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Caitlin MacNeal

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Articles by Caitlin

Keurig made headlines this weekend when the coffeemaker company revealed on Twitter that it had pulled ads from Sean Hannity’s Fox News program, prompting angry Hannity fans to destroy their Keurigs on camera.

However, it appears that the company’s CEO is not too happy with the publicity.

In a letter to staff obtained by the Washington Post, Keurig CEO Bob Gamgort wrote that the social media team should not have broadcast the company’s decision to temporarily yank advertising from Hannity’s show. A spokesperson for Keurig told TPM that the company was not releasing the letter but confirmed that a note was sent to employees Monday morning.

Gamgort argued that it was “unacceptable” for the social media team to broadcast the company’s decision on advertising strategy.

“This gave the appearance of ‘taking sides’ in an emotionally charged debate that escalated on Twitter and beyond over the weekend, which was not our intent,” Gamgort said of the company’s tweet, according to the Washington Post. “I want you to know the decision to communicate our short-term media actions on Twitter was done outside of company protocols. Clearly, this is an unacceptable situation that requires an overhaul of our issues response and external communications policies and the introduction of safeguards to ensure this never happens again.”

“I apologize for any negativity that you have experienced as a result of this situation and assure you that we will learn and improve going forward,” he added later in the letter, per the Washington Post.

Keurig pulled its ads from Hannity’s show after Hannity interviewed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who was recently accused of pursuing relationships with teenage girls, on his radio show. Gamgort wrote that Hannity’s comments “sparked a significant number of consumer complaints” but noted that the Fox host later apologized.

Read the full letter as posted at the Washington Post.

 

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In the wake of allegations that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore pursued relationships with teenage girls while in his 30s, GOP party leaders have distanced themselves from Moore. But the hard-right conservative’s most loyal allies have contorted themselves in an attempt to defend Moore from the allegations.

Moore was quick to deny the claims, first published in the Washington Post, including one from a woman who said Moore groped her when she was 14. He painted the Post report on the accusations as a political attack from the left.

His allies jumped on board, blaming the story on liberals trying to keep Moore out of the Senate. Some of Moore’s defenders also dismissed the allegations, either arguing that the claims did not amount to much or stating that the accusations were not enough to prompt them to abandon the Republican candidate in the race.

It’s a political attack

Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. defended Moore from the allegations on Friday, dismissing the allegations as a “desperate political attack.”

Alabama state Rep. Ed Henry (R) said that Moore’s accusers may “been offered money by entities that surround the Clintons and that side of the world.”

“We know they will pay to dirty anyone’s name that’s in their way. If you believe for a second that any of these are true then shame on these women for not coming forward in the last 30 years, it’s not like this guy hasn’t been in the limelight for decades. I call B.S. myself. I think it’s all lies and fabrication,” Henry told TPM Thursday.

Sallie Bryant, the chair the Republican party in Jefferson county, Alabama, told Politico that the Washington Post report was “politically motivated.”

“I am party chairman, and so therefore I am for the party’s nominees and for our candidates, but I really feel like the timing of this is very suspicious,” Bryant said.

Breitbart News fueled the conservative narrative that the Washington Post report was the result of a conspiracy against Moore with an article that the paper worked to convince one of the women to share her story. Nancy Wells, the mother of Leigh Corfman, who accused Moore of initiating a sexual encounter with her, told Breitbart that Corfman only spoke out because of the Washington Post. Wells also said that Corfman chose to speak up for “for personal reasons,” not political ones.

With the unwavering support from his allies after the allegations, Moore on Sunday threatened to sue the Washington Post over its decision to report the allegations.

The allegations aren’t a big deal

Alabama state Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) told the Washington Examiner that the allegations are “much ado about nothing.” Zeigler said that even if the allegations are true, Moore never had sexual intercourse with any of the women. He also dismissed the revelations because the accusations are from “40 years” ago and Moore ”

“The allegations are that a man in his early 30s dated teenage girls. Even the Washington Post report says that he never had sexual intercourse with any of the girls and never attempted sexual intercourse,” Zeigler said.

He also compared Moore to biblical Joseph.

“Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus,” Zeigler told the Washington Examiner

Though none of the women who spoke with the Washington Post accused Moore of initiating sexual intercourse, Corfman said that when she was 14 and Moore was in his 30s, he kissed her, took off her shirt and pants, and touched her over her bra and underpants.

