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Republicans senators, at least publicly, put on a confident face while President Trump met with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — without any Republican lawmakers — at the White House as Congress scrambles to avoid a government shutdown, even as it was reported that they were privately worried the two native New Yorkers would cut a deal without them.

“I might feel better if the Speaker [Paul Ryan (R-WI)] were going over too, or the majority leader [Mitch McConnell (R-KY)],” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) admitted, when asked if he was concerned Hill Republicans might get rolled by Trump and Schumer negotiating. “It might be a more efficient way of getting everyone to yes.”

Otherwise he called the meeting a “positive step.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said he wasn’t worried. Cotton last week showed up at a meeting where Trump rejected a bipartisan immigration deal, surprising Democrats who were unaware the immigration hawk had been invited.

“Maybe the President will talk some sense into Senator Schumer and the Democrats to not shut down the government over amnesty for illegal immigrants,” Cotton said Friday.

“This President is a big boy, he can take care of himself,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who joined Cotton in helping scuttle the immigration deal last week.

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The FBI is probing whether a Russian banker with Kremlin ties illegally funneled money to the NRA in a bid to help Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, McClatchy reported Thursday.

There’s already a lot of reporting out there on the unlikely ties between the gun group and right-wing Russians. The banker at the center of the probe, Alexander Torshin (pictured), is a lifetime NRA member who’s spent years attending the group’s events and amassing a circle of influential American conservative friends. Several of those American conservatives have attended events organized by a Russian gun-rights group that Torshin helped launch.

It’s also worth noting that the NRA’s dark money arm spent more on the 2016 election than did any other dark money group. It spent three times as much in support of Trump as it did for Mitt Romney in 2012, despite the group’s antipathy to President Obama.

Here, in chronological order, is what we know on the NRA’s Russian ties:

  • 2011: According to the Washington Post, G. Kline Preston, a lawyer in Nashville, Tenn. with a specialty in Russian affairs, introduces Torshin to David Keene, at the time the president of the NRA and a former head of the American Conservative Union. Torshin,then a senator in the Duma from Putin’s United Russia party, was friends with Mikhail Kalashnikov, the revered inventor of the AK-47. Preston, who did not return TPM’s request for comment, told the Post that “the value system of Southern Christians and the value system of Russians are very much in line.”
  • November 2012: At Preston’s invitation, Torshin observes the 2012 U.S. elections. Preston told the Post the two men saw violations of U.S. law in the form of Obama signs too close to a polling place. Preston had served as an international observer of the 2011 legislative elections in Russia, and reported that they were fair — a conclusion at odds with that of many international observers. The same month, presumably during the same trip, he visits NRA headquarters:

  • May 2013: Torshin attends the NRA convention in Houston, where conservative players Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, John Bolton, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, and Rick Perry address one of the most important blocs in the Republican base.
  • Summer 2013: According to Spanish newspaper El Pais, Torshin is set to attend a birthday party on the Spanish island of Mallorca for Alexander Romanov, a member of the Moscow-based Taganskaya gang. Torshin, El Pais reported, is believed to be the Taganskaya boss. Twelve Spanish police officers wait for him at the airport and the hotel where he would have stayed, ready to arrest him in connection with money allegedly laundered to buy a hotel in the Spanish vacation spot. But, the newspaper reported, a Russian prosecutor tips Torshin off at the last moment, and he never shows up.
  • September 2013: Keene visits Moscow to speak on behalf of the NRA at the conference of The Right to Bear Arms, a group supporting handgun legalization in Russia. The group is run by Maria Butina, then 25, who has been described as a protege of Torshin.
  • December 2013: Romanov is arrested on money laundering charges in Mallorca. He will ultimately be convicted. Among the evidence: 33 telephone conversations with Torshin. In those conversations, Romanov refers to Torshin as “the godfather.”
  • January 2014:  An op-ed written by Torshin on the occasion of Kalashnikov’s death appears in the Washington Times, where Keene, no longer the NRA’s president, is now the op-ed page editor. In the piece, Torshin extols the NRA, mentioning his 2013 visit to the conference and his lifetime membership.
  • March 19, 2014: In response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, President Barack Obama signs an order directly sanctioning several Russian officials, making it a crime to do business with them.
  • September 3, 2014: On an invitation from Butina, NRA member and Republican operative Paul Erickson, formerly a board member of the American Conservative Union — where Keene was president before his time at the NRA — speaks at Right to Bear Arms meeting in Moscow. Butina posts about the meeting on social media, including a picture of Erickson and the NRA logo.
  • January 2015: Putin names Torshin deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia, the hugely powerful Russian state bank, which is the majority shareholder of consumer bank Sberbank. One of Torshin’s first acts as deputy governor is to name Butina his “personal executive assistant” according to El Pais.
  • July 2015: Butina attends Freedom Fest 2016, a libertarian convention in Las Vegas featuring Trump as speaker. A video interview with her is featured prominently in the group’s promotional material. During the Q&A portion of Trump’s speech, a Russian woman with red hair who sounds a lot like her asks, “Do you want to continue the politics of sanction that are damaging both economy [sic]?”
  • December 8, 2015: Several prominent NRA members embark on a five-day trip to Russia. They include Erickson, Keene, and gun accessory salesman Pete Brownell. Also in tow is Wisconsin sheriff and Fox News regular David Clarke, who tweets that he met with “the Russian foreign minister.” Clarke would later report that Right to Bear Arms paid for his trip to Russia. The Americans met with Torshin, Butina, and Dmitry Rogozin, the country’s deputy prime minister.
  • December 10, 2015: While the NRA members are in Russia, Putin himself sits down at a gala dinner honoring state news service Russia Today (RT) with future Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn and Jill Stein. Flynn gives a talk for which he is paid $45,000 by the Russian government.
  • February 10, 2016: Erickson, the Republican operative and NRA member, starts a company, Bridges, LLC, with Butina, who is now Torshin’s assistant. It’s incorporated in South Dakota. Erickson told McClatchy that the LLC was for Butina’s grad school tuition, which McClatchy described as “an unusual way to use an LLC.”
  • February 14, 2016: Torshin tweets that Butina is in the U.S. “Maria Butina is now in the USA,” he writes, according to a translation by the New York Times. “She writes to me that D. Trump (NRA member) really is for cooperation with Russia.”

  • May, 2016: Torshin asks Donald Trump, Sr. to join him at a breakfast at the NRA’s annual meeting, this year in Louisville, Ky. According to CBS, Torshin hoped to meet the elder Trump but got his son; Alan Futerfas, Donald Jr.’s lawyer, said the conversation between the Russian banker and Trump Jr. extended only as far as “gun-related small talk.” Torshin tweets a picture of himself from the meeting months later. He’s sitting next to Keene, wearing a button that says “I’m NRA, and I Voted.”

  • June 2016: “Right around the time” of the June 9 meeting in Trump Tower between Donald Trump, Jr. and Kremlin-tied lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, according to CNN, Christian activist Rick Clay emails Trump aide Rick Dearborn on behalf of Torshin, offering a backchannel meeting between Trump and Torshin about “shared Christian values” with the subject line “Kremlin connection.” The campaign turns him down.
  • July 2016: Butina attends Freedom Fest 2016, a libertarian convention in Las Vegas featuring Trump as speaker. A video interview with her is featured prominently in the group’s promotional material. During the Q&A portion of Trump’s speech, a Russian woman with red hair who sounds a lot like her asks, “Do you want to continue the politics of sanction that are damaging both economy [sic]?”

  • November 12, 2016: Butina throws a costume party for her birthday at Cafe Deluxe near American University in Washington, D. C., the Beast reported, where she dressed as Russian Empress Alexandra. Erickson came as Rasputin. Two sources told the Beast that Butina bragged she had been “part of the Trump campaign’s communications with Russia.” Erickson told guests he was on the Trump transition team, which the White House would not confirm or deny.
  • January 2017: A US-based LLC representing a Russian company files suit against Torshin-controlled Sberbank in the Southern District of New York, alleging a wide variety of illegal behavior. Torshin buys Allan D. Cors, current president of the NRA, a book about tanks for his birthday, according to one of Torshin’s tweets. The book is in Russian.

