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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Amid the torrent of tweets President Donald Trump has sent in recent days attacking NFL players and owners for protesting the national anthem on bended knee was an image of a wounded veteran. Above the photograph of the heavily decorated double amputee was a caption asking what “this BRAVE American would give to stand on his OWN two legs just ONCE MORE for our #Anthem,” along with the hashtags “#MAGA” and “#NFL.”

That veteran, retired Marine Staff Sgt. John Jones, told TPM on Tuesday that he takes no issue with NFL players’ protests—but he’s not enthused about being dragged into the politics of whether someone should stand or not stand for the national anthem.

As he drove to his job as director of development at Workshops for Warriors, a California-based non-profit that trains veterans to be certified machinists, the two-tour veteran of the Iraq War explained that while he would not personally choose to protest the anthem in that way, he disagreed with the idea that doing so was “not acceptable,” as Trump has insisted.

“I went over there and I fought for the rights and freedoms of everybody to do whatever they wanted to do in a lawful manner,” Jones said. “So if the NFL as a whole wants to protest the flag and protest America, then so be it, that’s your right.”

“Keep it peaceful, keep it respectful and I don’t care what you do,” he added.

The players who started the “take a knee” protests say they’re taking a stand against police brutality and racial inequality; San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid lamented in a Monday New York Times op-ed that their actions were “still being misconstrued as disrespectful to the country, flag and military personnel.”

The portrait of Jones in the meme that Trump retweeted was taken by photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders for the 2007 HBO documentary, “Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq.” Jones, who lost both legs in a landmine explosion while traveling in a Humvee convoy through Anbar province, said this is not the first time the image has been circulated on social media by people promoting their own political agendas.

He likened his experience to the use of the portrait of Pat Tillman, an NFL player and Army Ranger who was killed in Afghanistan in 2002. Tillman and his family eventually became outspoken critics of the War on Terror and Bush administration. Nevertheless, Trump retweeted Tillman’s photo to bash the NFL, prompting Tillman’s widow, Marie, to issue a statement urging “our leaders” not to “politicize” her husband’s service to advance their views.

Jones had a slightly more generous take. Joking that few people in the U.S. can say that the President has shared their photo, he told TPM he doesn’t take issue with Trump retweeting an existing meme. But he said he wishes his likeness wouldn’t be used as a partisan football without his blessing.

“So many people have taken that photo and never even contacted me, never found out who I was or anything to say, ‘Hey can I utilize your photo for this?’” Jones said.

He said he only gets involved and tries to “shame” people for doing so if they use his photo in a “derogatory” manner.

But Jones wishes he could maintain a bit more control of his image and be left to focus on his work of helping veterans find gainful employment and stability as they transition out of the armed services.

“I don’t like being utilized in the whole political debate of whether you should stand or whether you should not stand,” he said.

This post has been updated.

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Jared Kushner’s private attorney fell victim to a prankster posing as his client on Monday, exchanging several messages about Kushner’s use of a private email account to conduct government business and fielding questions about supposed “adult content” forwarded to that account.

In the email back-and-forth, which was first shared with Business Insider, attorney Abbe Lowell tells the individual he believed to be Kushner that he needed “to see all emails” sent and received from a personal email address that the top White House adviser and son-in-law of the President set up in December.

Kushner’s use of that account was first reported by Politico on Sunday. The New York Times and CBS have since reported that at least six senior White House officials, including former chief of staff Reince Priebus and former chief strategist Steve Bannon, used private email accounts to carry out official business.

The prankster, who goes by the handle @SINON_REBORN on Twitter and used the address kushner.jared@mail.com to contact Lowell, has since made their full Monday exchange public. He opened the conversation by asking Lowell what to do with “some exchanges with a website featuring adult content.”

Lowell asked if the messages were “forwarded or received from WH officials.”

After Kushner replied that one “unsolicited” message was forwarded to him by a White House official and that he’d also received “a handful more, but not from officials,” Lowell asked for evidence.

