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

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), the self-proclaimed "most conservative Congressman in Texas," announced Thursday via Twitter that he's giving away a free AR-15 rifle through his website.

The freshman congressman's reelection website boasted: "Enter the drawing to win a FREE Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, almost impossible to find in stores and the number one firearm on the gun banners' wish list!"

A Bushmaster AR-15 was the same type of rifle shooter Adam Lanza used in December's elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn. Some gun control advocates have called for including the semi-automatic gun in proposed bans on assault rilfes.

Former Obama spokesmen Robert Gibbs and Ben Labolt are launching a new communications firm, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

Gibbs, the former White House press secretary, and Labolt, the national press secretary for Obama's 2012 reelection campaign, will join with Labolt's deputy Adam Fetcher to form The Incite Agency under the umbrella of New Partners, a full-service consulting firm.

Federal investigators had been looking for Edward Snowden several days before information about National Security Agency surveillance programs he leaked to The Guardian and The Washington Post was published, Reuters reported.

Sources told Reuters on Wednesday that Snowden was only on the job with contractor Booz Allen Hamilton for four weeks before taking time off. When the company couldn't get in touch with Snowden after a long period of time, the sources said, it notified intelligence officials because of Snowden's high-level security clearance.

The sources told Reuters that although government agents had been unable to locate Snowden, they did not know that he leaked the information in the newspaper reports until he revealed himself as the source on Sunday.

The Reuters report came after an account published in The Daily Beast on Monday, in which intelligence sources said that Snowden was immediately identified as the leading suspect when news of the NSA's PRISM surveillance program broke.

This post has been updated.

A complaint against Judge Edith Jones of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was transferred Wednesday to an appeals court in Washington, D.C., the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

A coalition group of civil rights organizations filed the complaint accusing Jones of racial bias based on a speech she made at the University of Pennsylvania in February. The only indication that the complaint had been transferred was a notice posted on the 5th Circuit Court's website.

The chief judge on the 5th Circuit, Carl Stewart, was in charge of handling the complaint; according to the Times-Picayune, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts allowed Stewart to invoke a judicial rule allowing transfers of complaints "in exceptional circumstances" and chose the D.C. Circuit's Judicial Council to continue handling Jone's case. 

Jones has yet to comment publicly on the allegations against her.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) Wednesday signed on to Sen. Carl Levin's (D-MI) proposal stripping a measure from the Defense Authorization Act that would remove decisions in sexual assault cases from the military chain of command, but warned the armed forces that this wouldn't be the final hearing on the issue.

"I know there will be those that think Sen. Gillibrand and I don't agree" on military assault, McCaskill said in an Armed Services Committee hearing. "But we are not gonna give up focusing on this problem. One word of advice to the military: don't think this is over once this defense authorization bill becomes law. Because we've just begun. We've just begun to hold your feet to the fire."

Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) on Wednesday introduced his measure to replace Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's (D-NY) proposal removing sexual assault cases from the military chain of command with a provision that would allow senior commanders to review cases.

Levin argued in an Armed Services Committee hearing on the Defense Authorization Act that removing the prosecution of sexual assault cases from the chain of command would actually hinder prosecution of such cases.

"Removing prosecution decisions from the chain of command would likely weaken our response to sexual assault by taking the responsibility for prosecution away from military commanders - who are actually more likely to prosecute - and instead transferring the responsibility to military lawyers - who are less likely to do so," Levin said. "We learned last week that military commanders have often prosecuted sexual assault cases even when civilian authorities declined to do so.  We also learned that military commanders have insisted on prosecuting sexual assault cases even when the military lawyers recommended against proceeding."

Levin added that to truly change the culture of sexual assault in the armed forces--"a culture that has taken inadequate steps to address the situation"--commanders must be allowed to serve discipline in such cases.

"It is harder to hold someone accountable for failure to act if you reduce their power to act," he said.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) sent a letter Tuesday to Secretary of State John Kerry demanding information about the alleged cover-up of misconduct cases in the State Department, according to The Hill

Royce requested the names of any individual who may have instructed the Diplomatic Security Service not to pursue eight cases of alleged misconduct within the State Department under its former head Hillary Clinton.

CBS News first reported Monday on the internal State Department memo revealing the investigations, including an "underground drug ring" operating near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad; Clinton's security detail soliciting prostitutes; and a U.S. Ambassador "patronizing prostitutes in a public park." 

“The notion that any or all of these cases would not be investigated thoroughly by the Department is unacceptable," Royce wrote.

The State Department denies the allegations. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that "the notion that we would not vigorously pursue criminal misconduct is not only preposterous, it's inaccurate."

Royce gave Kerry until June 25 to submit the requested documents. 

Former Cincinnati politicians called for Congress to clear the city's "good name and reputation" in an op-ed published Tuesday in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Former Democratic Rep. Tom Luken, who also served as mayor of Cincinnati, and Hamilton County auditor Dusty Rhodes asserted that the alleged decision to target Tea Party-aligned nonprofit groups came not from Ohio but from Washington:

Congressman Charles Rangel said, “There’s a cancer in Cincinnati.” That is just another example of how our region is taking collateral damage in IRS scandal. The Cincinnati area is being portrayed as a hotbed of rogue, corrupt IRS employees.


We are fed up with this constant refrain, which has been picked up by the media blaming the scandal on local IRS workers. We believe the problem originated in Washington. The Enquirer “fact-checked” remarks at Cincinnati’s national Town Hall meeting on the subject. When will you “fact check” the White House?

The pair encouraged Congress to complete a full investigation so that the responsibility for the alleged targeting may rest "squarely where it belongs."

An Inspector General report determined in May that there was no evidence connecting the White House to the IRS' targeting of conservative groups.

At present Edward Snowden may be bunkering down in a "safe house" in Hong Kong, according to a reporter who worked with the source of the National Security Agency leaks. 

"Knowing it was only a matter of time before he was found, Snowden checked out" of his hotel on Monday, The Guardian's Ewan MacAskill wrote in an article published Tuesday. "It is thought he is now in a safe house."

The Guardian U.S.' chief reporter Ed Pilkington said on MSNBC earlier that morning that he personally didn't know where Snowden was hiding.