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Day of Reckoning Looms for Ex-Trump Lawyer Cohen

The moment of reckoning has nearly arrived for Michael Cohen, who finds out Wednesday whether his decision to walk away from President Donald Trump after years of unwavering loyalty will spare him from a harsh prison sentence. 

 

A federal judge in New York is set to decide whether Cohen gets leniency or years in prison for crimes including tax evasion, making illegal hush-money payments to protect Trump during the campaign and lying to Congress about the president’s past business dealings in Russia. 

 

Few observers expect the hearing to go well for the 52-year-old attorney. 

 

For weeks, his legal strategy appeared to revolve around convincing the court that he is a reformed man who abandoned longtime friendships and gave up his livelihood when he decided to break with the president and speak with federal investigators.

That narrative collapsed last week. New York prosecutors urged a judge to sentence Cohen to a substantial prison term, saying he’d failed to fully cooperate and overstated his helpfulness. They’ve asked for only a slight reduction in the 4- to 5-year term he would face under federal sentencing guidelines. 

Revisiting of sentence

 

A sentence of hard time would leave Cohen with little to show for his decision to plead guilty, though experts said Wednesday’s hearing might not be the last word on his punishment. 

 

Cohen could have his sentence revisited if he strikes a deal with prosecutors in which he provides additional cooperation within a year of his sentence, said Michael J. Stern, a former federal prosecutor in Detroit and Los Angeles. 

 

“Few things spark a defendant’s renewed interest in cooperating faster than trading in a pair of custom Italian trousers for an off-the-rack orange jumpsuit,” he said.    

  

Annemarie McAvoy, a former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, said prosecutors appear to be angry at Cohen for limiting his cooperation. 

 

“It could be a tactic to try to break him like they’ve tried to do with [Paul] Manafort,” McAvoy said, referring to Trump’s former campaign chairman. “It kind of shows they’re putting the screws to him. If they’re not mad at him, he didn’t give them what they wanted.” 

 

Cohen’s transition from Trump’s fixer-in-chief to felon has been head-spinning.  

During the campaign, he coordinated payments to buy the silence of two women — former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult film actress Stormy Daniels — who were thinking of speaking with reporters about alleged sexual encounters with Trump. Cohen once told an interviewer he would “take a bullet” for Trump. 

 

But months after investigators began gathering evidence that he’d dodged $1.4 million in taxes, Cohen pleaded guilty in August, pledged to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and changed his party registration from Republican to Democrat.  

  

Prosecutors said Cohen orchestrated payments to McDougal and Daniels at Trump’s direction.  

  

Trump, who insists the affairs never happened, said Monday in a tweet mocked for its spelling errors that the campaign finance allegations are being made up by Democrats disappointed not to have found a “smocking gun” proving collusion between his campaign and Russia. 

 

“So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution … which it was not (but even if it was, it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama’s – but it was done correctly by a lawyer and there would not even be a fine. Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me). Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!” Trump wrote. 

‘Bring his toothbrush’

 

U.S. District Judge William Pauley III, who was appointed to the federal bench by former President Bill Clinton, may allow Cohen to begin serving any prison term he receives at a later date. But legal experts said Cohen could also be taken into custody immediately.  

  

“If I were advising him, I’d encourage him to bring his toothbrush to court,” said Stern. 

 

Cohen’s lawyers have asked for no prison time, saying he has suffered enough already. 

 

“The greatest punishment Michael has endured in the criminal process has been the shame and anxiety he feels daily from having subjected his family to the fallout from his case,” his attorneys wrote in a court filing last month. “The media glare and intrusions on all of them, including his children, the regular hate correspondence and written and oral threats, the fact that he will lose his law license, the termination of business relationships by banks and insurers and the loss of friendships, are but some of this fallout.” 

 

Federal prosecutors said the request of a probation-only sentence is unbefitting of “a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy.” 

 

Mueller’s office took a far kinder view of Cohen’s cooperation in a separate court filing, crediting him for useful insights about attempts by Russian intermediaries to influence Trump, among other matters.  

