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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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Shortly after police say Alek Minassian plowed a rental van down a Toronto sidewalk Monday, killing 10 people and injuring 15 others, a Facebook post circulated in which he appeared to praise Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old Californian who blamed his 2014 killing spree on his rejection by women.

“All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger,” the message read in part.

Canadian law enforcement acknowledged in a Tuesday press conference that Minassian “is alleged to have posted a cryptic message on Facebook minutes before” he got into the vehicle. And Facebook confirmed to outlets including TPM that the since-deleted account belonged to the suspect.

Many important details about the case are still unknown, and extremist experts noted that it’s odd that the post contained no other messages expressing an affiliation with the misogynistic, hateful ideology Rodger espoused. But they also told TPM that Rodger has become an icon among the most extreme members of the men’s rights and “incel,” or “involuntary celibate,” communities. And they said they wouldn’t be surprised if Rodger inspired the gruesome Toronto attack.

“For a certain segment of misogynists, Elliot Rodger is like the Columbine killers,” Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino told TPM.

“We have a subculture of misogyny that has its glorified leaders, its folklores, its treatises,” Levin added.

One of the most influential of those treatises was left by Rodger. In the weeks and days before he fatally stabbed his roommates and went on a shooting spree on the University of California Santa Barbara campus in May 2014, Rodger spent a great deal of time on the Internet. His now-defunct YouTube and Facebook accounts were filled with first-person monologue videos in which he expressed envy for men who were successful with women. He posted heavily on Bodybuilding Forum and PuaHate.com, a site that took aim at the “pickup artist” community, about his visceral loathing of women.

Immediately before heading to the Alpha Phi sorority house to begin his massacre, Rodger, who committed suicide during the rampage, uploaded a video about his plan to “punish” women for rejecting him romantically, calling himself “the supreme gentleman.”

As the blogger David Futtrelle documented, since the Toronto attack, some users on the Incels.me forum were quick to herald Minassian as a Rodger successor.

“Alek Minassian. Spread that name, speak of his sacrifice for our cause, worship him for he gave his life for our future,” one post read.

Another post saying Minassian “went ER,” a reference to Elliot Rodger, said he “could be a new saint.”

As with all forum threads, it’s difficult to tell which posts are sincere and which are just trolling. By Tuesday evening, several posts complained that they’d been “infiltrated” by “normies” drawn by media coverage of Minassian’s alleged ideology who were creating bogus accounts.

But even before Toronto, Rodger was being lionized in the darkest corners of the “incel” and far-right communities, Keegan Hankes, a senior intelligence analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told TPM.

That’s in part because he left behind a violent, racist, 107,000-word manifesto called “My Twisted World” expressing his desire to watch women starve to death in concentration camps.

“Leaving long documents, long online footprints for people who love to dive into this stuff and get conspiratorial helps that legacy grow,” said Hankes, who co-authored an exhaustive report for the SPLC that labeled Rodger the first “alt-right” killer.

On forums like Reddit, posts have proliferated — some hiding behind irony, some sincere — calling Rodger the “supreme gentleman” and “saint Elliot.” Users have praised him as “the only one who ever stood up for us” and lamented that he was unable to “take more people with him.” (Reddit took down the incel channel several months ago).

One of those fans was William Atchison, the 21-year-old who killed two students and himself at a New Mexico high school last December. Atchison surfed the web using the pseudonym “Elliot Roger” and wrote posts praising the “supreme gentleman.”

Observers of these communities note that not all “incel” adherents embraced Rodger and that there are divisions between the “incel” and broader men’s rights activist community.

As the journalist Arshy Mann put it in a Tuesday Twitter thread: “MRAs deploy a human rights framework to argue men are oppressed. Incels don’t talk about rights, they just hate.”

These amorphous extremist groups are hard to characterize. Some “incels” are racists; some gamers are men’s rights activists; many members of the “alt-right” and white nationalist community express virulently misogynist views but have nothing to do with these two groups.

