President Trump acknowledged on Thursday that his longtime attorney Michael Cohen had “represented” him in what he called the “crazy” deal in which Cohen paid $130,000 to buy the silence of a porn actress just before the 2016 election.
Trump’s comments in an interview with Fox & Friends were the first time he has conceded his connection to Cohen’s deal with Stormy Daniels, who says she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, after Trump’s marriage and the birth of his youngest son.
Previously, Trump denied any relationship with Daniels and told reporters he wasn’t aware that Cohen paid Daniels.
For his part, Cohen has acknowledged paying Daniels, whose given name is Stephanie Clifford. Daniels says that Cohen was acting on behalf of Trump to keep her quiet to avoid a scandal and that he had her sign an agreement not to talk about her relationship with Trump.
Daniels is suing to escape that contract; Cohen says he will invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself and will not testify as part of that lawsuit.
Trump’s interview complicates legal matters for Cohen, who is dealing with a criminal investigation into his business practices in federal court in New York City. Cohen and lawyers for Trump want a judge to restrict how much evidence prosecutors can review from an earlier FBI raid of Cohen’s home and office, citing the importance of attorney-client privilege.
But Trump on Thursday downplayed his relationship with Cohen, saying the attorney barely represented him. Cohen, Trump said, is mostly a businessman and federal investigators are looking at that aspect of his life, not his legal work that might be connected to Trump.
That undercuts Cohen’s case that there might be privileged communications in the evidence seized by the FBI, which is the reason Cohen’s legal team has given for asking a federal judge to appoint a “special master” to review the material — rather than permitting a Justice Department “filter team” to go through it.
Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York wrote to federal Judge Kimba Wood on Thursday saying they were prepared to withdraw their objection to a “special master.”
One reason, they wrote, was that it has become clear how few legal clients Cohen has. Prosecutors cited the comments by Trump on TV on Thursday and earlier statements by another putative client, Fox News host Sean Hannity, minimizing their relationships with Cohen.
That must mean there isn’t much protected material, as the U.S. Attorney’s Office wrote, and Wood can authorize the lawyers involved to work efficiently.
“These statements by two of Cohen’s three identified clients suggest that the seized materials are unlikely to contain voluminous privileged documents, further supporting the importance of efficiency here,” they wrote to the judge.
Cohen has worked for Trump for years and served as not only a counselor but also as a gatekeeper for outsiders and, in Cohen’s words, a “pit bull” when necessary.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Returns To The High Court After Bout With Cancer
WASHINGTON, Feb 15 (Reuters) – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is back at the court after missing oral arguments in January as she recovered from lung cancer surgery at home, a court official said on Friday.
Ginsburg, who will turn 86 in March, had been working from home and participating and voting in cases since her December surgery by reading argument transcripts and case briefs. She attended the justices’ closed-door conference to discuss cases on Friday.
While Ginsburg was expected to attend the next session of oral arguments beginning on Feb. 19, court officials could not confirm she would be on the bench next week.
Last month, the court announced that Ginsburg’s recovery was on track and that there was “no evidence” of remaining disease.
Ginsburg, who joined the court in 1993, underwent a surgical procedure called a pulmonary lobectomy on Dec. 21 at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York to remove two cancerous nodules in her left lung. She was released from the hospital on Dec. 25.
Ginsburg missed oral arguments in January for the first time in her lengthy career on the court, fueling speculation about her ability to continue in the job. (Reporting by Andrew Chung; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
US Senate Confirms William Barr As Attorney General
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has confirmed William Barr as attorney general, placing the veteran government official and lawyer atop the Justice Department as special counsel Robert Mueller investigates Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The Senate voted 54-45 to confirm Barr, who previously served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993. Barr will succeed Jeff Sessions, who was pushed out by President Donald Trump last year. The president was angry with Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
As the country’s chief law enforcement officer, Barr will oversee the remaining work in Mueller’s investigation of potential coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.
Democrats largely voted against Barr. They said they were concerned about his non-committal stance on making Mueller’s report public.
Rapper 21 Savage Freed From US Immigration Custody, Could Still Be Deported
OCILLA, Ga. (AP) — A lawyer for 21 Savage says the Grammy-nominated rapper has been released from an immigration detention center in south Georgia.
Immigration lawyer Tia Smith said in an email that the rapper, whose given name is She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was released Wednesday on $100,000 bond. He had been held in the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla.
Abraham-Joseph was arrested early Feb. 3. An immigration judge on Tuesday granted him bond.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said the British citizen overstayed his visa and has an October 2014 felony conviction in Fulton County.
His lawyers have said the 26-year-old rapper was brought to the U.S. when he was 7 and his legal status expired in 2006 through no fault of his own. They’ve disputed that he has a felony conviction.
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