  

Cohen’s latest plea agreement, reached last month, requires he “provide truthful information regarding any and all matters” Mueller deems relevant. The same document bars Cohen from appealing his sentence unless his prison term exceeds federal guidelines, or he claims to have received ineffective assistance of counsel in his proceedings.  

  

David S. Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor in Miami, said Cohen’s lawyers miscalculated by seeking an “unreasonably lenient” sentence.   

  

“They got a little greedy,” Weinstein said. “Judges take a dim view of lawyers who have played the system. Cohen knew where the line was, and he chose to step over the line.” 

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Day of Reckoning Looms for Ex-Trump Lawyer Cohen

The moment of reckoning has nearly arrived for Michael Cohen, who finds out Wednesday whether his decision to walk away from President Donald Trump after years of unwavering loyalty will spare him from a harsh prison sentence. 

 

A federal judge in New York is set to decide whether Cohen gets leniency or years in prison for crimes including tax evasion, making illegal hush-money payments to protect Trump during the campaign and lying to Congress about the president’s past business dealings in Russia. 

 

Few observers expect the hearing to go well for the 52-year-old attorney. 

 

For weeks, his legal strategy appeared to revolve around convincing the court that he is a reformed man who abandoned longtime friendships and gave up his livelihood when he decided to break with the president and speak with federal investigators.

That narrative collapsed last week. New York prosecutors urged a judge to sentence Cohen to a substantial prison term, saying he’d failed to fully cooperate and overstated his helpfulness. They’ve asked for only a slight reduction in the 4- to 5-year term he would face under federal sentencing guidelines. 

Revisiting of sentence

 

A sentence of hard time would leave Cohen with little to show for his decision to plead guilty, though experts said Wednesday’s hearing might not be the last word on his punishment. 

 

Cohen could have his sentence revisited if he strikes a deal with prosecutors in which he provides additional cooperation within a year of his sentence, said Michael J. Stern, a former federal prosecutor in Detroit and Los Angeles. 

 

“Few things spark a defendant’s renewed interest in cooperating faster than trading in a pair of custom Italian trousers for an off-the-rack orange jumpsuit,” he said.    

  

Annemarie McAvoy, a former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, said prosecutors appear to be angry at Cohen for limiting his cooperation. 

 

“It could be a tactic to try to break him like they’ve tried to do with [Paul] Manafort,” McAvoy said, referring to Trump’s former campaign chairman. “It kind of shows they’re putting the screws to him. If they’re not mad at him, he didn’t give them what they wanted.” 

 

Cohen’s transition from Trump’s fixer-in-chief to felon has been head-spinning.  

During the campaign, he coordinated payments to buy the silence of two women — former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult film actress Stormy Daniels — who were thinking of speaking with reporters about alleged sexual encounters with Trump. Cohen once told an interviewer he would “take a bullet” for Trump. 

 

But months after investigators began gathering evidence that he’d dodged $1.4 million in taxes, Cohen pleaded guilty in August, pledged to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and changed his party registration from Republican to Democrat.  

  

Prosecutors said Cohen orchestrated payments to McDougal and Daniels at Trump’s direction.  

  

Trump, who insists the affairs never happened, said Monday in a tweet mocked for its spelling errors that the campaign finance allegations are being made up by Democrats disappointed not to have found a “smocking gun” proving collusion between his campaign and Russia. 

 

“So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution … which it was not (but even if it was, it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama’s – but it was done correctly by a lawyer and there would not even be a fine. Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me). Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!” Trump wrote. 

‘Bring his toothbrush’

 

U.S. District Judge William Pauley III, who was appointed to the federal bench by former President Bill Clinton, may allow Cohen to begin serving any prison term he receives at a later date. But legal experts said Cohen could also be taken into custody immediately.  

  

“If I were advising him, I’d encourage him to bring his toothbrush to court,” said Stern. 

 

Cohen’s lawyers have asked for no prison time, saying he has suffered enough already. 

 

“The greatest punishment Michael has endured in the criminal process has been the shame and anxiety he feels daily from having subjected his family to the fallout from his case,” his attorneys wrote in a court filing last month. “The media glare and intrusions on all of them, including his children, the regular hate correspondence and written and oral threats, the fact that he will lose his law license, the termination of business relationships by banks and insurers and the loss of friendships, are but some of this fallout.” 

