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 White House press secretary on Monday brushed aside reports that members of the Trump administration had used private email accounts to conduct government business, saying personal email use was “very limited” overall.

“White House Counsel [Don McGahn] has instructed all White House staff to use their government email for official business and only use that email,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at the press briefing, adding that staffers receive reminders on this topic “pretty regularly.”

Politico reported Sunday that President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, had used a private account to correspond with several other senior White House officials about media coverage, event planning, and other government business. Recently departed chief strategist Steve Bannon and chief of staff Reince Priebus used their own private email accounts to exchange messages with Kushner and others, according to Politico.

That report was followed up by a Monday item in Newsweek on Trump’s daughter Ivanka using a personal email address in February to ask Linda McMahon, head of the Small Business Administration, about “opportunities to collaborate” on issues related to “women’s entrepreneurship.” Now a White House adviser, Ivanka Trump was operating in an odd gray area at the time, sitting in on meetings with her father and government officials while holding no official title.

The use of personal email accounts by Trump officials are drawing particular attention because the President turned Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state into a cornerstone of his 2016 campaign. Trump routinely said that Clinton should be jailed for using a personal email system to carry out her official duties.

A reporter asked Sanders if the White House would commit to releasing Kushner’s emails to the public.

She said that she was “not aware” of any plans to do so but would keep the press updated.

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A Republican Louisiana lawmaker on Monday proposed cutting millions in state tax dollars and subsidies for the New Orleans Saints and the NFL after some of the team’s players refused to stand for the national anthem, according to The New Orleans Advocate.

State Rep. Kenny Havard’s comments put him on the side of President Donald Trump, who faced backlash from the league and from some of the country’s most prominent athletes over the weekend after saying that players who participate in this form of protest should be suspended or fired.

“Disrespecting our national anthem and flag in the name of social injustice is the highest form of hypocrisy,” Havard said, as quoted by the Advocate. “Our free society made possible by our fighting men and women has made available free education, free lunch, housing and free healthcare and is now be considered socially unjust. It’s time the taxpayers quit subsidizing protest on big boy playgrounds.”

The athletes behind the protests say they are taking a stand against racial inequality and police brutality.

The newspaper cited a 2015 Forbes report that found that Saints owner Tom Benson would receive some $392 million in state subsidies through the lease expiration date in 2025. Those funds were projected to come from a combination of rental payments, tax breaks and increased revenue from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, where the Saints play.

Havard has proven himself happy to wade into controversies. During a debate last year over a bill raising the minimum age for dancers at Louisiana strip clubs, Havard suggested that the legislation also regulate their weight. He went so far as to propose an amendment that would require dancers to remain under 160 pounds, which he described as a “poke at over-regulating everything,” before withdrawing it amid criticism from his fellow lawmakers.

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For more than a month, an eccentric pro-Russian Republican congressman has been publicly discussing his plan to meet with President Donald Trump to discuss what he learned firsthand from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. It seems that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s (R-CA) message hasn’t gotten through.

“I’ve never heard that mentioned, really,” Trump told the White House press pool Sunday when asked about plans to potentially pardon Assange in exchange for his information. “I’ve never heard that mentioned.”

Though the U.S. intelligence community agrees that Russia was behind a multi-faceted “influence campaign” to disrupt the U.S. presidential race, Rohrabacher has said that Assange has evidence that would clear that country of any allegations of interference.

The California Republican said he saw this evidence firsthand during a mid-August meeting at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder has lived in asylum for about five years.

Rohrabacher has spoken of his efforts to get the President’s ear ever since, telling Fox News host Sean Hannity that he expected an in-person “rendezvous” and the Los Angeles Times that he has “spoken to senior people at the White House” about setting it up.

One of those people was White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who, according to the Wall Street Journal, received a telephone pitch from Rohrabacher about the potential pardon deal.

A Trump administration official told the Journal that Kelly did not deliver Rohrabacher’s message to Trump, instead telling the congressman that the idea “was best directed to the intelligence community.”