But the connective tissue between self-identified “incels” and men’s rights activists is a deeply misogynistic worldview that embraces physical and sexual violence against women.

Minassian’s purported Facebook post plays on these communities’ tropes.

“The Incel Rebellion has already begun!” it reads.

“We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys,” it continues, using “incel” slang for stereotypically attractive, sexually active men and women. “All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger.”

Extremist experts say shining a brighter light on the violent fixations of some members of this community is essential.

Plenty has been written about the link between the perpetrators of domestic violence and the overwhelmingly male individuals who carry out mass shootings or terrorist attacks. But while media and law enforcement are primed to look for criminal suspects’ racial, religious or political bias, they’re less likely to see gendered hatred in itself as a motivator for violent rampages.

The Minassian attack “really highlights the need to take a more gendered lens when we consider extremism and terrorism,” said Barbara Perry, hate crime expert at University of Ontario’s Institute of Technology.

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Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens promised supporters that he’d continue to fight for conservative policies in a Saturday speech that came on the heels of his second felony charge.

“We have been viciously attacked by the liberal media and their allies,” Greitens told a crowd at the Texas County Lincoln Day dinner, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Though the audience appeared receptive, Greitens’ ability to lead the state is in serious jeopardy as the scandals swirling around him continue to metastasize.

The governor was charged Friday evening with felony computer tampering, for allegedly using a donor list from the veterans’ charity he founded to raise funds for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign. The St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office, which brought that charge, is already pursuing a separate felony charge against Greitens for allegedly taking a nonconsensual nude photo of a woman and threatening to leak it.

As the twin scandals have played out in recent months, the governor has remained defiant, insisting he only engaged in an affair with the woman and committed no crime. In a Friday night statement, he also defended his work with the veterans’ charity.

“We helped thousands of veterans, won national awards for excellence, and became one of the finest veterans’ charities in the country,” Greitens said. “I stand by that work.”

Legislative leaders and Attorney General Josh Hawley, all Republicans, have called for Greitens to resign immediately. Republican Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard announced that he’s even planning discussions with Democratic leadership about keeping pieces of legislation passed by both chambers off the governor’s desk. Minority Floor Leader Gina Walsh has cast Greitens as an illegitimate leader, saying she doesn’t believe bills he signs should become law, according to the Associated Press.

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Allies of President Donald Trump spent the week suggesting that Michael Cohen will ultimately turn on his former boss and share all with the federal agents investigating his business dealings. This oddly unanimous (occasionally unsolicited) opinion implies, of course, that Cohen possesses some evidence that Trump may have committed a crime.

Trump’s 2020 campaign has made payments to the firm representing Cohen in the various Russia investigations, which is now also representing Cohen in his financial probe. Trump covering some of Cohen’s hefty legal bills could make Cohen less likely to flip.

In court this week, lawyers for Trump’s “fixer” were forced to reveal that Cohen had represented Sean Hannity as a legal client. (Hannity denies that they had a formal attorney-client relationship.) Judge Kimba Wood is permitting both Cohen and the U.S. government to review records seized from Cohen to determine which may be covered by attorney-client privilege, and both parties are expected to return for a status conference in late May.

Cohen dropped defamation lawsuits he’d filed against Buzzfeed and Fusion GPS for publishing the Christopher Steele dossier, blaming his decision on his preoccupation with the new federal probe. Cohen’s legal troubles also apparently inspired Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to ask lawmakers to change the state’s double jeopardy law to prevent those pardoned by Trump from escaping accountability under New York law.

As Cohen held the spotlight, TPM dug further into how Cohen’s family background fit into his relationship with Trump. A soon-to-be-released book by investigative journalist Seth Hettena reports that Cohen was introduced to Trump by his father-in-law, Fima Shusterman, who may have connected Trump with Russian investors. (Cohen called this claim “fake news.”) Shusterman was convicted of a money-laundering related offense in 1993.

