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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

Bloomberg Philanthropies, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s charity, has donated nearly $6 million to New York University School of Law to launch a center to help state attorneys general defend policies to combat climate change and protect the environment, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center will offer support to state attorneys general working on climate change and environmental issues and help coordinate attorneys general in several states who have similar interests. The center will also help set up the offices of state attorneys general with NYU fellows who can serve as special assistant attorneys general.

David Hayes, who served in the Department of the Interior as deputy secretary and chief operating officer for both former Presidents Bill Clinton Barack Obama, will serve as the center’s executive director.

“State attorneys general have a unique role in defending the citizens of their states from environmentally destructive actions and advancing the clean energy, climate change, and environmental interests of their constituents,” he said in a statement. “We look forward to working in close cooperation with state attorneys general around the country to support their efforts to address complex energy and environmental matters.”

Several state attorneys general have already filed lawsuits against the Trump administration over environmental regulations, such as a delay in implementing new efficiency standards for appliances like air conditioners.

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As President Donald Trump has dug his feet in following his initial failure to fully denounce white nationalists after a car attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump has been acting out of anger and has become increasingly isolated in the White House this week.

After his initial statement failed to offer a full-throated condemnation of white nationalist and other hate groups, Trump was pressured by his aides to follow up with a more forceful statement. But after doing so, the President became angry and suspicious about attempts to control his messaging, prompting him to follow up with an impromptu news conference Tuesday that went off the rails when he blamed both sides for the violence in Charlottesville, Politico reported.

Trump felt vindicated following that presser, according to the Washington Post.

The President’s anger over the past few days has been apparent. As business leaders fled White House advisory panels over Trump’s Charlottesville response, Trump responded by abruptly announcing on Twitter that the jobs panels would be disbanded. This came only after he personally attacked the first CEO to quit his manufacturing council, and threatened that he could easily replace any other CEOs who quit the panels.

He also has lashed out at his critics in the Republican Party, aiming angry tweets at Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) on Thursday morning.

Trump’s outburst and resulting press conference blaming both the “alt-right” and that he called the “alt-left” for the violence in Charlottesville has left his newly-minted chief of staff, retired Gen. John Kelly, “dismayed,” the Washington Post reported. Trump’s Tuesday press conference and frustration with his aides’ opinions on how he should respond to the Charlottesville attack has left him “further isolated,” according to the newspaper.

While the President defiantly stews in his own anger, his staff has become increasingly wary of remaining in the administration, though most have come to the conclusion that now is not the time to leave, according to the Washington Post and CNN.

Gary Cohn, the top economic advisor to Trump, who is Jewish, was very upset with Trump’s comments on the attack, but he has not threatened to resign, the Post reported, citing unnamed people close to Cohn.

CNN reported that White House aides have been sorting through whether to leave Trump’s administration, but that most had decided that leaving now would only hurt them.

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John Dowd, one of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyers, on Wednesday forwarded an email to several journalists and government officials that argues there is “no difference” between George Washington and Robert E. Lee, according to the New York Times.

Dowd received the email with the subject line “The Information that Validates President Trump on Charlottesville” on Tuesday night and forwarded it to several people on Wednesday in an apparent attempt to defend Trump’s comments about the attack, the New York Times reported.

“You cannot be against General Lee and be for General Washington, there literally is no difference between the two men,” the email forwarded by Dowd reads, per the Times.”

The email also notes that both Washington and Lee owned slaves and argues that both “rebelled against the ruling government.” The email was penned by Jerome Almon, who pushes government conspiracy theories and claims that Islamic terrorists have infiltrated the FBI, according to the Times.

Asked about the email he allegedly forwarded, Down told the Times that he often forwards along emails he receives.

“You’re sticking your nose in my personal email?” he told the Times. “People send me things. I forward them.”

Read the New York Times’ full report here.

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White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has largely been laying low, but he came out of the woodwork on Tuesday with a phone call to American Prospect editor Robert Kuttner to discuss China policy and the white nationalists President Donald Trump failed to fully condemn in the wake of the Charlottesville attack.

