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

As the deadline to fund the government fast approaches, President Donald Trump has been telling acquaintances that a government shutdown could be good for him, the Washington Post reported Thursday night, citing unnamed people who spoke to the President recently.

Trump has told several people that if the government were to shut down, he would simply blame it on Democrats, according to the Washington Post.

After cutting a deal with Democrats to fund the government and raise the debt limit in September and then suggesting he may work with Democrats to restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals protections, Trump has said recently that he wants to cater to his base this time around, according to the Washington Post.

He has told advisers over the past 10 days that he wants to show that he is taking a hard line on immigration by pushing for funding for the border wall, per the Post. He has become concerned that the September deal made him look like a “chump,” an unnamed adviser told the Washington Post.

White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short denied Thursday that Trump wants to shut down the government.

“He’s not advocating for a shutdown in any way. We want to make sure our military is funded. We want to make sure our priorities are funded. That’s why we invited [Democrats] over to have a conversation about a deal,” Short told reporters, per the Washington Post.

Trump and congressional leaders face a Dec. 8 deadline to fund the government. Since GOP lawmakers are deep into their effort to cut taxes, House Republican leaders will reportedly introduce legislation to fund the government through Dec. 22 to give them more time to work out a larger deal.

Read the Washington Post’s full report here.

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After firing James Comey as director of the FBI in May, President Donald Trump over the summer directed his frustration at the Senate, pressuring top Republicans in the chamber to end their Russia investigation, the New York Times reported Thursday night, citing lawmakers and aides.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), who leads the Senate’s Russia probe as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told the New York Times that Trump told him that he’d be happy to see the investigation end.

“It was something along the lines of, ‘I hope you can conclude this as quickly as possible,’” Burr told the Times.

Burr said he told Trump that “when we have exhausted everybody we need to talk to, we will finish.” He told the Times that he was not moved by Trump’s comments and suggested that Trump made the comments because he’s “never been in government.”

The President also talked to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), a member of the GOP leadership team, about ending the probe, aides and lawmakers told the New York Times.

White House spokesman Raj Shah denied that Trump tried to pressure Republican leaders, telling the New York Times that the President “at no point has attempted to apply undue influence on committee members.”

Before firing Comey in May, Trump asked him to end a probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Comey testified in June.

Read the New York Times’ full report here.

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Arnold Reed, the attorney representing Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), told reporters that Conyers will not be pressured by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to resign over several allegations of sexual misconduct.

“It is not up to Nancy Pelosi,” Reed told reporters at a press conference in Michigan. “She sure as hell won’t be the one to tell the congressman to leave.”

Reed also said that Pelosi should have to explain why she has called on Conyers to step down but has not said that Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who also faces sexual misconduct allegations, should resign.

Pelosi publicly called on Conyers to resign Thursday morning, telling reporters that the allegations from several women are “credible” and “serious.” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) also said Thursday that Conyers should step down.

Reed said that Conyers will make any decisions himself and that a decision would not come on Thursday or Friday.

Conyers faces allegations of sexual misconduct from several former female staffers.

BuzzFeed News first reported last week that Conyers paid a settlement to a former staffer who said she was fired for refusing the congressman’s sexual advances. Since then, another former staffer said Conyers walked into her hotel room and undressed. She also said the congressman inappropriately touched her on two other occasions. Another woman alleged she was invited to Conyers office, to find him dressed only in his underwear.

Reed confirmed that Conyers was in the hospital, as had been reported earlier Thursday, and said that the congressman was focused on his health, rather than a decision about his political future. He said that Conyers was experiencing dizziness, shortness of breath and lightheadedness. Asked if Conyers’ symptoms were cause by stress stemming from the allegations, Reed said he “would be surprised” if stress was not the cause.

Conyers’ lawyer also tried to undermine the credibility of one of the women who has accused the congressman of misconduct. Reed questioned why Marion Brown, who settled a claim with Conyers and came forward publicly Thursday morning, remained as a Conyers staffer while enduring sexual harassment. He said it was “incongruous” for Brown to claim that she suffered from sexual harassment even though she remained in the job and accepted a settlement for Conyers’ alleged behavior.

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The woman whose settlement with Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) was revealed by BuzzFeed News last week, came forward on Thursday morning in an interview on NBC’s “Today.”