  • February 2, 2017: Torshin attends the White House prayer breakfast as part of the Russian delegation. According to Butina, who spoke to Yahoo News’s Michael Isikoff, she and Torshin expected a meet-and-greet with the president, but the meeting was nixed the night before. Instead, Torshin had breakfast with Republican congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (California) and Tom Massie (Kentucky). Rohrabacher told Isikoff it had been “a good exchange” — Torshin seemed to agree with the American conservatives that “[t]he whole problem is with radical Muslims.”
  • May 10: Brownell, who attended the 2015 meeting of the Russian gun group, is elected NRA president.
  • August 2017: Sberbank hires Donald Trump’s personal attorney Marc Kasowitz to represent it in court in New York. The bank denies it is attempting to use Kasowitz’s political connections as leverage.
  • November 2017: Glenn Simpson, head of private political research firm Fusion GPS, tells the House Intelligence Committee that “it appears the Russians, you know, infiltrated the NRA” after having targeted “various conservative organizations, religious and otherwise.” Simpson describes Torshin as “a Russian banker-slash-Duma member-slash-Mafia leader” and mentions that Torshin “was supposed to have a meeting with President Trump after the inauguration. And somebody noticed that there had been some stories about him that weren’t pretty good.” He also mentions that Butina was “hanging around in the Trump transition” and suggested she enrolled at American University for the educational visa. He describes Right to Bear Arms as “a big charade.”

The Times said Keene “no longer works” there, though his last byline is January 2, 2018. He is no longer the paper’s op-ed section editor. TPM has emailed Keene through the contact information for his website and will update this piece with comment should he respond. An NRA spokesman did not return a voicemail. Requests for comment sent through contact forms on both of Clarke’s websites generated only automated responses, and an email address listed on a court filing,, bounced back.

We will continue to update this post.

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The Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to derail, undermine, and distract from the federal investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election has had some crucial help from the President’s enablers on Capitol Hill.

These Trump allies have turned public committee hearings with senior intelligence officials into debates about leaks to the media. They’ve proposed bills to decapitate special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, recasting the lifelong Republican former FBI director as a liberal hack. They’ve called for additional investigations into what they describe as anti-Trump bias at the FBI and DOJ. And of course, they’ve aimed to change the subject by attacking Hillary Clinton.

In doing all this, they’ve often appeared to put their loyalty to the president ahead of the need to conduct a full investigation into a major threat to national security.

In descending order, these are the GOP lawmakers who have most aggressively gone to bat for Trump.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)

Nunes has used his powerful perch to cast doubt on the existence of any links between the Trump campaign and Russia, and to carry out shadow probes that better suit the administration’s storyline.

First, there was his one-man “unmasking” debacle last spring. The California Republican took to the press “evidence” he received directly from the White House, describing it as proof that Obama administration officials improperly revealed the identities of Americans caught up in classified intelligence reports. After Nunes’ claims were debunked by bipartisan lawmakers and national security experts, he found himself facing a House Ethics Committee probe for allegedly mishandling classified documents. In response, Nunes temporarily recused himself from his panel’s Russia probe.

That didn’t stop him from issuing a series of subpoenas to intelligence agencies and to Fusion GPS, the firm that assembled a dossier documenting Russia’s alleged coordination with the Trump campaign. He and other House Intelligence Committee Republicans are currently hunting for evidence that top DOJ and FBI officials improperly handled the dossier.

Nunes has also put himself on the frontline of two other issues the GOP has used as counterweights to the Russia probe. In October, he announced a new probe into the debunked Uranium One scandal involving the Obama administration’s approval of a deal selling part of a company that exports uranium to Russia’s government, a move said to have benefited a donor to the Clinton Foundation. And he threatened to hold DOJ leadership in contempt of Congress for allegedly withholding information about former top FBI official Peter Strzok, who was forced off of Mueller’s team after the discovery of text messages he’d sent disparaging Trump.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

Grassley began the new year by sending off Congress’s first criminal referral in the Russia probe. But the target wasn’t anyone accused of colluding with Putin’s government. Rather, it was Christopher Steele, the former British spy who put together the dossier detailing alleged collusion, and a favorite target of the right. Grassley and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) alleged that Steele lied to federal agents about his contacts with the media.

