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The QAnon Navy//Return of Paul//Abortion Back At The Court//Lend Me Your Pocketbooks

Hello, it’s the weekend. This is The Weekender ☕

One of former President Trump’s favorite far-right activists, Laura Loomer, essentially posed an interesting question when I spoke to her earlier this week: Who among us hasn’t accidentally published and shared content that indicated they were fundraising with one of America’s most notorious neo-Nazis?

I ended up on the phone with Loomer after noticing that an online fundraising campaign for her new anti-immigration documentary project indicated that donations were being received by a group led by notorious Zoomer neo-Nazi Nick Fuentes. Checking into the connection provoked a round of far right finger pointing, infighting, and paranoia.

Loomer insisted the page, which she had shared on at least five occasions, listed the “America First Foundation,” Fuentes’ group, because of a “typo.” She said the money was actually going to her production company, “Truth + Light Media.” Along with passing the buck, Loomer cast the reporting as part of a nefarious plot on the part of TPM, which she called a “Soros-funded publication.”

(Of course, TPM is not funded by the billionaire financier and far right bete noir. We receive over ninety percent of our funding from our readers and are actually in the middle of a membership drive. It would be awesome if you would sign up or support our journalism fund since, despite Loomer’s claims, our Soros checks are not actually coming.)

When we reached “Truth + Light Media” CEO Edward Szall, he suggested the apparent association with Fuentes, whose foundation was scrubbed from the donation page, stemmed from an error with the Christian fundraising platform GiveSendGo, which was hosting the campaign. Szall also theorized that TPM was part of some kind of unspecified conspiracy. At the end of this weird rabbit hole, GiveSendGo co-founder Heather Wilson pointed her finger back at Szall and Loomer. According to Wilson, the documentarians likely ended up in an “accidental autofill situation.” Of course, no one ends up with an autofill result if it’s not something they have already typed out.

So why does the saga of this supposed 24 character typo matter? On one level, it doesn’t. Both Szall and Loomer have plenty of fringe connections and views. Even if we buy their insistence that Fuentes has no involvement with the project, the whole thing is clearly extreme. The documentary in question, “The Great Replacement,” is focused on the titular conspiracy theory which posits that a shadowy network of (often Jewish) global elites are responsible for deliberately driving immigration to systematically replace white Americans and eradicate their culture. It’s feverish, frenzied stuff and it has been cited in the manifestos of multiple mass shooters — and that’s why all of this is important. As extreme and dangerous as this all is, it hasn’t stopped Loomer from being repeatedly embraced by former President Donald Trump and Republican voters.

Along with describing Loomer’s efforts to distance her latest venture from Fuentes, our story digs into her links to others on the far right and her associations with more established figures in the GOP including Trump. The whole episode is yet another example of how, in the Trump era, Republican politics and the furthest edges of the right wing are becoming indistinguishable. As one Trump ally put it to us, fringe players like Loomer aren’t necessarily the ones driving the extreme immigration agenda.

“Have you not been watching Trump? Trump led the charges,” the Trump ally said. “She’s following him. He’s not following her.”

— Hunter Walker
The QAnon Navy

Our next story comes from the shores of Mar-a-Lago, former President Trump’s private beach club in Florida. Last Sunday, Trump was apparently on one of the club’s pink painted balconies when he spotted a pair of boats. The ships were covered in pro-Trump flags and the largest of them all prominently featured slogans from the unhinged QAnon conspiracy theory.

TPM talked to one of the sailors of the HMS WWG1WGA and they said that someone on Trump’s team already knew the captain. After seeing the flag display, Trump had an aide place a call to invite the boats to dock at his club for “refreshments.”

The weird episode, which was first reported by TPM, shows just how (literally) close wild conspiracists are to the former president. For the rest of us, that might mean some seriously stormy seas lie ahead.

— Hunter Walker
Abortion Back At The Court

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in its biggest abortion case since Dobbs.

The justices will decide whether to reimpose medically unnecessary restrictions on mifepristone, one of the two drugs usually prescribed to induce an abortion, which the Food and Drug Administration had lifted in recent years.

The anti-abortion doctors who brought the case (and, coincidentally enough, incorporated in 2022 in Amarillo, the division where anti-abortion lawyer-turned-Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk used to get nearly every case) tried to get its FDA approval revoked altogether, but the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals grudgingly admitted that the statute of limitations to do so had clearly passed.

In Dobbs, the right-wing justices feigned moderation by promising to leave abortion to the states. Here, they’re offered a chance to restrict medication abortion (the most common method) even in blue states that have chosen to expand and protect access to the procedure.

— Kate Riga
Return of Paul

Paul Manafort, Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman for a time and a two-time convict, is reportedly in talks to return to Trump’s 2024 campaign.

I wrote this week about his role in Ukraine before and after the country’s 2014 revolution, and how exposed those events left him before he joined the Trump campaign in 2016. It’s Manafort’s likely least well-known associate from that time who continues to interest me the most. His name is Vladimir Sivkovych; Rick Gates testified at Manafort’s 2018 fraud trial that Sivkovych was an original member of the political consulting firm that Manafort created in Kyiv.

This is intriguing for a number of reasons. Sivkovych eventually left that firm for a position in Ukraine’s pre-2014 revolution National Security Counsel; there, he met with Russian security official Nikolai Patrushev. After the revolution, Sivkovych fled for Moscow. There, he’s faced consistent accusations from Ukrainian and U.S. officials that he’s a Russian intelligence agent; Ukrainian officials have said that he coordinated a group of spies operating in their country.

It’s been more than a decade since the 2014 revolution which deposed Manafort’s main client, and which set Russia on a path of confrontation against the west. But you can’t emphasize enough just how compromised Manafort’s associates from that time were.

— Josh Kovensky
I Think You Would Like Being A TPM Member

I hear there is a good chunk of you Weekender subscribers who are not yet TPM members. I get it. There are a lot of things on the internet and in your inbox demanding your time, your attention and the contents of your pocketbook (do people still use those?).

Right now, TPM is having its annual membership drive. Let me tell you why you should consider giving TPM part of what’s in your pocketbook (again, not sure what those are).

If you’re reading The Weekender, and are one of the loyalists who managed to scroll to the bottom of this newsletter, you already like TPM. While this newsletter may be a less serious distillation of the news TPM is breaking throughout the course of any given week, The Weekender voice is the TPM voice.

We report on the stories that no one else is telling. We cut through the noise early and often to tell you what politicians are actually saying when they not-so-subtly vow to destroy democracy. We help you identify what you should have your hair on fire about without being too hysterical. But we also live to revel in the corruption and the scandal and the unprecedentedly absurd and dumb political moment we live in. If you read The Weekender, there’s a good chance you’re into that sort of thing too.

If you and your pocketbook feel moved (I really am sorry), sign up to become a TPM member today.

— Nicole Lafond

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    March 27, 2024 4:35 p.m.

    The QAnon Navy//Return of Paul//Abortion Back At The Court//Lend Me Your Pocketbooks Hello, it’s the weekend. This is The Weekender…

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