Marion Brown, a former staffer for Conyers, told “Today” co-host Savannah Guthrie that she endured years of sexual harassment from Conyers but remained in the job because she otherwise enjoyed her work and she needed to support her family. Brown is one of several former female employees of Conyers’ office who have accused him of sexual misconduct.

“It was sexual harassment, violating — violating my body, propositioning me, inviting me to hotels with the guise of discussing business and then proposition me for sex,” Brown said Thursday morning. “He’s just violated my body, he’s touched me in different ways. It was very uncomfortable and very unprofessional.”

Brown described one incident in 2005 when Conyers allegedly invited her to a Chicago hotel room where she found him dressed only in his underwear.

“He asked me to satisfy to him sexually. He pointed to areas — genital areas of his body and asked me to touch him,” she said on “Today.”

She said she was “frozen” and “shocked.”

“I did tell him that I was not going to do that and I didn’t feel comfortable,” Brown said.

Brown said that Conyers’ behavior continued for years, even after she complained to the congressman’s chief of staff at the time.

She told NBC that she signed a nondisclosure agreement when she reached a settlement with Conyers. Brown said she decided to speak out even though she has not been released from that agreement.

“I felt it was worth the risk to stand up for all the women in the workforce that are voiceless,” she said.

Conyers has denied any wrongdoing and his lawyer said Wednesday that the congressman does not yet have any plans to resign.

Watch the interview via NBC:

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Thursday called on Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) to resign given that several women have accused the congressman of sexual misconduct.

“The allegations against Congressman Conyers, as we learned more since Sunday, are serious, disappointing and very credible. It’s very sad. The brave women who came forward are owed justice. I pray for Congressman Conyers and his family and wish them well. However, Congressman Conyers should resign,” Pelosi said at a press conference when asked why she had not publicly called for Conyers to step down.

“As Dean, Congressman Conyers has served our congress for more than five decades and shaped some of the most consequential legislation of the last half century. However, zero tolerance means consequences. For everyone, no matter how great the legacy. It’s no license to harass or discriminate. In fact it makes it even more disappointing,” she added.

Pelosi reportedly urged Conyers in private to resign but had refrained from publicly calling on him to step down until Thursday morning. More than a week after the first report on Conyers’ behavior surfaced, only a handful of House Democrats have publicly said Conyers should resign from Congress.

The congressman has denied wrongdoing and resisted any pressure to resign so far, though he has stepped down as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. Conyers has been home in Michigan since Tuesday night, and he was reportedly hospitalized Thursday morning for stress-related reasons.

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During an interview in 2000 with a reporter for Maximum Golf magazine, Donald Trump referenced someone at his Mar-a-Lago club and said “there is nothing in the world like first-rate pussy,” the Daily Beast reported Wednesday night.

The journalist, Michael Corcoran, and his editor at the time confirmed to the Daily Beast that Trump made the remark, but the magazine’s top editor forbade Corcoran from printing the comment. The magazine replaced the word “pussy” with “talent” when using the quote in the piece, Corcoran’s editor at the time, Joe Bargmann, told the Daily Beast.

The remark echoes Trump’s comments caught on the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape that his fame allowed him to grab women “by the pussy.” According to recent reports, the President has privately questioned the authenticity of that tape, even though he acknowledged at the time the “Access Hollywood” tape was released that it was him on the recording.

Read the Daily Beast’s full report here.

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Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera on Wednesday night apologized for a series of tweets he published earlier in the day suggesting that the recent flood of sexual harassment allegations is “criminalizing courtship” and “conflating” that with predatory behavior.

In a series of tweets on Wednesday afternoon, Rivera praised Matt Lauer, who was fired by NBC over a sexual misconduct claim, and wondered if the recent revelations about rampant sexual misconduct is “criminalizing courtship.” He said that the media is a “flirty business” and suggested that the definition of sexual harassment should be narrowed.

Following Rivera’s tweetstorm about Lauer and sexual harassment, Fox News said it was “troubled” by his comments.

“Geraldo’s tweets do not reflect the views of Fox News or its management. We were troubled by his comments and are addressing them with him,” the network said in a statement.

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Matt Lauer, who was fired from NBC’s “Today” on Tuesday night due to a sexual misconduct complaint, acknowledged Thursday that there is “truth” to the stories reported on Wednesday about his behavior, but he also claimed that some incidents were “mischaracterized.”

“There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have cause others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC,” Lauer said in a statement.

“Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed,” he continued. “I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly.”

“Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching and I’m committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full time job. The last two days have forced me to take a very hard look at my own troubling flaws. It’s been humbling. I am blessed to be surrounded by the people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace,” Lauer concluded in the statement.

NBC News announced Wednesday morning that Lauer was fired after the network received a complaint about “inappropriate sexual behavior.” In a statement about Lauer’s termination, NBC News chair Andy Lack said that the network was “presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”

Wednesday afternoon, the New York Times and Variety, both of which had been investigating Lauer for weeks, revealed details about Lauer’s alleged sexual misconduct.

The New York Times reported that NBC received at least two more complaints about Lauer. One complaint involved an incident in 2001 in which Lauer allegedly summoned a woman to his office and sexually assaulted her. The woman passed out and had to be taken to the nurse, according to the New York Times.

Variety reported that Lauer allegedly once gave a female colleague a sex toy with a note telling her that he wanted to use it on her, and allegedly once summoned another female colleague to his office and proceeded to expose his genitals. Variety also reported that the complaint that led to Lauer’s firing involved an incident at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but Variety did not provide any details on the incident.

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Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has no plans to resign right now and will fight the numerous allegations of sexual misconduct he faces, the congressman’s attorney told the Washington Post.

“The congressman is a very deliberate person and doesn’t want to make a hasty decision,” attorney Arnold Reed told the Washington Post on Wednesday. “These allegations are untrue, and Mr. Conyers wants the public to know they are untrue. We will weigh and continue to assess his options.”

Over the past two weeks, allegations of sexual misconduct from several former staffers to Conyers have come to light. BuzzFeed News first reported last week that Conyers’ settled a complaint from a former staffer who alleged she was fired for refusing the congressman’s sexual advances. Since then, several more women have come forward with stories of inappropriate touching and unwanted sexual advances from Conyers.

A few of Conyers’ colleagues in Congress have publicly called for him to resign, and the congressman has reportedly faced pressure in private to step down, but most Democratic members who have spoken publicly on the topic have said that Conyers must make the decision himself.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), has reportedly urged Conyers to resign from Congress behind closed doors, but she and other Democratic leaders in the House have declined to publicly call for Conyers to step down.

“Calling for the resignation of someone does not actually create the resignation,” Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), the House Democratic Caucus chairman, told CNN on Wednesday. “So, the reality is we have a process in place and we are calling for an expedited process with the Ethics committee.”

Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus, which Conyers helped found, have also reportedly urged Conyers in private to leave Congress. However, CBC Chair Cedric Richmond (D-LA) has stated publicly that the caucus will leave the decision up to Conyers.

Though Conyers has so far resisted pressure to resign, he did step down as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. Two sources close to Conyers told Detroit television station WDIV that the congressman has decided against running for re-election in 2018. However, Reed denied to the Washington Post that Conyers has decided not to run again.

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After President Donald Trump on Wednesday morning retweeted several anti-Muslim videos from a far-right British leader, a few Republican senators publicly criticized Trump’s endorsement of the unverified videos.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a vocal Trump critic, simply called the retweets “highly inappropriate.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told MSNBC that while he believes Trump was trying to highlight the threat of terrorism, the decision to retweet the videos was “not helpful.”

“To me the effect is that you’re taking a fringe element in British society and giving it the presidential seal. And David Duke was happy with it. So anything that makes David Duke happy is probably a bad day,” Graham said.

Asked again about the retweets, Graham said that retweeting the anti-Muslim videos “empowers fringe elements on the right who have been associated with religious bigotry.”

“And the last thing you want to do in this war is make it about the religion itself. Radical Islam is the enemy. Most people in the faith are the key to winning this war,” he said.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) suggested to Bloomberg News’ Sahil Kapur that Trump should not have supported videos from the leader of the far-right group Britain First.

Britain First’s Jayda Fransen tweeted videos (two of which have been debunked) purporting to show Muslim people committing violence, and Trump retweeted then early Wednesday morning.

The British government was quick to condemn Trump’s retweets of the videos.

“Britain First seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions,” a spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement. “They cause anxiety to law-abiding people. British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right.”

Despite quick condemnation from the British government, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump’s decision to retweet the videos.

“The threat is real, and that’s what the President is talking about, is the need for national security, the need for military spending, and those are very real things, there’s nothing fake about that,” she told reporters Wednesday.

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