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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

At a rally for GOP Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore on Tuesday night, former White House adviser Steve Bannon singled out Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Mitt Romney in a rant about the Republican establishment.

He mocked Flake for donating to Moore’s Democratic opponent in the race, Doug Jones.

“Let’s talk about Jeff Flake — did he sign a check today, $100, to Jones, right? What did he say, ‘Put country ahead of party?’ Come on brother, if you’re gonna write a check, write a check. Don’t give the man $100,” Bannon told the crowd.

“Flake has hated Donald Trump from day one, Flake has hated this movement since day one. He wrote a book, the anti-populist, the anti-economic nationalist book, trashed all the deplorables, trashed all the silent majority, trashed everyone associated with this movement,” Bannon continued.

He also went after Romney over the former presidential candidate’s Monday tweet that backing Moore is not worth the GOP losing its “honor” and “integrity.” Bannon took a dig at Romney for not serving in the Vietnam War while noting that Moore did.

“You hid behind your religion. You went to France to be a missionary while guys were dying in rice paddies in Vietnam. Do not talk to me about honor and integrity,” Bannon said.

Watch parts of Bannon’s speech via NBC News:

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Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) resigned from Congress on Tuesday morning, more than a week after allegations of sexual misconduct against the congressman started surfacing.

In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) released Tuesday afternoon, Conyers said he was retiring effective immediately.

It was initially unclear when Conyers’ retirement would be effective. Both Conyers and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), who announced Conyers’ retirement on the House floor Tuesday morning, said that the retirement would be effective immediately. However, as of late Tuesday morning, the House speaker’s office and the Michigan governor’s office had not received official notification of Conyers’ plans to leave Congress, leaving it unclear whether Conyers resigned or announced plans to retire.

“I’m retiring today,” he announced on the Detroit radio show “The Mildred Gaddis Show.”

He endorsed his son, John Conyers, III, to replace him in Congress.

Conyers, who called into the show from the hospital where he’s been treated since last week, framed his departure from Congress as his retirement, not a resignation. The congressman resisted calls from Democratic leaders to resign last week as women continued to come forward with allegations of inappropriate touching and sexual advances.

On Tuesday morning, he denied the accusations of sexual misconduct.

“Whatever they are, they are not accurate,” he said of the accusations from several former staffers. “I think they’re something that I can’t explain where they came from.”

Conyers told Gaddis that he is still putting his retirement plans together and that he will have more information soon.

His announcement that he will retire and endorse his son to replace him in Congress came after the grandson of his brother, Michigan state Sen. Ian Conyers, told multiple news outlets Monday night that he would run to replace Rep. Conyers.

Later on Tuesday morning, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) confirmed that Conyers has retired from Congress effective immediately and said that he had informed House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder of his decision.

Although Lee indicated that the speaker’s office had been informed of Conyers’ intention to retire, a spokesperson for Ryan said that the speaker did not get a heads up about Conyers’ plans. The speaker’s office had not received an official letter from Conyers or a copy of the letter to the governor of Michigan as of late Tuesday morning.

A spokeswoman for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder also told TPM that the governor’s office has not received an official letter from Conyers by late morning.

Lee read aloud a statement from Conyers on the House floor in which the congressman acknowledged that the sexual misconduct allegations were a factor in his decision to retire.

“I recognize that in this present environment, due process will not be afforded to me. I was taught by my great woman, my mother, to honor women,” Conyers said in the statement read by Lee.

“I’ve stated my position on these allegations. I’ve worked with both women and men. Given the totality of the circumstance, of not being afforded the right of due process in conjunction with current health conditions and to preserve my legacy and good name, I am retiring,” Conyers added. “I hope that my retirement will be viewed in the larger perspective of my record of service as I enter a new chapter.”

In his statement, Conyers listed his legislative achievements, particularly on civil rights issues.

“I’ve been a champion of justice for the oppressed and the disenfranchised. I never wavered in my commitment to justice and democracy. I am proud to have been part of that rich history,” he said.

Before reading the statement from Conyers, Lee said on the House floor that she does not want to undermine the rights of women or of victims.

