They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

A group headed by an ex-Trump voter fraud commissioner that was sued over misleading reports it produced claiming to show mass non-citizen voter registration is taking its legal defense to a whole new level.

In new court filings, the group is blaming state election officials for any inaccuracies in the reports, and is seeking to drag them into the litigation and saddle them with any liability for the group’s reports.

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It wasn’t just Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels.

The New York Times reported Thursday that Donald Trump and Michael Cohen allegedly devised a plan to purchase decades worth of dirt that the National Enquirer and its parent company had compiled about the playboy real estate magnate.

In the fall of 2016, around the time the pair were negotiating the purchase of McDougal’s story about her alleged 10-month affair with Trump, they grew worried about what could happen to this trove of damaging stories if Trump ally David Pecker left his post atop the tabloid empire, according to the Times report.

The National Enquirer kept a safe of documents about hush money payments and other damaging Trump stories, as the Associated Press recently reported.

Per the Times, Cohen discussed buying all the publication’s dirt with Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg. Though the deal reportedly never came together, the Times’ report sheds new light on a recorded conversation released by Cohen’s attorney.

“I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info, regarding our friend David,” Cohen tells Trump in the September 2016 recording, referring to Pecker.

“I’ve spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up,” Cohen says later in the conversation.

According to the Times, Cohen was referring to Pecker when he added, “We’ll have to pay him something” for the full stash of negative stories.

The Times reported it is unclear if this proposed plan is part of the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office’s investigation into Cohen’s business dealings. Cohen last week pleaded guilty on eight counts of financial crimes, including two campaign finance violations related to the hush money payments.

Weisselberg and Pecker were granted partial immunity to testify in the Cohen probe.

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Prosecutors in Paul Manafort’s Virginia case asked a judge on Wednesday for more time to decide whether they’ll seek a retrial for the 10 counts on which the jury was deadlocked. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis last week told prosecutors to state their intentions by Wednesday, but prosecutors are asking the deadline to be extended until a week after the judge rules on whatever post-trial motions Manafort files.

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Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort formally requested Wednesday that his upcoming trial in D.C. be moved to Roanoke, Virginia, in a court filing that claimed, “Nowhere in the country is the bias against Mr. Manafort more apparent than here in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.”

His attorneys previously indicated at a pretrial hearing in D.C. on Tuesday that they were planning to file the request. The judge, U.S. District Amy Berman Jackson appeared skeptical, and the attorneys said they wanted to make the request for the purposes of the record.

A similar request to move Manafort’s recent trial in Alexandria, Virginia was denied.

The Wednesday filing argued that while the Manafort case has received national attention, the coverage “has been most intense in and around Washington, D.C.”

“Mr. Manafort as the first person tried and convicted by the Special Counsel’s Office, has become an unwilling player in the larger drama between Mr. Mueller and President Trump,” the filing said.

Manafort, in his Virginia bank fraud and tax fraud case, was convicted on eight counts, with the jury hung on 10 others. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges he’s facing in D.C., which include money laundering, witness tampering and failure to disclose foreign lobbying. Jury selection in that trial is scheduled begin on September 17.

Read the filing below:

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The attorney for Mariia Butina alleged in a Friday court filing that “sexist” prosecutors intentionally misconstrued the young Russian graduate student’s communications in order to paint her as spy who offered sex for favors.

“The government gratuitously and falsely smeared her character and reputation in its written memorandum and oral proffer made in open court,” Robert Driscoll wrote in an indignant 16-page memorandum.

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Michael Cohen is currently caught in a thicket of state and federal investigations.

There’s the Manhattan U.S. Attorney probe, in which he pleaded guilty on eight counts of personal financial wrongdoing and campaign finance violations. There’s the New York Department of Taxation and Finance inquiry into the Trump Foundation, which grew out of the New York Attorney General’s lawsuit against the charity. And there is the still-looming possibility that he will be called to provide information in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference.

Though Cohen’s Tuesday plea deal included no provision requiring him to cooperate with authorities, that does not mean cooperation could not happen at a later date.

