President Trump now stands accused of directing his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress about Trump's attempt to court Russian President Vladimir Putin during the campaign and build a hotel in Moscow. After two years of "bombshell" reports that proved duds, and "this is the beginning of the end!!!" declarations from the press, it's natural to be skeptical of the import of this one. Also, after the biggest earlier bombshells turned out to be factual errors by the media, it's natural to be skeptical of the validity of this one. BuzzFeed's report is based on "two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter." They are obviously anonymous. They may or may not be working with the special counsel's office, and they reportedly were working on the Moscow Tower case " before Mueller." Here's the key sentence: "The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office." If this is accurate, it means more than one Trump Organization employee accused Trump of this, and that printed records may confirm it — all before Cohen confirmed it. That would be pretty solid evidence against the president.
(CNN Business) Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier, two reporters for BuzzFeed News, may have just scored the scoop that, if it is ultimately confirmed, irrevocably changes the course of the Trump presidency. If so, it will represent for Leopold the apex of a comeback from a troubled personal and professional past. On Thursday evening, the duo published a bombshell: A report that President Donald Trump personally directed Michael Cohen, his former attorney, to lie to Congress about the Moscow Trump Tower project. If the story is accurate, it means Trump asked Cohen to commit perjury, a federal crime and potentially impeachable offense. The story has not yet been corroborated by CNN or any other news outlet, but there are six distinct areas where reporting from the bombshell lines up with court records, including the charging documents against Cohen, sentencing memos, and hearings.
McConnell just outlined his opposition to HR 1 in scathing detail. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took square aim at the sweeping anti-corruption and voting rights bill House Democrats are pushing as their first of the year. McConnell wrote a scathing op-ed in the Washington Post on Thursday, characterizing the bill as a Democratic attempt to “grow the federal government’s power over Americans’ political speech and elections.” “It should be called the Democrat Politician Protection Act,” he wrote. The legislative package, known as HR 1, has three main ideas at its core: reforming campaign finance, strengthening the government’s ethics laws, and expanding voting rights. The aim is to get more information on how lobbyists and Super PACs are spending their money, make it easier to vote, and restructure the current campaign finance system to allow for public financing of elections. McConnell could be nervous. Americans of both parties have been clamoring to get money out of politics for years; Donald Trump ran on a message of “draining the swamp” in 2016, and House Democrats rode to a wave election in 2018 on an anti-corruption message. Democrats wanted to follow up that win by taking concrete action to reform elections, especially after multiple allegations of voter suppression in states like Florida, Georgia, and North Dakota. “I’m not surprised that he would be attacking the bill and all of its various pieces because I think it presents a threat to the kind of system he’s built,” said Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), who is spearheading the legislation. “The fact that McConnell would pen something like that validates that we’re doing the right thing.”
Former Attorney General Eric Holder called for impeachment proceedings to begin if a report from BuzzFeed News saying President Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign are true. “If true - and proof must be examined - Congress must begin impeachment proceedings,” Holder tweeted Friday. “[William] Barr must refer, at a minimum, the relevant portions of material discovered by Mueller. This is a potential inflection point,” he added, referring to Trump’s nominee for attorney general. If true - and proof must be examined - Congress must begin impeachment proceedings and Barr must refer, at a minimum, the relevant portions of material discovered by Mueller. This is a potential inflection point. https://t.co/iaZmiHgL7L — Eric Holder (@EricHolder) January 18, 2019
(CNN) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks after President Donald Trump halted her trip hours before she was to jet off to Afghanistan on a government aircraft.
Senate Republicans blocked legislation on Friday that would have temporarily reopened the Department of Homeland Security. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) asked to take up a House-passed bill that would fund the department through Feb. 8. It's the third time Democrats have tried to bring up the stopgap measure. But Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) objected to the request "on behalf of the majority leader," referring to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). It's the third time McConnell has blocked the bill to temporarily reopen DHS, which is at the center of the shutdown fight. He's also blocked a bill that would reopen the rest of impacted department and agencies three times, most recently on Thursday. McConnell warned for weeks that he will not let the Senate take up any government funding bill that isn't the product of a deal between congressional Democrats and Trump, arguing they would amount to "show votes." "There's no way around it. Having show votes in the Senate doesn't solve the problem," McConnell told reporters on Tuesday.
After Rudy Giuliani's latest comments, it’s everyone for themselves. And it's a prosecutor’s dream for the special counsel. Rudy Giuliani sent an unmistakable message Wednesday night: It’s everyone for themselves. During a CNN interview, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer blurted out that the only person he knows about who didn’t collude with Russia was Trump himself. Although Giuliani tried to walk back his comments on Thursday, the remarks put the sprawling web of people caught up in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe on notice: no one is coming to save you. “Ya think!!!” one former Trump campaign official wrote to POLITICO when asked if Giuliani was trying to protect the president at the expense of everyone who worked for him. The Team Trump infighting has been a prosecutor’s dream for Mueller, opening up an ever-widening window into the behind-the-scenes workings of a rookie politician whose campaign has been under investigation for years. The special counsel and federal prosecutors have already benefited from the internal sniping, flipping Trump’s former lawyer, national security adviser and campaign chairman. Bickering and backstabbing were Trump world trade marks long before the former businessman launched his White House bid, from the real estate mogul’s decades of private business dealings to his years as a reality television star. “Trump puts everyone against each other when you work for him,” he added. “While he demands loyalty, he doesn’t return it. Loyalty is not a two-way street, especially when you’ve got special counsel involved in it.” Michael Zeldin, a former Mueller DOJ aide, likened the current divisions inside Trump world to the mafia.
President Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Bill Barr, agreed during sworn testimony earlier this week that a president who persuades someone to commit perjury is committing the crime of obstruction of justice. Barr’s answer to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., went viral after a BuzzFeed report that Trump had directed his then-personal lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about an aborted plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Trump currently is being investigated for obstruction of justice by special counsel Robert Mueller. Just because the president does it doesn’t make it legal, President Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general says. William Barr, Trump’s nominee for attorney, earlier this week agreed during sworn testimony in the Senate that a president who persuades someone to commit perjury is committing the crime of obstruction of justice. “Any person who persuades another to” commit perjury has obstructed justice, Barr told Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., on Tuesday at his confirmation hearing at the Judiciary Committee. Barr’s televised admission of that otherwise uncontroversial fact rocketed around social media Thursday night after a bombshell BuzzFeed report. BuzzFeed, citing law-enforcement sources, said Trump directed his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen in 2017 to lie to Congress in sworn statements about details of an aborted effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, Russia. - Trump has committed obstruction of justice multiple times LOCK HIM UP!
Bev Nance, 68, and Mary Walsh, 72, were denied an apartment in Missouri’s Friendship Village because their marriage is not “understood in the Bible.” A federal court on Wednesday ruled against a lesbian couple who brought a lawsuit against a Missouri retirement home that rejected the women's apartment application because their marriage is not "understood in the Bible.” Bev Nance, 68, and Mary Walsh, 72, married a decade ago in Massachusetts and have been in a committed relationship for roughly 40 years.
The largest single group of asylum seekers ever to cross into the U.S. tunneled beneath the border wall near San Luis, Arizona, on Monday, voluntarily turning themselves into Customs and Border Protection, according to the agency. Migrants can be seen marching toward Border Patrol agents by the hundreds, according to video obtained by ABC News. Smugglers dug a series of seven holes, only a few feet long beneath the steel border fence, with hundreds going beneath the wall and a smaller number clambering over it, according to CBP. The fresh sand and scuff marks of shoes on the rusty steel were still there when ABC News visited the site on Thursday. The agency says 179 of the record 376 people who crossed were children, including over 30 unaccompanied minors -- children under 18 traveling on their own. The overall number of unauthorized crossings has plummeted since its peak in the 2001, when CBP logged about 1.6 million apprehensions, according to government statistics. However, the demography of those crossing has changed dramatically. Parents with children now comprise over 80 percent of the total apprehensions of those crossing the 2,000-mile long border with Mexico. The vast majority of them, like the group near Yuma Monday, surrender immediately or seek out Border Patrol agents in order to begin the asylum process.
A former White House aide revealed he was summoned by President Trump in 2017 to try to find out which staffers were leaking to the media, creating lists of officials he thought he could and could not trust. “Only in retrospect did I see how remarkable this was,” Cliff Sims, a former Trump campaign aide who joined the White House communications staff last January only to leave in May, writes in his upcoming memoir, “Team of Vipers” which was obtained by Axios. “I was sitting there with the President of the United States basically compiling an enemies list — but these enemies were within his own administration. If it had been a horror movie, this would have been the moment when everyone suddenly realizes the call is coming from inside the house.” In the memoir due out Jan. 29, Sims recounts the president as saying, “I want these people out of here. I’m going to take care of this. We’re going to get rid of all the snakes, even the bottom-feeders.” Trump reportedly proceeded to make a list of 10 staffers he believed he could not trust, while five who he believed were not “leakers.” The aides deemed trustworthy were alumni of his campaign or family members. The Trump administration is notoriously filled with staffers who speak anonymously with the press.
The top Democrats from the House and Senate Armed Services committees on Thursday indicated they were alarmed by the Trump administration’s new missile defense plans, and urged the president to avoid policies that could spur another Cold War and waste critical resources. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the chairman of the House panel, called on the administration to “avoid missile defense policies that will fuel a nuclear arms race,” following President Trump’s unveiling of the Missile Defense Review. The document highlights new ways of deterring weapons from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea including building up the U.S. missile stockpile and introducing new technologies. “Strategic stability is an essential component of U.S. national security, and it does not serve our long-term interest to take steps that incentivize Russia and China to increase the number and capability of their nuclear weapons,” Smith said in a statement. Trump in his speech seemed to allude to the administration’s decision in October to pull the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia.
