Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team expressed concern Tuesday that sensitive information and investigative techniques used in its prosecution of Russian meddling in the 2016 election could wind up in the hands of Russian intelligence.

To head off that possibility, Mueller’s team has asked the judge in the case against a company accused of funding Russia’s social media election meddling to restrict access to discovery turned over to the company’s lawyers.

“Public or unauthorized disclosure of this case’s discovery would result in the release of information that would assist foreign intelligence services, particularly those of the Russian Federation, and other foreign actors in future operations against the United States,” Mueller said.

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A report assembled by a Justice Department task force addressing foreign interference in American elections will likely be released publicly in mid-July, Adam Hickey, a deputy assistant attorney general in the National Security Division, told Congress on Tuesday.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of the cyber-digital task force in February, which, among other things, would address efforts to interfere with U.S. elections.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller must identify for Paul Manafort the individuals, including “former senior foreign politicians,” prosecutors have accused Manafort of working with in his alleged unregistered lobbying campaign for Ukraine, a judge ordered Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson was responding to a request by Manafort that Mueller provide additional details about the charges he is bringing against the former Trump campaign chairman. She denied the other details Manafort was asking for, requests she largely said were moot because prosecutors had disclosed the requested information in previous court proceedings and in discovery.

Tuesday’s order was a very minor victory for Manafort in what have been a series of legal setbacks for him in the lead-up to his trial in Washington, D.C., currently slated for mid-September.

The charges he’s facing in the case include false statements, money laundering and failure to disclose foreign lobbying. In a seperate case in Virginia, Mueller has also brought charges that include tax fraud and bank fraud. That trial is currently scheduled to begin towards the end of July.

Manafort pleaded not guilty in both cases.

Jackson ordered Mueller to disclose the identities of the individuals to Manafort by Friday, which is also when she will hold a heading on the prosecutors’ request that Manafort’s bail be revoked, as well as an arraignment on the latest set of charges brought against him. Both the new charges and the bail revocation request relate to allegations that Manafort engaged in witness tampering with two former associates who coordinated the lobbying effort with the ex-foreign politicians.

Read Tuesday’s order below:

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Voting rights advocates may have lost a major battle Monday with a 5-4 Supreme Court decision upholding Ohio’s aggressive voter purge policies, but they’re not willing to concede the war.

On a phone call with reporters after the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case hinted at what could be another legal strategy for blocking Ohio-style purges, which begin the process of removing voters from the rolls merely because they have not voted.

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The big news in voting rights this week was the Supreme Court decision on Monday that upheld Ohio’s aggressive voter-purge system. The decision was a blow for voting-rights advocates who argued that Ohio’s regime — which removes from the rolls voters who miss six years of federal elections and fail to return a postcard mailed to them by the state — was a violation of the National Voter Registration Act. Expect more states to follow Ohio’s lead and put in place aggressive purge procedures.

A week before, voting-rights activists secured a victory in Arizona with a settlement in a lawsuit challenging the state’s proof-of-citizenship voter-registration requirement. The requirement is still on the books for state- and local-office elections — Arizona previously lost a Supreme Court fight to implement it in federal elections — but state election officials agreed last week to allow people who have previously provided proof of citizenship at the DMV to vote without being required to show it. A judge will have to approve of the settlement agreement.

Meanwhile, a federal judge on Friday blocked an Indiana law requiring election officials to purge voters based on matches found on Kobach’s controversial interstate system, CrossCheck, which has been shown to produce an abundance of false positives.

Add another one to the pile: The ACLU filed a federal lawsuit in Maryland challenging the Trump administration’s move to add a citizenship question to the Census. It’s one of several legal challenges to the question, and the second to be filed in Maryland.

As part of the litigation around the question, the Commerce Department turned over more than 1,000 pages of emails, letters, notes and memos related to its decision to add the question. Among the documents was an internal Census memo that said adding the question will cost at least $27.5 million, and July 2017 emails from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach lobbying for the question, which he suggested was needed so that certain immigrants can be cut out of the count for congressional apportionment.

