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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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More and more details are trickling out about James T. Hodgkinson, the man who opened fire on congressional Republicans’ baseball practice early Wednesday morning in Virginia, injuring several people including a member of House leadership.

The FBI confirmed late Wednesday that the 66-year-old Belleville, Illinois resident was the shooter, and that he died of injuries sustained while exchanging gunfire with police officers.

Hodgkinson was licensed to carry a firearm in Illinois, according to MSNBC. He also had a previous criminal history that included assault, according to police and court records.

And he appears to have been a fierce Trump critic and ardent supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), according to social media accounts that appear to belong to Hodgkinson.

The FBI said it is actively investigating Hodgkinson’s “associates, whereabouts, social media impressions, and potential motivations.”

Hodgkinson had recently moved to the Alexandria, Virginia area, close to the baseball field were the shooting occurred. The city’s former mayor, Bill Euille, told the Washington Post that he began running into Hodgkinson daily at the local YMCA around “a month and a half ago,” where they would exchange small talk. Hodgkinson told Euille that he was unemployed and looking for work and the former mayor said he appeared to be “living out of the gym bag.”

Here’s everything we know about Hodgkinson so far:

He was on the “really progressive side”

St. Louis resident Charles Orear, 60, told the Washington Post that he met Hodgkinson, who he described as a friend, while volunteering on Sanders’ presidential campaign. In Orear’s account, Hodgkinson was a “quiet guy” who was on the “really progressive side of things.”

“He was this union tradesman, pretty stocky, and we stayed up talking politics,” Orear told the Post, expressing shock at news of the shooting.

“I know he wasn’t happy with the way things were going, the election results and stuff,” the suspect’s brother, Michael Hodgkinson, told the New York Times, adding that the shooting struck him as “totally out of the blue.”

Sanders said in a statement from the Senate floor that he was “sickened” by the suspected gunman’s actions and condemns the shooting in “the strongest possible terms.”

In video posted to Twitter by a reporter for local Chicago station WGN-TV, Hodgkinson can be heard lamenting the economic strain experienced by many Americans during a 2011 Occupy Wall Street event in St. Louis.

“The 99 percent are getting pushed around and the 1 percent are just not giving a damn, so we’ve got to speak up for the whole country,” he said in the short interview clip.

A very anti-Trump, pro-Sanders social media presence

Social media accounts that appear to belong to Hodgkinson and a home inspection business that he reportedly ran, JTH Inspections, are full of posts promoting Sanders while criticizing Trump and GOP policies. The FBI was investigating those social media accounts, according to CNN.

One Facebook post from March read, “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”

He appeared to be a member of Facebook groups including “Terminate the Republican Party” and “Illinois Berners United to Resist Trump.”

Several of the posts that appear to have been written by Hodgkinson also are critical of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who is described in one as a “Republican in a Democratic Pant Suit.”

A Twitter account under the handle JTH Inspections showed just four tweets, three of which also referenced either Trump or Sanders.

A prolific letter-to-the-editor writer

The Belleville News-Democrat, a newspaper in Hodgkinson’s hometown, reported that he sent their editor a series of letters criticizing GOP policies. The nine letters, all of which are dated 2012, call for the United States to raise taxes on the rich and rail against deepening income inequality.

“I have never said ‘life sucks,’ only the policies of the Republicans,” Hodgkinson wrote in one Aug. 28, 2012 missive.

Hodgkinson blamed former President George W. Bush for “ruining our economy” and urged Illinois voters to support former President Barack Obama in the presidential election to “get this country back on track.” He was also critical of Fox News and the network’s former anchor Bill O’Reilly, who he accused of promoting biased news.

A history of violent behavior

Hodgkinson apparently had a history of violent behavior. In April 2006 he was arrested on two counts of battery and unlawful damage to a motor vehicle, according to a St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office report obtained by HuffPost.

According to the partially-redacted report, Hodgkinson was attempting to pick up his daughter from an acquaintance’s home and “became violent” when she refused to depart with him. He “grabbed [her] by the hair and pulled her off the floor,” according to the report. Hodgkins also allegedly punched a woman who was at the home “with a closed fist” and aimed a shotgun at that woman’s boyfriend’s “face” when he attempted to intervene, according to the report.

The report states Hodgkinson was arrested at the scene, where police recovered a pocket knife, 12-gauge shotgun and clumps of hair pulled from a woman’s head. The case was later dismissed, court records show.

Clarification: This story originally cited reporting from NBC News that the woman Hodgkinson allegedly assaulted in 2006 was his own girlfriend. NBC has since updated its story to note that “the nature of Hodgkinson’s relationship with the victim is not clear.”

This post has been updated.

A friend of former FBI director James Comey has given the bureau copies of memos the ousted intelligence official wrote to document his private conversations with President Donald Trump, Politico reported Tuesday.