James Comey is out on tour promoting his new book “A Higher Loyalty.” The media appearances are infuriating Trump, who has called the former FBI official “slippery” and repeatedly insisted that Comey should be in jail. Contradicting his past statements, the President is also insisting his decision to fire Comey had nothing to do with the Russia investigation.

The book release ended up being overshadowed by a Thursday night leak of the memos Comey made of his private conversations with Trump, which mostly corroborated Comey’s congressional testimony. The memos also documented that Trump was fixated on allegations he consorted with prostitutes during a 2013 trip to Moscow, and that he and Comey joked about imprisoning leakers and journalists.

The DOJ inspector general has referred his findings from Comey’s former deputy, Andrew McCabe, to the D.C. U.S. attorney for possible criminal charges. McCabe — who was ousted for misleading investigators about his leaks to the media — insists he’s not worried about this turn of events.

In an oddly timed lawsuit, the Democratic National Committee is suing the Trump campaign, Russia and WikiLeaks for conspiring to throw the 2016 election.

And Trump’s legal team gained a new member: Rudy Giuliani, who seems confident that he can help bring the Mueller probe to a conclusion within a few weeks.

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At 7 p.m. on Thursday, an animated crowd of mostly older, mostly white New Yorkers gathered at the Town Hall theater on Manhattan’s West Side hoping James Comey would tell them something new.

The former FBI director is sitting for multiple interviews a day as part of a whirlwind tour to promote his new book “A Higher Loyalty,” but New Yorker editor David Remnick, who hosted the event in collaboration with WNYC, tried to push Comey to cover new ground.

Remnick was most successful at unearthing more of Comey’s personal thoughts on the President’s character. Asked if he hates or dislikes the man who perfunctorily fired him from his dream job, Comey said he actually “feels sorry” for Trump.

“I think he has an emptiness inside of him, and a hunger for affirmation, that I’ve never seen in an adult,” Comey continued. “It’s all, ‘What will fill this hole?’”

“Something is missing in his life,” Comey added.

Though the former FBI official dodged Remnick’s question about whether Trump was a “bigot,” he called the President’s comments equivocating the Charlottesville neo-Nazis to the anti-racist activists there to protest them “shameful” and said they were “one of the reasons I think he’s morally unfit to be President.”

Comey also reiterated that he thinks “it’s possible” that Russia has something on Trump.

Other insights: Comey wishes Anthony Weiner had never had a laptop, and had “probably never even been born.”

He now shrugs when he sees tweets from Trump saying he should be in jail — a reaction he worries proves he and the rest of the American public are “becoming numb.”

He didn’t investigate Trump’s shady business practices and mob ties while serving as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York because of the need to justify, with a “factual predicate,” launching an investigation into a particular individual.

He stands by his opposition to the phrase “mass incarceration,” which Remnick pressed him on at length. According to Comey, the phrase implies an “intentionality” that appears to be “blaming police” for the fact that black and Latino Americans are arrested and imprisoned at rates that far outpace their white counterparts. Remnick noted that the disproportionate arrests did seem to be intentional and were clearly indicative of a systemic problem. But Comey insisted that the phrase “strikes a discordant note” to law enforcement.

And the former FBI director was similarly defensive when asked about the matters surrounding the 2016 election, including his two momentous announcements about the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the probe into Russia’s interference. Comey has no regrets, he insisted; he has nothing to apologize for, never considered the political implications, didn’t ever act out of self-interest. Though he acknowledged that the U.S. would be better off if Clinton were president, he insisted the facts about her email probe he learned in late October 2016 were a “nightmare.”

The crowd seemed receptive throughout, laughing at Comey’s jokes and nodding their heads in agreement. Several rows jumped up from their creaky, red velvet-covered seats to give him a standing ovation as he left the stage.

Shortly after the event wrapped and attendees spilled into the still-cold spring night, the memos Comey kept of his private conversations with Trump leaked to the press, including TPM. They mostly corroborated his testimony to Congress, and don’t, as Trump claimed, absolve the President of obstruction and collusion. But they also revealed that Comey thought the travel ban was legally valid and that he and Trump repeatedly joked about tracking down government leakers and imprisoning journalists. This unsettling coda suggested that morality is not so black and white after all.