“I need to see I think all emails between you and WH (just for me and us),” he wrote. “We need to send any officials emails to your WH account. Not stuff like you asked about. None of those are going anywhere.”

“But we can bury it?” the prankster responded. “I’m so embarrassed. It’s fairly specialist stuff, half naked women on a trampoline, standing on legoscenes, the tag for the movie was #standingOnTheLittlePeople :(”

“Don’t delete. Don’t send to anyone. Let’s chat in a bit,” Lowell responded.

The high-powered D.C. attorney is representing Kushner in ongoing federal and congressional investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. He declined Business Insider’s response for comment, but previously released a statement saying that all of the “non-personal emails” sent or received on his private account were forwarded to his official address.

Lowell also said in that statement that most of the messages regarded event planning or news articles.

The Trump administration has had a rough streak of being lured into embarrassing exchanges by pranksters. Earlier in September, White House special counsel Ty Cobb asked @SINON_REBORN, using the email address dan.scavinojr@emailprankster.co.uk to impersonate White House social media director Dan Scavino, if there “was any drone time left” while discussing the work of a Business Insider reporter.

Energy secretary Rick Perry and several other administration officials have also been fooled by various pranksters.

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Longtime Donald Trump associate and self-described dirty trickster Roger Stone said that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 election and charged that Democratic leaders unfairly accused him of collusion in a statement released hours before his Tuesday testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

The 47-page document is pure Stone: a combative, bomb-throwing screed that insists the “mantra-like repetition” that Russia carried out an influence campaign to swing the election to Trump “does not make it so.”

He writes that it is instead, like the allegations against him, a combination of “conjecture, supposition, projection, allegation, and coincidence, none of it proven by evidence of fact.”

Stone adamantly denies the main charges against him: that he had advance knowledge that Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails would be hacked and that WikiLeaks would release thousands of hacked emails from Podesta; and that he obtained damaging information from a hacker believed to be a creation of Russian intelligence in a Twitter exchange.

He asks for apologies from Clinton, House Intelligence Committee vice chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and other top Democrats for repeatedly tying him to the Russia investigation in public appearances, amending his statement with news clippings documenting their comments.

A besuited Stone arrived on Capitol Hill just after 9 a.m. Tuesday, accompanied by his two attorneys, and proceeded directly into chamber where he was slated to meet with the committee. For once he had little to say, telling reporters gathered outside only that he planned “to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.”

Read Stone’s full statement below:

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The White House press secretary on Monday brushed aside reports that members of the Trump administration had used private email accounts to conduct government business, saying personal email use was “very limited” overall.

“White House Counsel [Don McGahn] has instructed all White House staff to use their government email for official business and only use that email,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at the press briefing, adding that staffers receive reminders on this topic “pretty regularly.”

Politico reported Sunday that President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, had used a private account to correspond with several other senior White House officials about media coverage, event planning, and other government business. Recently departed chief strategist Steve Bannon and chief of staff Reince Priebus used their own private email accounts to exchange messages with Kushner and others, according to Politico.

That report was followed up by a Monday item in Newsweek on Trump’s daughter Ivanka using a personal email address in February to ask Linda McMahon, head of the Small Business Administration, about “opportunities to collaborate” on issues related to “women’s entrepreneurship.” Now a White House adviser, Ivanka Trump was operating in an odd gray area at the time, sitting in on meetings with her father and government officials while holding no official title.

The use of personal email accounts by Trump officials are drawing particular attention because the President turned Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state into a cornerstone of his 2016 campaign. Trump routinely said that Clinton should be jailed for using a personal email system to carry out her official duties.

A reporter asked Sanders if the White House would commit to releasing Kushner’s emails to the public.

She said that she was “not aware” of any plans to do so but would keep the press updated.

