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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

Rep. Pete King (R-NY) voted for the House bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, but he said Monday that he may not be able to support the latest attempt to repeal the health care law that’s currently gaining steam in the Senate.

“Right now, I don’t see how I could vote for it,” King told the Washington Post. “It’s extremely damaging to New York.”

He told the Post that New York would “do worse as far as Medicaid funds” go in the bill pushed by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) than under the legislation passed through the House earlier this year. King said that he voted for the House bill assuming that Senate’s version would include more funding for Medicaid.

“Whether it was right to have the Medicaid expansion in the first place, the fact is, it’s in place now,” he said. “You have local governments and hospitals, basically the health-care apparatus in New York, is conditioned and based upon getting that funding, and it would be extremely damaging.”

He said that the Graham-Cassidy bill appeals “to the rural states at the expense of the urban, suburban states like New York.”

“So as of now, I’m a no, and I don’t see myself changing on that,” he said.

New York Republicans in the House may also be skeptical of the current Senate bill because it does not include a New York-specific amendment called the “Buffalo Buy Out” included in the legislation passed by the House. Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) told the Washington Post he was unsure about the Senate bill given that it does not include that amendment.

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After FBI agents raided Paul Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia, home in July, special counsel Robert Mueller’s team warned the former Trump campaign aide to expect an indictment, the New York Times reported Monday night, citing two unnamed people close to the probe.

Federal investigators have been investigating Manafort’s work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine and his financial dealings abroad, as well as any communications between Trump officials and Russia.

The federal government wiretapped Manafort both before and after the 2016 election, CNN reported Monday night. The federal government initially began its surveillance of Manafort as part of a probe started in 2014 into Manafort’s financial dealings abroad, according to CNN. They then restarted wire tapping of Manafort as part of the Russia probe after a hiatus in the surveillance, per CNN.

Manafort is a key figure in the Russia probe, and Mueller’s team has been aggressively pursing him, issuing subpoenas to several people in Manafort’s orbit, the New York Times reported.

Read the New York Times’ full report here.

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Paul Manafort, former campaign chair for President Donald Trump, was wiretapped by U.S. investigators before and after the 2016 presidential election, CNN reported Monday night, citing several unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

An unnamed U.S. official familiar with the intelligence later confirmed to CBS News that the federal government wiretapped Manafort.

Manafort is a key figure in the federal probe into Russia’s election interference. The former Trump campaign aide reportedly owes money to pro-Russian interests and has funds tied up in Cyprus, a tax haven. He also attended the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower that Donald Trump, Jr. arranged with a Kremlin-linked lawyer.

Federal agents raided Manafort’s home in Alexandria, Virginia, in July, where they reportedly obtained financial documents. After the raid, Mueller’s team warned Manafort to expect an indictment, the New York Times reported Monday night.

Federal investigators obtained the authorization for the surveillance from the secret court that manages matters related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) some time after the FBI began investigating Manafort in 2014, according to CNN. Manafort was initially under investigation for work he did on behalf of a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine. The federal government stopped surveilling Manafort in 2016, per CNN.

Federal investigators then restarted surveillance with a new FISA warrant as part of their probe into Russia’s election meddling and continued that surveillance into early this year, CNN reported.

The federal government was wiretapping Manafort during a time when he was speaking with Trump, but it’s not clear whether Trump was caught up in the surveillance, CNN reported.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has obtained information from these communications, per CNN. Three sources told CNN that some of the intelligence gathered prompted concern that Manafort encouraged Russians to help the Trump campaign, but two other sources told CNN that the information was not conclusive.

Trump in March claimed that the Obama administration had his “wires tapped” at Trump Tower, but the Justice Department has acknowledged there’s no evidence to back up this claim. Manafort does own a home in Trump Tower, but he also has a house in Alexandria, Virginia.

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Former Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), who has been out of prison for less than two years, is planning a comeback bid for his former House seat, NY1 reported over the weekend.

Grimm will announce his campaign for the seat representing Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn at a rally on Oct. 1, per NY1. The New York Post and DNA Info also reported Monday that Grimm is considering a run for his old seat against Rep. Dan Donovan (R-NY), who currently represents the district.