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It’s been over four months since the world learned that Missouri’s governor allegedly tied a woman up in his basement, took a nude photo of her without consent, and threatened to release it publicly. Two months since he was indicted on a felony invasion of privacy charge for that incident. A week since the woman’s graphic version of the 2015 events — including the claim that he pressured her into a sex act while she sobbed on the floor — was released in disturbing public testimony. And days since Missouri’s top leadership told him to resign following news that he may face an unrelated felony charge for matters involving a charity he founded.

But Eric Greitens is still sitting in the governor’s mansion in Jefferson City, with no plans to step down. The Republican governor admits he had an affair but insists he committed no crime, and that he’ll be vindicated in court.

But the Missouri GOP sees things differently: Increasingly, it views Greitens as an anchor, defiantly dragging the entire state party down with him.

State Republicans worry that the longer Greitens spends firing off defensive tweets and huddling with his defense lawyers, the more it will split their party and demoralize Republican voters, dooming the party’s chances in the November midterms. Foremost among the GOP’s concerns is the state’s closely watched U.S. Senate race, which could help determine control of the chamber.

“What I know from the data is that this information flow is awful for Republicans,” Missouri GOP strategist James Harris told TPM. “They’re not talking about efforts to lower taxes in the state, trying to improve education. Instead everything that’s on TV is about deviant sexual activity, assault, coerced sexual acts. It’s not good.”

Greitens’ approval numbers in Missouri are now underwater. And there’s possible precedent for Greitens’ scandals hurting other Missouri Republicans. In February, Democrats won a state assembly race in a deep-red district, leading some state GOPers to point the finger at Greitens.

But the impact could be much greater. For the GOP, the biggest risk is the potential damage to Attorney General Josh Hawley’s campaign against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) whose poll numbers have improved this spring.

Hawley, a one-time Greitens ally, has distanced himself from the governor. Last week, he called for Greitens to resign or be impeached. On Tuesday, Hawley announced that he’d turned over to the St. Louis Circuit Attorney evidence from his own probe that he said showed Greitens illegally used a donor list from his veterans’ charity to raise money for his 2016 campaign.

But McCaskill and state Democrats are accusing Hawley of going easy on Greitens for too long.

“Hawley was asleep at the wheel,” McCaskill’s campaign said in response to the press conference, noting that the allegations about the charity had been public since October 2016.

A top Missouri Democratic Party official accused Hawley in a statement of looking “the other way to protect his friend and donor until it became politically untenable for him to do so.”

Greitens hasn’t made Hawley’s situation any easier. The governor filed a restraining order against the attorney general this week, accusing Hawley of prejudging his guilt in the blackmail matter. He also put out a dismissive statement calling Hawley “better at press conferences than the law.”

“It is unfair to attack the attorney general for doing his job,” Harris said, likening Greitens’ scandals to a “bunch of weights tied around” Hawley as he campaigns. “Hawley didn’t commit these potential crimes. All these things originated in the governor’s basement.”

Lawmakers, who had a tense relationship with Greitens even before the scandals broke, are now rushing to put space between themselves and the governor. GOP House leadership this week released a joint statement saying that “the time has come” for his resignation. In a searing statement of his own, Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard accused Greitens of causing “tension, conflict and hostility” during his time in office and pressed for impeachment proceedings to begin “immediately.”

Lawmakers resented Greitens’ brusque attitude and his calls to root out the corrupt GOP political establishment in Jefferson City. They criticized his hypocrisy for campaigning on transparency and good government while raking in hundreds of thousands in dark money donations. The former NAVY Seal and Rhodes scholar’s naked political ambition also grated. No one quite forgot that he’d bought up domains like EricGreitensForPresident.com years before he was ever elected to public office.