One of Donald Trump’s biographers has said he is not surprised the president has been implicated in opinion poll tampering, suggesting Trump cheats at every available opportunity. According to a Wall Street Journal report Thursday, Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen said he paid an IT worker to rig CNBC and Drudge Report opinion polls ahead of the 2016 presidential campaign to benefit then-candidate Trump. Cohen—who has already been sentenced to three years in prison for lying to investigators and a series of fraud and campaign finance crimes—confirmed the report on Twitter. “What I did was at the direction of and for the sole benefit of @readlDonaldTrump @POUTS,” Cohen wrote. “I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn’t deserve it.” Speaking with CNN’s Don Lemon Thursday, Michael D’Antonio—author of “The Truth About Trump” biography—said the accusations did not surprise him. “Donald Trump believes either you’re a sucker or you’re taking advantage of the suckers,” he explained. “So we were the suckers. They took advantage of us.” “But there’s also I think something consistent with Donald Trump’s entire life going on here. This is a man who thinks that he cannot win a straight-up competition. He has to somehow rig whatever game he’s playing.” D’Antonio—who interviewed Trump extensively before he wrote his book—also suggested the president is regularly guilty of projection, signalling what he is doing by accusing others of the same thing. “Whatever he accuses others of doing is the thing that he’s doing himself. Right? So who imagines that the polls are rigged? The guy who’s rigging the polls,” he explained.
Calls for Trump to leave office grow after report claimed he told Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. The bombshell report BuzzFeed published on Thursday that said President Donald Trump directed his personal attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress lit up social media.
Trump received 10 personal updates from Michael Cohen and encouraged a planned meeting with Vladimir Putin. President Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter. Trump also supported a plan, set up by Cohen, to visit Russia during the presidential campaign, in order to personally meet President Vladimir Putin and jump-start the tower negotiations. “Make it happen,” the sources said Trump told Cohen. And even as Trump told the public he had no business deals with Russia, the sources said Trump and his children, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen, whom they put in charge of the project. Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying about the deal in testimony and in a two-page statement to the Senate and House intelligence committees. Special counsel Robert Mueller noted that Cohen’s false claim that the project ended in January 2016 was an attempt to “minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1” — widely understood to be Trump — “in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.” Now the two sources have told BuzzFeed News that Cohen also told the special counsel that after the election, the president personally instructed him to lie — by claiming that negotiations ended months earlier than they actually did — in order to obscure Trump’s involvement. The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office. This revelation is not the first evidence to suggest the president may have attempted to obstruct the FBI and special counsel investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. But Cohen's testimony marks a significant new frontier: It is the first known example of Trump explicitly telling a subordinate to lie directly about his own dealings with Russia. - "If a a President knowingly...suborns perjury, or induces a witness to change testimony...then he, like anyone else, commits the crime of obstruction." - Bill Barr
(Reuters) - President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen is reconsidering his plan to testify publicly to the U.S. Congress next month because of intimidation by the president, an adviser to Cohen said on Thursday. Lanny Davis, an attorney who has been advising Cohen on his media strategy, said in an interview with MSNBC that some remarks made by the Republican president about Cohen amounted to witness tampering and deserved to be criminally investigated. “There is genuine fear and it has caused Michael Cohen to consider whether he should go forward or not, and he has not made a final decision,” Davis said.
We have, on Thursday, a story that perhaps serves as the best encapsulation to date of how the early days of Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency worked, a summary that, itself, seems to explain much of what happened afterward. It’s the details that are particularly compelling. It was, according to the Wall Street Journal, a Walmart bag, blue, containing somewhere over $12,000 in cash and a boxing glove that Michael Cohen, then Trump’s personal attorney, claimed had been owned by a Brazilian fighter. We’re meant to infer from Cohen’s assurances on the glove that it was somehow worth $38,000; otherwise, that Walmart bag wouldn’t have contained the $50,000 that Cohen was supposed to turn over. This was in early 2015, before Trump was a candidate for the presidency, but the wheels were already in motion. Cohen had engaged a tech guy named John Gauger to help prime the pump for a Trump candidacy, according to the Journal, asking him to rig a non-scientific poll hosted at the Drudge Report. It didn’t really work. That poll, completed on Feb. 2, 2015, ended up with Trump getting 5 percent of the vote, well behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and even Ben Carson, now a member of Trump’s Cabinet.
Last week, Rep. Steve King (R.-Iowa) wondered in the New York Times how the terms “white supremacy” and “white nationalism” got a bad rap. Since then, Republicans have fallen all over themselves to distance the party from the lawmaker’s words. On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said there is no place for King’s language in America. “Action will be taken,” he said. “I’m having a serious conversation with Congressman Steve King on his future and role in this Republican Party.” In the next few days, King was stripped of his position on House committees. But the GOP’s relatively quick response to King magnified just how often they’ve allowed similar language and actions to stand without comment. For critics, the most glaring example is President Trump, who among other things called white nationalists marching to preserve statues honoring men who fought to keep black people enslaved “very fine people." On Thursday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R.-Tex.), known for making controversial statements of his own, defended his colleague and claims that King is not getting due process. He told the Tyler Morning Telegraph: “He explained what he was saying. He was talking about Western civilization, that, ‘When did Western civilization become a negative?’ and that’s a fair question. When did Western civilization become a negative?" “We have the only country that I’m aware of that would shed its most valuable treasure — American blood — for freedom, not for hegemony, just for freedom,” he went on. By ignoring the fact that King literally used the words “white nationalism” and “white supremacy,” Gohmert’s defense of his friend is, at best, incomplete. At worst, could give the impression that he and King think “Western civilization” and “white supremacy” are synonymous. As historian David Perry and professor Matthew Gabriele wrote in The Washington Post, there is a history of using the idea of “Western civilization” to “cover for racism”
(NPR) For nearly a year before family separation became an official and controversial policy of the Trump administration in the spring of 2018, federal immigration agents separated "thousands" of migrant children from their parents. That's according to a government watchdog report released Thursday. "OIG found more children over a longer period of time were separated by immigration authorities and referred to HHS for care than is commonly discussed in public debate. How many more children were separated is unknown by us and HHS," Ann Maxwell, assistant inspector general for evaluations at the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services, told reporters. She said HHS officials estimated the number of children was in the "thousands" but would not give a more exact figure. The report is the first official U.S. government acknowledgment that the Trump administration was using family separation as a measure to deter illegal immigration nearly a year before it became official DHS policy. NPR and other media were reporting the increase of family separations at the border in early 2018. "Beginning in the summer of 2017, before the formal announcement of the [Trump administration's] zero tolerance policy, ORR saw a steep increase in the number of children who had been separated from a parent or guardian by the Department of Homeland Security," according to an OIG press release.
