Allegra Kirkland

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.

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NEW YORK—A tantalizing detail was included in a Monday court filing made on behalf of Michael Cohen. The longtime fixer for President Donald Trump had three legal clients between 2017 and 2018: Trump, GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy, and one mysterious individual who had asked not to be named.

As we now know, that person was Fox News host and Trump booster Sean Hannity.

Hannity’s name was only disclosed after a heated debate during an afternoon hearing at a Manhattan federal courthouse.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom McKay said Cohen’s team’s withholding the name suggested they would not be forthcoming with even basic information relevant to their investigation into Cohen’s potential financial crimes. Calling it a “preview of what’s going to happen,” McKay said the lack of disclosure indicated that Cohen’s team would “hide behind over-broad claims of privilege.”

Judge Kimba Wood seemed to agree, urging Cohen’s team to explain why the mere identification of this particular client was a matter subject to attorney-client privilege.

Cohen lawyers Todd Harrison and Stephen Ryan’s response: It would be embarrassing.

Ryan called the person a “publicly prominent individual” who had expressly asked not to be named and to file an appeal if the court ordered Cohen’s team to reveal his identity.

“At this point no one would want to admit they’re a client in this way,” Ryan said, offering to submit the name to the court in an envelope if it would be kept under seal.

McKay, Ryan, and Wood went back and forth on this matter for several minutes. At one point, Ryan even made the outlandish claim that disclosing the person’s identity would “affect peoples’ willingness” to seek counsel from lawyers in the future. He was met with snickers.

Wood ultimately said that Cohen’s team had failed to prove “at all” that the situation they had described merited special attorney-client privilege considerations.

“I understand that he doesn’t want his name out there, but that’s not enough under the law,” she said, ordering Cohen’s attorneys to disclose the name immediately.

Ryan stood up and said, “The client’s name that is involved is Sean Hannity.”

The room broke out in gasps and titters. Reporters elbowed each other, and several dashed out of the room to deliver the news to their editors.

It took a moment for the courtroom to settle down and continue with the proceeding.

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Aiming to leverage the White House’s campaign to discredit the FBI and Justice Department, attorneys for Michael Cohen are claiming that federal prosecutors can’t fairly sort through a trove of documents seized from their client.

In a Monday letter to Judge Kimba Wood, Cohen’s team wrote that either they or an independent third party — known as a special master — should conduct the initial review of the materials, to filter out anything protected by attorney-client privilege and avoid “even the appearance of impropriety.”

Appointing a special master “will protect the integrity of the Government’s investigation from the toxic partisan politics of the day and attacks on the impartiality of the Justice Department and the USAO.”

Of course, the brunt of those attacks have come from President Donald Trump, for whom Cohen has long acted as a fixer. In tweets, public statements and interviews, Trump has for months argued that shadowy “deep state” officials at the FBI and DOJ are hopelessly biased against him.

The president has described the newly revealed criminal investigation into Cohen in similar terms, saying that federal agents acting on legally obtained search warrants “broke into” Cohen’s office and committed an “attack on our country.” Cohen is under investigation for matters related to his personal business dealings, reportedly including hush money payments he made to women who claim they’ve had intimate relationships with the President.

Attorneys for both Trump and Cohen have requested permission to carry out the initial review of the seized materials, though Trump’s lawyers don’t agree that a special master would serve as a good backup option.

Judge Wood asked Cohen’s team during a Friday hearing to turn over an approximate list of individuals with whom Cohen had engaged in an attorney-client relationship, as well as an estimate of how much of the seized material was covered by that privilege.

In their letter, Cohen’s attorneys explain that they don’t know exactly what material was seized and offer more details on those Cohen represented. Between 2017 and 2018, they note, Cohen had seven business clients and three legal clients. Those included Trump and former Republican National Committee deputy finance chairman Elliott Broidy. As the Wall Street Journal reported this weekend, Broidy paid Cohen to negotiate a nondisclosure agreement related to a reported affair that Broidy had with a former Playboy model.

Cohen’s attorneys say his third legal client directed Cohen not to reveal his identity publicly. Per their letter, ethical and legal considerations prevent them from doing so. Given that Cohen is caught up in the middle of a sprawling criminal investigation, disclosing the identity of this third unnamed client or of other previous clients Cohen has engaged would “most certainly be embarrassing and ‘detrimental” to those clients, his attorneys write.

