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The man accused of ramming his car into a group of counter-protesters at last year’s white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing a woman and injuring dozens of others was indicted Wednesday on federal hate crime charges

The indictment, filed in Virginia, accuses James Alex Fields, Jr. of 30 hate-crime-related counts in the incident that resulted in the death of young paralegal Heather Heyer. A Justice Department spokesman confirmed to TPM that Fields now faces penalties of up to life imprisonment or the death penalty.

“The Department has not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty,” the spokesman said.

Fields faces 28 counts of “bias-motivated” attempt to willfully cause bodily injury by plowing through the crowd with his Dodge Challenger, and one count of “bias-motivated interference with a federally protected activity” for injuring victims who were peacefully protesting the white nationalists’ message of hate.

“Last summer’s violence in Charlottesville cut short a promising young life and shocked the nation,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “Today’s indictment should send a clear message to every would-be criminal in America that we aggressively prosecute violent crimes of hate that threaten the core principles of our nation.”

As the indictment lays out, Fields was open about his violent, white nationalist views, allegedly using his social media account to promote “his belief that white people are superior to other races” and his support for Adolf Hitler.

On August 11, 2017, according to the indictment, he shared a photograph of Hitler with an family member before setting out from his home in Maumee, Ohio en route to Charlottesville, where hundreds of racist activists planned to convene to protest the removal of a Confederate statue.

At the rally the following day, Fields was photographed marching and chanting white supremacist slogans alongside members of white nationalist group Vanguard America, the indictment documents. That afternoon, alone in his car, he accelerated his car into a group of counter-protesters marching along a one-way street in downtown Charlottesville. He struck and injured dozens of people before reversing and driving away.

Fields’ indictment represents the first action taken by the federal government against the white nationalists who carried out a well-coordinated campaign of brutality at the “Unite the Right” rally. Fields and several other participants face state charges stemming from their actions at that event.

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Nearly six months after President Trump, citing growing litigation, dissolved his sketchy voter fraud commission, a federal judge in Washington said Wednesday that certain commission documents should be turned over to one of its commissioners, who sued last year over the panel’s lack of transparency.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly had previously ordered in late December that the commissioner, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap (D), receive the documents, including internal communications, that he was requesting. About two weeks after her order, the commission folded, but the legal fight over his case has continued.

The judge said Wednesday that the commission must turn over the documents that were covered in her Dec. 22 order by July 18. The judge said that she had not “considered line-by-line the documents requested by Plaintiff.” But she pointed to the documents referenced in an index of commission-related communications, which was provided in a separate lawsuit, as an example of what she was expecting to be turned over.

Her order Wednesday gave other examples as well:

“Plaintiff ultimately should receive relevant documents that any of the former commissioners generated or received. This includes material that commissioners solicited and subsequently received from third parties,” the judge said, adding that her order included relevant records generated after the December order.

She said, however, that the commission need not turn over documents “exclusively” concerning management of the commission’s records.

Her order Wednesday denied Dunlap’s request to subpoena the commission’s de facto leader, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), to ensure he had preserved the relevant documents

“The Court is aware that Mr. Kobach’s reputation for candor to the tribunal and compliance with its orders is less than sterling,” Kollar-Kotelly said, pointing to the sanctions and the contempt-of-court finding that arose in the litigation over his proof-of-citizenship voter registration requirement in Kansas.

“But the Court is not prepared to assume that Mr. Kobach would disregard the White House’s requests when other Defendants—and he too, if the Court finds that he remains a Defendant—are at risk of contempt if they irresponsibly lose documents to which the Court finds that Plaintiff was entitled under the December 22, 2017, Order,” she said. “Should it come to light that Mr. Kobach has Commission documents that he has not provided to other Defendants, and that other Defendants do not have their own copies of such documents, then Plaintiff may seek further relief from this Court as appropriate.”

Read her opinion below:

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For now, at least, one of the country’s best known white nationalists is withdrawing from politics.

Matthew Heimbach, former head of the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP), recently completed a 38-day prison term for violating his probation after harassing a black protester at a 2016 Trump campaign rally.

The violation that landed him in jail was a messy four-way domestic abuse situation involving the former chief spokesman of the TWP and their two wives.