The state GOP’s distaste for the governor was evident in the comments political strategists made to TPM. He’s a “narcissist” and “sociopath” guilty of “moral turpitude,” they said.

Even Greitens’ top donor has ditched him. Roofing company magnate David Humphreys, who gave over $2 million to the governor’s 2016 campaign, cut ties last week after the House released a report in which Greitens’ former lover testified that he forced her to give him oral sex while she cried, slapped her on multiple occasions, and threatened her.

Still, most GOP lawmakers waited to call for Greitens to step down until this week’s barrage of bad news. Dave Robertson, chair of the political science department at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said that’s likely because they feared alienating their base, which is closely allied with President Trump and turned out for Greitens in significant numbers.

“Like Republicans everywhere in the country, Republicans here — including in rural areas where many of the leaders of the state legislature are from — are very wary of moving faster than the people,” Robertson said.

What remains to be seen is how much damage Greitens has already done.

“If the governor is removed quickly, the impact will be less noticeable,” Missouri GOP consultant Scott Dieckhaus said. “If he is allowed to linger in the Governor’s Mansion, I think it will have a catastrophic impact on Republican elections this fall.”

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The law firm representing Michael Cohen — which this week fought in court to shield communications between Cohen and President Trump from government investigators — has received payments from President Trump’s re-election campaign.

The payments to the law firm by Trump’s campaign could ultimately complicate any efforts by Robert Mueller’s team to win Cohen’s cooperation in the Russia investigation.

The arrangement could also violate campaign finance laws, if the Trump campaign’s payments cover legal work on the federal probe into Cohen’s financial dealings being conducted by prosecutors with the US Attorney’s office in Manhattan.

Trump’s 2020 campaign paid over $214,000 to McDermott, Will and Emory during the last three months of 2017, FEC records show. The campaign paid the firm an additional $13,000-plus in the first three months of this year.

All three lawyers representing Cohen in the federal probe into his financial dealings work for McDermott. Todd Harrison and Joseph Evans were retained last week after the raid of Cohen’s apartment, hotel room, and office. Stephen Ryan was brought on Monday, but has been representing Cohen in the various Russia investigation since last June.

The Cohen probe reportedly grew out of a referral from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who handles the federal Russia investigation. But these two probes are being run separately.

Neither Ryan nor Cohen responded to TPM’s requests for comment Wednesday. A Trump 2020 campaign official who has handled press inquiries and a spokesperson for McDermott also did not respond.

It likely would be legal for the Trump campaign to pay Cohen’s legal bills in the Russia investigation, as long as both parties agreed to it, since that probe grew out of the 2016 campaign, experts in campaign finance say. But if the payments also cover McDermott’s representation of Cohen in the probe into his finances, they could violate campaign finance laws.

“Anything about Cohen’s business dealings would have nothing to do with the campaign and can’t be covered by the campaign,” said Larry Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center.

Even if the Trump campaign is only paying McDermott for its Russia-focused work on Cohen’s behalf, the fact that the same lawyers are representing Cohen in the financial probe creates a complicated ethical situation, raising questions about whose interests are being represented: Cohen’s, Trump’s, or the Trump Organization’s.

The exceptional no-knock search warrants executed against Cohen last week underlined the real legal exposure he faces in that investigation. Legal experts have speculated that federal agents may be trying to convince Cohen to cooperate and divulge anything he may know about the financial dealings of Trump and the Trump Organization, where Cohen has long been a trusted adviser.

Cohen has reportedly said he’d rather “jump out of a building than turn” on his friend and longtime business partner. If the Trump campaign is paying for Cohen’s legal representation, he’s even less likely to do so.

For now, Cohen’s and Trump’s legal interests appear to largely be in sync. Lawyers for both Cohen and Trump argued before Judge Kimba Wood this week that they should get the first pass at reviewing which documents seized from Cohen by federal agents are covered by attorney-client privilege.