(CNN)If you know anything about the White House's reaction to the ongoing special counsel probe into Russia interference in the 2016 election, it's these two words: "No collusion." Trump, as well as his top aides -- everyone from senior counselor Kellyanne Conway to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders -- has insisted since the start of Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation in spring 2017 that no one in the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to help his candidacy and hurt that of Hillary Clinton. In a single answer to a question about the Mueller probe last January, for example, Trump unleashed an epic seven(!) "no collusion" assertions. Here's just a piece of that (bolding mine): "Well, again John, there has been no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians or Trump and Russians. No collusion. When I watch you interviewing all the people leaving their committees, I mean, the Democrats are all running for office, trying to say this that -- but bottom line, they all say there's no collusion. And there is no collusion." Trump's Twitter feed, too, is choked with "no collusion" talk. According to the indispensable Trump Twitter Archive, Trump has tweeted the words "no collusion" 60 separate times, with the first coming on May 12, 2017 and the most recent happening on January 6. All of which brings me to Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani's interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo on Wednesday night. And these lines from Giuliani, in particular: "I never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or people in the campaign. I said the President of the United States. There is not a single bit of evidence the President of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here, conspiring with the Russians to hack the DNC." Here's the thing: Giuliani -- as Cuomo pointed out in the moment -- is 100% wrong about, well, all of it.
President Trump retaliated on Thursday against Speaker Nancy Pelosi for threatening to cancel his planned State of the Union address on Jan. 29, writing in a letter that he, in turn, was postponing her planned trip abroad, calling it a “public relations event.” “I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan has been postponed,” Mr. Trump wrote. “We will reschedule this seven day excursion when the shutdown is over.” Ms. Pelosi’s trip was scheduled to depart Thursday afternoon and included at least two other House members: Adam Schiff, the chairman of the intelligence committee, and Eliot Engel, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee. Just after 3 p.m. the lawmakers exited an Air Force bus outside the Capitol, where they had been waiting to depart for the trip. Presumably, the president is refusing to provide military transport that is traditionally provided to the House speaker or congressional delegations. In the letter, tinged with sarcasm, he wrote that she could still take the trip if she chose to fly commercial. - Trump and the Republicans saying she cannot leave the country during the shutdown, however when Trump left the country during the shutdown that was ok. Once again, Republicans are playing the American people for fools, in their minds they can do anything they want but if a Democrat does it then it is wrong.
President Donald Trump's former "fixer" Michael Cohen said Thursday that he paid the head of a small technology company thousands in 2015 to rig online polls at "the direction of and for the sole benefit of" Trump. Cohen was responding to a report in The Wall Street Journal that he paid John Gauger, the owner of RedFinch Solutions LLC, between $12,000 and $13,000 for activities related to Trump's campaign, including "trying unsuccessfully to manipulate two online polls in Mr. Trump's favor" and creating a Twitter account called "@WomenForCohen" that "praised (Cohen's) looks and character, and promoted his appearances and statements boosting" Trump's candidacy. In making the claim, Gauger told the paper he wasn't fully paid for the work, though the Journal said Cohen was reimbursed $50,000 -- the amount the two originally agreed on for Gauger's services -- by the Trump Organization. Gauger, according to the paper, also received a boxing glove "worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter" along with the cash payment. The paper said that Cohen denied paying Gauger in cash, instead telling the Journal that "all monies paid to Mr. Gauger were by check" and declining to comment further. The Trump Organization did not comment to the Journal. Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for Trump, told the paper that the allegation that Cohen received more money than what he paid to Gauger shows he's a "thief." Later Thursday morning in a statement to CNN, Cohen said his actions were "at the direction of and for the sole benefit of Donald J. Trump. I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn't deserve it." - Now we know why Trump claimed the polls were rigged he was rigging them.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen denied anyone’s safety is compromised. A grand Washington ritual became a potential casualty of the partial government shutdown as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked President Donald Trump to postpone his Jan. 29 State of the Union speech. She cited concerns about whether the hobbled government can provide adequate security, but Republicans cast her move as a ploy to deny Trump the stage. In a letter to Trump, Pelosi said that with both the Secret Service and the Homeland Security Department entangled in the shutdown, the president should speak to Congress another time or he should deliver the address in writing. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen denied anyone’s safety is compromised, saying Wednesday that both agencies “are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union.” Trump did not immediately respond to the request, and the White House, thrown off guard by the move, didn’t immediately offer any official response. But GOP allies accused Pelosi of playing politics, with Republican Rep. Steve Scalise tweeting that Democrats are “only interested in obstructing @realDonaldTrump, not governing.” Pelosi, who issued the customary invitation to Trump weeks ago, hit the president in a vulnerable place, as he delights in taking his message to the public and has been preparing for the address for weeks.