When TPM reached Heimbach by phone on Tuesday, a little over a week after his release, a subdued-sounding Heimbach said he was busy catching up on season two of the “Handmaid’s Tale.” (He told the Southern Poverty Law Center the same thing, by text, last week.)

TWP was essentially defunct, he said, and he had no appetite to resuscitate it. “I’m not involved in any politics right now,” Heimbach said.

“I’m just focusing on my responsibilities and duties. To my family — and God,” he added, chuckling.

This is a pretty low-energy downfall for an activist who has been referred to as “the next David Duke” and the “affable, youthful face of hate in America.” Just last year, Heimbach was a guest speaker at Charlottesville’s “Unite the Right” rally and a brawling fixture at other white nationalist events.

Despite their tendency towards violence, TWP’s leaders sought to frame themselves merely as the champions of the white working class — the voice of frustrated white rural Americans devastated by the opioid crisis, deindustrialization and big-money politics. A number of in-depth journalistic investigations poked holes in the legitimacy of this purported political campaign.

But TWP’s disarray truly broke into public view in March, when Heimbach was arrested at his home in the Paoli, Indiana trailer park that doubled as TWP’s headquarters. The embarrassing details were laid out in the police report for all to see.

The white nationalist leader is married to Brooke Heimbach, step-daughter of TWP’s chief spokesman Matthew Parrott. But he was carrying out an affair with Parrott’s wife, Jessica Parrott, and was caught out when his wife and then-spokesman watched them canoodling through the Parrott’s trailer window.

The scene devolved into chaos, with Matt Parrott and Matthew Heimbach brawling. After police arrived, Heimbach went after his wife, kicking the wall, grabbing her face, and throwing her violently onto a bed — all in full view of their two young sons, as Brooke Heimbach told the arresting officer.

Matthew Heimbach was taken into custody and charged with felony domestic battery in the presence of a child under 16 and one misdemeanor count of battery.

On the police report, all four listed their professions as “white nationalists.”

These sordid details prompted plenty of mockery in both the white nationalist community and press. Parrott denounced the movement, saying the “SPLC has won” and TWP was no longer.

More pressingly for Heimbach, the incident violated the terms of his probation for a 2016 incident where he shoved a young black college student at a Trump campaign rally in Kentucky. In May, he pleaded guilty to the violation of his suspended sentence, and was taken to jail.

According to Heimbach, his retreat from politics was not prompted by any great revelation he had while incarcerated, nor a desire to keep out of trouble ahead of his September trial in Indiana on the assault charges. He is just focused on his “responsibilities,” he said.

“Jail was terribly boring,” he told TPM. “Was basically just reading and praying and sitting there.”

Heimbach declined to offer any specifics on the current situation with his wife and sons, nor on the “work” he claimed to be doing.

Parrott told TPM in a separate phone interview that his new full-time job involved being “a single dad.”

“I decisively failed at my original mission which was to be a voice for working class white folks, and ended up in the middle of the most humiliating white trash spectacle of the year,” he said.

“I could not have possibly done a worse job with my original plan and I give up,” he added.

While Heimbach would only speak about the present, Parrott told TPM that he, personally, was “not just done for now, I’m done with politics forever.”

As for the TWP, it “exists so far as its been named in lawsuits and there are still legal matters to contend with, but that’s the extent of it,” Parrott said.

The TWP is among the white nationalist groups named in a federal civil lawsuit filed by a group of individuals hurt or attacked during the 2017 Charlottesville rally.

That is where most of the white nationalist movement stands almost a year after that fateful event: bogged down by lawsuits, unable to raise funds, facing jail time, fractured, de-platformed. In some ways, they still have political traction: the Trump administration is promoting policies they champion, like forced separation of immigrant families, and elected officials like Rep. Steve King (R-IA) continue to regularly tweet out racist posts condemning diversity.

“Unite the Right” organizer Jason Kessler has confirmed he is holding an anniversary rally this August, this time in Washington, D.C., just outside the White House.

But this year, Heimbach said, he won’t be attending.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller got a major court victory Tuesday when a federal judge in Virginia on Tuesday declined to dismiss the charges Mueller had brought against Paul Manafort — but not without the judge taking multiple swipes at Mueller, the regulations concerning his appointment, and the very notion of a special counsel.

