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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Michael Cohen is postponing his scheduled February 7 testimony before the House Oversight Committee, citing “threats against his family” from President Trump and his allies, Cohen’s lawyer announced Wednesday.

“Due to ongoing threats against his family from President Trump and Mr. Giuliani, as recently as this weekend, as well as Mr. Cohen’s continued cooperation with ongoing investigations, by advice of counsel, Mr. Cohen’s appearance will be postponed to a later date,” Cohen representative Lanny Davis said in a statement. “Mr. Cohen wishes to thank Chairman Cummings for allowing him to appear before the House Oversight Committee and looks forward to testifying at the appropriate time.”

Trump has publicly suggested on multiple occasions that Cohen only agreed to plead guilty to financial crimes and cooperate with federal prosecutors in order to protect his father-in-law, Fima Shusterman. Trump recently suggested that investigators should look into Shusterman because “that’s the money in the family.”

Cohen was reportedly concerned that these mentions of his family members by the president could prompt Trump’s supporters to target him or his loved ones.

House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) released a joint statement calling Cohen’s safety concerns “completely legitimate.”

“As we stated previously with our colleague, Chairman Jerry Nadler of the Judiciary Committee, efforts to intimidate witnesses, scare their family members, or prevent them from testifying before Congress are textbook mob tactics that we condemn in the strongest terms,” the statement said.

The chairmen said that they still intended to require Cohen’s testimony at some point, saying “not appearing before Congress was never an option.”

“We will not let the President’s tactics prevent Congress from fulfilling our constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities,” they wrote. “This will not stop us from getting to the truth.  We expect Mr. Cohen to appear before both Committees, and we remain engaged with his counsel about his upcoming appearances.”

Another reason why it might not make sense for Cohen to testify in the next few weeks: he’s still cooperating with multiple investigations out of the New York Attorney General’s office, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office, and special counsel Robert Mueller. Cohen would likely be unable to discuss any matters related to those probes, as his statement suggests.

Two Republican members of the committee sent Cohen’s criminal defense attorney a letter on Wednesday asking for proof that their client’s testimony would be more than just a “media stunt” given these constraints.

According to those GOP lawmakers, Davis told the committee that Cohen’s testimony would focus on “his personal anecdotes about his time working for the then-private citizen Donald J. Trump, and his experiences after Mr. Trump became President.”

This post has been updated.

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The Trump administration on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to deviate from normal practice and rule quickly on whether a citizenship question can be included on the 2020 Census.

The Justice Department, represented by Solicitor General Noel Francisco, is asking that the court provide a final ruling by the time the Census questionnaires are set to be printed in June.

The request follows a ruling last week from U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman blocking the addition of the citizenship question and accusing Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross of violating a “smorgasbord” of federal rules as he pushed for its inclusion. Ross ignored warnings from Census officials concerned that adding it would cut down participation in immigrant communities, leading to a less accurate count and a skewed allocation of government resources.

According to Francisco, following standard protocol and appealing the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit would not allow the Supreme Court enough time to issue a final ruling on the matter.

“The government must finalize the census questionnaire by the end of June 2019 to enable it to be printed on time,” he told the court a Tuesday filing. “It is exceedingly unlikely that there is sufficient time for review in both the court of appeals and in this Court by that deadline.”

Francisco noted that Furman’s ruling referred to the decennial census as a “matter of national importance” with “massive and lasting consequences”—considerations that merited this deviation from standard practice.

The case in New York was brought by some 18 states, several cities, and a number of civil rights groups. Other states have also sued over the citizenship question.

Read the full Justice Department filing below.

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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee in March over the Trump administration’s controversial decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, the committee announced Tuesday.

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On Sunday, Rudy Giuliani told the New York Times that President Trump and Michael Cohen were in talks to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow through Election Day 2016. By Monday, Giuliani was claiming that he had no idea if that was true at all.

Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted out the statement Trump’s attorney put out “clarifying” his comments to the newspaper.

“My recent statements about discussions during the 2016 campaign between Michael Cohen and then-candidate Donald Trump about a potential Trump Moscow ‘project’ were hypothetical and not based on conversations I had with the President,” Giuliani said. “My comments did not represent the actual timing or circumstances of any such discussions. The point is that the proposal was in the earliest stage and did not advance beyond a free non-binding letter of intent.”

This is a notable reversal given that Giuliani had said he was directly quoting Trump when he told the Times the project discussions were “going on from the day I announced to the day I won.”

Giuliani made the cable news rounds on Sunday to discuss the project, acknowledging for the first time that work on it endured through October or November of 2016.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that was “big news” that should have been surfaced earlier.

Trump has insisted there would be nothing wrong with him working on—and failing to fully disclose—a major development project in Russia at the same time that the country was covertly working to elect him as president.

Discussion of the development resurfaced after BuzzFeed reported Thursday that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about their work on it. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office took the rare step of issuing a statement calling the article “not accurate.” BuzzFeed is standing by their story.

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Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) expresses scathing contempt for President Trump’s White House hires in his upcoming book “Let Me Finish,” according to an Axios excerpt released Monday.

As in a previously released excerpt targeting Jared Kushner, Christie characterized Trump’s administration picks as unprepared, unprofessional, and unworthy of their titles. “Riffraff,” as Christie put it.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn is described as a “Russian lackey and future federal felon.” Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt, who resigned last summer amid a swirl of ethics scandals, is called “greedy and inexperienced.” Former White House adviser Omarosa Manigault, who drew headlines for holding a photo shoot for her wedding on White House grounds, is dismissed as an “Apprentice show loser” doing “whatever Omarosa’s job purported to be.”

Christie’s book chronicles his time in politics, including his decision to jump on board the Trump train shortly after ending his own presidential campaign in 2016. The former governor was chosen to run Trump’s transition team after the GOP nominee’s surprise victory, but, as he recalls in the book, he was quickly fired from the job, with other staffers tossing his work “in a Trump Tower dumpster.”

Christie writes that he could have saved Trump “heartache,” chaos, and public humiliation had he followed the “detailed road map” that Christie laid out for the administration.

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