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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

President Donald Trump on Wednesday morning suggested using the tax reform bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, echoing comments Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) made earlier this week.

A spokesperson for Cotton confirmed to TPM that the senator spoke with Trump about the proposal over the weekend and that Trump indicated support for the measure.

Cotton told reporters Monday night that he is leading a push to use the tax bill to nix the individual mandate, working with the House and Senate committees leading the process. The senator said that several lawmakers are supportive of the provision.

The senator claimed that repealing the individual mandate would save the federal government $300 billion over 10 years without causing any Americans to lose their health insurance. As TPM has pointed out, the Congressional Budget Office found in 2011 that nixing the individual mandate would save the government money because fewer people would purchase health insurance. Healthy people would leave the insurance market, causing premiums to rise and leaving insurance coverage unaffordable for sicker Americans, that same report found.

Trump published the tweets on nixing the individual mandate on the first day of open enrollment during his presidency. The administration plans to promote open enrollment by sending notices and text messages encouraging people to enroll or re-enroll and staffing call centers at the same level the government did last year. However, the administration has axed partnerships with outside groups to promote open enrollment and has made significant cuts to the Health and Human Services’ overall budget for Obamacare promotion and education.

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President Donald Trump will meet with a handful of Republican senators on Thursday to discuss legislation to restore the protections in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Politico reported Tuesday.

Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told Politico that it’s not yet clear how many senators will attend the meeting at the White House.

“The purpose of the meeting is for us to hear from the President his views of some of the thoughts that we have,” Grassley told Politico. “I can’t say there’s much progress being made, because we’ve got to sit down with the Democrats. There’s no way a partisan bill is going to pass.”

The Trump administration announced in September that it would roll back DACA in March and called on Congress to come up with a legislative fix by then. Members on both sides of the aisle have begun discussing proposals, but there’s not yet any clear consensus plan on either side.

Though Trump initially signaled he would be willing to sign a bill restoring DACA without funding for his border wall, the administration has since sent mixed signals, leaving it unclear what kind of bill Trump would sign.

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In a new filing Tuesday, special counsel Robert Mueller argued that Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, the former Trump campaign aides indicted recently, are a flight risk given the serious nature of the charges, the wealth of the two men, and their extensive travel history.

“As explained below and at the initial appearance in this matter on October 30, 2017, the defendants pose a risk of flight based on the serious nature of the charges, their history of deceptive and misleading conduct, the potentially significant sentences the defendants face, the strong evidence of their guilt, their significant financial resources, and their foreign connections,” the court filing reads.

The document also reveals what federal investigators know about the assets held by Manafort and Gates. Manafort has given various estimates of his wealth between 2012 and 2017, between $19 million and $136 million, with the number fluctuating several times between 2016 and 2017. Most recently, Gates listed his personal liquid assets at $25 million in February 2016 and at $2.2 million in March 2016.

Mueller noted that both have traveled abroad extensively and revealed that Manafort currently has three U.S. passports with different numbers. Manafort has applied for a passport ten times in the last ten years, per the court filing.

Both Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty on Monday to all 12 counts handed down in the indictment alleging a money-laundering scheme. Both have been placed in home confinement with bond set at $10 million for Manafort and $5 million for Gates.

Correction: This post originally referred to the bail filing as unsealed on Tuesday. Mueller filed it Tuesday, but it was never sealed.

Read the court filing:

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Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wrote in a letter to the Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday that Congress should make sexual harassment training mandatory for all new employees and those who have not received it.

“I am convinced that sexual harassment training is vitally important to maintaining a respectful and productive work environment in Congress,” he wrote in a letter obtained by Politico.

Some offices require staffers to attend the training, but it’s not mandatory for all staffers on Capitol Hill.

Grassley’s push for mandatory sexual harassment training comes after Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) complained last week about the process for reporting sexual misconduct on Capitol Hill.

The congresswoman shared in a video that she was the victim of an unwanted sexual advance by another staffer senior to her. She also told Politico last week that she plans to introduce legislation to change the process for reporting sexual misconduct, arguing that the system in place now is “toothless” and “a joke.”

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Following an attack in New York City on Tuesday that left eight people dead and 11 injured, President Donald Trump quickly called for the Department of Homeland Security to intensify its vetting procedures for immigrants.

Trump also linked the attack to the Islamic State, even though authorities had yet to determine that the suspect has any ties to the terrorist group. NBC News reported that law enforcement found a note from the suspect indicating he carried out the attack on behalf of the Islamic State, but that report surfaced after Trump published his tweet.

Trump did offer his condolences to the victims of the attack, but only after linking the attack to the Islamic State.

Authorities have identified the suspect in the attack as Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old man from Uzbekistan who immigrated to the U.S. legally. Uzbekistan is not one of the countries listed in the Trump administration’s travel ban targeting majority Muslim countries.

Saipov drove a rented truck down a bike path in lower Manhattan on Tuesday, mowing down people before exiting the vehicle. He then pulled out two handguns and yelled “God is great” in Arabic, according to law enforcement.

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White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday afternoon indicated that the administration will stand by Sam Clovis as the nominee to be the top scientist at the Agriculture Department, even though court documents and subsequent news reports revealed that Clovis encouraged a Trump campaign staffer to travel to Russia to meet with government officials.

