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

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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President Trump will announce his nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on Monday, July 9.

Trump told White House reporters about his coming announcement on his flight to his golf course in New Jersey. He said that he has “narrowed to about five” potential nominees, including two women, according to the White House pool report.

The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that appellate Judge Brett Kavanaugh and recently confirmed circuit court Judge Amy Coney Barret are considered to be front-runners for the seat.

The President said that he does not plan to ask candidates where they stand on the Roe v. Wade court ruling that legalized abortion.

Trump said earlier in the week that he will choose his nominee from the list of 25 judges that he released early in his campaign when Justice Antonin Scalia’s death left a vacancy on the court.

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After MSNBC host Joy Reid apologized Friday for past comments she made on a long-defunct blog, Fox News host Sean Hannity applauded Reid’s approach to the outrage over her past remarks.

“It’s good to see Joy (who is no fan of mine) starting to take responsibility for her past remarks. My suggestion is that she follows up with the groups and people who she offended, and learn from all of this. Her apology should be accepted, and she should be given a chance to make it right, and not fired,” Hannity wrote on his website.

Yet he also took the opportunity to lament attacks on television personalities and brag about his ratings.

“Someone needs to take the lead in cable news and stop the ‘crush, fire them, and destroy hosts you may disagree with’ environment. I guess as the number one rated host in cable, I’ll start,” he wrote.

“I am grateful for this microphone and the platform given to me everyday by my audience. I am a believer in the freedom of speech for all Americans,” Hannity continued. “I am also a believer in second chances. And as someone who believes in forgiveness, I have to say, we have fallen short.”

Reid issued an apology on Friday after a new round of past blog posts surfaced, including one in which she encouraged readers to check out a 9/11 conspiracy theory. In her latest statement, Reid did not address posts that show her making homophobic remarks and her claim that she was hacked and did not make those comments.

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MSNBC host Joy Reid issued a statement on Friday apologizing for comments she made in the past on a now-defunct blog — the latest twist in an ongoing saga over a series of offensive posts, some of which the TV personality claims were fabricated by hackers.

“While I published my blog, starting in 2005, I wrote thousands of posts in real time on the issues of the day. There are things I deeply regret and am embarrassed by, things I would have said differently and issues where my position has changed. Today I’m sincerely apologizing again,” Reid said in the statement. “I’m sorry for the collateral damage and pain this is causing individuals and communities caught in the crossfire.”

Reid specifically addressed blog posts surfaced this week in which she encouraged people to look into a 9/11 conspiracy theory and photoshopped Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) onto the body of the Virginia Tech shooter.

“To be clear, I have the highest respect for Sen. McCain as a public servant and patriot and wish him and his family the best. I have reached out to Meghan McCain and will continue to do so. She is a former on-air colleague and I feel deeply for her and her family,” Reid said in the Friday statement, adding later that she believes there’s “no question in my mind that Al Qaeda perpetrated the 9/11 attacks or about Israel’s right to its sovereignty.”

Reid said that her beliefs have evolved and that she is “a better person today than I was over a decade ago.”

“I believe the totality of my work attests to my ideals and I continue to grow every day,” she concluded in the statement.

MSNBC also issued a statement Friday emphasizing that Reid’s past views reflected on her blog do not represent the network’s values.

“Some of the things written by Joy on her old blog are obviously hateful and hurtful. They are not reflective of the colleague and friend we have known at MSNBC for the past seven years. Joy has apologized publicly and privately and said she has grown and evolved in the many years since, and we know this to be true,” MSNBC said in a statement.

In her Friday statement, Reid did not address posts that appear to be from her defunct blog that surfaced back in April, which featured homophobic comments. Her Friday statement also made no mention of hacking, on which she blamed for the homophobic comments that appeared in archived versions of her blog.

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It seems House Oversight Committee Chair Trey Gowdy’s (R-SC) statement Tuesday that the FBI acted appropriately by having an informant meet with officials on the Trump campaign will not dissuade President Donald Trump from pushing his “Spygate” conspiracy theory.

During the White House press briefing Wednesday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders indicated that Trump would not retract his accusation that the FBI spied on his campaign.

“Clearly there’s still cause for concern that needs to be looked at. The deputy director of the FBI was actually fired for misconduct. The President’s concerned about the matter, and we’re going to continue to follow the issue,” Sanders told reporters when asked if Trump would retract his claims.

When asked specifically if Gowdy’s assessment had any impact on Trump’s views, Sanders repeated that Trump is concerned.

“There are a number of things that have been reported on, that show, I think, not just for the President, but a number of Americans, a large cause for concern. And we’d like to see this fully looked into,” she said.

Asked later in the briefing if Trump is still concerned that the FBI embedded a spy in his presidential campaign, Sanders said, “The President still has concerns about whether or not the FBI acted inappropriately having people in his campaign. ”

Sanders declined to “get into those details” when asked who specifically Sanders was referring to with the phrase “in the campaign.”

Trump in recent weeks has latched onto the revelation that an FBI informant met with several officials on his campaign, spinning the news into a conspiracy theory that the FBI spied on his campaign.

Following a briefing with Justice Department officials about the informant, Gowdy said that he believes the FBI did not do anything inappropriate by deploying the informant.

“I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got and that it has nothing to do with Trump,” Gowdy said on Fox News Tuesday.

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The Environmental Protection Agency spent about $3.5 million on Administrator Scott Pruitt’s unprecedented 24/7 security detail, according to EPA data viewed by Politico.

The EPA spent twice as much on security for Pruitt in his first year than the agency did in the final year of the Obama administration, Politico calculated.

Pruitt has insisted that he needs a round-the-clock security detail due to the number of threats that he has received. He also flew first class on domestic flights, ostensibly due to security concerns, but pledged to fly coach after an uproar over his spending habits. EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox emphasized to Politico on Friday that Pruitt has faced “an unprecedented amount of death threats.”

The EPA administrator has also come under scrutiny for installing a pricey soundproof booth in his office, renting a room in a prominent lobbyist’s home and giving large raises to two staffers.

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