CNN’s Don Lemon has blasted supporters of Donald Trump who overlook “evidence” of his alleged bigotry because they gain financially from his presidency. The anchor appeared on Cuomo Prime Time Tuesday to discuss Trump’s failure to speak out over the white supremacy comments that saw representative Steve King removed from the Judiciary and Agriculture Committees Monday. On Monday morning, the president dismissed King’s comments to reporters, saying “I haven’t been following it, I really haven’t been following it.” Host Chris Cuomo criticized the president’s failure to condemn King, explaining Trump could use the situation as an opportunity to show his supporters he’s “not a bigot”. “If you support the president you should want him to come out on this because it will give the cover you wants, which is ‘I don’t support a bigot. He’s not a bigot,’" Cuomo said. But fellow CNN reporter Lemon chuckled at the notion. “Come on, really. He’s not a bigot?” he said. “I’ve already said of course he is—look at the evidence. This is not just my opinion. This is evidence. Data. Actions that have been collected and memorialized—even on tape, over the years." The president can’t speak out about King’s remarks as he would risk alienating “the bigots and the racists” that support him, Lemon continued. “He does not want to lose their their support. If he speaks out against Steve King they’re going to think he’s not one of them again.”
The president's lawyer has made conflicting statements about a central aspect of Mueller's probe. Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, claimed during a Wednesday night CNN interview that he "never said" the Trump campaign didn't collude with Russia. That comment runs counter to his and Trump's past remarks on the matter. Trump has repeatedly asserted that his campaign did not collude with Russian officials. The issue of whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia is the issue at the heart of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. "I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign," Giuliani told CNN's Chris Cuomo, who immediately pushed back on that point. "I have not," Giuliani said in doubling-down on his first remark. "I said the president of the United States. There is not a single bit of evidence the president of the United States committed the only crime you could commit here, conspired with the Russians to hack the DNC." When Cuomo pushed back on that line as well, Giuliani said Trump "didn't collude with Russia either!" The president's attorney has previously claimed "no collusion," but that "collusion is not a crime." Giuliani has also said no one in ”the upper levels of the Trump campaign“ colluded with Russia, adding in a Fox News interview that he had “no reason to believe anybody else did” either. His latest comments sounded much different than Trump's, who has denied that any collusion between his campaign and Russia took place. "There was nobody to collude with," Trump said at a press conference alongside Vladimir Putin last summer. "There was no collusion with the campaign.”
President Donald Trump's former "fixer" Michael Cohen paid the head of a small technology company thousands in 2015 to rig online polls and elevate Cohen's character to benefit Trump's presidential campaign, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. According to the paper, Cohen paid John Gauger, the owner of RedFinch Solutions LLC, between $12,000 and $13,000 for activities related to Trump's campaign, including "trying unsuccessfully to manipulate two online polls in Mr. Trump's favor" and creating a Twitter account called "@WomenForCohen" that "praised (Cohen's) looks and character, and promoted his appearances and statements boosting" Trump's candidacy. In making the claim, Gauger told the paper he wasn't fully paid for the work, though the Journal said Cohen was reimbursed $50,000 -- the amount the two originally agreed on for Gauger's services -- by the Trump Organization. Gauger, according to the paper, also received a boxing glove "worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter" along with the cash payment. The paper said that Cohen denied paying Gauger in cash, instead telling the Journal that "all monies paid to Mr. Gauger were by check" and declining to comment further. The Trump Organization did not comment. Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for Trump, told the paper that the allegation that Cohen received more money than what he paid to Gauger shows he's a "thief." In a statement to CNN Thursday, Cohen said his actions were "at the direction of and for the sole benefit of Donald J. Trump. I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn't deserve it."
Federal officials who leased the Old Post Office Building to President Donald Trump were aware of constitutional provisions that could breach the lease, but “decided not to address those issues,” according to a government watchdog report Wednesday. The lease for the Trump International Hotel a few blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House remains contentious both because foreigners stay at the hotel, which enriches the president, and because Trump oversees the agency that holds his lease. A 47-page report released Wednesday by Inspector General Carol Ochoa found "serious shortcomings" at the General Services Administration, which manages federal property, for not asking the Office of Legal Counsel to study constitutional issues related to the lease. GSA selected Trump to convert the 1890s building into a 260-room hotel in February 2012. The lease calls for at least $3 million in rent per year. The Trump International Hotel officially opened Oct. 26, 2016 – days before he was elected president. The crux of the problem outlined by the inspector general for GSA is a set of provisions in the Constitution called emoluments clauses, which basically prohibit the president from profiting from foreigners or from getting additional compensation during his term in office.
