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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

During his streak of interviews Wednesday night and Thursday, Rudy Giuliani brazenly called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to intervene in both the Russia probe and the investigation into Michael Cohen, escalating the Trump legal team’s rhetoric about about the federal investigations involving President Donald Trump.

First, during his interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Wednesday night, Giuliani called on Sessions to end special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

“I know the President is heartbroken over this. It isn’t that he’s angry, he’s heartbroken. He never expected this from Jeff,” he said. “The two of them can redeem themselves, Sessions and Rosenstein: They should order the investigation over.”

“I believe that Attorney General Sessions, my good friend, and Rosenstein, who I don’t know, I believe they should come in the interest of justice, and end this investigation,” Giuliani added. “There’s been too much government misconduct.”

Trump himself has long labeled the Russia investigation a “witch hunt,” and his legal team has pushed for Mueller’s team to bring the probe to a quick conclusion. But Giuliani upped the ante Wednesday night by calling on Sessions to step in and shut the probe down, despite his recusal from the Russia investigation.

Giuliani then told The Hill on Thursday that Sessions should investigate those carrying out the probe into Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney. Giuliani was angered by an NBC News report that federal investigators wiretapped Cohen’s phones.

“I am waiting for the attorney general to step in, in his role as defender of justice, and put these people under investigation,” Giuliani told The Hill.

He argued that investigators breached attorney-client privilege by spying on Cohen. In an interview with The Hill, he predicted a conversation with Trump on the news.

“He is going to say to me, ‘Isn’t there an attorney-client privilege?’” Giuliani said Trump would ask him. “And I am going to tell him, ‘No, the Department of Justice seems to want to trample all over the Constitution of the United States.’”

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Harold Bornstein, the eccentric gastroenterologist who once served as President Donald Trump’s personal doctor, has again graced another political news cycle with his presence.

He jumped back into the spotlight this week with a new claim that Trump’s lackeys barged into his office and seized the President’s health records in early 2017, apparently without prior approval from Bornstein. His entrée into the news cycle led him to spill additional details about his interactions with Trump, including that the President dictated the infamous letter Bornstein wrote claiming that Trump would “be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

Bornstein’s return to the spotlight this week also serves as a reminder on why he even became a character in the 2016 election in the first place: Trump is obsessed with his own health.

Trump has long boasted about his physical health, often citing his “good genes” as the source of his physical fitness, success in the business world and his intelligence.

On the campaign trail, Trump constantly touted his ability to stand during long rallies and questioned rival Hillary Clinton’s “stamina,” seizing on her bout of pneumonia during the campaign. Trump promised that his health records would reveal “perfection” in late 2015. Indeed, two weeks later, Bornstein released his letter about Trump’s “excellent health,” which Trump apparently drafted himself.

As Trump continued to obsess over Clinton’s health, his own health became the subject of public scrutiny. As the oldest person ever elected President with a tendency to rant and go on incoherent tangents, Trump faced skepticism about his physical and mental health. He challenged Clinton to release her health records in August 2016, a move that ultimately led to pressure for him to release his own record.

In a publicity stunt built up as an effort to be transparent about his health, Trump sat for an interview with television personality Dr. Oz to talk about his health. Yet he only released a one-page summary of his medical history drafted by the infamous Bornstein and spent the interview boasting about his “stamina” and emphasizing his excellent genetics.

Forced to ditch Bornstein, his doctor for 30 years, upon entering the White House, Trump found a new doctor to stroke his ego. After Trump’s much-ballyhooed first physical in office in January, Dr. Ronny Jackson announced that the President was in “excellent health” and had “incredibly good genes.” Trump was so impressed with Jackson’s performance that he nominated him to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, only for allegations of improper behavior to derail Jackson’s path to confirmation.

Trump has also defended his mental health, insisting earlier this year that he is a “very stable genius” in response to coverage of a book about his campaign and administration, “Fire and Fury.” The scrutiny over Trump’s mental health led him to take a cognitive test aimed at identifying memory loss or dementia as part of his physical in January. The President received a perfect score on the test, Jackson said, clearing him of a significant memory issue.

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Porn actress Stormy Daniels on Monday filed a new lawsuit against President Donald Trump, accusing him of defamation for his response on Twitter to the release of a composite sketch of a man who allegedly threatened Daniels in 2011.

The new lawsuit takes issue with Trump’s tweet about Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, earlier in April. She and her lawyer released a composite sketch of the man Daniels claims threatened her to stay quiet about Trump in 2011. Trump said that the sketch depicted a “nonexistent man” and claimed that the release of the image was a “con job,” retweeting a message arguing that the sketch looked similar to Daniels’ husband.

