Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She is a graduate of New York University, where 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

Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday that the Obama administration was releasing an unclassified report on its findings linking Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime to a chemical weapons attack in Damascus on Aug. 21, urging the public to look at the evidence for themselves.

"I'm not asking you to take my word for it," Kerry said. "Read for yourself, everyone, all of you read for yourselves the evidence from thousands of sources -- evidence that is already publicly available. Read for yourselves the verdict reached by our intelligence community about the chemical weapons attack the Assad regime inflicted." 

"So the primary question is really no longer what do we know," Kerry added. "The question is what are we, collectively, what are we in the world going to do about it?"

More than 1,400 people were killed in the devastating attack earlier this month, which was extensively documented on YouTube, including 426 children, the report says.

Kerry also reassured Americans that a possible military intervention in Syria would not repeat the mistakes of the Iraqi invasion.

"More than mindful of the Iraq experience. We will not repeat that moment," he said at the State Department.



House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she wouldn't want to assume the Speaker's gavel again in an interview with National Journal published Thursday.

Asked if she'd like to return to the post, the first female House speaker responded "No, that's not my thing. I did that."

Pelosi told National Journal that she respects the position current House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) occupies, but wouldn't comment on if she empathizes with his challenge of leading a divided caucus.

"He's the speaker of the House. I respect the job," she said. "The position that he holds is a very exalted one. I wish his members would respect his position as much as I do."

Pelosi previously blasted Republicans in the House for voting down their own farm bill in June, calling the legislative debacle "major amateur hour."

Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to deliver a statement regarding the situation in Syria at 12:30 p.m. ET Friday. Watch live below:

The wife of rocker and National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent was arrested Thursday at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport when a gun was found in her carry-on luggage, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Airport spokesman David Magana confirmed to the newspaper that the airport's Department of Public Safety took Shemane Ann Nugent into custody. A police report was forthcoming on Friday.

Nugent's attorney, David Finn, told the Morning News that his client had a concealed-carry license and "completely forgot or never knew the weapon was in her bag." Finn said Nugent had no prior criminal record.

Ted Nugent blasted President Barack Obama's gun control message in his State of the Union address earlier this year, calling it "nonsense."

An overwhelming majority of Americans want President Barack Obama to secure congressional approval before using force in Syria, although they remain divided on the scope of military action, according to an NBC News survey released Friday.

Overall, 79 percent of those surveyed said they believe Obama should have Congress' approval prior to taking action while 50 percent said the United States should not intervene over the Syrian regime's reported use of chemical weapons. Support among the public for intervention increases when military action is limited to the U.S. Navy launching cruise missiles; 50 percent favor cruise missile strikes, while 44 percent oppose them, according to the poll.

The survey found that 58 percent of respondents agreed, however, with the statement that the use of chemical weapons by any country violates a "red line" and necessitates a significant U.S. response, including potential military action.

Former President George W. Bush said on Friday that President Barack Obama has a "tough choice" to make in determining a U.S. response to the Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons.

"The president's got a tough choice to make," Bush told "Fox & Friends" host Brian Kilmeade. "And if he decides to use our military, he'll have the greatest military ever backing him up."

"I'm not a fan of Mr. Assad," he added. "He's an ally of Iran, and he's made mischief." 

When pressed about Congress' and the United Nation's reluctance to proceed with military action, Bush remained tight-lipped with his take.

"The president has to make a tough call, Brian,” Bush laughed. “I know you’re trying to subtly rope me into the issues of the day. I refuse to be roped in. Putting our military in harm's way is the toughest decision a president will make."

Bush's former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a hawk on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said this week that he believes the Obama administration has failed to justify military intervention in Syria.

Watch the interview segment below:



This post has been updated.

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, who announced last week that he would leave office after being accused of making inappropriate advances toward at least 18 women, is expected to leave City Hall later today.

Filner's resignation takes effect at 5 p.m. PST, according to San Diego television station KGTV. A special election to fill the post has been scheduled for Nov. 19.

