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

The Environmental Protection Agency denied a report that the agency halted grant approvals for the state of Alaska for two weeks after Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) helped tank the Senate’s last attempt to repeal Obamacare.

“A state was never was singled out in the grant review process; grants were never withheld,” EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said in a statement.

The Washington Post reported Sunday night that EPA employees were told to stop approving grants for the regional office that covers Alaska on the same day that Murkowski voted against an Obamacare repeal bill. The order was later narrowed to apply to Alaska only, and a two-week hold delayed $10 million in federal funds for the state, according to the report.

Aides to Murkowski and to Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) told the newspaper that they were unaware the EPA had delayed funds to the state.

President Donald Trump himself went after Murkowski, one of three Republican senators to vote down the Senate Obamacare repeal bill in late July, for her decision. He criticized her opposition to a procedural vote on the bill on Twitter.

And Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reportedly had threatened to retaliate against Murkowski if she opposed the Senate’s repeal effort. The two later made public amends with a tweet about a beer summit.

The Post also reported that the EPA has demanded that all awards approvals go through a political appointee in the agency’s public affairs department, John Konkus. Konkus, a former Trump campaign staffer, has told EPA staffers that he is looking out for “the double C-word,” an apparent reference to climate change, in grant applications, according to the report.

Asked about Konkus’ role in the grant process, Bowman said, “decisions about grants are to ensure funding is in line with the Agency’s mission and policy priorities.”

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The departure of Keith Schiller, a longtime aide and confidante of President Donald Trump’s, has left the President’s allies worried how Trump will act without Schiller at his side, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday morning.

Schiller, who led the Trump Organization’s security operations before working in the White House as director of Oval Office operations, has decided to leave the White House, CNN and CBS News reported over the weekend. Schiller had never planned to stay long at the White House, and he will soon return to a job in private security, according to Bloomberg News.

His decision to leave the White House was accelerated by the new regime implemented by chief of staff John Kelly, who revoked Oval Office walk-in privileges from Schiller and several others, according to CBS and Bloomberg News.

As a longtime employee of Trump’s, Schiller was one of Trump’s most loyal and trusted aides. The President dispatched Schiller to fire FBI Director James Comey and former White House aide George Gigicos.

Trump was “crushed” by Schiller’s decision to leave the White House, per Bloomberg News. Several allies told Bloomberg news that Trump was losing an “emotional anchor” with Schiller’s departure, and that the loss could lead Trump to butt heads with Kelly.

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As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) relationship with President Donald Trump grew tense while the Senate struggled to pass a bill to repeal Obamacare, a frustrated McConnell would meet Trump’s mindless chatter on the phone with silence in an attempt to keep the President on topic, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday night, citing unnamed people familiar with the discussions.

McConnell would prepare for the calls with notes on health care, while Trump would try to begin conversations with unrelated banter, and McConnell simply stopped responding, per the Wall Street Journal:

As it became clear Mr. McConnell couldn’t summon enough Republican votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Senate majority leader stopped responding to the president’s chitchat, the people familiar said.

“Mitch?” the president said when Mr. McConnell fell silent in one call. “Are you there?”

Mr. McConnell waited a beat, then responded. “Yes, Mr. President. Back to the bill,” according to those familiar with the talks.

Trump’s relationship with McConnell deteriorated in July and August as the Senate failed several times to repeal Obamacare. The feud spilled into the open at the end of August, with Trump publishing several tweets bashing McConnell. The poor rapport between the two leaders could make it difficult for Trump and Congress to work together in September on several must-pass bills.

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President Donald Trump’s failure to fully condemn white nationalists in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville has cost his Mar-a-Lago club yet another charity event next year.

The Palm Beach Habilitation Center told the Palm Beach Daily News on Sunday that the group would pull their annual luncheon scheduled for February 2018 from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.

“We’ve decided to move because we want to keep the focus of the event on our mission, which is to help adults with physical or mental challenges live the best lives possible,” the center’s CEO, David Lin, told the Palm Beach Daily News.

The Palm Beach Habilitation Center’s decision to ditch Mar-a-Lago brings the total number of charities pulling their events from the Palm Beach club to 18.

Since Trump took a “both sides” approach to neo-Nazis and white supremacists after the deadly attack in Charlottesville, nonprofits have steadily yanked their events from Mar-a-Lago, a once-popular venue for Palm Beach’s winter fundraising season.

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As a deadline from Republican state attorneys general approached, President Donald Trump last week asked White House aides for a “way out” of his campaign pledge to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the New York Times reported on Monday, citing two people familiar with the exchange.

Searching for a way to end DACA to satisfy his base while still ensuring that DREAMers would be protected, Trump and his aides reportedly landed on a proposal to end DACA with a six month delay. The postponed implementation would theoretically allow Congress to pass legislation restoring DACA’s policies.

Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, spoke with Republican lawmakers and devised the six month delay, three officials familiar with the situation told the New York Times. Kelly was also motivated to find a way to keep DACA following reports that DREAMers helped with Hurricane Harvey recovery, per the New York Times.