The Iowa Republican also wrote to the Justice Department suggesting that then-Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe may need to recuse himself from the Russia probe for matters related to his wife’s unsuccessful Democratic campaign for state office in Virginia. And he publicly questioned whether the FBI warned the Trump campaign about ties between some of its staffers and Russian officials. Both moves furthered the conservative storyline alleging anti-Trump prejudice at the bureau.

Grassley has also called for a special counsel to investigate Uranium One, and made much hay of the allegations against Strzok, announcing in December that he was opening a probe into the former FBI official’s “reported bias.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)

The freshman Florida congressman in November became the first lawmaker to openly demand Mueller’s firing.

After months of calling for a second special counsel, Gaetz led a group of GOP lawmakers in introducing a resolution calling for Mueller to step down immediately because he was the head of the FBI when the Uranium One deal was approved. Gaetz called Mueller’s impartiality “hopelessly compromised” and urged other Republicans to join his cause.

The outspoken Freedom Caucus member frequently appears on Fox to float allegations that it was the DNC that collaborated with Russia. And Gaetz has said he personally warned Trump about his concerns that Mueller’s probe is “infected with bias,” putting the country at risk of a “coup d’etat.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)

Jordan has leveraged his seat on the House Judiciary Committee to push conspiracy theories in public hearings with senior U.S. officials.

The Ohio Republican has called for a special counsel to investigate whether Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the FBI cooperated to promote the Steele dosser. And he offered FBI director Wray his “hunch” that Strzok was personally responsible for using the dossier as justification for the FBI to “spy” on the Trump campaign.

The Freedom Caucus member kicked off 2018 with an op-ed calling for Sessions to step down for failing to plug the steady stream of leaks emanating from the DOJ on the Russia probe.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL)

DeSantis in August became the first lawmaker to propose a measure that would end Mueller’s investigation, which DeSantis has called a“fishing expedition.” It would have eliminated funding for the probe six months after the amendment’s passage, and prohibited Mueller from looking into matters that occurred prior to the June 2015 launch of Trump’s presidential campaign.

At the same time, DeSantis, who is running for governor of Florida, has argued that the dossier—which was initially funded by the Washington Free Beacon before the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign took over—proved “without a shadow of a doubt” that the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton colluded with Russia.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC)

UNITED STATES - JULY 28: Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol on July 28, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House Freedom Caucus Chairman co-wrote the Washington Examiner piece with Jordan calling for Sessions’ resignation over leaks.

But his op-ed campaign to change the conversation about Russia dates back far earlier. Last June, he lamented that the Democrat-led “hysterics surrounding Russia” were a concerted effort to derail Trump and Congress’ agenda. After all, Meadows reminded CNN’s readers, “no formal charge has been leveled against anyone.”

Meadows would make a similar case in a Fox News op-ed published just days before Mueller’s team announced its first charges, asserting “it’s time to move on” from investigations into Trump’s campaign and Russia. In the op-ed, he called for a special counsel to investigate matters involving Clinton and the Obama DOJ.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

In early 2017, Graham, a long-time foreign policy hawk, was questioning Trump’s softness on Russia and mocking Nunes’ “Inspector Clouseau” investigations into classified leaks. By the end of the year, Graham had changed his tune.

The veteran South Carolina senator signed off on Grassley’s letter referring Steele for criminal investigation. He alleged that Trump’s “blindspot” on Russia is “changing for the better.” And he has lent weight to calls for a second special counsel with his loud, public calls for independent investigations of the Trump-Russia dossier, Uranium One deal, and alleged anti-Trump bias at DoJ.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC)

Gowdy has maintained his public support for the Russia probe and Mueller, but the House judiciary and intelligence committee member has done plenty to cast doubt on the investigation’s legitimacy.

The South Carolina lawmaker latched on to the leaks issue early on, and spent much of the House Intelligence Committee’s first hearing on Russia last March grilling then-FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers about how the press obtained classified information about Trump officials. Gowdy ran through a list of Obama officials who could have leaked ousted national security adviser Mike Flynn’s contact with the Russian ambassador, even suggesting that the former President himself could have been behind it.