Rohrabacher spokesman Ken Grubbs did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for an update on the congressman’s plans to meet with Trump.

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President Donald Trump lashed out at Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Saturday for his public takedown of the Graham-Cassidy proposal—the Senate GOP’s latest Obamacare repeal effort under consideration.

“John McCain never had any intention of voting for this Bill, which his Governor loves,” Trump said in the first of a trio of tweets. “He campaigned on Repeal & Replace. Let Arizona down!”

The President also accused McCain of taking the “sad” step of aligning himself with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) while abandoning his closest ally in the Senate, proposal co-sponsor Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

The 81-year-old senator issued a lengthy statement on Friday saying he “could not in good conscience” vote for the measure out of concerns over the rushed process with which it was being rammed through. The Senate GOP has a deadline of Sept. 30 to pass an Obamacare repeal measure using the particular legislative vehicle they adapted to avoid a Democratic filibuster. In the name of expediency, Senate Republicans have pushed Graham-Cassidy forward without even getting a full score of its impact from the Congressional Budget Office.

“I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” McCain said in his statement. “Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it.”

His full-throated opposition weakens the bill’s chances of passing, as Senate Republicans can only lose two Republican votes and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has already signaled he’s against it. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has also hinted that she would vote against the measure if it were brought to the floor.

As with previous repeal efforts, Trump has done little to publicly advocate for Graham-Cassidy outside of sending a few tweets. On Saturday, he fired off a few encouraging missives to senators likely to vote down the proposal, including Paul and Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski.

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The Department of Homeland Security is under fire for waiting months to notify 21 states of the mostly unsuccessful efforts of hackers associated with the Russian government to infiltrate their election systems during the 2016 campaign.

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) called the delay “unacceptable,” saying state election officials must be made aware of all such attempted intrusions, successful or not, so that they can strengthen their defenses.”

California’s Democratic Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, said that DHS ignored his office’s repeated requests for additional information.

“We shouldn’t have to learn about potential threats from leaked NSA documents or media reports,” Padilla said in a statement. “It is the intelligence community’s responsibility to inform elections officials of any potential threats to our elections. They failed in this responsibility.”

Padilla said that Jeanette Manfra, DHS’ Acting Undersecretary for Cybersecurity and Communications, falsely testified to Congress in June that all 21 states whose systems were targeted had already been informed.

“This was simply not true and DHS acknowledged they failed to contact us and ‘two or three’ other states,” Padilla said.

The hackers efforts’ did not affect election results or the systems themselves. They mainly consisted of attempts to scan the systems for vulnerabilities.

Besides California, other states that have confirmed being targeted include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington, according to the Associated Press and states themselves.

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Continuing a streak of picking fights with famous athletes, President Donald Trump on Saturday claimed that he rescinded the White House invitation to the Golden State Warriors after some of the basketball team’s most prominent players said they had no interest in meeting with him.

“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team,” Trump said on Twitter. “Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!”

Curry, a two-time MVP, and Warriors coach Steve Karr told the press on Friday that they were unsure if they would attend.

“I don’t want to go,” Curry said, according to USA Today.

“We don’t stand for basically what our President has – the things that he’s said and the things that he hasn’t said in the right times, that we won’t stand for it,” Curry said, in an apparent reference to Trump’s subdued criticism of the armed white nationalists who took to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia in August for a bloody rally.

The team later released a statement saying that they plan to “constructively use our trip to the nation’s capital in February to celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion” rather than meeting with the President at the White House.

This exchange of words came as the National Football League was criticizing Trump’s “divisive comments” about players who have taken to kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality.

The President told an Alabama rally crowd on Friday that any “son of a bitch” who does so should be fired.

Other giants in the sports world weighed in on Trump’s latest feud. Both ESPN anchor Jemele Hill and Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James pointed out that Trump was trying to take credit for disinviting athletes who had already rejected him.

“U bum,” James wrote in a tweet. “@StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going! So therefore ain’t no invite.”

