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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The family of the 23-year-old man arrested this weekend for allegedly trying to set off what he thought was a large car bomb outside an Oklahoma City bank has accused the FBI of knowingly entrapping an individual who suffers from severe mental health issues.

In the culmination of a months-long FBI sting operation, Jerry Drake Varnell, a 23-year-old Sayre, Oklahoma resident, was charged with planning to blow up the BancFirst building in an anti-government plot modeled after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing attack that killed dozens.

A federal criminal complaint against Varnell does not reference his history of mental illness, which is documented in state records related to a 2013 assault against his then-wife.

Varnell was charged with one felony count of domestic assault and battery by strangulation after sexually and physically assaulting his then-wife in the apartment they shared in February 2013, when he was a student at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

The woman told police that Varnell had a “schizophrenic episode” that caused him to believe “he would die at midnight and needed to impregnate her,” according to a probable cause affidavit. She told police that when she declined, Varnell smothered her face with a pillow until she passed out, and that when she awoke, he was “raping her.”

Varnell ultimately pleaded no contest and received a five-year deferred sentence. Plea documents show that he had received a diagnosis for schizophrenic affective disorder the month of his arrest on the assault and battery charge.

Varnell’s attorney, Terri Coulter, did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment from TPM. Melonie Varnell, the suspect’s mother, and Cade Varnell, the suspect’s brother, also did not immediately respond to Facebook messages seeking comment.

In a Monday interview with the Daily Beast, Melonie Varnell said that her son had been hospitalized six times since age 16 as a result of his schizophrenia, and that his alleged involvement in the bombing plot was brought on by the paranoia and conspiracies inherent to his illness.

“Without the Haldol, he thinks he’s Jesus, he’s tried to make gold before, he’s chased trolls. He’s very mentally ill,” Melonie Varnell told the Daily Beast, referring to the medication her son takes.

“I consider this entrapment,” she added. “They got him to do this. We live two hours from Oklahoma City.”

In a statement to HuffPost, Varnell’s mother noted that the well-equipped “bunker” the FBI said her son maintained in the backyard was just a “storm shelter” that the family used for storage.

Varnell faces between five and 20 years in prison for the alleged bomb plot, which came about after a confidential informant and an undercover FBI agent helped him gain access to what he believed were explosive materials, according to the complaint. He also allegedly made comments in support of the anti-government “III %” movement and repeatedly said he wanted to destroy federal property.

His detention hearing is set for Aug. 22.

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LATE UPDATE Aug. 17, 2017, 9:24 a.m.: VDare said in a statement that it had received a refunded deposit and check for “very significant damages” from Cheyenne Mountain Resort following the cancellation of its 2018 conference. Praising the “professionalism and courtesy” of the staff, founder Peter Brimelow called the cancellation proof of the power of the “Totalitarian Left” to “suppress a debate on immigration policy.”

Original story below

A resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado has cancelled plans to host white nationalist site Virginia Dare’s 2018 public conference.

“Cheyenne Mountain Resort will not be hosting the VDARE Foundation in April of next year,” resort spokeswoman Guadalupe Hirt said Wednesday in a statement to TPM. “We remain committed to respecting the privacy of guests at the resort.”

Virginia Dare, or VDare, had booked the luxury resort for a weekend of discussion about “patriotic immigration reform and American national identity” in April 2018, as Media Matters first reported earlier this month. The Southern Poverty Law Center labels VDare an “anti-immigrant hate site.”

Asked initially about its decision to host a group with direct ties to some of the country’s most prominent white nationalists, the resort told Media Matters that it would not comment on the “groups or individuals that hold meetings at the resort.”

TPM has reached out to VDare founder Peter Brimelow and his wife, Lydia, for comment. The link to the conference page on VDare’s website now informs visitors that the event was cancelled and that registered attendees would receive refunds.

That notice has replaced an invitation for the $225-per-person, three-day event, in which the group promised attendees access to the resort’s “naturally breathtaking landscape and exceptional hospitality,” as well as the opportunity to hear from a number of far-right luminaries, including Brimelow himself.

TPM screenshot of the invitation as it appeared last week.

Brimelow, the author of “Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster,” adamantly denies that his site has a white nationalist bent. But white nationalist writers like American Renaissance’s Jared Taylor frequently contribute articles to the site. At a 2016 American Renaissance conference that a TPM reporter attended, Brimelow said that the “next time there are illegal alien demonstrations,” the federal government should “round them up and ship them out.”