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A Republican Louisiana lawmaker on Monday proposed cutting millions in state tax dollars and subsidies for the New Orleans Saints and the NFL after some of the team’s players refused to stand for the national anthem, according to The New Orleans Advocate.

State Rep. Kenny Havard’s comments put him on the side of President Donald Trump, who faced backlash from the league and from some of the country’s most prominent athletes over the weekend after saying that players who participate in this form of protest should be suspended or fired.

“Disrespecting our national anthem and flag in the name of social injustice is the highest form of hypocrisy,” Havard said, as quoted by the Advocate. “Our free society made possible by our fighting men and women has made available free education, free lunch, housing and free healthcare and is now be considered socially unjust. It’s time the taxpayers quit subsidizing protest on big boy playgrounds.”

The athletes behind the protests say they are taking a stand against racial inequality and police brutality.

The newspaper cited a 2015 Forbes report that found that Saints owner Tom Benson would receive some $392 million in state subsidies through the lease expiration date in 2025. Those funds were projected to come from a combination of rental payments, tax breaks and increased revenue from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, where the Saints play.

Havard has proven himself happy to wade into controversies. During a debate last year over a bill raising the minimum age for dancers at Louisiana strip clubs, Havard suggested that the legislation also regulate their weight. He went so far as to propose an amendment that would require dancers to remain under 160 pounds, which he described as a “poke at over-regulating everything,” before withdrawing it amid criticism from his fellow lawmakers.

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For more than a month, an eccentric pro-Russian Republican congressman has been publicly discussing his plan to meet with President Donald Trump to discuss what he learned firsthand from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. It seems that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s (R-CA) message hasn’t gotten through.

“I’ve never heard that mentioned, really,” Trump told the White House press pool Sunday when asked about plans to potentially pardon Assange in exchange for his information. “I’ve never heard that mentioned.”

Though the U.S. intelligence community agrees that Russia was behind a multi-faceted “influence campaign” to disrupt the U.S. presidential race, Rohrabacher has said that Assange has evidence that would clear that country of any allegations of interference.

The California Republican said he saw this evidence firsthand during a mid-August meeting at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder has lived in asylum for about five years.

Rohrabacher has spoken of his efforts to get the President’s ear ever since, telling Fox News host Sean Hannity that he expected an in-person “rendezvous” and the Los Angeles Times that he has “spoken to senior people at the White House” about setting it up.

One of those people was White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who, according to the Wall Street Journal, received a telephone pitch from Rohrabacher about the potential pardon deal.

A Trump administration official told the Journal that Kelly did not deliver Rohrabacher’s message to Trump, instead telling the congressman that the idea “was best directed to the intelligence community.”

Rohrabacher spokesman Ken Grubbs did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for an update on the congressman’s plans to meet with Trump.

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President Donald Trump lashed out at Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Saturday for his public takedown of the Graham-Cassidy proposal—the Senate GOP’s latest Obamacare repeal effort under consideration.

“John McCain never had any intention of voting for this Bill, which his Governor loves,” Trump said in the first of a trio of tweets. “He campaigned on Repeal & Replace. Let Arizona down!”

The President also accused McCain of taking the “sad” step of aligning himself with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) while abandoning his closest ally in the Senate, proposal co-sponsor Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

The 81-year-old senator issued a lengthy statement on Friday saying he “could not in good conscience” vote for the measure out of concerns over the rushed process with which it was being rammed through. The Senate GOP has a deadline of Sept. 30 to pass an Obamacare repeal measure using the particular legislative vehicle they adapted to avoid a Democratic filibuster. In the name of expediency, Senate Republicans have pushed Graham-Cassidy forward without even getting a full score of its impact from the Congressional Budget Office.

“I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” McCain said in his statement. “Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it.”

His full-throated opposition weakens the bill’s chances of passing, as Senate Republicans can only lose two Republican votes and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has already signaled he’s against it. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has also hinted that she would vote against the measure if it were brought to the floor.

