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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

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), one of a few Republican senators who seemed hesitant to back Donald Trump's choice to lead the State Department, Rex Tillerson, said on Monday evening that he may vote for the nominee.

"Some of my concerns have been satisfied," McCain said on Fox News after explaining that he spoke with Tillerson on Monday. "I haven't made up my mind completely."

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Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) this week tried to downplay alleged attempts by Russian actors to influence the 2016 presidential election by comparing the cyber attacks to a performance by a Mexican entertainer at a Hillary Clinton campaign event.

"Harry Reid and the Democrats brought in Mexican soap opera stars, singers and entertainers who had immense influence in those communities into Las Vegas, to entertain, get out the vote and so forth,” he told The Dallas Morning News in an interview published Thursday. “Those are foreign actors, foreign people, influencing the vote in Nevada. You don’t hear the Democrats screaming and saying one word about that.”

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In a bizarre move, Donald Trump has demanded that the commanding officer of the Washington, D.C. National Guard resign from his post in the middle of the Inauguration ceremony, even though the general will be in the middle of helping oversee the event's security, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz will be removed from his post at 12:01 p.m. on Inauguration Day, just after Trump is sworn in but before the Inaugural parade begins, according to a memo obtained by the Washington Post.

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Friday morning slammed Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the chair of the House Oversight Committee, over his letter demanding that the director of the Office of Government Ethics sit for an interview with the committee.

"The Republicans are at it again, filling the swamp instead of draining it. First, House Republicans tried to gut the Office of Congressional ethics. Now they're trying to handcuff the Office of Government ethics. Mr. Chaffetz's attempt to bully Mr. Shaub out of doing his job are absolutely despicable," Schumer said in a statement.

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During an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes," President Obama lamented that he sometimes failed to mobilize public opinion to back him in battles with Congressional Republicans.

"Part of the job description is also shaping public opinion. And we were very effective, and I was very effective, in shaping public opinion around my campaigns," Obama said in a preview clip published online on Thursday.

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Donald Trump on Friday morning continued to lash out against the media and the intelligence community over reports about a dossier containing information about alleged ties between the President-elect and Russia.

Trump appeared to reference reports that the dossier originated as an opposition research file for a super PAC supporting Jeb Bush, though the super PAC's attorney denies that the file originated with the group.

The President-elect also continued to blame the leaks about the dossier on the intelligence community even though Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Wednesday that the leaks did not originate with the intelligence community.

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Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the chair of the House Oversight Committee, sent a letter to the director of the Office of Government Ethics on Thursday demanding that he sit for an interview with the committee about his public statements on Donald Trump.

Chaffetz's letter follows public remarks from the office's director, Walter Shaub Jr., during which he criticized Trump's plans to separate himself from his business as inadequate. But the letter did not mention that speech. Chaffetz focused on a series of tweets published by the Office of Government Ethics in November praising Trump for divesting, even though the President-elect had not made any such announcement, and encouraging Trump to make a clean cut from his business when he takes office. The tweets also revealed that the ethics office had discussed divestiture with the Trump transition team.

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At the end of the hearing to confirm outgoing ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be the next secretary of state, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) seemed hesitant to fully back Tillerson's confirmation.

Rubio took several minutes to note that Tillerson declined to call out certain world leaders for human rights violations, indicating that those responses were troubling.

"I asked you about whether Vladimir Putin was a war criminal, something that you declined to label him as. I asked about China, whether they were one of the worst human rights violators in the world, which again, you didn't want to compare them to other countries. I asked about the killings in the Philippines. I asked about Saudi Arabia being a human rights violator, which you also declined to label them," Rubio told Tillerson.

"You said you didn't want to label them because it would somehow hurt our chances to influence them or our relationship with him. But here's the reality, if confirmed by the Senate and you run the Department of State, you’re going to have to label countries and individuals all the time," the senator continued. "You gave the need for a lot more information in order to comment on some of these. And believe me, I understand that it's a big world. There’s a lot of topics. These were not obscure areas. I can tell you that, number one, the questions I asked did not require access to any sort of special information that we have."

Rubio then lamented that he was unable to get Tillerson to "acknowledge that the attacks on Aleppo were conducted by Russia" and that the former Exxon CEO seemed "unaware of what's happening in the Philippines."

"I have no questions about your character. Your patriotism. You don't need this job," Rubio said. "But I also told you when we met that the position you've been nominated to was, in my opinion, the second most important position in the U.S. government, with all due respect to the vice president."

Rubio said that people all over the world look to the U.S., and that when the U.S. is "not prepared to stand up and say, yes, Vladimir Putin is a war criminal ... it demoralizes these people all over the world."

Rubio said that by not calling out human rights abuses, the U.S. leads people abroad to believe that "America cares about democracy and freedom as long as it's not being violated by someone that they need for something else."

"That cannot be who we are in the 21st century. We need a secretary of state that will fight for these principles. That's why I'm asking these questions," Rubio said.

After leaving the hearing, Rubio was unwilling to commit to backing Tillerson's confirmation. He told reporters that he would review Tillerson's answers during the hearing again before making a decision.

"I have to make sure that I am 100 percent behind whatever decision that I make, because once I make it, it isn't going to change," he said.

At the end of the hearing, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), the chair of the committee, appeared to respond to Rubio's comments. He told senators looking for "clarity" that while senators gain a strong sense of "clarity" through their work in Congress, a nominee may want "to make sure that he's not getting out over his skis" and is adjusting to working with a new boss.

Follow along for our coverage of the hearings below through out the day:

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Donald Trump on Wednesday morning tried to defend himself from Tuesday night reports that a British intelligence officer compiled a 35-page memo with salacious allegations about Trump.

In his first tweet, Trump cited comments from a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin denying that the country had collected compromising information on Trump. The President-elect attempted to use the comments from Putin's spokesman to cast doubt on the validity of the memo.

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The Senate Commerce Committee announced on Tuesday evening that it would postpone the confirmation hearing for Donald Trump's choice to lead the Commerce Department, Wilbur Ross, from this Thursday to Wednesday Jan. 18 because the committee has not yet received the nominee's ethics agreement.

"The general practice of the Senate Commerce Committee has been to require complete applications on candidates for Senate confirmation before holding a hearing. While Mr. Ross has submitted his responses to the committee’s questionnaire, we have not yet received the ethics agreement he is working on with the Office of Government Ethics and the Department of Commerce to finalize," reads a joint statement from Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Sen. Bill Nelson (R-FL), the chair and ranking member of the committee, respectively.

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