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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

After praising Andrew Jackson in a Monday interview with the Washington Examiner, President Donald Trump on Monday night repeated his claim that Jackson could have prevented the Civil War.

Trump made to sure to mention that Jackson died years before the Civil War began, perhaps because it was unclear from his initial comments that he knew Jackson was no longer alive when the Civil War began.

“Had Andrew Jackson been a little later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War,” Trump told the Washington Examiner earlier on Monday. “He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart.”

“He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said, ‘There’s no reason for this,’” Trump added. “People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”

President Donald Trump will speak over the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday afternoon, according to the White House schedule.

It is the first time the two leaders will speak since Russia denounced the United States’ missile strike on a Syrian airfield.

Trump praised Putin on the campaign trail, but following the gas attack in Syria that prompted the U.S. missile strike, Trump sang a different tune about Russia.

“We’re not getting along with Russia at all,” Trump said last month. “We may be at an all-time low.”

The FBI and congressional committees are also investigating whether there are any ties between Trump associates and Russia.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Monday said that President Donald Trump was aware of the human rights concerns surrounding Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte when he invited him to the White House.

During the White House press briefing, journalists asked Spicer about Duterte encouraging the extrajudicial killings of drug users and his comment that journalists are not exempt from assassination.

That knowledge, Spicer argued, was balanced by Trump wanting to work with Duterte to prevent North Korea from becoming a nuclear power.

“The President gets fully briefed on the leaders that he’s speaking to, obviously,” Spicer said at his daily press briefing when asked if Trump was aware of Duterte’s human rights abuses. “The number one concern of this president is to make sure that we do everything we can to protect our people and specifically to economically and diplomatically isolate North Korea.”

“I’m not gonna tell you every single thing that’s in his brief, but he’s well aware of, when he speaks with a leader, he gets briefed on a lot about what they’re doing, what they’ve done,” Spicer added.

When asked earlier in the briefing about concerns that Trump was giving Duterte’s human rights abuses his stamp of approval, Spicer said the purpose of the White House invitation was to address North Korea.

“I think it is an opportunity for us to work with countries in that region that can help play a role in diplomatically and economically isolating North Korea,” Spicer replied. “And frankly, the national interest of the United States, the safety of our people, and the safety of the people in the region are the number one priorities of the President.”

Later in the briefing, the New York Times’ Glenn Thrush noted that Trump invited Duterte to the White House after praising Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Does the President have a thing with these totalitarian leaders? Does he admire something about the way these guys conduct themselves?” Thrush asked.

Spicer did not directly answer the question and instead repeated that the purpose of Duterte’s visit would be to discuss North Korea.

“The President, clearly as I’ve said, understands the threat that North Korea poses. Having someone with the potential nuclear capability to strike another country, and potentially our country at some point in the future, is something the President takes very seriously,” Spicer said, adding that the Philippines is just one of the neighbors that could help the U.S.

This post has been updated.

President Donald Trump on Monday said that he is open to meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un under the right circumstances.

“If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it,” he told Bloomberg News. “If it’s under the, again, under the right circumstances. But I would do that.”

Trump acknowledged that “political people would never say that.”

“But I’m telling you under the right circumstances I would meet with him. We have breaking news,” he told Bloomberg.

The President has warned that “major conflict” with North Korea is possible as the country continues to build its nuclear weapons program.

“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely,” he told Reuters last week. “We’d love to solve things diplomatically but it’s very difficult.”

Karen Handel, the Republican candidate for a runoff congressional election in Georgia, said over the weekend that she welcomed President Donald Trump’s support after he held a Friday fundraiser for her.

That’s a shift from her earlier approach to the campaign, when she avoided invoking the President’s name at all.

During a Saturday interview on Fox News, host Neil Cavuto asked Handel if it’s an “indictment on all things Trump” if she were to lose the June runoff race to Democrat Jon Ossoff.

“Well, obviously I feel the pressure, but not so much for what it means for the President, but what it means for the people of the 6th district,” she replied.

Cavuto pressed further, asking if Trump’s controversies could hurt her in the race. Handel did not directly answer the question and instead said that she’s glad to have Trump’s help.