Other planned speakers at the Dare event included former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), a Breitbart columnist who has said that “political correctness protests Muslim rape culture” and that Barack Obama was only elected President because the U.S. no longer had a “literacy test” for voting.

John Derbyshire, a longtime National Review columnist who was fired over an article suggesting white and Asian parents educate their children about the threats posed by black people, was also on the list of speakers. He has referred to himself as a “homophobe” and “a racist.”

VDare’s plan to convene in Colorado Springs was met with strong local pushback. Mayor John Suthers (R) said he could not stop the resort from hosting the group, but that the city would “not provide any support or resources to this event, and does not condone hate speech in any fashion.”

“The City remains steadfast in its commitment to the enforcement of Colorado law, which protects all individuals regardless of race, religion, color, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation to be secure and protected from fear, intimidation, harassment and physical harm,” Suthers said in a statement on his website.

A Change.org petition circulated this week to try to convince the resort not to host the conference and garnered over 4,0000 signatures.

VDare’s attempts to hold its first-ever conference have been thwarted before. After Media Matters informed Tenaya Lodge, a resort near Yosemite National Park, about the group’s views earlier this year, the resort canceled the conference, saying it was unaware “of the nature of” the organization.

Pushback against white nationalist groups and other hate groups has escalated in the wake of the chaotic “Unite the Right” rally over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left dozens injured and three people dead. According to its website, VDare also has had its PayPal account abruptly pulled, as happened to the neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer.

A number of the participants in the “Unite the Right” rally since have been dismissed from their jobs, and planned white nationalist events in Boston and at Texas A&M University have been canceled.

Correction: The original version of this post erroneously identified Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers as a Democrat. He is a Republican.

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At first blush, it seemed as if another shoe may be dropping for an associate of President Donald Trump in the investigations into Russia’s 2016 election interference when the news broke Monday night that a campaign adviser had repeatedly tried to arrange meetings with Russian contacts.

But according to the Washington Post’s report, that aide was foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, one of the youngest and least prominent members of Trump’s campaign.

In a phone call with TPM, a former Trump campaign adviser confirmed Papadopoulos made at least one effort to arrange meetings between Russian officials and Trump or senior members of his campaign that was swiftly rebuffed.

“I remember him raising that once and it never went anywhere,” the adviser said. “It was a nothing. It was a sort of comment or suggestion. I heard him make it, but it was sort of shot down and never really taken seriously.”

The former adviser repeatedly insisted Papadopoulos was not “a significant player” on the foreign policy team and described him as “probably the most junior guy,” saying he never saw evidence that Papadopoulos had successfully developed his own networks in the foreign policy community.

Papadopoulos, who has a nearly nonexistent online presence aside from a LinkedIn profile, did not respond to a message on that platform requesting comment for this story.

His mysterious emergence in and disappearance from the Trump orbit raises questions about why he made at least six attempts via email to broker meetings between Russian leaders and Trump advisers, according to the Post’s reporting, as well as about who his contacts were.

The only Russian individual named in the Post article is Ivan Timofeev, a senior official in the government-funded Russian International Affairs Council, who inquired in May 2016 about arranging a Moscow meeting between Trump and Russian foreign ministry officials. Both Sam Clovis, then the co-campaign chairman, and Paul Manafort swatted down the Timofeev inquiry, per the report.

Papadopoulos is a 2009 college graduate whose work experience includes stints at a handful of Washington, D.C. think tanks and a London-based oil and gas advisory firm. His youth and lack of policy experience were immediately called into question when Trump listed him as one of five foreign policy advisers during a March 2016 sit-down with the Post’s editorial board; he had previously briefly served as a campaign adviser to Ben Carson.

At the time, Trump referred to Papadopoulos as an “excellent guy.”

During his tenure on the campaign, Papadopoulos was not tasked with assisting with press interviews, nor did he make notable contributions to rolling out Trump’s foreign policy proposals, according to the former campaign adviser. He did conduct one September 2016 interview with independent Moscow news site Interfax, however, in which he said that U.S. sanctions “have done little more than to turn Russia towards China.”

Despite his apparently minimal involvement, Papadopoulos makes prominent reference to his tenure on the Trump team in his LinkedIn profile; his banner names him as a “former advisor at Donald J Trump for President” and his summary leads off with Trump’s words of praise to the Post.

