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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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A former Playboy model has sued top GOP donor Elliott Broidy over his decision to end a hush money agreement related to their extramarital affair that was brokered by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

Shera Bechard filed the suit under seal in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Friday, according to the Wall Street Journal.

At issue, per the Journal, is the $1.6 million that Broidy agreed to pay Bechard late last year in exchange for her silence about their sexual relationship, which allegedly resulted in Bechard’s pregnancy.

The complaint also names Bechard’s former attorney Keith Davidson and Michael Avenatti, attorney for onetime adult film star Stormy Daniels, as defendants. Cohen is not a defendant.

Earlier this week, the Journal reported that Broidy was cutting off the regular installments he paid out to Bechard under the agreement because Davidson violated her non-disclosure agreement by discussing the arrangement with Avenatti.

In a statement released on Twitter, Avenatti said he had no relationship with Bechard and that his inclusion in the complaint suggested “a ploy by Ms. Bechard to get publicity.” Avenatti requested that she unseal the suit “immediately.”

Cohen’s involvement in this tangled web of hush money payments made on behalf of the President and others in their orbit is currently under investigation by federal prosecutors.

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To ensure his safety, Paul Manafort is being held in solitary confinement at a Virginia jail for “at least 23 hours a day,” his attorneys claimed in Thursday court filings appealing his pretrial detention.

The attorneys argued that Manafort’s confinement at Warsaw, Virginia’s Northern Neck Regional Jail made it “effectively impossible” for him to prepare for his two separate upcoming criminal trials.

The former Trump campaign chairman’s bail was revoked in mid-June after he allegedly engaged in witness tampering while confined to house arrest. Manafort allegedly attempted to communicate with former business partners who helped coordinate his shady lobbying work in the Ukraine. A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., convened by special counsel Robert Mueller, subsequently indicted Manafort for the alleged witness tampering. He already faced charges including failure to disclose foreign lobbying, money laundering, bank fraud and tax fraud.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

Washington D.C. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she could think of no other alternative than jail to ensure that Manafort would not commit crimes while awaiting trial.

Appealing that ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Manafort’s lawyers said that Mueller’s team failed to provide sufficient evidence that their client engaged in obstruction of justice. His communications with his former business partners, they said, “were extremely limited.”

In its own Thursday filing, Mueller’s team opposed Manafort’s request for the “extraordinary relief” he seeks. Prosecutors noted that both they and the district court have “taken steps to minimize the impact” on Manafort’s trial preparation, offering to work with his attorneys on requests to house him in a more accessible facility. Mueller also said these difficulties were common to all “defendants incarcerated pending trial.”

Prosecutors also rejected the argument that they did not adequately prove that Manafort was improperly contacting potential witnesses.

Manafort’s trial in the DC case is set to begin Sept. 17. His separate case in the Eastern District of Virginia on charges including bank fraud and filing false tax returns is scheduled for trial on July 25.

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Michael Cohen all but screamed from the rooftops this week that he plans to flip against President Trump and cooperate with federal prosecutors. In an ABC News interview, Cohen explicitly said his first loyalty was not to Trump but to his family and country. The onetime stalwart Trump footsoldier also hinted he may have information on what the President knew about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting and hush money payment to Stormy Daniels.

Former federal prosecutors say it’s deeply unusual for Cohen to be publicly telegraphing his intention to cooperate, and that he could just be angling for a pardon from Trump. But Cohen has apparently told friends he is not “counting” on receiving one, given his messy falling out with the President.

Cohen also announced that he intends to end his joint-defense agreement with Trump, which allowed their legal teams to share information and documents under cover of attorney-client privilege. In another conspicuous move, he scrubbed all references to Trump from his public social media profiles.

On Thursday, former Clinton special counsel-turned-PR rep for dictators Lanny Davis announced he was joining Cohen’s defense team. Davis will serve as the public face of Cohen’s legal squad, a job he took, he says, after being moved by Cohen’s “sincerity” in his ABC interview.

Top GOP donor Elliott Broidy will stop making hush money payments to his former Playboy Playmate mistress in an arrangement brokered by Cohen.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is adding new prosecutors to his team to handle a mess of court challenges to the charges they’ve brought, and to ease the process of eventually handing off parts of his investigation.

The most aggressive pushback has come from Concord Management, a firm run by a Russian oligarch allied with Putin and charged with funding Russia’s social media trolling operation during the 2016 election. On Mueller’s request, a federal judge restricted access to discovery materials in that case for national security reasons.

