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

After threatening to impose tariffs on European auto imports and repeatedly bashing Europe’s trade relationship with the U.S., President Donald Trump struck a different tone on Wednesday when he announced a plan to work with Europe to reduce tariffs imposed by both parties.

Trump offered few details on the plan and stopped short of announcing an agreement that would require the European Union and U.S. to change their tariff policies.

“We met right here at the White House to launch a new phase in the relationship between the United States and the European union, a phase of close friendship, of strong trade relations in which both of us will win,” Trump said during a brief press conference with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Trump said that the U.S. and Europe would work to “further strengthen” their trade relationship and aim to impose zero tariffs on each other.

“It will make trade fairer and more reciprocal. My favorite word: reciprocal,” Trump said.

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Tomorrow, my colleague Tierney and I will take on the enormous task of covering former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s first federal trial in Virginia, where he faces charges of tax fraud and bank fraud.

Not only will the case present the challenge of sifting through tedious documents and long witness testimony, but we will also face logistical challenges in covering a trial at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia.

Federal courts throughout the U.S. have different policies on the presence of electronics in the courtroom, but the rules are exceptionally strict in the Eastern District of Virginia. We will not be able to bring electronics of any kind into the courthouse, and there’s no place on premises to store our belongings.

So far, for hearings leading up to the trial, we have participated in the sketchy practice of paying the nearby deli $2 per item to store our computers and phones while we duck into the courthouse. I applaud the deli’s owners for this genius move to monetize the courthouse’s draconian policy. After the hearing, reporters make a mad dash from the courthouse to retrieve their phones and computers.

Though this strategy works for hearings that last only a few hours, covering a weeks-long trial presents a particular challenge, given that on some days, both of us will head to the courthouse and will alternate running in and out of the trial. For that time period, TPM has rented a hotel room so that Tierney and I have a home base at which to store our computers (and food) and from which we can file stories. This will involve us commuting a couple of blocks between the courthouse and the hotel, perhaps in a full sprint, to deliver news from the trial.

In between our jaunts outside, in the 21st century, our editors will wait anxiously back at the office for us to emerge without any way to reach us.

Without our beloved smartphones in the courthouse, we’ll have one old school saving grace to reach our editors from the building itself — a single payphone. On breaks in the trial, competition could be fierce to reach the payphone first to fill in our editors on the proceedings. We’ll be sure to pack quarters along with pad and pen.

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Russian gun activist Mariia Butina was arrested on Sunday and charged with “conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government” over her alleged effort to promote Russia’s interests by establishing relationships with political figures in the U.S.

Though the affidavit made public on Monday does not name the National Rifle Association (NRA), it appears that references to “Gun Rights Organization” in the document refer to the NRA.

Indeed, photos found on Butina’s Facebook page and elsewhere show that she mixed and mingled with NRA leaders and American politicians. Check out the photo opportunities Butina managed below:

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Conservatives in the House are preparing a document to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and could file the document as early as Monday, Politico reported Friday afternoon, citing conservative sources on Capitol Hill.

Though it appears House conservatives are seriously ramping up their efforts to boot Rosenstein, the timing of the impeachment filing and the level of support for it among the rest of the GOP caucus are not entirely clear. House Freedom Caucus members Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), two of Rosenstein’s most vocal critics, are leading the effort

Rosenstein has long been a target of conservatives in Congress unhappy with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. Most recently, House Republicans have balked at the Justice Department’s pace in turning over sensitive documents related to the Russia probe to Republicans on Capitol Hill. The FBI has at times tried to limit who sees sensitive info, but as the New York Times reported on Thursday, the White House recently overruled cabinet leaders and ordered that all members of the House be able to see classified material about an FBI informant.

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A grand jury indictment stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe accuses 12 Russian intelligence officers of planning and carrying out the hacks into several Democratic campaign organizations in the 2016 election.

The Russian nationals listed in the indictment worked in two units of the Russian intelligence agency known as GRU to release stolen documents from the Democratic groups, according to the indictment.

Read the allegations made in the indictment about the the 12 officers:

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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein briefed President Trump earlier this week on the new indictment of 12 Russian nationals announced on Friday.

“I briefed President Trump about these allegations earlier this week. The President is fully aware of the department’s actions today,” Rosenstein said in a press conference announcing the new indictment.

The indictment from a grand jury, part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, accused 12 members of the Russian intelligence agency of hacking the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign during the 2016 election.

After noting that Trump was aware of the indictment, Rosenstein emphasized that the government should not focus on the victims of the attack.

“In my remarks I have not identified the victims. We confront foreign interference in American elections. It’s important for us to avoid thinking politically, as Republicans or Democrats, and instead to think patriotically as Americans. Our response must not depend on which side was victimized. The internet allows foreign adversaries to attack America in new and unexpected ways,” Rosenstein said.

