All posts by MPolitics

Trump Lawyer Cohen Secretly Represented Conservative Talk Show Host Sean Hannity

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer who is under investigation for his business dealings, has provided legal advice to Fox News host Sean Hannity, one of Trump’s most prominent media supporters.

 

The dramatic revelation came Monday during a court hearing in New York where lawyers for Cohen and Trump argued for permission to determine whether thousands of pages of documents FBI agents seized from Cohen last week should be subject to attorney-client privilege.

 

U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood appeared to reject the idea, saying that a “taint team” created by prosecutors to set aside privileged documents is a “viable option,” while a court-appointed outside lawyer known as a “special master” may also play a role in determining which records can and cannot be viewed by prosecutors. 

The disclosure about Hannity, who also hosts a nationally syndicated talk radio show, came after prosecutors indicated that Cohen performed “little to no legal work” and had just one client: Trump.  

 

In response, Cohen’s lawyers said that Cohen has represented three clients in the past year — Trump, GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy and a third “publicly prominent individual” who wished to remain anonymous.  Cohen’s lawyers identified Hannity as the third unnamed client only after Judge Wood ruled that it must be made public.

 

In a statement, Hannity sought to minimize his relationship with Cohen, saying he had never retained him as a lawyer.

 

“Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter,” Hannity said. “I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees. I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective.”

 

“I assumed those conversations were confidential, but to be absolutely clear they never involved any matter between me and a third-party,” Hannity said.

 

Cohen was thrust into the spotlight in January after the Wall Street Journal reported that he’d secretly provided $130,000 in hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 U.S. presidential election to keep her quiet about an affair she allegedly had with Trump.

Cohen later admitted to making the payoff though Trump has said he did not know about it.

 

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that Cohen last year brokered a second “hush money” deal, arranging for a payment of $1.6 million to a former Playboy model who became pregnant by Broidy, the Deputy Finance Chairman of the Republican National Committee.  Broidy stepped down after the report.

 

After the FBI raid on Cohen’s office, home and hotel room in New York last Monday, prosecutors revealed in court that Cohen had been under investigation for months for what they described as “criminal conduct that largely centers on his personal business dealings.”

 

Cohen’s lawyers called the FBI raid “completely inappropriate and unnecessary” and moved to prevent prosecutors from viewing thousands of pages of “protected attorney-client communications.”

 

Trump’s lawyers joined the legal challenge over the weekend, asking that they be allowed to review the seized material before government prosecutors.  

 

“I don’t know what’s in Mr. Cohen’s law files but some amount of material was generated in the course of representing my client,” Joanna Hendon, an attorney representing Trump in the case, said in court on Monday.

 

Prosecutors insisted that the “overwhelming majority” of evidence seized during the search warrants on Cohen’s office and home is not privileged material but rather related to his business dealings.

 

“No one has yet given a basis why President Trump’s assertion of attorney-client privilege is any different than any other citizen of the United States,” prosecutor Tom McKay said in court.

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Fired FBI Director Comey Calls Trump ‘Morally Unfit to Be President’

Former U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey says President Donald Trump is “morally unfit” to be president and that there is “some evidence” Trump obstructed justice.

“There’s something more important than that that should unite all of us, and that is our president must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country,” Comey said.  “The most important being truth. This president is not able to do that.”

Comey’s comments came in an interview with ABC News Sunday night ahead of the publication this week of a book Comey wrote, “A Higher Loyalty.” In part, it recounts his role in investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and Democrat Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server that contained classified information, as well as Comey’s private discussions with Trump before the president fired him last May.

On Monday, hours after the telecast, Trump claimed that “Comey drafted the Crooked Hillary exoneration long before he talked to her,” lied to Congress about it and “then based his decisions on her poll numbers.” The U.S. leader claimed that Comey and former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, himself recently fired, and others “committed many crimes!”

Comey claimed that in one of his meetings with Trump, which he had previously described in public congressional testimony, Trump brought up the investigation of his one-time national security adviser Michael Flynn and asked if the FBI director could “let it go.”

“It’s certainly some evidence of obstruction of justice. It would depend — and I’m just a witness in this case, not the investigator or prosecutor — it would depend upon other things that reflected on his intent,” Comey said.

