Roc7r7qi81ejpv7wpkif

Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Catherine

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that Syrian rebels "do not understand why the U.S. won't help them" during an appearance Wednesday night on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."

The senator, a supporter of U.S. intervention in Syria, slipped silently into the country to meet with opposition leaders on Monday. A State Department official confirmed that the department was aware of the trip, and in the interview with Cooper, McCain repeatedly expressed his gratitude to the State Department, as well as to the rebel groups, for providing his security.

When Cooper asked McCain how weapons would be prevented from falling into the hands of extremists, the senator said extremist fighters compose a small fraction of Syria's rebel forces: 7,000 pro-al Qaeda fighters from the al-Nusra front among some 100,000 insurgents.

"Every single day, more and more extremists flow in … but they still do not make up a sizable portion," McCain told Cooper. "We can identify who these people are. We can help the right people."

An advocacy group called for a civil rights investigation on Wednesday into the death of Ibragim Todashev, the Chechen immigrant killed by an FBI agent in Orlando during questioning about his relationship with one of the Boston Marathon bombers.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations asked the Department of Justice to open a probe into Todashev's death to see if the man's rights were violated or if excessive force was used against him. 

The FBI originally said Todashev was killed after lunging at an agent with a knife, although according to NBC News, FBI agents later said that Todashev was unarmed.

Toronto police on Friday made a new arrest in their investigation of the murder of a man allegedly linked to the Rob Ford drug video scandal, an anonymous Toronto police source told The Globe and Mail.

The male suspect has not yet been identified, although The Globe's sources told the newspaper that the police department will hold a news conference Thursday to announce the arrest.

Anthony Smith, believed to be shown in a picture with Ford, was fatally shot in Toronto on March 28. Police believed at the time that the killing was a targeted hit.

California legislators moved forward with a dozen gun control proposals on Wednesday, according to the LA Times.

Lawmakers were motivated by recent mass shootings, including the massacre in Newtown, Conn., to increase gun control measures in the state, which already has some of the toughest gun laws in the country.

"We all can recite the horrific acts that have occurred in our country over the last year," Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D) said, as quoted by the Times. "These bills attempt to respond to those well-publicized tragedies and many more that go unpublicized."

The state legislature advanced bills aimed at further restricting the purchase of ammunition and semiautomatic weapons. Those looking to buy ammunition would be compelled to provide personal information and pay a $50 fee for a background check by the state, where the Department of Justice would then determine if buyers have a criminal record, mental illness, or restraining order that would prevent them from owning a gun in the first place. The sale, purchase, or manufacture of semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines would be outlawed.

Another measure would require the state's Department of Justice to alert local law enforcement when an individual buys more than 3,000 rounds of ammunition. 

Jim Graves, Michele Bachmann's would-be Democratic challenger for the House seat in Minnesota's sixth congressional district, said Wednesday in an interview with the Huffington Post that he was surprised by the announcement that she would not seek re-election.

"The timing of the announcement really caught us off-guard," Graves said. "We thought she was going full-speed ahead."

Bachmann's announcement came as a surprise to many, as she bought a new round of television advertising just over a week ago to drum up support for her bill to repeal Obamacare.

White House press secretary Jay Carney resisted pointed questions from reporters in a press briefing on Wednesday about Attorney General Eric Holder's involvement in the controversy surrounding the warrant issued for Fox News reporter James Rosen.

"I see no conflict between what [Holder] said and the published reports," Carney said.

The House Judiciary Committee is currently investigating whether Holder's testimony that he was never involved in the persecution of the press contradicts a report that he personally authorized Rosen search warrant.

"You guys are conflating the subpoena with prosecution," Carney countered.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney sent well wishes to outgoing Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) in a press briefing on Wednesday.

Carney disclosed that Bachmann's decision not to seek re-election in 2014 "did not come up" in the day's White House staff meeting, but said that "we all wish her well on her future endeavors."

State Representative Doug Cox (R) scolded Oklahoma Republicans for their stance on reproductive rights in an op-ed published in The Oklahoman on Wednesday.

Cox, a practicing physician, writes that his state's proposed legislation curtailing contraception and abortion is "great for the Republican family that lives in a gingerbread house with a two-car garage, two planned kids and a dog," but not so great "in the real world." 

Cox notes that limiting access to contraception is "a sure way to increase legal and back-alley abortions." His fellow GOP legislators are a hard sell, though: they've been hard at work defunding Planned Parenthood after last week's tornado and introducing legislation that would allow employers to deny workers birth control for any reason. Cox spoke out against both measures. 

"What happened to the Republican Party that I joined?" Cox asks himself. "What happened to the Republican Party that felt government should not overregulate people until (as we say in Oklahoma) 'you have walked a mile in their moccasins'?"

President Barack Obama nominated former representative and tea party caucus member Ann Marie Buerkle to a seat on the Consumer Product Safety Commission last week, and as Mother Jones points out, she has a less than stellar record of protecting consumers.

During her tenure in Congress, the former representative voted to repeal energy efficiency standards and to remove protections on food, toys and drinking water, as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee notes. Buerkle also voted against protecting seniors from deceptive practices and against banning airlines from price gauging their customers.

Buerkle, who in 2010 rode a wave of tea party activism to a single term as a Republican representative in the traditionally blue 25th Congressional District in upstate New York, lost her seat in 2012. Buerkle's nomination could possibly push forward the stalled confirmation of Martha Robinson, the Michigan trial lawyer nominated last year to fill the Democratic vacancy on the committee. 

If confirmed, Buerkle will sit as a commissioner on the CPSC for a seven-year term, although she has yet to rule out running for congressional office again in 2014. 

Arizona's Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in a pre-recorded statement on Tuesday that he will appeal a federal judge's ruling that his office violated the Constitution and racially profiled Latinos, Phoenix TV station KPHO reported.

Arpaio defended his office, saying that he "upholds the law" and that 100 of his deputies were trained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to enforce immigration law.

The lawsuit was filed by a group of citizens and legal residents who argued they were stopped or harassed by street patrols conducted by the sheriff's office because of their ethnicity. The group sought no damages but nevertheless accomplished its goal: Arpaio said he will adjust his immigration patrol practices to comply with the ruling. 

"The court's order is clear," Arpaio said. "We will no longer detain persons believed to be in the country without authorization whom we cannot arrest on state charges. I have already instructed my deputies."

LiveWire