“In making the statement, Mr. Trump used his national and international audience of millions of people to make a false factual statement to denigrate and attack Ms. Clifford,” Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, wrote in the complaint. “Mr. Trump knew that his false, disparaging statement would be read by people around the world, as well as widely reported, and that Ms. Clifford would be subjected to threats of violence, economic harm, and reputational damage as a result.”

Daniels’ lawyer argued that Trump either knew his tweet was false or acted recklessly without knowing the truth and that Trump’s tweet caused Daniels to suffer damages including “harm to her reputation, emotional harm, exposure to contempt, ridicule, and shame, and physical threats of violence to her person and life.”

Daniels’ lawsuit against Trump filed at the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York is separate from her lawsuit against Trump and his longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen filed in California.

In her original lawsuit, Daniels sued Trump seeking to be released from a nondisclosure agreement barring her from discussing her alleged sexual encounter with Trump. She charged that Trump did not sign the hush agreement, rendering it invalid. Daniels later added Cohen to that lawsuit, accusing him of defamation over his statement suggesting that she lied.

Read the complaint:

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Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department has removed language stressing the need to prevent racial gerrymandering from the manual used by federal prosecutors, Buzzfeed News reported Sunday.

Before the section was removed in March, it affirmed that DOJ would support redistricting plans that are drawn to help minority communities achieve meaningful representation, and would fight racially gerrymandered plans that undermine minority voting power.

“The Voting Section defends from unjustified attack redistricting plans designed to provide minority voters fair opportunities to elect candidates of their choice and endeavors to achieve racially fair results where courts find, following Shaw v. Reno, 113 S.Ct. 286 (1993), and Johnson v. Miller, 115 S.Ct. 2475 (1995), that redistricting plans constitute unconstitutional racial gerrymanders,” the section read, according to an archived version of the online manual.

Buzzfeed News discovered that the section no longer exists and that the current manual does not mention redistricting or racial gerrymandering elsewhere. The handbook does still mention some voting rights issues, such as bans on literacy tests and poll taxes, Buzzfeed News noted.

News of the change comes a week after the Supreme Court heard a challenge to a Texas redistricting plan that the courts have found to be a racial gerrymander aimed at undercutting Latino voting power. Under the Trump administration, the Justice Department has sided with Texas in defending the maps.

The Justice Department also removed a section on the need for a free press and public trial, Buzzfeed News reported.

Read Buzzfeed News’ full report on the changes here.

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President Donald Trump called for an end to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner after comedian Michelle Wolf’s comedy routine at the event upset the administration, conservatives and some members of the media.

In a Sunday night tweet, Trump said that Wolf was “filthy” and gave a “weak” performance and that the entire dinner was an “embarrassment.”

He then followed up Monday morning.

Wolf roasted several members of the administration and the media, as is customary for the headliner at the annual event. However, both conservatives and members of the media said that Wolf’s jokes about White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders went too far. Wolf defended her jokes about Sanders and argued that she was not mocking the press secretary’s looks, as some had charged.

Margaret Talev, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, which hosts the event, said that Wolf’s monologue was not in line with the organization’s mission.

“Last night’s program was meant to offer a unifying message about our common commitment to a vigorous and free press while honoring civility, great reporting and scholarship winners, not to divide people. Unfortunately, the entertainer’s monologue was not in the spirit of that mission,” Talev said in a statement Sunday.

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Ronny Jackson, who withdrew as the nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs on Thursday, will not return to his role as personal physician to President Donald Trump, according to several reports.

Politico was first to report the news on Sunday evening, and the Washington Post and New York Times later confirmed.

Jackson will return to the White House medical unit, but will not personally serve the President, according to Politico and the Washington Post. Sean Conley, who took over as Trump’s personal physician a month ago, will remain in that role.

White House spokesman Raj Shah on Monday pushed back on reports that Jackson would not return to his position as Trump’s personal physician.

“Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson is currently on active duty, assigned to the White House as Deputy Assistant to the President. Despite published reports, there are no personnel announcements at this time,” Shah said in a statement.

Jackson withdrew as the VA nominee due to allegations that he drank on the job, irresponsibly handed out prescriptions for sleeping pills, and mistreated his employees. Both Jackson and Trump have insisted that the allegations are false, but Jackson bowed out anyway.