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It appears the outrage over his bombastic interview with British tabloid The Sun hit a nerve with President Trump on Friday morning, prompting him to lash out at members of the media several times during a press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

After claiming that his recorded interview with The Sun was “fake news,” Trump also targeted NBC and CNN as networks he generally despises.

When NBC’s Kristen Welker asked Trump about his comments bashing his NATO allies, including May, Trump accused Welker of misrepresenting what he said.

“That’s such dishonesty reporting because — of course that happens to be NBC which is possibly worse than CNN, possibly,” he declared before answering the question.

Later, CNN’s Jim Acosta attempted to ask trump a question, and Trump refused to take a question from the network and instead called on Fox News’ John Roberts.

“No, no. John Roberts. Go ahead. CNN’s fake news,” Trump said. “I don’t take questions from CNN — CNN is fake news. I don’t take questions from CNN. John Roberts of Fox. Let’s go to a real network. John, let’s go.”

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In a hearing in federal court on Thursday, a judge weighed whether to order the reunification of children separated from two immigrant parents who sued the federal government, before the pending July 26 deadline set by a judge in California.

U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman oversaw a hearing in the case of three immigrant families separated from their children who sought for the court to intervene and reunite them with their children promptly. One of the parents has been reunited with her three children since the case began, but the other two in the case remain apart from their children.

The judge said that he needed more information from both the lawyers for the parents and from the government before he could issue an order in the case. Friedman must determine whether to grant plaintiffs a temporary restraining order, which would call for better communication and information for the parents, and a preliminary injunction, which would call for the quick reunification of the two remaining families.

Friedman quizzed lawyers for the immigrant parents on why he should intervene and order the two parents reunified with their children given that a federal judge in California had already ordered certain parents to be reunified by July 26. He asked Jerome Wesevich, one of the lawyers representing the parents, to explain why they should be reunited with their kids in 72 hours, as opposed to by July 26.

Wesevich argued that there is “no specific reason” and no evidence that the government should not reunite families as quickly as possible. Earlier in the hearing, Wesevich argued that the government “has enormous power to act” and that the proof that the government is doing everything it can is “underwhelming.”

The judge noted that the government said in a memo made public on Wednesday that it currently anticipates that it will reunify at least one additional parent in the case, identified with the initials A.P.F., with his child by July 26. However, Wesevich argued that the government’s plans are subject to change.

Friedman suggested that he had at least some sympathy for the parents separated for their kids and any harm caused by continued separation.

“I get the argument that each day is irreparable harm,” he said, adding that the medical and anecdotal evidence from the parents is “persuasive.”

Yet, Friedman asked how additional information on reunification plans, which the lawyers for the parents have asked for in a temporary restraining order, would help reduce any harm.

Wesevich argued that it causes emotional damage “to not know where your children are” and that the damage caused to the children will impact their relationship with their parents upon reunification.

“Their irreparable harm is their parents’ irreparable harm,” Wesevich said.

The lawyer arguing for the government, Nicole Murley, said that it’s not fair to say that the government is not trying to reunite families, citing the announcement Thursday morning that 57 young children had been reunified with their parents.

Friedman noted, however, that the lawyers for the parents claimed in a filing last week that case managers, who would be able to provide updates on the children, are often unavailable or unresponsive. Murley replied that the government is trying to provide information and asked that the plaintiffs bring concerns directly to lawyers for the government.

The bulk of the Thursday hearing was spent discussing the status of one of the parents in the case, identified by her initials E.F. The government argued that E.F., who failed her initial test to qualify for asylum, certified on a waiver that she would want to be deported without her child. However, the lawyers for E.F. argued that their client did not understand the waiver and does not want to be removed from the country without her child. Friedman said that he had insufficient information on the wishes of E.F., and asked both the plaintiffs and defendants to submit updates on Friday about her status.

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Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort on Friday asked the judge overseeing his Virginia case to move the upcoming trial from Alexandria, a suburb of Washington, D.C., to Roanoke, Virginia.

Manafort argued that it will be impossible for him to receive a fair trial if it takes place in Alexandria.

Manafort lamented in the filing that his indictment has been the subject of intense national media attention and claimed that the coverage “has often been sensationalized and untethered from the facts in the case.” He argued that media attention to Manafort’s upcoming trial has been “most intense in and around Washington, D.C.,” including Alexandria.

The lawyers representing Manafort argued that potential jurors in Alexandria will be “are far more likely to have closely followed the developments and news coverage in the Manafort case in light of the division’s close connection with the nation’s capital.” They also argued that potential jurors in the area are more likely to be opponents of President Donald Trump and likely to associate Manafort with the President.

“Nowhere in the country is the bias against Mr. Manafort more apparent than here in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area,” they wrote.

Read the filing:

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