Ryan explicitly said that Cohen intervened to stop the U.S. Attorney’s office from conducting that review because of his concern about communications related to Trump. Ryan said he knew materials related to the Trump Organization “are among those that have been seized.”

“My swim lane was Russia,” Ryan said in court on Monday, noting he’d only begun working “on campaign finance issues” in the past few weeks.

Those issues presumably relate to Cohen’s $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels days before the election to keep her from going public with a story about her alleged affair with Trump.

Though Ryan said he expected the Russia investigations to be a “dry hole” when it comes to Cohen, the New York case was a separate matter.

“Candidly, this man’s life has been turned upside down over the past week,” Ryan said of Cohen, noting that the investigation “has come out of the blue.”

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Republican state legislative leaders in Missouri on Tuesday night called for Gov. Eric Greitens (R) to resign amid mounting legal troubles that have brought embarrassment and national news attention to the Show-Me State.

“When leaders lose the ability to effectively lead our state, the right thing to do is step aside,” House Speaker Todd Richardson, House Majority Leader Rob Vescovo and House Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr said in a joint statement to local media. “In our view, the time has come for the governor to resign.”

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard said in his own statement that it is his “wish that we immediately start impeachment proceedings” if Greitens declines to step down.

But the governor is refusing to relent.

“In three weeks, this matter will go to a court of law — where it belongs and where the facts will prove my innocence,” Greitens said in a statement of his own. “Until then, I will do what the people of Missouri sent me here to do: to serve them and work hard on their behalf.”

The legislative leaders’ push came hours after Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican, announced that he had discovered and turned over to St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner evidence that Greitens may have committed a felony in connection with using the veterans’ charity he founded to raise money for his campaign for governor.

A grand jury convened by Gardner in February had indicted Greitens on a separate felony charge for allegedly taking a nonconsensual nude photo of a woman with whom he was having an affair, and threatening to share it.

And the Missouri House last week released a report based on its investigation of those allegations, including testimony in which the woman claims Greitens hit her, threatened to blackmail her, and coerced her to engage in sexual acts while she wept.

Hawley and a number of Missouri lawmakers had already called for Greitens to step down as a result of his conduct with the woman.

Greitens has admitted to the affair but denied the allegations of blackmail, physical violence, and sexual coercion.

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It’s not easy to convince a federal judge to view the law enforcement process as biased and illegitimate from the outset. But that’s essentially the case that lawyers for President Trump and Michael Cohen are trying to make before U.S. Judge Kimba Wood.

Through their attorneys, the president and his longtime fixer are claiming that the current atmosphere of “toxic partisan politics” means Justice Department prosecutors can’t be trusted to sort through the reams of material that federal agents seized from Cohen to determine which are covered by attorney-client privilege. Meanwhile, they’re insisting that they aren’t impugning the government’s integrity.

Prosecutors counter that any questions about DOJ’s impartiality are the result of attacks leveled by Trump himself.

In their court filings and oral arguments, Trump and Cohen’s attorneys criticized last week’s raid as overzealous and suggested that Trump’s own Justice Department may be biased against him.

“There is a growing public debate about whether criminal and congressional investigations by the government are being undertaken impartially, free of any political bias or partisan motivation,” Todd Harrison, an attorney for Cohen, wrote in a Monday morning court filing.

Lawyers for Cohen and Trump argue that they should be allowed the “first cut” at perusing the seized material to filter out privileged conversations between the two men. They say typical DOJ protocol, in which a “filter” or “taint” team of prosecutors who are not involved in the case handles that task, will not suffice.

Harrison and Trump attorney Joanna Hendon argued at a hearing Monday that, as Hendon said, there is a “tremendous risk that privileged material may not be recognized as such” by DOJ prosecutors. Both teams have said that the incredible sensitivities involved in a raid on the office of a sitting President’s personal attorney require special treatment.

“The stakes are too high,” Harrison argued.

“The American public is watching,” and partisan attacks are “going back and forth” in the media’s coverage it,” Harrison added.

