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

Ahead of former acting Attorney General Sally Yates’ testimony before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Monday, President Donald Trump published tweets urging Congress to ask Yates about leaks of classified information and defending his administration’s decision to hire Michael Flynn.

Yates’ testimony and Trump’s tweets follow a report from CNN last week that Yates is expected to tell the senate that she warned the White House about Flynn a few weeks before he was forced to resign from his role as national security adviser. Yates told White House Counsel Don McGahn in late January that Flynn was lying when he denied discussing U.S. sanctions with Russian officials, per CNN. At the time of Flynn’s firing, the White House claimed that Vice President Mike Pence had been unaware that the former national security adviser had discussed sanctions.

Read More →

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Sunday signed into law a bill that would ban sanctuary cities in Texas and allow police officers to ask anyone they detain about their immigration status.

“As Governor, my top priority is public safety, and this bill furthers that objective by keeping dangerous criminals off our streets,” Abbott said in a statement announcing that he signed the bill. “It’s inexcusable to release individuals from jail that have been charged with heinous crimes like sexual assault against minors, domestic violence and robbery. There are deadly consequences to not enforcing the law, and Texas has now become a state where those practices are not tolerated. With this bill we are doing away with those that seek to promote lawlessness in Texas.”

The bill establishes misdemeanor penalties for any local police officer who does not aid federal law enforcement in detaining undocumented immigrants. If a local law enforcement entity declines to help federal officials, they would face a fine between $1,000 and $25,500.

The legislation, which is set to take effect Sept. 1, also includes an amendment that allows police officers to ask someone about their immigration status when they are detained.

In an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News last month, David Pughes, the interim Dallas police chief, and Art Acevedo, the Houston police chief, wrote that they opposed the legislation known as SB4.

“We officers work extremely hard to build and maintain trust, communication, and stronger relationships with minority communities through community based policing and outreach programs,” they wrote. “Broad rules, such as those imposed by SB 4, that push local law enforcement to take a more active role in immigration enforcement will further strain the relationship between local law enforcement and these diverse communities.”

“Officers would start inquiring about the immigration status of every person they come in contact with, or worse, inquire about the immigration status of people based on their appearance,” they continued. “This will lead to distrust of police and less cooperation from members of the community. And it will foster the belief that people cannot seek assistance from police for fear of being subjected to an immigration status investigation.”

Read More →

During one if his first public appearances since leaving office, former President Barack Obama urged lawmakers to show “courage” and defend his administration’s attempts to expand access to health insurance.

“For many Americans, I know that this feels like an uncertain and even perilous time. And at such moments, courage is necessary. In such moments we need courage to stand up to hate – not just in others, but in ourselves,” Obama said while accepting the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.

He then pivoted to Obamacare and noted that it took courage for some Democratic lawmakers to vote to pass the Affordable Care Act.

“It is my fervent hope — and the hope of millions — that regardless of party, such courage is still possible, that today’s members of Congress, regardless of party, are willing to look at the facts and speak the truth, even when it contradicts party positions,” he said.

“I hope that current members of Congress recall that it actually doesn’t take a lot of courage to aid those who are already powerful, already comfortable, already influential. But does require some courage to champion the vulnerable, and the sick and the infirm. Those who often have no access to the corridors of power,” Obama continued. “I hope they understand that courage means not simply doing what is politically expedient, but doing what they believe deep in their hearts is right.”

Read More →

Following a reports that the White House is looking to drastically cut funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the 2018 budget, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) on Friday warned that such cuts would hurt the country’s ability to fight the opioid crisis.

“I’ve known and worked with our drug czars for more than 20 years and this agency is critical to our efforts to combat drug abuse in general, and this opioid epidemic, in particular. This office supports the Drug Free Communities Act, legislation I authored in 1997 which has provided more than $1 billion to community drug coalitions around the country over the last 20 years, as well as the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, which has helped states like Ohio that are ground zero for this problem,” Portman said in a statement.

“We have a heroin and prescription drug crisis in this country and we should be supporting efforts to reverse this tide, not proposing drastic cuts to those who serve on the front lines of this epidemic,” he concluded.

Both Politico and the New York Times on Friday reported that the Trump administration is looking into a 95 percent cut in funding for the office.

Asked about the reports Friday afternoon, Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that she would not “comment on ongoing discussions.”

“Again, there’s not a final document,” she added. “When there is, we’d certainly be happy to discuss that. I think the bigger point here is the President has made very clear that the opioid epidemic in this country is a huge priority for him, something he is certainly very focused on tackling and something that I think was ignored by the previous administration that won’t go ignored in this one.”

Read More →

Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, will recuse himself for one year from lawsuits against the agency that he was involved in as the Oklahoma state attorney general or as part of the conservative Rule of Law Defense Fund.

Pruitt signed the recusal document on Thursday, and the memo was obtained by E&E News on Friday.

