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 President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement on Thursday, the Democratic governors in California, New York and Washington state announced a state climate coalition called the United States Climate Alliance.

“The President has already said climate change is a hoax, which is the exact opposite of virtually all scientific and worldwide opinion,” California Governor Jerry Brown said in a statement announcing the alliance. “I don’t believe fighting reality is a good strategy – not for America, not for anybody. If the President is going to be AWOL in this profoundly important human endeavor, then California and other states will step up.”

The alliance will support the Paris pact and serve as “a forum to sustain and strengthen existing climate programs, promote the sharing of information and best practices, and implement new programs to reduce carbon emissions from all sectors of the economy,” according to a statement from the three governors.

Brown will also travel to China on Friday where he will participate in a climate summit and speak with Chinese officials about combatting climate change.



Read More →

The Department of Justice on Thursday night asked the Supreme Court to reinstate President Donald Trump’s executive order to temporarily ban people from six majority Muslim countries from traveling to the United States.

The filing came after a federal appeals court last week upheld a ruling blocking Trump’s travel ban from going into effect.

“We have asked the Supreme Court to hear this important case and are confident that President Trump’s executive order is well within his lawful authority to keep the Nation safe and protect our communities from terrorism,” Sarah Isgur Flores, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, said in a statement Thursday night. “The President is not required to admit people from countries that sponsor or shelter terrorism, until he determines that they can be properly vetted and do not pose a security risk to the United States.”

The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to issue a stay on the ruling blocking the order from going into effect and to accept the case for oral arguments.

Read More →

Jon Ossoff, the Democratic candidate in the special election to fill an open U.S. House seat in Georgia, on Thursday criticized President Donald Trump for considering withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement.

“I agree with our military, our intelligence community, and peer-reviewed science that climate change is a major threat to our prosperity and our security, and if we walk away from this historic agreement now, history will condemn us,” Ossoff said in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Trump is expected to announce his decision on the Paris agreement Thursday afternoon, and reports this week indicated he will announce the United States will leave the global climate pact.

Ossoff will face off against Republican Karen Handel on June 20 in the Georgia special election. Democrats are hopeful they can flip the red district in the suburbs of Atlanta, given Trump’s minuscule margin of victory there in November.

Read More →

The White House on Wednesday night disclosed the ethics waivers the Trump administration has granted to former lobbyists, lawyers, and political operatives, revealing that at least 17 staffers have been granted waivers.

The disclosure came after the White House initially pushed back on the Office of Government Ethics’ push to see the waivers and make them public.

The ethics waivers exempt staffers from Trump’s executive order on ethics meant to avoid conflicts of interest after Trump campaigned on “draining the swamp” of lobbyists in government. The waivers were granted to four lobbyists and six lawyers who formerly worked for the Jones Day law firm, which still represents Trump.

The Trump administration granted waivers to several other appointees, allowing them to interact with their former clients and employers.

The White House also issued two blanket waivers for an unspecified number of staff members. One of the waivers allows appointees in the Executive Office of the President “to participate in communications and meetings with news organizations on matters of broad policy and particular matters of general  applicability.” This waiver would let adviser Steve Bannon communicate with his former employer, Breitbart News.

Another blanket waiver allows certain staffers to communicate with Republican political organizations, including the Republican National Committee and Trump’s presidential campaign.

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said that the White House worked with many staffers to avoid conflicts of interest without issuing ethics waivers.

“The White House has voluntarily released the ethics waivers as part of the President’s commitment to the American people to be transparent,” Walters said in a statement. “The White House Counsel’s Office worked closely with all White House officials to avoid conflicts arising from their former places of employment or investment holdings. To the furthest extent possible, counsel worked with each staffer to recuse from conflicting conduct rather than being granted waivers, which has led to the limited number of waivers being issued.”

The Trump administration is so far outpacing the Obama administration with ethics waivers granted to White House appointees. The Obama administration granted ethics waivers to 17 White House appointees over Obama’s eight years in office.

Kellyanne Conway, a former Republican pollster, was granted a waiver allowing her to work with former clients, and Reince Priebus was given a waiver allowing him to work with the Republican National Committee, his former employer.

