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

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday said that he was fired from President Donald Trump’s transition team after he opposed Trump’s decision to appoint Michael Flynn as national security adviser.

“I thought it was a significant reason,” Christie said at a press conference, according to Politico.

“Suffice to say, I had serious misgivings, which I think have been confirmed by the fact that he pled guilty to a felony in federal court,” Christie added, per Politico.

Indeed, Christie said in May that he warned Trump several times against hiring Flynn for the role.

“I didn’t think that he was someone who would bring benefit to the President or to the administration,” Christie said in May. “I made that very clear to candidate Trump, and I made it very clear to President-elect Trump.”

Flynn last week pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russian officials during the Trump transition. The charging documents from special counsel Robert Mueller revealed that Flynn discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with the Russian ambassador and asked Russia to help delay or stop a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements.

House Democrats also revealed this week that a whistleblower alleged that a business associate of Flynn on Inauguration Day 2017 discussed text messages from Flynn promising that the Trump administration would reverse sanctions against Russia that was hurting this business associate’s project.

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Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters on Wednesday evening that Donald Trump Jr. cited attorney-client privilege to avoid answering the committee’s questions about a discussion he had with President Donald Trump about his June 2016 meeting with Kremlin-linked officials.

After the committee completed its interview with Trump Jr., Schiff briefly spoke with reporters and revealed that Trump Jr. acknowledged that he discussed the June 2016 meeting, as well as the emails leading up to the meeting, with his father. Schiff said that the conversation “ostensibly” took place after the emails became public but would not reveal more about the timeline.

Trump Jr. told committee members that lawyers were present for his conversation with the President and argued that this shields him from having to detail the discussion with the committee, per Schiff.

Schiff disagreed, however.

“I don’t believe you can shield communications between individuals merely by having an attorney present,” he told reporters. “That’s not the purpose of attorney-client privilege.”

Trump Jr., along with other campaign officials, met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer in June 2016 after he was promised that the lawyer had incriminating information on Hillary Clinton.

When the New York Times first reported on the meeting in July 2017, Trump Jr. claimed that it was merely an “introductory” meeting to discuss adoption of Russian children in the U.S. President Donald Trump and White House advisers reportedly helped craft that initial statement that left out key details about the meeting.

As the Times continued its reporting on the email, Trump Jr. released two additional statements over the course of a few days. In the second statement, he acknowledged that the Kremlin-linked lawyer told him that she had damaging information on Clinton in the meeting, but Trump Jr. did not reveal in that statement that he was promised this information in an email scheduling the meeting. Finally, he released the emails that showed he was promised the information three days after the initial New York Times report.


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Alice Ollstein and Cameron Joseph contributed reporting

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Al Franken’s fellow senator representing Minnesota, stopped short of calling for Franken to resign over mounting sexual misconduct allegations on Wednesday. But she appeared to suggest that Franken would resign this week.

Numerous female Democratic senators on Wednesday called for Franken to resign from the Senate after a new accuser came forward alleging that Franken tried to forcibly kiss her in 2006 after a taping of his radio show. Apparently prompted by a small group of women senators, several male Democratic senators joined the chorus of lawmakers calling for Franken to resign on Wednesday. In a matter of hours, more than 20 Democratic senators called for Franken to step aside.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) was one of the Democrats to call for Franken to resign — in spite of their longstanding friendship. Franken was among the first people to visit her at a veterans hospital when she was recovering from severe wounds after her helicopter was shot down in Iraq, and they became friends long before she stepped into the political arena.

“I’m devastated. I’m devastated to have to ask him to do this but I’m also devastated that a dear friend of mine could have conducted himself in such a horrible manner,” she told TPM, saying they’d met when she was a “wounded warrior” at the Walter Reed Medical Center.

“It’s devastating. Yes, he’s my friend. And I’m deeply disappointed in the behavior — but he’s still my friend,” she continued.

