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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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Just two months after special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election, his team of prosecutors trained their sights on Michael Cohen. That’s one of the most surprising revelations from the almost 900 pages of search warrant materials in the Cohen case made public on Tuesday.

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If last week saw Paul Manafort get off easy in a Virginia courtroom, this week saw the former Trump campaign chairman’s legal problems multiply. DC District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Manafort to another seven years in prison, though he’ll be allowed to serve his sentence for conspiracy-related charges concurrently with his Virginia sentence.

In total, Manafort was ordered to spend some seven-and-a-half years behind bars.

The tone of the two hearings couldn’t have been more different. While Virginia District Judge T.S. Ellis praised Manafort as a “generous person” who had lived a relatively “blameless life,” Berman Jackson said he was no “victim.” “It is hard to overstate the number of lies, and the amount of fraud,” she said of Manafort’s conduct.

Outside the courthouse, Manafort’s attorneys were loudly heckled by protesters for trying to claim that the back-to-back cases affirmed that “there was absolutely no evidence of any Russian collusion.”

Almost as soon as the sentence came down, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced that a New York state grand jury had indicted Manafort on mortgage fraud charges. The 16 separate counts laid out in the indictment include mortgage fraud, conspiracy, and falsifying business records. Manafort would still be accountable for these state criminal charges in the event that he received a pardon from President Trump for his federal crimes.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) caused a mini-firestorm by claiming she was “not for” impeachment unless presidential conduct is discovered that is “so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan” that it merits it. Pelosi has previously said pushing for impeachment was premature pending the conclusion of the special counsel’s investigation.

The Democratic leader waved away the attention, saying she’s said a version of the same statement “every week,” and only favors impeachment based on “ironclad” facts.

Trump, meanwhile, is now saying “there should be no Mueller Report” at all, since the document would be the fruit of a witch hunt against him.

The House of Representatives voted unanimously this week to release the eventual report, with just a few diehard Trump-boosting lawmakers voting “present” rather than “yes” or “no.”

Powerhouse attorney Andrew Weissman is departing from Robert Mueller’s team in the latest sign that the probe may be winding down.

Federal prosecutors in New York are seeking communications between Michael Cohen and a lawyer who inquired about a presidential pardon on Cohen’s behalf. Cohen’s legal team sent a letter to the House Oversight Committee this week saying that the former Trump fixer “could have been clearer” when he testified that he never asked for a pardon from Trump. Though Cohen didn’t do so personally, he did dispatch representatives to make this act in the immediate aftermath of the FBI’s April 2018 of his properties.

Cohen’s testimony is opening new lines of inquiry for New York Attorney General Letitia James, who subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank this week seeking more information about the financing of various Trump building projects.

A Nov. 5 trial date was set in the case of Roger Stone, while Judge Berman Jackson continues to mull whether Stone violated a gag order she imposed.

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Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts was “shocked and horrified” to learn Monday that the statewide field director for his 2018 reelection campaign was a “hate-filled” white nationalist. TPM was one of the first outlets to cover the story.

“I had no idea he harbored these feelings,” the GOP governor said of his former staffer, 22-year-old Bennett Bressman. “He never expressed these views to me. I condemn these statements and this hateful worldview.”

In a press release denouncing the leaked online chats in which Bressman jokes about killing Black Lives Matter activists and journalists, Ricketts’ campaign noted that the governor had, after all, “addressed the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas in 2018” and promoted the sale of “Nebraska beef” in Israel on multiple occasions.

But this week’s revelations are hardly the first time the governor has faced questions about his links to people with controversial, hateful views.

Ricketts himself repeatedly donated to famously racist Iowa Rep. Steve King. Ricketts gave King — who retweets open white nationalists and frets that whites will no longer be a majority in the U.S. — some $20,400 between 2009 and 2016.

Questioned about those donations after King asked in January how the terms “white nationalist, white supremacist” became offensive, Ricketts’ spokesman said that the governor “believes northwestern Iowans deserve a conservative voice in Congress who will continue fighting for tax relief, a vibrant economy, and strong family values.”

Then there’s Ricketts’ father, family patriarch and AmeriTrade founder Joe Ricketts. He made enemies in the media world in 2017 for shutting down alternative local news sites DNAinfo and Gothamist as soon as they voted to unionize. More recently, he made headlines for exchanging shockingly racist emails.

In leaked communications, Joe Ricketts said that “Islam is a cult and not a religion” and that Muslims are a natural “enemy due to their deep antagonism and bias against non-Muslims.” He also pushed birther nonsense about Barack Obama. (To Pete Ricketts’ credit, he tried to convince his father to read a Snopes article trying to debunk stereotypes about Muslims.)

After the messages went public, Joe Ricketts said in a statement to the media: “I strongly believe that bigoted ideas are wrong.”

The Ricketts family has warmly embraced President Trump, however, despite his countless disparaging remarks about religious and ethnic minorities and his administration’s hostility towards immigrants, documented and otherwise. Trump appointed Gov. Ricketts as a member of his Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations last year.

Ricketts’ brother, Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts, is even more closely linked to Trumpworld. After dropping his bid to become Trump’s deputy commerce secretary because of his overly complicated financial affairs, Todd Ricketts was named as finance chair for the Republican National Committee.

In February, the RNC announced that Ricketts will now oversee fundraising for Trump’s reelection as part of a joint effort by the 2020 campaign and RNC to secure a second term for the President.

“As we head toward 2020, I will work to ensure President Trump and his campaign have the resources they need to fight for the American people,” Ricketts said in a statement.

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