Carter Page, another former member of Trump’s foreign policy team who has been interviewed multiple times by the FBI about his business ties to Russia, told TPM that questions about Papadopoulos’ work on the campaign were “irrelevant.”

Other former members of the foreign policy team, as well as representatives from the organizations listed on Papadopoulos’ LinkedIn, where he is currently listed as a New York City-based independent “oil, gas and policy consultant,” did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.

The head of the only organization Papadopoulos listed as a current affiliation, the Cyprus-based International Presidential Business Advisory Council, denied any connection to him.

“George Papadopoulos is NOT a member of IPBAC, never was and we have never worked together,” John Georgoulas, head of the organization, told TPM in an email, saying he’s “never met him.”

When TPM told Georgoulas that Papadopoulos had listed himself as a “member” of the group on his LinkedIn profile, Georgoulas noted that the former Trump aide had once added him as a connection, but said that Papadopoulos’ claim to membership was “weird and not true!”

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A foreign policy adviser on President Donald Trump’s campaign made repeated efforts to arrange meetings with contacts he had in Russia, the Washington Post reported Monday.

The Post reported that in at least half a dozen email requests sent between March and September 2016, adviser George Papadopoulos urged Trump or senior members of his campaign to meet with Russian officials. Some of those emails were read to the newspaper by a person with access to them.

In one, Papadopoulos offered to arrange “a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss US-Russia ties under President Trump,” as quoted by the Post.

A self-described energy consultant, Papadopoulos was the youngest and least experienced member of the small foreign policy team Trump abruptly formed last March after coming under criticism for his lack of foreign policy expertise.

These newly surfaced emails mark the latest in a long string of examples of the Trump team’s efforts to establish direct communication with Russia during the 2016 race. Special counsel Robert Mueller is currently investigating Russia’s interference in the election and whether any members of the Trump team cooperated with Russians in that effort.

According to the Post, the Papadopoulos emails were part of the over 20,000 pages of documents that the Trump campaign turned over to the multiple congressional committees conducting their own investigations into Russia’s election interference.

Trump campaign officials expressed concern at the concerted efforts made by Papadopoulos, according to the report. Campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis cautioned that NATO allies should be consulted before any meetings with Russian official occurred, and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort said Trump would not be traveling to Russia for any sort of meeting with Putin.

High-level members of the campaign did not always rebuff overtures from Russian operatives so directly, however. Manafort attended a June 2016 Trump Tower that Donald Trump, Jr. arranged with individuals purporting to have information that would damage Hillary Clinton’s candidacy as part of a Kremlin effort to help his father’s campaign. Trump Jr. has said he did not know who the participants of the meeting would be beforehand, or what would be discussed there, and has turned over his contemporaneous notes to the special counsel.

The President’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who also attended the Trump Tower meeting, also reportedly spoke with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. about setting up a covert communications channel during the transition to the White House. And Trump himself infamously urged Russia to find and leak Clinton’s private emails just months before Election Day.

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An Oklahoma man who the FBI claimed espoused violent, anti-government views was arrested over the weekend in an alleged plot to detonate what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb outside an Oklahoma City bank.

Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, was arrested Friday shortly after he allegedly attempted to activate what he believed to be an explosives-laden van just outside of the BancFirst building. The scheme echoed the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing attack that killed dozens.

Varnell was charged with attempting to use explosives to destroy a building in interstate commerce, according to a press release from the U.S. Justice Department. Mark Yancey, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma, announced in a brief Monday press conference that Varnell could face 5-20 years in prison if convicted.

News reports and a criminal complaint paint a picture of a disturbed young man sympathetic to the views of the anti-government “Three Percenter” movement and keen to seek retaliation against what he viewed as an overly intrusive federal bureaucracy. His cues and references were ripped from news headlines and pop culture.

“That’s the kind of shit I want to fucking do, it’s time to do that kind of fucking shit,” Varnell said in a conversation with an FBI source and an undercover FBI agent, as quoted in the complaint. He was referring to the action that Tyler Durden, the nihilist “Fight Club” protagonist, expressed wanting to take against the federal government by destroying its facilities.

Varnell allegedly told both individuals during that same conversation at an Elk City, Oklahoma restaurant that he adhered to the “III% ideology” and wanted to start the next revolution.

As the Southern Poverty Law Center has documented, the Three Percenter movement adheres to the mistaken belief that only three percent of American colonists fought the British during the American Revolution.

