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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

Following reports that the Trump administration was considering an executive order to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), President Donald Trump assured the leaders of Mexico and Canada that he would only like to renegotiate the trade deal at this time.

Trump spoke with Mexican President Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the phone on Wednesday, according to a readout of the call from the White House.

“President Trump agreed not to terminate NAFTA at this time and the leaders agreed to proceed swiftly, according to their required internal procedures, to enable the renegotiation of the NAFTA deal to the benefit of all three countries,” the White House said in its readout of the call. “President Trump said, ‘it is my privilege to bring NAFTA up to date through renegotiation. It is an honor to deal with both President Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Trudeau, and I believe that the end result will make all three countries stronger and better.'”

Trump followed up on the issue Tuesday morning with tweets warning that if he does not like the deal to renegotiate NAFTA, he will terminate the trade agreement.

The statement from the White House followed two reports that Trump advisors had drafted an executive order to withdraw the United States from NAFTA. Politico reported that White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, who leads the National Trade Council, drew up the draft order. Reuters confirmed that the White House was considering the order.

This post has been updated.

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Heritage Action on Wednesday announced that the group would no longer urge Republican lawmakers to vote against the House bill to repeal and replace Obamacare if a newly proposed amendment from Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) is adopted.

Last month the conservative group initially issued a key vote alert calling on members to vote against the American Health Care Act (AHCA), indicating that the group would not support members who voted in favor of the legislation.

Though Heritage Action will no longer pressure Republican members to vote against the bill, the group did not issue a resounding endorsement of the legislation.

“Representatives MacArthur and Meadows deserve tremendous credit for their good faith negotiations to improve the bill. Their proposed amendment advances the debate and raises key issues for the Senate to consider as the effort to repeal Obamacare moves forward,” Heritage Action CEO Michael Neeham said in a statement.

“To be clear, this is not full repeal and it is not what Republicans campaigned on or outlined in the Better Way agenda,” he continued. “The amendment does, however, represent important progress in what has been a disastrous process. Given the extreme divides in the Republican Party, allowing Texas and South Carolina to make different decisions on health insurance regulations than New York and New Jersey may be the only way forward.”

The new amendment drafted by moderate MacArthur and House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows (R-NC) prompted the Freedom Caucus to officially back the AHCA if the amendment is included. The amendment would allow states to apply for waivers from certain Obamacare mandates.

Though the amendment has brought conservatives on board, it’s not yet clear whether the changes will bring the bill too far to the right to win over moderate Republicans.

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The conservative House Freedom Caucus on Wednesday afternoon announced that the caucus would support the House bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, the American Health Care Act, with a new proposed amendment.

The move was not a surprise. The negotiations in the weeks since the original bill was pulled from the House floor for lack of votes have focused on moving the bill further to right the win Freedom Caucus support. The big question now is whether it’s moved too far to the right to win enough moderate Republican votes.

“Over the past couple months, House conservatives have worked tirelessly to improve the American Health Care Act (AHCA) to make it better for the American people. Due to improvements to the AHCA and the addition of Rep. Tom MAcArthur’s proposed amendment, the House Freedom Caucus has taken an official position in support of the current proposal,” the caucus said in a statement.

“The MacArthur amendment will grant states the ability to repeal cost driving aspects of Obamacare left in place under the original AHCA,” the statement continues. “While the revised version still does not fully repeal Obamacare, we are prepared to support it to keep our promise to the American people to lower healthcare costs.”

The new amendment, drafted by moderate Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) and House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows (R-NC) would allow states to apply for waivers from certain Obamacare mandates.

During a press conference earlier on Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that the amendment “helps us get to consensus.” However, it’s not clear that the amendment would earn enough support from moderate members of the Republican caucus to ensure the legislation’s passage.

Some moderates, including Rep. Charlie Dent (R0PA), still won’t back the AHCA with this amendment, and other moderates had yet to finalize their positions on the amendment early Wednesday.

