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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They fraternize with neo-Nazis, but have black and Latino members. They just want to drink beer with their bros, but also engage in punishing violence against political opponents. They’re mockably lame, but undeniably dangerous.

These are the Proud Boys.

Established during the 2016 presidential election by Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes (pictured above), the group — which McInnes sometimes refers to as a “gang” — bills itself as a fraternal organization devoted to “western chauvinist” values. The group grew out of informal meetings in New York City dive bars, where fellow travelers gathered over beers to complain about feminism and the “myth” of racism.

A defining characteristic of the Proud Boys is an enthusiastic embrace of the racist, sexist and homophobic views that drove Vice and McInnes to cut ties in 2008. In the name of opposing political correctness, they dismiss transgender people as diseased, women as housewives, and immigrants as criminals.

They say that this posture is all in good fun, but they also have a record of getting cozy with career racists. McInnes has written articles for and American Renaissance, publications run by open white nationalists. The founding of the Proud Boys was announced in Sept. 2016 in Taki Magazine, a far-right publication formerly run by Richard Spencer.

NEW YORK, NY: Activist Gavin McInnes takes part in an alt-right protest of Activist Linda Sarsour on May 25, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

Some telling comments from McInnes: “It is fair to call me Islamophobic.”

“I love being white and I think it’s something to be very proud of.”

“I cannot recommend violence enough. It’s a really effective way to solve problems.”

“Unite the Right” organizer Jason Kessler was a Proud Boy until he was excommunicated from the group after his event saw dozens of counter-protesters injured and Heather Heyer killed.

Proud Boys have engaged in violent street fights on the streets of Portland, and most recently earned headlines for brawling with anti-racist activists outside a Manhattan GOP club where McInnes made a speech.

That’s the context needed to understand the group. The Proud Boys’ goofy founding mythology helps conceal the legitimate danger they pose among the men’s rights activists, alt-righters, white nationalists, neo-Nazis, trolls, and other far-right malcontents.

But there is plenty to mock.

Their name, for example, comes from “Proud of Your Boy,” a song cut from the 1992 “Aladdin” Disney film.

The song, in which Aladdin apologizes for being a “louse and a loafer,” ended up becoming an important part of the stage production — a version of which McInnes saw at his daughter’s school recital.

To McInnes, the “fake, humble and self-serving” lyrics were a comment on the sad state of American masculinity.

Then there are the vows, required to “level up” to successive degrees of membership.

Level 1: Declare “I am a western chauvinist, and I refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.”

Level 2: Allow your fellow Proud Boys to beat you until you manage to yell out the names of five breakfast cereals. Also give up masturbation to avoid draining your sexual energy.

Level 3: Get a Proud Boys tattoo in a specific font.

Level 4 and beyond involves physical violence. Though McInnes claims this is purely in the context of self-defense, he’s also “joked” that the fourth degree involves “kicking the crap out of antifa” — a suggestion his supporters have eagerly acted out.

The Proud Boys roll up to rallies wearing matching outfits of Fred Perry black polo shirts with yellow trim, MAGA hats on their heads. They have slogans that essentially boil down to fight taunts: “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes” and, “You fuck around, you find out.”

In brief, McInnes and his crew want to engage in hateful rhetoric and violence, while retaining the ability to cast the whole thing as “ironic” when they face scrutiny.

Expect to see their name again.

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In a detailed Monday court filing, lawyers for alleged Russian agent Mariia Butina accused federal prosecutors of failing to provide easy access to key evidence involving their client, including “exculpatory information.”

In their response, the government said there was just one problem with those accusations: they were baseless.

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A black conservative group drew national attention last week for incendiary ads suggesting that black voters should support the GOP in the midterms because Democrats want to return to “lynching black folk” accused of sexually assaulting white women.

The Black Americans for the President’s Agenda campaign has been roundly denounced by the Republican candidates it is purportedly trying to help win—and even by members of the group itself.

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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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