Trump has denied he asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to FBI investigators about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the United States. Trump has also used Twitter to call Comey a liar and called for his imprisonment.

“The big questions in Comey’s badly reviewed book aren’t answered like, how come he gave up Classified Information (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail),” Trump posted Sunday, apparently claiming wrongly that the notes Comey wrote about private meetings with Trump and talked about publicly were classified. It was not immediately clear what Trump was referencing in his contention that Comey lied in testimony before congressional committees.

Comey recounted in the interview another meeting where he said Trump asked for his loyalty.

“I never asked Comey for Personal Loyalty,” Trump said on Twitter before the interview aired. “I hardly even knew this guy. Just another of his many lies. His ‘memos’ are self serving and FAKE!”

Trump’s move to fire Comey led to the appointment of former FBI chief Robert Mueller as special counsel investigating Russia’s election interference and whether Trump obstructed justice. Mueller has so far charged 19 people in the probe, including Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and campaign aides Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said last week the Trump administration believes the president has the legal authority to fire Mueller, a move Comey told ABC would be the president’s “most serious attack yet on the rule of law.”

Comey said if allowed to continue his work, he is confident Mueller “will find the truth.”

“And again, I don’t know what that will be. He may conclude that there is nothing that touches President Trump or any of his senior people. And that’s fine, so long as he’s able to find that truth,” Comey said.

Trump denies his campaign colluded with Russia.

The U.S. intelligence community assessed that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign meant to undermine confidence in the election, hurt Clinton’s chances of winning and boost the likelihood of Trump being elected president.

Comey also said he cannot rule out the possibility that Russia has compromising information about Trump.

“I think it’s possible. I don’t know. These are more words I never thought I’d utter about a president of the United States, but it’s possible,” he said.

Comey faced criticism for his handling of the investigation into Clinton’s email practices while she served as secretary of state under former President Barack Obama, including announcing just before the election that the probe had been reopened. Clinton said that decision helped cost her the election.

Comey told ABC he made what he thought was the appropriate decision and that a belief Clinton would win the vote was a factor.

“I don’t remember spelling it out, but it had to have been,” he said. “That she’s going to be elected president, and if I hide this from the American people, she’ll be illegitimate the moment she’s elected, the moment this comes out.”

Trump expressed his dissatisfaction with those comments on Twitter.

“Unbelievably, James Comey states that Polls, where Crooked Hillary was leading, were a factor in the handling (stupidly) of the Clinton Email probe. In other words, he was making decisions based on the fact that he thought she was going to win, and he wanted a job. Slimeball!”

Trump expressed a similar view of Comey in another tweet: “Slippery James Comey, a man who always ends up badly and out of whack (he is not smart!), will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!”

FBI directors are appointed for 10-year terms that span presidencies. When asked if he would still be serving in that position had Trump not fired him, Comey said he would be unhappy, but would still be leading the organization and “trying to protect it.”

Comey likened the Trump presidency to a forest fire, saying it is doing “tremendous damage to our norms and values,” but that he is optimistic because he sees “already things growing and flourishing that didn’t before this fire.”

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Fired FBI Director Comey Calls Trump ‘Morally Unfit to Be President’

Former U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey says President Donald Trump is “morally unfit” to be president and that there is “some evidence” Trump obstructed justice.

“There’s something more important than that that should unite all of us, and that is our president must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country,” Comey said.  “The most important being truth. This president is not able to do that.”

Comey’s comments came in an interview with ABC News Sunday night ahead of the publication this week of a book Comey wrote, “A Higher Loyalty.” In part, it recounts his role in investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and Democrat Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server that contained classified information, as well as Comey’s private discussions with Trump before the president fired him last May.

On Monday, hours after the telecast, Trump claimed that “Comey drafted the Crooked Hillary exoneration long before he talked to her,” lied to Congress about it and “then based his decisions on her poll numbers.” The U.S. leader claimed that Comey and former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, himself recently fired, and others “committed many crimes!”

Comey claimed that in one of his meetings with Trump, which he had previously described in public congressional testimony, Trump brought up the investigation of his one-time national security adviser Michael Flynn and asked if the FBI director could “let it go.”

