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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

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Monday condemned white nationalists and declared that there were “no sides” to the violence at a rally earlier this month in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“The immediate condemnations from left, right, and center affirmed that there is no confusion about right and wrong here. There are no sides,” Ryan said in a statement on Monday. “There is no other argument. We will not tolerate this hateful ideology in our society.”

The statement comes about a week after President Donald Trump failed to fully denounce white nationalists in the wake of a car attack at the rally that killed one counter-protester and injured at least 19 others. The President initially blamed “many sides” for the violence.

“I still firmly believe this hate exists only on the fringes. But so long as it exists, we need to talk about it. We need to call it what it is. And so long as it is weaponized for fear and terror, we need to confront it and defeat it,” Ryan’s statement continued. “That is why we all need to make clear there is no moral relativism when it comes to neo-Nazis. We cannot allow the slightest ambiguity on such a fundamental question.”

The statement is Ryan’s most robust response to the attack and to Trump’s comments on it. Last week, the speaker wrote that “white supremacy is repulsive” shortly after Trump’s off-the-rails press conference during which he backslid into blaming “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville.

Ryan said in the statement that “the notion that anyone is intrinsically superior to anyone else runs completely counter to our founding principles.” He did not directly call out Trump, but said American leaders have a responsibility to promote those principles.

“Those principles make America special. They by no means make us perfect. We may never fully eradicate this scourge. After all, this republic is defined by its often winding pursuit of a more perfect union,” the statement read. “But it is that chase that sets us apart. It is the notion we are always trying to be better. This goes especially for our leaders. Those of us entrusted with the privilege to serve and represent the American people have an obligation to challenge us to push beyond the passions of the moment.”

Read Ryan’s full statement here.

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The University of Texas at Austin removed several confederate statues overnight on Sunday following an announcement from the school’s president, Gregory Fenves.

“Last week, the horrific displays of hatred at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville shocked and saddened the nation. These events make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism,” Fenves said in a Sunday statement.

Three of the statues being removed, including one of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, will be relocated to a campus exhibit. The fourth statue, which depicts former Texas Gov. James Hogg, may be relocated to another spot on the campus, Fenves said.

Fenves said he made the decision to remove the statues after a discussion with students, university staff, and alumni.

“The University of Texas at Austin is a public educational and research institution, first and foremost. The historical and cultural significance of the Confederate statues on our campus — and the connections that individuals have with them — are severely compromised by what they symbolize,” he said in the statement. “Erected during the period of Jim Crow laws and segregation, the statues represent the subjugation of African Americans. That remains true today for white supremacists who use them to symbolize hatred and bigotry.”

A spokesman for the university, Gary Susswein, told the Austin American-Statesman that the statues were removed after dark with little warning due to public safety concerns.

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Before the events of last week, Steve Bannon had come to an agreement with White House chief of staff John Kelly in July that he would leave the White House in mid-August in a low-key, civil manner, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

However, President Donald Trump’s response to the Charlottesville attack and Bannon’s phone call to the American Prospect prompted a much more abrupt departure on Friday afternoon, the New York Times reported, citing unnamed White House aides and associates to Trump and Bannon.

Bannon urged Trump not to give way to his critics regarding the President’s failure to fully condemn white nationalists, clashing with Kelly, per the Times. Following Trump’s initial response, Bannon and Kelly agreed to push his departure date to early September, according to the Times. But Bannon’s impromptu interview with the American Prospect about policy toward China and North Korea irked Kelly, and Bannon was then quickly let go, the New York Times reported.

Though Bannon’s time in the White House came to a rather abrupt end on Friday, his star had been fading for a while as he clashed with other members of Trump’s staff. Last week, Trump was no longer willing to side with Bannon, in part because he believed Bannon was leaking stories about White House infighting to the media, per the Times.

Bannon frequently butt heads with Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

The former chief strategist places some blame for his departure on Kushner. Bannon told friends that he believes Kushner asked Rupert Murdoch to urge Trump to fire Bannon, according to Vanity Fair.

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President Donald Trump on Sunday night published a tweet saying that his thoughts and prayers are with U.S. Navy sailors after he bungled his response to reporters’ shouted questions about the collision of a Navy destroyer that left sailors injured and missing.

Ten sailors are missing after a Navy destroyer, the USS John McCain, collided with an oil tanker on Sunday.

When Trump arrived back in the Washington, D.C. area Sunday night, reporters shouted questions to him about the incident with the USS John McCain. It’s not clear what the President heard over the sound of Marine One.