Wood is expected to make a determination on these privilege matters at a 2 p.m. ET hearing at Patrick Daniel Moynihan Courthouse in lower Manhattan. Both Cohen and adult film star Stormy Daniels, one of the recipients of his hush money payments, are expected to attend.

Read the full letter below.

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President Donald Trump is demanding the chance to review his files seized by federal investigators from his longtime fixer, Michael Cohen, to assess which are protected by attorney-client privilege, arguing that DOJ prosecutors cannot fairly make that determination.

Trump’s demands came in a letter filed late Sunday evening in federal court in Manhattan, where U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood has scheduled a hearing Monday to determine who gets to go through the seized records first. Prosecutors have said that a federal grand jury has been investigating Cohen for months. He has not been charged with any crimes.

Trump’s lawyers asked that he and Cohen receive a copy of the materials obtained in last week’s raids so they can give them a first pass for exchanges that may be privileged. A so-called “taint team” of DOJ attorneys uninvolved in the case would be “plainly inadequate” and fail to “zealously protect the President’s privilege,” Trump attorney Joanna Hendon wrote in the letter addressed to Wood.

The President retained this new legal team after federal agents raided Cohen’s office, home and apartment last Monday. Court filings released days later revealed that Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney and close ally, has been under criminal investigation for matters related to his business dealings.

Lawyers for Trump and Cohen have taken similar tacks, arguing that the U.S. Attorney’s Office is trying to rush the investigation and made their seizures in an inappropriate fashion.

In her Sunday letter, Hendon said that agents acted in an “aggressive, intrusive, and unorthodox manner” during the raid and that their actions were “disquieting to lawyers, clients, citizens, and commentators alike.”

She argued that U.S. prosecutors had made clear in their filings before the court that they’ve “pre-judged the matter of privilege” by insisting that few of the documents seized were likely to warrant that protection, and that the “staggering amount of attention trained on this investigation, Mr. Cohen, and the President” make it impossible for them to review the material fairly.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has asked Wood for permission to begin reviewing the material immediately, noting that the use of taint teams is “common procedure” in federal investigations.

Wood is expected to decide who gets first crack at the documents at a hearing Monday at 2 p.m. ET in federal court in lower Manhattan. Cohen has been ordered to appear in person.

Read the full letter below:

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President Trump’s righthand man, Michael Cohen, has been under grand jury investigation for months for alleged “criminal conduct” related to his business dealings, court filings unsealed Friday revealed. Federal agents have obtained cover search warrants for multiple email accounts used by Cohen, and their probe burst into public view earlier in the week when they seized documents from his home, office and hotel room.

Their search related not just to the hush-money payments Cohen made to women who claim to have had sexual encounters with Trump, but also to personal dealings including a taxi business with which he was involved.

At a Friday federal court hearing, Cohen’s lawyers argued that much of the information seized was protected by attorney-client privilege and that they should get the first crack at reviewing it. Judge Kimba Wood gave the team until Monday to provide more evidence that this is the case and ordered Cohen himself to show up in court.

The New York Times also revealed Tuesday that special counsel Mueller is probing a $150,000 donation to the Trump campaign that Cohen solicited from a Ukrainian steel mogul in September 2015.

Amid this explosive environment, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel’s Russia investigation and personally approved the raid on Cohen, is warning associates that he may soon be fired.

Also Friday, the Justice Department Inspector General released its report on ousted FBI official Andrew McCabe, determining that McCabe lacked candor in his discussions with the media about the DOJ investigations into Hillary Clinton. A worked-up Trump seized on the report, saying McCabe “LIED! LIED! LIED!” The President also compared McCabe to James Comey, the FBI director he fired and who is releasing a book on Tuesday that likens Trump to a corrupt mob boss.

On Capitol Hill, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sailed through a joint hearing on his company’s facilitation of the spread of “fake news” during the 2016 campaign, faced by senators unversed in how the social media platform operates. Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.

At his nomination hearing on Tuesday, CIA Director and Secretary of State designate Mike Pompeo would not discuss whether Trump had asked him to urge Comey to put a stop to the Russia probe.

A search warrant released over the weekend suggests that, even before Mueller was appointed, investigators were already homing in on Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s previous work in Ukraine. Manafort’s lawyers on Tuesday asked the judge overseeing the case against him in Washington, D.C., to suppress evidence seized from his home, arguing that the search was overly broad.

