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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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President Trump’s alleged role in orchestrating hush money payments to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election has been well documented.

But a Wall Street Journal report out Tuesday sheds new light on how Trump personally managed damage control over the revelation of the payouts to the former adult film star—well into the second year of his presidency. Per the Journal, Trump used his own private real estate company and his own son to do so.

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Four men allegedly associated with a militant white supremacist organization have been arrested on federal rioting charges in connection with the the August 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Four individuals—Cole Evan White, Benjamin Drake Daley, Michel Paul Miselis and Thomas Walter Gillen—were hit with one count each of federal rioting and conspiracy to riot charges, according to federal court documents unsealed in Virginia on Tuesday.

The four alleged members of the violent southern California-based Rise Above Movement (RAM) traveled to Charlottesville with the intent to encourage, promote, incite, participate in, and commit violent acts in furtherance of a riot,” by according to a sworn affidavit by Dino Cappuzzo of the Virginia State Police. Cappuzzo was working with federal authorities on this case.

Each of the men face a maximum of ten years in prison, according to U.S. officials.

At the Aug. 11 march on the University of Virginia campus, white supremacists allegedly including White, Daley, Miselis and Gillen marched with tiki torches yelling, “Jews will not replace us.” The next day, they took up arms and fanned out through the city streets, brawling with counter-protesters and shouting hate speech.

On the afternoon of Aug. 12, a car allegedly driven by white supremacist James Fields Jr. slammed into a group of demonstrators, killing Heather Heyer. Federal charges were brought against Fields in June.

In an extensive investigation published in July, ProPublica reported on RAM’s involvement in the Charlottesville rally. Miselis, who worked as an aerospace engineer for defense contractor Northrop Grumman and had a U.S. government security clearance, lost his job the day after the report came out.

The charges against the four RAM members are based largely on “open-source research” conducted by the FBI, per the affidavit. That appears to consist primarily of posts the group shared on their public Twitter account, the ProPublica story, and YouTube videos where they can be seen attacking counter-protesters both in Charlottesville and at 2017 events in California.

In screenshots, Daley can be seen “assaulting counter-protesters by punching, kicking and head butting,” while White was captured grabbing “a non-violent counter-protester” and “head-butt[ing] a clergyman.” Screenshots of counter-protesters lying on the ground or bleeding profusely after these attacks are also included in the affidavit.

RAM claims to promote “‘clean living,’ physical fitness and mixed martial arts” techniques, encouraging young men to espouse an anti-addiction, hyper-masculine lifestyle. Their Twitter feed is full of pictures of their members working out shirtless in sun-drenched parks, faces covered by skull masks.

Cappuzzo alleged this physical training is simply preparation to “engage in fighting and violence at political rallies.” The social media accounts of RAM and the four arrested members are full of mentions of their white supremacist, anti-Semitic beliefs, and Daley “made various admissions about committing acts of violence” in Charlottesville after returning to southern California, per the affidavit.

Read the document below.

This post has been updated.

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For hundreds of thousands of Floridians with felony convictions, a proposal on the November ballot to automatically restore their voting rights is a cause to rally behind—a beacon of hope. I wrote an in-depth report on this proposal for TPM’s voting rights series last week.

For a much smaller population, Amendment 4 represents a slap in the face. Sunshine State residents with murder or sex offenses on their records are explicitly excluded in the ballot measure’s language.

This is a “divide and conquer tactic,” according to Paul Wright, head of the Human Rights Defense Center, a non-profit organization that advocates for rights for former felons.

Wright, who lives in Lake Worth, is one of those who will be left out if Amendment 4 passes. In 1987, Wright was convicted of murder for fatally shooting a drug dealer in a botched robbery in Washington state. He became a forceful advocate for prison reform while incarcerated, publishing stories in the outlet he founded, Prison Legal News, that have exposed major corporations’ use of prison labor and price gouging in the prison phone industry.

Speaking in a quiet, measured voice, Wright told TPM in a phone interview that the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and ACLU’s decision to bar certain categories of felons from the amendment was a matter of “political opportunism.”

“They told me when they did focus groups that the groups said it wouldn’t pass unless it excluded murderers and sex offenders,” Wright said.

Painful as it is for those excluded, it’s hard to argue with that logic in a purple, crime-obsessed state like Florida.

In a statement to TPM, FRRC executive director Desmond Meade said the amendment “was produced through years of conversations with the people of Florida, and Floridians from all walks of life and all backgrounds have consistently shown super majority support for restoring the eligibility to vote for people with past felony convictions who have completed all portions of their sentence, with the exception of those convicted of murder and felony sexual offenses.”

A number of surveys conducted this year show Amendment 4 polling well over the 60 percent required to pass, and a number of Democratic politicians are enthusiastically campaigning on their support for the issue.

That scenario would be hard to imagine if child molesters were among those who would get their rights back.

Indeed, Gov. Rick Scott’s administration has highlighted the most serious categories of crimes in defending the clemency system he instituted. Scott’s policy requires former felons to complete all court-mandated aspects of their sentencing and then wait five years — seven in the case of those with murder or sex offense records — to apply for the opportunity to get their rights restored.

A Scott spokeswoman pointed to their concerns about the rehabilitation of those who have committed “murder, violence against children and domestic violence” when TPM asked about the fairness of restoring rights on a case-by-case basis.

Tampa attorney Richard Harrison, who has led the small opposition campaign to Amendment 4, is also concerned that the measure treats all felony charges the same. In Harrison’s view, those who committed violent crimes or repeat offenses should face a harder time getting their rights back.