The list of cases from which Pruitt will recuse himself include a lawsuit over President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan and cases regarding the Clean Water Rule. He indicated that he will not recuse himself from cases in which Oklahoma only filed an amicus brief.

During his confirmation hearing in the Senate, Pruitt would not say definitively whether he would recuse himself from cases he had been involved in while serving as Oklahoma’s attorney general. At the time, he would only say that he would follow guidance from the EPA’s ethics office.

Though Pruitt will recuse himself from a long list of cases at the EPA, President Donald Trump has signaled he will roll back many Obama-era environmental regulations. Pruitt said that he would not step back from the rule-making process on the matters he listed in the memo.

Read More →

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) said during a Friday town hall in Idaho that “nobody dies” from losing their health insurance while defending the House Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Idaho Statesman reported.

During a town hall in Lewiston, Idaho, an attendee suggested to the congressman that making cuts to Medicaid could lead to people dying.

“That line is so indefensible,” Labrador replied. “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”

His response was met with boos from the audience.

Watch a clip of the exchange:

Read More →

President Donald Trump on Friday evening complained about the media coverage of the House’s vote to pass legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare, using one of his favorite terms, “fake news.”

House Republicans on Thursday passed the American Health Care Act by a razor-thin, sending the bill to the Senate. However, the Senate plans to write its own bill.

Read More →

Senior officials on President Donald Trump’s transition team warned former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn about contacting the Russian ambassador to the U.S. ahead of Flynn’s December call with Sergey Kislyak, the Washington Post reported Friday evening, citing unnamed current and former U.S. officials.

Members of the Trump transition team told Flynn that Kislyak’s communications were likely being monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies, according to the Washington Post. Marshall Billingslea, a former George W. Bush official on Trump’s transition team asked the Obama administration for a CIA profile of Kislyak, but it’s not clear Flynn read the document, per the Post.

The Associated Press also reported Friday night that a member of the Trump transition team requested a profile of Kislyak from the Obama administration.

Flynn resigned from the Trump administration in February following revelations that he spoke with Kislyak about sanctions imposed on Russia by the Obama administration.

Read the Washington Post report here.

Read More →

Employees at the Food and Drug Administration were told this week that the Trump administration had directed the agency to show Fox News rather than CNN on televisions at its White Oak, Maryland, campus, according to an internal email obtained by BuzzFeed News.

However, the FDA is denying that the administration sent any such directive.

“There was no directive or memorandum from the Administration that went out to employees about broadcast news channels displaying on monitors in common areas throughout the FDA’s White Oak campus,” a spokesperson for the FDA told TPM in an email.

The internal email was widely circulated on Twitter by Paul Thacker on Friday, but appears to have been sent out on Wednesday:

“Please excuse me for sending this out to your entire group via your listserv, but I was alerted by a member in your group and I wanted to let everyone know that the reason for the change from CNN to FOX,” the email obtained by BuzzFeed and addressed to researchers with the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) read. “The reason for the change is that a decision from the current administration administrative officials has requested that all monitors, under our control, on the White Oak Campus, display FOX news.”

Both BuzzFeed News and the Washington Post reported that the televisions at CBER were displaying Fox News:

An anonymous FDA official told the Wall Street Journal that after the email began circulating on Friday, some of the televisions at the White Oak campus switched back to displaying CNN, while others remained tuned into Fox News.

“It obviously bothered some people,” the official told the Wall Street Journal. “I’d actually rather go with the Weather Channel.”

This post has been updated.

Read More →

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) on Friday morning said that the Senate’s bill to repeal and replace Obamacare must “pass the Jimmy Kimmel test” and ensure that a sick child gets all the care he or she needs.

During an interview on CNN, host John Berman asked Cassidy if he would support a bill that would allow insurance companies to cap payments to customers.

“As you present that, I ask does it pass the Jimmy Kimmel test?” Cassidy replied. “Would the child born with a congenital heart disease be able to get everything she or he would need in that first year of life? I want it to pass the Jimmy Kimmel test. So the simple answer, I want to make sure folks get the care they need.”

Cassidy was referencing ABC late night host Jimmy Kimmel’s Monday night appeal for affordable health care for all Americans. He got emotional as he shared that his newborn son had a heart condition that required surgery, and noted that without protections, his son could struggle to get health insurance down the line.

“You know, before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you would never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition; you were born with a pre-existing condition,” Kimmel said.

During his interview on CNN, Cassidy emphasized that the Senate would work on its own repeal bill separate from the legislation passed by the House GOP and touted the plan he’d already developed with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).

“We take care of people with pre-existing conditions. We do it by expanding the risk pool so that those who are sicker, if you will, are in a pool of those who are younger and healthier. It works,” he said. “We have a plan on how to address that. I personally will be working to implement that plan.”


Read More →