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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

After President Donald Trump claimed Friday morning that John Podesta “refused” to give federal investigators a hacked email server and that “everyone” at the G20 summit was talking about it, the former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman hit back with his own tweetstorm.

Podesta, whose personal emails were hacked during the 2016 election, called Trump a “whack job” and noted that he never ran the Democratic National Committee, which was the victim of a separate cyberattack.

“Get a grip man, the Russians committed a crime when they stole my emails to help get you elected President,” he wrote:

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Thursday backed a plan endorsed by President Donald Trump to pass a bill to repeal Obamacare immediately and come up with replacement legislation later.

“If we cannot bring the conference together and agree on repeal legislation, then I think President Trump’s absolutely right that we should pass a clean repeal,” Cruz told reporters following a town hall in Texas, according to the Washington Post.

Last week, Trump backed a plan proposed by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) to pass a bill to completely repeal Obamacare immediately with a deadline to replace the law within a year. Such an approach will likely face opposition from several members of the Republican caucus. Several senators shot down that approach in January, and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) recently warned against the approach backed by Trump.

Despite his willingness to pass a clean Obamacare repeal bill if the Senate fails to come to a deal on a repeal and replace bill, Cruz seemed cautiously optimistic  on Thursday that the Senate can reach agreement.

“I believe we can get to yes,” he told reporters, per the Post. “I don’t know if we will.”

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Hackers have targeted the computer networks of companies that run nuclear power plants and other energy facilities in the U.S., according to reports in the New York Times and Bloomberg News.

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued a joint report on the hacks last month, according to the New York Times. Both the Times and Bloomberg News reported that Wolf Creek, which runs a nuclear power plant in Kansas, was among those targeted by the hackers.

It’s not clear whether the hackers sought information or were gearing up for destruction, and there’s no sign that the hackers were able to access the facilities’ control systems, per the New York Times.

In a joint statement obtained by the Times and Bloomberg News, DHS and the FBI said, “There is no indication of a threat to public safety, as any potential impact appears to be limited to administrative and business networks.”

Bloomberg News reported that Russia is the “chief suspect” in the hacks, citing “three people familiar with the continuing effort to eject the hackers from the computer networks.” The New York Times reported that the techniques use by the hackers in the U.S. are similar to those of a Russian hacking group called “Energetic Bear.”

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In a tweet from Europe Friday morning, President Donald Trump claimed that “everyone” at the G20 summit in Germany is discussing former Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta and the DNC server.

Trump’s tweet follows a Fox Business Network interview with Podesta over the weekend during which he said he was unsure whether the DNC ever gave federal investigators its server since he did not work for the committee at that time. Podesta said that he turned over Clinton’s servers to the FBI and but that the DNC was responsible for its own servers.

In the wake of the 2016 election and the revelation that Russia tried to interfere, Trump and his allies have obsessed over the DNC server and why the committee did not give the server to federal investigators. The DNC gave the FBI information on the server hack through a third party and has said that the FBI said it received all the information it needs.

A spokeswoman for the DNC responded to Trump Friday morning, noting that Podesta did not lead the DNC.

Trump followed up his tweets about Podesta with a preview of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and a tweet railing against the “Fake News Media.”

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Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) said during a Thursday town hall that he was disappointed with the rushed process Senate leadership pursued to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, and predicted the legislation would not pass with Republican votes alone.

Moran’s comments in Palco, Kansas came after he came out against the Senate’s draft bill following Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) decision to delay a vote on the legislation until after the July 4 recess.

“What I wish would have happened and what I encouraged to happen unsuccessfully, was, we ought to try to do this in a way in which we all have an opportunity to present our ideas and to have committee hearings, allow experts and the public to testify, and give people a chance to get comfortable or uncomfortable with whatever the proposal is,” the senator said Thursday. “And that’s not the circumstance that we find ourselves in. It’s probably not the circumstance that’s gonna happen in the near future.”

Moran also indicated that he thinks Republicans should work with Democrats to address the issues he sees with the Affordable Care Act. He said that he wants the Senate bill to help those hurt by Obamacare without hurting anyone else who benefitted from the health care law.

That is “almost impossible to try to solve when you’re trying to do it with 51 votes,” he noted.

Yet asked later in the town hall if he would withhold his vote for a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare if the Senate does not hold hearings, Moran replied, “I will not necessarily.”

He said that hearings were “preferable,” but that the legislation would “earn his vote” if it met his criteria for a good bill.

About 150 people came out for the event at the McKenna Youth and Activity Center in Palco, where the room was supposed to only hold 65 people, according to the Kansas City Star. The senator faced several questions about the Senate health care bill as well as encouragement to stick to his stance opposing it.

The first attendee to ask a question pushed Moran to articulate how the average Kansan would benefit from the Senate’s draft legislation. Moran responded that he wants the Republican bill to ensure coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and drive down costs.

“That’s not, in my view, where we are with the legislation pending in the Senate,” he said.

Another questioner compared funding for health care to funding for the military, describing both as protections for Americans, and was met with a round of applause from the crowd. Yet another attendee suggested the Senate pursue “Medicare for all,” also receiving a round of applause, before asking Moran about health care for veterans.

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Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) on Wednesday said that he does not support the current draft Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

During a roundtable event with North Dakota hospital executives, Hoeven told the audience that he “doesn’t support the bill as it stands,” but that the Senate is working to improve the legislation, according to the Forum News Service.

In a statement issued after the event, Hoeven reiterated that he does not back the current draft.