Varnell’s alleged months-long efforts to obtain explosive devices, pick and case his target, and find anti-government allies willing to support his crusade are detailed at length in the complaint. According to the complaint, he maintained an electrically-powered storage container in the backyard of the home he shared with his parents that was stocked with food, supplies and a hidden room where he planned to grow marijuana.

He allegedly told the FBI source that he had built the bunker for use “when the world (or United States) collapsed” and that he was attempting to build a “team” of like-minded associates.

“I’m out for blood,” Varnell told the individual, as quoted in the complaint. “When militias start getting formed im going after government officials when I have a team.”

The complaint states those messages were captured in audio recordings, Facebook messages and encrypted text messages.

Varnell described his plans for the bomb and how it would work, telling the source he wanted to “go with what the OKC bomber used” but that he planned to set it off at night to avoid mass casualties, according to the complaint. He acknowledged some deaths may be unavoidable, allegedly telling the undercover FBI agent “you got to break a couple of eggs to make an omelet.”

The complaint also charges Varnell prepared a Facebook message that he wanted put out after the attack was completed, so that no other group could take credit for it.

That message, as quoted in the complaint, called the bombing “an act done to show the government what the people thinks of its actions. It is also a call to arms, to show people that there are still fighters among the American people. The time for revolution is now.”

The Oklahoman newspaper reported that Varnell had a history of mental health issues, including a domestic assault and battery charge for an alleged attempt to choke his now ex-wife. In plea paperwork, Varnell said he first received treatment for schizoaffective disorder in Feb. 2013, according to the report.

Varnell was arrested at around 1 a.m. local time Saturday morning, after constructing what he believed to be a bomb with the undercover FBI agent, driving to the BancFirst building in a van he believed stolen, and making repeated attempts to detonate it, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Asked if Varnell has retained an attorney or received court-appointed representation, Yancey’s office told TPM that his legal representation would be discussed when he makes his initial appearance in court at 3 p.m. local time.

Read the complaint below:

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The two-day delay between the outbreak of violence at white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and President Donald Trump’s short remarks Monday calling out the “KKK, neo-Nazis, [and] white supremacists” by name was sharply criticized by his critics and allies alike.

The far-right extremists supportive of the “Unite The Right” rally, held Saturday to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, took notice, too.

In delaying an explicit condemnation of hate groups and initially criticizing “many sides” involved in the conflict, white nationalists said, the President provided political cover and allowed counter-protesters to share blame for the violence, which turned deadly when a man who’d espoused white supremacist views drove his car into the crowd, killing one woman and injuring at least 19 others.

“As he pointed out, there was violence and malice on both sides, and to pretend somehow that there was only violence on one side or hostility on one side, that’s just wrong,” Jared Taylor, head of white nationalist publication American Renaissance, told TPM. “Joe Biden said there’s only one side. Well, wait a minute, if the counter-demonstrators would not have showed up, there would have been no violence at all. It takes two to do this.”

In a blog post about the rally, Taylor wrote that, “Of all people, it was Donald Trump who came the closest to getting it right” in his response.

William Johnson, head of the white nationalist American Freedom Party, who bankrolled robocalls for Trump during the campaign, shared a similar interpretation of Trump’s Monday remarks.

“Donald Trump’s most recent condemnation of racism was also good and was appropriate as the head of our entire country,” Johnson wrote TPM in an email. “I note that he condemned all racism INCLUDING that coming from the KKK and neo-nazis. The use of the word ‘including’ indicates that he believes there is a larger, over-arching source of racism besides those groups named.”

Johnson went on to say he believes white people face more racism than non-whites.

“This is because whites have, by and large, been conditioned to suppress racist thoughts,” he wrote. “Saturday’s deadly act in Charlotteville [sic] by the angry white driver with the lead foot proves this fact. Acts of violence by whites are proportionally fewer that by many other groups. His act sets the nationalist movement back considerably.”

“I am pleased with what Donald Trump said,” Johnson added. “The only solution for the festering racism of this country is separation and the creation of a white ethnostate.”

Andrew Anglin, founder of neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer, called Trump’s remarks the statement equivalent of saying “meh, whatever.”

“He waited to respond because his first response was accurate,” Anglin wrote in a post, calling Trump’s remarks “half-assed” and prompted by the “whining Jew media.”

“Trump only disavowed us at the point of a Jewish weapon,” he continued. “So I’m not disavowing him.”