A House Judiciary subcommittee held a hearing Friday examining the move, which was ostensibly aimed at improving enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. But tellingly, the GOP lawmakers seemed more focused on cutting undocumented immigrants — or even all noncitizens — out of the Census count used to apportion congressional districts.

North Carolina is attempting to revive a voter ID requirement an appeals court struck down. (The requirement was part of a larger law that, the court said, targeted minority voters with “almost surgical precision.”) The Republican speaker of the state’s House filed a bill that would put a constitutional amendment requiring a voter ID on the ballot this fall.

Also in North Carolina, a lawsuit was filed Friday challenging the state’s harsh penalties for violating its felon disenfranchisement law. The legal complaint, brought by five convicted felons accused of illegally voting, points out that an illegal vote cast by someone still on parole or probation is a felony, under the 1901 law, while voter intimidation is treated merely as a misdemeanor.

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The Supreme Court on Monday approved of Ohio’s voter purge protocol of removing people from the rolls if they sit out six years of federal elections and fail to return a card mailed to them by the state confirming their residency.

The 5-4 opinion was written by Justice Samuel Alito, with the four liberal justices dissenting. The conservative majority reversed an appeals court decision against Ohio’s system.

Monday’s decision will likely encourage other states to implement similar aggressive purge policies. The Ohio system puts voters who sit out just one presidential election and two midterms at risk for removal.

The Ohio policy allows election officials to begin the purge process once a voter does not vote in a certain period of time. Under the regime, if a voter sits out one federal election, they are sent a notification from the state inquiring whether they still reside at the same address. If the voter does not return the card and sits out the next four years of federal elections, Ohio then removes them from the voter rolls.

Opponents of the policy argued that it violated the National Voter Registration Act’s provision prohibiting the removal of voters “by reason of the person’s failure to vote.”

The conservative justices rejected that argument, with Alito writing that “Ohio removes registrants only if they have failed to vote and have failed to respond to a notice.”

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the dissenting opinion for the liberal justices, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor also wrote her own dissent. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a concurring opinion alongside the majority’s decision.

Breyer, in his dissent, pointed to statistics showing that a very small percentage of Americans — about four percent — move outside their county each year. Under Ohio’s voter purge regime, 1 millions voters, or 13 percent of those sent the confirmation cards, did not return them.

“Thus, I think it fair to assume (because of the human tendency not to send back cards received in the mail, confirmed strongly by the actual numbers in this record) the following: In respect to change of residence, the failure of more than 1 million Ohio voters to respond to forwardable notices (the vast majority of those sent) shows nothing at all that is statutorily significant,” Breyer wrote.

Alito, in his majority opinion, brushed off the argument that Ohio’s approach was not a reliable indicator that the voters had moved.

“What matters for present purposes is not whether the Ohio Legislature overestimated the correlation between nonvoting and moving or whether it reached a wise policy judgment about when return cards should be sent,” he wrote. “For us, all that matters is that no provision of the NVRA prohibits the legislature from implementing that judgment.”

Sotomayor, meanwhile, focused on the populations who, according to briefs filed in the case stand to be most likely to be purged under Ohio’s system: minority, low-income, disabled, and veteran voters.

“Neither the majority nor Ohio meaningfully dispute that the Supplemental Process disproportionately burdens these communities,” she wrote.

She said the majority’s opinion “entirely ignores the history of voter suppression against which the NVRA was enacted and upholds a program that appears to further the very disenfranchisement of minority and low-income voters that Congress set out to eradicate.”

“Communities that are disproportionately affected by unnecessarily harsh registration laws should not tolerate efforts to marginalize their influence in the political process, nor should allies who recognize blatant unfairness stand idly by,” she wrote.

Conservative activists who push for more restrictive voting laws were quick to cheer Monday’s decision.

“The days of trying to hamstring maintenance responsibilities in the absence of federal guidance are over,” J. Christian Adams — a member of President Trump’s now-defunct voter fraud commission — said in a statement.

Demos, the voting rights group that challenged Ohio’s voter purge law, said in a statement that the decision “threatens the ability of voters to have their voices heard in our elections.”

