Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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Former Trump campaign CEO and scorned ex-White House adviser Steve Bannon is expected to be interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee as part of its Russia probe next Tuesday, Reuters reported Thursday.

Bannon will be interviewed about his time on the campaign, rather than the transition or his seven-month stint White House, according to the report.

Bannon departed the White House in August, amid a shakeup ushered by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who had replaced Reince Priebus as chief of staff a few weeks prior.

Bannon was said to have kept in touch with Trump after leaving the White House, but Trump last week publicly rebuked Bannon for comments he made in Michael Wolff’s new book “Fire and Fury.”

In the book, Bannon called the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting that Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and campaign chairman at the time Paul Manafort had with Russian figures “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”

Earlier Thursday, it was reported that Bannon had hired Bill Burck — who is also representing Priebus and White House Counsel Don McGahn — to represent him in the various investigations into Russia election meddling. Sources told the Daily Beast that Bannon intends to “fully cooperate” with the probes.

Read an editor’s backgrounder (Prime access) on Steve Bannon »


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The Justice Department, in court filings Thursday, pushed back on a federal judge’s order that Kris Kobach file a declaration clarifying how his now-defunct voter fraud commission is handling state voter roll data.

The filing claimed that since the commission was disbanded by President Trump last week, Kobach should not be considered a defendant in the relevant lawsuit — which was brought by the ACLU of Florida — and that the DOJ attorneys should not be considered his counsel. The Kansas secretary of state had served as the commission’s vice chair and de facto leader.

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A Russian billionaire and Putin ally sued former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime deputy Rick Gates Wednesday, alleging that the two men “siphoned for themselves millions of dollars” as part of a Ukrainian investment scheme that was paid to their “alter ego companies.”

The complaint — filed by Surf Horizon Limited, a company linked to oil tycoon Oleg Deripaska, according to Reuters — includes references to the indictment Special Counsel Robert Mueller brought against Manafort and Gates.

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Ahead of Wednesday oral arguments for a Supreme Court case that could boost efforts to aggressively purge voter rolls, voting rights advocates weren’t optimistic that they’d get a sweeping ruling in their favor, given the court’s conservative make-up. Rather, some hoped merely that the court might rule narrowly against Ohio’s system for removing voters, which they see as the most restrictive in the nation.

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The ex-British spy hired to investigate President Trump’s Russia ties walked away from a meeting with the FBI in September 2016 with the sense that the bureau had its own independent sourcing prompting its interest in the matter, according to congressional testimony from the co-founder of the firm that hired him.

When Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson spoke privately to Senate Judiciary Committee investigators last year, he detailed the firm’s months-long oppo project looking into then-candidate Trump. The transcript was released unexpectedly Tuesday by the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), to the objection of its chair, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

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In a surprise move, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) released the transcript Tuesday of the closed-door interview that Glenn Simpson, the founder of the private intelligence firm that assembled the so-called Trump-Russia dossier, gave to the Senate Judiciary Committee in August.

The growing focus on the firm Fusion GPS by the Republicans on the committees investigating Russian meddling in the election has become a flashpoint. Republicans have resisted publishing the transcript, despite the firm’s call for it to be released.

Feinstein’s move to release it Tuesday was done without the consultation of the committee’s chair, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), his spokesman said.

Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee, defended the decision in a statement that said, “The American people deserve the opportunity to see what he said and judge for themselves.”

“The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice. The only way to set the record straight is to make the transcript public,” she said.

Fusion GPS and Grassley had been engaged in a public battle over whether to release it, with Grassley instead calling upon Fusion GPS to participate in an open hearing.

Additionally, Grassley last week sent a letter to the Justice Department recommending that Christopher Steele, the ex-British spy Fusion GPS hired to write the dossier, be investigated for criminal charges.

A Grassley spokesperson, in a statement, called Feinstein’s release of the transcript “confounding” and said her action “undermines the integrity of the committee’s oversight work and jeopardizes its ability to secure candid voluntary testimony relating to the independent recollections of future witnesses.”

We’re currently scouring the 300-page transcript and will be updating with additional details as we go.

In the Republican Judiciary staff’s first round of questioning, they focused in on Fusion GPS’ work for in the Prevezon case, a financial crimes case the Justice Department brought against the Russian firm Prevezon Holdings. Fusion GPS worked for the law firm hired by Prevezon.

The Democratic staff turned their questioning to the work Fusion GPS was hired to do investigating then-candidate Donald Trump. Here’s how Simpson described how Fusion GPS approached the project:

Simpson told the Senate investigators that from the beginning of the projection, Trump’s relationship with Felix Sater, a Russian-born business associate of Trump’s, jumped out at him. Nonetheless, Fusion GPS dug into other aspects of Trump’s background as well, Simpson said, including his golf courses in Scotland and how his family’s merchandise was being manufactured.