This post has been updated.

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The morning after President Donald Trump called on National Football League owners to fire players protesting racism by kneeling during the national anthem, the NFL commissioner released a statement criticizing “divisive comments.”

“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities,” Roger Goodell said in a Saturday statement that never mentioned Trump by name.

Trump’s remarks came during an Alabama campaign rally for Sen. Luther Strange.

The President opined that it was a “total disrespect of our heritage” for players protesting racial inequality and police brutality to refuse to stand during the “Star Spangled Banner, adding that any “son of a bitch” who does so should lose his job.

DeMaurice Smith, head of the NFL player union, said that those athletes “no longer can afford to stick to sports.”

The union “will never back down when it comes to protecting the constitutional rights of our players as citizens as well as their safety as men who compete in a game that exposes them to great risks,” Smith said in a statement.

Trump poured fuel on the fire with a pair of Saturday afternoon tweets, saying anyone paid for the “privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL” should be fired for engaging in this particular form of protest.

Trump’s comments represent the second time in recent weeks that the White House has forcibly inserted itself in a debate over politics in sports.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeatedly told reporters that an ESPN anchor should be fired for making critical comments about Trump.

ESPN anchor Jemele Hill’s tweets calling the President a “bigot” and “white supremacist” were a “fireable offense,” Sanders said.

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Ostensibly in Alabama to boost the campaign of Sen. Luther Strange, President Donald Trump held forth for over an hour at a Friday night rally on topics including North Korea’s nuclear program, health care, Hillary Clinton, and the National Football League, at one point even promising the crowd that he would campaign for Strange’s opponent if he lost the primary.

“I told Luther if his opponent wins, I’ll be here campaigning like hell for him,” Trump told the Huntsville crowd, referring to former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice Roy Moore. He said Moore and Strange were “both good men.”

The Cotton State’s GOP primary has drawn national attention because it pits two pro-Trump candidates, one establishment and one decidedly not, against each other. Sarah Palin and former White House adviser Sebastian Gorka held a rally this week for the ardently Christian firebrand Moore, who was suspended for refusing marriage license applications for same-sex couples. Trump, in a surprise move, aligned himself with Strange, the establishment favorite backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

At the Huntsville rally, Trump tried to shift this perception, insisting that Strange would not do McConnell’s bidding.

“He doesn’t know Mitch McConnell at all. Luther is a tough cookie,” Trump said. “He doesn’t kowtow to anybody.”

But the President didn’t exactly stay on-message, telling the audience that he was “taking a big risk” by involving himself in the primary because Strange, who has consistently trailed in the polls, could very well lose.

“I shouldn’t be doing it—the last thing I want to do is be involved in a primary,” Trump said, adding, “I might have made a mistake.”

Seconds later, though, he insisted Strange was “going to win easily” and could easily defeat a Democrat in the December general election.

The six-foot-nine Strange, who Trump said he had taken to calling “Big Luther,” faces a difficult road to victory in Tuesday’s primary. The Washington Post reported that many supporters who packed the Von Braun Center were only there to see Trump and told the newspaper that they planned to vote for Moore.

“I don’t know who this guy is,” one Afghanistan war veteran told the Post of Strange. “I’m here for Trump.”

Those who showed up for a classic Trump rally got what they wanted.

The President again weighed in on North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s efforts to build nuclear weapons, calling him “Little Rocket Man” and assuring the audience that he was “going to handle it.”

He told the crowd, who broke into “Lock her up” chants when Trump mentioned Clinton’s name, to “speak to Jeff Sessions about that.”

Invoking his signature border wall, Trump said that it “has to be see-through” so that no criminals in “wonderful, wonderful” Mexico hit anyone on the U.S. side in the head when they catapult “a hundred pounds of drugs” over it.

And he spoke at length about NFL players protesting police brutality and racism by refusing to stand during the national anthem, calling it a “total disrespect of our heritage.”

Team owners should respond to those players, Trump said, by saying, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired. He’s fired!”