“It is important to note as I begin that there is no difference or no undermining of the rights of women and the abhorrence of sexual harassment and sexual assault. But this is a statement that I believe should be read on behalf of the Dean of the United States congress, Mr. John Conyers,” she said.

 

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Rep. John Conyers (R-MI) will not resign over the recent allegations of sexual misconduct, but he will not seek re-election in 2018, according to the grandson of his brother, Michigan State Sen. Ian Conyers.

Ian Conyers first made the comments to the New York Times and later confirmed them to ABC News.

Ian Conyers cited the congressman’s health concerns as the reason for retiring — the congressman was hospitalized last week.

“He is not resigning. He is going to retire,” Ian Conyers told the New York Times. “His doctor advised him that the rigor of another campaign would be too much for him just in terms of his health.”

Ian Conyers told the New York Times that he will run for John Conyers’ seat in 2018.

Rep. Conyers will make an announcement on his political future Tuesday morning, and his lawyer declined to confirm the congressman’s plans ahead of time.

Several former Conyers staffers have come forward recently to accuse the congressman of sexual misconduct, ranging from inappropriate touching to propositioning female staffers. The congressman has denied the accusations and has so far resisted calls from Democratic leaders for him to resign.

Ian Conyers told the Times that he stands with his great uncle “in terms of his belief of no specific wrongdoing,” but said that the accusers deserve their day in court.

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Back in October 2016, when the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape first surfaced, Mike Pence, then the vice presidential candidate, thought about staging a coup and replacing Donald Trump on the Republican ticket, The Atlantic reported Tuesday morning, citing unnamed Republicans familiar with the situation.

Just hours after the Washington Post published the tape revealing Trump bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy,” Pence told the Republican National Committee that he was ready to take over for Trump, per The Atlantic. An aide to Pence denied to The Atlantic that Pence discussed becoming the nominee with the RNC.

The RNC began looking into replacing Trump, and top Republicans were talking about placing Pence at the top of the ticket with Condoleeza Rice as his running mate, The Atlantic reported. During the meeting in which Trump asked his top advisers how much the tape had damaged his prospects, Priebus told Trump that Pence and Rice were “ready to step in,” a person who was present told The Atlantic.

The plans reportedly discussed by Pence and the RNC never went into place, however. Trump remained on the ticket and won the race weeks later.

Pence has continued in his role of Trump defender for nearly a year, a task he privately acknowledged is challenging, according to The Atlantic. During the transition, Pence told a potential adviser in an interview that he was in the “difficult position” of having to “100 percent defend everything the president says, The Atlantic reported. Pence asked the prospective staffer, “Is that something you’re going to be able to do if you’re on my staff?”

Read The Atlantic’s full story here.

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Another woman came forward on Monday to accuse Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) of sexual misconduct, alleging that the congressman inappropriately touched several female staffers and regularly undressed in front of female staff.

Attorney Lisa Bloom released an affidavit from former Conyers staffer Elisa Grubbs on Twitter Monday night. Grubbs said she witnessed Conyers “touching and stroking the legs and buttocks of Marion Brown and other female staffers on multiple occasions.” Brown accused Conyers of firing her for refusing his sexual advances and alleged that the congressman touched her inappropriately and asked her to satisfy him sexually in a Chicago hotel room in 2005.

Grubbs said in the affidavit that she overheard Conyers invite Brown to his hotel room in Chicago in 2005 and said that when she saw Brown afterward, Brown was “visibly shaken and upset” and said that the congressman tried to have sex with her.

Grubbs also said that Conyers “slid his hand up my skirt and rubbed my thighs” and once came out of the bathroom in his home completely naked while he knew Grubbs was there. Grubbs is Brown’s cousin, and Conyers would call them “Big Leg Cousins,” Grubbs alleged in the affidavit.

She said that it was common to witness Conyers rubbing the thighs and buttocks of female staffers and that he “regularly undressed in front of female office staff.”

Grubbs said that she complained to two senior staffers about Conyers’ behavior but that no action was ever taken.

Conyers faces allegations of sexual misconduct from several women, but has so far resisted calls from leaders in his own party to resign.