“It’s certainly some evidence of obstruction of justice. It would depend — and I’m just a witness in this case, not the investigator or prosecutor — it would depend upon other things that reflected on his intent,” Comey said.

Trump has denied he asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to FBI investigators about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the United States. Trump has also used Twitter to call Comey a liar and called for his imprisonment.

“The big questions in Comey’s badly reviewed book aren’t answered like, how come he gave up Classified Information (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail),” Trump posted Sunday, apparently claiming wrongly that the notes Comey wrote about private meetings with Trump and talked about publicly were classified. It was not immediately clear what Trump was referencing in his contention that Comey lied in testimony before congressional committees.

Comey recounted in the interview another meeting where he said Trump asked for his loyalty.

“I never asked Comey for Personal Loyalty,” Trump said on Twitter before the interview aired. “I hardly even knew this guy. Just another of his many lies. His ‘memos’ are self serving and FAKE!”

Trump’s move to fire Comey led to the appointment of former FBI chief Robert Mueller as special counsel investigating Russia’s election interference and whether Trump obstructed justice. Mueller has so far charged 19 people in the probe, including Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and campaign aides Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said last week the Trump administration believes the president has the legal authority to fire Mueller, a move Comey told ABC would be the president’s “most serious attack yet on the rule of law.”

Comey said if allowed to continue his work, he is confident Mueller “will find the truth.”

“And again, I don’t know what that will be. He may conclude that there is nothing that touches President Trump or any of his senior people. And that’s fine, so long as he’s able to find that truth,” Comey said.

Trump denies his campaign colluded with Russia.

The U.S. intelligence community assessed that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign meant to undermine confidence in the election, hurt Clinton’s chances of winning and boost the likelihood of Trump being elected president.

Comey also said he cannot rule out the possibility that Russia has compromising information about Trump.

“I think it’s possible. I don’t know. These are more words I never thought I’d utter about a president of the United States, but it’s possible,” he said.

Comey faced criticism for his handling of the investigation into Clinton’s email practices while she served as secretary of state under former President Barack Obama, including announcing just before the election that the probe had been reopened. Clinton said that decision helped cost her the election.

Comey told ABC he made what he thought was the appropriate decision and that a belief Clinton would win the vote was a factor.

“I don’t remember spelling it out, but it had to have been,” he said. “That she’s going to be elected president, and if I hide this from the American people, she’ll be illegitimate the moment she’s elected, the moment this comes out.”

Trump expressed his dissatisfaction with those comments on Twitter.

“Unbelievably, James Comey states that Polls, where Crooked Hillary was leading, were a factor in the handling (stupidly) of the Clinton Email probe. In other words, he was making decisions based on the fact that he thought she was going to win, and he wanted a job. Slimeball!”

Trump expressed a similar view of Comey in another tweet: “Slippery James Comey, a man who always ends up badly and out of whack (he is not smart!), will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!”

FBI directors are appointed for 10-year terms that span presidencies. When asked if he would still be serving in that position had Trump not fired him, Comey said he would be unhappy, but would still be leading the organization and “trying to protect it.”

Comey likened the Trump presidency to a forest fire, saying it is doing “tremendous damage to our norms and values,” but that he is optimistic because he sees “already things growing and flourishing that didn’t before this fire.”

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WH: Trump Wants US Forces Out of Syria as Soon as Possible

The White House says President Donald Trump remains determined to pull out U.S. troops deployed in Syria, a message that comes after French President Emmanuel Macron said he convinced Trump to keep U.S. forces there.

“The U.S. mission has not changed — the president has been clear that he wants U.S. forces to come home as quickly as possible,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement late Sunday.

She added that the United States wants to “complete crush” the Islamic State militant group and work to prevent it from coming back.

Macron spoke earlier Sunday to France’s BFM television, saying: “Ten days ago, President Trump was saying ‘The United States should withdraw from Syria,’ We convinced him it was necessary to stay for the long term.”  However, on Monday, Macron sought to clarify his comments, saying both countries were committed to finishing the battle against the Islamic State group and helping the peace process in Syria.

France joined the United States and Britain in airstrikes against Syrian chemical weapons sites on Saturday.

WATCH: US defends attack on Syria

​Macron also said he told Trump that it was necessary to limit the airstrikes in Syria, suggesting Trump wanted to go further.