“For a week, (that owner would) be the most popular person in this country,” the President continued, “because that’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect for everything we stand for.

The crowd began trickling out early after Trump’s speech exceeded an hour, according to the Post. Strange, the candidate, had spoken for only four minutes.

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The Department of Homeland Security on Friday informed 21 states that their election systems were targeted by “Russian government cyber actors” during the 2016 presidential campaign.

As of late Friday afternoon, the states to acknowledge that the DHS told them they were targeted included Wisconsin, Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon, Delaware, ColoradoConnecticut and Washington.

Wisconsin’s elections commission claimed in a press release that the Russian hacking activity did not affect election results in the state or the systems themselves.

“Internet security provided by the state successfully protected our systems,” commission administrator Michael Haas said in a statement. “Homeland Security specifically confirmed there was no breach or compromise of our data.”

What the hackers did do was target “Internet-facing election infrastructure,” according to the Wisconsin commission’s account of its debrief from the DHS, in what was apparently an unsuccessful effort to seek access to voter registration databases and other sensitive information.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill announced that the DHS saw suspicious traffic from IP addresses on state networks, but that efforts to breach their voting systems were similarly unsuccessful.

Colorado’s elections commissions likened the scan to of their system to “burglars jiggling the doors of a house and moving on when they realize the doors are locked.”

The attempts to infiltrate election systems were one arm of what the U.S. intelligence community has determined was a multi-pronged “influence campaign” to interfere with the 2016 election and swing the results in Donald Trump’s favor. At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in June, DHS officials testified about these cyberattacks on U.S. election systems. Bloomberg News had previously reported that Russian hackers had attempted to delete or alter voter data in Illinois, and successfully accessed a campaign finance database in another state.

While some state officials, like Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, said they were aware of the attempted intrusion and notified the FBI of the activities, others expressed frustration that the DHS had not brought the cyberattacks to their attention earlier.

Haas, who testified at the June Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that he did not believe Wisconsin was one of the targeted states because he had received no notification from the federal government, said he had asked for more details on when the activity occurred.

This post has been updated.

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Milo Yiannopoulos’ much-hyped plan to yet again rile the University of California at Berkeley’s campus by inviting a host of provocative far-right icons for four days of public speeches appears to have imploded in spectacular fashion.

According to new reports in Vanity Fair and Mediaite, after student organizers failed to file the proper paperwork to reserve university buildings, and after Yiannopolous apparently neglected to notify some of the scheduled speakers that the event was even happening, the affair has been reduced to a Saturday press conference in San Francisco.

“Free Speech Week” seems to have been something of a fiasco from the start.

Per Vanity Fair, Yiannopoulos, a former Breitbart News editor who lost his gig and a book deal over comments that appeared to condone pedophilia, had promised to book flights and hotel rooms for the long list of speakers that included former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, conservative pundit Ann Coulter and anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller.

But Bannon and Coulter never publicly confirmed their attendance, and several other speakers, such as James Damore, the Google employee who was fired over a screed he wrote on why women are less biologically suited to coding than men, said they were never even told they were invited.

A university spokesman told Vanity Fair that Berkeley Patriot, the student group behind the event, failed to complete the contracts required to rent private buildings on campus, leaving speakers without security and relegating them to public spaces.

Amid this steady stream of bad news, participants began to drop out. Lucian Wintrich, a writer with the far-right blog Gateway Pundit, announced his withdrawal Wednesday, citing “uncertainty surrounding the event on both sides.”

Though a few slated participants, including conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich, told these publications that they still planned to deliver speeches, Mediaite cited anonymous sources who said Yiannopoulos intends to announce the event’s cancelation at Saturday’s press conference.

The former Breitbart editor is part of a wave of far-right provocateurs trying to gain media attention and student followings with high-profile campus appearances. Prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer is currently trying to arrange a nationwide campus speaking tour, and one of his backers has sued Michigan State University for rejecting a request to host Spencer on the East Lansing campus.

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