Gowdy has dismissed calls for a second special counsel, but has railed against leaks from and bias on Mueller’s team, recently telling CNN it was “tone-deaf” that the special counsel was unable to “find prosecutors that don’t have an ‘I’m With Her’ T-shirt on.”

Gowdy came to national prominence as the chair of the special House committee created in 2014 to investigate the Obama administration’s response to the Benghazi attacks. Many Democrats described the panel as an effort to damage Clinton.

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Two foreign allies of President Donald Trump — the face of Brexit and founder of WikiLeaks — may have had multiple, previously undisclosed meetings during the 2016 presidential campaign. In November testimony to the House Intelligence Committee that was made public Thursday, Glenn Simpson, founder of private intelligence firm Fusion GPS, said he’d heard reports that Brexit leader Nigel Farage provided data to WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange.

“I’ve been told and have not confirmed that Nigel Farage had additional trips to the Ecuadoran Embassy than the one that’s been in the papers and that he provided data to Julian Assange,” Simpson testified.

Simpson, whose firm assembled the so-called Trump-Russia dossier, added that the data came in the form of a thumb drive.

Farage is known to have made a trip to the embassy in March 2017 to meet with Assange, who has been accused of working with Russian hackers to release stolen emails and other material intended to damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The former UKIP party leader, who campaigned on Trump’s behalf, was identified as a “person of interest” in the federal investigation into Russia’s election interference in a Guardian report published last summer.

Both Farage and Assange have dismissed the suggestion that they took any action to influence the election results. The former British politician insisted he has “no connections to Russia,” while Assange has denied that WikiLeaks had any interest in helping Trump win.

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The co-founder of the firm that produced the so-called Trump dossier told the House Intel Committee that early on in his investigation he saw “patterns of activity” from the Trump Organization that “might be suggestive of money laundering,” including dealings with Russian ties.

The allegation was one of many Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson discussed in an interview with the House Committee in November. The transcript was posted online Thursday after a bipartisan committee vote to release it.

The committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) bashed his Republican counterparts in a statement Thursday that said they have “refused to look into” the “key area” of whether the Trump Organization had engaged in money laundering with Russians.

“[W]e hope the release of this transcript will reinforce the importance of these critical questions to our investigation,” Schiff said in the statement.

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The communications between the White House and an attorney representing Steve Bannon during his House Intel interview Tuesday were about the scope of interview, and the attorney did not, as AP reported, relay “questions, in real time” to the White House, a White House official and a person familiar with the interview told TPM Wednesday.

Bannon’s attorney, Bill Burck, called the White House Counsel’s Office when the committee’s questioning went beyond the scope of Bannon’s time on the Trump campaign, and into the presidential transition and his time in the Trump administration, according to the sources. The White House maintains that congressional committees need to go through an accommodation process with the White House Counsel’s Office before asking about those periods.

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On Tuesday, the Trump administration released a report filled with heavily gamed statistics that aimed to link immigration with international terrorism. At a White House briefing Wednesday, reporters said they weren’t fooled.

As TPM reported, the joint Department of Justice-Department of Homeland Security report found that nearly three in four people convicted of international terrorism in U.S, courts since 9/11 were foreign-born. The report was framed as offering support for President Trump’s strict immigration policies. But to get to the three in four number, it included foreigners who committed crimes on foreign soil before being extradited to the U.S. — cases which have no bearing on immigration issues. 

Justice Department official Ed O’Callaghan appeared at the White House briefing Wednesday to discuss the report. 

“A lot of the crimes that you’re using as examples to justify changing the immigration system are crimes that were attempted crimes or would have taken place outside the United States,” one reporter observed. “Can you give maybe better examples that fit what you’re trying to say?”

O’Callaghan responded that this was just “the first iteration of this report in response to the executive order’s directives.” He said the government would “have more statistics and address some of this issues we weren’t able to address” in later versions.

The reporter appeared unconvinced. “It seems like the focus there should be on things that people did in the United States, to people in the United States,” he followed up.

As O’Callaghan spoke, a CNN chyron flatly called the report “misleading.”

O’Callaghan also couldn’t answer a question about how many among the 549 people convicted of “terrorism-related” offenses were immigrants. Attorney General Jeff Session had said in a statement accompanying the report, and blasted out on Twitter, that the report shows “our immigration system has undermined our national security and public safety.”