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President Donald Trump will host a fundraiser for Karen Handel, the Republican candidate in the runoff to fill an open U.S. House seat in Georgia, on Friday in Atlanta.

Trump’s fundraiser was first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday, and Handel’s campaign confirmed to TPM that Trump would fundraise for the GOP candidate on Friday.

Handel will face off against Democrat Jon Ossoff in a runoff election on June 20 after Ossoff narrowly missed winning the race last week.

The special election in Georgia has gained national attention because Democrats see it as one of their best chances to turn a ruby-red district blue. Tom Price, who now leads the Health and Human Services Department, won re-election to his House seat in the Sixth District by more than 20 points in November. However, Trump only won the district by one point, giving Democrats hope that they can channel anti-Trump fervor into a win in Georgia.

The fundraiser Friday afternoon asks for $25,000 for a host sponsorship and $27,000 per person for tickets, according to an invitation obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

During the months leading up to the April election day, Handel largely steered clear of Trump. She acknowledged that she voted for Trump but rarely mentioned him on the campaign trail and did not say the President’s name during her speech last week. Yet, after she advanced to the runoff, she welcomed Trump’s support and said she hoped he would fundraise for her.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Wednesday indicated that a new proposed amendment to the House bill to repeal and replace Obamacare has brought more Republicans on board with the plan.

When asked if the new amendment offered by moderate Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) and backed by the House Freedom Caucus will garner enough support to pass the bill, Ryan did not give a direct response. But he suggested that the amendment has prompted additional Republicans to support the legislation.

“It helps us get to consensus,” he said.

The amendment would allow states to opt out of certain Obamacare mandates if they set up high-risk pools instead. Ryan touted the amendment as a way to lower premiums and give states more choice while still protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions.

MacArthur has been the only moderate engaged in negotiations with the House Freedom Caucus over changes to the bill. Many of the changes made to obtain Freedom Caucus support will likely alienate moderate members even more from a bill they largely opposed in the first place. It remains to be seen whether the pressure from the White House and other members will be enough to overcome moderates’ objections.

The White House is eager to get the bill through the House this week in advance of the 100-day mark of the Trump administration.

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Sen. Tex Cruz (R-TX) has a new plan to pay for President Donald Trump’s border wall.

The Texas senator on Tuesday introduced legislation that would funnel any assets seized from Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman as part of the United States’ criminal case against him. The U.S. is seeking $14 billion in criminal forfeiture from El Chapo.

“Fourteen billion dollars will go a long way toward building a wall that will keep Americans safe and hinder the illegal flow of drugs, weapons, and individuals across our southern border,” Cruz said in a statement announcing the bill. “Ensuring the safety and security of Texans is one of my top priorities. We must also be mindful of the impact on the federal budget. By leveraging any criminally forfeited assets of El Chapo and his ilk, we can offset the wall’s cost and make meaningful progress toward achieving President Trump’s stated border security objectives.”

Cruz’s bill, the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order (EL CHAPO) Act, would funnel that $14 billion and any other assets seized from drug cartels toward Trump’s border wall.

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After a judge halted part of an executive order threatening to yank funding for sanctuary cities on Tuesday, the White House and Trump himself both blasted the judge.

“Today, the rule of law suffered another blow, as an unelected judge unilaterally rewrote immigration policy for our Nation,” the White House said in a statement late Tuesday night. “Once again, a single district judge — this time in San Francisco — has ignored Federal immigration law to set a new immigration policy for the entire country.”

In the statement, the White House suggested that judge is biased against Trump.

“This case is yet one more example of egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge. Today’s ruling undermines faith in our legal system and raises serious questions about circuit shopping,” the White House statement reads. “But we are confident we will ultimately prevail in the Supreme Court, just as we will prevail in our lawful efforts to impose immigration restrictions necessary to keep terrorists out of the United States.”

Early Wednesday morning, Trump himself followed up with a Twitter tirade, also suggesting that lawsuits against the Trump administration are purposefully brought before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which blocked his travel ban. However, the judge who blocked part of the order threatening sanctuary cities does not sit on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. If the Trump administration appealed the ruling, the 9th Circuit would review the case next.