Harrison repeatedly reiterated that he wasn’t saying the government “did anything wrong.” The issue, he said, is that the situation is just too “combustible.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom McKay said this is a predicament of the defendants’ own making. He pointed out that of the three parties involved in the litigation, only two have made “inflammatory public statements” about the case.

Trump raged last week that the investigation into Cohen represented “a whole new level of unfairness,” calling the raid a “disgraceful situation” and an “attack on our country in a true sense.” And the Cohen case follows many months of a sustained campaign by Trump to discredit the FBI.

Though Cohen described the agents who conducted the search as “extremely professional,” his attorney, Stephen Ryan, said their actions were “completely inappropriate and unnecessary.”

McKay told the court that the “toxic partisan politics” lamented by Cohen’s team are only furthered by these sorts of remarks, noting that federal agents only secured the warrants after convincing a magistrate judge that they had concrete evidence of Cohen’s criminal conduct.

McKay accused Cohen of trying to “drum up media attention” about his case and then pointing to that attention to try to convince the court to rule in his favor.

Granting “special treatment” to Cohen just because his client happens to be the President of the United States undermines the concerns about the perception of fairness that Cohen and Trump claim to have, McKay said.

Trump’s words have come back to haunt him in court before. Attorneys fighting his ban on immigrants from a handful of majority-Muslim countries; his proposed transgender military ban; and his efforts to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program have cited the President’s tweets as evidence of his prejudices.

But in this instance, Trump and his longtime fixer are trying to leverage their attacks on the DOJ’s integrity to obtain what prosecutors say is preferential treatment in a criminal investigation directly related to their own business dealings.

Judge Wood, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, has settled for now on a middle path, allowing both Cohen and the government to sort through the reams of seized material to assess how much of it may be privileged. Though she left open the possibility that an independent special master may have a role in the privilege review, Wood made a point of emphasizing her belief in the scrupulousness of DOJ investigators.

“I have faith in the Southern District U.S. Attorney’s office that their integrity is unimpeachable,” Wood said pointedly as Monday’s hearing wrapped up.

Those comments left the impression that criticizing the DOJ won’t be a winning legal strategy.

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Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced Tuesday that his office has turned up evidence indicating that Gov. Eric Greitens may have committed a felony in matters relating to a veterans’ charity he founded.

The announcement may be a sign that Missouri Republicans are moving towards abandoning their embattled governor, who has faced calls to step down since being charged in February in connection with claims that he tried to blackmail a woman with whom he was having an affair.

In a Tuesday press conference, Hawley said that his investigators believe Greitens obtained the donor list for the charity, The Mission Continues, and had it sent it to his 2016 gubernatorial campaign to use for political fundraising.

“This is known as computer tampering,” said Hawley, alleging that Greitens did not seek the charity’s permission to take the list. “And given the value of the list in question, it is a felony.”

Hawley, a Republican who is running for the U.S. Senate, said he had turned evidence over to St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, as the alleged criminal act occurred in her jurisdiction. Hawley said it will be up to Gardner to decide whether to press charges.

Greitens dismissed Hawley’s claims as “ridiculous” in a statement responding to the announcement, calling Hawley “better at press conferences than the law.”

In a statement provided to TPM, Gardner’s office said they are “reviewing the evidence” but “can’t discuss any specifics at this time, as the investigation is ongoing.”

A grand jury convened by Gardner indicted Greitens in February on a separate felony invasion of privacy charge for allegedly taking a nonconsensual nude photo of a woman with whom he carried out a 2015 affair, with the intent to transmit it.

Greitens has admitted to the relationship. He has adamantly denied the allegations of blackmail, sexual coercion and physical violence that were laid out by the woman in vivid detail in testimony presented to a Missouri House committee investigating the various claims against the governor. The House panel’s preliminary report was released last week, and another legislative report, focused on Greitens’ work with the Mission Continues, is expected in May.

After the House report came out last week, Hawley called for Greitens to step down immediately or be impeached for his “shocking” misconduct.