“We also persuaded him that we needed to limit the strikes to chemical weapons sites after things got a little carried away over tweets,” Macron told reporters.

The French leader said there is proof the Syrian government used poison gas in Douma and that missile strikes were necessary to give the international community credibility. He also said Syrian ally Russia is complicit.

“They have not used chlorine themselves but they have methodically built the international community’s inability to act through diplomatic channels to stop the use of chemical weapons.”

Macron told BFM that France has not declared war on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but it was necessary to show Assad that using poison gas on civilians will not go unpunished.

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WH: Trump Wants US Forces Out of Syria as Soon as Possible

The White House says President Donald Trump remains determined to pull out U.S. troops deployed in Syria, a message that comes after French President Emmanuel Macron said he convinced Trump to keep U.S. forces there.

“The U.S. mission has not changed — the president has been clear that he wants U.S. forces to come home as quickly as possible,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement late Sunday.

She added that the United States wants to “complete crush” the Islamic State militant group and work to prevent it from coming back.

Macron spoke earlier Sunday to France’s BFM television, saying: “Ten days ago, President Trump was saying ‘The United States should withdraw from Syria,’ We convinced him it was necessary to stay for the long term.”  However, on Monday, Macron sought to clarify his comments, saying both countries were committed to finishing the battle against the Islamic State group and helping the peace process in Syria.

France joined the United States and Britain in airstrikes against Syrian chemical weapons sites on Saturday.

WATCH: US defends attack on Syria

​Macron also said he told Trump that it was necessary to limit the airstrikes in Syria, suggesting Trump wanted to go further.

“We also persuaded him that we needed to limit the strikes to chemical weapons sites after things got a little carried away over tweets,” Macron told reporters.

The French leader said there is proof the Syrian government used poison gas in Douma and that missile strikes were necessary to give the international community credibility. He also said Syrian ally Russia is complicit.

“They have not used chlorine themselves but they have methodically built the international community’s inability to act through diplomatic channels to stop the use of chemical weapons.”

Macron told BFM that France has not declared war on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but it was necessary to show Assad that using poison gas on civilians will not go unpunished.

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Trump Contends FBI Chief He Fired Should Be Jailed

U.S. President Donald Trump contended Sunday that James Comey, the FBI director he fired who has written a scathing new book on the Trump presidency, should be imprisoned, claiming that he revealed classified information and lied to Congress.

Trump unleashed a new broadside on Comey hours ahead of a widely publicized television interview with the former chief of the country’s top law enforcement agency. Comey’s book, “A Higher Loyalty,” is set for publication Tuesday and has already soared to near the top of bestseller lists because of pre-sales.

In the book, Comey likens Trump to a “mafia boss” and referred to his presidency as a “forest fire.”

Watch related video by VOA’s Michael Bowman:

“The big questions in Comey’s badly reviewed book aren’t answered like, how come he gave up Classified Information (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail),” Trump said on Twitter, apparently claiming wrongly that the notes Comey wrote about private meetings with Trump and talked about publicly were classified. It was not immediately clear what Trump was referencing in his contention that Comey lied in testimony before congressional committees.

“I never asked Comey for Personal Loyalty,” Trump said, disputing a key contention made by Comey. “I hardly even knew this guy. Just another of his many lies. His ‘memos’ are self serving and FAKE!”

Trump declared, “Slippery James Comey, a man who always ends up badly and out of whack (he is not smart!), will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!”

Comey wrote in the book, “This president is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values. His leadership is transactional, ego driven and about personal loyalty.” Comey claimed Trump was particularly concerned about unproven allegations that in 2013 he had watched as prostitutes urinated on a bed in a Moscow hotel, asking Comey to investigate to disprove it.

Comey is kicking off his national publicity tour promoting sales of the book with a Sunday night interview on ABC News. After Trump assailed the book, Comey replied on Twitter, “My book is about ethical leadership & draws on stories from my life & lessons I learned from others. 3 presidents are in my book: 2 help illustrate the values at the heart of ethical leadership; 1 serves as a counterpoint. I hope folks read the whole thing and find it useful.”

Trump assailed Comey for acknowledging that shortly before Trump’s November 2016 election victory, he considered the fact that Trump’s opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, was leading in national polls over Trump as the FBI chief reopened an investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server to handle classified information when she was secretary of state several years before.