“That’s too bad,” Trump replied to the reporters, appearing unaware of the collision.

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In a series of tweets Saturday afternoon, President Donald Trump said that there were “anti-police agitators” in Boston but also praised people who came out to protest “bigotry and hate.”

Trump was responding to protests in Boston earlier Saturday where thousands of counterprotesters came out to speak out against those attending a “free speech” rally on the Boston Common. The President’s comments on the protests in Boston were relatively measured compared to his remarks about the violence last weekend in Charlottesville, when he failed to fully condemn white nationalists.

Trump began his series of tweets sent over the course of a couple hours, by claiming that there were “anti-police agitators” out in Boston.

The “free speech” rally ended early, around 1 p.m., with limited confrontation between the rally-goers and the counterprotesters. But as police escorted out the rally attendees, some of the protesters did confront officers. Police said that they made a few arrests during the counterprotest. The Boston police department also said that some were throwing rocks and bottles, but did not specify whether they were rally attendees or counterprotesters.

After that tweet, Trump followed up with comments applauding the counterprotesters and arguing that sometimes protests are necessary for healing.

The “free speech” rally in Boston had been planned before the violence in Charlottesville a week ago. The organizers distanced themselves from white nationalists, but there was concern that white supremacists and neo-Nazis could show up to the rally. In anticipation of this, as well as a large counterprotest, the Boston police arranged a large presence and used barriers to keep the rally attendees separated from the counterprotesters.

However, the number of counterprotesters far outweighed the handful of people who showed up for the “free speech” rally. The rally ended early without any of the planned speakers making remarks.

 

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A “free speech” rally in Boston ended early on Saturday afternoon without any of the planned speakers making remarks as thousands of counterprotesters marched through the streets of Boston.

The few “free speech”rally attendees who showed up to the Boston Common had left by around 1 p.m., and their departure was met with cheers from the crowd of counterprotesters, according to the Washington Post. Some of the protesters sang “Hey hey, ho ho. White supremacy has got to go,” as the rally attendees left, per the Washington Post.

Police escorted the “free speech” rally-goers out of the area in vans, according to the Boston Globe. As the rally attendees were loaded into the vans, some counterprotesters shouted “Make them walk!” while others chanted ““No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!” per the Boston Globe.

As police removed the rally attendees, there were some clashes between officers and counterprotesters, but they were minimal and ended quickly, according to the Washington Post. Officers restrained some counterprotesters in zip ties, and law enforcement told the Boston Globe that some arrests for disorderly conduct were made.

Boston officials and police prepared for the worst in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville last weekend. Organizers of the “free speech” rally had distanced them selves from the white nationalists who attended the rally in Charlotte last weekend, but there was concern that white supremacists and neo-Nazis could show up to the Boston rally. The city planned to deploy 500 officers to help with crowd control as thousands of counterprotesters were expected to march during the “free speech” rally.

Police also set up barriers in the common, which separated the “free speech” rally attendees from the counterprotesters. Though the barriers largely prevented clashes, there were some scuffles between counterprotesters and Trump supporters, according to the Boston Globe.

 

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Updated Aug. 19, 2017 at 2:20 p.m. ET

President Donald Trump on Saturday thanked former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon for his service and applauded his decision to return to Breitbart News.

Trump first published a tweet Saturday morning thanking Bannon, focusing on Bannon’s role in Trump’s presidential campaign.

Several hours later, the President followed up with a tweet applauding Bannon’s decision to return to Breitbart and encouraging Bannon to fight “Fake News.”

However, it appears Trump forgot that Bannon left his position at the helm of Breitbart to help run the Trump campaign given that Trump called Bannon a “new voice” at Breitbart in his tweet.

Bannon unceremoniously left his role as White House chief strategist on Friday following several weeks of reports indicating that Bannon’s influence in the White House and popularity with the rest of Trump’s aides were fading.

Shortly after the White House confirmed that Bannon would leave the administration on Friday, Breitbart News announced Bannon’s return to the conservative news website. Bannon said that he will continue to fight for Trump’s agenda from the outside.

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Steve Bannon, who was ousted from his role as White House chief strategist on Friday, will return to his former home of Breitbart News, the right wing news website that has served as a platform for white nationalists.

“The populist-nationalist movement got a lot stronger today,” Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow said in a statement Friday announcing Bannon’s return just a few hours after Bannon’s White House exit. “Breitbart gained an executive chairman with his finger on the pulse of the Trump agenda.”

Bannon led Breitbart’s Friday evening editorial meeting, where he told staff to work hard to advance a conservative agenda, Bloomberg News reported.