The President faced pressure from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and senior adviser Stephen Miller, both immigration hard-liners to end DACA, according to the New York Times and Buzzfeed News. Those who had advocated for maintaining DACA, like former chief of staff Reince Priebus, have left the administration, Buzzfeed News noted. Economic adviser Gary Cohn also urged Trump to keep DACA, the Times reported, but Cohn is not currently in the President’s good graces.

Trump will not announce the decision himself, instead leaving the announcement to Sessions. The attorney general is set to announce the policy change Tuesday at 11 a.m.

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Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), the chair of the conservative Republican Study Committee, on Monday warned Republican leaders against tying disaster relief funding for Hurricane Harvey to legislation raising the debt ceiling.

“What happened in Texas is a tragedy and it needs an urgent Congressional response. Congress is united behind this effort, but I worry about jeopardizing an agreement with such legislative games,” Walker said in a statement responding to comments from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday urging Congress to tie Harvey aid to the debt limit hike.

“As we have stated for months, the debt ceiling should be paired with significant fiscal and structural reforms. The alarming trajectory of our debt imperils all supplemental appropriations for dealing with disasters like Harvey in the future,” Walker added in his statement. “If we resort to just kicking the can down the road on the debt, it only shows that Republicans do not take the problem of our $20 trillion debt seriously.”

Republicans in the House have introduced an initial Harvey aid bill providing $7.85 billion, but it’s not clear leaders are willing to tie the funding bill to legislation to raise the debt limit. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the chair of the House Freedom Caucus, has also rejected calls to tie Harvey Funding to the debt limit hike.


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New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Monday threatened to sue the Trump administration if President Donald Trump rolls back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which grants legal status to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

“President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program would be cruel, gratuitous, and devastating to tens of thousands of New Yorkers—and I will sue to protect them,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

“Dreamers are Americans in every way. They played by the rules. They pay their taxes. And they’ve earned the right to stay in the only home they have ever known. More than 40,000 New Yorkers are protected under DACA. They pay more than $140 million in state and local taxes. They are vital members of our community,” he added.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) also issued a statement supporting Schneiderman’s lawsuit threat over DACA.

“Ending this policy represents an assault on the values that built this state and this nation. The President’s action would upend the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people who have only ever called America their home, including roughly 42,000 New Yorkers. It will rip families apart, sow havoc in our communities and force innocent people—our neighbors, our friends, and our relatives—to live in fear,” Cuomo said.

The President is set to announce his decision on the DACA program on Tuesday. He has reportedly decided to end the program but with a six month delay in implementation that would allow Congress to restore DREAMers’ legal status through legislation. Several Republicans in Congress have voiced their opposition to Trump’s reported decision to end DACA and pledged to pass legislation restoring DACA.

Trump was pressured to roll back the DACA program by a group of Republican attorneys general, who threatened to sue the Trump administration unless the President ended DACA by Tuesday.


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The House will consider legislation on Wednesday to provide funding for initial disaster relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced the schedule for taking up the Harvey aid bill on Monday morning.

Republicans in the House introduced a bill Sunday that would provide $7.85 billion for initial efforts to address recovery from Harvey, which matches the White House’s request.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that the White House would like Harvey funding to be tied to a debt limit increase. However, it is not clear that the House will approach Harvey aid that way. At least one House conservative warned against tying Harvey aid to the debt limit bill.

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During an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting on Monday, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, said that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is “begging for war” and urged the UN to enact stronger economic sanctions on the country.

“Enough is enough. We have taken an incremental approach, and despite the best of intentions, it has not worked,” Haley said.

The UN convened an emergency Security Council meeting Monday after North Korea claimed it detonated a hydrogen bomb and had loaded a hydrogen bomb onto an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Haley said that the U.S. supports additional diplomatic efforts with North Korea, but she did not rule out military action.

“War is never something the Unites States wants — we don’t want it now,” Haley said. “But our country’s patience is not unlimited. We will defend our allies and our territory.”

President Donald Trump weighed in on North Korea on Sunday, tweeting that he is considering ending trade with all countries who trade with North Korea.

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Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) on Sunday slammed President Donald Trump for his reported plans to end the DACA program, noting that he’s said in the past that he would treat DREAMers with “great heart.”

Trump reportedly plans to announce on Tuesday his decision to roll back the DACA program, which grants legal status to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, with a six month delay in implementation.

He will announce his decision on the deadline a group of Republican attorneys general gave him to end DACA. If he does not role back the program, the attorneys general plan to sue the White House. Trump is poised to reverse the program implemented by former President Barack Obama despite opposition from several Republicans in Congress.

Trump’s plans to roll back the program come after he previously said he would treat the DREAMers with “great heart.”

“We’re going to show great heart,” he said in February. “DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me, I will tell you. To me it’s one of the most difficult subjects I have, because you have these incredible kids, in many cases. Not in all cases; in some of the cases they’re having DACA and they’re gang members and drug dealers, too. But you have some absolutely incredible kids. I would say mostly.”

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