In a series of asides, commentaries, extended footnotes, and musings, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis opined at length on the appropriateness of having special counsels, expressed his distaste for Mueller’s prosecutorial tactics, and warned darkly of “partisan prosecutions.”

“The appointment of special prosecutors has the potential to disrupt these checks and balances, and to inject a level of toxic partisanship into investigation of matters of public importance,” Ellis wrote, going on to suggest that a bipartisan commission with subpoena power would be better suited to investigate election interference.

“Although this case will continue,” Ellis said, in closing his opinion, “those involved should be sensitive to the danger unleashed when political disagreements are transformed into partisan prosecutions.”

Ellis’ opinion started with an extended discussion about the legal landscape surrounding the appointment of special prosecutors.

He noted that a law concerning the appointment of independent counsels was allowed to lapse in 1999, with lawmakers believing it “had become more often a political weapon to be unleashed in the ongoing, indeed escalating culture wars, than a tool for ferreting out and prosecuting crimes ostensibly committed by high-ranking government officials.”

The judge argued that some of “criticisms leveled” at the expired independent counsel law “seem equally applicable to the current Special Counsel scheme.”

He said that the Justice Department failure to impose a time or budget limit on its special counsel regulations– while telling “him or her to find crimes” –  “allows a Special Counsel to pursue his or her targets without the usual time and budget constraints facing ordinary prosecutors, encouraging substantial elements of the public to conclude that the Special Counsel is being deployed as a political weapon.”

A footnote noted the financial costs Mueller’s office reported in its first few months of existence:

Citing Ken Starr’s investigation into President Clinton, Ellis said that “the Special Counsel regulations’ failure to require identification of specific crimes creates strong incentives for Special Counsel to allege that those individuals have committed criminal acts, even if the criminal acts the Special Counsel ultimately prosecutes are unrelated to the original reasons for appointing the Special Counsel.”

Ellis did not stop with the issues he had with special counsel regulations in general. Moving on to the details of the current matter of him, the judge speculated in a footnote that Mueller’s prosecution of Manafort is part of “larger plan” to put pressure on President Trump. Such tactics are “neither uncommon nor illegal,” but “they are distasteful,” Ellis said.

Ellis then zeroed in on Manafort’s specific arguments for why the charges should be dismissed. Though Ellis concluded that the indictment does fall within a provision of the appointment order that sanctions investigation into “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” the judge in another footnote said that the “wisdom” of including such a provision in Mueller’s appointment order was “seriously in doubt.”

The judge addressed other arguments that Manafort made during the proceedings that another line in the Mueller appointment order — which puts in the special counsel’s purview “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation — is too broad. Ellis said that this question was “close” and one where Manafort’s arguments had “merit,” but ultimately decided that it was not an issue he needed to resolve.

Even still, he found room to levy a few more criticism of the current special counsel system.

He called for in a footnote “limitations, divisions, and requirements for frequent consultation” that “would ensure that the Special Counsel’s work is carefully reviewed by democratically accountable leaders within the DOJ.”

Ellis wrapped up his 31-page opinion with more tough words for the concept of a special counsel, cautioning that his decision Tuesday “should not be read as approval of the practice of appointing Special Counsel to prosecute cases of alleged high-level misconduct.”

Ellis said that “this case” was “a reminder that ultimately, our system of checks and balances and limitations on each branch’s powers, although exquisitely designed, ultimately works only if people of virtue, sensitivity, and courage, not affected by the winds of public opinion, choose to work within the confines of the law.”

“Let us hope that the people in charge of this prosecution, including the Special Counsel and the Assistant Attorney General, are such people,” he said. (“Assistant Attorney General” appears in this context to be a reference to the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing Mueller’s probe.)

Read the full opinion below:

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Special counsel Robert Mueller in court filings Tuesday raised concerns that a Russian oligarch known as “Putin’s chef”  could get access — via the discovery process in the criminal case against his firm — to sensitive materials, including “information that could thwart the ongoing efforts of the United States to “prevent his continuing criminal activity in Russia and elsewhere outside the United States.”

The filing came in the case that Mueller has brought against Russian individuals and entities accused of facilitating Russia’s election meddling on social media, and in particular, in a back-and-forth between Mueller and the only co-defendant in the indictment who has shown up in court to face the charges.