 

Federal prosecutors said the request of a probation-only sentence is unbefitting of “a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy.” 

 

Mueller’s office took a far kinder view of Cohen’s cooperation in a separate court filing, crediting him for useful insights about attempts by Russian intermediaries to influence Trump, among other matters.  

  

Cohen’s latest plea agreement, reached last month, requires he “provide truthful information regarding any and all matters” Mueller deems relevant. The same document bars Cohen from appealing his sentence unless his prison term exceeds federal guidelines, or he claims to have received ineffective assistance of counsel in his proceedings.  

  

David S. Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor in Miami, said Cohen’s lawyers miscalculated by seeking an “unreasonably lenient” sentence.   

  

“They got a little greedy,” Weinstein said. “Judges take a dim view of lawyers who have played the system. Cohen knew where the line was, and he chose to step over the line.” 

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Mueller Probe Points to Numerous Links Between Trump Associates, Russia

U.S. President Donald Trump has insisted on numerous occasions that his 2016 presidential campaign had nothing to do with Russia.

“Time for the Witch Hunt to END!” Trump said in a message on Twitter last Saturday. “After two years and millions of pages of documents (and a cost of over $30 million) no collusion!” Trump tweeted earlier. 

But the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in Trump’s victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton has unearthed plenty of evidence connecting Trump associates with Russia. In the year and a half since Robert Mueller took over the investigation into possible collusion, charging documents have alleged that more than a dozen Trump associates – from former campaign manager Paul Manafort to son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner – communicated with Russians, in one form or another, during and after the election. 

While the Mueller investigation operates under grand jury secrecy, the evidence the special prosecutor has referenced in court documents points to deeper and broader than previously thought contacts between people in Trump’s orbit and Russian operatives who sought to gain influence with the Republican president.

The latest revelation on the nexus between Trump and Russia appeared in a sentencing memo for former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen who pleaded guilty last week to lying to Congress about Trump’s efforts, during the campaign, to build a Trump tower in Moscow.

Last year, Cohen told lawmakers that his efforts on behalf of Trump to win Russian approval and build a new high rise in Moscow ended in January 2016, just as the campaign was heating up, whereas in fact they continued through June 2016, shortly before Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination. In the memo, Mueller’s prosecutors wrote that Cohen, who once said he would “take a bullet” for Trump but subsequently turned on his former boss, has provided “information about his own contacts with Russian interests during the campaign and discussions with others in the course of making those contacts.”

Cohen, who broached the possibility of a meeting in New York between Putin and Trump during the U.N. General Assembly in September 2016, has told prosecutors that he had “conferred” with Trump about the idea before “reaching out to gauge Russia’s interest in such a meeting,” according to the memo. 

The meeting did not take place for reasons that prosecutors did not reveal. 

Russian attempts to set up such a meeting persisted, however. In November 2016, Cohen spoke with a Russian who offered “political synergy” with the campaign and “repeatedly proposed a meeting between Putin and Trump. 

“The person told Cohen that such a meeting could have a ‘phenomenal’ impact ‘not only in political but in a business dimension’… because there is ‘no bigger warranty in any project than consent of [the President of Russia,]’” according to the memo. 

Cohen did not follow up on the invitation, according to the court filing, explaining to prosecutors that “he was working on the Moscow Project with a different individual who Cohen understood to have his own connections to the Russian government.” 

The unidentified individual is believed to be Felix Sater, a Russian-born real estate developer who worked as an adviser for the Trump Organization.

Trump’s interest in doing business with Russia goes back decades. In 2013, he brought the Miss Universe beauty pageant to Moscow. Throughout the 2016 campaign Trump repeatedly praised Putin and reveled in the Russian president’s compliments before the relationship soured after the election. 

The latest filings came at the end of a whirlwind week in the Russia investigation that saw similar documents filed in criminal cases involving Manafort and former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in denying he had conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. shortly after the election and before Trump took office, at a time Russia was trying to get out from under U.S. sanctions. 

The Cohen sentencing memo represents the first time the special counsel has alleged a discussion between Trump and his lawyer about a meeting with Putin during the 2016 election.It suggests that Trump remained focused on his business interests even as he was running for the White House. 

