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A federal judge on Wednesday appeared skeptical of a civil lawsuit filed by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort alleging that the Justice Department and Special Counsel Robert Mueller exceeded their authority in prosecuting him as part of the sprawling Russia probe.

The judge, Amy Berman Jackson, is also presiding over the criminal case brought by Mueller against Manafort in federal court in Washington, D.C. (There’s an additional criminal case against Manafort pending in Virginia). Manafort is facing charges of tax fraud, bank fraud, money laundering and failing to disclose foreign lobbying related to his work in Ukraine. He has pleaded not guilty. 

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Twice this spring, lawmakers in the Tennessee Assembly have tried to promote resolutions condemning neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Both times those efforts have failed.

The second attempt was abandoned just this week, after a Republican lawmaker unsuccessfully tried to alter the motion’s language to make it more palatable to his caucus.

House Republican Caucus Chairman Rep. Ryan Williams’ resolution reworked one put forth by Democratic Rep. John Ray Clemmons, which died in mid-March after the three Republican members of a House subcommittee declined to offer motions to discuss it.

At the time, State Government Subcommittee member Rep. Bob Ramsey (R) told TPM that his panel supported the “intent and philosophy” of the measure but had concerns about language asking law enforcement to consider the groups “domestic terrorist organizations.” Such requests may “seem simple” but have sparked tense debate among lawmakers, Ramsey told TPM.

Williams stripped that language from a second version of the resolution introduced last week that was otherwise nearly identical.

But on Monday night, the day it was set to go before the Delayed Bills Committee, Williams asked that the measure be withdrawn from consideration. Williams told the Tennessean he’d received “additional feedback” from his fellow Republicans that needed to be incorporated into the resolution, which was “too narrow.”

Williams did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for additional information on their outstanding concerns, but told the Tennessean he was committed to hammering out wording acceptable to all parties.

If passed, the resolution would require the House to “strongly denounce and oppose” the racist, violent bigotry of these groups, and to send a copy to President Donald Trump, Congress, and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, according to the Tennessean.

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All eyes will be on Wisconsin Tuesday, where a typically lackluster state Supreme Court election has blossomed into an object of national curiosity.

A win for Rebecca Dallet, a Democrat endorsed by big names like former Attorney General Eric Holder and former Vice President Joe Biden, would be interpreted as further evidence of building progressive momentum in the state. A victory for Republican Michael Screnock, meanwhile, would prompt a sigh of relief from Gov. Scott Walker (R) and the GOP-controlled legislature.

Both sides desperately want to secure the 10-year seat on the ostensibly non-partisan, powerful court. Conservatives hope to maintain their current 5-2 advantage, while Democrats hope to nudge the balance down to 4-3, giving them more of a voice.

Stakes are particularly high thanks to Democrats’ surprise win in a January special state Senate election, and Walker’s failed effort to block two other special election races from taking place.

This national attention has prompted predictable attacks from both sides.

The Wisconsin Democratic Party has lashed out at Screnock as a tool of Walker’s GOP, criticizing his endorsement by the National Rifle Association and the hundreds of thousands of dollars he’s received from “right-wing special interest groups and the Republican Party.”

Republicans have highlighted the endorsement and donations from Holder’s redistricting group as evidence that Washington, D.C. interests are trying to interfere in Wisconsin’s affairs.

Brandon Scholz, a longtime GOP consultant based in Madison, told TPM in a recent interview that Holder was just trying to “gain a little notoriety” and “get a higher profile in Wisconsin” by involving himself in the race.

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U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Alex van der Zwaan — a Dutch lawyer who admitted to lying to Special Counsel Robert Mueller about conversations he had with Trump campaign aide Rick Gates in 2016 — to 30 days in jail and ordered him to pay a $20,000 fine.

Tuesday’s sentencing hearing was the first of the Mueller investigation since the special counsel was appointed 11 months ago.

Lawyers for the 33-year-old van der Zwaan — whose wife in the United Kingdom is pregnant — had asked the judge to impose no jail time and a fine. The lawyers for Mueller made no specific recommendation for van der Zwaan’s sentence, but stressed the need for people to not lie or withhold evidence in government investigations.

“I just can’t say, ‘Pay your fine at the door and go,'” Jackson said at the hearing, in explaining her sentence.