“The fight does not stop here. If states take today’s decision as a sign that they can be even more reckless and kick eligible voters off the rolls, we will fight back in the courts, the legislatures, and with our community partners across the country,” Demos senior counsel Stuart Naifeh said in the statement.

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An internal Census Bureau memo assessing the debate over adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census warned that doing so would be “very costly, harms the quality of the census count, and would use substantially less accurate citizenship status data than are available from administrative sources.”

The memo — sent to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in January 2018 by John M. Abowd, census chief scientist and associate director for research and methodology — said that his “conservative estimate” for the additional cost of adding the question was $27.5 million.

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Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach personally urged Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to add a citizenship question to the Census, documents released late Friday revealed. Kobach — in July 2017 — cited specifically the desire to exclude certain non-citizens from U.S. congressional apportionment. Such a move would have drastic political implications, and would shrink the representation of states with large immigrant populations — many of which are Democratic states — in the U.S. House of Representatives.

That rationale is different from the one Ross pointed to when he announced he was added the question: a Justice Department request for the data for Voting Rights Act enforcement.

Kobach also proposed asking non-citizens whether they had a green card.

The Kobach emails, which were sent several months before the Justice Department formally requested the citizenship question, also indicated that Kobach and the Commerce secretary had spoken over the phone about the issue “at the direction of Steve Bannon.”

The rest of the email chain suggests that Ross and Kobach spoke on the phone again about the matter.

The email was released late Friday evening among more than 1,000 pages of emails, letters, memos and reports related to the administration’s planning for the 2020 survey, many of them specifically concerning the debate over adding the question.

The Commerce Department turned over the documents as part of a lawsuit, brought by New York and other states and localities, challenging the move to add the question. Critics of the decision argue that it was made hastily, without proper testing, and that it stands to discourage immigrant participation on the decennial survey. An undercount would have major implications for the political power of, and federal funding for, places with large immigrant communities.

Ross, in announcing the decision to add the question in March, pointed specifically to the Justice Department’s request, which many view skeptically given that, for decades, lawsuits seeking to enforce the Voting Rights Act have been brought successfully using citizenship data collected in other surveys.

Kobach was not the only supporter of the move to suggest to Ross that the citizenship data would also allow for apportionment and redistricting to be carried out in a way that excludes certain non-citizens.

Peter N. Kirsanow, a Republican member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights noted in a March 2018 letter that “Congress is unlikely to act to exclude illegal aliens from apportionment, particularly because states that have large number of illegal aliens would fiercely fight such a change for fear they might lose a congressional seat.”

But he suggested states would opt to draw state legislative districts based on the state’s number of citizens, rather than total population, and “we should give them the data to do so.”

Likewise, Jeff Landry, the GOP attorney general for Louisiana, told Ross in a March 2018 phone conversation that states would like to use the citizenship data in redistricting, according to internal notes from the conversation released Friday.

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Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Friday denied allegations from special counsel Robert Mueller that he engaged in witness tampering. Manafort  accused Mueller of a “not too-subtle attempt to poison the potential jury pool.”

Manafort’s claims came in a court filing that said the communications flagged by the special counsel were “irrelevant, innocuous and unsupportive of the conjured witness tampering claim.”

The court filing argued Manafort did not violate the conditions imposed on him when he was placed under house arrest in October.

“In fact, nothing in the Release Order bars Mr. Manafort from communicating with others, whether those individuals are possible witnesses at his trial or otherwise. Mr. Manafort does not know the individuals that the Special Counsel intends to call at his trial. The Special Counsel has not provided Mr. Manafort with its witness list. Indeed, previously,” Manafort said.

His filing was in response to allegations made in court documents by Mueller that starting in February, Manafort and a longtime business deputy sought to make contact with two former associates involved in their Ukraine lobbying work. Mueller on Friday filed obstruction of justice charges against Manafort and his business deputy, Konstantin Kilimnik. According to Mueller, the two associates helped coordinate a group of ex-European politicians known as the Hapsburg Group, who promoted Ukraine’s Party of Regions in Europe and the United States. Among the alleged texts Mueller highlighted was one in which Kilimnik told one associate that Manafort wanted to “give him a quick summary that he says to everybody (which is true) that our friends never lobbied in the US, and the purpose of the program was EU.” Mueller also included in court filings emails and memos that he says show that the Hapsburg Group lobbied in the United States.