And Ezra Cohen-Watnick, ousted from the National Security Council last summer, is rejoining the DOJ as national security advisor to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Reportedly, he’s doing so on the personal order of the President.

These events unfolded amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria, with Russia warning it would shoot down U.S. missiles should Trump choose to intervene.

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NEW YORK — A U.S. District Judge on Friday reluctantly agreed to give attorneys for Michael Cohen an extension to provide evidence bolstering their claim that much of the information seized from Cohen by federal agents Monday is protected by attorney-client privilege.

Judge Kimba Wood said Cohen’s team will need to turn over by Monday a full list of Cohen’s legal clients and the attorneys he’s retained in various legal matters, as well as evidence proving that the parties were engaged in an attorney-client relationship.

The judge had taken the unusual step of calling two recesses throughout the day to give Cohen’s legal team time to gather this requested information. Her impatience at their failure to do so was palpable by late afternoon.

Wood directed that Cohen be present in court at the next hearing on Monday “so we don’t need to have any more adjournments.”

Court filings unsealed Friday revealed that Cohen has been under grand jury investigation for months for alleged “criminal conduct” related primarily to his “personal business dealings.”

In court, the Manhattan attorney and long-time fixer for Donald Trump was represented by a trio of lawyers — one who had only joined the case on Friday afternoon. They were there to argue that they should get to review the documents seized from Cohen’s office, apartment and hotel room this week before federal prosecutors do so. According to reports, the search warrants related to payouts Cohen coordinated for women who have claimed to have had affairs with Trump, as well as to a taxi business Cohen is involved with.

In the courtroom Friday afternoon, the prosecution argued that Cohen’s team is trying to use attorney-client privilege to both keep the government from reviewing the information they have searched and to protect their client from having to turn over additional information pertinent to the case.

Assistant US Attorney Tom McKay said the law was very clear that the privilege “can’t be used as both a sword and a shield.”

Cohen’s team deserved no extension to try to prove their “wildly overbroad claims of privilege” for material that was lawfully obtained through search warrants, McKay insisted.

Though Wood ultimately granted Cohen’s team additional time, she referred to the prosecution’s concerns as “well-taken.”

Cohen’s lawyers will need to turn over the requested material by 10 a.m. Monday, and court will reconvene at 2 p.m.—with Cohen himself seated at the counsel’s table.

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“Disgusting.” “Shocking.” “An absolute disgrace.”

The Missouri political world reacted with a swift, damning chorus to a state legislative report released Wednesday detailing allegations that Gov. Eric Greitens engaged in coerced sexual activity, physical violence and attempted blackmail against a woman with whom he carried out a 2015 affair.

Several top state political figures said Greitens should step down.

Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley, a one-time Greitens ally, called for the governor to “resign immediately” over the “impeachable” conduct described in the report.

“The House Investigative Committee’s Report contains shocking, substantial, and corroborated evidence of wrongdoing by Governor Greitens,” Hawley said in a Wednesday evening statement.

Hawley is currently challenging U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) for her Senate seat. McCaskill also called on Greitens to step down, criticizing him for putting his “wife and children through this kind of pain.”

“The transcripts paint the picture of a vulnerable woman and a man who preyed on that vulnerability. I am disgusted, disheartened, and I believe Governor Greitens is unfit to lead our state,” Missouri Rep. Ann Wagner (R) said in a statement.

Republican Rep. Jean Evans used similar language, saying “violence against women is always wrong” and Greitens should “do what is in the best interest of the people of Missouri and resign.”

Other Republican lawmakers who had previously called for Greitens’ departure issued scathing statements of their own. Sen. Caleb Rowden (R) was one of the few calling for Greitens’ impeachment, while Rep. Kevin Engler (R) said he should step down, though it was ultimately his decision.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, one of Missouri’s representative in the U.S. House and a stalwart Trump ally, told the Kansas City Star that Greitens’ behavior “surpasses disturbing” and that his alleged behavior is not “befit for a leader in Missouri or anywhere else for that matter.”

Missouri Democrats went much further, saying in no uncertain terms that Greitens no longer had any business leading the state.

The Republican leaders of the legislature have strongly condemned the behavior described in the report but so far stopped short of calling for Greitens to step down.

