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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

The National Association of Medicaid Directors on Monday criticized the deep cuts to Medicaid proposed in the Senate’s draft legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare as “unworkable.”

The group approved of certain provisions in the bill, like greater flexibility for the types of waivers from the law for which states can apply. But the group blasted the cuts the draft bill would impose to Medicaid.

“However, no amount of administrative or regulatory flexibility can compensate for the federal spending reductions that would occur as a result of this bill,” the group said in a statement. “Changes in the federal responsibility for financing the program must be accompanied by clearly articulated statutory changes to Medicaid to enable states to operate effectively under a cap. The Senate bill does not accomplish that. It would be a transfer of risk, responsibility, and cost to the states of historic proportions.”

The group refrained from offering an opinion on per capita caps and block grants, the two options states would have for Medicaid funding under the Senate bill. However, it argued that the rate at which the caps on federal Medicaid spending would grow over time under the Senate bill is “insufficient and unworkable.”

The group urged the Senate to leave Medicaid alone for now and to focus solely on the individual marketplace.

Read the group’s statement below:

The American Medical Association, the largest advocacy group for doctors in the United States, on Monday announced its opposition to the Senate’s bill to replace Obamacare.

“Medicine has long operated under the precept of Primum non nocere, or ‘first, do no harm.’ The draft legislation violates that standard on many levels,” James Madara, AMA’s CEO, wrote in a letter to Senate leaders.

Madara wrote that provisions in the Senate’s draft legislation, like less generous subsidies and broader waivers for states, “will expose low and middle income patients to higher costs and greater difficulty in affording care.” The group is also concerned about the deep cuts to Medicaid that the Senate’s draft bill imposes.

“We sincerely hope that the Senate will take this opportunity to change the course of the current debate and work to fix problems with the current system. We believe that Congress should be working to increase the number of Americans with access to quality, affordable health insurance instead of pursuing policies that have the opposite effect, and we renew our commitment to work with you in that endeavor,” Madara concluded in the letter.

Read the letter:

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), one of four conservative senators who issued a statement last week opposing the Senate Obamacare repeal bill as written, wrote in a Monday New York Times op-ed that the bill does not adequately fix the issues he sees with the Affordable Care Act.

“Our priority should be to bring relief, and better, less expensive care, to millions of working men and women,” Johnson wrote in the New York Times. “Unfortunately, the Senate Republican alternative, unveiled last week, doesn’t appear to come close to addressing their plight. Like Obamacare, it relies too heavily on government spending, and ignores the role that the private sector can and should play.”

Johnson called for “consumer-driven, free-market competition” in the health care market, which he argued would “restrain (if not lower) costs while improving quality, access and innovation.”

“Loosen up regulations and mandates, so that Americans can choose to purchase insurance that suits their needs and that they can afford,” Johnson wrote.

“Like many other senators, I had hoped that this was where things were headed during the last several weeks as the Republican bill was discussed,” he continued. “We’re disappointed that the discussion draft turns its back on this simple solution, and goes with something far too familiar: throwing money at the problem.”

Johnson ended his op-ed by noting that Republican leaders in the Senate have emphasized that the bill released last week is a discussion draft open to negotiation.

“I look forward to working with Senate leadership and the president to improve the bill so it addresses the plight of the forgotten men and women by returning freedom and choice to health care,” the senator wrote.

Johnson has previously criticized leadership for rushing the bill through the chamber, arguing that senators need more time to assess the legislation.

This post has been updated.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, said on Sunday that the vote on the Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare is “going to be close,” according to CNN and the LA Times.

Cornyn told reporters at a Koch brothers retreat in Colorado that he had been negotiating with Republican senators on the bill all weekend and that the Senate is on track to vote on the legislation this week. But he indicated that talks on the bill have been challenging.

“It’s hard,” he said, per CNN. “But there’s no excuse for failure. … When people want to get to ‘yes’ you can have good faith negotiation and get them there.”

The senator said that the Senate must act quickly, identifying August 1 as the hard deadline for Senate passage of the bill, according to Politico.

“We don’t have the luxury of waiting around. It’s not going to get easier,” Cornyn told reporters, per Politico.

However, late Monday morning, Cornyn reversed and said that the Senate must pass the Obamacare repeal bill this week.

Cornyn indicated that President Donald Trump will not play a large role in wooing Republican senators to back the legislation.

“We’re trying to hold him back a little bit,” he said, according to Politico.

The bill faces opposition from a group of four conservative senators, as well as from more moderate senators like Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).

Jared Kushner’s family real estate company received a $285 million loan from Deutsche Bank the month before the 2016 election, which Kushner did not disclose on his financial disclosure form, the Washington Post reported Sunday night.

The company secured the loan for its building near Times Square in Manhattan as Deutsche Bank was facing charges for failing to catch and prevent a Russian money laundering scheme.

The Trump family has also received loans from Deutsche Bank. Democrats in Congress have pressed the bank for information on loans to the Trump family, specifically asking if the Trump loans were somehow caught up in the Russian money laundering scheme or if the loans were guaranteed by anyone in Russia. The bank has refused to fulfill Democrats’ requests, citing privacy laws.