While discussing Bannon’s plan to carry out an “economic nationalism” policy program, Kuttner asked how economic nationalism ties into the recent violence in Charlottesville from white nationalists.

Bannon dismissed the racist and white supremacist vein in the conservative movement.

“Ethno-nationalism—it’s losers. It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more,” Bannon told the American Prospect. “These guys are a collection of clowns.”

The White House aide said that Democrats’ messaging around race will only help his agenda and the Republican Party.

“The Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em I want them to talk about racism every day,” Bannon told the American Prospect. “If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”

During the phone call, which was initiated by Bannon, he largely discussed policy toward China and North Korea. He said that the U.S. is in an “economic war” with China and dismissed the possibility of a military solution to North Korea’s threats. Bannon also said he has plans to replace officials in the State Department and Defense Department who disagree with him on policy toward China and North Korea.

It’s not entirely clear whether Bannon intended to have an on-the-record conversation with the American Prospect. According to Kuttner, the two never discussed the phone call being off the record. Axios reported that Bannon told associates that he did not intend to give an interview to the American Prospect.

Bannon told the Daily Mail later Thursday morning that his conversation with the American Prospect served a purpose: He said that it “drew fire away from POTUS” and argued that it “changed the [media] narrative” in the wake of Trump’s response to the Charlottesville attack.

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As CEOs continued to drop out of the White House manufacturing jobs panel over President Donald Trump’s failure to place sole blame on white nationalists for the deadly attack in Charlottesville over the weekend, the President on Wednesday announced he was disbanding two White House jobs panels in an apparent attempt to pre-empt further defections.

His tweet followed announcements from the CEOs of Campbell’s Soup and 3M that they would depart his Manufacturing Jobs Initiative. Trump’s announcement was also preceded by a New York Times report that said the CEOs on his Strategic and Policy Forum were preparing to disband that panel over his Charlottesville comments, too.

Although Trump claimed that he made the decision to disband the Strategic and Policy Forum on his own, in a statement to CNBC, the forum indicated that the dissolution of the panel was a mutual decision between Trump and the members of the forum.

As of Wednesday afternoon, seven business leaders had quit Trump’s manufacturing council. Four CEOs and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka had already announced their resignations from the panel earlier in the week.

“Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and are not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville.  I believe the President should have been – and still needs to be – unambiguous on that point,” Campbell’s CEO Denise Morrison said in a statement announcing her resignation from the council. “Following yesterday’s remarks from the President, I cannot remain on the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative. I will continue to support all efforts to spur economic growth and advocate for the values that have always made America great.”

Campbell’s had initially said Tuesday that Morrison would remain on the council, but that statement came out before Trump placed some blame for the attack in Charlottesville on the “alt-left” in an impromptu press conference.

The CEO of 3M, Inge Thulin, did not directly mention Trump or the attack in Charlottesville in his statement, but said that the company aims to promote “diversity and inclusion.”

“Sustainability, diversity and inclusion are my personal values and also fundamental to the 3M Vision. The past few months have provided me with an opportunity to reflect upon my commitment to these values,” Thulin said in the statement.

“I joined the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative in January to advocate for policies that align with our values and encourage even stronger investment and job growth – in order to make the United States stronger, healthier and more prosperous for all people,” Thulin continued. “After careful consideration, I believe the initiative is no longer an effective vehicle for 3M to advance these goals. As a result, today I am resigning from the Manufacturing Advisory Council.”

Around the same time that Trump announced he would disband the advisory panels, Johnson and Johnson announced that CEO Alex Gorsky would leave the council.

“The President’s most recent statements equating those who are motivated by race-based hate with those who stand up against hatred is unacceptable and has changed out decision to participate in the White House Manufacturing Advisory Council,” Gorsky said in a statement.

The CEOs who sit on the manufacturing council also had been expected to speak by phone Wednesday to discuss how to proceed in the wake of Trump’s comments on Charlottesville, the New York Times reported. Apparently, Trump has made that decision for them.