But Wright argues that “isolating and singling people out based on offenses” is ultimately a damaging tactic for those who want to see fairer treatment of former felons. Realistically, no separate ballot measure will be pushed in the foreseeable future that applies only to those with murder or sex crime convictions, meaning that if Amendment 4 passes, those Floridians may never get their voting rights back.

Wright is concerned that the November results could further stigmatize some of the most politically vulnerable members of the state’s population.

“It’s a whole ends and means thing,” he said. “If 70 or 80,000 people need to be sacrificed, then so what? As long as its not me, my family or my social group that’s being affected, it’s really easy to make these decisions about other people. And they have.”

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Christine Blasey Ford “welcomes” the FBI investigation into her allegations that she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, one of her attorneys confirmed Friday.

“A thorough FBI investigation is critical to developing all the relevant facts,” Debra Katz said in a statement. “Dr. Christine Blasey Ford welcomes this step in the process, and appreciates the efforts of Senators Flake, Murkowski, Manchin and Collins — and all other senators who have supported an FBI investigation — to ensure it is completed before the Senate votes on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. No artificial limits as to time or scope should be imposed on this investigation.”

Republican senators have stressed that the probe should delay the vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation by no more than a week.

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Brett Kavanaugh’s high school friend Mark Judge would be willing to cooperate with an FBI investigation, Judge’s lawyer announced Friday.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) proposed that the FBI probe allegations that the Supreme Court nominee, in Judge’s presence, sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford in 1982.

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In a week of incredibly high-stakes drama on Capitol Hill, it’s easy to forget that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein almost lost his job on Monday.

Rosenstein, who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and will decide if his final reports are released to the public, was the subject of a torrent of rumors about his job prospects as the week began: He had already resigned, he was planning to resign, and then, by later morning, he had marched over to the White House, where he expected to be fired. None of the predictions came to pass.

At issue were reports that Rosenstein last year discussed secretly recording Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment to try to get him ousted from office. Trump had called the reports “very sad” and said he was looking into the matter.

But Monday came and went with no decision on Rosenstein’s job, as Trump was in New York at the United Nations. They scheduled a sit-down for Thursday. But in a Wednesday press conference, Trump hinted that he might reschedule because he wanted to watch Christine Blasey Ford testify about her alleged sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. He also told reporters that Rosenstein was a “very nice” man who had denied the substance of the allegations.

On Thursday, the White House delayed the meeting until next week because Trump and Rosenstein didn’t want to “interfere” with the Ford-Kavanaugh testimony.

Whatever happens, congressional Republicans smell blood in the water. The House Freedom Caucus members who had previously introduced articles of impeachment against Rosenstein said that he must testify under oath about the reports, or risk being impeached.

House GOP leadership has reportedly scheduled a private hearing with Rosenstein to take place in the next few weeks.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) also announced that he intends to issue a subpoena to the Justice Department for memos written by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Those documents were cited as one of the sources for Rosenstein’s claims about removing Trump from office.

This flurry of activity comes with under six weeks to go before the midterm elections, when the GOP may lose control of the House. That means committee control would be ceded to Democrats, along with subpoena power.

Republicans are taking full advantage of the time they have left, issuing requests for high-profile witnesses to testify about FBI and Justice Department actions taken in 2016 and 2017. Former FBI Director James Comey, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates are among the officials who have been summoned to appear before Congress.

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Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) came out strongly against Brett Kavanaugh on Friday, saying he could not vote to confirm him to the Supreme Court over “concerns” about the judge’s record and the sexual assault allegations against him.

“I have concerns that Judge Kavanaugh defended the PATRIOT Act instead of Montanans’ privacy,” the red-state Democrat said in a statement. “I have concerns about his support for more dark money in politics. I have concerns about who he believes is in charge of making personal health decisions. And I have deep concerns about the allegations of sexual assault against Judge Kavanaugh.”

Tester added that Kavanaugh “couldn’t find time to discuss these concerns with me in person,” leaving him to judge the nominee on his performance in hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I’ll be voting against him,” Tester said.

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), another red-state Democrat who voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch, also announced his plan to vote against Kavanaugh on Friday.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on Friday solemnly critiqued Brett Kavanaugh’s “belligerent” testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee about sexual assault allegations against him.

As the GOP-controlled committee plowed forward with its plans to vote to confirm Kavanaugh, Feinstein said his conduct did not befit a federal judge who wants a seat on the country’s highest court

“Candidly, in the 25 years on this committee, I have never seen a nominee for any position behave in that manner,” Feinstein said. “Judge Kavanaugh used as much political rhetoric as my Republican colleagues. And what’s more, he went on the attack.”

Kavanaugh’s claims that the allegations were a “calculated and orchestrated political hit,” backlash to President Trump, and “revenge on behalf of the Clintons,” were, Feinstein said, “unbelievable.”

“This was not someone who reflected an impartial temperament or the fairness and evenhandedness one would see in a judge,” Feinstein continued. “This was someone who was aggressive and belligerent. I have never seen someone who wants to be elevated to the highest court in our country behave in that manner.”

During Thursday afternoon’s hearing, Kavanaugh cried, yelled, and repeatedly interrupted and talked back to senators. At one point, he asked Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who had described her father’s struggle with alcoholism moments earlier, if she had experienced alcohol-induced blackouts. (He later apologized.)

Feinstein said his performance made for a stark contrast with that of his accuser, psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford.

“The person who testified yesterday and demonstrated a balanced temperament was Dr. Ford,” Feinstein said. “She gave powerful testimony about her experience of being physically and sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh.”

“She was poised,” Feinstein went on. “She was credible. And she should be believed. Unfortunately, despite assuring Dr. Ford her allegations would be taken seriously, and she would be treated respectfully, that is not what ultimately happened.”

The committee will convene again at 1:30 p.m. to vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

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