Mueller is again seeking to delay sentencing for Michael Flynn, in a sign that the ex-national security adviser is still providing valuable information to the investigation. Requesting more information on this third delay in Flynn’s sentencing, a federal judge has ordered both parties to appear for a hearing next Tuesday.

Also called in for a hearing: ex-FBI official Peter Strzok. The House Judiciary and Oversight Committees subpoenaed Strzok to submit to a public grilling about anti-Trump texts he sent while working on the Hillary Clinton email and Russia probes. Strzok’s attorney hinted he may not appear because Republicans on the committee just want to “preen and posture” rather than get at “the truth.”

Trump is slated to meet with Vladimir Putin ahead of an upcoming NATO summit in Helsinki, and reportedly intends to do so one-on-one, without any aides present.

And Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti floated the prospect of a presidential run against Trump, because 2018.

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Arthur Jones is a former leader of the American Nazi Party who describes the Holocaust as “an international extortion racket.”

He’s also a Republican congressional nominee.

Thanks to some procedural maneuvering by Jones and the Illinois GOP’s botched opportunities to block his campaign, this avowed white nationalist will appear on the November ballot on the Republican Party ticket in the safely blue 3rd Congressional District. Jones doesn’t pose a real threat to Democratic incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski, but his campaign has forced both the state and national GOP to answer, yet again, for the openly racist candidates running in the party’s name.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) entered the fray late last week, urging Illinois voters to either “write in another candidate, or vote for the Democrat.”

“This bigoted fool should receive ZERO votes,” Cruz declared.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday declined to follow in Cruz’s footsteps by boosting Lipinski, but urged Jones to drop out of the race because “there is no room in our politics for a person like that.”

Jones, a retired insurance agent, is a perennial candidate, having run for the 3rd District seven previous times, in addition to seeking other local offices. But this year, with no other Republicans in the running, Jones successfully collected the 832 signatures he needed for his nominating petition. He caught the GOP by surprise by submitting the petition on the last possible day.

The Illinois GOP attempted to derail his campaign, scouring his petition signatures for irregularities that could merit a legal challenge and attempting to recruit candidates to challenge Jones both in the primary and on a third-party ticket. They failed on all counts.

In the March primaries, while Lipinski was fending off a credible challenger on the Democratic side, Jones received over 20,000 votes on the Republican side —presumably including some cast by voters unfamiliar with his views.

Local Republicans say the failure to stop Jones has to do with the demographics of the district, which is heavily Democratic. A Republican candidate would have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get on the ballot, and would almost certainly lose to Lipinski, who is backed by Chicago’s Democratic machine.

But out of concern for appearing to enable a Nazi’s campaign, the Illinois GOP has launched an anti-Jones messaging campaign, conducting robocalls, sending out mailers, and condemning his views in statement after statement.

“The Illinois Republican Party and our country have no place for Nazis like Arthur Jones. We strongly oppose his racist views and his candidacy for any public office, including the 3rd Congressional District,” Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider told TPM via email on Thursday.

The Republican Party has had to confront the question of what to do about candidates like Jones with increasing frequency of late. In Wisconsin, open anti-Semite Paul Nehlen campaigned to unseat House Speaker Paul Ryan, while John Fitzgerald is running for Congress in California with the primary goal of “exposing” the Holocaust as fake.

Some longtime Republicans, including campaign strategist Steve Schmidt, are leaving the GOP in disgust. In the past few weeks, conservative columnists George Will and Max Boot have published Washington Post op-eds urging Republicans to “vote against the GOP” in the midterms and actively “rooting for a Democratic takeover of both houses in November,” respectively. According to Boot, the GOP has become “a white-nationalist party with a conservative fringe.”

Gov. Rauner took some heat in the press for declining to make similar “country over party” comments, particularly since Lipinski is a conservative Democrat who voted against Obamacare and opposes abortion. J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire Democrat running to defeat Rauner, recently invoked Jones’ candidacy as proof that the governor has “cowered to the worst elements of our politics.”

A spokesman for Rauner’s campaign declined to speak with TPM on the record, but pointed to a tweet Rauner sent on Thursday afternoon urging voters to support “anybody but Arthur Jones” and chiding “the media or anyone else” for implying he thought otherwise.

With local Republicans assailing their own nominee, Lipinski has mostly avoided the subject of Jones’ Nazi sympathies, though his campaign has fired off several fundraising emails on Jones’ “ugly” views. Asked why the campaign hasn’t spent much time discussing Jones, spokesman Jerry Hurckes said they are wary of giving him any more attention.