President Donald Trump went to "extraordinary lengths" to keep details from his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin secret – even from officials within his own administration, The Washington Post reported this weekend, citing unnamed sources. After meeting with Putin at the 2017 Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, Trump took his interpreter's notes and told him not to discuss the meeting with anyone, including other U.S. officials, the Post reported. The paper said Trump's handling of the Hamburg meeting was "part of a broader pattern by the president of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny and preventing even high-ranking officials in his own administration from fully knowing what he has told one of the United States’ main adversaries." No detailed record exists from five of Trump's interactions with the Russian leader since taking office, the Post reported. It was unclear if that was the only time Trump took his interpreters' notes, but the paper said several administration officials have been unable to obtain a readout from his meeting last year with Putin in Helsinki.
Psy Group delivered plans for ‘social media manipulation’ in 2016 and the special counsel is digging in as part of his probe into Mideast influence. Rick Gates, the former campaign aide to Donald Trump, is cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether individuals from the Middle East worked with the Trump campaign to influence the election, according to two individuals with first-hand knowledge of the investigation. Gates has answered questions specifically about Psy Group, an Israeli firm that ex-employees say drew up social media manipulation plans to help the Trump campaign, according to sources familiar with the questions. Mueller’s team also asked Gates about interactions with Psy Group’s owner, Joel Zamel, and Lebanese-American businessman George Nader, who worked as an emissary for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the sources said. On Tuesday, Mueller’s team said that Gates was cooperating with “several ongoing investigations” in asking a federal judge to delay his sentencing for financial crimes he pleaded guilty to committing with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. One of the ongoing investigations is into possible Middle Eastern election influence, three people with knowledge of the probe told The Daily Beast.
An imprisoned model from Belarus who claimed last year she had evidence of Russian involvement in helping elect Donald Trump president has told Russian media she can't wait to be released. Anastasia Vashukevich, who has been in a Thai prison since February last year, was given a suspended sentenced Tuesday and ordered to be deported after she pleaded guilty to soliciting and conspiracy. Vashukevich, also known as Nastya Rybka, earlier claimed to have recordings of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska talking about interference in the 2016 U.S. election, but never released them. She has said she provided "escort" services to Deripaska, who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence, is teaching art at a school that believes marriage should be between a man and a woman
Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, Karen, is back teaching at a Virginia school that bans gay and transgender students — and requires job applicants to pledge that marriage is only between a man and a woman. Immanuel Christian School requires parents and prospective employees to sign off on a series of principles — including those that denounce homosexual and bisexual “activity” as “moral misconduct,” according to school documents that are posted online. Applicants must also affirm that “God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other,” a 2018 application shows. “Moral misconduct which violates the bona fide occupational qualifications for employees includes, but is not limited to, such behaviors as the following: heterosexual activity outside of marriage (e.g., premarital sex, cohabitation, extramarital sex), homosexual or lesbian sexual activity, polygamy, transgender identity, any other violation of the unique roles of male and female, sexual harassment, use or viewing of pornographic material or websites, and sexual abuse or improprieties toward minors as defined by Scripture and federal or state law,” the application states. It also lists “sexual immorality” as among the many causes for termination.
Actor Ron Perlman had some choice words for GOP lawmakers in the wake of the ongoing controversy surrounding Rep. Steve King. The 68-year-old former 'Hellboy' star took to Twitter on Monday to share his distaste with certain members of the party that have spoken out against King, going as far as to compare them to the Ku Klux Klan. #FoxNews. - No longer the party of Lincoln the GOP is a party of racist and racist sympathizers.
President Donald Trump spent the first two years of his presidency doing something Russian leaders have attempted since 1949: pushing NATO to the brink of irrelevance. Now it's come out that the FBI reportedly investigated Trump as a possible Russian asset as he publicly and privately talked about withdrawing from the alliance. Trump has succeeded where decades of Russian nuclear saber rattling, spying, assassinations, and information warfare have failed to fray the alliance. According to experts, Russian President Vladimir Putin is loving Trump's attacks on NATO, and a former NATO supreme commander called Trump's talk the "gift of the century" for the Russian leader. President Donald Trump spent the first two years of his presidency doing something Russian leaders have attempted since 1949: pushing NATO to the brink of irrelevance. And Trump reportedly did so while under investigation by the FBI as a possible Russian agent all along. A trio of bombshell reports gave depth to years of reporting and public spectacles that indicate Trump has an openly antagonistic, skeptical view of the military alliance that's expanded American power and deterred a great war in Europe for 70 years. First, the New York Times reported that the FBI began investigating the possibility that Trump could be Russian asset after he fired FBI Director James Comey. Trump has twice made it clear that Comey's dismissal was at least in part owed to his refusal to drop the Russia probe. It's publicly known that Trump is under an obstruction-of-justice investigation tied to his firing of Comey.