Greitens has offered no indication that he plans to resign. In his own Wednesday statement, the governor insisted that the relationship was “entirely consensual” and denied allegations of violence and sexual assault.

Greitens faces a felony invasion of privacy charge for allegedly taking a nude photo of the woman without her consent and threatening to share it if she took their relationship public. The woman described the incident in graphic detail in her sworn testimony before the House committee. Greitens has denied taking the image or attempting to threaten her.

He has called the probe a “political witch hunt,” likening his experience to that of scandal-plagued President Donald Trump.

But the seven-person House panel, which determined the woman to be a “credible” witness, was composed of two Democrats and five Republicans. Missouri’s GOP leadership said they plan to call for a special session on the governor’s impeachment once the committee issues its final report on May 18.

Per the woman’s testimony, Greitens coerced her into giving him oral sex while she cried openly, and slapped her across the face when she told Greitens she was still sleeping with her then-husband.

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A woman who carried out a 2015 affair with Gov. Eric Greitens (R) told legislative investigators that he coerced her into unwanted sexual contact while she wept on the floor of his basement. The woman’s testimony was included in a highly-anticipated Missouri House committee report released Wednesday evening.

The 25-page report includes graphic, disturbing claims about a March 2015 encounter at Greitens’ St. Louis home. According to the woman, who testified under oath, Greitens held her down in a “bear hug,” fondling her while she wept “uncontrollably,” before pulling out his penis and putting it near her face.

The woman said she proceeded to give him oral sex because she thought “that would allow me to leave” and feared for her “physical self.”

In addition to these shocking new claims, the woman testified about previously surfaced allegations that Greitens slapped her and threatened to blackmail her with a nude photo that he took of her without her consent.

The governor has admitted to carrying out an extramarital affair with the woman but adamantly denied allegations that he took a nonconsensual nude photo and threatened to release it if she discussed their relationship publicly. He has remained defiant throughout this public, messy scandal, pledging to remain in office.

In a brief public statement just before the House report’s release, Greitens referred to the findings as “tabloid trash.”

“This is exactly like what’s happening with witch hunts in Washington D.C.,” Greitens said, using President Trump’s favorite term for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

The seven-person legislative committee, made up of five Republicans and two Democrats, said in the report that they found the woman to be a “credible” witness.

The committee first convened in March after Greitens was indicted on a felony invasion of privacy charge for the alleged blackmail. That trial is set to begin in mid-May.

According to the woman’s testimony, she and the governor engaged in a series of sexual encounters in the spring and summer of 2015. In the woman’s description, some aspects appeared to be nonconsensual.

She told the committee that during that first meeting at his home in March 2015, Greitens led her to his basement, bound her hands to exercise equipment, and blindfolded her. He proceeded to spit water in her mouth, rip her shirt open, and take a photo of her without asking permission, threatening to release the photo if she ever told anyone what had happened.

When she told him she was angry about the photograph, he told her, “You have to understand, I’m running for office, and people will get me, and I have to have some sort of thing to protect myself,” according to her testimony. She told the committee Greitens promised he had deleted it.

The panel also heard testimony from the woman’s ex-husband and from two of the woman’s friends, who said she told them similar stories about the governor at the time.

All day Wednesday, as lawmakers were briefed on the report’s contents and huddled behind closed doors, a trickle of damning remarks flowed from the Capitol in Jefferson City.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (D) told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the conduct described in the report was “embarrassing,” “deplorable” and “very sexual in nature.” House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty called for the governor to resign immediately, while GOP Missouri political operatives told reporters that the committee’s findings were as graphic and damaging as they feared.

Greitens’ attorneys had tried to delay the report’s release until after the felony trial begins on May 14. Their efforts were unsuccessful, but the committee extended the deadline to release its final report and recommendation on what action the legislature should take until May 18.

Many Democratic lawmakers and a handful of Republicans have for weeks called for the governor to step down, saying the dual investigations from the House and St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner are distracting from the state government’s work.

This week, for example, the House canceled most of its business on Wednesday and all activities Thursday. Though no official explanation was provided, some lawmakers muttered to local media that the decision was made in order to prepare for the impact of the committee’s report.

Greitens’ attorneys have sought to cast doubt on his former lover’s credibility, claiming in a court filing last weekend that she testified that she may have only dreamed up or imagined Greitens taking the photograph of her.

The woman’s lawyer accused Greitens of cherry-picking and mischaracterizing details from her nine-hour testimony. In a statement, her legal team reiterated that the governor admitted to her “on multiple occasions” that he took the nonconsensual photo and threatened to release it.

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The National Rifle Association is rebuffing a request from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) for more details on whether it received Russian money aimed at influencing U.S. elections.

Two previous exchanges of letters between Wyden and the NRA revealed that the gun group accepts donations from foreign entities and moves money between its various accounts. But in a letter to Wyden sent Tuesday, the NRA said it had provided all the facts required to satisfy any “legitimate concerns.”

“Given the extraordinarily time-consuming and burdensome nature of your requests, we must respectfully decline to engage in this beyond the clear answers we have already provided,” NRA General Counsel John Frazer wrote in an April 10 letter.

Wyden’s office expressed its disappointment in a statement: “After three letters, the NRA continually, and specifically avoided detailing what measures it takes to vet donations, including from shell companies, a known means for Russians to funnel money into the United States.”

Wyden had asked for an in-depth account of how the group used the foreign donations made since 2015 and how it transfers funds between its accounts, among other queries. The FBI is reportedly probing whether the NRA received Russian money to boost Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

In the April 10 letter, the NRA said it received a total of $2,512.85 from Russians or U.S. citizens living in Russia between 2015 and the present. $525 of that came from contributions from two individuals, while the rest came from “about 23” other individuals for costs like membership dues and magazine subscriptions.

The NRA had previously only acknowledged receiving a donation from one Russian: Aleksandr Torshin, a Russian government banker with close ties to the gun group. The NRA has said it received under $1,000 from Torshin for his lifetime membership payment. In the latest letter, the group said it was “reviewing our responsibilities with respect to” Torshin after he was added to a list of Russians under U.S. sanction last week.

Treasury Department regulations “generally prohibit” U.S. persons from dealing with sanctioned individuals.

Wyden will refer his correspondence with the NRA to the Federal Elections Commission, an aide for the senator told TPM. The FEC has received a complaint from a liberal group to launch a full investigation into the NRA’s links with Russia, and is conducting a preliminary review of the facts.

Read the NRA’s full letter below.

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The criminal case against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R), who is accused of attempting to blackmail a woman with whom he had an affair, has taken a turn for the bizarre.

Greitens’ attorneys claimed in a Sunday court filing that the woman testified that she may have only dreamed up or imagined the core allegation of the felony charge: that in 2015, the governor took a nonconsensual photograph of her after tying her up and partially undressing her, with the intent to transmit it.

But on Monday night, the woman’s lawyer struck back, accusing Greitens’ team of mischaracterizing his client’s nine-hour testimony. Greitens admitted to the woman “on multiple occasions” that he took the photo without her permission and threatened to release it, attorney Scott Simpson said in a statement provided to TPM.

Greitens, who took office in 2017, has said he engaged in the extramarital affair, but has denied that he took the photo or sought to silence his former lover.

The latest drama stems from the woman’s Friday deposition at the Carnahan Courthouse in downtown St. Louis, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Per the defense’s Sunday motion, she testified that she could not say under oath that she saw Greitens held up a phone.

“I don’t know if it’s because I’m remembering it through a dream or I — I’m not sure, but yes, I feel like I saw it after it happened, but I haven’t spoken about it because of that,” the woman said, according to the filing.

The defense accused St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who is prosecuting the case, of neglecting to turn over previous, similar statements the woman had made.

In response, Simpson, the woman’s lawyer, called for the release of the complete transcript of her testimony.

“Gov. Greitens needs to take responsibility for his actions and be honest about the fact that he took my client’s photograph without her consent,” Simpson continued, accusing Greitens of attempting to “try this case in the media.”

Gardner’s office had a similar response on Monday, accusing the defense of filing “frivolous motions” and playing “political games” in order to “deflect public attention from other matters facing the Governor,” according to the Post-Dispatch.

This messy state of affairs has clouded the governor’s brief tenure in office, prompting calls for his impeachment and a GOP-led state House investigation into the allegations against him. The committee conducting the probe is set to release its preliminary findings this week, and to recommend action once the investigation concludes on May 18. The governor’s felony trial is slated to start four days earlier.

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A University of Alabama student group that invited white nationalist Jared Taylor to campus insists it just wants to ensure “all social and political views, regardless of how offensive they may appear to the general public” are presented to the student body.

Students for America First (SFAF) “neither endorses nor condemns Mr. Taylor’s work,” the group said in a statement about the April 19 event.

SFAF has not taken the same steps to distance itself from another controversial figure: openly anti-Semitic Wisconsin GOP candidate Paul Nehlen. The group’s social media feeds are full of messages promoting the politician, whom SFAF endorsed.

The ongoing support for Nehlen is striking, given that he was excommunicated by most of the far-right earlier this year. Breitbart News cut ties, calling his increasingly offensive tweets proof that Nehlen had “gone off the deep end.” Nehlen responded by going on the radio show of former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke and calling his expulsion proof that “Jews control the media.” The “pro-white” Republican, who neo-Nazi figurehead Andrew Anglin deemed “the leader of the American Nationalist movement,” was also permanently banned from Twitter in February for repeatedly violating the terms of services with his inflammatory posts.

This has not stopped SFAF from advocating for Nehlen, who the group called one of “our own people” in a recent post on Gab, a Twitter alternative popular among the loose amalgamation of white nationalists, anti-Semites and trolls that compose the alt-right. (Nehlen has been banned from Gab, too).

SFAF even invited Nehlen to campus for an event originally slated to take place this week. In promotional material, the group benignly referred to him as a “self-made entrepreneur, Fortune 500 CEO, inventor, citizen legislator and future Representative from Wisconsin.” An online listing for Nehlen’s speech on the University of Alabama’s site said it had been cancelled.

Other messages on SFAF’s Gab and Twitter feeds play on themes popular among the alt-right. The group shared a message alleging that white people are going to be drugged and brainwashed into “accepting ‘ethnic diversity.’” A number of posts reference the demise of “Western civilization” thanks to undocumented immigration.

SFAF did not respond to a list of questions provided by TPM. After Jared Taylor’s invitation was announced, the group sent over a 300-word statement asserting its commitment to preserving the First Amendment by hosting individuals with “‘controversial’ views.” The statement referred to Taylor, who is known for promoting the idea that black and Hispanics are genetically inferior, as a “noted Right-wing intellectual” who “we look forward” to hosting.

The group’s invitation has been roundly condemned by the school administration and other campus organizations.

University of Alabama president Stuart Bell called Taylor’s ideology “counter to our institutional values,” while the school’s NAACP chapter said that SFAF’s right to free speech doesn’t mean that the group should endorse “bigotry and racism.”

“We look to our administrators to protect the inclusivity, safety, and well being of minority students,” the group said in a tweet. “White supremacy is a dangerous and hurtful voice to give power to.”

The university’s College Republicans chapter sent TPM a statement calling Taylor’s views “disgusting.”

“We are infuriated that any student organization would bring him to our university,” the organization said.

SFAF acknowledged that their own faculty advisor, statistics professor Bruce Barrett, stepped down from his post over the invitation, acknowledging in a tweet that “he was not fully informed of Jared Taylor’s polarizing statements on race and identity.”

Barrett did not respond to TPM’s requests for comment.

Many of SFAF’s public statements simply affirm the Trump administration’s positions on building a southern border wall and forcibly expelling undocumented immigrants, and the group is hardly the first to invite an open white nationalist to speak on campus. Taylor has made “the case for white identity” to students at Michigan State University and Towson University.

Alt-right figureheads like Richard Spencer, who recently abandoned his own college tour, and Identity Europe have explicitly advocated for reaching out to young students as a means of recruiting and indoctrinating them early on. Groups like SFAF, in turn, frame inviting speakers like Taylor as a way of pushing the envelope and rejecting “politically correct” culture.

As Brian Levin, director of California State University’s center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, put it: “We’re a splintered society and trust in the institutions that held us together, like academia, have hit multi-decade lows. One of the ways we can be anti-elitist and anti-establishment is to invite someone from the outside. And that’s part of the marketing that’s been done: you’re not hearing the full story, so invite this controversial speaker.”

“It’s a very brazen, in-your-face, mainstreamed white nationalism,” Levin continued. “This invitation is just another star in that constellation, saying white nationalism is now in that night sky of sociopolitical activity in the United States. And that’s scary.”

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