Van der zwaan —  a London-based attorney then-employed by the tony firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom — worked with Gates and former Trump campaign chairman on a report released in 2012 about the prosecution of former Ukrainian prime minister Yuliya Tymoshenko. Gates and Manafort were working for Tymoshenko’s political rival Victor Yanukovych at the time.

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New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Tuesday announced that 17 states and Washington, D.C. filed a federal lawsuit over the Trump administration’s decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census.

In the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the states argue that the decision to ask about citizenship status will not properly carry out the Constitution’s Enumeration Clause, which states that the “actual enumeration” of people in the United States be used to determine congressional districts. The lawsuit also argues that the decision runs up against the Administrative Procedure Act, which bars “arbitrary and capricious” agency action.

“This is a blatant effort to undermine the census,” Schneiderman said in a press conference announcing the lawsuit, adding that the lawsuit filed by several states will block the decision to include the citizenship.

Seventeen states were included in the lawsuit against the Trump administration: New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnestoa, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, as well as Washington, D.C.. The cities of Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, Sanfrancisco, and Seattle, as well as the U.S. Conference of Mayors, also joined the lawsuit.

The Commerce Department announced last month that the 2020 census will include a questions about citizenship status, which experts warn could discourage some residents from participating in the survey and lead to an undercount of the U.S. population.

Schneiderman noted in the press conference that the citizenship question could lead to an inaccurate count, and in turn change the number of congressional representatives representing certain areas and reduce federal funding to certain regions. The lawsuit argues that the “unconstitutional and arbitrary decision to add a citizenship demand to the 2020 census questionnaire, which will fatally undermine the accuracy of the population count and cast tremendous harms to Plaintiffs and their residents.”

The lawsuit also argues that anti-immigrant policies promoted by the Trump administration will “amplify the negative impacts on census participation rates” from the citizenship question.

The Trump administration decided to add the citizenship question late in the process for developing the 2020 questionnaire, and the Commerce Department chose to add the question despite research from the Census Bureau concluding that such a change to the questionaire could depress response rates, which the lawsuit filed Tuesday also notes. The lawsuit argues that the Trump administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to conduct proper tests about the effect of the citizenship question and by failing to offer a convincing argument for including the question.

Read the complaint:

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In a federal court filing submitted Monday night, prosecutors for special counsel Robert Mueller revealed that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave Mueller the specific authority to investigate former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort’s work for Ukrainian officials and his time in the Trump campaign.

The revelation came in the Mueller team’s response to Manafort’s push to dismiss the Washington, D.C. indictment brought against him by arguing that Mueller did not have the power to investigate his work lobbying for Ukrainian officials.

Several months after issuing the public order naming Mueller as special counsel and granting him the authority to investigate ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, Rosenstein issued a confidential memo laying out the specifics of Mueller’s probe, according to prosecutors.

The August 2, 2017 memo attached to the Monday night filing grants Mueller the authority to investigate allegations that Manafort “committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials with respect to the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 election for President of the United States” and “committed a crime or crimes arising out of payments he received from the Ukrainian government before and during the tenure of President Viktor Yanukovych.”

The rest of the details about the investigation laid out in the memo are redacted.

The memo confirms that Mueller is investigating potential collusion by members of the Trump campaign and shows that Mueller planned to investigate Manafort’s work in Ukraine early on.

In their March motion to dismiss the Washington, D.C. indictment against Manafort, his lawyers argued that Rosenstein did not have the power to grant Mueller the authority to investigate any matters that arise from the Russia probe, and that even if Rosenstein did have that power, Manafort’s Ukraine work did not fall within the scope of the Russia investigation.

Mueller’s team argued that Rosenstein did have that power and used the August 2 memo to argue that Mueller had the authority to bring the indictments against Manafort related to his Ukraine work.

In the Washington, D.C. indictment, Manafort faces charges of money laundering, tax evasion, and failure to disclose foreign lobbying. In a separate indictment brought in Virginia, Manafort faces charges of making false statements on tax returns, failing to report foreign bank accounts, and bank fraud. He has pleaded not guilty to both indictments.

Read the Rosenstein memo and the Mueller team’s filing:

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Roger Stone in an email to TPM Monday said that an August 2016 email he sent a former Trump campaign aide claiming that he dined with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was the “continuation” of a joke he played on the ex-aide, Sam Nunberg.