Two more women have filed claims with the city of San Diego and are seeking monetary damages, in addition to the sexual harassment lawsuit filed in July by Filner's former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, according to KGTV.

Attorney Daniel Gilleon said Filner grabbed one of his clients and kissed her at an event in May at an elementary school, according to the news station. The woman, identified only by the name Marilyn, was seeking $250,000 from the city.

Gilleon's second client, Stacy McKenzie, a district manager for a city-run park, alleged that Filner placed her in his now-infamous "headlock" and asked her for a date in April at a city function. McKenzie was seeking $500,000 from the city, according to KGTV.


Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker (D) addressed rumors about his personal life Thursday night in an interview with MSNBC's Chris Hayes, reiterating that his sexuality "is not an issue right now."

Hayes pressed Booker on the subject from a "progressive" perspective, asking if Booker were gay, why he wouldn't come out in order to challenge the public's perceptions.

Booker said he thought it was "ridiculous" to be asked that question.

“The question really should not be am I gay or straight," he responded. "The question should be, why the heck are you asking the question in the first place? It doesn’t make a whit of difference what kind of senator I’m going to be or not."

“We need to stop in America talking about anybody in a public realm, besides what is important–the content of their character, the quality of their ideas, the courage within their hearts to serve others. That’s what’s important,” Booker added.

The Newark mayor also brushed back against his Republican opponent for the New Jersey Senate seat, Steve Lonegan, who said this week that speculation surrounding Booker's sexuality was "kind of weird" before taking a swing at Booker's masculinity.

“I have affirmed my sexual orientation numerous times over the years,” Booker said. “People in my local press world know exactly what that is.”

Watch the interview below:



Senior Obama administration officials held an unclassified conference call with Congressional leaders Thursday night to seek their input on a response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime’s use of chemical weapons, according to the White House.

"The views of Congress are important to the President’s decision-making process, and we will continue to engage with Members as the President reaches a decision on the appropriate U.S. response to the Syrian government’s violation of international norms against the use of chemical weapons," the White House readout of the call read. 

Administration officials that participated in the call included National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Sandy Winnefeld. Below is a list of members of Congress who participated in the briefing, according to the readout:

 Speaker John Boehner, R-OH

·         Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA

·         Senator Dick Durbin, D-IL, Assistant Majority Leader and Chairman, Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense

·         Senator John Cornyn, R-TX, Republican Whip

·         Representative Eric Cantor, R-VA, Majority Leader

·         Representative Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, Majority Whip

·         Representative Steny Hoyer, D-MD, Democratic Whip

·         Senator Charles Schumer, D-NY, Democratic Conference Committee Vice Chair

·         Senator Barbara Mikulski, D-MD, Chair, Appropriations Committee

·         Senator Carl Levin, D-MI, Chairman, Armed Services Committee

·         Senator Robert Menendez, D-NJ, Chairman, Foreign Relations Committee

·         Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, Chair, Select Committee on Intelligence

·         Senator James Inhofe, R-OK, Ranking Member, Armed Services Committee

·         Senator Bob Corker, R-TN, Ranking Member, Foreign Relations Committee

·         Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, Ranking Member, Select Committee on Intelligence

·         Senator Patrick Leahy, D-VT, Chairman, Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

·         Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC, Ranking Member, Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

·         Senator Thad Cochran, R-MS, Ranking Member, Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense

·         Representative Bill Young, R-FL, Chairman, Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense

·         Representative Ed Royce, R-CA, Chairman, Foreign Affairs Committee

·         Representative Mike Rogers, R-MI, Chairman, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

·         Representative Nita Lowey, D-NY, Ranking Member Appropriations Committee and Ranking Member, Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

·         Representative Buck McKeon, R-CA, Chairman, Armed Services Committee

·         Representative Eliot Engel, D-NY, Ranking Member, Foreign Affairs Committee

·         Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, D-MD, Ranking Member, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

·         Representative Kay Granger, R-TX, Chair, Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs