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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The internet’s foremost purveyors of racist bile faced an unprecedented backlash in the wake of the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this month. White nationalists and other hate groups were kicked off of mainstream social media and web hosting sites in droves, pushing them onto platforms created to cater to their niche audiences.

But these sites, such as anti-censorship crowdfunding platform RootBocks and WeSearchr, the crowdfunding site co-founded by far-right blogger and agitator Chuck Johnson, have little name recognition and limited reach. That creates mini-echo chambers where a self-selecting group on the far-right fringe can trade memes and fund each others’ legal fees.

“It further pushes these people to the margins of the internet, not that they were anything more than marginal to begin with,” Hatreon founder Cody Wilson told TPM in a Monday phone interview. “Yeah, some of their stuff began to get purchase with Trump and campaign ’16 but again it’s always vastly overestimated.”

Hatreon, which describes itself as “a platform for creators, absent speech policing,” is a far-right take on Patreon, a platform that allows podcast hosts and other creators to solicit paid subscriptions from their fans. Wilson, whose primary occupation is running a company that develops and publishes open-source gun designs that can be 3-D printed, told TPM he was “sympathetic” to the “alt-right” but personally was “not right-wing.” He said he created the platform so that the loose band of white nationalists, anti-Semites and misogynists who compose the “alt-right” could “have a leg in this conversation and not be banished from the internet.”

Jared Taylor, head of the white nationalist publication American Renaissance, complained of the “terrible setback” imposed by Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other large-scale tech companies in preventing leaders of his movement from reaching new audiences.

“It is a reversion to the pre-internet days when in order to really have access to the public you had to own a newspaper or a magazine or a television network or radio station,” he told TPM in a recent interview. “The internet has vastly democratized this process and made it possible for people not just like us but like Donald Trump to bypass the gatekeepers. What we are going back to is a kind of snuffing out of dissident views. It reminds me of the Soviet Union.”

A number of extremist activists and leaders interviewed by TPM were optimistic that these new platforms would eventually gain more members and clout. But for now, the numbers speak for themselves.

Wilson claimed that he spends “$12 grand a month” of his own money to fund Hatreon as a passion project, saying the site “doesn’t make money” and estimating it has approximately 900 registered users. By contrast, Patreon has over 50,000 registered users and is on track to pay creators over $150 million in 2017, according to a recent company blog post. Facebook boasted some 2 billion users as of this summer; even social media sites with comparatively smaller user bases, like Twitter, with 328 million users, remain central to the national conversation, especially in the Trump era. White nationalists can’t get an accidental retweet from the President if they’re using a fringe platform he’s never heard of, after all.

The refusal of companies like PayPal and Amazon to process payments from certain sites also limits fundraising options for those groups. RootBocks, for example, only accepts cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Dogecoin at the moment.

As Taylor observed, “You can’t make a living just accepting donations only in Bitcoins.”

Peter Brimelow, founder of the site Virginia Dare, which features articles from white nationalist contributors, told TPM in an email last week that his site, which was booted from PayPal, was “earning significant income from Google Adsense [and] Amazon before they purged us.”

Companies have also been dropping the domains of white nationalist sites and shutting down their servers, and there’ve been claims of hacker collectives targeting those sites with spontaneous disruption of service campaigns. As Utsav Sanduja, chief communications officer and global corporate affairs director for Gab, a Twitter alternative popular among the far-right, told TPM, “We’ve actually been targeted by far-left social justice warrior mobs and groups that have been DDOSing us on a regular basis and trying to bring down our site.”

Sanduja, whose Gab bio features a nod to Trump, insists that his site is run by and open to people from a range of ideological backgrounds who want to engage in “politically incorrect discourse.”

“We want a discourse that is free and civil and peaceful as opposed to people getting censored and going to the dark web, where there is criminality,” Sanduja said. “We’re trying to moderate it, essentially, this dialogue, and prevent it from getting violent.”

Other sites are more focused in their target audience and demographics. TPM reached out to Pax Dickinson, who was fired as chief technology officer at Business Insider for his racist, misogynist views and went on to found Counter.Fund, a fundraising platform “built by and for the wider Alt-Right counter-culture.”

His response: “Fuck you, Talking Points Memo bullshit artist, I wouldn’t talk to you if you paid me.”

Wilson, of Hatreon, was flip when asked about the long-term viability of these alternative platforms catering to white nationalists.

“If they can’t find alternatives, they’re not mature enough as a group,” he said. “I think this severe reaction to them [from mainstream companies] is necessary. If they have something they really believe in, they should be able to overcome it.”

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The latest takedown of the thin credentials of Sebastian Gorka, President Donald Trump’s deputy assistant and a self-proclaimed counterterrorism expert, comes from his own dissertation adviser.

“I would not call him an expert on terrorism,” Stephen Sloan, a retired professor of political science who advised Gorka on the Ph.D. dissertation he completed at Budapest’s Corvinus University and considers the White House aide a friend, told CNN in a report published Friday.

TPM reported on Gorka’s lack of qualifications and name recognition among counterterrorism experts in February. The experts surveyed questioned his lack of Arabic language fluency, hardline diatribes against the threat of “radical Islam” and close ties to fringe figures like anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney.

“His level of expertise does not match the level where he stands in the White House,” Sloan told CNN, adding that Gorka “does a very good job being the bulldog” for the Trump White House “but as an adviser, I have some discomfort.”

Gorka prominently advertises his degree, going by the name “Sebastian Gorka DrG” on Twitter and requesting that Fox News introduce him as “Dr. Sebastian Gorka” in his frequent on-camera appearances.

He also has been criticized for his association with a far-right Hungarian nationalist group originally founded by a Nazi collaborator, although there’s no indication he personally holds anti-Semitic views.

Even Gorka’s West Wing colleagues have cast doubt on his competence, telling reporters that he contributes little to policy development and mostly hangs around the White House waiting to do his next cable news hit.

Gorka did not respond to CNN’s request for comment, and the White House press office refused the network’s questions about what Gorka does, who he advises and whether he holds the security clearance required to work on sensitive terrorism-related matters. BuzzFeed News reported in March that he had no such clearance.

With the Friday departure of Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist and Gorka’s former boss at Breitbart News, multiple reports indicate that Gorka’s future in the White House is uncertain.

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While President Donald Trump spent the week generating goodwill among the varied white nationalist groups that descended on Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend, a wide swath of corporations, universities and localities was pushing back against them.

PayPal, Patreon, Facebook, Squarespace, Spotify, Google, GoDaddy, Texas A&M University, the University of Florida, Michigan State University, and a mountain resort in Colorado are among the companies removing white nationalists’ accounts and venues canceling their planned events in the wake of violent street clashes that left three people dead and dozens injured on Saturday. By eliminating both the physical and virtual platforms that white nationalists use to promote their ideas, those companies and institutions have curtailed the avenues by which they could grow their reach.

“I can’t think of another incident to which the backlash has been nearly so widespread,” Mark Pitcavage, an expert on right-wing extremism at the Anti-Defamation League, told TPM.

Most of the white nationalist, far-right and “anti-communist” groups that spoke with TPM acknowledged that squeeze, in addition to their association with a gory rally attended by neo-Nazis and decorated Ku Klux Klan members, as a setback. But the gloss they put on it varied widely: A number of group leaders insisted that the exposure they received through the “Unite the Right” rally is worth any ensuing hardship, and that other social media and web domain platforms will crop up to service their needs. Others described the ongoing backlash as a huge blow.

A Charlottesville organizer and white nationalist podcast host who goes by the pseudonym Caerulus Rex told TPM that his PayPal account had been terminated in the wake of Charlottesville. But Rex insisted that such moves would not “silence us.”

“There are already services stepping up to accept the money that paypal and the like dont want,” Rex said in an email. “Those companies that started refusing us service created an opportunity for tech savy [sic] individuals to profit by not being offended by the truth.”

The Charlottesville organizer behind the @AltRightVa Twitter handle, who declined to give his name, expressed a similar sentiment.

In a phone call, the organizer acknowledged that the “Unite the Right” rally “did not turn out the way we wanted it to.” But he was confident that white nationalists who had their PayPal, YouTube and other accounts canceled will either turn to other sites to get their message out, like the open source platform Minds.com, or create new platforms entirely.

“The market will provide a solution,” he insisted in a phone interview.

Other rally attendees made use of the pro-First Amendment arguments so often voiced by white nationalists to concede that private companies are within their rights to cut off service to any user.

“That is that company’s choice if they want to,” the publications director for the California-based Anti-Communist Action Group, who identified himself only as Seth, told TPM. “If we’re going to allow people to deny a gay couple their cake, we have to apply that standard universally.”

The extent to which white nationalist groups were affected by service denials and account terminations this week varied depending on their size, reach and how violent and virulent their views are. Andrew Anglin’s neo-Nazi website, The Daily Stormer, was essentially wiped off the mainstream internet after GoDaddy, Google and CloudFare stopped providing domain registration in quick succession. Anglin has since relocated the site to the dark web, where it is only available via use of a Tor network, radically restricting his audience.

“His site is all he has,” the ADL’s Pitcavage observed. “He can’t even show his face ‘cause he’ll get served with lawsuits. So his site is basically his voice. He gets hurt a lot worse than someone else who has a lot of different avenues for expressing their ideologies and beliefs.”

Pitcavage said the squeeze was real, whether or not these groups want to acknowledge it.

“There’s only a limited number of ways to send money electronically over the Internet,” he said. “There are only a limited number of large social media sites—once you get away from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, you’re really dropping off in terms of the numbers of membership.”

Some white nationalist groups who have been active for years see this week’s backlash, which has derailed several scheduled events, as devastating.

Though his website and PayPal account have gone untouched, Jared Taylor, the head of white nationalist publication American Renaissance, likened large social media platforms to “public utilities” in their monopoly of specific industries, saying, “If they kick you off because they don’t like the cut of your jib, it’s a terrible setback in how you want to get your message out.”

Taylor said that he was “driven to” hold his publication’s annual conference at state parks rather than in posh hotels because of what he deemed “illegal pressure tactics.”

“We used to have our meetings in first class hotels, convenient to airports, convenient to international travel,” he said. “Now we’re really limited to public facilities. That’s a huge blow; it’s a huge setback.”

The rally on the streets of Charlottesville and a slew of plans to hold events in public spaces on university campuses speaks to this squeezing of the white nationalist movement out of private spaces.

Cheyenne Mountain Lodge, a luxury resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado, this week canceled a planned 2018 conference organized by the white nationalist-aligned website Virginia Dare after public outcry. Still,  VDare founder Peter Brimelow told TPM that the conference hubbub, on top of PayPal dropping his account, led to “one of the strongest donor days ever” and claimed that “traffic is running double or triple usual pace.” According to Brimelow, that cable hosts like Fox News’ Tucker Carlson discussed VDare’s predicament on air helped, too.

Texas A&M this week canceled a September rally planned by activist Preston Wiginton, who had invited prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak, out of concern that the event would result in the same violence seen in Virginia.

Wiginton told TPM he’s in talks with the American Civil Liberties Union and private attorneys to take legal action against A&M. Given the high burden for a public university to prove that threats of violence will materialize at an event, some legal analysts say Wiginton has a strong case (The ACLU did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment).

Insisting he was just “making an observation,” Wiginton invoked a dark precedent: the formation of the Irish Republican Army.

“Historically if you look at the IRA, the Irish Republican Army, this is exactly how they were formed,” he said. “They were forced underground because of their views. That’s what America is playing with. I’m not advocating that at all, but in a society where you have people that have issues or are angry or something, our First Amendment makes it so they can express those views, come to a forum and discuss and find a solution to those problems.”

Battles over whether one may spew hate speech in public are likely to play out on university campuses and in city parks for years to come. As Pitcavage noted, what matters in terms of corporate and private backlash is whether it stands that test of time.

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After a Wednesday meeting with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) is convinced that Russia did not leak emails damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign to WikiLeaks during the 2016 election. And he wants to tell the President all that and more.

The lengthy sit-down, first reported by the Daily Caller, was held at at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where Assange has taken asylum for the past five years after facing a sexual assault charge in Sweden.

“Assange emphatically stated that the Russians were not involved in the hacking or disclosure of those emails,” Rohrabacher said in a statement on the meeting, which he said lasted three hours.

The statement noted, as a point of pride, that Rohrabacher is “the only U.S. congressman to have visited the controversial figure “and that the California Republican planned to “divulge more of what he found directly to President Trump.”

Rohrabacher, who’s been dubbed “Putin’s favorite congressman” and who House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) once joked that he believes is one of “two people I think Putin pays” besides Trump, has been leading a lonely campaign to prove that Russia did not intervene in the U.S. presidential race since Trump won the White House in November.

Recently, he’s promoted a months-old report put out by retired intelligence officials that he claims offers incontrovertible proof that the “so-called hacking of the Democratic National Committee” was “an inside job made to look like Moscow’s handiwork.” The report, which came out before Trump’s inauguration, offers little evidence on this front, instead questioning the intelligence community’s collective analysis that Russia was the culprit.

Republicans leading congressional investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election disagree with Rohrabacher’s assessment.

Rohrabacher’s spokesman, Ken Grubbs, confirmed to TPM that right-wing blogger and agitator Chuck Johnson was also in the meeting with Assange. Johnson told the Daily Caller that he arranged the conversation on Assange’s behalf because the WikiLeaks founder hopes to strike a deal with the U.S. that will allow him to finally leave the embassy.

Asked by TPM for comment on what this deal would entail, and why he is playing middleman, Johnson sent an email reading simply: “No thank you.” Grubbs declined to elaborate on Johnson’s relationship with Rohrabacher.

Johnson recently told the news site that he was contacted by the Senate Intelligence Committee in relation to its ongoing probe into Russia’s election interference.

This post has been updated.

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The family of the 23-year-old man arrested this weekend for allegedly trying to set off what he thought was a large car bomb outside an Oklahoma City bank has accused the FBI of knowingly entrapping an individual who suffers from severe mental health issues.

In the culmination of a months-long FBI sting operation, Jerry Drake Varnell, a 23-year-old Sayre, Oklahoma resident, was charged with planning to blow up the BancFirst building in an anti-government plot modeled after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing attack that killed dozens.

A federal criminal complaint against Varnell does not reference his history of mental illness, which is documented in state records related to a 2013 assault against his then-wife.

Varnell was charged with one felony count of domestic assault and battery by strangulation after sexually and physically assaulting his then-wife in the apartment they shared in February 2013, when he was a student at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

The woman told police that Varnell had a “schizophrenic episode” that caused him to believe “he would die at midnight and needed to impregnate her,” according to a probable cause affidavit. She told police that when she declined, Varnell smothered her face with a pillow until she passed out, and that when she awoke, he was “raping her.”

Varnell ultimately pleaded no contest and received a five-year deferred sentence. Plea documents show that he had received a diagnosis for schizophrenic affective disorder the month of his arrest on the assault and battery charge.

Varnell’s attorney, Terri Coulter, did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment from TPM. Melonie Varnell, the suspect’s mother, and Cade Varnell, the suspect’s brother, also did not immediately respond to Facebook messages seeking comment.

In a Monday interview with the Daily Beast, Melonie Varnell said that her son had been hospitalized six times since age 16 as a result of his schizophrenia, and that his alleged involvement in the bombing plot was brought on by the paranoia and conspiracies inherent to his illness.

“Without the Haldol, he thinks he’s Jesus, he’s tried to make gold before, he’s chased trolls. He’s very mentally ill,” Melonie Varnell told the Daily Beast, referring to the medication her son takes.

“I consider this entrapment,” she added. “They got him to do this. We live two hours from Oklahoma City.”

In a statement to HuffPost, Varnell’s mother noted that the well-equipped “bunker” the FBI said her son maintained in the backyard was just a “storm shelter” that the family used for storage.

Varnell faces between five and 20 years in prison for the alleged bomb plot, which came about after a confidential informant and an undercover FBI agent helped him gain access to what he believed were explosive materials, according to the complaint. He also allegedly made comments in support of the anti-government “III %” movement and repeatedly said he wanted to destroy federal property.

His detention hearing is set for Aug. 22.

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LATE UPDATE Aug. 17, 2017, 9:24 a.m.: VDare said in a statement that it had received a refunded deposit and check for “very significant damages” from Cheyenne Mountain Resort following the cancellation of its 2018 conference. Praising the “professionalism and courtesy” of the staff, founder Peter Brimelow called the cancellation proof of the power of the “Totalitarian Left” to “suppress a debate on immigration policy.”

Original story below

A resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado has cancelled plans to host white nationalist site Virginia Dare’s 2018 public conference.

“Cheyenne Mountain Resort will not be hosting the VDARE Foundation in April of next year,” resort spokeswoman Guadalupe Hirt said Wednesday in a statement to TPM. “We remain committed to respecting the privacy of guests at the resort.”

Virginia Dare, or VDare, had booked the luxury resort for a weekend of discussion about “patriotic immigration reform and American national identity” in April 2018, as Media Matters first reported earlier this month. The Southern Poverty Law Center labels VDare an “anti-immigrant hate site.”

Asked initially about its decision to host a group with direct ties to some of the country’s most prominent white nationalists, the resort told Media Matters that it would not comment on the “groups or individuals that hold meetings at the resort.”

TPM has reached out to VDare founder Peter Brimelow and his wife, Lydia, for comment. The link to the conference page on VDare’s website now informs visitors that the event was cancelled and that registered attendees would receive refunds.

That notice has replaced an invitation for the $225-per-person, three-day event, in which the group promised attendees access to the resort’s “naturally breathtaking landscape and exceptional hospitality,” as well as the opportunity to hear from a number of far-right luminaries, including Brimelow himself.

TPM screenshot of the invitation as it appeared last week.

Brimelow, the author of “Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster,” adamantly denies that his site has a white nationalist bent. But white nationalist writers like American Renaissance’s Jared Taylor frequently contribute articles to the site. At a 2016 American Renaissance conference that a TPM reporter attended, Brimelow said that the “next time there are illegal alien demonstrations,” the federal government should “round them up and ship them out.”

Other planned speakers at the Dare event included former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), a Breitbart columnist who has said that “political correctness protests Muslim rape culture” and that Barack Obama was only elected President because the U.S. no longer had a “literacy test” for voting.

John Derbyshire, a longtime National Review columnist who was fired over an article suggesting white and Asian parents educate their children about the threats posed by black people, was also on the list of speakers. He has referred to himself as a “homophobe” and “a racist.”

VDare’s plan to convene in Colorado Springs was met with strong local pushback. Mayor John Suthers (R) said he could not stop the resort from hosting the group, but that the city would “not provide any support or resources to this event, and does not condone hate speech in any fashion.”

“The City remains steadfast in its commitment to the enforcement of Colorado law, which protects all individuals regardless of race, religion, color, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation to be secure and protected from fear, intimidation, harassment and physical harm,” Suthers said in a statement on his website.

A Change.org petition circulated this week to try to convince the resort not to host the conference and garnered over 4,0000 signatures.

VDare’s attempts to hold its first-ever conference have been thwarted before. After Media Matters informed Tenaya Lodge, a resort near Yosemite National Park, about the group’s views earlier this year, the resort canceled the conference, saying it was unaware “of the nature of” the organization.

Pushback against white nationalist groups and other hate groups has escalated in the wake of the chaotic “Unite the Right” rally over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left dozens injured and three people dead. According to its website, VDare also has had its PayPal account abruptly pulled, as happened to the neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer.

A number of the participants in the “Unite the Right” rally since have been dismissed from their jobs, and planned white nationalist events in Boston and at Texas A&M University have been canceled.

Correction: The original version of this post erroneously identified Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers as a Democrat. He is a Republican.

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At first blush, it seemed as if another shoe may be dropping for an associate of President Donald Trump in the investigations into Russia’s 2016 election interference when the news broke Monday night that a campaign adviser had repeatedly tried to arrange meetings with Russian contacts.

But according to the Washington Post’s report, that aide was foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, one of the youngest and least prominent members of Trump’s campaign.

In a phone call with TPM, a former Trump campaign adviser confirmed Papadopoulos made at least one effort to arrange meetings between Russian officials and Trump or senior members of his campaign that was swiftly rebuffed.

“I remember him raising that once and it never went anywhere,” the adviser said. “It was a nothing. It was a sort of comment or suggestion. I heard him make it, but it was sort of shot down and never really taken seriously.”

The former adviser repeatedly insisted Papadopoulos was not “a significant player” on the foreign policy team and described him as “probably the most junior guy,” saying he never saw evidence that Papadopoulos had successfully developed his own networks in the foreign policy community.

Papadopoulos, who has a nearly nonexistent online presence aside from a LinkedIn profile, did not respond to a message on that platform requesting comment for this story.

His mysterious emergence in and disappearance from the Trump orbit raises questions about why he made at least six attempts via email to broker meetings between Russian leaders and Trump advisers, according to the Post’s reporting, as well as about who his contacts were.

The only Russian individual named in the Post article is Ivan Timofeev, a senior official in the government-funded Russian International Affairs Council, who inquired in May 2016 about arranging a Moscow meeting between Trump and Russian foreign ministry officials. Both Sam Clovis, then the co-campaign chairman, and Paul Manafort swatted down the Timofeev inquiry, per the report.

Papadopoulos is a 2009 college graduate whose work experience includes stints at a handful of Washington, D.C. think tanks and a London-based oil and gas advisory firm. His youth and lack of policy experience were immediately called into question when Trump listed him as one of five foreign policy advisers during a March 2016 sit-down with the Post’s editorial board; he had previously briefly served as a campaign adviser to Ben Carson.

At the time, Trump referred to Papadopoulos as an “excellent guy.”

During his tenure on the campaign, Papadopoulos was not tasked with assisting with press interviews, nor did he make notable contributions to rolling out Trump’s foreign policy proposals, according to the former campaign adviser. He did conduct one September 2016 interview with independent Moscow news site Interfax, however, in which he said that U.S. sanctions “have done little more than to turn Russia towards China.”

Despite his apparently minimal involvement, Papadopoulos makes prominent reference to his tenure on the Trump team in his LinkedIn profile; his banner names him as a “former advisor at Donald J Trump for President” and his summary leads off with Trump’s words of praise to the Post.

Carter Page, another former member of Trump’s foreign policy team who has been interviewed multiple times by the FBI about his business ties to Russia, told TPM that questions about Papadopoulos’ work on the campaign were “irrelevant.”

Other former members of the foreign policy team, as well as representatives from the organizations listed on Papadopoulos’ LinkedIn, where he is currently listed as a New York City-based independent “oil, gas and policy consultant,” did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.

The head of the only organization Papadopoulos listed as a current affiliation, the Cyprus-based International Presidential Business Advisory Council, denied any connection to him.

“George Papadopoulos is NOT a member of IPBAC, never was and we have never worked together,” John Georgoulas, head of the organization, told TPM in an email, saying he’s “never met him.”

When TPM told Georgoulas that Papadopoulos had listed himself as a “member” of the group on his LinkedIn profile, Georgoulas noted that the former Trump aide had once added him as a connection, but said that Papadopoulos’ claim to membership was “weird and not true!”

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A foreign policy adviser on President Donald Trump’s campaign made repeated efforts to arrange meetings with contacts he had in Russia, the Washington Post reported Monday.

The Post reported that in at least half a dozen email requests sent between March and September 2016, adviser George Papadopoulos urged Trump or senior members of his campaign to meet with Russian officials. Some of those emails were read to the newspaper by a person with access to them.

In one, Papadopoulos offered to arrange “a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss US-Russia ties under President Trump,” as quoted by the Post.

A self-described energy consultant, Papadopoulos was the youngest and least experienced member of the small foreign policy team Trump abruptly formed last March after coming under criticism for his lack of foreign policy expertise.

These newly surfaced emails mark the latest in a long string of examples of the Trump team’s efforts to establish direct communication with Russia during the 2016 race. Special counsel Robert Mueller is currently investigating Russia’s interference in the election and whether any members of the Trump team cooperated with Russians in that effort.

According to the Post, the Papadopoulos emails were part of the over 20,000 pages of documents that the Trump campaign turned over to the multiple congressional committees conducting their own investigations into Russia’s election interference.

Trump campaign officials expressed concern at the concerted efforts made by Papadopoulos, according to the report. Campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis cautioned that NATO allies should be consulted before any meetings with Russian official occurred, and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort said Trump would not be traveling to Russia for any sort of meeting with Putin.

High-level members of the campaign did not always rebuff overtures from Russian operatives so directly, however. Manafort attended a June 2016 Trump Tower that Donald Trump, Jr. arranged with individuals purporting to have information that would damage Hillary Clinton’s candidacy as part of a Kremlin effort to help his father’s campaign. Trump Jr. has said he did not know who the participants of the meeting would be beforehand, or what would be discussed there, and has turned over his contemporaneous notes to the special counsel.

The President’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who also attended the Trump Tower meeting, also reportedly spoke with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. about setting up a covert communications channel during the transition to the White House. And Trump himself infamously urged Russia to find and leak Clinton’s private emails just months before Election Day.

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An Oklahoma man who the FBI claimed espoused violent, anti-government views was arrested over the weekend in an alleged plot to detonate what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb outside an Oklahoma City bank.

Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, was arrested Friday shortly after he allegedly attempted to activate what he believed to be an explosives-laden van just outside of the BancFirst building. The scheme echoed the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing attack that killed dozens.

Varnell was charged with attempting to use explosives to destroy a building in interstate commerce, according to a press release from the U.S. Justice Department. Mark Yancey, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma, announced in a brief Monday press conference that Varnell could face 5-20 years in prison if convicted.

News reports and a criminal complaint paint a picture of a disturbed young man sympathetic to the views of the anti-government “Three Percenter” movement and keen to seek retaliation against what he viewed as an overly intrusive federal bureaucracy. His cues and references were ripped from news headlines and pop culture.

“That’s the kind of shit I want to fucking do, it’s time to do that kind of fucking shit,” Varnell said in a conversation with an FBI source and an undercover FBI agent, as quoted in the complaint. He was referring to the action that Tyler Durden, the nihilist “Fight Club” protagonist, expressed wanting to take against the federal government by destroying its facilities.

Varnell allegedly told both individuals during that same conversation at an Elk City, Oklahoma restaurant that he adhered to the “III% ideology” and wanted to start the next revolution.

As the Southern Poverty Law Center has documented, the Three Percenter movement adheres to the mistaken belief that only three percent of American colonists fought the British during the American Revolution.

Varnell’s alleged months-long efforts to obtain explosive devices, pick and case his target, and find anti-government allies willing to support his crusade are detailed at length in the complaint. According to the complaint, he maintained an electrically-powered storage container in the backyard of the home he shared with his parents that was stocked with food, supplies and a hidden room where he planned to grow marijuana.

He allegedly told the FBI source that he had built the bunker for use “when the world (or United States) collapsed” and that he was attempting to build a “team” of like-minded associates.

“I’m out for blood,” Varnell told the individual, as quoted in the complaint. “When militias start getting formed im going after government officials when I have a team.”

The complaint states those messages were captured in audio recordings, Facebook messages and encrypted text messages.

Varnell described his plans for the bomb and how it would work, telling the source he wanted to “go with what the OKC bomber used” but that he planned to set it off at night to avoid mass casualties, according to the complaint. He acknowledged some deaths may be unavoidable, allegedly telling the undercover FBI agent “you got to break a couple of eggs to make an omelet.”

The complaint also charges Varnell prepared a Facebook message that he wanted put out after the attack was completed, so that no other group could take credit for it.

That message, as quoted in the complaint, called the bombing “an act done to show the government what the people thinks of its actions. It is also a call to arms, to show people that there are still fighters among the American people. The time for revolution is now.”

The Oklahoman newspaper reported that Varnell had a history of mental health issues, including a domestic assault and battery charge for an alleged attempt to choke his now ex-wife. In plea paperwork, Varnell said he first received treatment for schizoaffective disorder in Feb. 2013, according to the report.

Varnell was arrested at around 1 a.m. local time Saturday morning, after constructing what he believed to be a bomb with the undercover FBI agent, driving to the BancFirst building in a van he believed stolen, and making repeated attempts to detonate it, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Asked if Varnell has retained an attorney or received court-appointed representation, Yancey’s office told TPM that his legal representation would be discussed when he makes his initial appearance in court at 3 p.m. local time.

Read the complaint below:

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The two-day delay between the outbreak of violence at white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and President Donald Trump’s short remarks Monday calling out the “KKK, neo-Nazis, [and] white supremacists” by name was sharply criticized by his critics and allies alike.

The far-right extremists supportive of the “Unite The Right” rally, held Saturday to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, took notice, too.