David Hall, the chair of the Marion County, Alabama, Republican Party brushed off the allegations in an interview with Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale, emphasizing that the incidents took place decades ago and arguing that there’s nothing wrong with a 30-year-old dating a teenager.

Breitbart Editor Joe Pollak emphasized that all but one of the accusers were 16 or 18 years old at the time of their encounters with Moore. He used those accusations, which he suggested were not problematic, to try to discredit all of the Washington Post’s reporting.

“If this story is true — and I think that any story about sexual misconduct, especially with someone who is underage, is very serious — why would the Washington Post wrap it with all kinds of perfectly legitimate relationships as well as all kinds of other political clutter?” he told MSNBC’s Ali Velshi on Thursday.

Pollack did say that if the allegation that Moore groped a 14-year-old girl is true, “he’s really got some serious problems and I think that we need to drill down and find out what that is.”

Moore still preferable over Democratic candidate

Jerry Pow, the chair of the Bibb County, Alabama, GOP told Dale that he would still vote for Moore even if the allegations are true if only because he does not want the Democratic candidate to win.

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Fox News host Sean Hannity cheered on his fans on Sunday night as they published videos of themselves smashing their Keurig coffee makers due to the company’s boycott of Hannity’s show.

Keurig and several other companies, including 23 and Me, Eloquii and Nature’s Bounty, have pulled ads from Hannity’s Fox News show over the host’s coverage of the allegations that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore pursued relationships with teenage girls while he was in his 30s. Moore joined Hannity’s radio show on Friday, where he denied the allegations published by the Washington Post, including one from a woman who said Moore groped her when she was 14.

Upset with Keurig in particular over its boycott of Hannity, the Fox host’s fans tweeted videos of them breaking the coffee machines. Hannity praised his “deplorable” viewers for their video protests on Twitter Sunday night.

 

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Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore on Sunday threatened to sue the Washington Post over its report last week on allegations from several women who said Moore pursued relationships with them while they were teenagers.

During the Christian Citizen Task Force forum in Huntsville, Alabama, Moore said that the Washington Post “will be sued,” per NBC News.

At a Saturday event, Moore questioned why the four women came forward with their accusations now, just a month out from the December election, according to the Washington Post. The Senate candidate has painted the allegations as a “political attack” on him from the left.

“Why do they come now?” Moore said Saturday, per the Post. “Because there are groups that don’t want me in the United States Senate. They’re desperate.”

Four women accused Moore of pursuing relationships with them while they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. One of the women said that Moore groped her when she was 14 and he was 32.

The Senate candidate and former state Supreme Court justice has denied the allegations, and claimed on Friday that he never so much as talked to Leigh Corfman, the woman who accused Moore of groping her.

During a Friday radio interview with Sean Hannity, Moore did acknowledge meeting two of the women and said he took them on dates and kissed them while they were in their late teens and he in his early 30s. But he denied doing anything wrong.

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Mike Dubke, who resigned in May after a short stint as White House communications director, says that during his interview for the post with President Donald Trump, the President asked him whether he should hold a press conference that very day.

Dubke recalled the experience in an interview with Washingtonian published Thursday. Dubke said that when Trump first asked him about holding a press conference in February, Dubke suggested he consult policy experts and pick a date in the future.

“No, I mean today,” Trump replied, per Dubke. “I think we should do a press conference today.”

Trump then proceeded to prepare for and hold that presser as Dubke looked on, he told Washingtonian. As Trump spoke to reporters, Dubke was visible in the background on television even though he’d yet to receive an official offer for the job.

Dubke also told Washingtonian that he struggled with leaks as communications director, and that the constant leaks to the press undermined his work steering the White House’s messaging. Specifically, he regrets not taking action when White House staffers leaked details about a meeting he held with the communications team to the press. He told Washingtonian that at the time, he didn’t feel like he had enough evidence to fire anyone.

“If I had one regret from my time there,” he told Washingtonian, “it’s that I wish I had done that in a couple of cases.”

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House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) announced on Thursday morning that he will retire at the end of his term, leaving yet another Republican House seat open in the 2018 midterm elections.

Goodlatte is one of several powerful Republican members of Congress to call it quits ahead of 2018, and his announcement comes two days after Democrats trounced Republicans Tuesday night in several races for state office. Democrats won the governor’s mansion in Virginia, as well the lieutenant governor and attorney general race, and they made significant pickups in the state legislature, prompting some Virginia Republicans to worry about the future of the party in their state.