The report has attracted widespread criticism from immigrant groups notably the Tahirih Justice Center, a 20-year-old nonprofit advocate for refugees, which called the report “deeply flawed” for failing to note that “immigrants are uniquely vulnerable to violence and exploitation by U.S.- and foreign-born perpetrators.”

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As a fifth Missouri GOP lawmaker called for his resignation, Gov. Eric Greitens (R) remained defiant on Tuesday, saying he’s focused on “moving forward,” and asking supporters for forgiveness for what he described as a “personal mistake.”

In his first extended public response since the news of his affair and alleged blackmail attempt broke last week, Greitens apologized to his family for the relationship and pledged to go “back to work for the people of Missouri.”

“Much has now been written about this, and many of the assertions made have not been truthful and have proven extremely hurtful to Sheena, as well as to me,” Greitens said in a statement emailed to supporters and posted on Facebook. “For us, the allegations that go so far beyond the facts have made this much more difficult.”

“We are focused on moving forward,” the statement continued. “I ask for your forgiveness and hope you can find it in your heart to do so. I assure you that this personal mistake will not deter us from the mission we were sent here to do continued.”

Greitens has admitted to the affair, but denied a claim made by the woman involved, in audiotapes recorded by her husband, that Greitens took a compromising photo of her and threatened to release it if she revealed the affair. He also has denied the woman’s claim, made to her husband, that he slapped her after she told him she’d had sex with her husband.

But the swirling scandal has upended the state legislature and prompted a criminal investigation by the City of St. Louis Circuit Attorney.

On Tuesday evening, State Sen. Rob Schaaf (R) became the fifth Republican lawmaker to call for Greitens’ resignation.

“When you ran for office, you promised that you would be a governor known for ethics and transparency,” Schaaf said in a speech from the floor of the Senate chambers at the State Capitol. “Instead, you have defined yourself through scandal and covering things up.”

“So governor, I’m asking you: please resign,” Schaaf pleaded.

Schaaf is of the governor’s staunchest foes. Earlier this year, a Greitens’-linked dark money group shared Schaaf’s cell phone number to punish him for opposing legislation supported by Greitens.

But four other GOP lawmakers, including one of Greitens’ earliest backers, have also said the governor should step down.

Greitens’ past ethics scandals and failure to develop individual relationships with lawmakers have left him with few outspoken defenders in the GOP-led legislature, TPM has reported.

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Four Republican Missouri lawmakers have called for Gov. Eric Greitens (R) to step down over allegations that he attempted to blackmail a woman with whom he carried out a 2015 affair.

Reps. Kathy Conway, Marsha Haefner, Steve Cookson and Nate Walker separately issued statements Tuesday urging Greitens to leave office to avoid dragging his state into a protracted, messy scandal.

Walker’s call for the governor’s resignation is particularly significant since he was one of Greitens’ earliest supporters. In a Facebook post, Walker said the situation “will make it impossible to lead the state going forward.”

Former Missouri GOP chairman Ed Martin also called for Greitens to step down on his talk radio show on AM 1380 Tuesday afternoon, saying “the people deserve better.”

Greitens’ spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

A longtime GOP operative in the state told TPM that, based on his conversations with sources in the State House, he expects the number of Republicans calling for the governor to step down will be “up to 10 trickling in through the day.”

“I think there’s a lot of unease and uncertainty about what’s next,” said the operative, who asked to speak on background because he is lobbying for several bills currently being considered by the legislature. “I think people are believing that there’s more things to come out—that if he did tie her up, the likelihood of another incident or something, in their minds, is higher.”

Greitens is accused of tying the woman to a piece of exercise equipment in the basement of his home and taking a nude photograph of her, then threatening to leak the photo if she went public about the affair. And the woman’s ex-husband has said she told him that in a separate July 2015 incident first reported by TPM, Greitens slapped the woman after she told him she’d slept with her husband.

Per the woman’s request, her identity has not been made public.

Greitens acknowledged last week that he engaged in an extramarital affair, but has denied the blackmail and slapping allegations.

“The current scandal is believable given all the other stuff that’s gone on, the way he treats the press, the way he treats other Republican lawmakers,” Dave Robertson, head of the political science department at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, told TPM.

