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

Did President Donald Trump agree with the president of Mexico not to talk publicly about who will pay for a big, beautiful border wall?

That's what the Mexican government said in a statement issued Friday after the two heads of state spoke by phone.

But in what appears to be another snafu among many during the first week of the new Trump administration, what was described as a "joint statement" from the White House used virtually all of the same language as the statement from Mexico, save for one key line.

"With regard to the payment of the border wall, both presidents acknowledge their clear and very public differences in position on this sensitive issue and agreed to resolve these differences as part of a comprehensive discussion of all aspects of the bilateral relationship. The presidents also agreed at this point not to speak publicly about this controversial issue," the Mexican government said in the statement, according to CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

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During a joint press conference on Friday at the White House, British Prime Minister Theresa May seemed to go out of her way to box in President Donald Trump on his backing for NATO, declaring that he had told her in their private meeting that he will support the decades-old alliance "100 percent."

"On defense and security cooperation, we are united in our recognition of NATO as the bulwark of our collective defense and today we’ve reaffirmed our unshakeable commitment to the alliance. Mr. President, I think you confirmed that you are 100 percent behind NATO," May said at the press conference following her private meeting with the new United States president.

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Update: After publishing the story, the Department of Health and Human Services provided TPM with a revised statement confirming that the department pulled the ads.

"We aren’t going to continue spending millions of taxpayers’ dollars promoting a failed government program. Once an assessment was made, we pulled back the most expensive and least efficient part of this massive ad campaign which was set to run over the weekend. Those costs savings will be returned to the U.S. Treasury," a spokesperson for HHS said in the statement.

Original story:

Just a few days before the open enrollment period ends for 2017 health insurance plans on the Obamacare exchanges, the Department of Health and Human Services has pulled adds promoting enrollment, the department confirmed to the New York Times on Thursday.

“The federal government has spent more than $60 million promoting the open enrollment period,” an HHS spokesman told the Times on Thursday. “We have pulled back roughly $5 million of the final placement in an effort to look for efficiencies where they exist.”

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With the expectation that President Donald Trump will soon sign an executive order to temporarily shut down the United States' refugee resettlement program, the Department of Homeland Security has postponed planned trips abroad to interview refugee applicants, according to a Reuters report.

Trump is reportedly planning to sign an executive order soon that would suspend the country's refugee program for 120 days and end the admittance of Syrian refugees indefinitely. The order would also suspend issuing visas for those coming from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 30 days, according to the New York Times.

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Two Democratic members of Congress on Thursday sent a letter to the White House counsel informing him that several reported gag orders sent to federal agencies violate several laws, citing a memo directing employees at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) not to speak with members of Congress.

In the letter, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said that the acting head of HHS sent a memo to employees barring them from communicating with public officials. There have also been several reports that employees at other agencies have been sent gag orders restricting their communications.

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Mike Pompeo, the new CIA director under President Donald Trump, apparently only learned about a draft executive action paving the way for the CIA to reintroduce waterboarding and "black site" prisons through news reports on Wednesday.

Yahoo News, citing an unnamed source, reported that Pompeo was "blindsided" by the draft memo, which was first reported by the New York Times, and that he was never consulted about the executive order. Politico reported that both Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis were unaware of the draft order until the Times published its piece.

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After President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive action ordering the construction of a wall along the United States' border with Mexico, Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) issued a scathing statement criticizing Trump's order.

"The facts have not changed. Building a wall is the most expensive and least effective way to secure the border," Hurd said in a Wednesday statement. "Each section of the border faces unique geographical, cultural, and technological challenges that would be best addressed with a flexible, sector-by-sector approach that empowers the agents on the ground with the resources they need. A wall may be an effective tool in densely populated areas, but a variety of tools are needed between Brownsville, Texas and San Diego, California."

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President Donald Trump continues to offer praise for Fox News, telling ABC News' David Muir in an interview that aired Wednesday night that only Fox News covered his speech at the CIA fairly.

"That speech was a home run," Trump said. "We see what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming and — and they were all CIA."

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In an interview with ABC News' David Muir that aired on Wednesday night, President Donald Trump defended his debunked claims that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election and attacked the author of a study who found that there is not widespread voter fraud in the United States.

Muir told Trump that his claim that three to five million people voted illegally has been "debunked," telling Trump that a Pew report he has cited does not provide evidence of widespread fraud.

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