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

President Barack Obama will travel to New York City today for the United Nations General Assembly, according to the White House schedule.

Obama is expected to hold a bilateral meeting with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in the afternoon. Later in the evening, he is scheduled to participate in several events before hosting visiting heads of state at a U.N. General Assembly reception. The president and the first lady will remain overnight in New York, the White House said.

President Barack Obama on Friday slammed Republican efforts to force a government shutdown if Congress doesn't vote to defund his signature health care law, arguing that members of Congress are slighting their constituents while trying to "mess with" him.

"Unfortunately, right now the debate that's going on in Congress is not meeting the test of helping middle class families. It's just -- they are not focused on you," he said in a speech on the economy in Kansas City, Mo. "They are focused on politics. They are focused on trying to mess with me. They are not focused on you."

The continuing resolution being debated in Congress will fund the government until Dec. 15.

The man wrongly identified as the gunman at the Washington, DC Navy Yard spoke out to the Huffington Post on Friday with a plea to the media that implicated his name in the shooting.

Both CBS and NBC reported briefly Monday that retired Chief Petty Officer Rollie Chance, 50, was identified as the gunman before quickly retracting those reports. 

"I'm looking for something like this not to happen to anyone else," Chance told the Huffington Post. "I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. I think there needs to be some accountability in reporting. Instead of being the first reporter to have breaking news, you have to have accountability. Verify before you vilify."

Chance, who said he still hadn't left his home since the incident, recounted how he thought it "must be a joke" when a call from ABC News first indicated to him that he was a suspect in the shooting.

Read the interview here.

Bill O'Reilly on Thursday condemned Tea Party-led efforts to defund Obamacare as "fanaticism."

The push to defund the national health care law has created a rift between Republicans in Congress. The House voted 230-189 Friday morning to defund Obamacare while keeping the federal government open through Dec. 15. Senate Republicans said the bill would be dead on arrival in their chamber and urged their House colleagues to stand down in the shutdown fight.

The Fox News host acknowledged that such "fanaticism on the right" is harming the country, and urged lawmakers to responsibly find a way to address their opponents in Congress.

"There's no way Obamacare is going to be defunded," O'Reilly said. "It's not gonna happen. So why bother alienating independent americans by embracing a futile exercise?"



An Arkansas man was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday for making threats toward an Arizona congressman, including "bashing his teeth in," the Phoenix New Times reported.

Court records state Michael Wayne Cummins called the office of Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ) on Aug. 20 to say he would like to assault the congressman.

Barber is a survivor of the 2011 Tucson shooting that seriously wounded former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), whose congressional seat he took over in 2012. Barber was hit by bullets in the face and thigh during the incident, according to the New Times.

"I am not interested in killing Ron, but I am interested in bashing his teeth in and seeing him rot in hell," Cummins told the staff member, as quoted by the newspaper.

The man added the general threat "I am just going to start killing people indiscriminately," and spelled out his name for the staffer as well as his phone number.

Court records show Cummins confessed to making the call when the FBI visited him in Fort Smith, Ark., according to the newspaper. He was then brought to Tucson, Ariz. where he was indicted in federal court for threatening to assault Barber "with intent to impede, intimidate or interfere" with the congressman. 

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani declared Thursday in a Washington Post op-ed that the United States and the rest of the world "must work together to end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart" through a policy of "constructive engagement."

Rouhani, the newly elected moderate leader of a nation that has long been at odds with the U.S. over its nuclear policy, advocated for international dialogue on issues plaguing the Middle East. He modeled that kind of "constructive interaction" by declaring that Iran would "help facilitate dialogue" between the Syrian government and rebel opposition. 

The president also directly addressed tension over Iran's nuclear energy program, describing it as "peaceful" and arguing nuclear power "is as much about diversifying our energy resources as it is about who Iranians are as a nation."

Rouhani wrote that the international community needs to "aim higher" in order to move beyond sticking points like the Syrian conflict and Iran's nuclear policy, suggesting a desire for potential talks between Iran and the U.S. at the United Nations General Assembly next week.

"Rather than focusing on how to prevent things from getting worse, we need to think — and talk — about how to make things better," Rouhani wrote.

The Pennsylvania police chief who was suspended over a series of profane YouTube videos in which he fires borough-owned guns and refers to Democrats as "libtards" was effectively fired Thursday evening.

The borough council of Gilberton, Pa. voted 6-1 to suspend Chief Mark Kessler pending termination after meeting with him at a disciplinary hearing earlier that day, according to the Allentown Morning Call

Kessler's attorney, Joseph Nahas, told the newspaper that the council argued Kessler neglected official duties, did not properly hand over police weapons to the borough and disparaged council members, among other offenses. The council tried to avoid mentioning the YouTube videos that got Kessler suspended in their decision to fire him, Nahas said.

The council declined to comment to the Morning Call on what it called a personnel issue.

Kessler's law enforcement career may have a second act, however: Nahas said he will request a hearing on the council's decision, while Kessler himself launched a write-in campaign for the local county sheriff's office last week.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said Thursday that he may sue to prevent congressional staffers from receiving employer contributions under Obamacare, Roll Call reported.

Johnson filed a formal comment to the Office of Personnel Management last week that challenged a rule it issued allowing the federal government to contribute insurance premiums for lawmakers and congressional staff set to buy health care plans under the Affordable Care Act. He told Roll Call he filed the comment in order to create standing for a legal case.

“My intent is to make sure President Obama is not allowed to exceed his legal authority in implementing this law, and that members of Congress and their staffs are not shielded from the harmful effects of this law that every other American will experience," Johnson said in a Sept. 10 statement announcing he and his staffers had filed the comment, as quoted by Roll Call.

This post has been updated.

An attorney for former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin filed to postpone his client's corruption trial indefinitely after a judge granted a new trial in the Danzinger Bridge shooting case this week, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt said in his Tuesday ruling that several government attorneys posted anonymous comments on the Times-Picayune's website that "distorted" justice in the Danzinger Bridge case. Nagin's attorney, Robert Jenkins, said in a filing Thursday that the same anonymous commenting by prosecutors on criminal matters is a concern in his client's case, according to the newspaper.

Nagin was indicted by a federal grand jury in January on charges including bribery, money laundering and tax fraud. He pleaded not guilty in February.

This post has been updated.