(CNN) One of the notable recent elements of this partial government shutdown -- the longest in history -- is that the Trump administration keeps designating more and more of the federal government essential, or excepted from the furlough, ordering many thousands of workers back to the office to process tax returns, perform safety inspections and more -- all without pay. The practical effect is that more government workers will be doing their jobs without their paychecks, but it will also work to mute the impact of the shutdown in the everyday lives of Americans who aren't directly touched by the shutdown. Only about 25% of the government was affected by the shutdown to begin with since Congress had already funded the Pentagon and other agencies. But there are a growing number of essential tasks performed by that quarter, which includes the Department of Justice, the Treasury Department and the Department of Homeland Security, among others. All have been working without pay. That includes members of the Coast Guard, who had been working throughout the shutdown, but on Tuesday became the first US service members to not be paid because of a shutdown when their paychecks came through empty, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl L. Schultz said. Today you will not be receiving your regularly scheduled paycheck. To the best of my knowledge, this marks the first time in our Nation's history that servicemembers in a U.S. Armed Force have not been paid during a lapse in appropriations. Read more: https://t.co/5tLzGhK2nt pic.twitter.com/J2o00zWm0k — Admiral Karl Schultz (@ComdtUSCG) January 15, 2019.
The partial government shutdown is inflicting far greater damage on the United States economy than previously estimated, the White House acknowledged on Tuesday, as President Trump’s economists doubled projections of how much economic growth is being lost each week the standoff with Democrats continues. The revised estimates from the Council of Economic Advisers show that the shutdown, now in its fourth week, is beginning to have real economic consequences. The analysis, and other projections from outside the White House, suggests that the shutdown has already weighed significantly on growth and could ultimately push the United States economy into a contraction. While Vice President Mike Pence previously played down the shutdown’s effects amid a “roaring” economy, White House officials are now cautioning Mr. Trump about the toll it could take on a sustained economic expansion. Mr. Trump, who has hitched his political success to the economy, also faces other economic headwinds, including slowing global growth, a trade war with China and the waning effects of a $1.5 trillion tax cut. To blunt the shutdown’s effects, the administration on Tuesday called tens of thousands of employees back to work, without pay, to process tax returns, ensure flight safety and inspect food and drugs.
A “superstar” DEA agent secretly fueled a lavish lifestyle by skimming cash from Colombian cocaine traffickers through a multimillion-dollar scam that officials say is turning into one of the worst scandals in the agency’s history, according to a report Tuesday. Jose Irizarry, who resigned after being recalled from his post in Colombia, was recently identified in court papers as a co-conspirator of a former DEA informant who pleaded guilty to money laundering in Florida, according to the Associated Press. Profits from the scheme helped Irizarry, 44, buy a Land Rover and a home in Cartagena, the Colombian resort city where he was assigned to combat drug smuggling into the US, current and former law enforcement officials told AP. He also flew first-class to Europe with Louis Vuitton luggage while wearing a gold Hublot watch — and hosted wild yacht parties with bikini-clad hookers that fellow agents and at least one supervisor attended in violation of DEA rules, according to the report.
So now the party abhors bigotry? How convenient. Representative Steve King, an Iowa Republican who couldn’t be much clearer about his values if he went around in a conical white hood, said last week that “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” were inoffensive if not honorable terms, and now his fellow party members in Congress are coming down on him like a ton of bricks. I just don’t get it. Why the upset? Senator Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican, told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that King’s remarks were “stupid” and “hurtful” and that Americans “ought to be united, regardless of party, in saying ‘white supremacism,’ ‘white nationalism’ is hatred, it is bigotry, it is evil, it is wrong.” Strong and righteous words. Hats off to Senator Cruz. But that indignation eluded him when he was running for president in 2016. Just before the Iowa caucuses, Cruz touted King’s endorsement of him. For good and fawning measure, he chose King as the national co-chairman of his campaign.
Trump's pick to be the country's chief law enforcement officer was questioned about the special counsel investigation at his confirmation hearing. Comments made Tuesday by William Barr, President Donald Trump's nominee for attorney general, suggest that the report of special prosecutor Robert Mueller's Russian meddling investigation might not become public in the way many have been expecting. At his confirmation hearing, Barr repeatedly told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he's committed to making as much information public as he can about Mueller's probe. But he also suggested that what is eventually released might not be a redacted version of Mueller's report. Barr noted that the special counsel regulations require Mueller to submit a confidential report to the Justice Department. The rules specify, "At the conclusion of the Special Counsel's work, he or she shall provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel."
Special counsel Robert Mueller has zeroed in on at least three new witnesses associated with a conservative commentator connected to former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone, signaling that investigators remain focused on the activities of Stone and his associates despite the continued public silence on a matter long thought to be close to resolution. ABC News has learned that at least three new witnesses connected to Stone associate Jerome Corsi – the former Washington, D.C., bureau chief for the far-right internet site Infowars – have been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury hearing testimony on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Copies of those subpoenas delivered to two individuals late last year bear Mueller’s name and call for the retention and producing of documents, communication logs and other records involving two people: Corsi and Stone.
The news organization issued further guidance Tuesday afternoon, saying that it was, in fact, fair to describe King’s comments that way. UPDATE: 2:15 p.m. ― Shortly after this story was initially published Tuesday, NBC News advised its staffers it was, in fact, fair to describe Rep. Steve King’s remarks on white supremacy as “racist.” “We revised our guidance on Rep. Steve King’s comments,” reads an email from NBC News’ standards department that was shared with HuffPost. “It is fair to characterize King’s comments as ‘racist,’ and point out that he has a history of racist comments, and the context can be shared that others hold that view as well.” PREVIOUSLY: NBC News’ standards department sent an email to staffers Tuesday telling them not to directly refer to Rep. Steve King’s recent comments about white supremacy as “racist.” “Be careful to avoid characterizing [King’s] remarks as racist,” reads the email, which two NBC News staffers shared with HuffPost. “It is ok to attribute to others as in ‘what many are calling racist’ or something like that.”
