Zachary Roth

Zachary Roth is a former national reporter for MSNBC and the author of The Great Suppression: Voting Rights, Corporate Cash, and the Conservative Assault on Democracy (Crown, 2016). He has written for The Atlantic, The New Republic, Slate, Politico, and The Daily Beast, among others, and is the founder of The Daily Democracy.

Articles by Zachary

Soon after the Charlottesville white nationalist rally, a man in Indiana posed online as an alt-right activist, and told other activists he was going to go to an upcoming alt-right rally and start shooting attendees. He said it would be a “false flag” operation that would discredit the left. The goal seems to have been to scare people away from the rally.

The man took no steps to put his plan into action. But now he’s facing federal charges that could send him to prison for several years. Some experts in extremism tell TPM’s Allegra Kirkland that doesn’t make much sense — especially when actual white nationalists who have carried out actual violence aren’t being charged.

Allegra Kirkland reports today on an effort by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce to get the courts to block a gerrymandering reform initiative.

Michigan has some of the most egregiously gerrymandered maps in the country. In 2012, Republican congressional candidates got just 45.6 percent of the vote, but wound up with nine out of 14 seats.

It looks like the state Supreme Court will have the final say on whether the reform measure, which would take control of the redistricting process away from partisan lawmakers and give it to a citizens’ commission, will end up on the November ballot. And here’s where things get interesting…

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Over the weekend, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach raised some eyebrows when he appeared in a parade, riding in a jeep with what looked to be a mounted machine gun in the back. At a time when a lot of kids are freaked out about school shootings, it sounds like Kobach’s performance wasn’t well-received. The city of Shawnee apologized and promised it wouldn’t happen again.

Kobach, who’s running for the Republican nomination for governor, didn’t back down, saying the gun was a replica and blaming the kerfuffle on a “snowflake meltdown and outrage culture.”

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There are people who get convicted of campaign finance violations who you can make a decent case got a raw deal, even if you think campaign finance law is an important democratic safeguard. Here at TPM, we covered a case like that closely: the prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman, a Democrat who was targeted by Karl Rove and some powerful state Republicans.

Dinesh D’Souza, who President Trump pardoned today, saying he was “treated very unfairly,” definitely doesn’t fall into that category. As Tierney Sneed explains, D’Souza knowingly had his mistress and his assistant make $10,000 contributions to a GOP candidate, with the understanding that he’d pay them back – a clear scheme to get around individual contribution limits. The mistress even told her husband, in a conversation he recorded, that D’Souza had told her that if caught, he planned to eventually plead guilty, though not before first trying to “get his story out there.” That “story,” it seemed, was that he had been targeted by the Justice Department because of his (unhinged and racist) attacks on President Obama – a claim the judge in the case called “nonsense.”

It was only about seven weeks ago that the FBI raided Michael Cohen’s office, although it feels much longer. And on Wednesday, in a federal court hearing in Lower Manhattan, we’re likely to learn more about just how much of the seized material prosecutors can look at.

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Late last week, right-wing media outed the FBI informant who in 2016 talked to Trump campaign officials as part of the bureau’s efforts to learn about the campaign’s ties with Russia. That’s likely to hurt the bureau’s ability to recruit sources, especially those with access to information about the right.

But if anything, the fallout from the news has been even more damaging.

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Under the Trump administration, the State Department took veteran career officials who were working on key issues like closing Gitmo and resettling refugees, and reassigned them to process FOIA requests.

Democrats have been asking questions about the reassignments for months. And now, Alice Ollstein reports exclusively, the State Department IG office has said it’s investigating the issue.

In 2015, the Time magazine writer Joe Klein published his latest book, “Charlie Mike.” Named for the military slang meaning “Continue Mission,” it follows the efforts of a group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as they build a charity designed to help their fellow vets keep serving their country as volunteers.

The book’s central character is the charity’s founder, a former Navy SEAL named Eric Greitens, who Klein portrays as a kind of paragon of warrior-scholar virtue: physically brave, determined, and rugged, but also humble, loyal, morally upright, intellectually curious, and rigorously self-sacrificing — constantly pushing himself to do more in his quest to make the world better.  

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At a rally in Indiana Thursday night, Donald Trump mused about getting an “extension” on his presidency.

Recounting how he was told that the new U.S. embassy in London wouldn’t open for five to ten years, Trump said:

So unless they give me an extension for the presidency — which I do not think the Fake News media would be too happy about. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Actually, they would be happy, because when I am not here their ratings are going to sink. So they would probably be very happy.

The crowd roared with delight.

Like the online alt-right, Trump likes to preserve some deniability by floating these kinds of anti-democratic ideas as if they’re jokes. But there’s clearly a deadly serious goal: to slowly introduce ideas once considered beyond the pale into the mainstream conversation, or at least closer to it.

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With the next round of redistricting approaching after the 2020 Census, we’re seeing powerful movements in a number of states to end gerrymandering and ensure districts are drawn more fairly.

So it’s no surprise, as Allegra Kirkland reports, that the GOP is mobilizing to protect their right to rig the maps.