“It was a throwaway line, a schtick, the way I talk. This dope believed it. I was playing him,” Stone told TPM. He later added, “I can say equivocally that I received no material including allegedly hacked emails from WikiLeaks for Julian Assange or anyone else and never passed any such materials onto Donald Trump or the Trump campaign.”

Stone’s email to Nunberg, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, was sent on Aug. 4, 2016, during an exchange about Trump’s polling.

“I dined with Julian Assange last night,” Stone’s email to Nunberg said.

Stone, in his email to TPM, referenced a Washington Post report from last month, in which Nunberg recalled Stone telling him he had met with Assange. Stone told the Post that he said that during a telephone conversation in an effort to get Nunberg off the phone.

“Sam, being a neurotic, would sometimes call you 30 and 40 times a day. Late one Friday night while I was trying to get him off the phone, he asked me if I had weekend plans,” Stone told TPM. “I responded ‘I think I’ll fly to London and have dinner with Julian Assange’ …. Sam, a little too intense and with his head not screwed on quite right, fell for it.”

Stone provided for the Journal a screenshot of a booking for “Roger” for a Delta flight from Los Angeles to Miami for the evening of August 3.  Delta confirmed to the Journal the existence of the flight on the booking screenshot, but would not say whether Stone was on it.

“Airline and hotel records prove I was in California on August 3 and 4,” Stone told TPM. He later clarified that he flew into Los Angeles on August 1 from New York, and then to Miami from Los Angeles on August 3.

The email has been raised in questioning in front of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury as he probes Russian meddling in the election, according to the Journal. Stone’s denial Monday is not the first time he has had to explain things he said during the 2016 campaign that suggested communications with the founder of Wikileaks, which published thousands of hacked emails from associates of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

He told a group of Florida Republicans on Aug. 8, 2016, “I actually have communicated with Assange.” He later explained that he was referring to communications through a “journalist” intermediary he at first refused to name. Unnamed sources went on to tell CNN that intermediary was New York radio host Randy Credico.

“I have never said or written that I had any direct communication with Julian Assange and have always clarified in numerous interviews and speeches that my communication with WikiLeaks was through the aforementioned journalist,” Stone said in his prepared remarks for the House Intelligence Committee last September.

The Atlantic earlier this year obtained Twitter direct messages between Stone and the Wikileaks Twitter account sent in October of 2016.

Nunberg was subpoenaed by the Mueller investigation last month — a subpoena he first said he was resisting an a series of erratic cable news hits. Nunberg ultimately cooperated with Mueller’s request.

Nunberg said on MNBC Thursday evening that Stone told him he had met with Assange in early August, and noted that was around the time that Trump was publicly calling for more Clinton emails to be released.

“I think he’s trying to ingratiate himself back with Trump,” Nunberg said. Nunberg did not immediately responded to TPM’s inquiry about Stone’s claims.

“Politics is a game of smoke and mirrors and my emails would certainly show that I was deeply enmeshed in the presidential political maneuvering in 2016,” Stone told TPM. “At the end of the day however it’s not what you said you did but what you actually did that matters.”

Update: This story has been updated to include a clarification from Stone on when he says he was in California.

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It appears that a night out on the town and some alcohol-fueled friendly conversation had George Papadopoulos saying more than he should again.

Papadopoulos allegedly claimed, while cavorting with a stranger at a Chicago nightclub, that Jeff Sessions had more interest than the attorney general has let on in the dirt on Hillary Clinton peddled to Papadopoulos during the 2016 campaign, according to Think Progress. Papadopoulos’ wife has since insisted the former Trump campaign aide wouldn’t have revealed the new information about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, with which Papadopoulos is cooperating.

The back-and-forth stems from a random encounter Thursday night with a nightclub-goer, Jason Wilson, who spotted Papadopoulos and his wife Simona Mangiante at Chicago’s Hydrate. The three became friendly and started chatting about the Russia investigation — a conversation in which Papadopoulos alleged that then-Sen. Sessions had encouraged him to seek more information about the existence of hacked Clinton emails that had been floated to Papadopoulos, Wilson told Think Progress.

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A member of President Trump’s now-defunct voter fraud commission suffered a major defeat Friday, when a federal judge in Florida ruled against a lawsuit aimed at purging voters from the rolls.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), a group led by the conservative voting activist J. Christian Adams, had sued a Broward County elections official in 2016. It was one of several lawsuits the group has brought suggesting mass voter fraud. This case was the first PILF lawsuit to go to full trial.