Simpson went on to explain why Fusion GPS decided to hire Steele as part of its Trump project, while describe what the initially had asked Steele to look into:

Simpson also discussed how the information about Trump’s relationship with Russia was just “sitting there” in Moscow, before people “clammed up.”

Read transcript below:

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In a major victory Tuesday for the Republican National Committee, a federal judge in New Jersey lifted a consent decree dating back from the 1980s that barred the RNC from conducting so-called “ballot security” measures — i.e. poll watching and other Election Day activities ostensibly aimed at monitoring for voter fraud.

While other state Republican parties could engage in poll monitoring, the RNC was extremely eager to get out from under the consent decree, which was set to expire last year. In the lead-up to the 2016 campaign, it issued memos urging RNC staff to avoid activities that could be considered poll watching, particularly after President Trump amped up his unsubstantiated claims that there would be mass voter fraud in the elections. The RNC and DNC engaged in a multi-front legal battle over whether Trump and his allies’ rhetoric amounted to a violation of the decree.

Election experts and civil rights advocates have expressed concern that, without the decree, the RNC would mount a vote suppression campaign under the guise of ballot security.

The 1982 consent decree was the result of a decades-old lawsuit the Democratic National Committee brought against the national GOP, as well as New Jersey’s Republican Party. They alleged that in a 1981 New Jersey election Republicans employed off duty cops to monitor polling places in minority neighborhoods and sent mailers to minority voters, that, if unreturned, were used to create lists of voters to challenge at polling places.

The decree had been extended multiple times over the years after Democrats surfaced evidence that the RNC had violated it. However, Democrats’ last ditch effort last year to extend it — citing Trump’s calls for vigilante poll watching, as well as then-RNC strategist Sean Spicer’s presence in an area of Trump Tower where campaign poll watching activities were being monitored — were unsuccessful.

The decree was set to expire on Dec. 1, 2017, and on Monday U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez said the DNC had failed to provide evidence of a violation that would prompt him to extend it. He also denied a DNC request for more discovery on whether Spicer violated the decree in his presence near the Trump campaign’s poll watching hub at Trump Tower on election night.

In a statement, RNC spokesperson Blair Ellis said the RNC was “gratified” with the judge’s order and that the judge “rejected the DNC’s baseless claims.”

“Today’s ruling will allow the RNC to work more closely with state parties and campaigns to do what we do best, ensure that more people vote through our unmatched field program,” she said.

Read the order below:

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The ACLU, in its lawsuit against Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach for his proof-of-citizenship voter registration requirement, signaled it believed Kobach should be held in contempt of court for what the ACLU alleges is his failure to comply with previous orders in the case.

His proof-of-citizenship requirement has been temporarily blocked by the Kansas federal court, with a full trial on the merits of the case scheduled for March. In the meantime, the ACLU asked Kobach to change the state policy manual for county officials to reflect the current state of play, in which voters who registered without proof of citizenship are allowed to register and to vote. The ACLU also asked Kobach to instruct county officials to send voter registrations certificates, which include one’s polling place, to the voters who registered to vote without proof of citizenship.

Kobach has refused on both matters, according to filings by the ACLU. On the former request, the challengers said, his lawyers indicated that he would not change the policy manual until after a final ruling on proof-of-citizenship has been handed down, and if need be, he had the chance to appeal it to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and even to the Supreme Court.

Kansas has also maintained that sending the registration certificates was not necessary because those voters already received a court-ordered notice, according to the filings.

Now the ACLU is asking the court to order Kobach to show cause for why he shouldn’t be held in contempt, or amend its order to make clear Kobach must do the things the ACLU is requesting.

The ACLU previously requested Kobach be sanctioned for misleading the court on a memo he brought with him to meet with President Trump during the transition. The memo proposed changing the National Voter Registration Act, the law that the ACLU says the proof-of-citizenship requirement violates.

The judge scolded Kobach for his “deceptive conduct and lack of candor” and levied a $1,000 fine.

Kobach is also facing a bevy of lawsuits over the President’s recently-disbanded voter fraud commission, which the secretary vice-chaired.

Read the ACLU filing below:

Read the latest editor’s brief (Prime access) on this story »


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Read the latest editor’s brief (Prime access) on this story »


A question lingering for months about President Trump’s now-defunct voter fraud commission and its cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security may now be answered, thanks to a judge’s order in a lawsuit against the commission, which was disbanded last week.

With the announcement of the commission’s dissolution, Trump, its vice chair Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and the White House have suggested that the DHS would take over the commission’s work, which included a controversial request for state voter roll information.

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Read the latest editor’s brief (Prime access) on this story »


Now that President Trump has dissolved his shady voter fraud commission, a Supreme Court case being heard Wednesday represents fraud alarmists’ next best chance to boost their voter purge campaigns.

The case, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, is a challenge to Ohio’s scheme for purging people who haven’t voted recently from the voter rolls, a scheme the state implemented under pressure from conservative legal activists, including one who later joined the Trump voter fraud commission.

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