“I’m not aware that any change would be necessary at this time,” Sanders told reporters at the daily press briefing when asked about the status of Clovis’ nomination.

Earlier on Tuesday, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Pat Roberts (R-KS), who oversees USDA nominations, told Politico that his plans to hold Clovis’ confirmation hearing on Nov. 9 has not changed.

“I don’t think he’s a target of any investigation,” Roberts said.

Court documents from the guilty plea of George Papadopolous, a foreign policy adviser to Trump’s campaign, revealed that a “campaign supervisor” encouraged Papadopolous to travel to Russia. The Washington Post identified the “campaign supervisor” as Clovis, and his attorney, Victoria Toensing, confirmed it. Toensing told the Post that Clovis “always vigorously opposed any Russian trip for Donald Trump and/or the campaign” and that his emails to Papadopoulos were the result of him being “a polite gentleman from Iowa.”

Since the release of court documents on Monday, the White House has downplayed Papadopolous’ role in the campaign. On Tuesday, Sanders told reporters that Papadopolous lied to federal investigators, which should reflect on him, not on the campaign. She added that the Trump campaign cooperated with the federal probe and handed over Papadopolous’ emails to investigators.

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As two indictments and a guilty plea were unsealed Monday morning stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, President Donald Trump watched the coverage on television in the White House, growing increasingly frustrated as journalists and pundits dissected the court documents, according to reports from the Washington Post and CNN.

Trump stayed in the White House residence with just a few aides, rather than heading to the Oval Office, per CNN. Several people close to Trump told the Washington Post that the President reacted with “with exasperation and disgust” to the indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, former aides to the Trump campaign. A Republican close to the White House told CNN that Trump was “seething.”

Though Trump complained that the media inflated Manafort’s importance on his campaign, as CNN reported, he was was confident that the indictments had nothing to do with the campaign itself, per the Post.

However, the revelation that George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts, including a Russia-linked professor that discussed “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, caught Trump and his aides off guard.

“The President is going, ‘Really, this is the guy?'” a senior White House official told CNN, describing Trump’s reaction to Papadopolous’ guilty plea.

As Trump fumed, his closest advisers and members of his legal team rushed to consult the President on his reaction, the Washington Post and CNN both reported. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and several members of Trump’s legal team told the President to be cautious when publicly reacting to the charges.

Former White House adviser Steve Bannon, however, has apparently taken the opposite tack, reportedly advising Trump to defund the Mueller probe.

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In his search for another target now that two of his campaign aides face charges stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe and another has pleaded guilty, President Donald Trump landed on Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta.

Rather than repeating his calls to investigate a uranium deal carried out while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and links between the Clinton campaign and a dossier alleging ties between himself and Russia, Trump tweeted Tuesday morning about Podesta’s departure from his lobbying firm, the Podesta Group.

Scrutiny of Podesta stems from the Mueller probe’s focus on Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who was indicted for money laundering and failing to disclose lobbying work for a foreign entity, among other charges.

Manafort worked on behalf of a pro-Russia poltical party in Ukraine using an entity called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, according to the indictment. The Podesta Group also did work for the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, and the firm has been subpoenaed by Mueller’s probe, although it has not been charged with any wrongdoing. The firm has said that the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine told it no foreign government or party funded its work.

Trump’s focus on Podesta came after he and the White House downplayed indictments against Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates. The President distanced himself from the indictments by arguing that the charges stem from activities that took place before Manafort and Gates joined his campaign.

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White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said on Monday that a special counsel should be appointed to investigate the decision by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee to help fund opposition research that eventually became the dossier on President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

Fox News’ Laura Ingraham asked Kelly if a special counsel should look into the funding of the dossier.

“I think probably as a layman looking at this kind of thing, we need to find someone who’s very very objective who can get to the bottom of these accusations, I think it’s important,” Kelly replied. “Again, the American people have an absolute right to know these things unless things are classified.”

The chief of staff also said that the indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates stemmed from activities that took place from before the campaign, ignoring the guilty plea of campaign adviser George Papadopolous, who told investigators he talked to a Russia-linked professor about “dirt” on Clinton. Kelly said that there was no “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Still, Kelly told Ingraham that the probe has been “very distracting” for the President.

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White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said Monday night that he has no plans to apologize to Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) after falsely accusing her of boasting about securing funding for an FBI building.

During a Fox News interview, host Laura Ingraham asked Kelly if he had
“anything to apologize for” in his spat with the congresswoman following President Donald Trump’s phone call to a Gold Star widow.

“No. Never,” Kelly replied. “I’ll apologize if I need to. But for something like this, absolutely not. I stand by my comments.”

Their tiff began after Wilson revealed that Trump told the widow, Myeshia Johnson, that her husband knew what he was signing up for. Kelly defended Trump’s comments on the call and raised a new criticism of Wilson, claiming that she bragged about her work to secure funding for an FBI building that opened in 2015.

Video later surfaced that showed Wilson did not mention funding at all, but spent part of her speech talking about her efforts and the work of her colleagues in Congress to pass a bill quickly that would dedicate the new building to fallen FBI agents.

Kelly told Ingraham that after the video surfaced, a few people came to Kelly offering to back up his side of the story. But Kelly said he should “let go” of his fight with Wilson on that.

Watch a clip of the interview via Fox News:

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