Upon his ouster, Bannon said that he plans to fight for President Donald Trump, just from the outside.

“In many ways, I think I can be more effective fighting from the outside for the agenda President Trump ran on,” Bannon told the New York Times. “And anyone who stands in our way, we will go to war with.”

One of his first battles will reportedly be over funding the border wall. Bannon has told associates that he plans on urging Trump to demand that any spending resolution include funding to begin building the border wall, according to the New York Times.

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The White House has announced that Steve Bannon would leave his role as chief strategist on Friday, after reports indicated for several weeks that Bannon’s star in the Trump administration was fading.

“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

The confirmation from the White House came shortly after the New York Times reported that Trump was telling his aides that he was preparing to fire Bannon.

Minutes before the Times published its piece, the Drudge Report also telegraphed that Bannon was on his way out:

Bannon represented the nationalist, hard-line anti-immigrant wing of the White House. As chief strategist, he helped craft the executive order barring travelers from certain majority-Muslim countries and unsuccessfully pushed for Trump to leave the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Bannon reportedly clashed with Jared Kushner, the President’s adviser and son-in-law, and national security adviser H.R. McMaster. Through Bannon and former chief of staff Reince Priebus seem like unlikely allies, they both had been aligned in opposition to hiring financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director. All three men are now out at the White House.

The news of Trump’s plans to force Bannon out comes after rumors swirled all week that his time in the Trump administration could soon come to an end.

Bannon submitted his resignation on Aug. 7, the New York Times reported, but Trump had not yet accepted that resignation before Friday.

The American Prospect published an interview with Bannon earlier this week in which he declared that the U.S. is in an “economic war” with China, bragged that he would oust officials from the State and Defense Departments who disagreed with him and dismissed white nationalists as a “fringe” part of the Republican Party.

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This post has been updated.

Nearly all of the remaining members of the Presidential Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned in protest on Friday, citing President Donald Trump’s failure to fully denounce white supremacists following the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Of the 17 remaining members on the council, who were all holdovers from previous administrations, 16 members signed a letter to Trump announcing their resignations and strongly condemning his response to the car attack carried out by an apparent white supremacist that left one woman dead and at least 19 others injured.

“Reproach and censure in the strongest possible terms are necessary following your support of the hate groups and terrorists who killed and injured fellow Americans in Charlottesville. The false equivalencies you push cannot stand,” they wrote in the letter. “The Administration’s refusal to quickly and unequivocally condemn the cancer of hatred only further emboldens those who wish America ill. We cannot sit idly by, the way that your West Wind advisors have, without speaking out against your words and actions.”

“Elevating any group that threatens and discriminates on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, disability, orientation, background, or identity is un-American,” the members added.

Members of the committee who resigned include actor Kal Penn, artist Chuck Close and author Jhumpa Lahiri.

The mass resignations follow the dissolution of two of Trump’s jobs advisory panels, the manufacturing council and the Strategy & Policy Forum, after prominent business leaders spoke out against Trump’s pandering to white nationalists. The disbanding of those panels began when Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier resigned from the manufacturing council and issued a blistering condemnation of Trump. Several CEOs on the council followed suit, and members of the Strategy & Policy Forum privately discussed leaving the panel. As the advisory councils began to fall apart, Trump abruptly announced he was disbanding them himself, in an apparent attempt to prevent further public fallout.

The members of the arts commission decided to resign this week and spent the past few days drafting the letter, according to the Washington Post.

Andrew Weinstein, a lawyer appointed to the committee by former President Barack Obama, told TPM on Friday that Kal Penn reached out to the group this week about quitting in protest. Weinstein also confirmed that the members of the committee purposefully spelled out the word “resist” with the first letter of each paragraph, crediting Penn with that idea.

“For a President who has crossed so many lines, this was just one too many,” Weinstein told TPM of his decision to quit the committee now. “They’re all too many, but this in particular.”

He also noted that he submitted his resignation in January, but that it was never recorded. He said he then agreed to stay on to help the committee finish some work, but since the inauguration, the panel hasn’t heard from the Trump administration at all. The committee made efforts to safeguard certain programs they managed by transferring them to different agencies, but has been mostly inactive this year, Weinstein said.

“We weren’t interacting with the Trump administration,” he told TPM.

The members went beyond Trump’s comments on the Charlottesville violence in their letter, however, criticizing him for attacking the press, threatening arts and humanities funding and pulling out of the Paris climate agreement as well.

“Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions. We took a patriotic oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” the members concluded. “Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on your to resign tour office, too.”

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