Jared Kushner has come under scrutiny for his meetings with Russian officials in December. He met with the Russian ambassador and with the head of Vnesheconombank, a Russian state-linked bank.

A lawyer for Kushner, Blake Roberts, told the Washington Post that Kushner did not disclose the loan because guidance from the Office of Government Ethics “clearly states that filers do not have to disclose as a liability a loan on which they have made a guarantee unless they have a present obligation to repay the loan.”

Asked about the loan, the White House told the Washington Post that Kushner “will recuse from any particular matter involving specific parties in which Deutsche Bank is a party.”

Read the full Washington Post report here.

The White House announced on Friday afternoon that it has hired a manager at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., to serve as the White House’s chief usher.

Timothy Harleth is the director of rooms at President Donald Trump’s D.C. hotel, and had previously worked in management at other hotels in Washington, D.C. and New York.

“I am so pleased that Timothy will be joining our team,” First Lady Melania Trump said in a statement announcing Harleth’s hiring. “He was selected because of his impressive work history and management skills. My husband and I know he will be successful in this vital role within the White House.”

As chief usher, Harleth will oversee the staff that runs the White House residence.

The White House confirmed in early May that the chief usher appointed during the Obama administration had left the post. Angella Reid, appointed in 2011, was the first female chief usher and was only the ninth person to serve in the role.

Though President Donald Trump’s businesses are benefitting from his time in the White House in some respects, Trump’s presidency is costing the family some business at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach Florida, according to a Friday Washington Post report.

Trump uses Mar-a-Lago as his “Winter White House,” resulting in heightened security at the resort. The time-consuming, inconvenient security process that has prompted some former clients to stop using the resort for banquets, according to the Washington Post.

At least seven nonprofits have decided against returning to Mar-a-Lago for events this coming winter, the Post reported. This could lead to the club’s slowest season for charity events in nine years, according to the Post.

Read the Washington Post’s full report here.

President Donald Trump has started talking to his outside legal team in the morning before he begins work in the Oval Office to vent and discuss strategy regarding the Russia probes, the Washington Post reported Friday morning, citing three unnamed senior White House officials.

Trump calls his outside counsel “many mornings” around 6:30 a.m, according to the Washington Post. These calls occur before Trump typically goes on his early-morning Twitter tirades, during which he often sounds off on news stories about the Russia investigations.

Per the Post:

The calls — detailed by three senior White House officials — are part strategy consultation and part presidential venting session, during which Trump’s lawyers and public-relations gurus take turns reviewing the latest headlines with him. They also devise their plan for battling his avowed enemies: the special counsel leading the Russia investigation; the “fake news” media chronicling it; and, in some instances, the president’s own Justice Department overseeing the probe.

Trump’s advisers have encouraged him to make these morning calls in the hopes that he will then be able to focus on other issues afterward, but it’s not clear this has worked.

In an interview with “Fox and Friends” that aired Friday morning, President Donald Trump suggested that his tweet threatening that there might be “tapes” of his conversations with James Comey influenced the former FBI director’s testimony.

Trump on Thursday published a series of tweets saying that he does not have recordings of his interactions with Comey, about six weeks after he tweeted that Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations.” But Trump also said in his tweets that there could be tapes given “all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information.”

He reiterated this in his interview with “Fox and Friends.”

“Well I didn’t tape him. You never know what’s happening when you see that the Obama administration and perhaps longer than that was doing all of this unmasking and surveillance, and you read all about it,” Trump said.

The President then suggested that Comey “changed” his story when he learned that there could be tapes, offering a long, confusing explanation that Comey’s “story” may have changed.

“But when he found out that I — you know, that there may be tapes out there, whether it’s governmental tapes or anything else, and who knows, I think his story may have changed. I mean, you’ll have to take a look at that,” he said. “Because then he has to tell what actually took place at the events, and my story didn’t change. My story was always a straight story. My story was always the truth. But you’ll have to determine for yourself whether or not his story changed.”

Fox News’ Ainsley Earhardt then noted it was “smart” for Trump to publish that tweet so that Comey would have to be honest.

“Well, it wasn’t— it wasn’t very stupid, I’ll tell you that. He did admit that what I said was right,” Trump replied, likely referring to Comey’s testimony that he told Trump three times that he was not under investigation. Trump revealed that Comey had told him this when he fired the FBI director.

“And if you look further back, before he heard about that, I think maybe he wasn’t admitting that,” Trump continued. “So, you’ll have to do a little investigative reporting to determine that, but I don’t think it’ll be that hard.”

Watch part of the interview via Fox News:

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told investigators with the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday that President Donald Trump seemed obsessed with the Russia probe and asked Coats several times to publicly deny that there was evidence of collusion, NBC News reported Thursday evening, citing an unnamed U.S. official.

Coats and Adm. Mike Rogers, the National Security Agency director, told special counsel Robert Mueller and Senate investigators last week that Trump suggested that they publicly deny that there was evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia, according to a CNN report.

During a public hearing with the Senate Intelligence Committee, both Coats and Rogers declined to discuss their conversations with Trump. Rogers said at the time that he had not been “directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate.” Coats told the Senate committee that he “never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relationship to an ongoing investigation.”

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