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Allegra Kirkland

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.

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The reports are coming. Once the midterm elections are over, special counsel Robert Mueller is expected to deliver his conclusions on whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia and whether President Trump obstructed justice, CNN and Bloomberg reported this week.

That doesn’t mean Mueller’s probe will be over — or that the public will even see the answers to those bombshell questions. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will receive the reports, and he has some discretion about what details to share with Congress. But it brings us a few steps closer to the close of a messy scandal that has dominated U.S. politics for the past two years.

Rosentein told the Wall Street Journal this week that “at the end of the day, the public will have confidence that the cases we brought were warranted by the evidence and that it was an appropriate use of resources.”

Meanwhile, the investigation continues and the cases that grew out of it move forward. Paul Manafort appeared in a Virginia courtroom Friday, sitting in a wheelchair due to “significant issues” with his health. The former Trump campaign chairman wore a green jail uniform, having lost a motion to appear in court in a suit.

At the hearing, Judge T.S. Ellis set a February 8, 2019 sentencing date and dismissed the 10 counts on which the jury was deadlocked in the case. Mueller’s team had asked to wait to tie up these loose ends until Manafort was finished cooperating with government prosecutors, but Ellis insisted on handling the probe by the books.

Some of that questioning has involved pressing Manafort on what he knows about Roger Stone’s ties to WikiLeaks and the leak of Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails, per ABC News.

Mueller’s team has also held two secret sealed hearings in D.C. with Chief Judge Beryl Howell, who oversees court action related to the federal grand jury that the special counsel has used to approve indictments.

Russian national Elena Khusyaynova was indicted Friday for conspiracy against the U.S. for trying to interfere in various U.S. election cycles, including the 2018 midterms. She was apparently working for Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin who funded the troll farm that worked to influence the 2016 presidential race.

Michael Cohen met this week with law enforcement officials from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office and the New York Attorney General’s office, both of which are currently probing Trump-related entities.

Cohen also advised voters to support Democrats in the midterms to avoid more years of GOP-induced “craziness.”

Former Senate intelligence committee staffer James Wolfe pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contact he had with a reporter about the ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson refused to speak to the GOP-led House Judiciary and Oversight Committees, dismissing the probes as a “charade.” His firm compiled the infamous Trump-Russia dossier.

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Michael Cohen met Wednesday with officials from state and federal law enforcement agencies investigating President Trump’s real estate business and defunct charity, CNN reported.

The conversation took place at the Manhattan office of Cohen’s attorney Guy Petrillo, according to the report.

Sources familiar with the meeting told CNN that federal prosecutors from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office and officials from the New York Attorney General’s office were among those in attendance.

Cohen entered into a plea agreement in Manhattan federal court in August. He pleaded guilty to five counts of personal financial wrongdoing and one of campaign finance violations related to hush money payments he helped broker to women who alleged sexual liaisons with Trump. Ahead of his mid-December sentencing, he has offered his enthusiastic cooperation to law enforcement bodies probing Trump-related entities.

The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office has continued to investigate whether others at the Trump Organization engaged in campaign finance violations by paying off women. Separately, the New York attorney general’s office has brought a civil lawsuit against the Trump Foundation for serving as a “personal piggy bank” for Trump rather than a legitimate charity.

Cohen has also spent hours meeting with prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team told a federal judge in Virginia Wednesday that it is amenable to dismissing the 10 deadlocked counts against Paul Manafort before sentencing if the judge continues to insist on it.

But Mueller’s team said that it still preferred to wait until the former Trump campaign chairman finished cooperating with the federal government to address those loose ends.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, who rode the prosecution team hard throughout Manafort’s summer trial, had recently expressed concern about the sequencing of sentencing and the dismissal of the deadlocked counts. Manafort was convicted on eight other bank and tax fraud counts at trial.

Shortly before his D.C. trial was set to start, Manafort entered into a plea deal with Mueller. In exchange for providing useful information to the special counsel, Manafort was required to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy against the U.S. and another of witness tampering. Both cases were related to foreign lobbying work he did in Ukraine.

Ellis last week ordered both parties to attend an Oct. 19 hearing to address the deadlocked counts and sentencing schedule in his case. Waiting to handle them until Manafort’s cooperation was complete would be “highly unusual,” the notoriously by-the-books judge said.