“He’s the president of the United States, so to be able to have the President’s support is a good thing, especially in a very solid Republican district,” she said. “With that said, it’s the press and the Ossoff folks and the Democrats who want to make this about the president. This is about the people of the 6th District.”

Handel shied away from Trump in the run-up to the April jungle primary, barely mentioning him on the campaign trail and leaving him out of her election night “victory” speech altogether. But since she advanced to the runoff, she has embraced Trump’s support.

Handel told Cavuto she would welcome Trump back to Georgia and said she expects House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to help out soon, too.

Trump raised about $750,000 for Handel’s campaign at a fundraiser in Atlanta on Friday. He also praised her during a speech at the National Rifle Association.

“She’s totally for the NRA and she’s totally for the Second Amendment. So get out and vote,” Trump said. “You know, she’s running against someone who is going to raise your taxes to the sky and destroy your healthcare.”

Officials at the State Department and the National Security Council were caught off guard by President Donald Trump’s Saturday decision to invite Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

Per the New York Times:

Two senior officials said they expected the State Department and the National Security Council, both of which were caught off guard by the invitation, to raise objections internally.

Trump invited Duterte to the United States during a Saturday call with the leader of the Philippines.

Duterte’s leadership in the Philippines has led to a spike in extrajudicial killings, making Trump’s invitation to Duterte controversial. Democrats quickly criticized Trump for the move.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus defended the invitation on Sunday and said that the White House wants to “encourage” Duterte “to do better.”

President Donald Trump’s campaign on Monday morning announced a $1.5 million ad buy to tout his first 100 days in the Oval Office.

The buy includes a 30-second television ad and digital ads, the Trump campaign said in a statement unveiling the ad buy.

The television ad promotes Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, claims that Trump has created jobs in the U.S., and touts his work to undo regulations passed under President Barack Obama.

“You wouldn’t know it from watching the news,” the narrator says in the ad as the screen flashes “FAKE NEWS.” “America is winning, and President Trump is making America Great Again.”

The ad buy promoting Trump’s first 100 days came after Trump repeatedly tried to downplay the 100-day mark. Trump also pushed for Congress to move forward on a bill to repeal Obamacare by the 100-day mark, but Republican leaders have still not been able to bring the bill to a vote.

Watch the television ad:

Congressional leaders on Sunday night reached a deal to fund the federal government through September, setting Congress up to vote on the legislation this week and avoid a government shutdown.

Democrats appeared to be happy with the compromise funding measure, which will not include money to build a border wall.

“This agreement is a good agreement for the American people, and takes the threat of a government shutdown off the table. The bill ensures taxpayer dollars aren’t used to fund an ineffective border wall, excludes poison pill riders, and increases investments in programs that the middle-class relies on, like medical research, education, and infrastructure,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) noted that the funding deal eliminates certain Republican riders – unrelated policy measures tacked onto the funding measure.

“From the beginning, Democrats have sought to avert another destructive Republican Government Shutdown, and we have made significant progress improving the omnibus bill.  We have eliminated more than 160 Republican poison pill riders, ranging from undermining a woman’s right to reproductive health to dismantling Dodd-Frank’s vital Wall Street consumer protections.  The omnibus does not fund President Trump’s immoral and unwise border wall or create a cruel new deportation force,” Pelosi said in a statement.

She also said that the funding measure increases funding for the National Institutes of Health, secures health benefits for coal workers, adds money to fight the opioid epidemic, and includes Medicaid funds for Puerto Rico.

Congress is expected to vote on the funding package providing about $1 trillion early this week, according to the Washington Post.

The deal comes after Congress had to pass a one-week stopgap funding measure to avert a government shutdown while leaders from both parties hashed out a final agreement to fund the government through September. Initially, demands from the Trump administration that the bill include funding for a wall along the southern border threatened negotiations on the funding measure, but the White House ultimately dropped that demand.

President Donald Trump on Friday announced that he will appoint Charmaine Yoest, the former president of the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life, as the assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services.

In her position, which does not require confirmation in the Senate, Yoest would help shape the department’s communications strategy.

