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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During an interview with Fox News broadcast from one of President Trump's inaugural balls, soon-to-be White House aide Sebastian Gorka wore a medal that some Hungarian news outlets and scholars identified with Miklós Horthy, the anti-Semitic World War II-era leader whose regime witnessed the murder of some 600,000 Hungarian Jews.

Still days away from officially joining the Trump administration, Gorka, a former Breitbart News editor and self-proclaimed counterterrorism expert known for his hardline views on Islam, effused to Sean Hannity about the the death of “political correctness” in the Trump era. As the interview unfolded, Fox played clips of the President and First Lady dancing at the ball earlier in the evening.

Gorka’s choice of dress, a black braided jacket known as a "bocskai" adorned with two medals, wouldn't necessarily catch the eye of an American viewer. But some Hungarians who came across the interview interpreted the getup as a nod to the knightly order of merit Horthy founded in 1920, the Order of Vitéz. Right-wing Hungarian media in particular fixated on what it saw as Gorka's callback to a resurgent native icon of the far-right.

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Sebastian Gorka never became a household name among the counterterrorism experts who populate K Street think tanks and university international relations departments during his years in Washington, D.C. Now he is President Donald Trump’s deputy assistant.

While Gorka, a former Breitbart News national security editor and fixture on Fox News, published the New York Times bestseller “Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War,” held various positions at military educational institutions and even testified before the House Armed Services Committee on the threat of “global jihadism,” he was little-known in mainstream D.C. circles before the 2016 election year.

Some foreign policy and counterterrorism experts declined to speak to TPM on the record because of Gorka’s position in the new administration. But others characterized him as a peripheral figure whose hardline ideas about Islam and the threat posed by the Islamic State terror group place him firmly outside the mainstream.

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was silenced on the Senate floor late Tuesday night for attempting to read a biting letter about Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) written by Coretta Scott King. Back in 1986, King argued that the Alabama Republican was unfit to serve as a federal judge because of his hostile attitude towards voting rights for African Americans.

Republicans said that reading the letter from Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow violated Senate rules against impugning another senator and voted along party lines to keep Warren from speaking further.

King’s full statement is posted below:

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Constituents requesting that Rep. Jimmy Duncan Jr. (R-TN) hold a town hall on repealing the Affordable Care Act aren't being met with a polite brushoff from staffers anymore. Instead, Duncan's office has started sending out a form letter telling them point-blank that he has no intention to hold any town hall meetings.

“I am not going to hold town hall meetings in this atmosphere, because they would very quickly turn into shouting opportunities for extremists, kooks and radicals,” the letter read, according to a copy obtained by the Maryville Daily Times. “Also, I do not intend to give more publicity to those on the far left who have so much hatred, anger and frustration in them.”

In the first weeks of the 115th Congress, elected officials dropping by their home districts were surprised to find town halls packed to the rafters with concerned constituents. Caught off guard and on camera, lawmakers were asked to defend President Donald Trump’s immigration policies and provide a timeline on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Now, many of them are skipping out on these events entirely. Some have said large meetings are an ineffective format for addressing individual concerns. Many others have, like the President himself, dismissed those questioning their agenda as “paid protesters” or radical activists who could pose a physical threat.

Voters turning out to town halls are pushing back hard on this characterization, arguing that they represent varied ideological backgrounds and have diverse issues to raise. Constituents unable to meet with their elected officials over the weekend told TPM that they’re not attending town hall events to make trouble. Instead, they say they want accountability from the people they pay to represent them.

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A recent addition to Donald Trump’s White House team is quickly becoming the new face of the administration’s foreign policy shop: Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka.

Gorka, who formally joined the administration in late January and previously served as an editor at Breitbart News, has been deployed across the cable networks and airwaves this week to discuss Trump putting Iran “on notice” as well as the fallout from the President's executive order on immigration.

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In the thirteen days since President Donald Trump was sworn in, headlines have screamed about mass dismissals at federal agencies, tense phone calls with world leaders, and a commander-in-chief who stewed for days over coverage of his inauguration crowd size.

Many of these unflattering details about the turmoil at the White House and inner psychology of the President have come from a steady stream of anonymous leaks. Presidential historians and veteran political journalists agree they’re unlike anything they’ve seen before.

“I can’t recall having seen a situation where there appears to be so much leaking of such an intimate nature in such a short period of time,” Russell Riley, expert on presidential history at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, told TPM.

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