As with previous repeal efforts, Trump has done little to publicly advocate for Graham-Cassidy outside of sending a few tweets. On Saturday, he fired off a few encouraging missives to senators likely to vote down the proposal, including Paul and Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski.

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The Department of Homeland Security is under fire for waiting months to notify 21 states of the mostly unsuccessful efforts of hackers associated with the Russian government to infiltrate their election systems during the 2016 campaign.

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) called the delay “unacceptable,” saying state election officials must be made aware of all such attempted intrusions, successful or not, so that they can strengthen their defenses.”

California’s Democratic Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, said that DHS ignored his office’s repeated requests for additional information.

“We shouldn’t have to learn about potential threats from leaked NSA documents or media reports,” Padilla said in a statement. “It is the intelligence community’s responsibility to inform elections officials of any potential threats to our elections. They failed in this responsibility.”

Padilla said that Jeanette Manfra, DHS’ Acting Undersecretary for Cybersecurity and Communications, falsely testified to Congress in June that all 21 states whose systems were targeted had already been informed.

“This was simply not true and DHS acknowledged they failed to contact us and ‘two or three’ other states,” Padilla said.

The hackers efforts’ did not affect election results or the systems themselves. They mainly consisted of attempts to scan the systems for vulnerabilities.

Besides California, other states that have confirmed being targeted include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington, according to the Associated Press and states themselves.

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Continuing a streak of picking fights with famous athletes, President Donald Trump on Saturday claimed that he rescinded the White House invitation to the Golden State Warriors after some of the basketball team’s most prominent players said they had no interest in meeting with him.

“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team,” Trump said on Twitter. “Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!”

Curry, a two-time MVP, and Warriors coach Steve Karr told the press on Friday that they were unsure if they would attend.

“I don’t want to go,” Curry said, according to USA Today.

“We don’t stand for basically what our President has – the things that he’s said and the things that he hasn’t said in the right times, that we won’t stand for it,” Curry said, in an apparent reference to Trump’s subdued criticism of the armed white nationalists who took to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia in August for a bloody rally.

The team later released a statement saying that they plan to “constructively use our trip to the nation’s capital in February to celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion” rather than meeting with the President at the White House.

This exchange of words came as the National Football League was criticizing Trump’s “divisive comments” about players who have taken to kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality.

The President told an Alabama rally crowd on Friday that any “son of a bitch” who does so should be fired.

Other giants in the sports world weighed in on Trump’s latest feud. Both ESPN anchor Jemele Hill and Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James pointed out that Trump was trying to take credit for disinviting athletes who had already rejected him.

“U bum,” James wrote in a tweet. “@StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going! So therefore ain’t no invite.”

This post has been updated.

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The morning after President Donald Trump called on National Football League owners to fire players protesting racism by kneeling during the national anthem, the NFL commissioner released a statement criticizing “divisive comments.”

“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities,” Roger Goodell said in a Saturday statement that never mentioned Trump by name.

Trump’s remarks came during an Alabama campaign rally for Sen. Luther Strange.

The President opined that it was a “total disrespect of our heritage” for players protesting racial inequality and police brutality to refuse to stand during the “Star Spangled Banner, adding that any “son of a bitch” who does so should lose his job.

DeMaurice Smith, head of the NFL player union, said that those athletes “no longer can afford to stick to sports.”

The union “will never back down when it comes to protecting the constitutional rights of our players as citizens as well as their safety as men who compete in a game that exposes them to great risks,” Smith said in a statement.

Trump poured fuel on the fire with a pair of Saturday afternoon tweets, saying anyone paid for the “privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL” should be fired for engaging in this particular form of protest.

Trump’s comments represent the second time in recent weeks that the White House has forcibly inserted itself in a debate over politics in sports.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeatedly told reporters that an ESPN anchor should be fired for making critical comments about Trump.

ESPN anchor Jemele Hill’s tweets calling the President a “bigot” and “white supremacist” were a “fireable offense,” Sanders said.

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