“If the project was completed, the Company could have received hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues,” the Cohen sentencing memo says. 

Other Trump associates accused of interacting with Russia during and after the 2016 campaign include former attorney general Jeff Sessions who met with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign and former campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos who tried to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin during the campaign.

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Mueller Probe Points to Numerous Links Between Trump Associates, Russia

U.S. President Donald Trump has insisted on numerous occasions that his 2016 presidential campaign had nothing to do with Russia.

“Time for the Witch Hunt to END!” Trump said in a message on Twitter last Saturday. “After two years and millions of pages of documents (and a cost of over $30 million) no collusion!” Trump tweeted earlier. 

But the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in Trump’s victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton has unearthed plenty of evidence connecting Trump associates with Russia. In the year and a half since Robert Mueller took over the investigation into possible collusion, charging documents have alleged that more than a dozen Trump associates – from former campaign manager Paul Manafort to son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner – communicated with Russians, in one form or another, during and after the election. 

While the Mueller investigation operates under grand jury secrecy, the evidence the special prosecutor has referenced in court documents points to deeper and broader than previously thought contacts between people in Trump’s orbit and Russian operatives who sought to gain influence with the Republican president.

The latest revelation on the nexus between Trump and Russia appeared in a sentencing memo for former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen who pleaded guilty last week to lying to Congress about Trump’s efforts, during the campaign, to build a Trump tower in Moscow.

Last year, Cohen told lawmakers that his efforts on behalf of Trump to win Russian approval and build a new high rise in Moscow ended in January 2016, just as the campaign was heating up, whereas in fact they continued through June 2016, shortly before Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination. In the memo, Mueller’s prosecutors wrote that Cohen, who once said he would “take a bullet” for Trump but subsequently turned on his former boss, has provided “information about his own contacts with Russian interests during the campaign and discussions with others in the course of making those contacts.”

Cohen, who broached the possibility of a meeting in New York between Putin and Trump during the U.N. General Assembly in September 2016, has told prosecutors that he had “conferred” with Trump about the idea before “reaching out to gauge Russia’s interest in such a meeting,” according to the memo. 

The meeting did not take place for reasons that prosecutors did not reveal. 

Russian attempts to set up such a meeting persisted, however. In November 2016, Cohen spoke with a Russian who offered “political synergy” with the campaign and “repeatedly proposed a meeting between Putin and Trump. 

“The person told Cohen that such a meeting could have a ‘phenomenal’ impact ‘not only in political but in a business dimension’… because there is ‘no bigger warranty in any project than consent of [the President of Russia,]’” according to the memo. 

Cohen did not follow up on the invitation, according to the court filing, explaining to prosecutors that “he was working on the Moscow Project with a different individual who Cohen understood to have his own connections to the Russian government.” 

The unidentified individual is believed to be Felix Sater, a Russian-born real estate developer who worked as an adviser for the Trump Organization.

Trump’s interest in doing business with Russia goes back decades. In 2013, he brought the Miss Universe beauty pageant to Moscow. Throughout the 2016 campaign Trump repeatedly praised Putin and reveled in the Russian president’s compliments before the relationship soured after the election. 

The latest filings came at the end of a whirlwind week in the Russia investigation that saw similar documents filed in criminal cases involving Manafort and former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in denying he had conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. shortly after the election and before Trump took office, at a time Russia was trying to get out from under U.S. sanctions. 

The Cohen sentencing memo represents the first time the special counsel has alleged a discussion between Trump and his lawyer about a meeting with Putin during the 2016 election.It suggests that Trump remained focused on his business interests even as he was running for the White House. 

“If the project was completed, the Company could have received hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues,” the Cohen sentencing memo says. 

Other Trump associates accused of interacting with Russia during and after the 2016 campaign include former attorney general Jeff Sessions who met with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign and former campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos who tried to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin during the campaign.

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Former US Senators Warn of ‘Dangerous Period’ Ahead

A group of former U.S. Senate members from both the Democratic and Republican parties is urging current members to be “guardians of our democracy” and not let party affiliation get in the way of the interests of the country as it faces a “critical juncture.”