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U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis denied on Tuesday former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s request to dismiss the case the special counsel Robert Mueller brought against him in Virginia.

“In sum, because the Special Counsel’s appointment was consistent with both constitutional requirements regarding appointment of officers and statutory requirements governing the authority to conduct criminal litigation on behalf of the United States, the Special Counsel had legal authority to investigate and to prosecute this matter and dismissal of the Superseding Indictment is not warranted,” Ellis said in his opinion

He said that the “only issue is whether the Special Counsel’s investigation and prosecution of the matters contained in the Superseding Indictment falls within the valid grant of jurisdiction contained in [paragraph b(i)] of the May 17 Appointment Order,” a reference to a provision Mueller’s appointment order tasking him with investigation of “any links and/or coordination bet ween the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.”

Ellis concluded:

“It does; the Special Counsel’s investigation of defendant falls squarely within the jurisdiction outlined in [paragraph b(i)] of the May 17 Appointment Order, and because [paragraph b(i)] was an appropriate grant of authority, there is no basis for dismissal of the Superseding Indictment on this ground. ”

During the hearing on Manafort’s request, Ellis posed sharp and skeptical questions at the attorneys for Mueller’s team. That skepticism came through in his opinion Tuesday, even as he decided that a dismissal of the charges against Manafort was not warranted.

“[T]that conclusion should not be read as approval of the practice of appointing Special Counsel to prosecute cases of alleged high-level misconduct,” Ellis said.  “Here, we have a prosecution of a campaign official, not a government official, for acts that occurred well before the Presidential election. To be sure, it is plausible, indeed ultimately persuasive here, to argue that the investigation and prosecution has some relevance to the election which occurred months if not years after the alleged misconduct.”

He argued that a “a bipartisan commission with subpoena power” would be a “better mechanism for addressing concerns about election interference.”

“The appointment of special prosecutors has the potential to disrupt these checks and balances, and to inject a level of toxic partisanship into investigation of matters of public importance,” Ellis said, adding the the U.S. system of checks and balances “ultimately works only if people of virtue, sensitivity, and courage, not affected by the winds of public opinion, choose to work within the confines of the law.”

“Let us hope that the people in charge of this prosecution, including the Special Counsel and the Assistant Attorney General, are such people,” he said.

(The reference to the “Assistant Attorney General” appears to be a reference to Rod Rosenstein, who does not carry that title. Rosenstein is the deputy attorney general and the acting attorney general in the Mueller probe.)

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The Russian firm that special counsel Robert Mueller has charged with funding Russia’s election meddling on social media and is run by an oligarch known as “Putin’s chef” challenged Mueller’s legal authority in court filings Monday.

The arguments that the company, Concord Management, presented to attack Mueller’s investigation were somewhat distinct from those previously put forward by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, whose own efforts to challenge thescope of Mueller’s authority were rejected by a federal judge in D.C. in May. A separate Manafort challenge to Mueller’s legal authority brought in the Virginia case against him is still pending.

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Disgraced former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens may no longer be in office, but he’s not out of hot water.

The GOP-led Missouri House committee tasked with investigating allegations against Greitens found evidence that he engaged in “multiple acts constituting crimes, misconduct, and acts of moral turpitude,” according to a scathing Monday letter from committee chairman. A “super-majority” of the panel’s members would have recommended the governor’s impeachment on those grounds, Republican Rep. Jay Barnes wrote.

Barnes also announced that he intends to file a complaint with the Missouri Ethics Commission alleging that Greitens’ 2016 campaign and a Greitens-linked nonprofit, A New Missouri, Inc., improperly worked together to dodge campaign finance disclosure laws.

Barnes wrote that he now believes A New Missouri “was a criminal enterprise from its inception – designed to illegally skirt donation limits and conceal the identities of major donors to Eric Greitens and ballot initiatives relating to right-to-work that were supported by the former governor.”

Greitens stepped down from office on May 29, finally caving to immense bipartisan pressure to give up his seat.

In exchange for his resignation, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner agreed to drop a felony computer tampering charge against him for allegedly obtaining a donor list from The Mission Continues, a veterans’ charity he founded, and using it to raise money for his gubernatorial bid.