Yoest is currently a fellow at American Values, a conservative group that opposes abortion and supports “traditional marriage.” She got her start in politics during the Reagan administration. From there she moved to the ultra-conservative Family Research Council and later served on Mike Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign.

While she served as president of Americans United for Life, one of the most well-known anti-abortion groups in the country, Yoest was a prominent leader for the anti-abortion movement. As the New York Times noted in a 2012 profile of Yoest, AUL was responsible for one-third of state legislatures’ anti-abortion bills between 2011 and 2012.

In 2012, Yoest told the New York Times that she believes abortions can cause breast cancer. When the Times noted that data show that claim isn’t true, Yoest would not back down and said that scientists are “under the control of the abortion lobby.”

“As a breast cancer survivor, the spin on abortion and breast cancer really troubles me,” she told the Times. “Why can’t you report what the research actually shows?”

Yoest also told PBS in 2011 that she was unwilling to address birth control as part of her work at Americans United for Life when the host asked if she would support birth control as a way to prevent abortions.

“It’s really a red herring that the abortion lobby likes to bring up by conflating abortion and birth control. And that’s why we try to stay very clear on differentiating between the two, and what is and is not an abortion,” Yoest said on PBS. “Because that would be, frankly, carrying water for the other side to allow them to redefine the issue in that way.”

Asked again in 2015 by the Washington Post about studies showing that birth control reduces the abortion rate, Yoest said she hadn’t “seen anything” to convince her that was true.

Though Americans United for Life does not have an official stance on birth control, the New York Times reported in 2012 that Yoest personally opposed birth control and that she described IUDs as having “ life-ending properties.”

In a Time op-ed co-written with Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) in December 2016, Yoest characterized abortion as a “war on women.”

“We know that abortion is not a means of female empowerment; it is a heartbreaking choice that ends one life and can damage another—and that is the true war on women,” they wrote in the op-ed.

Roe v. Wade leaves a sad legacy in its wake. The lives lost are many, the emotional and physical damage to birthmothers is real, and the obstacles in our fight to restore a culture of life still loom large,” Yoest and Black add later in the op-ed promoting the March for Life.

Democrats and pro-choice groups quickly denounced Trump’s appointment of Yoest on Friday, with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) calling the appointment of a “an anti-abortion activist known for spreading misinformation” to the post “troubling.”

NARAL President Ilyse Hogue said that Yoest’s appointment “speaks volumes about the Trump administration’s continued disdain for reproductive freedom and women’s rights.” Dawn Laguens, an executive vice president at Planned Parenthood, said in a statement that it’s “unacceptable that someone with a history of promoting myths and false information about women’s health is appointed to a government position whose main responsibility is to provide the public with accurate and factual information.”

This post has been updated.

President Donald Trump was ready to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but changed his mind this week during discussions with advisers and the leaders of Canada and Mexico.

“You know I was really ready and psyched to terminate NAFTA,” Trump told Reuters on Thursday.

But Trump said he was persuaded to reconsider his decision and work with Canada and Mexico after speaking with the leaders of those countries.

“I’m not looking to hurt Canada and I’m not looking to hurt Mexico. They’re two countries I really like,” Trump told Reuters. “So they asked to renegotiate, and I said yes.”

The President also listened to some of his advisers, who warned that nixing the trade deal could hurt some Americans, the Washington Post reported. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told Trump that terminating NAFTA could hurt some areas of the country that rely on the agriculture and manufacturing industries — areas that supported Trump, per the Washington Post.

“It shows that I do have a very big farmer base, which is good,” Trump told the Post, referring to a map Perdue showed to Trump. “They like Trump, but I like them, and I’m going to help them.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also pushed Trump to reconsidering withdrawing from the trade deal, while chief strategist Stephen Bannon and trade adviser Peter Navarro pushed for Trump to pull out of NAFTA, per the Washington Post.

Trump indicated to the Post that it was a tough decision for him.

“In one way, I like the termination. In the other way, I like them — a lot, both of them. We have a very good relationship. And it’s very hard when you have a relationship, it’s very much something that would not be a nice act. It would not be exactly a friendly act,” he said.

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