“While I do not support the Senate health care bill in its current form, we continue working on the legislation with the goal of providing greater access to health care and more affordable health insurance,” he said in the statement. “Addressing the problems with Obamacare and reforming our health care system will be a process, not one bill, and meetings like today’s will allow us to take feedback from health care providers in North Dakota back to Washington.”

Several North Dakota residents with concerns about the Senate draft legislation attended that health care discussion at the Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, according to the Forum News Service.

Hoeven is one of several Republican senators who have came out against the draft legislation since Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delayed a vote on the bill until after the July 4 recess. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) all came out against the legislation after it was clear they would not take a vote until July.

Hoeven had shared concerns about the bill in a statement at the end of June, but his Wednesday comments were the clearest yet on his stance.

“Obamacare has raised costs and limited health care options for families in North Dakota and across the nation. We need to make reforms in order to provide greater access to health care and more affordable health insurance. As I said yesterday, the CBO report shows that we have more work to do,” he said in a statement at the end of June. “I have concerns about the Senate draft legislation, but will continue working to improve it to help ensure that it provides a smooth transition away from Obamacare and toward a health care system that provides greater access to health coverage for low-income individuals either through Medicaid or tax credits based on age and income that will make health insurance more affordable.”

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Wednesday said that the Senate should not repeal the Affordable Care Act before finalizing a replacement bill.

“I fear we may fall under the trap of repealing and not replacing and that would be bad for America,” he said in Phoenix, according to KTAR.

Senate Republicans left Washington D.C. last week for the July 4 recess without a final bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. As lawmakers headed back to their states, President Donald Trump threw a curveball and endorsed a plan to repeal Obamacare immediately and come up with a replacement later.

Such a plan would likely face opposition from several Republican senators. Senate leadership initially proposed that strategy in January, but it was quickly shot down by several senators.

McCain has been quiet about his stance on the draft Senate bill to replace Obamacare and would not share how he would vote on the bill on Wednesday, according to KTAR. He did say that he would like to offer three amendments to the bill backed by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R).

“I’m getting those amendments written up, so I’ll be ready to present them if and when the bill comes to the floor,” McCain said, per KTAR. “I believe Gov. Ducey has to play an important role because, as governor, he has the primary responsibility.”

 

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President Donald Trump on Thursday morning declined to single out Russia for attempting to interfere in the United States’ 2016 election, arguing that it’s not completely clear that Russia was solely responsible for the hacking attempts.

“I think it was Russia. And I think it could have been other people and other countries. It could have been a lot of people interfered,” Trump said at a press conference in Warsaw, Poland, with Polish President Andrzej Duda. “I said it very simply. I think it could very well have been Russia. But I think it could well have been other countries. And I won’t be specific. But I think a lot of people interfere.”

Rather than going after Russia, Trump hit former President Barack Obama for his delayed response to Russian hacking attempts.

“He did nothing about it,” Trump said of Obama. “They say he choked. Well, I don’t think he choked. I think what happened is he thought Hillary was going to win the election, and he said, ‘Let’s not do anything about it.’”

The Obama administration announced new sanctions against Russia in December in response to the hacking attempts. A recent Washington Post report indicates that the Obama White House was hesitant to act before the November election due to concerns that it would look like they were interfering on Hillary Clinton’s behalf.

MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson noted to Trump that the U.S. intelligence community agreed that Russia was behind the cyber attacks.

In response, Trump noted that while some media outlets reported that 17 intelligence agencies agreed with that assessment, only four agencies agreed. The President was referencing Wednesday testimony from former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who said that not all 17 agencies agreed with the assessment. His remarks prompted corrections from the Associated Press and the New York Times.

Trump then reiterated that he’s not convinced that Russia was solely responsible for interference in the 2016 election.

“I think it was Russia. But I think it was probably other people and/or countries, and I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure,” Trump said.

To back up his skepticism, Trump mentioned the George W. Bush administration claims that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

“When I was sitting back listening about Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction, how everybody was 100 percent sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction,” Trump said. “They were wrong and it led to a mess.”

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Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) is back in the intensive care unit at a Washington, D.C. hospital due to concerns about infection three weeks after he was shot during congressional Republicans’ baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia.

“Congressman Steve Scalise has been readmitted to the Intensive Care Unit at MedStar Washington Hospital Center due to new concerns for infection. His condition is listed as serious,” MedStar Washington Hospital Center said in a statement Wednesday night.

Scalise was moved out of the ICU about two weeks ago and was in fair condition at the time. The congressman was shot in the hip, and the bullet “caused significant damage to bones, internal organs and blood vessels,” according to the hospital. Scalise had several surgeries to repair the damage.

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The day after the White House’s bogus “election integrity” commission asked states to turn over data from their voter rolls, none other than a Republican secretary of state who was named to the commission itself joined a chorus of states declining to comply with the request.

Several states with Democratic secretaries of state, like California and Kentucky, quickly rejected the ask, decrying it as an attempt to bolster voter suppression attempts. The request came in the form of a letter from Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state notorious for supporting restrictions on voting who is the vice chair of the commission.

But notably, Connie Lawson, Indiana’s Republican secretary of state, also declined to fulfill the request on Friday, citing state law that bars her from sharing voters’ personal information. The commission had requested “publicly-available voter roll data,” but specified that it was interested in information including the last four digits of voters’ social security numbers and birth dates.

Lawson was named to the commission, which is headed up by Vice President Mike Pence, the former governor of Indiana, in May.

Under Lawson, the Indiana State Police raided a voter registration office late last year, and she subsequently removed about half a million names from the voter rolls. As a state senator, Lawson also introduced a voter ID bill.

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