“If you keep giving this gentleman exposure, his ego just keeps growing and it gets very convoluted as to what is actual and what is not,” Hurckes said.

Jones’ campaign website features an entire section on the Holocaust, which he refers to as “the biggest, blackest, lie in history.” It’s formatted with the sort of random capitalization and bolded quotes you might see on a conspiracy theorist’s blog circa 2003.

In the “about section,” photos show Jones in uniform, speaking at the Aryan Nations World Congress and holding his arm out in a Nazi salute. His campaign’s logo is an elephant draped with a Confederate flag. The slogan: “It’s time to put America First.”

Reached by phone Thursday, Jones referred to Cruz as “Count Chocula,” the cereal box character, and said that an “alien-born person” like the Canadian-born Texas senator had “no business sticking his long, pointed nose into politics in Illinois.” After criticizing the state GOP’s opposition to his campaign, Jones launched into an unprompted diatribe on the “phony issue” of immigrant family separation at the border, and the “NN-22 anti-ship missile” that Iran possesses that he believes will usher in a third world war.

Asked about his long-shot prospects in November, Jones brought up the over 20,000 ballots cast in his name and said he had graver concerns, namely, nuclear war against Iran.

“So that’s my concern: we could in fact end up in a nuclear holocaust that would be the end of mankind, probably,” Jones said.

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Michael Cohen has added a big name to his legal defense team: former Clinton White House special counsel Lanny Davis.

Davis announced Thursday that he was moved to join the case by a recent ABC News interview in which Cohen pledged his loyalty to his family and country over President Trump.

“Like most of America, I have been following the matter regarding Michael Cohen with great interest,” Davis said in a statement. “As an attorney, I have talked to Michael many times in the last two weeks. Then I read his words published on July 2, and I recognized his sincerity. Michael Cohen deserves to tell his side of the story – subject, of course, to the advice of counsel.”

In Cohen’s ABC interview, the longtime personal attorney to Trump said he would wait until his new legal team was in place before deciding whether to cooperate with government prosecutors. Cohen is under investigation for a host of financial crimes in a case referred by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.

Davis’ hiring is the latest sign that Cohen is beefing up his defense team. The White House lawyer-turned-PR consultant became a national name in the late 1990s for his work as a spokesperson for the Clinton White House during the president’s impeachment trial. Davis has remained a strong defender of the Clintons in the years since, during which time he has represented an array of highly controversial clients, including Martha Stewart, the Washington Redskins and foreign dictators.

Cohen also recently retained former New York federal prosecutor Guy Petrillo.

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Michael Cohen made a rather public change in relationship status on Wednesday.

The longtime fixer for the president scrubbed his Twitter biography of a line identifying him as “personal attorney to President Donald J. Trump.”

This conspicuous move comes days after Cohen suggested to ABC News that he was considering flipping on Trump and cooperating with government prosecutors. Cohen also swapped out a cover photo featuring him standing at the podium at a Trump rally for an image of a rippling American flag.

The New York attorney has for years positioned himself as Trump’s primary defender, once vowing to “take a bullet” for his boss. But this week he told ABC that his family has his “first loyalty and always will.”

“I put family and country first,” Cohen said.

Cohen told ABC he plans to wait until new attorney, Guy Petrillo, officially joins his team to decide on the prospect of a plea deal. He intends to end a joint-defense agreement with Trump as soon Petrillo is on board.

Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are investigating Cohen for bank fraud and campaign finance violations, among other possible crimes. The case was referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Cohen’s LinkedIn page, which is hyperlinked from his Twitter, has not yet been updated.

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Michael Cohen is seeking to dismiss Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit alleging that he “colluded” with her former attorney, Keith Davidson, to discredit her account of having an affair with President Trump.

In a motion filed Tuesday, Cohen’s attorneys argue that the U.S. Central District of California lacks jurisdiction as he neither lives nor works in the state.

Per Daniels’ June complaint, Davidson acted as a “puppet” for Cohen, communicating with him without her knowledge. The suit contained friendly text messages between the two men discussing an attempt to have the former adult film star appear on Fox News to deny her alleged 2006 sexual liaison with Trump.

Davidson subsequently filed a cross-complaint alleging that Cohen recorded their phone calls without his knowledge.

But Cohen’s attorneys say that the state lacks jurisdiction as there is no “connection between Cohen and the state of California.”

“Neither the Complaint nor the Crossclaim allege that Cohen was physically present in the state of California when he performed the acts allegedly arising to the claims therein,” the Tuesday filing states.