The congressman said that since his term as chair of the Judiciary Committee will expire in 2018, it’s a good time for him to retire.

“With my time as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee ending in December 2018, this is a natural stepping-off point and an opportunity to begin a new chapter of my career and spend more time with my family, particularly my granddaughters,” he said in a statement.

House Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX), a former Judiciary chair, announced last week that he will retire at the end of 2018, also citing the end of his chairmanship as a factor in his decision. House Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), another powerful member, also recently announced that he will retire at the end of his term.

Several Republican members of Congress have also cited the state of the GOP and politics at large when announcing their retirements, including Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Though some Republicans, such as LoBiondo, merely mentioned political polarization when announcing their retirements, Flake and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) tore into Trump after they decided to ditch Congress.

In a speech announcing his retirement, Flake bashed the “coarseness of our leadership” and the “regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals.” Corker has let loose on Trump since announcing he won’t seek re-election, calling the White House an “adult daycare center” and warning that the President could put the U.S. “on the path to World War III.”

Read Goodlatte’s full statement:

When I first decided to run for Congress there were several things I wanted to achieve for the Commonwealth of Virginia and our nation. I had a strong passion for public service, a love of the law and the judicial system, and a deep appreciation for the people who call western and central Virginia home. These passions led me to serve on the Judiciary and Agriculture Committees throughout my time in the House, and have shaped my work on policies impacting the American people. I’ve had the privilege to serve as Chairman of both of these committees, and I’ve been proud to work on policies that have become law and advance fiscal conservatism, personal liberty, economic growth, and limited government.

For the past 25 years, it has been my honor to represent the Sixth Congressional District of Virginia. I cannot begin to express how blessed I am to have had the opportunity to serve and take part in the great experiment of self-government envisioned by our Founders. It has been a labor of love to work countless hours and travel endless miles on the roads of our District for a quarter of a century.

Every two years, Maryellen and I sat down to discuss whether to run again or not. When we discussed the 2018 election, the conversation ended a little differently than in past years. After much contemplation and prayer, we decided it was the right time for me to step aside and let someone else serve the Sixth District. I will not seek re-election. With my time as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee ending in December 2018, this is a natural stepping-off point and an opportunity to begin a new chapter of my career and spend more time with my family, particularly my granddaughters.

While I’m not running for re-election, my work in the 115th Congress is far from done. There is much that I hope we can accomplish in the next year, including: bolstering enforcement of our immigration laws and reforming the legal immigration system, simplifying the tax code in order to stimulate job growth and benefit families in the Sixth District, enacting criminal justice reform, repealing Obamacare, advancing protections of the freedoms and liberties enshrined in our Constitution, and, of course, continuing first-class constituent service for the citizens of the Sixth District. I look forward to working with the House Leadership, the Senate, and President Trump in bringing real conservative change to our country.

I extend my deepest thanks to the people of Virginia’s Sixth District who have placed their trust in me. It is truly you who are the highlight of my time in elected office. I’ve had the good fortune of having an amazing staff team during my time in Congress – both in my Sixth District offices as well as in the Judiciary and Agriculture Committees. They’ve done excellent work, and I greatly value their commitment to serving the Sixth District and the American people. I’d also like to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in Congress with whom I’ve had the opportunity to work over the years. I genuinely appreciate your friendship and support. And finally, none of this would have been possible without the love and support of my wife, Maryellen, and our children, Bobby, Jen, and Jen’s husband, Matt. They have my enduring love and gratitude.

I look forward to what the next chapter brings.

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Justice Department prosecutors are trying to secure a plea deal with Jeffrey Yohai, Paul Manafort’s former son-in-law, in an investigation into Yohai’s real estate dealings, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday morning.

The Journal cited unnamed people familiar with the matter.

The criminal investigation into Yohai by the DOJ and Los Angeles U.S. attorney’s office is separate from the probe into Manafort by special counsel Robert Mueller. However, Manafort is linked to the Yohai investigation, since he was an investor in Yohai’s real estate projects.

Federal investigators have been looking into real estate purchases made by Yohai through shell companies. He bought the properties with a loan from private lender Genesis Capital, using Manafort’s home in New York as collateral, USA Today reported in October. Yohai had planned to renovate and flip the properties, but his plan did not work out and at least one of the companies has now filed for bankruptcy.