In delaying an explicit condemnation of hate groups and initially criticizing “many sides” involved in the conflict, white nationalists said, the President provided political cover and allowed counter-protesters to share blame for the violence, which turned deadly when a man who’d espoused white supremacist views drove his car into the crowd, killing one woman and injuring at least 19 others.

“As he pointed out, there was violence and malice on both sides, and to pretend somehow that there was only violence on one side or hostility on one side, that’s just wrong,” Jared Taylor, head of white nationalist publication American Renaissance, told TPM. “Joe Biden said there’s only one side. Well, wait a minute, if the counter-demonstrators would not have showed up, there would have been no violence at all. It takes two to do this.”

In a blog post about the rally, Taylor wrote that, “Of all people, it was Donald Trump who came the closest to getting it right” in his response.

William Johnson, head of the white nationalist American Freedom Party, who bankrolled robocalls for Trump during the campaign, shared a similar interpretation of Trump’s Monday remarks.

“Donald Trump’s most recent condemnation of racism was also good and was appropriate as the head of our entire country,” Johnson wrote TPM in an email. “I note that he condemned all racism INCLUDING that coming from the KKK and neo-nazis. The use of the word ‘including’ indicates that he believes there is a larger, over-arching source of racism besides those groups named.”

Johnson went on to say he believes white people face more racism than non-whites.

“This is because whites have, by and large, been conditioned to suppress racist thoughts,” he wrote. “Saturday’s deadly act in Charlotteville [sic] by the angry white driver with the lead foot proves this fact. Acts of violence by whites are proportionally fewer that by many other groups. His act sets the nationalist movement back considerably.”

“I am pleased with what Donald Trump said,” Johnson added. “The only solution for the festering racism of this country is separation and the creation of a white ethnostate.”

Andrew Anglin, founder of neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer, called Trump’s remarks the statement equivalent of saying “meh, whatever.”

“He waited to respond because his first response was accurate,” Anglin wrote in a post, calling Trump’s remarks “half-assed” and prompted by the “whining Jew media.”

“Trump only disavowed us at the point of a Jewish weapon,” he continued. “So I’m not disavowing him.”

Hundreds of avowed white nationalists and neo-Nazis from across the country descended on the small Virginia college town over the weekend armed with metal rods, swastika flags, helmets and shields. Some wore Ku Klux Klan hoods. They were escorted by heavily armed, camouflage-clad militia members.

As they marched through the streets making Nazi salutes and chanting “blood and soil,” bloody scuffles broke out between them and the counter-protesters and anti-fascist demonstrators who turned out to take a stand against the message of “Unite the Right.”

Trump initially sent out a few vague tweets condemning “all this hate” and calling the events in Charlottesville “sad.” After white nationalist James Alex Fields, Jr. drove his car into the crowd, killing anti-racist protester Heather Heyer and severely injuring other marchers, Trump made a brief televised statement condemning the “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”

White nationalist leaders immediately seized on the vagueness of those comments.

“Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us,” Anglin wrote in a Saturday post. “He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us.”

“He said he loves us all,” Anglin continued. “Also refused to answer a question about White Nationalists supporting him. No condemnation at all.”

Richard Spencer, the head of the white nationalist National Policy Institute who is best known for shouting “Hail victory!” at a gathering held shortly after Trump’s election, also pointed out that the President’s remarks were left wide open to interpretation.

“Did Trump just denounce antifa?” Spencer asked, using shorthand for the anti-fascist movement.

For 48 hours after the attack in Charlottesville, Trump let the statements of other officials speak for him, as he often did during the campaign. His daughter Ivanka, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others issued much more forceful comments explicitly blaming white nationalists for instigating the weekend’s events and labelling the car attack an act of domestic terrorism.

It was only after a non-stop chorus of condemnation rang out on the cable news networks and among Republican senators that Trump finally came out and made his own brief statement Monday afternoon calling racism “evil.”

Asked what he believed accounted for the delay, American Renaissance’s Taylor said he couldn’t “speculate.”

“He just seems to be more basically fair-minded about how it takes two to do this and it was the other side who succeeded in completely shutting down what was intended to be a peaceful rally,” Taylor said. “Why is no one else capable of seeing that?”

This post has been updated.

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