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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

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Tuesday that the only way to hold Director of National Intelligence James Clapper accountable for his testimony on National Security Agency data collection would be for President Obama to potentially "fire him," The Hill reported.

"How do you hold him accountable?" Levin said at an event hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, as quoted by The Hill. "I guess the only way to do that would be for the president to, somehow or other, fire him. I think he’s made it clear that he regrets saying what he said. I don’t want to call on the president to fire him, although I’m troubled by this.”

Clapper acknowledged in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee dated June 21 that his response to the committee at a March hearing was "erroneous." Clapper had told the committee that his agency wasn't collecting data on millions of Americans. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) took to Twitter on Tuesday in praise of the Senate's vote to advance Richard Cordray's nomination to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, calling it a "historic day for working families."

San Diego attorney Marco Gonzalez said in a Monday press conference that Mayor Bob Filner told a female staffer his women employees would do better "if they worked without their panties on," the Los Angeles Times reported.

Gonzalez added that women who work for Filner call him a "dirty old man" and describe his advances as "the Filner headlock" and "the Filner dance," according to the Times.

Gonzalez's accusations came just hours after Filner reiterated his innocence and confirmed he would not resign.

At least one conservative blogger was paid to repeat talking points provided by a proxy group for the Ukrainian government, Buzzfeed reported Tuesday.

Articles appearing on RedState, Breitbart, and Pajamas Media during the lead-up to Ukrainian parliamentary elections last year closely reflected talking points from Ukraine's ruling Party of Regions, according to documents obtained by Buzzfeed. Libertarian media strategist George Scoville disseminated those talking points amongst at least five or six bloggers, according to an anonymous writer that leaked the documents to Buzzfeed.

The blogger who spoke with Buzzfeed, on condition of anonymity because of "lingering qualms about the arrangement," admitted to being offered $500 to write a blog post lauding the pro-Russian Party of Regions. He told the website that Scoville's name was on that check.

Scoville also invited the writers to participate in a conference call with an official from the Ukraine's Central Election Commission, according to an email obtained by Buzzfeed.

Read the full text of the talking points sent to conservative bloggers over at Buzzfeed.

Twenty-three mass killings have taken place in the past year since the Aurora, Colo. movie theater shooting, according to a USA Today report.

According to USA Today, 126 people have been killed in mass killings across 19 states since July 20, 2012. The analysis used the FBI's definition of mass killings as those in which four or more people were killed in a short time span. The list was not limited to shootings.

Six of the attacks, the newspaper reported, were "public killings in which many of the victims were unknown to their killers" -- including the Newtown, Conn. elementary school massacre, the Boston Marathon bombings, and the Santa Monica College shooter.

The USA Today analysis showed that the 17 other mass killings were mostly family slayings or robbery- or drug-related murders, in which victims typically know their killers. Public killings like Aurora and Newtown that draw national attention are thus "anomalies," USA Today found.

Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) have thrown their support behind Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's (D-NY) efforts to remove military sexual assault cases from the chain of command, Politico reported Tuesday.

Paul is scheduled to join Gillibrand and the bill's other supporters to discuss his changed position at a press conference Tuesday in the Capitol, according to Politico. 

Gillibrand's proposal was voted down in the Armed Services Committee in June. With 32 cosponsors already signed on to the measure, Paul and Cruz's support bring the proposal closer to the 51 votes it would need to pass when it comes to another vote as early as next week.

Lawyers for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) appealed his conviction and 14-year sentence for political corruption Monday, shortly before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' midnight filing deadline, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Blagojevich's lawyers claimed that U.S. District Judge James Zagel put the former governor's defense team at a disadvantage with "one-sided evidentiary rulings," according to the Tribune. 

"While critical evidence for the defense was excluded, the court allowed the government to introduce almost any evidence no matter how irrelevant to paint the defendant in a negative light," the lawyers wrote, as quoted by the Tribune.

The appeal also alleged that Zagel favored the prosecution by preventing Blagojevich's attorneys from pointing out potential bias in government witnesses' testimony, as well as misleading the jury by "failing to explain the legal distinction between campaign contributions and bribes," according to the Tribune.

Blagojevich entered federal prison in March 2012 near Denver, Colo.

A literary agent for the George Zimmerman trial juror who planned to write a book about why the jury found Zimmerman not guilty of the murder of Trayvon Martin said Monday that juror B37 has decided not to move forward with the plans, Reuters reported.

"The potential book was always intended to be a respectful observation of the trial from my and my husband's perspectives solely and it was to be an observation that our 'system' of justice can get so complicated that it creates a conflict with our 'spirit' of justice," juror B37 said in a written statement, as quoted by Reuters.

"Now that I am returned to my family and to society in general, I have realized that the best direction for me to go is away from writing any sort of book and return instead to my life as it was before I was called to sit on this jury," the statement continued.

Vice President Joe Biden will swear in Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) as the freshman Massachusetts senator on Monday at the U.S. Capitol, according to the White House. The event will begin at approximately 10 a.m. ET.

Markey will fill the seat vacated by former Sen. John Kerry (D), who joined the Obama administration as secretary of state.

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D), embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal, reiterated Monday that he will not give up his post despite a slew of area politicians calling for his resignation.

"As your elected mayor, I fully expect to be accountable to the citizens of San Diego for all of my actions," Filner said in a statement, as quoted by CNN. "But as a citizen of this country, I also expect -- and am entitled to -- due process, and the opportunity to respond in a fair and impartial venue to specific allegations. I do not believe I am guilty of sexual harassment, and I believe a full presentation of the facts will vindicate me."

Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), a "long-time ally" of Filner's, called for his resignation Monday, according to the U-T San Diego.

"Despite his inclusive vision for San Diego, Mayor Filner has lost the confidence of San Diegans to lead," Davis said in a statement, as quoted by the U-T San Diego. "He has taken advantage of the trust the voters placed in him - and lost both the promise and capacity to ignite positive change. His behavior, if not illegal, is reprehensible."

Filner had issued a contradictory statement last week in which he admitted to sexually harassing women who worked for his office, saying "I need help." 

Filner's ex-fiancee Bronwyn Ingram further stoked the flames of the scandal in a separate statement she released Monday that was published in the U-T San Diego. Ingram cited verbal harassment and sexually explicit messages Filner would send other women as motivation for calling off their engagement last week. She further denied any knowledge of the sexual harassment charges facing the mayor in the statement.

"I do not have any direct knowledge of details in the many controversies surrounding bob, including the sexual harassment charges," the statement reads. "But I do know that anyone embroiled in so many serious controversies is impaired in ability to run a city. As someone who believes with all my heart in our shared vision for the city, someone who campaigned day and night to help elect Bob, it gives me great pain to admit that he is no longer capable of carrying out that vision."

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