In a September court filing, Yohai accused Manafort of misleading the court in a legal battle over how Manafort would purchase the projects out of bankruptcy.

It is not clear what charges federal prosecutors would like Yohai to plea guilty to, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Yoahi’s lawyer, Aaron May, told the Journal in a statement that Yohai “has not been charged with any crime nor has he entered into any plea agreements.”

 

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Two Republican senators have joined with a Democrat to propose a resolution requiring Capitol Hill staffers to undergo sexual harassment training and updating the procedures for reporting and addressing harassment complaints, Politico reported Wednesday evening.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the chair of the Senate Rules Committee, are the Republicans leading the effort, and they have recruited Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) as a Democratic sponsor, according to Politico.

Capito told Politico that their resolution will have similarities to a proposal from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) mandating sexual harassment training, but will go further in that it will make changes to the way complaints are handled.

“It goes a little further but it’s a little tighter in terms of how the rules would change to meet the demands of where we are now,” she said.

Capito also told Politico that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “is fully on board.”

Sexual harassment policies on Capitol Hill have come under scrutiny after several high profile figures like Harvey Weinstein have faced public allegations of sexual misconduct.

Congress does not currently mandate that all staffers receive sexual harassment training, and rules require those alleging harassment to sit for mediation or counseling before actually filing a formal complaint.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) raised concerns about Capitol Hill’s policies for addressing sexual harassment in October, calling the current system “toothless.” She also plans to introduce legislation to update the way complaints are handled.

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After offering an update on his health status on Wednesday following an alleged assault by a neighbor last weekend, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) shared two articles from conservative media outlets that cite neighbors disputing reports that the assault was the result of a landscaping dispute.

It’s not clear why Paul shared the stories. It could have been an attempt to defend his landscaping work or an attempt to suggest that his neighbor assaulted him for other reasons. It’s also unclear which neighbors, if any, have the correct understanding of what prompted the alleged assault.

One of Paul’s neighbors, Rene Boucher, in Kentucky assaulted Paul from behind, according to officials. The incident left Paul with six broken ribs and pleural effusion, according to an update from the senator on Wednesday.

Initial reports on the incident suggested that the alleged assault was prompted by a dispute between Paul and his neighbor about the senator’s landscaping. Neighbors told the New York Times that Paul and Boucher argued over things like yard clippings and unraked leaves and said that while the two had different political views, that was not the origin of the tussle. Jim Skaggs, the developer of the gated community where the two live, told USA Today that Boucher and Paul had disputes over landscaping and that Paul “was probably the hardest person to encourage to follow the (homeowner’s association regulations) of anyone out here because he has a strong belief in property rights.”

However, two conservative outlets spoke with neighbors who told a different story.

Neighbors told the Washington Examiner that the property around Paul’s home is well-maintained. The Examiner also reported that Boucher was “aggressively anti-Trump and anti-GOP” on social media, citing screengrabs of Boucher’s Facebook page that were not included in the story. Neighbors who spoke to Breitbart News also said that Paul took good care of his property and said they were not aware of complaints about his landscaping habits.

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Republican Ed Gillespie’s loss in the Virginia gubernatorial race Tuesday night left some Virginia Republicans concerned about the party’s future, but Steve Bannon insisted Wednesday night that Democratic gains in Virginia don’t spell trouble for the GOP as a whole.

“Virginia, because of northern Virginia, is really not a purple state anymore. It’s a blue state,” Bannon told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “When Donald Trump wins 304 electoral votes and wins states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, and comes in one point in Minnesota, when he loses Virginia by five points, it shows you how blue it is.”

Bannon said he never had “confidence” that Trump would win in Virginia in the 2016 election.

Though he suggested that a Republican didn’t have a chance of winning a statewide vote in Virginia, Bannon also argued that Gillespie would have performed better had he embraced Trump more. He said that Corey Stewart, a Trump-aligned Virginia Republican who lost to Gillespie in the gubernatorial primary, would have had a better shot.

“What we had is an establishment candidate. Ed Gillespie won a primary, a very hard-fought primary, versus Cory Stewart, and then really didn’t try to embrace President Trump or really the Trump program until very late when he just kind of basically talked about some of the issues, which I thought he should try to do more of,” Bannon told Hannity, adding that Gillespie never campaigned with Trump or Stewart.

“Gillespie needed to embrace Trump much more,” Bannon added later.

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