According to the report, Columbia University law professor Daniel Richman turned over Comey’s meticulously detailed notes directly to the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the wide-ranging probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, including potential obstruction of justice.

Comey testified last week that he asked Richman to provide summaries of some of the memos to reporters out of concern that Trump would “lie” about the nature of their one-on-one interactions. Under oath, Comey said that Trump asked him to swear “loyalty” and to quash an investigation into ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn. He testified that he believes his firing was a direct result of his handling of the Russia investigation, and said that he passed along the memos with the hope that they would prompt the appointment of a special counsel.

Trump seized on those remarks to label Comey a “leaker” who acted in a “cowardly” and possibly “illegal” manner to get his side of the story out to the media. As many observers have pointed out, Trump had already fired Comey when he shared the memos and they did not include classified information, giving the ousted FBI director free range to share them.

The Senate and House Intelligence Committees, Senate Judiciary Committee and House Oversight Committee have all requested copies of Comey’s memos, per Politico.

An Iranian-American businessman who served on President Donald Trump’s transition team appears to be the linchpin connecting ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn with a Turkish businessman who paid Flynn’s consulting firm more than $500,000 to lobby for Turkish interests during the 2016 campaign.

Bijan Kian, a co-founder of Flynn Intel Group, first met the businessman, Ekim Alptekin, through Kian’s work promoting U.S. business interests abroad for the Export-Import bank, according to a report out Tuesday from the Associated Press. After Kian’s tenure with the bank ended in 2011, the two men’s ties deepened. That year, Alptekin brought Kian on as vice chairman of his Istanbul-based aviation company. Kian also named Alptekin a board director of the Nowruz Commission, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit promoting the Persian New Year that Kian co-founded.

TPM previously reported that the commission, known for hosting splashy annual galas, served as a nexus between Alptekin, Kian and Flynn years before the Turkish businessman paid Flynn Intel Group $530,000 to produce negative PR materials on an exiled Turkish cleric loathed by that nation’s president.

Alptekin has insisted that this campaign was not carried out at the request of Turkey’s government and that it was all “legal” and “fully transparent,” as he told the AP. Both Kian, who Alptekin told the AP handled “the day-to-day details,” and Flynn retroactively registered in March as foreign agents for their work.

Federal investigators are probing Flynn’s work for foreign governments as part of a sprawling investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

While the AP report sheds light on how Alptekin linked up with FIG for the lobbying contract, it doesn’t explain how Flynn and Kian first met. It did note that Flynn served on the board of Kian’s technology firm, GreenZone Systems, and that the pair apparently bonded over strong opposition to Iran’s government. They went on to found Flynn Intel Group in 2014 before most recently working together on the Trump transition team, where Kian was an adviser on national security matters.

Read the full AP report here.

Voter databases and software systems in an overwhelming number of states—39 to be exact—were targeted by Russian cyberattacks over the summer and fall of 2016, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday.

That number, and Bloomberg’s revelation that hackers attempted to delete or alter voter data in Illinois and successfully accessed a campaign finance database in another state, indicates that Russia’s election interference was even more vigorous than has previously been reported.

It builds on a NSA document leaked to The Intercept and made public last week that offered hard evidence that Russian meddling involved not only the strategic hacking and distribution of campaign communications, but efforts to interfere with America’s election infrastructure.

Three people that Bloomberg describes as having “direct knowledge” of the federal Russia probe said that the hackers gained access to software intended for poll workers to use on Election Day as well as to Illinois’ entire state voter database.

They did not alter vote tallies, however, as various intelligence officials have testified in congressional hearings. One anonymous U.S. official posited to Bloomberg that this was because Russia only accessed American voting systems months before an Election Day, lacking the time needed to master a complex network that varies between thousands of local jurisdictions.

Former President Barack Obama attempted to intervene last October, according to Bloomberg, using the so-called “red phone” secure messaging channel established between Russia and the U.S. to deescalate the threat of cyberattacks.

Putin said only that he would look into the matter, and has categorically denied that the Russian government took any steps to interfere in the U.S. election. He allowed earlier this month that “patriotic individuals” could have carried out cyberattacks independently.

U.S. intelligence officials have cautioned that Russian interference continues, and that the 2018 and 2020 elections could very well be compromised by their efforts.

“They will be back,” former FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee last week.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Tuesday testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding Russia’s interference in the 2016 election will be public, according to the panel’s bipartisan chairs.

There was some uncertainty about whether the hearing would be open or closed, but Sessions apparently requested it “be public,” according to the Justice Department.

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James Comey testified Thursday that he was “stunned” by requests President Donald Trump made to curtail federal investigations related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and thought the President’s remarks were of investigative interest— and it seems other senior FBI officials agree.