Greitens has painted the allegations against him as part of a partisan witch hunt. Gardner is a Democrat, but five of the seven members of the House committee, in addition to Hawley, are Republicans.

The bones of the charity scandal have been public since his 2016 campaign. Just weeks before the election, the Associated Press revealed an overlap between donors to Greitens’ charity, which he founded in 2007 and left in 2014, and his campaign. At the time, Greitens adamantly denied using Mission Continues’ donor list.

But after a complaint was filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission, Greitens ultimately agreed to pay a fine and acknowledge that he received the list as an in-kind donation from his campaign manager, Daniel Laub. The Mission Continues has denied turning their list over to anyone associated with Greitens’ campaign.

Interest in this unusual set of affairs was reignited following Greitens’ initial felony indictment. Gardner announced she would be looking into the charity, while Hawley announced in early March that his office had an “open inquiry” into the Mission Continues.

Hawley has been criticized by his Democratic opponent in the Senate race, Sen. Claire McCaskill, for failing to launch probes into Greitens’ conduct earlier.

On Tuesday, McCaskill’s campaign said that this belated discovery of possible criminal behavior “shows gross incompetence on the part of the Attorney General,” given that the basic information about the charity misconduct first surfaced in October 2016. McCaskill accused Hawley of “trying to protect his friend and large donor for as long as possible.”

Greitens’ full statement is below:

Fortunately for Josh, he’s better at press conferences than the law. Anyone who has set foot in a Missouri courtroom knows these allegations are ridiculous. Josh has turned the “evidence” he claims to have over to St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner—a liberal prosecutor funded by George Soros who allegedly subpoenaed perjury, falsified documents, and withheld evidence. We will dispense with these false allegations.

This post has been updated.

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Michael Cohen’s Monday afternoon hearing at Manhattan’s Daniel Patrick Moynihan federal courthouse drew much heavier crowds than his initial hearing last week thanks to two special guests: Cohen himself and adult film star Stormy Daniels.

The first glimpse of a stern-looking Cohen came at around 1:30 p.m. as he moved through the lobby, flanked by his attorneys, past a long line of reporters and interested members of the public waiting to ascend to the courtroom on the 21st floor.

Daniels didn’t arrive until later. As the audience took their seats and the hands of the clock on the courtroom’s back wall crept towards 2 p.m., reporters kept turning around in their seats to see if she would turn up as her lawyer Michael Avenatti had promised she would. At around 1:59 p.m., the door peeked open and a guard could be seen telling Avenatti, “We’re full.” A pair of sky-high heels were visible through the crack.

After a few moments of muttered negotiations, the security team shifted a reporter to a different seat and in walked Avenatti and Daniels. Though Cohen didn’t turn around, every other eye in the room was on the pair as they took their seats in the corner. One of the in-house court reporters seated in the jury box stood up to get a better look, and two of the female court sketch artists donned what looked like opera glasses to get a clearer view of their subject.

The next dramatic moment came when Sean Hannity was revealed to be Cohen’s mysterious third client. As I reported, the judge ordered Cohen’s lawyers to disclose his name in open court immediately after they failed to prove “at all” that his identity should be treated with special care. After Cohen attorney Stephen Ryan stood up and gave the name, the courtroom broke into gasps and murmurs, and a contingent of reporters rushed outside to share the news.

Another notable incident: For the first time, Trump Organization attorney Alan Futerfas appeared in court to present his interest on behalf of the Trump family’s sprawling real estate company. Futerfas requested that the company be allowed to review all documents seized by federal agents that relate to the Trump Organization, so that they “can help the government make privilege designations.”

The various parties were met with a swarm of cameras when the hearing finally wrapped up at 5 p.m. Shutters clicked as Daniels and Avenatti departed in a black SUV. Passersby snapped photographs of the chaos on their smartphones, and one woman muttered to her friend, “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 16: Michael Cohen leaves Federal Court after his hearing on the FBI raid of his hotel room and office on April 16, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
(Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

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