“Unbelievably, James Comey states that Polls, where Crooked Hillary was leading, were a factor in the handling (stupidly) of the Clinton Email probe. In other words, he was making decisions based on the fact that he thought she was going to win, and he wanted a job. Slimeball!,” Trump said.

The U.S. leader also revisited a June 2016 incident, when Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, met privately with then-attorney general Loretta Lynch on an airport tarmac at a time when Lynch was overseeing the FBI’s email investigation involving Hillary Clinton in which Hillary Clinton was weeks later cleared of criminal wrongdoing.

“Comey throws AG Lynch ‘under the bus!'” Trump claimed. “Why can’t we all find out what happened on the tarmac in the back of the plane with Wild Bill and Lynch? Was she promised a Supreme Court seat, or (to stay on as attorney general in a would-be Clinton presidency), in order to lay off Hillary. No golf and grandkids talk (give us all a break)!”

Trump also railed again about last week’s FBI raid on the New York office and home of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, in search of documents related to hefty hush money payoffs shortly before the election to two women who claim to have had affairs with Trump a decade before he ran for the presidency. Trump has denied both purported liaisons.

U.S. legal principles shield from disclosure conversations lawyers hold with their clients — attorney-client privilege — unless they are plotting criminal activity.

“Attorney Client privilege is now a thing of the past,” Trump tweeted. “I have many (too many!) lawyers and they are probably wondering when their offices, and even homes, are going to be raided with everything, including their phones and computers, taken. All lawyers are deflated and concerned!”

 

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Gun Rights Advocates Hold Rallies in US State Capitals

Gun rights supporters gathered in Atlanta and dozens of other U.S. state capitals Saturday at a time when many Americans are pressing for tougher restrictions on weapons.

According to a early Associated Press count, more than 135 people attended the rally in Atlanta, and more were arriving. Most of them were armed, and some held signs as they listened to speeches. A few people wearing “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts made videos but didn’t interact with the ralliers.  

About 400 people, as estimated by an AP reporter, attended the rally in front of Delaware’s statehouse to support the right to keep and bear firearms. Some of those participating on Dover’s legislative mall openly carried rifles and handguns. Others carried American flags and flags reading “Don’t Tread on Me.”

In all, a group called the National Constitutional Coalition of Patriotic Americans said organizers had permits for gatherings in 45 states. They encouraged supporters to bring unloaded rifles in states where it’s legal.

The rallies came less than three weeks after hundreds of thousands marched in Washington, New York and elsewhere to demand tougher gun laws after the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17.

Daniyel Baron helped organize the Delaware rally. The former Marine said he feared the current gun-restriction efforts were a precursor to eventual prohibition of all gun ownership.

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Justice Department Further Presses 3 Sanctuary Jurisdictions

The Justice Department has sent another round of letters to the so-called sanctuary cities of Seattle and Oakland and the state of Vermont demanding further proof that they are cooperating with immigration authorities.

The letters sent Thursday warn that the department could use subpoena power to force Seattle and Vermont to provide documents. The department is seeking a legal opinion from Oakland on whether its policies violate a federal statute requiring information sharing with federal immigration authorities.

The Justice Department has threatened to deny grant money to communities that refuse to share such information. It’s part of the Trump administration’s crackdown on cities and states that refuse to help enforce U.S. immigration laws.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan denounced the department’s subpoena threat Friday, saying the city complies with federal immigration law.

 

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Justice Department Further Presses 3 Sanctuary Jurisdictions

The Justice Department has sent another round of letters to the so-called sanctuary cities of Seattle and Oakland and the state of Vermont demanding further proof that they are cooperating with immigration authorities.

The letters sent Thursday warn that the department could use subpoena power to force Seattle and Vermont to provide documents. The department is seeking a legal opinion from Oakland on whether its policies violate a federal statute requiring information sharing with federal immigration authorities.

The Justice Department has threatened to deny grant money to communities that refuse to share such information. It’s part of the Trump administration’s crackdown on cities and states that refuse to help enforce U.S. immigration laws.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan denounced the department’s subpoena threat Friday, saying the city complies with federal immigration law.

 

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