U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom said in her 60-page opinion opinion Friday that one of the main pieces of evidence that PILF presented in the case — that there were more voters on Broward County’s registration rolls than estimated eligible voters — was “misleading.”

Making that comparison is a common tactic PILF has used to bully local election officials into conducting more aggressive voter roll purges, even as elections experts have said that comparing the two sets of numbers is apples-to-oranges.

Bloom went into significant detail in outlining why she agreed with those experts.

“These data sets do not allow for an accurate comparison,” the judge said.

PILF and a related group, the American Civil Rights Union, had sued Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes alleging she had violated the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which requires that elections officials make a “reasonable effort” to remove ineligible voters from the rolls because they had died or moved.

Bloom found the challengers’ claims that Snipes did not not maintain an adequate list-maintenance program to be “unsupported by the weight of the evidence.”

She also questioned how the challengers were interpreting the NVRA.

“The Court finds that ACRU’s proposed definition of ‘reasonable efforts’ is too subjective and would lead to an arbitrary, non-uniform, unworkable, and unpredictable application,” she said.

Adams served on a presidential commission created by President Trump after Trump claimed millions of people voted illegally in 2016. The commission was dissolved in January under a barrage of lawsuits.

Christopher Coates, another lawyer involved in the Broward County case, was Adams’ former boss in George W. Bush’s Justice Department, which came under fire for politicization of the department’s prosecutorial work, particularly on voting rights.

Read the full opinion below:

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A student group at the University of Alabama’s flagship campus has invited prominent white nationalist Jared Taylor to campus to give a speech about diversity.

“They’ve asked me to talk about whether diversity is a strength,” Taylor, publisher of long-running white nationalist publication American Renaissance, told TPM in a Friday morning phone call. “I think you can imagine the position I will take on that question.”

Taylor has publicly promoted his views on the genetic inferiority of black and Hispanic people for some three decades. Recent headlines under his byline on the American Renaissance site include “How To Achieve Racial Separation” and “Send Them Home,” a reference to undocumented immigrants.

“I assume they have researched me and have some idea of who I am,” Taylor said.

The invitation to speak on April 19 came from Students for America First, an organization that claims to be dedicated to “dealing with the challenges American and Western ideals face in our country.” The group’s red logo features the hissing rattlesnake of the Gadsden Flag—an image that gained popularity with the tea party movement.

In a statement provided to TPM on Saturday by Lincoln Egbert, America First’s vice president, the group described Taylor as “a noted Right-wing intellectual and editor of American Renaissance.”

“SFAF neither endorses nor condemns Mr. Taylor’s work: our sole motivation in deciding to host him is to ensure that all social and political views, regardless of how offensive they may appear to the generic public are accounted for in the free marketplace of ideas that ought to exist on the university campus,” the statement reads.

“We believe that [it] is our right as Americans to decide for ourselves what ideas are right and which wrong, not to have that decision made for us by the media and our universities,” it continues, adding that the members “look forward” to hosting Taylor.

University president Stuart Bell has condemned the invitation in a public statement, emphasizing that Taylor’s ideology “is counter to our institutional values” and that “hate and bigotry have no place” at the school. Bell said that as a public institution with a “commitment to free speech,” the university cannot prevent the event from taking place.

Taylor’s visit threatens to reignite an ongoing debate about hosting white nationalist speakers on college campuses. The difficulty of preemptively proving that a speaker poses a violent threat and the strong First Amendment protections in public spaces like state school campuses makes it hard for schools to stop such events from happening.

A handful of universities were sued by the graduate student who booked white nationalist Richard Spencer’s college tour after they refused to let Spencer speak, citing concerns about violence and disruption to campus life. Spencer recently quit the tour, saying the events were no longer “fun” because they were often derailed by large counter-protests by anti-racist activists.

Taylor, who is less prone to courting the media than Spencer, acknowledged that such mass protests were possible at his upcoming event.

“Anyone who speaks as a white person in the name of the legitimate interest of whites is going to attract an enormous amount of opposition,” he claimed.

Bell said in his message to the student body that “other events and activities are in the planning stages” but did not elaborate on what they entailed.

This post has been updated to include comment from Students for America First.

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