Following the wave of calls for his resignation, Franken’s office said Wednesday afternoon that the senator will make an announcement on Thursday, though Franken’s office did not specify the topic of the announcement.

In calling for Franken to step down, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) also predicted that Franken would resign.

Since mid-November, several women have come forward to accuse Franken of groping or forcibly kissing them. The wave of allegations began with Leeann Tweeden, who said that Franken aggressively kissed her while they were abroad entertaining the troops and groped her in her sleep.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) told reporters Wednesday afternoon that if Franken is indeed stepping down Thursday, he is “doing the right thing.” Flake added that he is concerned Republicans are losing moral high ground with Democrats in light of Democrats calling on Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and Franken to step down.

“I’ve been concerned about that for a while, with Roy Moore certainly, but gratefully almost all our colleagues have said that he should step aside in the race.”

Many Republicans, however, have reverted to saying the race should be left up to Alabama voters.

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After numerous Democratic senators, most of whom are women, called on Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) to resign over sexual misconduct allegations on Wednesday, his office said that the senator would make an announcement on Thursday.

Franken’s office did not specify the topic the senator will discuss and did not offer a specific time for the announcement.

A wave of Democratic female senators on Wednesday called on Franken to step aside, and a handful of male Democratic senators quickly joined the call. Within an hour of the first push from a senator for Franken to step down, more than 10 Democratic senators joined the chorus.

A new accuser stepped forward on Wednesday morning, telling Politico that Franken tried to forcibly kiss her in 2006 after a taping of his radio show. The former Democratic congressional aide joined several other women who have accused Franken of groping or forcibly kissing them.

Despite the numerous sexual misconduct allegations, Franken faced little public pressure in the Senate to resign until Wednesday. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has not weighed in on Franken since he called for an ethics committee investigation after the first accuser came forward more than two weeks ago.

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Three Utah Republican lawmakers jumped to Mitt Romney’s defense on Wednesday after Steve Bannon accused Romney of hiding behind his religion to avoid in the Vietnam War.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) blasted Bannon for attacking Romney’s religion and missionary work and offered to discuss the LDS Church with the former White House advisor.

“Steve Bannon’s attacks on Governor Romney and his service are disappointing and unjustified. Mitt is a close personal friend, an honest leader, a great American, and someone who has sought every opportunity possible to serve our country,” Hatch said in a statement. “I also resent anyone attacking any persons religious views, but particularly our own Christian LDS faith and the selfless service of missionary work. I’d be more than happy to sit down with Mr. Bannon and help him understand more about the LDS Church at his convenience. I’ve got a copy of the Book of Mormon with his name on it.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) also knocked Bannon for questioning Romney’s character, particularly on the basis of his religion.

Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert also chimed in, defending Romney and telling Bannon to stay out of Utah politics.

During a rally for GOP Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore Tuesday night, Bannon attacked Romney for not serving in the Vietnam War.

“You hid behind your religion. You went to France to be a missionary while guys were dying in rice paddies in Vietnam. Do not talk to me about honor and integrity,” Bannon said.

He made the comment in response to a Monday tweet from Romney, who suggested the Republican Party is losing its “honor” and “integrity” by backing Moore, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by several women.

Bannon reportedly wants to keep Romney, who may run for Senate in Utah if Hatch retires, out of Congress. He has reportedly considered endorsing Hatch as part of a plan to fend off Romney, who is a vocal Trump critic.

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A former Democratic congressional aide on Wednesday accused Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) of trying to forcibly kiss her in 2006 after a taping of his radio show, joining several other women who have accused the Minnesota senator of sexual misconduct.

The alleged incident took place two years before Franken was elected to the Senate.

The former aide told Politico that she was at a taping of Franken’s radio show and was about to follow her boss out of the room when Franken came after her. She said that when she turned around, Franken was in her face, and she said that she had to duck to avoid him.

“He was between me and the door and he was coming at me to kiss me. It was very quick and I think my brain had to work really hard to be like ‘Wait, what is happening?’ But I knew whatever was happening was not right and I ducked,” she told Politico. “I was really startled by it and I just sort of booked it towards the door.”

