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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

Marc Short, the White House’s director of legislative affairs, on Tuesday acknowledged that the Trump administration did not do the best job of winning over conservative allies’ support for a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare early on in the process.

One of the things that we could learn from the last battle was that in many cases, we did not get all of our allies on board with the path forward,” Short said at a breakfast with reporters hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “And so therefore the Republican base was splintered, and some of the reform packages were tagged early on as ‘Obamacare lite.'” 

Short added that the White House did not have its full team in place before talks on Obamacare repeal began, which he argued prevented the White House from bringing allies on board.

I will say that that process began that first couple days in January. We were inaugurated at the end of the month and didn’t have our team really on the field,” he said. “So we do believe that was a process that we had a lot of our conservative allies already out attacking the House package before we were even in office.”

Short also indicated the White House would like to see Republicans take another stab at repealing Obamacare before the end of September. He brought up a bill drafted by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), which would keep some of the taxes imposed by Obamacare and send those funds to the states in the form of block grants.

The aide did not say that the White House backs the bill, however.

That is a vehicle that will hopefully get more attention in the coming days,” Short said when asked if Trump backs the Graham-Cassidy plan.

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A top White House official on Tuesday morning refrained from demanding that any legislative fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program be tied to funding for a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.

During a breakfast with reporters held by the Christian Science Monitor, Marc Short, the White House’s director of legislative affairs, was asked if President Donald Trump will demand that Congress tie legislative restoration of DACA’s policies to funding for a border wall.

“We are most interested in getting border security. And the President has made a commitment to the American people that he wants—he believes that a physical barrier is important to that equation of border security,” Short replied. “Whether or not that is part of a DACA equation, or whether or not that’s another legislative vehicle, I don’t want us to bind ourselves into a construct that makes reaching a conclusion on DACA impossible.”

Later, asked again if Trump would demand that legislation restoring DACA’s protections be paired with funding for a wall, Short said that Trump is not backing off his demand that the country build a physical barrier at the southern border.

“Whether or not that is specifically part of a DACA package, or in a different legislative package, I’m not going to prejudge here today,” Short added.

Short would not say whether Trump is willing to sign legislation that provides a path to citizenship for DACA recipients, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as minors.

“I’m not going to state on that,” Short said when asked if Trump would be open to a path to citizenship. He said that the White House would wait to see Congress’ proposals.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated on Monday that he is not concerned about Democrats gaining leverage as a result of their deal with President Donald Trump to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government through mid-December.

“Let’s put it this way,” McConnell told the New York Times podcast “The New Washington.” “The deal is not quite as good as my counterpart thought it was.”

McConnell said that he wrote the legislation to raise the debt ceiling in a way that would allow the Treasury secretary to use “extraordinary measures” and shift government funds around in order to extend the debt ceiling into 2018. Moving a vote on the debt ceiling back a few months would reduce the leverage Democrats have on a deal to fund the government in December. McConnell told the New York Times that he wrote the bill this way over objections from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

“Since I was in charge of drafting the debt ceiling provision that we inserted into the flood bill we likely — almost certainly — are not going to have another debt ceiling discussion until well into 2018,” McConnell told the Times. “One of the advantages of being the majority leader is you control the paper.”

Trump angered conservatives in Congress when he came to an agreement with Democratic leaders last week to tie legislation to raise the debt limit and fund the government through mid-December to funding for Hurricane Harvey. Republicans who believe any debt limit hike should be paired with budget cuts were irked by the deal, as well as by White House officials’ attempt to sell the bill.

 

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Some of the lawyers on President Donald Trump’s outside legal team handling matters related to the Russia probe decided this summer that Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior adviser to Trump, should resign from his role at the White House, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.

The lawyers felt Kushner should step down because he had several meetings with Russian officials before Trump took office and because he initially failed to disclose those meetings, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The attorneys took their concerns to the president, people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal, but two members of the legal team were unable to confirm this to the newspaper. Trump did not believe that Kushner needed to leave the White House, per the report.

John Dowd, who now leads Trump’s outside legal team, told the Journal that some of the attorneys held this view of Kushner, but that he disagreed with their assessment. He also told the Journal that he was not aware those lawyers aired their concerns to the President.

“I didn’t agree with that view at all. I thought it was absurd,” Dowd said. “I made my views known.”

Marc Kasowitz, who left his role leading Trump’s outside legal team in July, denied that he had any involvement in a recommendation to the President that Kushner should go.

“I never discussed with other lawyers for the President that Jared Kushner should step down from his position at the White House, I never recommended to the President that Mr. Kushner should step down from that position and I am not aware that any other lawyers for the President made any such recommendation either,” he said in a statement to the Journal.

Read the full report here.

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Several Democratic lawmakers have asked the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general to look into whether the Secret Service’s spending to secure President Donald Trump’s properties exceeds the amount allowed by law.

Democrats sent a letter to the DHS watchdog last week, following reports that the Secret Service is struggling to cover the costs of keeping Trump and his large family safe at several of the President’s properties, including Trump Tower in New York, Mar-a-Lago in Florida, and the golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. The director of the Secret Service told USA Today in August that he can’t pay hundreds of agents because they’ve already met salary and overtime caps.

Now, Democratic lawmakers are asking whether the Secret Service is violating federal law to secure Trump’s properties across the country. The Presidential Protection Assistance Act of 1976 states that presidents can only designate one property to be fully secured by the Secret Service, and that spending on security for additional properties cannot exceed $200,000, they wrote in the letter.