Grimm is notorious for his aggressive behavior, and he left Congress in 2015 after pleading guilty to tax fraud. He served seven months in prison, and hinted upon his release that he may jump back into politics.

During an interview in 2014, he threatened an NY1 reporter during an interview, telling the journalist, “I will break you in half. Like a boy.”

Grimm also reportedly threatened a patron at a Queens night club in 1999 while he served as an FBI agent. While serving in Congress in 2012, Grimm “picked up and wielded a butter knife” when a New York Democrat made a joke about Democrats’ attempts to challenge incumbent Republicans in the upcoming election.

The former congressman also spent a particularly long time with a woman in the bathroom of a Brooklyn bar in 2013, before he resigned from Congress. However, he denied that anything inappropriate occurred.

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Under scrutiny in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser to President Donald Trump, has set up a legal defense fund to help pay his attorney fees.

“The enormous expense of attorneys’ fees and other related expenses far exceed their ability to pay,” Flynn’s brother and sister said in a statement Monday, per Politico. “To help ensure that he can defend himself, we have set up a legal defense fund, and we are asking Mike’s supporters, veterans, and all people of goodwill to contribute whatever amount they can to this fund.”

His family said that the fund would not accept donations from foreign governments or from the Trump Organization or the Trump campaign, according to Politico.

Flynn is under investigation for his contacts with Russian officials during the transition to the White House, as well as for lobbying work he did during the campaign that benefitted the Turkish government.

The former Trump administration official also reportedly pushed a private-sector plan to build nuclear reactors throughout the Middle East both during the transition and while serving as national security adviser. House Democrats said last week that Flynn failed to disclose a 2015 trip to the Middle East, where he worked on that deal, and alleged that he violated federal law by failing to note the trip while applying for a security clearance.

As Flynn faces scrutiny from both the federal and congressional Russia probes, he’s likely to rack up astronomical legal fees. Flynn has hired a team of seven lawyers from the prominent Washington, D.C. law firm Covington, as well as a few others, Buzzfeed News reported Monday, citing a source familiar with the matter. The source told Buzzfeed that Flynn’s legal expanses will likely hit seven figures. Michael Caputo, another former Trump adviser who has obtained legal representation as he also faces questions in the probe, predicted to the Daily Beast that Flynn’s legal fees could hit $1 million. Caputo said that some lawyers he spoke to who specialize in congressional investigations billed at least $1,200 per hour.

This post has been updated.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is considering bringing up an Obamacare repeal bill from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) at the end of the month if the legislation earns the backing of 50 senators, according to several reports out Sunday.

Politico was first to report that McConnell told Republicans he would bring the bill to the Senate floor if 50 senators back it. The Washington Post and CNN confirmed that Senate leaders are willing to bring the bill to a vote before the end of the month if it gains enough support.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, began whipping the bill late last week, prompting advocacy groups to warn Obamacare supporters that Republicans could make one last attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The White House will also get involved in the effort to gain enough support to the bill, and President Donald Trump plans to call senators this week, per Politico and CNN.

The legislation does not yet have the backing of 50 senators, however, according to Politico and CNN. It will be hard for Republican leaders to earn the backing of 50 senators, just as they struggled to pass previous attempts. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has already come out against the bill, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who both voted against past Obamacare repeal measures, may be hard to persuade.

The Congressional Budget Office is also working on a score of the legislation, the Washington Post reported.

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As special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe intensifies, President Donald Trump’s attorneys have butted heads over how many documents the Trump team should turn over to Mueller’s investigation, the New York Times reported Sunday.

White House Counsel Donald McGahn (pictured above) has argued that Trump’s team should limit the number of documents they turn over to the probe right now in case the President at some point invokes executive privilege, according to the New York Times. Ty Cobb, Trump’s special counsel, has argued that the White House should turn over as many documents as possible quickly, per the New York Times.

A reporter for the New York Times overheard Cobb complaining at lunch in Washington, D.C., that McGahn was keeping documents from him. Asked about this, Cobb praised McGahn to the New York Times.

