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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

Jack Abramoff, the former lobbyist whose sprawling corruption case helped prompt the creation of the Office of Congressional Ethics, on Tuesday bashed House Republicans' short-lived attempt to weaken the office.

"While there seems to be little question that some of the procedures of the Office of Congressional Ethics can and probably have created collateral political problems for innocent Members of Congress, moving to diminish oversight is exactly the opposite of what Congress should be doing," Abramoff told Politico before House Republicans pulled the measure.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Tuesday morning released a statement attempting to downplay the vote by House Republicans on Monday night to weaken the Office of Congressional Ethics.

"After eight years of operation, many members believe the Office of Congressional Ethics is in need of reform to protect due process and ensure it is operating according to its stated mission. I want to make clear that this House will hold its members to the highest ethical standards and the Office will continue to operate independently to provide public accountability to Congress," Ryan said in a statement.

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Mike Pence will meet with members of the House Republican caucus on Wednesday to discuss plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, according to Politico and The Hill.

He will attend the Republican conference meeting Wednesday morning, the first meeting of the conference with the new Congress.

During a speech at his New Year's Eve celebration at his Mar-A-Lago estate in Florida, Donald Trump gave a shout-out to his business partner in Dubai, just weeks before the real estate mogul will take office.

"Hussain and the whole family, the most beautiful people, from are here Dubai tonight. And they're seeing it and they're loving it," Trump says in a video obtained by CNN and published on Monday.

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After North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Sunday warned that the country was close to testing a intercontinental ballistic missile, Donald Trump assured Americans that North Korea would not obtain a long range nuclear missile.

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Donald Trump on Tuesday morning announced that he will nominate Robert Lighthizer to be the United States trade representative.

“Ambassador Lighthizer is going to do an outstanding job representing the United States as we fight for good trade deals that put the American worker first,” Trump said in a statement. “He has extensive experience striking agreements that protect some of the most important sectors of our economy, and has repeatedly fought in the private sector to prevent bad deals from hurting Americans. He will do an amazing job helping turn around the failed trade policies which have robbed so many Americans of prosperity.”

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Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday offered a defense of the United States' decision to abstain from a United Nations Security Council vote to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank, arguing that expanding settlements stands in the way of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In his final speech as secretary of state, Kerry spoke for more than an hour about the importance of a two-state solution and said that current Israeli policies regarding settlements put that solution in jeopardy. He argued that by taking a stand against the expansion of settlements, the United States was in fact standing up for Israel.

Kerry previously spent nine months trying to broker peace the in region, but the effort ultimately failed in April 2014. As he leaves his role as the United States' chief diplomat, Kerry called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to take actions that put the region on the path toward a two-state solution, and he laid out the guiding principles that the U.S. would like to see in a final status agreement between Israel and Palestine.

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The Obama administration is close to announcing sanctions and other measures to penalize Russia for its attempts to interfere in U.S. elections this year, the Washington Post reported Tuesday night, citing anonymous U.S. officials.

The measures would include economic sanctions and a diplomatic censure, according to the report. The White House would also use covert actions "that will probably involve cyber-operations," the Post reported.

CNN also reported that the administration is working on a response to Russia and that the announcement could come as soon as Thursday. As part of the response, officials are expected to name individuals associated with the Russian attempt to influence the U.S. election, according to CNN.

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