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Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a news writer for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett and interned at The L Magazine. At New York University she served as the deputy managing editor of NYU's student newspaper, The Washington Square News. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Catherine

The Smithsonian took to Twitter on Friday to dismiss reports that it was seeking to acquire Trayvon Martin's symbolic hoodie for its collection. 

Lonnie Bunch, the director of the National Museum of African American History And Culture, had told the Washington Post that because the hoodie became the symbol of the Trayvon Martin case, the artifact could allow the museum "to talk about race in the age of Obama.” 

Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) said he'll "make his best efforts" to pay the government a $750,000 forfeiture within six months, the Chicago Tribune reported Thursday. 

Prosecutors and defense attorneys in Jackson's case jointly asked a judge to hold off ruling until Oct. 25 on a government request to seize Jackson's interest in his homes in Chicago and Washington, according to a court filing obtained by the Tribune. The filing said Jackson will update the government on his progress toward paying off the $750,000, but does not mention how Jackson plans to make the payments. 

Jackson's father, Rev. Jesse Jackson, told the Tribune he "couldn't comment" on whether he would help his son meet the obligation because he doesn't know how his son will pay. Reached by the Tribune, Jackson Jr. told the newspaper "Will you call my lawyers, please?"

Jackson faces sentencing Aug. 14 after pleading guilty to a series of crimes in which he took $750,000 from his campaign treasury to buy luxury goods. A final federal disclosure report filed this month shed no new light on Jackson's campaign funds scandal.

A San Diego woman who works as a Marilyn Monroe lookalike came forward Thursday to say Mayor Bob Filner grabbed her "derriere" at a fundraiser where she was hired to sing.

Emily Gilbert told San Diego TV station KSWB that she met Filner at the fundraiser shortly after he took office in 2012.  

"He hugged me a little too closely," she said, "and then put his arm around me and proceeded to slide his arm down and do a little grab on my derriere."

Gilbert told the news station that she was embarrassed. She added that she "didn't want to make a scene" when the incident occurred since the behavior was coming from the mayor.

Watch the interview below, courtesy of KSWB: 

The Office of Personnel Management will rule the government can make contributions to health insurance premiums for lawmakers and their aides being pushed into the Obamacare exchanges, Politico reported Thursday.

An anonymous White House official confirmed the deal for Congressional employees to Politico Thursday night. 

A provision of the Affordable Care Act, authored by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), requires members of Congress and their staffs to obtain their health insurance through the exchanges -- an amendment originally intended to corner Democrats. The measure makes Hill staffers the only employees in the country working for large employers specifically required to abandon their existing health benefits and seek new coverage in the exchanges. It also raised the concern that they would have to foot the bill personally for their new insurance under the exchanges, since many Hill staffers earn more than the legal maximum under which individuals will be provided subsidies to purchase coverage.

The decision means the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program will continue to be able to pay premiums for members and staffers -- an employment benefit they were in danger of losing, but amounts to a unique subsidy for staffers, who enter the exchanges next year.

This post has been updated.

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner's chief of staff was told to stop questioning the mayor's employees about the accusations of sexual harassment against him in a memo from the City Attorney's office, U-T San Diego reported Thursday.

Assistant City Attorney Paul Cooper issued the memo, dated Thursday and obtained by U-T San Diego, to Lee Burdick, Filner's chief of staff, warning her that questioning Filner's employees about the allegations was "inappropriate" and interfered with a sexual harassment lawsuit against Filner filed by his former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson.

The memo also demanded that Burdick turn over to the city certain documents she had withheld citing attorney-client privilege or face litigation, according to the newspaper, as the City Attorney's office wrote Burdick is "a witness in this litigation, not an attorney.”

Filner's attorney Harvey Berger had written a letter Tuesday requesting that the city pay Filner's legal fees in the sexual harassment suit, claiming that the city failed to provide sexual harassment training to the mayor.

The former editor of the Chattanooga Free Press editorial page, Drew Johnson, defended the "Shove it, Mr. President" editorial headline that got him fired Thursday on Twitter.

According to Johnson, the Times Free Press changed headlines frequently "at the last minute" and "without incident or issue."

The Chattanooga Times Free Press announced Thursday that the head of its Free Press editorial page had been terminated for violating the newspaper's standards in altering an editorial's headline to "Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President: Your policies have harmed Chattanooga enough."

The editorial, which criticized the viability of Obama's economic plan on a local level, coincided with the president's visit Tuesday to Chattanooga. The Times Free Press determined that editorial page editor Drew Johnson's altered headline was "inappropriate."

"It was not the original headline approved for publication, and Johnson violated the normal editing process when he changed the headline," the announcement read. "The newspaper’s decision to terminate Johnson had nothing to do with the content of the editorial, which criticized the president’s job creation ideas and Chattanooga’s Smart Grid. The Free Press page has often printed editorials critical of the president and his policies."

The Free Press is the conservative editorial page of the newspaper, while its counterpart Times page publishes editorials with a liberal slant.

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner's office canceled new employee and management training sessions that would have included sexual harassment training, a former high-level city official and two other City Hall sources told Voice of San Diego in a report published Wednesday.

The city's former chief operating officer, Jay Goldstone, told Voice of San Diego that at the beginning of Filner's term, the mayor's office said it didn't have time for training sessions covering administration basics like payroll and benefits, and canceled them. Two City Hall sources confirmed to the news website that going over a state law mandating sexual harassment training within six months of taking office would have been part of those canceled sessions. 

Filner's attorney Harvey Berger had written a letter Tuesday to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith arguing the city was responsible for Filner's legal fees in a sexual harassment suit filed against him because it "failed to provide" sexual harassment training to Filner. Berger alleged that city trainers had "unilaterally" canceled the sessions.

Goldstone disputed that claim.

"Absolutely not. I am 100 percent certain that they did not cancel it,” Goldstone told the news organization.

Heritage Action for America announced Wednesday that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) will join the organization at a town hall in Dallas during Congress's August recess to drum up support for defunding Obamacare. 

The nine-city "Defund Obamacare Tour" in August will feature Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint and Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz. 

"We want to hear directly from people in local communities who often suffer from Washington’s out-of-touch policies," DeMint said in a press release. "Fortunately, Washington doesn’t have to win. We have an opportunity to change the direction of our nation by defunding Obamacare and advancing conservative policy solutions that will help place us back on the path toward fiscal responsibility."

Cruz said earlier this week that the real push for defunding the national health care law will come from grassroots efforts, since Republicans in Congress are too "scared" to make the move.

Florida law enforcement has declined to investigate the FBI's fatal shooting of a Chechen man connected to the Boston Marathon bombing during an interrogation in Orlando, the Boston Globe reported Wednesday.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald M. Bailey wrote a letter to the American Civil Liberties Union that said the FBI and Justice Department would be in charge of an investigation, according to the Globe, and it "would be inappropriate" for his department to intervene.

Florida and Massachusetts chapters of the ACLU had asked officials in both states to investigate the shooting because local law enforcement officials were present at the interrogation. The executive director of Florida's ACLU chapter, Howard Simon, told the Globe it was "extremely disappointing" that Florida officials would allow the FBI to continue "investigating itself." Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley had already declined to investigate.

Multiple reports following the shooting of Ibragim Todashev, a friend of alleged bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, said that Todashev was unarmed when an FBI agent fatally shot him in May.

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