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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

White House officials are telling Republican lawmakers to soften their defenses of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who has faced intense scrutiny over his spending habits, two people familiar with the discussions told Bloomberg News.

Pruitt is under fire for renting a room from a lobbyist, taking several first class domestic flights, building a soundproof booth in his office, and other spending decisions. The EPA chief faces several investigations into his actions both in Congress and the executive branch.

Despite Pruitt’s endless stream of scandals, the White House has mostly signaled that they will continue to stand behind Pruitt, with Trump tweeting earlier this month that Pruitt is “doing a great job.” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that while the White House is reviewing some allegations about Pruitt, but that the President still stands behind him.

However, five Republican lawmakers have now called on Pruitt to resign, and the White House’s message to lawmakers about reeling in their defenses of Pruitt may signal that Trump may eventually relent and ditch his EPA chief.

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Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump, blasted Fox News host Martha MacCallum after she told viewers Monday night that Avenatti “abruptly” cancelled a planned appearance on her show.

On Sunday, Avenatti lamented to CNN that Fox News has not requested his appearance on the network as frequently as CNN and MSNBC but said he planned to give an interview to Fox News this week.

MacCallum pushed back on Avenatti’s assessment that Fox News did not want to interview him and announced Monday night that Avenatti “abruptly cancelled” an appearance on her show scheduled for Tuesday.

Avenatti lashed out at MacCallum on Twitter, objecting to her characterization of his decision to cancel the interview and calling her “classless.” He claimed that he had to cancel the appearance because something came up with a case. Avenatti later suggested he appear on Sean Hannity’s show.

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Fox News host Sean Hannity came out swinging Monday after The Guardian published a report on several companies linked to Hannity that have purchased millions of dollars worth of real estate over the past decade.

“It is ironic that I am being attacked for investing my personal money in communities that badly need such investment and in which, I am sure, those attacking me have not invested their money,” Hannity said in a statement released by Fox News. “The fact is, these are investments that I do not individually select, control, or know the details about; except that obviously I believe in putting my money to work in communities that otherwise struggle to receive such support.”

The Guardian’s report noted that two apartment buildings purchased by the Hannity-linked companies obtained loans backed by the Housing and Urban Development Department. The current HUD secretary, Ben Carson, has appeared on Hannity’s show, but the Fox News host said that he never personally communicated with HUD about the loans.

“I have never discussed with anybody at HUD the original loans that were obtained in the Obama years, nor the subsequent refinance of such loans, as they are a private matter. I had no role in, or responsibility for, any HUD involvement in any of these investments. I can say that every rigorous process and strict standard of improvement requirements were followed; all were met, fulfilled and inspected,” he said in the statement.

Hannity also appeared to take issue with The Guardian’s description of the LLCs used to purchase the properties as “shell companies.”

“The LLC’s are REAL companies that spend real investment money on real properties,” the Fox News host said in a statement.

The Guardian’s report detailing Hannity’s real estate investments followed the revelation last week that he is a client of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer.

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National Security Adviser John Bolton served as the chair of an anti-Muslim nonprofit, the Gatestone Institute, through March 2018, NBC News revealed in a Monday morning report.

Bolton began as chair of the group based in New York in 2013 and only left the month before he started as President Donald Trump’s third national security adviser.

The Gatestone Institute has published articles warning that “jihadists” may be “taking over Europe” and peddled pieces with headlines like “Germany Confiscating Homes to Use for Migrants,” as NBC News noted. The organization has also published pieces insisting that “no-go zones” exist in Europe, a myth parroted by anti-Muslim conservatives.

Bolton himself did not author the anti-Muslim posts on the Gatestone Institute’s website, but he still chose to associate himself with the group.

Read NBC News’ full report on Bolton and the Gatestone Institute here.

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White House counselor Kellyanne Conway bristled on Sunday when CNN’s Dana Bash asked about tweets critical of the White House published by Conway’s husband, George Conway, a prominent lawyer.

“It’s fascinating to me that CNN would go there,” Conway responded when Bash asked about the tweets. “We’re now going to talk about other people’s spouses and significant others just because they either work in the White House or at CNN? Are we going to do that? You just went there.”

Conway said that Bash’s question “was meant to harass and embarrass.”

The White House adviser’s husband deleted a few tweets last month that were critical of President Donald Trump and the administration. He said it was “absurd” that the White House denied plans to fire H.R. McMaster as national security adviser shortly before McMaster was indeed fired. He also published a tweet saying that a report that a lawyer for Trump discussed pardoning Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn “flabbergasting.”