In a remarkable rebuke of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the White House, eleven Republicans on Tuesday joined with unanimous Democrats to keep alive a resolution opposing the Trump administration's decision to diminish sanctions against Russia. The development underscored the growing foreign policy fissures in the Republican Party, whose leaders have sparred with the Trump administration in recent weeks over everything from the U.S. military pullout in Syria to its stance on humanitarian abuses in Saudi Arabia. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 57 to 42 against the attempt by McConnell, R-Ky., to table the resolution crafted by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. The Republicans who defied McConnell on the procedural vote were Sens. Joe Kennedy, Susan Collins, Marco Rubio, John Boozman, Tom Cotton, Steve Daines, Cory Gardner, Josh Hawley, Ben Sasse, Martha McSally and Jerry Moran. The Senate is now voting to start debate on the measure, which requires a simple majority to pass, but also would need to secure 60 votes to bypass any potential filibuster effort.
President Trump’s attorney general nominee, William Barr, told a Senate panel Tuesday that he “can conceive of situations” where the Justice Department might jail reporters. Barr made the worrisome remark in response to a question from Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) who asked Barr, “If you’re confirmed, will the Justice Department jail reporters for doing their jobs?” Barr reportedly did not give a direct answer, but finished his response by stating that prosecuting reporters would be a “last resort” that could happen, especially if a news outlet has run through a “red flag.” Barr also faced questions about how he would oversee Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Barr told senators he would not be “bullied” into interfering with the Mueller investigation. “I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong,” Barr said. “By anybody. Whether it be editorial boards, or Congress or the President. I’m going to do what I think is right.” Barr also pledged to release Mueller’s findings to the public under the proper regulations.
MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle speculated without offering evidence Tuesday that President Trump has "something pretty extreme" on Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Ruhle made the remark on MSNBC's "Velshi & Ruhle" on Tuesday morning while interviewing former GOP congressman David Jolly (I-Fla.), who left the Republican Party in 2018. "Before Don got elected, Lindsey Graham called Donald Trump a racist, xenophobic bigot. Those are Lindsey Graham's words," Jolly said. "I doubt Lindsey Graham could tell you Donald Trump has had a change of heart in the last 24 months, I bet the change of heart has been with Lindsey Graham, not the president," he said. "Or it could be that Donald Trump or somebody knows something pretty extreme about Lindsey Graham," Ruhle said, without expounding before the commercial break. Some media members took to Twitter to blast Ruhle for being "completely irresponsible" for making such a suggestion during a nationally televised newscast. MSNBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill on Tuesday.
(CNN)In any other time, with any other president, the spectacle of the commander in chief honking hoarsely on the White House lawn about how "I never worked for Russia," would be the political equivalent of a five-alarm fire. Never in history has an American president been required to answer such serious, credible questions about his loyalties. Today it's just another plot twist in the lurid telenovela that is Donald Trump's presidency. The New York Times reported that after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, the feds began investigating whether the President was an intelligence threat. This suspicion arose naturally after Trump complained about Comey to Russian diplomats and then told NBC's Lester Holt that he had the "Russia thing" in mind when he axed the director. The "thing" that troubled Trump was Moscow's attack on the 2016 election, which cast a dark shadow on his claim to legitimacy. In a fitting dramatic twist, his fateful decision to fire Comey prompted the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, whose work imperils Trump even more than his own chaos. And the chaos is profound. You need only to consider the last few days to see the kinds of self-inflicted injuries that would have been momentous in another time:
Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Elliot Williams on Tuesday said that President Trump's attorney general nominee William Barr showed questionable judgment by writing a memo that criticizes special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. "On a matter of such public import and such legal sensitivity at the department right now, it seems like questionable judgment to have done it," Williams, who served in the Justice Department during the Obama administration, told Hill.TV's Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti on "Rising." His comments come as Barr prepares to be grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee in his nomination hearing on Tuesday. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Barr sent the Justice Department and an attorney representing the White House in the Mueller probe a memo which criticized the Russia probe. Some Democrats have said the memo disqualifies Barr from leading the nation's top law enforcement agency.
For too long in our country, politicians have weaponized religion for their own selfish gain, fomenting bigotry, fears and suspicions based on the faith, religion or spiritual practices of their political opponents. Whether we think of ourselves as Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Sikh, Buddhists, Jews, atheists, agnostics, or anything else, it is imperative that we stand united in our commitment to protect religious freedom and the right to worship or not worship, safely and without the fear of retribution. We must stand together, and with one voice condemn those who seek to incite bigotry based on religion. We cannot allow those who are anxious to exploit our differences to drive a wedge between us. We cannot and will not tolerate prejudicial treatment of those with whom we disagree, any more than we would tolerate such treatment of those with whom we agree. - There was a reason why I fore fathers wanted separation between church and state.There was a reason why our forefathers wanted separation between church and state when religion becomes involved it limits the freedom of the people.