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White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Monday morning confirmed that President Donald Trump’s personal attorney John Dowd wrote the President’s Saturday tweet saying that he fired Michael Flynn as national security adviser because he lied to Vice President Mike Pence and the FBI.

“I was with the President on Saturday all day, frankly, and I know that what Mr. Dowd says is correct. What he says is that he put it together and sent it to our director of social media,” Conway said on “Fox and Friends.”

She said that it’s common for Trump’s lawyers to craft his tweets.

“The lawyers are the ones that understand how to put those tweets together,” she said.

Trump appeared to reveal that he knew Flynn lied to the FBI when he tweeted on Saturday morning that he fired Flynn “because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.” Dowd then told the Washington Post on Sunday that he wrote the tweet, but said it was poorly worded.

Dowd claimed that then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates suggested to White House Counsel Don McGhan in late January that Flynn made comments to the FBI that were similar to his incorrect comments made to Pence about calls with the Russian ambassador.

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President Donald Trump on Monday morning claimed that the FBI “destroyed” former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s life but did not go after Hillary Clinton, telling reporters outside the White House that he feels “very badly” for Flynn.

“I feel badly for Gen. Flynn. I feel very badly. He’s led a very strong life. And I feel very badly,” Trump told reporters. “I will say this, Hillary Clinton lied many times to the FBI, nothing happened to her. Flynn lied, and they destroyed his life.”

Trump’s Monday morning comments echoed a Saturday tweet reacting to Flynn’s Friday guilty plea.

Flynn on Friday reached a plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team and pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russian officials during the Trump transition.

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Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) defended his support for the Republican tax bill in an interview published Saturday by arguing that the legislation favors those who invest their money over those who spend their money on things like “booze” and “women.”

The House bill repeals the Estate Tax, while the Senate’s version doubles the exemption for the tax for individuals. Grassley argued in an interview with the Des Moines Register that repealing the tax is beneficial even if it only affects relatively few Americans.

“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing,” he told the Des Moines Register, “as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

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President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, told the Washington Post on Sunday that Trump knew back in late January that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had likely made similar comments to the FBI about his calls with the Russian ambassador as he had made to Vice President Mike Pence.

Following Flynn’s guilty plea on Friday to charges that he lied to the FBI about calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Trump tweeted on Saturday that he had to fire Flynn earlier this year “because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.”

Dowd told the Washington Post and CNN that he drafted that Saturday tweet but said the tweet was poorly worded. Dowd told the Washington Post that then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates suggested to White House Counsel Don McGhan that Flynn made comments to the FBI that were similar to his comments to Pence about the Kislyak calls. Dowd said that McGhan passed on those comments to Trump. Dowd insisted that the the Justice Department “was not accusing him of lying” at that time.

People familiar with Yates’ account told the Washington Post that Yates never discussed the Russia probe with the White House.

Only a couple of weeks after Trump apparently learned that Flynn had made inaccurate statements to Pence and the FBI about his conversations with Kislyak, Trump asked Comey to lay off Flynn. Comey testified that Trump asked him on Feb. 14 to “let this go” while discussing Flynn.

In a Sunday morning tweet, Trump denied asking Comey to stop the FBI probe into Flynn.

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After initially backing away from Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations, President Donald Trump on Monday morning urged Alabama voters to support Moore, arguing that Republicans need his vote in the Senate.

Moore thanked Trump for his support Monday morning.

When the accusations that Moore made sexual advances toward teenage girls when he was in his 30s first surfaced, the White House and top Republicans distanced themselves from Moore. Though Trump never condemned Moore publicly, the President was silent as women came forward with accusations about Moore. The White House also called for Moore to step aside if the allegations were true.

However, as Election Day in Alabama nears, Trump has signaled that he still supports Moore. At the end of November, Trump told reporters that Republicans “don’t need a liberal Democrat in that seat” and noted that Moore has denied the accusations. About a week later, he followed up with tweets noting that he did not support Moore in the primary but arguing that the Democratic candidate in the race was not a good choice.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has also softened his tone on Moore recently. When the sexual misconduct claims against Moore first surfaced, McConnell called for Moore to drop out of the race. However, on Sunday, McConnell said that Alabama voters should decide who to sent to the Senate.

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