Watch Kellyanne Conway respond to Bash’s question via CNN:

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Fox News host Sean Hannity has links to several shell companies that own millions of dollars worth of real estate throughout the United States, The Guardian revealed in a Sunday night report.

The report detailing Hannity’s real estate holdings comes after it was revealed in court last week that the Fox News personality is a client of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer who is under federal investigation for his business dealings. Following the revelation in court, Hannity said that he sought Cohen’s advice on real estate but insisted the conversations were informal.

Over the past decade, shell companies linked to Hannity spent at least $90 million on more than 870 homes across several states, according to documents reviewed by The Guardian.

Two of the properties the shell companies purchased in 2014 in Georgia were bought using loans insured by the Housing and Urban Development Department, according to The Guardian. The loans were first obtained under the Obama administration, but were increased under the leadership of Ben Carson, who has been a guest on Hannity’s show. Hannity was listed as the principal of the shell companies used to buy those properties, per The Guardian.

Several of the properties bought by the shell companies were foreclosures purchased in 2013 at a discounted rate, according to The Guardian.

Read The Guardian’s full report here.

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Keith Davidson, the lawyer who represented both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal in negotiating their hush agreements, is cooperating with the federal investigation into the business dealings of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney and fixer.

“Mr. Davidson has been contacted by the federal authorities regarding the Michael Cohen probe in the Southern District of New York. Mr. Davidson was asked to provide certain limited electronic information. He has done so and will continue to cooperate to the fullest extent possible under the law,” David Wedge, a spokesman for Davidson, told CNN.

Both Daniels and McDougal filed lawsuits seeking to be released from agreements that barred them from discussing their sexual encounters with Trump. They both signed the agreements shortly before the 2016 election, and they were both represented by Davidson.

McDougal, who was recently released from her contract with the publisher of the National Enquirer, accused Davidson of poorly representing her and pushing her to sign the agreement barring her from discussing her affair with Trump.

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President Donald Trump on Saturday denied a new report in the Washington Post alleging that Trump will refer to Attorney General Jeff Sessions as “Mr. Magoo,” an old cartoon character of an elderly man with poor vision.

Trump also denied that he calls Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “Mr. Peepers,” another old character from a 1950s sitcom, as the Washington Post reported.

It’s well known that Trump remains frustrated with Sessions over his recusal from the Russia investigation and Trump reportedly considered firing Rosenstein recently following the FBI raid on his longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

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Scandal-plagued Republican Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens was charged with a second felony Friday night for allegedly illegally obtaining a donor list from a charity and using it for fundraising efforts in his gubernatorial campaign.

“St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner reviewed the evidence turned over to her by my office and determined that there is probable cause to file criminal charges against the Governor,” Attorney General Josh Hawley said in a statement. “The Office stands ready to assist the Circuit Attorney’s Office where appropriate and if needed. These are serious charges—and an important reminder that no one is above the law in Missouri. Like all criminal defendants, Governor Greitens is presumed innocent under the law until proven guilty.”

The computer tampering charge came after Hawley announced earlier in the week that investigators had discovered evidence that Greitens obtained the donor list from the veterans charity he ran, the Mission Continues, and sent it to his campaign.

Greitens denied any wrongdoing in a Friday night statement.

“In the seven years I ran that organization, we helped thousands of veterans, won national awards for excellence, and became one of the finest veteran’s charities in the country. Those were some of the best years of my life, and I am grateful every day for the chance to help the men and women I served with,” he said. “I stand by that work. I will have my day in court. I will clear my name.”

A grand jury previously indicted Greitens in February with an invasion of privacy charge for allegedly taking a nude photo of a woman with whom he was having an affair in 2015. The governor has admitted to the affair but has denied the woman’s allegations of blackmail, violence, and sexual coercion.

Hawley, a Republican candidate for Senate, and other prominent Republicans have called for Greitens to step down as they worry that the embattled governor could weigh the entire party down. However, Greitens has refused to step aside and insists that the allegations made about him are all part of a witch hunt.

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President Donald Trump on Friday night tried to use the release of former FBI James Comey’s memos and the revelation that they contained classified information to question special counsel Robert Mueller’s jurisdiction over the Russia investigation.

Trump has been using the memos released this week to cast doubt on the Russia probe. In tweets Friday morning, Trump said that the memos showed that there was “NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION” and called the Russia investigation a “witch hunt,” as he often does.

The President has been particularly sensitive about the investigation since the FBI raided the home and office of his longtime lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen. The raid reportedly made Trump more hesitant to sit with Mueller’s team for an interview and caused him to consider firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, though Trump has apparently backed off his urge to oust Rosenstein.

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