Since the allegations surfaced, Trump has attacked Sen. John Tester (D-MT), one of the lawmakers who publicized the accounts of Jackson’s behavior, and threatened to ruin Tester’s re-election chances at a rally Saturday night.

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Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, told the Washington Post on Friday that Republicans on the committee blocked an effort by Democrats to learn more about a phone call Donald Trump Jr. made that may have been related to the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer.

Trump Jr. made three phone calls on June 6, 2016, three days before the meeting, two of which were with Emin Agalarov, the Russian pop star who helped arrange the Trump Tower meeting, according to Democrats’ official response to the Republican report from the House Intelligence Committee released on Friday. In between the two phone calls, Trump Jr. spoke with someone using a blocked phone number, which may have been his dad, Donald Trump, according to the Democrats.

Democrats wanted to subpoena the phone records to determine the identity of that person, but Republicans refused, Schiff told the Washington Post.

“We sought to determine whether that number belonged to the president, because we also ascertained that then-candidate Trump used a blocked number,” Schiff told the Post. “That would tell us whether Don Jr. sought his father’s permission to take the meeting, and [whether] that was the purpose of that call.”

“We asked Republicans to subpoena the records and they refused. They didn’t want to know whether he had informed his father and sought his permission to take that meeting with the Russians,” he added.

President Donald Trump has denied that he was aware of the meeting between Trump Jr., other campaign officials, and a Kremlin-linked promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

Read the full Washington Post report here.

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President Donald Trump on Friday afternoon called Ronny Jackson, the White House physician who withdrew as the nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, “an American hero” for exposing the Washington political system.

“In a very big way, you’re an American hero because you’ve exposed a system for some horrible things,” Trump said he told Jackson over the phone earlier on Friday.

“I’ve had it happen to me with the Russian collusion hoax,” Trump added.

Before calling Jackson a hero, Trump said that it was a “disgrace” to see Jackson’s record tarnished by “false accusations.”

Jackson withdrew his nomination following several reports from congressional Democrats alleging that Jackson drank excessively on the job, was lax in handing out prescriptions for sleeping aids and mistreated his employees. Both Jackson and Trump have insisted that the allegations are false, but Jackson nonetheless withdrew his name Thursday morning.

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The House Intelligence Committee’s report from its Russia investigation published on Friday revealed another meeting former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had with the Russian ambassador before he joined the Trump campaign.

Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn, Jr., met with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at his Washington, D.C. residence on December 2, 2015, according to emails reviewed by the House Intelligence Committee. Flynn’s son described the meeting as “very productive” in an email to the Russian embassy, according to the committee’s report. According to the report, “emails indicate that the meeting was arranged at the request of General Flynn or his son.” Neither Flynn sat with the committee for an interview, leaving congressional investigators with few details about the rendezvous.

The meeting with Kislyak took place about a week before Flynn traveled to Moscow to speak at the Kremlin RT news organization’s annual gala. Flynn sat next to Vladimir Putin at the dinner and was paid by RT to attend the event.

Flynn’s December 2015 meeting with Kislyak also came after he met with President Donald Trump for the first time, but Flynn did not formally join the campaign until 2016.

Flynn resigned as Trump’s first national security adviser in February 2017 after it became clear that he discussed Russian sanctions with Kislyak in late 2016 before Trump took office and allegedly lied to Vice President Mike Pence about it.

He then pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russian officials. Flynn is now cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

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The Russian lawyer who attended the meeting with Trump campaign officials at Trump Tower in June 2016 finally acknowledged her ties to the Kremlin in a forthcoming NBC interview previewed by the New York Times.

Natalia Veselnitskaya, who attended the meeting promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton, previously denied that she had ties to the Russian government, calling herself a private lawyer. Her links to Russian government officials has been previously documented, but the New York Times revealed new ties on Friday.

In an interview that will air on NBC News on Friday, Veselnitskaya says she was an informant for Yuri Y. Chaika, the Kremlin’s prosecutor general, even though she previously denied ties to Chaika.

“I am a lawyer, and I am an informant,” she told NBC News. “Since 2013, I have been actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general.”

Newly released emails also show that Veselnitskaya worked with Chaika’s office to reject the U.S. Justice Department’s request to Russia for documents needed for a fraud case against a Russian real estate firm, according to the New York Times. Veselnitskaya helped draft the Russian government’s response to the record request rejecting the demand and defending the Russian firm, according to the emails.

Richard Engel’s interview with Veselnitskaya will air Friday night on“NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” and on MSNBC’s “On Assignment with Richard Engel.”

Read the New York Times’ full account here.

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