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Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, on Tuesday night said that President Donald Trump was willing to sign a temporary funding measure that did not include money to build a border wall.

During an interview on CNN, host Jake Tapper noted to Mulvaney that Republicans have proposed a funding measure without money for the wall and asked if Trump would be willing to sign that. Mulvaney replied that he was.

He added that the White House has agreed with Democrats on including funding for other aspects of border security.

“The offer that we received from the Democrats the last couple days included a good bit of money for border security,” Mulvaney said, adding that those funds will allow Trump to “follow through on his promise to make that border more secure.”

Mulvaney said that the Trump administration is “not backing down” from its plans to build a border wall, however.

“We just thought that it would be a good first step to get these things that everybody agrees on and take that idea of a government shutdown off the table,” he said.

Mulvaney’s comments came after the Trump administration waffled on its demand that the funding measure include money for the border wall on Monday and Tuesday. Trump reportedly told conservative journalists Monday night that he would be willing to wait on funds for the border wall, but White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisted Tuesday afternoon that Trump’s priorities had not changed regarding the wall.

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As the April 28 deadline to keep the federal government open fast approaches, members of the Trump administration on Monday night and Tuesday morning made conflicting statements regarding the President’s demand that a temporary funding measure include money to start building a border wall.

Trump himself apparently told conservative reporters gathered at the White House on Monday night that he was open to waiting until September for funding for the border wall, according to One America News Network’s Trey Yingst. Trump’s reported comments mark a pivot from his administration’s talking points over the weekend. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said on Sunday that he expected Trump to be “insistent” about funding for the wall in the temporary funding measure this month.

Unnamed White House officials confirmed to Politico and the Washington Post that Trump told representatives from conservative media outlets on Monday that he was open to waiting until September to fund the border wall.

During an interview on “Fox and Friends” Tuesday morning, White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway also suggested that Trump was open to delaying the border wall funding. Fox host Ainsley Earhardt mentioned that the White House may not get the funding this week, given Trump’s reported comments Monday night.

“Not this week, but the President made clear just yesterday, Ainsley, building a wall remains a very important priority to him,” Conway said in response. “Building that wall and having it funded remains an important priority to him. But we also know that that can happen later this year and into next year.”

However, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told ABC’s Jonathan Karl Tuesday morning that Trump has not backed down from his demand that a temporary measure to fund the federal government include money for the border wall.

To confuse matters further, Trump published a cryptic tweet Tuesday morning blasting the fake media and saying that he hasn’t changed his position on the wall. However, his tweet did not address the timing of funding.

 

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Ousted Fox News host Bill O’Reilly broke his silence on Monday evening in a podcast posted to his personal website, where he said that the “truth will come out” about his departure from Fox News.

“I am sad that I’m not on television anymore. I was very surprised how it all turned out. I can’t say a lot, because there’s much stuff going on right now,” he said on his “No Spin News” podcast. “But I can tell you that I’m very confident the truth will come out, and when it does, I don’t know if you’re going to be surprised — but I think you’re going to be shaken, as I am. There’s a lot of stuff involved here.”

“Now, I can’t say any more because I just don’t want to influence the flow of the information. I don’t want the media to take what I say and misconstrue it,” he continued. “And you, as a loyal O’Reilly listener, have a right to know, I think, down the lane what exactly happened. And we are working in that direction, okay?”

O’Reilly left Fox News last week following allegations of sexual harassment. His departure was prompted in part by a report in the New York Times that at least five women had received settlements for sexual harassment allegations against O’Reilly.

In a statement last week, O’Reilly insisted that he was ousted over “unsubstantiated claims.” His legal team had been working to prove that O’Reilly is just the victim of a smear campaign from liberal groups.

During his 19-minute Monday evening podcast, O’Reilly said that he would turn his podcast into a news platform. He said that over time he would like to start bringing guests on the podcast and transform the podcast into a “genuine news program.”

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