The Secret Service told lawmakers that Trump has designated Trump Tower as his main property, and that the service plans to spend $26 million securing it in 2017. Trump has also requested security at Mar-a-Lago and the Bedminster golf club, however, and he visits those properties more frequently than he does Trump Tower.

“There is reason to believe that President Trump and his family’s use of multiple non-governmental properties, such as Trump Tower in New York, the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., and the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., may interfere with the Secret Service’s ability to protect the First Family while remaining in compliance with the act,” Democrats wrote in their letter.

Several senators, Tom Udall of New Mexico, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, and Gary Peters of Michigan, signed the letter, along with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD).

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A construction company owned by the Chinese government has been hired to work on the Trump’s new golf club in Dubai, McClatchy reported on Monday.

The Trump Organization’s partner on the project, DAMAC Properties, hired the Middle East subsidiary of the China State Construction Engineering Corporation despite President Donald Trump’s pledge upon taking office that his family business would not enter into any new contracts with a foreign government.

It is not clear from DAMAC Properties’ announcement exactly when China State Construction Engineering Corporation was awarded the contract. The statement from the company indicates that the contract was awarded in January or February 2017.

A Trump Organization official told McClatchy that the Trumps licensed their name to DAMAC properties to build the golf club, which they will manage it. The official said that DAMAC Properties chose China State Construction Engineering Corporation to “undertake some infrastructure work and to build one of their hospitality developments,” and that the residential development the Chinese company is working on is separate from the golf club.

Trump had also pledged that his businesses would refrain from starting any new deals with foreign companies. However, in February the Trump Organization re-engaged in a deal in the Dominican Republic.

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Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) told CNN last week that he has not yet decided whether he will run for re-election in 2018.

“As far as what am I going to do in the future, I’m still contemplating the future,” Corker told CNN in an interview published Monday morning. “It’s a tremendous privilege to do what I do, and to weigh in on the big issues. … But I have not decided what I’m going to do in the future.”

Corker’s comments to CNN confirm President Donald Trump’s claim that the senator has been discussing whether he should retire. The senator told CNN that he likely spoke with Trump about his deliberations on re-election.

“Oh, I mean, I talk to the President about almost everything,” Corker said. “We spend a lot of time together. We play golf. We, you know, they talked to me about being potentially vice president, secretary of state, so I’ve had multiple conversations about the future with lots of people. So, I’m sure when we played golf, the topic came up.”

In August, after  Trump’s failure to condemn white nationalists in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Corker criticized Trump’s management style, arguing that the White House needs “radical changes.”

In response, Trump tweeted that Corker had asked him whether he should run in 2018 and suggested that Corker is unpopular in Tennessee.

Corker seemed unfazed by Trump’s tweet, telling CNN, “I thought his tweet was fine.” And he did not back down from his criticism of the Trump administration.

“I don’t make comments like the ones I’ve made without thinking them through in advance,” he told CNN.

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Ousted White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said in an interview that aired Sunday that President Donald Trump’s decision to punt to Congress on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program could risk the Republican majority in the House.

“I’m worried about losing the House now because of this — of — because of DACA. And my fear is that with this six months down range, if we have another huge — if this goes all the way down to its logical conclusion, in February and March it will be a civil war inside the Republican Party that will be every bit as vitriolic as 2013. And to me, doing that in the springboard of primary season for 2018 is extremely unwise,” Bannon said on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

The Trump administration announced that it would rescind DACA, which protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as minors from deportation, in six months. The President called on Congress to reinstate the policy through legislation, and the disagreements within the Republican party on how to address DACA are already apparent.

Bannon said that DACA recipients should “self-deport” when their work permits run out.

“There’s no path to citizenship, no path to a green card, and no amnesty. Amnesty is non-negotiable,” he said on CBS.

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Steve Bannon, the ousted White House chief strategist, told CBS’ “60 Minutes” in an interview that aired on Sunday that President Donald Trump made a huge mistake when he fired James Comey as the director of the FBI.

Bannon would not confirm reports that he opposed firing Comey while he was still on the White House payroll, but he argued that the FBI is an institution in Washington, D.C., that cannot be changed by changing its leader.

“I am a big believer that this city, it’s a city of institutions, not individuals. And I think you have to look at it as institutions. The FBI is the institution. The speaker of the house is an institution. The majority leader is an institution,” he said on “60 Minutes.” “The Justice Department is an institution. They have an institutional logic of how they proceed and what they’re going to do. And you can’t get caught up in individuals.”

Bannon noted that Comey’s firing led to special counsel Robert Mueller.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that if James Comey had not been fired, we would not have a special counsel,” he told CBS’ Charlie Rose. “We would not have the Mueller investigation in the breadth that clearly Mr. Mueller is going.”

Rose asked Bannon if he considered the firing of Comey to be the “biggest mistake in political history.” Bannon replied that it’s the biggest mistake in “modern political history.”

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Two House Republicans from North Carolina who signed on to a brief urging the end of political gerrymandering say they did so by accident, the Raleigh News and Observer reported on Friday.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) (pictured above), both conservative House members, signed a high-profile amicus brief for a Supreme Court case out of Wisconsin, urging the court to rule against political gerrymandering. Republicans including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich also signed onto the brief, breaking from most of the Republican Party.

A spokesman for Meadows told the News and Observer that the congressman’s name was added in “error.”

“As he does with all action items, Congressman Meadows indicated he would be willing to review the amicus brief but never intended to formally sign on,” Meadows spokesman Ben Williamson said. “His name was added in error and has been removed from the brief.”

A spokeswoman for Jones, Allison Tucker, told the News and Observer that Jones’ name was added to the brief “due to a misunderstanding” and that his name had been removed as well.

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