The 44 former lawmakers wrote in an op-ed published Monday by the Washington Post that the United States is “entering a dangerous period” and they felt they needed to “speak up about serious challenges to the rule of law, the Constitution, our governing institutions and our national security.”

They cited the eventual conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with President Donald Trump’s campaign, as well as the planned investigations of the Trump administration by the Democrat-led House of Representatives that will be in place next month as challenges that are coming amid regional and global conflicts.

“We are at an inflection point in which the foundational principles of our democracy and our national security interests are at stake, and the rule of law and the ability of our institutions to function freely and independently must be upheld,” they wrote.

The group includes Democrats John Kerry, Tom Daschle and Chris Dodd, as well as Republicans John Warner, Richard Lugar and Chuck Hagel.

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Former US Senators Warn of ‘Dangerous Period’ Ahead

A group of former U.S. Senate members from both the Democratic and Republican parties is urging current members to be “guardians of our democracy” and not let party affiliation get in the way of the interests of the country as it faces a “critical juncture.”

The 44 former lawmakers wrote in an op-ed published Monday by the Washington Post that the United States is “entering a dangerous period” and they felt they needed to “speak up about serious challenges to the rule of law, the Constitution, our governing institutions and our national security.”

They cited the eventual conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with President Donald Trump’s campaign, as well as the planned investigations of the Trump administration by the Democrat-led House of Representatives that will be in place next month as challenges that are coming amid regional and global conflicts.

“We are at an inflection point in which the foundational principles of our democracy and our national security interests are at stake, and the rule of law and the ability of our institutions to function freely and independently must be upheld,” they wrote.

The group includes Democrats John Kerry, Tom Daschle and Chris Dodd, as well as Republicans John Warner, Richard Lugar and Chuck Hagel.

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Trump, Lawmakers Scramble to Avoid Shutdown

U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with Democratic leaders Tuesday in a final effort to secure border wall funding as part of a larger government spending package that must be passed by Dec. 21. The funding marks the final legislative action of the Republican-controlled Congress and a must-pass bill to avert a partial government shutdown ahead of the holidays.

 

Both parties face a delicate balancing act tackling the latest fight over immigration with just weeks until control of the House of Representatives shifts to Democrats.

Trump will meet with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to see if there is room for compromise on his request for up to $5 billion in funding for the wall in fiscal year 2019. The meeting will be the first test of Trump’s ability to negotiate bipartisan deals following significant Democratic gains in November’s congressional midterm elections.

Trump and Pelosi initially expressed interest in working with each other on bills addressing infrastructure and prescription drug prices. But Pelosi — who is expected to become Speaker of the House when the new Congress is sworn in next month — rejected the possibility of compromise on border wall funding.

Democrats consider a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border “immoral, ineffective and expensive,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday. She also made clear Democrats would not link a compromise on the border wall with a legislative solution addressing the legal status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients, the more than 800,000 undocumented young people brought to the United States as children.

Compromise on a solution for DACA recipients stalled in Congress throughout 2018. The House failed to pass a bill after a group of Republicans organized an effort to defy House Speaker Paul Ryan and force the issue.

Pelosi proposed lawmakers pass the six funding bills that have already cleared key committee votes while funding the Department of Homeland Security, the agency that would oversee the border wall funding, on another temporary spending measure.

“I can’t imagine the president is willing to accept that,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn told reporters Thursday.

Trump says the border wall with Mexico will stop an invasion of migrants from Central America into the United States.

 

“Could somebody please explain to the Democrats (we need their votes) that our Country loses 250 Billion Dollars a year on illegal immigration, not including the terrible drug flow. Top Border Security, including a Wall, is $25 Billion. Pays for itself in two months. Get it done!” Trump tweeted on Dec. 4.

The administration received $1.375 billion in funding for border security in the fiscal year budget that ended on Sept. 30. It did not include money for building a wall.

“The idea that they haven’t spent last year’s money and they’re demanding such a huge amount this year makes no sense at all,” Schumer said.

 

Trump and Republicans in a lame-duck Congress face a tough choice. Forcing the issue of the border wall will trigger a partial government shutdown just four days before Christmas.