The White House issued waivers to three former lobbyists who work under Gary Cohn at the National Economic Council. Michael Catanzaro, the special assistant to the president for domestic energy and environmental policy, worked for the CGCN Group representing energy industry clients. Shahira Knight, the special assistant to the president for tax and retirement policy, worked in the policy and public relations group at Fidelity Investments. Andrew Olmem, the special assistant to the president for financial policy, was a partner at Venable where he lobbied on financial issues.

The White House also gave a waiver to Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Joshua Pitcock, who was a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. for the state of Indiana.

This post has been updated.

Read More →

Investigators with the congressional Russia probes are looking into whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions had another meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 campaign, CNN reported early Thursday, citing unnamed sources on Capitol Hill and intelligence officials.

Those involved in the congressional probes are looking at an event on April 27, 2016 when President Donald Trump, then a candidate, gave a foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., according to CNN. Kislyak was in attendance, and investigators on the Hill are looking into whether Kislyak met with Sessions in private at that time, per CNN. Hill investigators have requested schedules and other information from Sessions, according to CNN.

The FBI is also looking at how many members of Trump’s team interacted with Kislyak at that event, CNN reported. Neither probe has yet determined whether additional meetings took place, per CNN.

“The Department of Justice appointed special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,” Sarah Isgur Flores, a spokeswoman for Sessions, said in a statement to CNN. “We will allow him to do his job. It is unfortunate that anonymous sources whose credibility will never face public scrutiny are continuously trying to hinder that process by peddling false stories to the mainstream media. The facts haven’t changed; the then-Senator did not have any private or side conversations with any Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel.”

Sessions met with Kislyak twice during the 2016 campaign — once at an event during the Republican National Convention and once in his Senate office. Sessions did not disclose the meetings during his confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill. He also did not list the meetings in his security clearance application, though the Justice Department said that Sessions was instructed by FBI investigators not to list those meetings.


Read More →

The Trump administration is considering allowing Russian officials to return to two diplomatic compounds in New York and Maryland after the Obama administration ejected the Russians from the compounds as part of U.S. sanctions after Russia meddled in the 2016 election, according to a Washington Post report published Wednesday evening.

The Obama administration directed Russians to leave the compounds in December 2016 and said that Russia had used the compounds for spying.

The Trump administration has yet to finalize any plans to let Russia use the compounds again. The Trump administration had informed Russia that the United Sates would let them used the compounds again if Russia would let the country resume building a new consulate in St. Petersburg, according to the Washington Post. Russia had barred the United States from continuing work on the consulate in 2014, after sanctions on Russia were imposed.

However, the administration changed its position just two days later, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson telling Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that the United States would not tie Russia’s return to the compounds to the country’s ability to keep building the consulate, according to the Washington Post.

R.C. Hammond, an adviser to Tillerson, told the Post that “the U.S. and Russia have reached no agreements.”

Even if the Trump administration does allow Russia to use the compounds again, it is considering restricting the use of the properties, such as revoking diplomatic immunity there, per the Washington Post.

Read the full report at the Washington Post.

Read More →

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) on Wednesday morning faced a crowd of more than 200 people with questions about Republicans’ plans to repeal Obamacare and the Russia probes, according to the Times-Picayune.

Cassidy was met with both cheers and jeers as he answered questions from constituents submitted in advance. Most questions centered on the Republican health care plan, per the Times-Picayune.

At one point, Cassidy tried to lay out the major points he would like to see in a bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, such as making sure people don’t have a gap in coverage and caring for those with pre-existing conditions. When he mentioned that President Donald Trump pledged to eliminate the ACA mandates “because Americans hate the federal government telling them what to do,” a few members of the audience could be heard saying, “No,” according to a clip from the event aired by MSNBC.

“You all may disagree with him, but that’s what he said,” Cassidy replied.

At that point, one member of the crowd could be heard saying, “He lost by 3 million votes,” a reference to Hillary Clinton’s popular vote victory.

The room where the town hall was held at the St. Tammany Parish School Board office was at capacity, per the Times-Picayune, which left some outside chanting, “Do your job!”

Cassidy also faced tough questions about Trump’s potential ties to Russia and the investigations into Russia’s election meddling.