Hundreds of avowed white nationalists and neo-Nazis from across the country descended on the small Virginia college town over the weekend armed with metal rods, swastika flags, helmets and shields. Some wore Ku Klux Klan hoods. They were escorted by heavily armed, camouflage-clad militia members.

As they marched through the streets making Nazi salutes and chanting “blood and soil,” bloody scuffles broke out between them and the counter-protesters and anti-fascist demonstrators who turned out to take a stand against the message of “Unite the Right.”

Trump initially sent out a few vague tweets condemning “all this hate” and calling the events in Charlottesville “sad.” After white nationalist James Alex Fields, Jr. drove his car into the crowd, killing anti-racist protester Heather Heyer and severely injuring other marchers, Trump made a brief televised statement condemning the “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”

White nationalist leaders immediately seized on the vagueness of those comments.

“Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us,” Anglin wrote in a Saturday post. “He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us.”

“He said he loves us all,” Anglin continued. “Also refused to answer a question about White Nationalists supporting him. No condemnation at all.”

Richard Spencer, the head of the white nationalist National Policy Institute who is best known for shouting “Hail victory!” at a gathering held shortly after Trump’s election, also pointed out that the President’s remarks were left wide open to interpretation.

“Did Trump just denounce antifa?” Spencer asked, using shorthand for the anti-fascist movement.

For 48 hours after the attack in Charlottesville, Trump let the statements of other officials speak for him, as he often did during the campaign. His daughter Ivanka, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others issued much more forceful comments explicitly blaming white nationalists for instigating the weekend’s events and labelling the car attack an act of domestic terrorism.

It was only after a non-stop chorus of condemnation rang out on the cable news networks and among Republican senators that Trump finally came out and made his own brief statement Monday afternoon calling racism “evil.”

Asked what he believed accounted for the delay, American Renaissance’s Taylor said he couldn’t “speculate.”

“He just seems to be more basically fair-minded about how it takes two to do this and it was the other side who succeeded in completely shutting down what was intended to be a peaceful rally,” Taylor said. “Why is no one else capable of seeing that?”

This post has been updated.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller is in the process of arranging interviews with current and former Trump administration officials as part of his ongoing investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, the New York Times reported over the weekend.

Two people briefed on the negotiations told the Times that Mueller is particularly interested in learning more about key meetings, such as any discussions that led up to the abrupt May dismissal of former FBI director James Comey. Mueller reportedly assumed control of an FBI investigation into whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey, who oversaw the Russia investigation at the time. Trump later bragged to top Russian diplomats that doing so took “great pressure” off of him.

Ty Cobb, one of the lawyers leading Trump’s outside counsel, told the Times that the White House would “continue to fully cooperate” with the investigation.

Recently ousted chief of staff Reince Priebus is at the top of the list of Trump associates Mueller wants to speak with, according to the Times’ report. As chairman of the Republican National Committee, Priebus began working closely with Trump’s campaign as soon as he emerged as the presumptive GOP nominee, and he was a fixture at most major meetings through the transition and during the first six months of the administration.

The Times report revealed that Priebus was also on the calendar of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on June 9, 2016—the day that Manafort and other officials met with Russians who claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton to offer as part of the Kremlin’s efforts to help the Trump campaign. Whether the two actually met, and what they discussed if they did meet, will be important for Mueller to uncover.

That Mueller wants to interview former and current officials promises another headache for a White House inundated with them. Trump was heavily criticized last week for his seemingly off-the-cuff escalation of threats against North Korea, in which he promised the U.S. could take military action against Kim Jong-un’s government at any time. The President has also taken repeated aim at his own Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), whose cooperation he will desperately need as the fall legislative session begins and he hopes to finally make progress on his stalled agenda.

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Rhona Graff, President Donald Trump’s longtime personal secretary, is now on the long list of Trump associates congressional investigators want to speak with as they dig into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

ABC News reported Friday that investigators intend to question Graff, a 30-year veteran of the Trump Organization and gatekeeper to all those who’ve wanted to reach Trump over the years.

Of particular interest to them is any information she may have about a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that had been billed as part of the Russian government’s efforts to help the Trump campaign, according to ABC.

In an email chain setting up the meeting, Trump family acquaintance Rob Goldstone,a British music publicist, suggested sending damaging information about Hillary Clinton to Graff directly, indicating just how crucial a conduit she was to Trump.

“I can also send this info to your father via Rhona,” Goldstone wrote to Donald Trump, Jr., “but it is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.”

