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

Two Democratic members of Congress on Wednesday asked the Office of Government Ethics to investigate sexual misconduct allegations made against President Donald Trump before he took office.

In a letter, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), the chair of the House Democratic caucus, and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), a leading voice in the #MeToo movement in Congress, noted that the ethics committees in the House and the Senate have launched probes into claims about lawmakers’ conduct but that accusations against Trump have not been investigated.

“Following the release of a video tape in October 2016 in which then-candidate Donald Trump admits ― and brags about ― making unwanted and inappropriate sexual advances toward women, numerous individuals came forward to share their own personal stories of their encounters,” they wrote in the letter.

“We believe public officials must set the gold standard for professional behavior, particularly those who hold the high offices of representative, senator, and ― especially ― president of the United States,” the Democratic lawmakers added. “That is why it is incredibly important that you conduct an investigation into claims of sexual misconduct by the president. No individual is above the law, regardless of his or her profession, persona, or power.”

Several Democratic members of Congress asked the House Oversight Committee to investigate the sexual misconduct claims against Trump earlier this week, but Chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC) declined to launch a probe and referred the matter to the Justice Department.

Read the letter from Crowley and Speier:

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Roy Moore still refuses to concede the Alabama Senate race to Democrat Doug Jones and suggested in a video released by his campaign Wednesday night that provisional and military ballots could still swing the race in his favor.

“We are indeed in a struggle to preserve our republic, our civilization, and our religion, and to set free a suffering humanity. And the battle rages on,” Moore says in the video. “In this race, we have not received the final count to include military and provisional ballots. This has been a very close race – and we are awaiting certification by the secretary of state.”

Though it’s true that the secretary of state has not certified the results and the state must account for remaining ballots, the secretary of state has also said that it’s unlikely Moore will ultimately defeat Jones given the current margin in the race.

In the video, Moore went on to charge that the political process has been “tainted” by “baseless” allegations and money from outside groups.

“Immorality sweeps over our land. Even our political process has been affected with baseless and false allegations, which have become more relevant than the true issues which affect our country,” Moore says in the video. “This election was tainted by over $50 million from outside groups who want to retain power in their own corrupt ideology.”

Jones leads Moore by 1.5 percentage points according to unofficial results. The race as of Thursday morning is not close enough to trigger a state-sponsored recount. Alabama and national Republicans have accepted the results of the race — President Donald Trump called Jones to congratulate him on the win on Wednesday.

Watch Moore’s video:

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President Donald Trump on Wednesday afternoon lamented that some Republicans were “happy” that Republican Roy Moore, who faced several sexual misconduct allegations, lost the Alabama Senate race.

“We wish we would have gotten the seat. A lot of Republicans feel differently. They’re very happy with the way it turned out,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “But I would have — as the leader of the party, I would have liked to have had the seat. I want to endorse the people that are running.”

Though most Republicans never fully yanked their support for Moore, a handful of GOP lawmakers opposed him outright. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) donated to Democrat Doug Jones’ campaign and celebrated Jones’ win Tuesday night. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), a frequent critic of Trump, said Wednesday morning that he was “happy” with Jones’ win. Both senators are not running for re-election.

The President told reporters Wednesday that Moore’s loss will not affect his agenda but also stressed that Republican gains in 2018 would be helpful.

“I will say, we have to get more senators and more congressmen that are Republicans elected in ’18. And then you’ll see a lot more of what we’re doing right now,” he said.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said on Wednesday morning that the House plans to stop using taxpayer money to pay settlements to victims of sexual misconduct.

“Yes, and that’s among the things we’re working on right now,” Ryan said on the Wisconsin radio program “The Jay Weber Show” when asked if Congress would stop using taxpayer money for settlements.

As a spate of lawmakers and high-profile media figures have recently been accused of sexual misconduct, Congress’ outdated, arduous system for addressing sexual harassment has come under scrutiny. In particular, lawmakers have criticized the fact that Congress has secretly paid settlements to sexual harassment victims for years.

When the host argued that using taxpayer money for those settlements is “indefensible,” Ryan said he agreed.

The speaker did not specify how Congress would compensate victims of sexual harassment if Congress’ Office of Compliance stopped paying settlements. He said that House Republicans are working on an entire package to overhaul the system for addressing sexual misconduct on Capitol but did not offer details.

A bipartisan bill to overhaul the system introduced in November would require the Office of Compliance to publish the amounts of settlements and the office in which the alleged behavior took place. It would also require members, but not staff, to pay Congress back for the settlement.

That same bill would also make changes to the reporting process, such as doing away with a requirement that victims undergo counseling before filing an official complaint, and would give additional protections to victims.

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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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