In previous filings, Cohen’s team has argued that the matters raised in this particular complaint overlap with other pending cases. Daniels brought a defamation suit against Trump in New York for publicly denying their affair. Federal prosecutors in New York are also looking into the $130,000 in hush money that Cohen paid to Daniels just before the 2016 election as part of a broader probe into Cohen’s financial dealings.

Cohen’s lawyers called the California suit a “blatant attempt at judge-shopping an forum shopping.” They also dismissed the collusion allegations as “a product of complete invention.”

Cohen this week suggested that he may be willing to flip on Trump and cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors

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The attorney for controversial FBI agent Peter Strzok said that his client is not sure if he’ll comply with a House Judiciary Committee subpoena to testify next week, telling CNN on Tuesday evening that lawmakers “don’t want the truth.”

The committee issued the subpoena to Strzok earlier Tuesday, setting a July 10 date for his open hearing.

Strzok’s attorney, Aitan Goelman, told CNN he didn’t “know whether or not” they would attend, criticizing the conduct of GOP lawmakers in the 11-hour closed-door interview Strzok sat for last week.

“We have come to the conclusion, forced to come to the conclusion, that this is not a search for truth, it is a chance for Republican members of the House to preen and posture before their most radical, conspiracy-minded constituents,” Goelman said.

Strzok is a former top counterintelligence official at the FBI who worked on both the Hillary Clinton email and Russian interference investigations. He was removed from the Russia probe and demoted after the bureau discovered dozens of anti-Trump text messages he’d exchanged with former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

Those messages have made Strzok a target in conservative media and among some Republicans on Capitol Hill, who cite them as proof that the entire Russia probe is a partisan operation targeting President Trump.

Goelman told CNN that Strzok does want to tell his story publicly, but is just not sure he wants to do so “in front of these particular House subcommittees.”

The committee could pursue contempt remedies against Strzok if he ultimately refuses to comply with the subpoena.

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Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is adamantly denying allegations that he knew—and intentionally overlooked—that the doctor for Ohio State’s wrestling team was sexually abusing students when Jordan served as the team’s assistant coach from 1986 to 1994.

“It’s not true,” Jordan told Politico in a Tuesday night interview. “I never knew about any type of abuse. If I did, I would have done something about it. And look, if there are people who are abused, then that’s terrible and we want justice to happen.”

Three former Ohio State wrestlers went public in a lengthy NBC News exposé, describing rampant physical molestation by Dr. Richard Strauss. The accusers said that Jordan and other university officials knew that Strauss showered with the students and inappropriately touched them during examinations.

Dunyasha Yetts, one of the former wrestlers, told NBC he directly spoke to Jordan about an incident where Strauss pulled his pants down.

Jordan, a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus who hopes to become speaker or minority leader, told Politico that he’s not worried that the scandal could affect his political future.

“We’ve got the truth on our side,” he said.

Ohio State is investigating the allegations against Strauss, who died in 2015. A law firm conducting that probe told the Washington Post that Jordan did not respond to emails or calls seeking an interview with him. Jordan told Politico his staff had not found records of any such inquiries.

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Peter Strzok, the one-time top FBI official who came under fire for strongly critical text messages he exchanged about President Trump, will finally testify publicly before Congress next week.

The House committees on the Judiciary and Oversight announced Tuesday that Strzok will take questions at a July 10 joint hearing.

The committees are expecting intense media interest in the hearing, where fireworks between the former senior FBI counterintelligence official and Republican lawmakers are all but guaranteed. Strzok became a favorite punching bag of the right last year after the discovery of anti-Trump text messages sent between him and his then-girlfriend, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

Both Strzok and Page were involved with both the Hillary Clinton email probe and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference. Though Page was removed from the Mueller probe as soon as the texts were discovered, some congressional Republicans have taken the messages—one of which included a pledge to “stop” Trump from winning the election—as proof that FBI leadership is hopelessly biased against the President.

The conduct of the two officials was examined at length by the Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz in a report released last month. Horowitz concluded that they displayed clear bias against Trump, but that their personal feelings did not interfere with the work they performed on the two investigations.

Congressional Republicans heaped scorn on that assessment, while Trump said the report completely vindicated his claims that the Russia investigation was a “witch hunt.”

In an 11-hour, closed-door marathon interview to the joint committees last week, Strzok insisted that he did not intend to act on any of the “intimate” comments he made to Page.

As CNN reported, Strzok’s attorney, Aitan Goelman, has since accused Republicans of selectively leaking details of his testimony, and called next week’s public hearing a “trap.”

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