Then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, were copied on the email chain; Graff was not. Congressional investigators are likely keen to find out what she knew about the meeting and what she saw happening that day around Trump Tower.

Alan Futerfas, an outside lawyer representing the Trump Organization and its staffers, told ABC that Graff has not yet been contacted or asked for records. He said the team would “continue to cooperate with any Committee seeking information.”

A number of lawmakers, including House Intelligence Committee vice-chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), have said they intend to bring Graff in for questioning.

“We’re going to want to hear from everyone connected to this,” Schiff said on July 11. “We’re also going to want to see, as referenced in that email, whether the President’s assistant received any communications from the Russians as well. That was another channel alluded to in those emails.”

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As President Donald Trump himself said, the recently revealed predawn FBI raid of his former campaign chairman’s Alexandria, Virginia home sent a “very, very strong signal.”

That signal, former federal prosecutors told TPM, is that Paul Manafort is the linchpin in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference. Whether the investigation ends up centering on potential financial crimes or possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, those former prosecutors said nailing the goods on Manafort will be key to Mueller’s case.

From the millions of dollars Manafort reportedly owed to pro-Russian interests, to his bank accounts in the tax haven of Cyprus, to his attendance at a 2016 meeting billed as an opportunity for the Russian government to provide the Trump campaign with information that would damage Hillary Clinton’s chances in the presidential race, to his retroactive filing with the Justice Department as a foreign agent, the longtime GOP operative seems to have a toe in almost every part of the special counsel’s sprawling probe. And a slew of recent reports indicate Mueller’s team is tightening the vise on the former campaign chairman.

In a surprise move for someone in the thick of a federal investigation, Manafort announced through a spokesman Thursday that he was no longer working with his longtime counsel, WilmerHale, and was “in the process” of retaining a law firm with expertise in international tax cases, Miller & Chevalier.

Michael Zeldin, a former federal prosecutor, served as special counsel to Mueller when he was Assistant Attorney General in the DOJ’s Criminal Division.

He told TPM that if prosecutors saw no evidence of collusion, they could simply compile evidence of potential financial crimes, “put a ribbon” around that part of their investigation, and seek an indictment.

“Or, they’re going to put a ribbon on that and tell him, ‘We’ve found these charges that could send you to jail for a period of time, we would like to know about collusion, or deals,'” he added. “Essentially, ‘We need you to be truthful about this, we don’t think you’ve been truthful, we’re giving you a chance to be truthful now.’”

Though the raid, which Bloomberg reported had come as a surprise to Manafort, was the most striking sign yet that investigators are closing in on the former campaign chairman, they’re pursuing plenty of other paths.

Investigators have sent subpoenas through a Washington, D.C. grand jury to global banks, requesting account information and transaction records for Manafort, some of his companies and his former business partner on political work in Ukraine, Rick Gates, Bloomberg reported Thursday. Gates also worked on the Trump campaign, transition and for a pro-Trump group.

Others close to Manafort have been pulled into the investigation: Manafort’s son-in-law and occasional partner in real estate deals, Jeffrey Yohai, who’s currently being sued for fraud by a former investor, provided documents and information to investigators during a meeting in New York two months ago, CNN reported Thursday. Investigators were seeking his cooperation in the probe against Manafort, two sources told CNN. Yohai’s attorney, Aaron May, declined TPM’s request for comment.

These multiple pressure points against Manafort indicate to former federal prosecutors that Mueller did not simply conduct the raid to “scare him,” as assistant Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman put it.

“They wouldn’t put themselves in a position where they couldn’t totally justify it,” Akerman told TPM. “Not just to the judge, but to the public. They’re going to want to be able to say we had no choice but to do this and that the evidence for it was pretty compelling.”

“My sense is that Mueller is acquiring the evidence that he needs to acquire in order for him to proceed with his investigation and that is his primary motive,” Zeldin concurred. “If by acquiring that evidence in the manner that he did, it sends some sort of shockwave through the person who is the target of that evidence retrieval and has him rethink his position, so be it.”

The extent to which Manafort has been forthcoming with investigators is unclear. Confirming that the raid took place, Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said that the former campaign chairman had “consistently cooperated with law enforcement.” In July, Maloni told Politico that it was “silly” for that cooperation to lead anyone to think Manafort was serving as a cooperating witness; he did not respond to a question from TPM about whether that comment still stands.

A Mueller spokesperson declined comment for this story.