“He has been very helpful to me, and whenever we have differences of opinion, we have been able to work them out professionally and reach consensus,” Cobb told the Times. “We have different roles. He has a much fuller plate. But we’re both devoted to this White House and getting as much done on behalf of the presidency as possible.”

As the Russia probes intensifies and additional Trump staffers obtain legal representation, staffers have also said that they are concerned other staffers could be wearing wires to record conversations for Mueller, the Times reported.

Read the New York Times’ full report here.

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The federal government spent $1,092 for an official to stay at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort for two nights in March, according to documents released Friday by an advocacy group and confirmed by the Washington Post.

The documents released from the U.S. Coast Guard through a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the advocacy group, Property of the People, show that a government charge card was used to pay for a two-night stay at Mar-a-Lago, at $546 per night. The receipt shows the government paid the “rack rate,” the standard rate a hotel would charge without any discount, on March 3-4.

The documents do not reveal exactly who the hotel room was for, but the National Security Council is named at the top of the page.

The record was released as part of a larger request from Property for the People to the Coast Guard, which provides security at the waterfront property. In a letter accompanying the receipt, the Coast Guard explained that the transactions were discovered when they searched the government travel charge card database.

Trump often travels to his properties as an alternative to the White House, mainly to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida and a golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Trump has come under scrutiny for the costs taxpayers incur from those visits, and the fact that his businesses could profit from his travel there.

Democrats in Congress have asked all federal agencies to share documentation showing taxpayer money spent at Trump properties. They’ve also called on the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general to look into how much money the Secret Service spends protecting Trump at several of his properties.

The documents released Friday show that the government has paid for officials to stay at Trump’s properties, rather than directing staffers to a less expensive alternative. It’s not clear from the documents whether the Mar-a-Lago charge was a one-time occurrence, or if taxpayers are regularly paying for administration officials to stay at Trump properties.

Trump stayed at Mar-a-Lago on March 3 and 4. On his second day there, he dined with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and received a national security briefing, according to White House guidance sent out at the time. Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, John Kelly, Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller were also at Mar-a-Lago with Trump that weekend, according to the Washington Post.

View the documents obtained by Property of the People below:

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President Donald Trump has irked conservatives recently as he’s held meetings with Democratic leaders on the debt ceiling and immigration and touted his attempts to work across the aisle. He has reportedly done so in part because he doesn’t enjoy chatting with the Republican leaders in Congress.

Trump has complained to staff that he has had trouble establishing a relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and to a lesser extent House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Politico reported Thursday night.

However, Trump has an easier time chatting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), people familiar with the recent meetings told Politico.

During the heat of the health care debate in the Senate over the summer, Trump would try to begin phone calls with McConnell with mindless chitchat, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier in September. Frustrated with Trump’s inability to stay on topic, McConnell simply stopped responding to Trump’s chatter on one call, per the Wall Street Journal.

Schumer has indicated that he and Trump get along swimmingly. In comments caught on a hot mic, Schumer said that he believes Trump likes him and Pelosi.

Read Politico’s full report here.

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday acknowledged that he did initially request a government plane to travel to his honeymoon in Europe, but he said he only did so because he needed access to secure communications while abroad.

“I’m very sensitive to the use of government funds,” Mnuchin said Thursday at an event held by Politico. “I’ve never asked the government to pay for my personal travel, and this was purely about alternatives of how I’d be able to be involved for national security.”

Mnuchin said that he canceled his request for the plane after he found another solution for accessing secure communications.

The Treasury Department also said Thursday that Mnuchin requested a government plane so he could access secure communications.

“It is imperative that he have access to secure communications, and it is our practice to consider a wide range of options to ensure he has these capabilities during his travel, including the possible use of military aircraft,” a spokesman for the department said in a statement.

ABC News was first to report Wednesday that Mnuchin requested a government plane for his honeymoon trip with wife Louise Linton.

The report followed the couple’s trip to Kentucky in August on a government plane. Mnuchin attended a local chamber of commerce luncheon on the trip, but he and Linton also traveled to Fort Knox to view the eclipse.

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