlottesville attack, a local New Jersey charity announced Monday that it would no longer hold an event at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

“United Ways in every community denounce racism, bigotry and prejudice in all forms. We strongly reject the divisive worldview of groups like the white nationalists and neo-Nazis that incited the violence in Charlottesville, VA,” United Ways of Monmouth and Ocean Counties said in a Facebook post.

“Based on recent events, we have decided to relocate our upcoming event from Trump National Golf Club to a new venue which will be announced shortly. We thank all of our supporters who stand with us to embrace ideas that unify us and make us stronger. To live better, we must Live United,” the group added in its statement.

The local chapter of United Ways follows in the footsteps of several major charities who yanked events from Trump’s Palm Beach club last week over Trump’s failure to condemn white nationalists, including the American Cancer Society, the Salvation Army, and the American Red Cross.

The United Ways statement was more pointed than some of those issued by major charities, as the post explicitly said the organization made the decision due to “recent events” and denounced racism and white nationalists.


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The evening before President Donald Trump’s rally in Arizona, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) told reporters that he is not concerned about the potential for Trump to back one of the Republican primary challengers to Flake in his 2018 re-election bid.

“I don’t worry about it at all,” Flake told reporters in Arizona on Monday when asked about Trump’s criticism of him on Twitter, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In a tweet last week, Trump called Flake “toxic” and declared that the senator is “weak” on immigration issues and crime. The President applauded Republican state Sen. Kelli Ward for challenging Flake, an atypical move for a president.

Asked about Trump’s support for Ward, Flake said, “That’s not my realm. That’s somebody else’s. I just — I’m running my own campaign. It’s going well. And what the president does, that’s his prerogative,” per the LA Times.

Trump will hold a rally in Arizona Tuesday night, sparking speculation that he could bash Flake and support one of his primary challengers from the stage. Trump’s ire with Flake is likely due in part to the senator’s recent book tour during which he repeatedly criticized Trump.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Monday night criticized President Donald Trump for failing last week to fully condemn the white nationalists at a rally in Charlottesville, acknowledging that the President “messed up.”

During a televised town hall on CNN, Ryan was asked about Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville. The speaker applauded Trump’s second stab at responding to the attack, describing it as “pitch perfect.” But he criticized Trump for later faltering at a press conference.

“Then, the next day, I think it was in New York on an infrastructure press conference, in answer to a question, I think he made comments that were much more morally ambiguous, much more confusing,” Ryan said. “And I do think he could have done better. I think he needed to do better.”

The speaker then praised Trump for his tweet applauding the counterprotesters in Boston who spoke out against a “free speech” rally over the weekend and said that the President made progress in his Monday night speech on Afghanistan.

“The soldier understands what we as a nation too often forget, that a wound inflicted upon a single member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all,” Trump said Monday night. “When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry and no tolerance for hate.”

Ryan said that was “exactly what a president needs to say and what we needed to hear.”

“So I do believe that he messed up in his comments on Tuesday, when it – it – it sounded like a moral equivocation, or at the very least moral ambiguity, when we need extreme moral clarity,” he added.

CNN moderator Jake Tapper then pointed out that Trump said that there were “very fine people” at the rally in Charlottesville, arguing that it was “morally wrong,” not “ambiguous” for Trump to say that. Ryan agreed.

“You’re not a good person if you’re there. That’s just so very clear. So I totally agree with that,” Ryan said. “It was not only morally ambiguous, it was – it was equivocating. And that was wrong. That’s why I think it was very, very important that he – that he – he has since then cleared that up. And I think it was important that he did that tonight.”

Though Ryan criticized Trump’s response to Charlottesville, he stopped short of supporting a censure of the President, arguing that it would become a “partisan hack-fest.”


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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Monday condemned white nationalists and declared that there were “no sides” to the violence at a rally earlier this month in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“The immediate condemnations from left, right, and center affirmed that there is no confusion about right and wrong here. There are no sides,” Ryan said in a statement on Monday. “There is no other argument. We will not tolerate this hateful ideology in our society.”

The statement comes about a week after President Donald Trump failed to fully denounce white nationalists in the wake of a car attack at the rally that killed one counter-protester and injured at least 19 others. The President initially blamed “many sides” for the violence.

“I still firmly believe this hate exists only on the fringes. But so long as it exists, we need to talk about it. We need to call it what it is. And so long as it is weaponized for fear and terror, we need to confront it and defeat it,” Ryan’s statement continued. “That is why we all need to make clear there is no moral relativism when it comes to neo-Nazis. We cannot allow the slightest ambiguity on such a fundamental question.”

The statement is Ryan’s most robust response to the attack and to Trump’s comments on it. Last week, the speaker wrote that “white supremacy is repulsive” shortly after Trump’s off-the-rails press conference during which he backslid into blaming “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville.

Ryan said in the statement that “the notion that anyone is intrinsically superior to anyone else runs completely counter to our founding principles.” He did not directly call out Trump, but said American leaders have a responsibility to promote those principles.

“Those principles make America special. They by no means make us perfect. We may never fully eradicate this scourge. After all, this republic is defined by its often winding pursuit of a more perfect union,” the statement read. “But it is that chase that sets us apart. It is the notion we are always trying to be better. This goes especially for our leaders. Those of us entrusted with the privilege to serve and represent the American people have an obligation to challenge us to push beyond the passions of the moment.”

Read Ryan’s full statement here.

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The University of Texas at Austin removed several confederate statues overnight on Sunday following an announcement from the school’s president, Gregory Fenves.

“Last week, the horrific displays of hatred at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville shocked and saddened the nation. These events make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism,” Fenves said in a Sunday statement.

Three of the statues being removed, including one of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, will be relocated to a campus exhibit. The fourth statue, which depicts former Texas Gov. James Hogg, may be relocated to another spot on the campus, Fenves said.

Fenves said he made the decision to remove the statues after a discussion with students, university staff, and alumni.

“The University of Texas at Austin is a public educational and research institution, first and foremost. The historical and cultural significance of the Confederate statues on our campus — and the connections that individuals have with them — are severely compromised by what they symbolize,” he said in the statement. “Erected during the period of Jim Crow laws and segregation, the statues represent the subjugation of African Americans. That remains true today for white supremacists who use them to symbolize hatred and bigotry.”

A spokesman for the university, Gary Susswein, told the Austin American-Statesman that the statues were removed after dark with little warning due to public safety concerns.

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