Manafort’s filing on Friday was not responding to the obstruction of justice charges, but to an earlier request by Mueller that the judge consider putting him in detention before his trial due to the alleged witness tampering.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson will hold a hearing on the matter on June 15.

Manafort on Friday denied that he was attempting to change the testimonies of witnesses, citing a lack of evidence put forward by the special counsel.

He said the texts surfaced by the special counsel were “entirely consistent with Mr. Manafort’s stated position and repeated assertion of his innocence.”

Manafort’s attorneys also filed a memo that they say was written by one of the associates that “clearly demonstrates the European focus of the group, identifies Europeans as the group’s members, and shows that the conferences that were planned were to occur in Europe.”

“The Court should not condone such heavyhanded gamesmanship by the Special Counsel when there is no reason to believe that the latest charge has somehow increased the risk of flight in this case. ”

Read Manafort’s filing below:

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Special counsel Robert Mueller announced Friday a new grand jury indictment of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime Russian business deputy for alleged witness tampering in the case that was already pending against Manafort.

Konstantin Kilimnik, Manafort’s business deputy, has been alluded to in previous Mueller court filings, which have claimed that he’s had ties to a Russian intelligence service.

The special counsel on Friday brought charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice against the two men.

“From in or about and between February 23, 2018, and April 2018, both dates being approximate and inclusive, within the District of Columbia and elsewhere, the defendants Paul Manafort, and Konstantin Kilimnik, knowingly and intentionally conspired to corruptly persuade another person, to wit: Persons D1 and D2, with intent to influence, delay, and, prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding,” Mueller said in the filing.

Manafort previously was facing charges brought in D.C, that included money laundering, failure to disclose foreign lobbying and false statements. Those charges remain unchanged in the new indictment.

Mueller has also brought a case against Manafort in Virginia, where the charges include bank fraud and tax fraud.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty in both cases.

Mueller first made the witness tampering allegations against Manafort on Monday evening, in court filings seeking that his current release on house arrest be revised or revoked. It appears Mueller was able to quickly convince a grand jury to approve the charges, and prosecutors have put on a full court press to pressure Manafort to cooperate on the probe.

Before Friday’s new charges, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson had scheduled a hearing for next Friday on the bail revocation, and it is possible that Manafort that be sent directly from the courthouse to jail, due to the allegations.

According to Mueller, Manafort and Kilimnik — who up until Friday’s new indictment, was referred to as “Person A” in the special counsel’s court filings — sought to make contact with two former business associates who were involved in Manafort’s Ukraine lobbying work. The two former associates, according to Mueller, were in charge of coordinating a group of ex-European politicians known as the “Hapsburg group,” who sought to promote Ukraine’s Party of Regions in Europe and the U.S.

Manafort’s and Kilimnik’s alleged outreached involved both phone calls and texts which started in February, when Mueller unveiled new allegations against Manafort having to do with the “Hapsburg group.”

Defense attorneys unconnected to the case told TPM earlier this week that Monday’s bail revocation filing, which included a log of the alleged texts and calls, was especially persuasive.

“You could put this evidence in front of a grand jury and they would indict him in a nano second,”said Nick Akerman, a defense attorney and former Watergate prosecutor. “If you had these two witness and these documents, you put them before a trial jury, they’d convict them in two seconds. Its really a pretty overwhelming case.”

Kilimnik made his first appearance in Mueller’s court filings as “Person A,” when Mueller alleged last year that Manafort had sought to ghost-write an op-ed for a Ukraine news outlet, in violation of judge’s gag order on the case. Emails obtained by TPM showed Kilimnik correspondence with a former Ukrainian politician who claimed to be the op-ed author, in which Kilimnik informed him that he was sending a draft to Manafort to look over.

Other court documents filed by Mueller have described “Person A” as having had “ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016.”

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