Though the ousted FBI director did not go as far as accusing Trump of attempting to obstruct justice, Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee offered the clearest indication yet that the President may already be under scrutiny for exactly that.

Part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s job is to “sort that out,” Comey said, dismissing questions from the assembled senators on whether he personally believed Trump obstructed justice. His testimony made the case for why he felt “sure” that Mueller would look into the multiple one-on-one conversations that Trump requested of his then-FBI director.

Comey says Trump asked him to quash the FBI’s investigation into ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn in one Feb. 14 exchange in the Oval Office. In a March 30 phone call, Comey says Trump requested that he lift the “cloud” that the Russia probe was casting over his administration.

“I don’t think it’s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the President was an effort to obstruct,” Comey said of the Feb. 14 meeting. “I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel will work towards to try and understand what the intention was there, and whether that’s an offense.”

Importantly, Comey noted that Trump asked other senior officials, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, to clear the room before initiating the conversation about the Flynn probe. He noted those officials hesitated before complying.

“Why did he kick everybody out of the Oval Office?” Comey said. “That, to me as an investigator, is a very significant fact.”

Senior FBI officials briefed on that conversation said it was “of investigative interest” to determine the intent of Trump’s statements about Flynn, Comey testified.

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe made similar remarks in separate testimony before the committee on Wednesday, telling Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) that it was “accurate” to assume that Comey’s private conversations with Trump either already are or are “likely to become part of a criminal investigation.”

These loaded comments apparently did not trouble Trump’s legal team or his defenders on Capitol Hill, who insisted that Comey’s testimony actually vindicated the President. They noted that, as Trump previously said, Comey confirmed that he informed Trump on three separate occasions that the President was not the subject of a counterintelligence investigation.

Republican lawmakers, the White House and Trump’s own family members also argued that the President was merely looking out for the interest of Flynn, a longtime adviser, and never explicitly ordered Comey to end any investigation. Those defenders neglected to mention that Comey testified that a senior FBI official cautioned him against telling Trump he was not a part of the federal investigation, because that person believed that “inevitably his behavior, his conduct will fall within the scope.”

Whether Trump requested or ordered that Comey drop the investigation into Flynn is an irrelevant semantic distinction. As Comey testified, Trump asked him to swear “loyalty” and repeatedly brought up the status of his job in their conversations, leaving the former FBI director with the impression that his continued tenure at the bureau was “contingent upon how he felt I conducted myself and whether I demonstrated loyalty.”

He did not comply with Trump’s requests and was fired only four months into Trump’s term. By the President’s own admission, Comey was dismissed because of the “Russia thing.”

“I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted,” Comey testified. “That is a very big deal.”

Former FBI Director James Comey’s characteristically measured testimony Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee communicated one fact clearly: he doesn’t think much of the current President of the United States.

Over and over during his three-hour-long appearance, Comey painted Donald Trump as a free-wheeling, habitually untruthful commander-in-chief with little respect for the independence of the FBI.

Trump himself has taken gleeful potshots at Comey, tweeting in the days after he removed Comey as FBI director that he had “lost the confidence” of both Republicans and Democrats and denigrated the “spirit and prestige of the FBI.” He also reportedly told senior Russian officials that Comey was “crazy, a real nut job,” who was insistent on pursuing an investigation into their interference in the 2016 election.

Now a private citizen, and knowing the eyes of Americans all over the country were on his testimony, Comey made his own personal views on Trump explicit.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ oversight of the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election had become “problematic” before he voluntarily recused himself, fired FBI Director James Comey testified Thursday.

The tantalizingly vague statement, based on facts Comey said he could not discuss in an open hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, suggested that FBI leadership knew weeks before Sessions’ recusal that he would have to step down.

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Ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn is the subject of an “open criminal investigation” stemming from his contacts with Russian officials, fired FBI director James Comey testified Thursday.

In a feverishly-anticipated hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey confirmed under oath that Flynn was in “legal jeopardy” and that the FBI investigation of him was specifically focused on his contacts with Kremlin operatives. News articles previously reported that the FBI opened an investigation into Flynn’s work as a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the Trump administration’s transition to the White House.

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Fired FBI Director James Comey will confirm news reports that President Donald Trump privately asked him to swear “loyalty” and to put an end to the bureau’s investigation into fired national security adviser Michael Flynn when he testifies Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to his prepared remarks.

The committee released a copy of Comey’s prepared opening statement nearly 20 hours ahead of his feverishly-anticipated appearance. In those prepared remarks, Comey recounts in painstaking detail five of the nine one-on-one conversations that he says he had with Trump before he was abruptly fired in early May.

Comey will testify that he told the President on three separate occasions that he was not personally targeted by the federal counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Trump has publicly claimed as much.

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