The former aide said that as she left, Franken told her, “It’s my right as an entertainer.” She told Politico that she did not respond to Franken.

Franken denied the allegation in a statement to Politico.

“This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous. I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation,” Franken said.

Two former colleagues of the former Democratic aide said that she told them about the incident and confirmed her account to Politico.

The former aide told Politico that she started talking about the incident more after the the infamous Trump “Access Hollywood” tape was released last year.

“When it really started impacting me in more of a ‘I’m really angry about about this’ way was last fall when the Trump tape came out,” she told Politico. “Hearing Donald Trump say essentially the same thing that Al Franken said to me, which was ‘It’s my right as an entertainer,’ that was a real trigger.”

Several women have accused Franken of sexual misconduct after Los Angeles news host Leeann Tweeden became the first woman to come forward with allegations. She said that Franken forcibly kissed her while the two were abroad entertaining the troops and shared a photo of Franken reaching out to grab her breasts. Several other women have since accused Franken of grabbing their butts at photo-ops or events.

Franken has apologized for his behavior, but was unable to categorically deny that he has grabbed a woman’s butt. He said that he remember’s the encounter with Tweeden differently, but he said that he will cooperate with a Senate Ethics Committee probe.

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White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Wednesday morning defended President Donald Trump’s support for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore by questioning why Democrats haven’t put more pressure on Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) to resign.

Moore faces allegations from several women that he made inappropriate sexual or romantic advances toward them when they were in their teens and he was in his 30s. Several women have accused Franken of groping them while posing for pictures, and a photo shows Franken reaching out toward a woman’s breasts for a posed photo.

Asked on CNN’s “New Day” why Trump has decided to back Moore despite the allegations he faces, Conway noted that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) did not call on Franken to resign on Tuesday when asked about the accusations that he groped several women.

“Everywhere I turn I see hypocrisy,” Conway said.

She also said that Trump backs Moore because he needs the Republican vote in the Senate, and she argued that Trump’s support has helped Moore in the polls.

“When the President endorsed Luther strange, Luther Strange shot up in the polls by double digits. When the president endorsed Roy Moore, when he started talking about Doug Jones, the opponent here, which you still don’t want to talk about but the president does, Roy Moore took a lead in the polls again,” she said. “Why is that? Because the President himself came out and said he doesn’t want a liberal in the Senate.”




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At a rally for GOP Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore on Tuesday night, former White House adviser Steve Bannon singled out Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Mitt Romney in a rant about the Republican establishment.

He mocked Flake for donating to Moore’s Democratic opponent in the race, Doug Jones.

“Let’s talk about Jeff Flake — did he sign a check today, $100, to Jones, right? What did he say, ‘Put country ahead of party?’ Come on brother, if you’re gonna write a check, write a check. Don’t give the man $100,” Bannon told the crowd.

“Flake has hated Donald Trump from day one, Flake has hated this movement since day one. He wrote a book, the anti-populist, the anti-economic nationalist book, trashed all the deplorables, trashed all the silent majority, trashed everyone associated with this movement,” Bannon continued.

He also went after Romney over the former presidential candidate’s Monday tweet that backing Moore is not worth the GOP losing its “honor” and “integrity.” Bannon took a dig at Romney for not serving in the Vietnam War while noting that Moore did.

“You hid behind your religion. You went to France to be a missionary while guys were dying in rice paddies in Vietnam. Do not talk to me about honor and integrity,” Bannon said.

Watch parts of Bannon’s speech via NBC News:

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Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) resigned from Congress on Tuesday morning, more than a week after allegations of sexual misconduct against the congressman started surfacing.

In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) released Tuesday afternoon, Conyers said he was retiring effective immediately.