Gardner previously dropped a felony invasion of privacy charge against Greitens after misconduct by one of her investigators led to her becoming a witness in the case. A special prosecutor was assigned to take up the case, which involved Greitens allegedly attempting to blackmail his former lover with a non-consensual nude photograph. The special prosecutor ultimately decided not to pursue further charges, citing the woman’s desire to put the matter to rest.

Greitens insisted to the end that he had “not broken any laws, nor committed any offense worthy of this treatment.” He admitted only to carrying out an extramarital affair with the woman, his former hairdresser.

Barnes’ letter—and two reports issued by his bipartisan committee—says otherwise.

According to Barnes, Greitens made “slanderous” and “wholly untrue” comments about the woman involved in the blackmail case, and his team gathered “evidence of sexual assault and domestic violence” against her. The woman testified before the committee and to prosecutors that Greitens hit her on multiple occasions, as TPM first reported back in January.

Then there is the computer tampering matter involving the Mission Continues donor list. After Greitens denied any wrongdoing during the 2016 campaign, an ethics commission probe forced him to admit after taking office that he illegally received the list and used it to raise funds for his campaign.

Barnes said the documents obtained by the committee, including one that proves he obtained the list “under false pretenses,” led him to believe that Greitens “faced a near certain criminal conviction” in the case.

The litany of alleged abuses uncovered by the committee go on. Greitens “may have engaged in criminal fraud in a grant application” and may have engaged in “literary fraud” with his work on “Resilience,” a 2015 book about his military service.

Most troublingly, Barnes said the committee found “direct evidence of illegal activity” related to fundraising coordination between Greitens’ campaign and A New Missouri, a 501(c)(4) non-profit that backed his agenda.

“Those in charge of the Greitens’ campaign had a scheme to hide donor identities and attempt to funnel donors to a (c)(4) if a potential donor’s identity would either be politically troublesome or they were otherwise prohibited by federal or state law from contributing to the campaign,” Barnes writes.

He concludes that though there should be “further accountability” for Greitens, particularly in the New Missouri matter, his committee no longer has the constitutional authority or mandate to carry it out.

Barnes notes that the state attorney general, Cole County prosecuting attorney, and Missouri Ethics Commission retain that authority, and that he will make a referral to the latter body next week regarding the alleged campaign finance violations.

Read Rep. Barnes’ full letter below.

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Attorneys for imprisoned former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort will try to convince the U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn a pair of rulings issued by a federal judge in Washington, D.C.

In Monday filings, Manafort’s attorneys signaled their intention to appeal U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s June 15 ruling revoking their client’s pretrial release because of his alleged witness tampering. They will also appeal her April 27 decision to throw out a civil suit Manafort brought challenging the authority of Special Counsel Robert Mueller to bring charges against him as part of the federal probe into Russia’s election interference.

Mueller has accused Manafort of a host of crimes including money laundering, acting as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukraine, tax evasion and bank fraud. The disgraced former GOP lobbyist, who has pleaded not guilty on all counts, faces one felony trial in D.C. and another in Virginia.

Jackson recently agreed to a special counsel request that Manafort’s bail be revoked and that he be put in jail while awaiting trial after he allegedly tried to shape the testimony of two of his former business partners.

The judge said at the time that despite her lack of “appetite” for jailing Manafort, there were no other conditions that she could impose to ensure he did not have inappropriate contact with witnesses.

Manafort’s lawyers have tried—and mostly failed—to get various pieces of evidence and charges against their client thrown out.

In the civil suit, they argued that Mueller exceeded his authority by bringing charges related to Manafort’s Ukraine lobbying, which predated his work for the Trump campaign.

Jackson ruled that a civil case was “not the appropriate vehicle” to challenge criminal charges brought by a Justice Department-appointed prosecutor. Jackson also ruled against Manafort’s motion to dismiss the indictment that Mueller brought against him in the criminal case.

Manafort’s lawyers have sought for the indictment brought against Manafort in Virginia to be dismissed as well, but the judge in that case has yet to rule on the motion.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller has obtained and is reviewing phones and a computer used by Erik Prince, the President Trump-ally whose sister Betsy DeVos is the secretary of education, ABC News reported Monday.

A statement to ABC News from Prince’s spokesperson said that he “has spoken voluntarily with Congress and also cooperated completely with the Special Counsel’s investigation, including by providing them total access to his phones and computer.”

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