Lawmakers will not relish the prospect of being trapped in Washington figuring out a solution. But some Republicans see the shutdown as an opportunity to slow Democratic momentum coming into the new year with a new legislative agenda. Democrats will not want to be blamed for a shutdown before they have even taken control of the House.

Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, Pelosi and Schumer issued a joint statement saying Trump’s border wall proposal does not have sufficient support and he should not make it “an obstacle to bipartisan government.”

“Republicans still control the House, the Senate, and the White House, and they have the power to keep the government open,” the statement said.

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Trump, Lawmakers Scramble to Avoid Shutdown

U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with Democratic leaders Tuesday in a final effort to secure border wall funding as part of a larger government spending package that must be passed by Dec. 21. The funding marks the final legislative action of the Republican-controlled Congress and a must-pass bill to avert a partial government shutdown ahead of the holidays.

 

Both parties face a delicate balancing act tackling the latest fight over immigration with just weeks until control of the House of Representatives shifts to Democrats.

Trump will meet with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to see if there is room for compromise on his request for up to $5 billion in funding for the wall in fiscal year 2019. The meeting will be the first test of Trump’s ability to negotiate bipartisan deals following significant Democratic gains in November’s congressional midterm elections.

Trump and Pelosi initially expressed interest in working with each other on bills addressing infrastructure and prescription drug prices. But Pelosi — who is expected to become Speaker of the House when the new Congress is sworn in next month — rejected the possibility of compromise on border wall funding.

Democrats consider a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border “immoral, ineffective and expensive,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday. She also made clear Democrats would not link a compromise on the border wall with a legislative solution addressing the legal status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients, the more than 800,000 undocumented young people brought to the United States as children.

Compromise on a solution for DACA recipients stalled in Congress throughout 2018. The House failed to pass a bill after a group of Republicans organized an effort to defy House Speaker Paul Ryan and force the issue.

Pelosi proposed lawmakers pass the six funding bills that have already cleared key committee votes while funding the Department of Homeland Security, the agency that would oversee the border wall funding, on another temporary spending measure.

“I can’t imagine the president is willing to accept that,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn told reporters Thursday.

Trump says the border wall with Mexico will stop an invasion of migrants from Central America into the United States.

 

“Could somebody please explain to the Democrats (we need their votes) that our Country loses 250 Billion Dollars a year on illegal immigration, not including the terrible drug flow. Top Border Security, including a Wall, is $25 Billion. Pays for itself in two months. Get it done!” Trump tweeted on Dec. 4.

The administration received $1.375 billion in funding for border security in the fiscal year budget that ended on Sept. 30. It did not include money for building a wall.

“The idea that they haven’t spent last year’s money and they’re demanding such a huge amount this year makes no sense at all,” Schumer said.

 

Trump and Republicans in a lame-duck Congress face a tough choice. Forcing the issue of the border wall will trigger a partial government shutdown just four days before Christmas.

Lawmakers will not relish the prospect of being trapped in Washington figuring out a solution. But some Republicans see the shutdown as an opportunity to slow Democratic momentum coming into the new year with a new legislative agenda. Democrats will not want to be blamed for a shutdown before they have even taken control of the House.

Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, Pelosi and Schumer issued a joint statement saying Trump’s border wall proposal does not have sufficient support and he should not make it “an obstacle to bipartisan government.”

“Republicans still control the House, the Senate, and the White House, and they have the power to keep the government open,” the statement said.

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The Power of Political Cartoons

Editorial cartoons — also known as political cartoons — have been around as long as there’s been political discourse and dissent. In the U.S. they’re a vibrant part of American culture and history, and no matter how controversial, are protected as free speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. VOA’s Julie Taboh spoke with a Pulitzer-Prize-winning cartoonist about the current state of cartooning in the U.S. — and overseas.

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The Power of Political Cartoons

Editorial cartoons — also known as political cartoons — have been around as long as there’s been political discourse and dissent. In the U.S. they’re a vibrant part of American culture and history, and no matter how controversial, are protected as free speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. VOA’s Julie Taboh spoke with a Pulitzer-Prize-winning cartoonist about the current state of cartooning in the U.S. — and overseas.

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