Former federal prosecutors told TPM that these various state and federal entities are likely to put aside any turf battles and work closely together to handle these complex, occasionally overlapping investigations.

“It’s really going to require coordination for these cases to work,” Mimi Rocah, a former federal prosecutor who spent 16 years in the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office and is now a fellow at Pace Law School, told TPM.

The multiple inquiries “speak to the crossover—similar to the organized crime world—where you just have different subjects that one person knows about in different jurisdictions,” Rocah added. “It speaks to people wanting to work together to get it right because there are very high stakes.”

The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office, state Attorney General’s office, and the state tax department declined TPM’s request for comment, citing the ongoing nature of their investigations.

Federal and state prosecutors are notoriously territorial about their own witnesses and potential witnesses. This is in part because they want credit for their investigations, especially in high-profile cases and competitive districts like Manhattan. There’s also the question of control. If an investigator from one district or agency messes up a line of questioning or makes a mistake in one probe, it could taint other investigations involving the same witness.

“That’s not going to happen here,” former federal prosecutor Jeff Cramer told TPM, citing the professionalism and integrity of the players involved.

Rocah, too, said that “99 percent of the time, if it was really going to make a difference in the outcome of the case, and it was important for the different aspects of the system to work together, they did.”

One example of the smooth coordination between multiple agencies: the prosecution of Cohen’s former partner in the taxi business, Gene Freidman.

Freidman in May admitted to nearly $5 million in tax fraud. The New York Department of Taxation and Finance referred the case to the Attorney General’s office for prosecution. Freidman was facing up to 25 years in prison in that case. But he struck a deal state Attorney General Underwood’s office that included promising to cooperate with federal authorities investigating Cohen in order to avoid jail time.

One former federal prosecutor who asked to speak on background as he’s currently representing an individual in the Mueller probe told TPM he was struck by the “cross-pollination” of state and federal agencies in the Freidman case.

A similar dynamic appears to be at play with Cohen’s involvement in the Trump Foundation probes. The New York attorney general in June filed a civil suit against the charity and its board, which is composed of Trump and his three eldest children. Attorney general spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick had said that the office will “seek a criminal referral from the appropriate state agency as necessary.”

The state tax department is also looking into possible tax violations by the charity. On Wednesday, the agency subpoenaed Cohen in that inquiry, noting that Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, claimed on CNN that his client had information that would “be of interest” to New York investigators looking into the foundation.

A source familiar with the investigation told TPM that the state tax department and attorney general’s office are in touch about both the Cohen and foundation matter. Anything found by the tax investigators would be referred to the attorney general’s office for criminal prosecution.

Cohen could also be asked to testify in a review being conducted by the Manhattan district attorney’s office that the New York Times reported Thursday was in its earliest stages. Prosecutors are weighing whether to pursue criminal charges against the Trump Organization and two of its executives for using sham legal invoices to reimburse Cohen for hush money payments to women, as Cohen has alleged in his plea deal.

Former prosecutors told TPM that they’re surprised that Cohen did not have cooperation terms stipulated in his plea deal the way Freidman did, given his years of service to the Trump Organization and involvement with the 2016 campaign.

One possible explanation reported by the Wall Street Journal is that federal prosecutors had an early September deadline to charge Cohen. Under Justice Department guidelines, they could have been seen as influencing the midterm elections had they waited any longer.

They rushed to settle on the agreement released Tuesday as plea deal talks came together over the weekend, the Journal reported.

There are also lingering questions over the value of the information Cohen can provide, given the voluminous evidence prosecutors have already compiled, and whether he is a credible witness.

The terms of any cooperation with either state investigators or the Mueller probe would need to be spelled out at Cohen’s sentencing hearing, which is currently scheduled for Dec. 12.

In the meantime, Cohen is signaling that he’s eager to help anywhere he can.

A Cuomo administration official told TPM that Cohen contacted the tax department shortly after receiving the agency’s subpoena, asking when they could find a time to talk.

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