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

When Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) first got an e-mail Wednesday night about an op-ed Russian President Vladimir Putin published in the New York Times, it nearly made him sick to his stomach at dinner.

"I almost wanted to vomit," Menendez told CNN. "I worry when someone who came up through the KGB tells us what is in our national interests, and what is not. It really raises the question of how serious the Russian proposal is."

Putin's op-ed challenged the idea of "American exceptionalism," referencing President Barack Obama's Tuesday address to the nation regarding Syria, to urge opposition to military intervention there.

Menendez added that the United States should follow through on negotiations with Russia aimed at getting Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control, saying "it would be foolish to slam the door on diplomacy."

Police in Lake Mary, Fla. on Tuesday released a dashcam video of George Zimmerman surrendering himself in front of his home Monday following an altercation with his estranged wife and her father, which is still under investigation.

The dashcam video, taken outside the home, captured Zimmerman's interaction with police officers but did not show an alleged domestic dispute between he, his wife Shellie and her father. In the video, police ordered Zimmerman to slowly back away from his vehicle into the middle of the street, where they ordered him to kneel and placed him in handcuffs.  

Lake Mary police spokesperson Zach Hudson reiterated Tuesday that video of the incident recorded on an iPad will be critical to determining what happened. He said he had "tremendous confidence" that the video would be extracted from the device, which Zimmerman allegedly smashed into pieces.

Hudson clarified that all witnesses, including both George and Shellie Zimmerman, told police at the scene that no gun was involved in the altercation.

Asked about the apparent change in Shellie Zimmerman's recounting of the incident -- she can be heard on an audio recording of her 911 call saying her husband had "his hand on his gun" -- Hudson said "perception becomes everything with something like that," and assured the police department didn't want to penalize anyone for their immediate reactions.

Town officials in Newtown, Conn. have voted unanimously to approve a new firearms ordinance limiting recreational shooting, the News Times reported Tuesday. 

The proposal was voted on last week over a year after the first debate on the issue, which came before the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in which 26 children and educators were killed in addition to the gunman.

Jeff Capeci, chairman of the town's legislative council, told the newspaper on Monday that the ordinance was a "good compromise considering the varying interests" -- a balance between residents fighting to protect their Second Amendment rights and residents concerned about their safety.

The ordinance, scheduled to take effect next month, affects target and recreational shooting only, according to the News Times. It states no resident may shoot for more than four hours after notifying the police department, mandates target backstops be placed ten feet above the target and limits shooting to one individual at a time.

The ordinance also stipulates that no shooting is allowed within a half-mile of a school during school hours.

George Zimmerman's estranged wife declined to press charges against her husband after calling 911 Monday to report he threatened her and her father with a gun, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Lake Mary police Chief Steve Bracknell told the newspaper Zimmerman told officers who later responded to her 911 call that she did not see a weapon. Bracknell added that Zimmerman and her father, David Dean, declined to press charges.

Zimmerman can be heard on an audio recording of the 911 call saying her husband had "his hand on his gun and he keeps saying step closer."

George Zimmerman's defense attorney, Mark O'Mara, suggested in his remarks to reporters after the incident that Zimmerman did have a gun on his person at the time of the altercation.

"The gun was holstered under his shirt, and it stayed there the whole time," O'Mara said, as quoted by the Sentinel.

But a spokesman for O'Mara told ABC News Tuesday that the attorney would not represent George Zimmerman in future litigation, including any charges that may result from the Monday altercation.

Russia told France on Tuesday that a potential United Nations Security Council resolution holding the Syrian government accountable for the use of chemical weapons was unacceptable, Reuters reported.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his French counterpart Russia would propose another U.N. declaration supporting an initiative to place Syria's chemical weapons under international control, according to Reuters.

France's foreign minister said Tuesday that Russia isn't thrilled about a possible United Nations Security Council resolution aimed at controlling Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles, Reuters reported.

"As I understood, the Russians at this stage were not necessarily enthusiastic, and I'm using euphemism, to put all that into the framework of a U.N. binding resolution," Laurent Fabius told French lawmakers, as quoted by Reuters, following a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) on Monday called a special legislative session for next month aimed at passing a bill to legalize gay marriage in the state.

"The decision to call a special session is based on doing what is right to create equity for all in Hawaii," Abercrombie said in a statement, as quoted by Reuters. He added that the special session would allow the legislature to "focus squarely" on the issue without being distracted by other legislation.

The special session would convene both houses of the state legislature on October 28, according to Reuters. 

Hawaii already allows same-sex civil unions and grants the same benefits and protections to same-sex couples as to couples of the opposite sex. According to Reuters, the new bill would ensure that same-sex couples are afforded the same federal benefits that couples of the opposite sex receive.

Hawaii would be the 14th state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to legalize gay marriage if the bill passes.

George Zimmerman was taken into custody on Monday following an altercation with another person involving a gun, Orlando's WKMG reported.

Police told the news station they were called to respond to a report that Zimmerman was involved in an altercation with another individual at a home on Sprucewood Road in Lake Mary, Fla. A threat was involved, police said.

No other details about the incident were immediately available, according to WKMG.


George Zimmerman has not been arrested and Lake Mary police are at the home trying to determine what happened, the Associated Press reported. The AP also reported that police said Zimmerman's wife, Shellie, made the call saying Zimmerman threatened her and her father with a gun.

Late Update:

WKMG is now reporting that Zimmerman is "being questioned" about the incident.

Listen to the audio of the 911 call here.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Monday that United Nations negotiations on Syria have been "shameful," singling out Russia and China as obstacles to diplomatic progress in the Syrian conflict.

Rice, who served as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. from 2009 until this past June, assured in a speech at the New America Foundation that President Barack Obama would have preferred to secure the U.N. Security Council's support in responding to chemical weapons in Syria with limited military action.

"But let's be realistic. It is just not going to happen," she said. "Believe me. I know. I was there for all of those debates and negotiations on Syria. I lived it. It was shameful." 

Rice added that three resolutions proposed by the Security Council condemning violence by the Syrian regime, despite including "the most watered-down language imaginable" that rendered them "almost meaningless," were vetoed by Russia and China.