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During a series of three town halls across Colorado on Tuesday, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) faced loud, rowdy crowds of constituents pressing him on his stance on Senate Republicans’ Obamacare repeal efforts.

At his first town hall of the day in Colorado Springs, Gardner was met with hundreds of upset constituents and a shout from an audience member of, “Senator, you suck,” according to Colorado Public Radio.

Gardner remained relatively quiet on Obamacare repeal throughout the Senate’s arduous attempts to drag it across the finish line. But he stuck with GOP leadership and voted to repeal the law, disappointing some of his constituents. It was the main issue Gardner faced questions about over the course of three events in Greeley, Lakewood and Colorado Springs.

At an event in Greeley, one member of the crowd complained about the secretive process senators used to draft the bill.

“This was so partisan, what you came up with,” Greeley resident Scott McClean said, according to Colorado Public Radio.

“I hope that we’ll have everybody at the table going forward,” Gardner responded, which prompted jeers from the crowd, as quoted by Colorado Public Radio.

“What happens when this spending continues going up and we have no way to pay for it?” the senator added over the loud audience.

At an event in Lakewood, one crowd member accused Gardner of breaking his promise to protect Americans’ health care coverage.

“We asked you to stand your ground and vote for those principles, and you did not,” Erin Egan told the senator, according to Politico. “You only want to cut off people who need it.”

Gardner told the crowd that the system needs “reforms” and that Medicaid needs to be put on a more “sustainable” path, per Politico.

He also faced some anger from supporters who complained that Republicans had not successfully repealed and replaced Obamacare.

“When I voted for you, you said you would repeal and replace,” one constituent complained to Gardner in Lakewood, according to Politico.

The senator also addressed the violence over the weekend in Charlottesville and President Donald Trump’s failure to immediately condemn white supremacists in its wake.

“I think it’s about time asses with Nazi flags go back to their hole,” the senator said at his event in Colorado Springs, according to the Denver Post.

In Lakewood, Gardner said that Trump was “wrong” to backslide in his Tuesday press conference and place blame on liberals for the attack.

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Roy Cooper, the Democratic governor of North Carolina, on Tuesday called for the state to initiate the removal of Confederate statues from state property, citing the recent attack in Charlottesville allegedly carried out by a self-proclaimed white supremacist.

“Some people cling to the belief that the Civil War was fought over states’ rights. But history is not on their side. We cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery. These monuments should come down,” Cooper wrote in a Medium post. “Our Civil War history is important, but it belongs in textbooks and museums — not a place of allegiance on our Capitol grounds.”

His post came after protesters in Durham, North Carolina, pulled down a Confederate monument outside the old Durham County Courthouse on Monday. Cooper wrote that he would prefer to remove the monuments through a more formal process, citing public safety concerns.

“The likelihood of protesters being injured or worse as they may try to topple any one of the hundreds of monuments in our state concerns me. And the potential for those same white supremacist elements we saw in Charlottesville to swarm the site, weapons in hand, in retaliation is a threat to public safety,” Cooper wrote.

Cooper called for the state legislature to repeal a 2015 law that requires state lawmaker approval for the removal of Confederate monuments. The governor will likely face an uphill battle in repealing the law and removing the statues given that Republicans have a veto-proof majority in the state legislature.

The governor also said he has asked the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources to review and determine the cost of removing Confederate monuments in the state.

The attack in Charlottesville has prompted several state and local officials across the country to push for monuments recalling slavery to be removed. Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday called for the removal of a statue of former Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney, who wrote the Dred Scott decision, to be removed from the state house lawn, a reversal from his previous stance.

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After President Donald Trump on Tuesday placed some blame on the “alt-left” for the violence in Charlottesville over the weekend, effectively undoing his previous statement condemning white nationalists, at least one Republican member of Congress jumped to the President’s defense.

In a Tuesday Facebook post, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) said that Trump was right to call out liberals and said that the so-called antifa, short for anti-fascists, were as violent as those on the “alt right” that were protesting the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue.

“Antifa bused in criminals with bats and pepper spray for the purpose of committing acts of violence targeting anyone who was part of the protest against Charlottesville bringing down the statue of Robert E. Lee, whether associated with the KKK or Nazism or neither,” Zeldin wrote. “In the words of New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg, the ‘hard left’ was just at violent at the protest as the ‘alt right’.”

Zeldin did condemn “anyone associating themselves with the KKK and Nazism” and argued that Trump also “repeatedly” condemned those groups. He also said that the “hard left” and the “alt right” are “not equal,” but he again defended Trump for placing blame on both sides.

“I would add though that it is not right to suggest that President Trump is wrong for acknowledging the fact that criminals on both sides showed up for the purpose of being violent. That particular observation is completely true,” Zeldin argued.

“There is an element of our country that has pledged to resist, oppose, and obstruct this President entirely on absolutely everything and anything and to this population the President cannot say or do absolutely anything at all that they won’t criticize as long as he is in the office he was elected to serve in last November,” he added.

 

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After backsliding at a Tuesday afternoon press conference where he railed against what he called the “alt-left” and said that both “sides” held some blame for the violence in Charlottesville over the weekend, President Donald Trump faced criticism from a few Republican lawmakers.

A few GOP members of Congress directly called out Trump for pandering to white supremacists by refusing to place blame on them for the deadly attack in Charlottesville. And some Republicans reiterated their condemnations of white nationalists without calling out Trump by name.

Directly criticizing the President

After Trump’s off-the-rails press conference, some Republicans explicitly criticized him for failing yet again to condemn white nationalists.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) offered a tweetstorm bashing Trump and denouncing white supremacists.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and several other Republicans also directly called out the President on Twitter.

Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) told CNN that Trump should “apologize” for his comments at the press conference. Hurd said that “racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism of any form is unacceptable” and that the “leader of the free world should be unambiguous about that.”

At a town hall in Colorado, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) said that Trump was “wrong” to go back on what he said on Monday when he explicitly condemned white nationalists, the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) issued a statement criticizing Trump.

“As I said this weekend, white supremacy, bigotry and racism have absolutely no place in out society, and no one — especially the President of the United States — should ever tolerate it. We must all come together as a country and denounce this hatred to the fullest extent,” he said.

Condemned white nationalists

Other Republicans distanced themselves from Trump’s press conference by reiterating their condemnations for white nationalists and hate groups like the KKK, but without explicitly naming Trump.

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Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday called for the removal of a statue of former Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney, who penned the Dred Scott decision upholding slavery in 1857, from the lawn of the state house.

“As I said at my inauguration, Maryland has always been a state of middle temperament, which is a guiding principle of our administration. While we cannot hide from our history – nor should we – the time has come to make clear the difference between properly acknowledging our past and glorifying the darkest chapters of our history,” Hogan said in a statement. “With that in mind, I believe removing the Justice Roger B. Taney statue from the State House grounds is the right thing to do, and we will ask the State House Trust to take that action immediately.”

In the past, Hogan has opposed removing the Taney statue. Last year he called the push for the statue to be moved from the state house lawn “political correctness run amok.”

However, the deadly attack in Charlottesville at a counter-protest to a white nationalist rally has pushed lawmakers in the state to again consider whether the Taney statue should remain prominently displayed on public land.

Democratic state House Speaker Michael Busch on Monday called for the statue to be removed from the lawn, arguing that leaving it in place “would send a message that we condone what took place, that slavery is alright.”

Both Bush and Hogan sit on the four-person Maryland State House Trust, which would need to vote in favor of removing the statue from the lawn. The other two members are Democratic Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and Charles Edson, the chair of the Maryland Historical Trust’s board of trustees.

Miller told the Baltimore Sun that while he would prefer that the statue remain on the state house lawn, he would not block its removal if the other three members of the trust supported its removal. Edson has not weighed in on the matter, but a spokeswoman for the Maryland Historical Trust, Elaine Bachmann, told the newspaper that there is no precedent for a statue being removed from the state house.

The deadly attack in Charlottesville over the weekend has prompted several state and local lawmakers to call for symbols of the Confederacy and slavery to be removed from public land.

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