The Missouri Republican operative told TPM that GOP members of the state’s House of Representatives will meet Tuesday afternoon to discuss next steps, and are leaning towards launching their own investigation into Greitens’ alleged behavior.

City of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced last week that she had launched a criminal probe. Al Watkins, an attorney for the woman’s ex-husband, told TPM he’d been contacted by Gardner’s office and the FBI. Watkins told CNN Monday that he’d provided law enforcement with some five hours of private audio recordings made in which the woman told her then-husband about her sexual encounters with Greitens.

As he tries to ride out the scandal, Greitens is finding his position weakened by his lack of close relationships in Jefferson City, and by several pre-existing controversies that dogged his gubernatorial campaign and his first year in office.

“There’s some chickens coming home to roost here,” Columbia College political science professor Terry Smith told TPM, calling Greitens’ relationships with lawmakers “not great.”

The former NAVY Seal, Rhodes Scholar and bestselling author campaigned as a pro-transparency, anti-establishment family man who would clean up corruption in Missouri politics. But questions about his own ethics surfaced before he was even sworn in.

Greitens made use of the donor list for a veterans’ charity he founded, The Mission Continues, during his campaign, ultimately paying a $100 fine for failing to initially report the list as an in-kind contribution. He also broke with tradition by failing to disclose the amount of donations he received for his inaugural celebrations.

Once he took office, the transparency-related scandals kept coming. Greitens’ campaign treasurer founded a nonprofit group, A New Missouri, that promotes the governor’s legislative agenda but is not required to reveal who is contributing or how much. And in December, Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley launched an investigation into Greitens’ and some of his staffers’ use of a messaging app that deletes messages after they’re read.

“He was Mr. Ethics and Mr. Transparency as a candidate and once he gets in office he sings a different tune and behaves differently,” Smith added. “So he’s being held to account for that.”

Separately, the governor has come under fire for his aggressive effort to appoint five new members to the eight-member State Board of Education, and to orchestrate the firing of education commissioner Margie Vandeven.

Smith, the professor, called the school board fight the “biggest issue so far” in Greitens’ tenure.

“He’s tried to blow up the process and it just hasn’t gone down very well,” he said. “Everybody gets that the governor has an agenda. But he’s basically saying ‘I’m going to bypass the Missouri Constitution here to get my agenda accomplished.’ There are people in Jefferson City who are saying, ‘or not.’”

“This happened not that long ago so he was cruising for a really rough time I think with the Missouri legislature because of that, and then these allegations compound it,” Smith added.

The GOP operative told TPM that Greitens had failed to establish one-on-one relationships with the lawmakers who now hold his political future in their hands.

“Republicans do not know him,” the source said. “There’s no relationship—when I say that I mean many lawmakers had not spoken to the governor personally ‘til he started calling the other day.”

Greitens and his wife, Sheena, made a round of calls to GOP lawmakers last week insisting that no further allegations would come out.

The governor has also reportedly reached out to donors professing his commitment to remaining in office. He has made no public appearances since the scandal broke and enlisted his lawyer to handle the press fallout.

The GOP operative said this may be too little, too late.

“It’s all very controlled and tight,” the source said. “There’s no leadership meeting of the type lawmakers are used to in which the governor might say, ‘Hey I want to tell you what’s happening,’ and there’s some give-and-take. Now there’s just a statement from the lawyer and that’s it.”

This post has been updated.

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The Justice Department in a court filing Tuesday said that it had requested that former commissioners on President Trump’s now defunct voter fraud panel not share any non-public records collected by the commission with the Department of Homeland Security, and that DOJ lawyers asked vice chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, specifically to refrain from sharing the records.

“He has agreed to do so,” the filing said.

The filing was part of the continued litigation around the commission in the lawsuit a Democratic member, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, brought before the commission was shut down by President Trump. Dunlap has since asked the court to prevent Kobach from sharing the records, which include state voter roll data, with the DHS, particularly after Kobach told the media that the DHS would be taking over the commission’s work.

The Justice Department had previously argued that Kobach should not be treated as a defendant in the case — an argument DOJ attorneys reiterated Tuesday.

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