He was asked if he would back an expanded Russia probe, and Cassidy replied that he thinks the congressional intelligence committees can handle the investigation. Cassidy said that he has a lot on his plate as a senator, according to the Times-Picayune.

A town hall attendee then told Cassidy that “if the president is a traitor that should be the biggest thing on your plate,” per the Times-Picayune.

Pressed further by that attendee on the Russia probe, Cassidy noted that he is not on the committee charged with the investigation, according to a clip aired by MSNBC.

“Well, I’m not the special counsel. And I’m not on that committee of jurisdiction. At some point, the — not to say I don’t follow it and not to say I don’t intend to learn — I already go to classified briefings. Actually, the special counsel actually is asking some material not to be shared with Congress yet because he is keeping it in his office to review,” he said.

During the town hall, Cassidy also said he was not bothered by the reports that Trump is planning on pulling out of the Paris climate agreement.

“I’m actually neutral on whether we pull out of the Paris Accord or not,” he said, according to the Times-Picayune.

Read More →

Ousted FBI Director James Comey plans to testify in public that President Donald Trump pressured him to quash the bureau’s investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser, CNN reported Wednesday afternoon, citing a “source close to the issue.”

Comey’s testimony could come as early as next week, but a date has not been finalized, according to CNN. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s co-chairs previously announced that they expected Comey to testify in public before the panel.

The New York Times reported earlier this month that Trump had asked Comey to shut down the FBI investigation into Michael Flynn the day after Flynn was ousted from his post as national security adviser. Comey documented the conversation in a contemporaneous memo that was shared with his inner circle at the bureau, according to the report.

Read More →

During a town hall in Cranford, New Jersey on Tuesday evening, Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) faced pressure from the crowd to stand up to President Donald Trump.

Lance did tell the audience that he opposes Trump’s proposed budget.

“Regarding the budget document, I do not support it,” he said, according to Politico. “The president proposes and Congress disposes.”

Lance said that he would oppose Trump on an issue-by-issue basis when pressed on other topics, however.

Members of the crowd applauded Lance when he expressed support for NATO’s Article 5, which details the alliance’s collective defense responsibilities, according to the Associated Press. But he was met with boos when he he said he opposed a single-payer health plan, per the AP.

One member of the crowd told Lance that he stopped supporting the Republican Party due to “clear criminality of the current administration and the lack of outcry or action from the party in control,” per Politico. That audience member asked Lance when he would call on Trump to released his tax returns and more information related to the Russia probe.

In response, Lance said that he supports the appointment of former FBI director Robert Mueller to lead the sprawling federal investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election.

“I think that is an excellent step and I believe that Mr. Mueller will investigate the matters that you have raised and he will do so in a completely impartial and above board manner,” Lance said, adding that the special counsel may subpoena Trump’s tax returns, per Politico.

Asked again when he would stand up to Trump, Lance said, “I criticize the president where I disagree with him. I indicate where I support him.”

Read More →

Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Tuesday night updated his viewers on his baseless conspiracy theory about the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich even though he has promised not to talk about Rich anymore.

He began by reiterating his pledge not to talk about Rich for the time being before telling his audience that he’s still digging and complaining that he’s been called a conspiracy theorist.

“I have to start tonight on a personal note of something that happened last week. Now, I was asked by the family of the DNC staffer that was killed in July to pull back covering the story of the death because their son and their family was hurting,” he said on his show. “Now out of respect for the family’s wishes, well, I decided for the time being not to discuss it unless there were further developments.”

“But I also promised you, my audience, my loyal audience, that I will not stop investigating. I will not stop asking questions,” he continued. “And at a very high level, the bottom line here is the family wants the truth and I think the country deserves the truth, because this impacts so much of what the narrative in this country is now about, which is the left and their conspiracy theory. Now I can report, I am making progress. We will have a lot more coming probably sooner than later.”

He then complained that he has been labeled a conspiracy theorist “because I dare to ask questions” and claimed that liberals are trying to get his show cancelled by going after his advertisers. Several companies have pulled ads from the show following his relentless coverage of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory, though USAA has said it will again begin airing ads on “Hannity.”

Hannity’s update Tuesday night followed a very similar update last week during which he said he would stop talking about Seth Rich for the time being.


Read More →