In their Wednesday filing, Mueller’s team said they were fine with getting a sentencing date on the books. They also said that they saw no need to deal with the deadlocked counts now and would prefer to handle them “either at the time of sentencing or when the defendant’s successful cooperation is complete.”

“The government prefers to have the disposition of those counts deferred to the time of sentencing or the successful completion of the defendant’s cooperation, as agreed to in the parties’ plea agreement, previously provided to the Court,” the prosecution filing read.

“Should the Court seek resolution of those counts now, the government does not oppose the dismissal of those counts without prejudice,” it continued. “Counsel for Manafort has informed the government that Manafort does not oppose the government’s positions.”

The offer to dismiss them “without prejudice” now, which Manafort’s attorneys agreed to, would allow the government to retry those counts later.

Read the full filing below.

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With under three weeks to go until the midterm elections, the GOP nominee trying to unseat Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is hitting below the belt.

A new attack ad out this week from former pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin revives unproved allegations that Menendez would regularly hire underage prostitutes during vacations in the Dominican Republic.

The ad misleadingly presents the allegations against Menendez as facts corroborated by federal law enforcement, rather than unsubstantiated claims originally pushed by the Daily Caller in a series of 2012 and 2013 articles.

The phony scandal helped obscure other, more credible allegations against Menendez, who was accused of accepting gifts and trips from his friend Salomon Melgen. A federal corruption trial against the two men ended last year in a mistrial.

Hugin’s ad claims as fact that “underage girls” accused Menendez of hiring them for sex, and that “President Obama’s Justice Department” sat on “evidence” that the New Jersey Democrat had done so.

These allegations take great liberties with information included in the affidavit provided by an FBI special agent tasked with attempting to corroborate the claims about Menendez.

Two women who first spoke to the Daily Caller in 2012 about their alleged liaisons with Menendez later recanted, saying they were paid to fabricate the stories, as the Washington Post reported. They claimed to be adult escorts.

This ad represents just a fraction of the $10 million Hugin has shelled out on negative ads as the race winds down, according to the New York Times. The GOP nominee is hoping to capitalize on Menendez’s low approval ratings in New Jersey, where his corruption scandals have cost him support.

TPM reported this week that the Senate Majority PAC is tossing Menendez a $3 million liferaft to spend on advertising to try to buoy him ahead of Election Day.

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Chaos erupted outside a local Republican club on Manhattan’s Upper East Side last Friday night.

After a speech by Gavin McInnes—founder of the Proud Boys, an openly racist, Islamophobic, “western chauvinist” group known for engaging in violent street fights—members of his far-right group fanned out into the posh residential neighborhood, brawling with a waiting crowd of anti-fascist protesters.

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Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) is going on the offensive against critics of his office’s policy that blocked 53,000 Georgians—most of them black—from registering to vote.

Calls for him to resign over the policy are “ridiculous,” Kemp, who is locked in a close race for governor, said Friday.

Speaking to the Forsyth County News, the GOP nominee for governor called claims of mass voter suppression “fake news” and a “manufactured story from the Democrats.”

Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams argued last week that Kemp had to step down so that Georgians can “have confidence that their Secretary of State competently and impartially oversee this election.”

Abrams’ call was taken up by protesters and several state civil rights groups. The Georgia NAACP, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Groups, and other organizations filed a lawsuit against Kemp on Thursday, arguing that his office discriminated against minority residents.

Under the “exact match” policy, Georgia is allowed to delay or block voter registrations if information on the registration form does not align exactly with existing state records.

An Associated Press review of state records found that some 70 percent of the 53,000 people affected by the policy are black.

Kemp has insisted that affected voters can still cast ballots in person on Election Day, and attacked “outside agitators”—a term used by segregationists in the South—for stirring up controversy about his policy.

The Republican nominee is also trying to shift attention back across the aisle. On Friday, he claimed for the first time that the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor should withdraw from the race over allegations made in an April complaint against her family’s business.

Kemp said that the claims of racial discrimination at the Jack Cooper trucking firm are “unacceptable and disqualifying” for Sarah Riggs Amico, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

“It’s obvious the Georgia GOP wants to distract voters from this week’s national news headlines,” the Amico campaign said in a statement calling the lawsuit’s claims “completely without merit.”

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