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 President’s lawyers didn’t want any more hearings in the case against the Trump Foundation before the November midterm elections.

But on Thursday, they will appear in a downtown Manhattan courtroom for a hearing on their own motion to dismiss a June lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood. Underwood has accused President Trump and his three eldest children of running their family non-profit as a “shell corporation that functioned as a checkbook” for Trump’s business and political interests.

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Far-right allies of President Trump quickly dismissed a string of explosive devices sent to prominent Democratic figures and CNN as a “false flag” operation intended to support Democrats’ “narrative” ahead of the midterm elections.

Without any evidence, members of the far-right media, think tank heads, and Twitter activists shared their conspiratorial theories on social media.

Similar “functional” explosive devices this week targeted Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder and billionaire philanthropist George Soros. CNN’s New York headquarters was evacuated after a package addressed to former CIA director John Brennan, an outspoken Trump critic, was found in the mail room.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were among the politicians to quickly denounce the bomb threats as “an act of terror” and “attempted acts of domestic terror.”

But the Twitter critics instead resorted to far-out theories that they’ve leaned on during previous moments of crisis: horrific incidents are just a manufactured effort by Democrats to push their agenda.

Michael Flynn Jr., son of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, called the bombs “a total false flag operation.”

Though he later deleted several messages, he said he “hate[s] the timing as it provides a PERFECT narrative for @TheDemocrats going into the mid terms.”

“If I’m wrong about this being a political stunt, I’ll own up to it,” added Flynn Jr., who was booted from Trump’s transition team for promoting conspiracy theories. “But timing is everything folks. And the timing given how close we are to midterms is HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS!”

Candace Owens, communications director for young conservatives’ group Turning Point USA, said there was a “0% chance that these ‘suspicious packages’ were sent out by conservatives.”

Owens met with Trump at the White House this May.

Frank Gaffney, a prominent anti-Islam activist who runs the Center for Security Policy and has close ties to the Trump administration, suggested that the bombs were sent “to deflect attention from the Left’s mobs.”

Pundit Ann Coulter called bombs “a liberal tactic,” while radio host Rush Limbaugh said, “Republicans just don’t do this kind of thing.”

Even fringier figures like pro-Trump Twitter activist Jacob Wohl and “Pizzagate
conspiracy pusher Laura Loomer agreed that the bomb threats were, as Wohl put it, “false flags, carefully planned for the midterms.”

Diehard Trump fanatic Bill Mitchell said the packages “have Soros astro-turfing written all over it so the media can paint the #GOP as “the dangerous mob.” Pure BS.”

New York and federal law enforcement officials have yet to release any evidence or indication about who was behind the attacks.

Many of the figures currently casting doubt on their legitimacy have spent much of the year criticizing Democratic politicians and their supporters for a purported lack of civility. Protesters yelling at Trump administration officials at restaurants and in the halls of the Capitol building have been used as evidence of the left’s “incivility and violent rhetoric,” as right-wing radio host John Cardillo put in a a since-deleted Wednesday tweet.

Some of these individuals, like Mitchell, said explicitly that they want media attention to remain focused on the activities of progressive activists and on the caravan of immigrants slowly winding their way north through central America as they flee violence in their home countries.

As Trump insisted at a recent rally, the midterms will be about “[Supreme Court Justice Brett] Kavanaugh, the caravan, law and order, and common sense.”

These claims of Democratic “false flags,” first popularized by Infowars’ Alex Jones, have spread like wildfire in recent years. The survivors of the Sandy Hook, Connecticut and Parkland, Florida school shootings were dismissed as “crisis actors” by some on the far-right. This summer, Coulter mocked the migrant children being separated by their parents under a Trump administration policy as “child actors.”

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In a detailed Monday court filing, lawyers for alleged Russian agent Mariia Butina accused federal prosecutors of failing to provide easy access to key evidence involving their client, including “exculpatory information.”

In their response, the government said there was just one problem with those accusations: they were baseless.

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A black conservative group drew national attention last week for incendiary ads suggesting that black voters should support the GOP in the midterms because Democrats want to return to “lynching black folk” accused of sexually assaulting white women.

The Black Americans for the President’s Agenda campaign has been roundly denounced by the Republican candidates it is purportedly trying to help win—and even by members of the group itself.

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The reports are coming. Once the midterm elections are over, special counsel Robert Mueller is expected to deliver his conclusions on whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia and whether President Trump obstructed justice, CNN and Bloomberg reported this week.

That doesn’t mean Mueller’s probe will be over — or that the public will even see the answers to those bombshell questions. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will receive the reports, and he has some discretion about what details to share with Congress. But it brings us a few steps closer to the close of a messy scandal that has dominated U.S. politics for the past two years.

Rosentein told the Wall Street Journal this week that “at the end of the day, the public will have confidence that the cases we brought were warranted by the evidence and that it was an appropriate use of resources.”

Meanwhile, the investigation continues and the cases that grew out of it move forward. Paul Manafort appeared in a Virginia courtroom Friday, sitting in a wheelchair due to “significant issues” with his health. The former Trump campaign chairman wore a green jail uniform, having lost a motion to appear in court in a suit.

At the hearing, Judge T.S. Ellis set a February 8, 2019 sentencing date and dismissed the 10 counts on which the jury was deadlocked in the case. Mueller’s team had asked to wait to tie up these loose ends until Manafort was finished cooperating with government prosecutors, but Ellis insisted on handling the probe by the books.

Some of that questioning has involved pressing Manafort on what he knows about Roger Stone’s ties to WikiLeaks and the leak of Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails, per ABC News.

Mueller’s team has also held two secret sealed hearings in D.C. with Chief Judge Beryl Howell, who oversees court action related to the federal grand jury that the special counsel has used to approve indictments.

Russian national Elena Khusyaynova was indicted Friday for conspiracy against the U.S. for trying to interfere in various U.S. election cycles, including the 2018 midterms. She was apparently working for Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin who funded the troll farm that worked to influence the 2016 presidential race.

Michael Cohen met this week with law enforcement officials from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office and the New York Attorney General’s office, both of which are currently probing Trump-related entities.

Cohen also advised voters to support Democrats in the midterms to avoid more years of GOP-induced “craziness.”

Former Senate intelligence committee staffer James Wolfe pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contact he had with a reporter about the ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson refused to speak to the GOP-led House Judiciary and Oversight Committees, dismissing the probes as a “charade.” His firm compiled the infamous Trump-Russia dossier.

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