The special counsel investigation had something of a head start in investigating Manafort, as Mueller assumed control of several pre-existing probes into the former campaign chairman’s business activities and record-keeping. He took over an investigation run out of the Southern District of New York into whether Manafort laundered money from eastern Europe, as well as a separate probe into his belated registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) for his political work in Ukraine.

Josh Rosenstein, an attorney at Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock who specializes in FARA, said that although prosecutions under the act are quite rare, it is a “distinct possibility” that Mueller’s team could pursue one against Manafort.

“When FARA becomes a high profile issue as certainly it has been here in and of itself, the risk of prosecution is certainly much higher,” Rosenstein said, noting that FARA charges would likely be brought as a secondary charge to any potential financial crimes.

Other Trump associates touched by the investigation are surely watching Manafort’s situation closely. One of the President’s personal attorneys, John Dowd, sent a furious email to the Wall Street Journal in the wee hours of Thursday morning, complaining that the raid on Manafort’s home represented an “extraordinary invasion of privacy” and “gross abuse of the judicial process” done only for “shock value” (Zeldin, Mueller’s former special counsel, noted that Dowd had “no standing to complain” because he doesn’t represent Manafort).

Asked about the raid while on vacation at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club, Trump distanced himself from his former campaign chairman, calling him a “decent man” but telling reporters “[I] haven’t spoken to him for a long time.” In the mildest show of support, the President questioned whether the FBI needed to wake Manafort so early in the morning to search his home.

“I thought it was pretty tough stuff to wake him up, perhaps his family was there,” Trump mulled. “I think that’s pretty tough stuff.”

Correction: The original story misidentified the location of the home raided by FBI agents. It was in Alexandria, Virginia, not Arlington.

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Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s “pit bull” personal attorney, owes New York state more than $40,000 in unpaid taxes through some of the lucrative taxi medallions he owns.

The New York Daily News first reported Tuesday that Cohen owed nearly $40,000 in unpaid taxes earmarked to help finance the Metropolitan Transit Authority system. A TPM review of state records confirmed that New York’s Department of Taxation and Finance this year filed seven warrants totaling $43,673.96 against four of Cohen’s medallion corporations.

Cohen told TPM in an email that the taxes are collected from drivers by the management company that handles the medallions. Cohen said his medallions are managed by Gene “The Taxi King” Freidman, a New York City taxi kingpin who was recently hit with a slew of lawsuits alleging professional misconduct.

Freidman pleaded not guilty in June to tax fraud and first-degree grand larceny charges for allegedly cheating the Empire State out of $5 million in unpaid taxes. Taxi passengers pay an extra 50 cents on each ride that managers are then supposed to pay toward funding the city’s overstretched transit system; Freidman is accused of collecting that tax but failing to fork it over to the state. Shortly before Friedman’s arrest on those charges, the Taxi & Limousine Commission confiscated 800 of the highly valuable medallions he manages.

Cohen pointed to a New York Post story about Freidman’s arrest by way of explaining why his own taxes had gone unpaid. Freidman did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.

The website for New York state’s Department of Taxation and Finance, however, explains that medallion owners—like Cohen—with agents—like Friedman—are “jointly liable for the filing of your taxicab trip tax return.” It also states that failure to ensure that an agent is filing and paying the taxes will trigger a civil enforcement process. Penalties may include having the unpaid debts collected through levies, garnishment of wages or the seizure and sale of violators’ property.

Friedman described Cohen to TPM in a February interview as a close friend and business partner, noting that he’s managed medallions for Cohen and his wife, Laura, for more than 16 years. He also said that he often had dinner with the couple.

The Ukrainian-born taxi baron is just one of Cohen’s many business connections to the former Soviet Union who boasts a long rap sheet; Cohen also joined up with his old pal Felix Sater, a convicted felon and former business partner of the President’s, to deliver a Ukraine “peace plan” to the Trump administration earlier this year.

Cohen is reportedly a person of interest in federal and congressional investigations into Russia’s 2016 election interference, after a dossier compiled by a former British intelligence agent alleged that Cohen had met with a Russian representative during the campaign in Prague to discuss Russia’s hacking of Democratic operatives. Cohen denies the allegations in the dossier, which was compiled by former MI-6 agent Christopher Steele and remains largely unverified, and insists he’s never been to Prague.

The notoriously combative attorney retained Stephen Ryan, a Washington, D.C. lawyer with experience on lobbying and criminal cases linked to organized crime networks, to handle inquiries related to the federal investigation.

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