It was initially unclear when Conyers’ retirement would be effective. Both Conyers and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), who announced Conyers’ retirement on the House floor Tuesday morning, said that the retirement would be effective immediately. However, as of late Tuesday morning, the House speaker’s office and the Michigan governor’s office had not received official notification of Conyers’ plans to leave Congress, leaving it unclear whether Conyers resigned or announced plans to retire.

“I’m retiring today,” he announced on the Detroit radio show “The Mildred Gaddis Show.”

He endorsed his son, John Conyers, III, to replace him in Congress.

Conyers, who called into the show from the hospital where he’s been treated since last week, framed his departure from Congress as his retirement, not a resignation. The congressman resisted calls from Democratic leaders to resign last week as women continued to come forward with allegations of inappropriate touching and sexual advances.

On Tuesday morning, he denied the accusations of sexual misconduct.

“Whatever they are, they are not accurate,” he said of the accusations from several former staffers. “I think they’re something that I can’t explain where they came from.”

Conyers told Gaddis that he is still putting his retirement plans together and that he will have more information soon.

His announcement that he will retire and endorse his son to replace him in Congress came after the grandson of his brother, Michigan state Sen. Ian Conyers, told multiple news outlets Monday night that he would run to replace Rep. Conyers.

Later on Tuesday morning, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) confirmed that Conyers has retired from Congress effective immediately and said that he had informed House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder of his decision.

Although Lee indicated that the speaker’s office had been informed of Conyers’ intention to retire, a spokesperson for Ryan said that the speaker did not get a heads up about Conyers’ plans. The speaker’s office had not received an official letter from Conyers or a copy of the letter to the governor of Michigan as of late Tuesday morning.

A spokeswoman for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder also told TPM that the governor’s office has not received an official letter from Conyers by late morning.

Lee read aloud a statement from Conyers on the House floor in which the congressman acknowledged that the sexual misconduct allegations were a factor in his decision to retire.

“I recognize that in this present environment, due process will not be afforded to me. I was taught by my great woman, my mother, to honor women,” Conyers said in the statement read by Lee.

“I’ve stated my position on these allegations. I’ve worked with both women and men. Given the totality of the circumstance, of not being afforded the right of due process in conjunction with current health conditions and to preserve my legacy and good name, I am retiring,” Conyers added. “I hope that my retirement will be viewed in the larger perspective of my record of service as I enter a new chapter.”

In his statement, Conyers listed his legislative achievements, particularly on civil rights issues.

“I’ve been a champion of justice for the oppressed and the disenfranchised. I never wavered in my commitment to justice and democracy. I am proud to have been part of that rich history,” he said.

Before reading the statement from Conyers, Lee said on the House floor that she does not want to undermine the rights of women or of victims.

“It is important to note as I begin that there is no difference or no undermining of the rights of women and the abhorrence of sexual harassment and sexual assault. But this is a statement that I believe should be read on behalf of the Dean of the United States congress, Mr. John Conyers,” she said.


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Rep. John Conyers (R-MI) will not resign over the recent allegations of sexual misconduct, but he will not seek re-election in 2018, according to the grandson of his brother, Michigan State Sen. Ian Conyers.

Ian Conyers first made the comments to the New York Times and later confirmed them to ABC News.

Ian Conyers cited the congressman’s health concerns as the reason for retiring — the congressman was hospitalized last week.

“He is not resigning. He is going to retire,” Ian Conyers told the New York Times. “His doctor advised him that the rigor of another campaign would be too much for him just in terms of his health.”

Ian Conyers told the New York Times that he will run for John Conyers’ seat in 2018.

Rep. Conyers will make an announcement on his political future Tuesday morning, and his lawyer declined to confirm the congressman’s plans ahead of time.

Several former Conyers staffers have come forward recently to accuse the congressman of sexual misconduct, ranging from inappropriate touching to propositioning female staffers. The congressman has denied the accusations and has so far resisted calls from Democratic leaders for him to resign.

Ian Conyers told the Times that he stands with his great uncle “in terms of his belief of no specific wrongdoing,” but said that the accusers deserve their day in court.

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