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Cohen says he lied about a Trump project in Moscow

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Rudy Giuliani: There is 'no contradiction' between Cohen and Trump responses to Mueller

READ: Michael Cohen's plea agreement

RELATED: Rea[1]d Michael Cohen’s plea agreement
Cohen, who previously said talks about the Moscow project had ended in January 2016, just prior to the Iowa caucuses, said he had lied out of a sense of obligation to Trump.
“I made these statements to be consistent with Individual-1’s political messaging and out of loyalty to Individual-1,” Cohen said. Individual-1 was identified in court filings as Trump, and Cohen identified him as such in a New York courtroom Thursday.
Cohen, who famously once declared he would “take a bullet” for Trump, is cooperating with Mueller and has spoken with the special counsel’s office for more than 70 hours on topics beyond Moscow, a source with knowledge of the discussions told CNN.
He pleaded guilty earlier this year to eight counts in a separate case from the Manhattan US attorney’s office. Cohen did not have an agreement to cooperate with prosecutors on that case.
Thursday’s revelations are potentially significant because they appear to show that Trump was engaged in business dealings with Russia in the midst of a campaign in which Moscow interfered to help elect him.
They could also intersect with other information that Mueller knows to create political and legal jeopardy for the President.

Related: Track the publicly known developments of the sprawling investigations into Trump and Russia.

Trump responded to Cohen’s admission at the White House on Thursday, calling his former lawyer “very weak.”[3]
“He’s a weak person,” Trump said before departing for Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“He was convicted with a fairly long-term sentence with things unrelated to the Trump Organization,” Trump said. “What he’s trying to do is get a reduced sentence.”
In fact, Cohen hasn’t been sentenced in either case, and the charges to which he pleaded guilty in August included information about his reimbursement by the Trump Organization for payments he made or helped orchestrate to conceal allegations from two women about sexual encounters with Trump before he ran for office. Trump has denied those claims.
The Justice Department notified Trump’s legal team on Wednesday night about Cohen’s planned plea, a source familiar with the matter told CNN, although it is unclear when the President himself was informed.
Cohen was also charged in the Manhattan US attorney’s office case with tax fraud and false statements to a bank. He is scheduled to be sentenced in both cases on December 12.
Cohen left the courthouse Thursday without making a statement.

Cooperating with Mueller

Cohen’s cooperation with Mueller has included meetings with federal prosecutors on at least seven occasions beginning August 7, 2018, two weeks before he was first charged in New York, according to court filings.
Cohen had previously said talks about the Moscow project had ended in January 2016.
In a letter to Congress and in congressional testimony, Cohen had also stated that he never agreed to travel to Russia in connection with the project, and that he hadn’t considered asking Trump to travel for the project. He had also said he didn’t recall speaking to the Russian government about the project.
Trump abruptly cancels planned Putin meeting

All of those statements were false, Cohen said Thursday.
“In truth and in fact, and as Cohen well knew, Cohen’s representations about the Moscow Project he made to (House and Senate Intelligence committees) were false and misleading,” Mueller’s office said in a court filing.
“Cohen made the false statements to (1) minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1 and (2) give the false impression that the Moscow Project ended before ‘the Iowa caucus and . . . the very first primary,’ in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations,” prosecutors said in court filings.

Discussions with ‘Individual-2’ on Moscow project

The charges provide a much fuller picture of the Trump Organization’s efforts to advance the project in Moscow.
As late as June 2016, according to prosecutors, Cohen and another man, identified in filings as “Individual-2,” discussed efforts to gain Russian government approval for the Moscow project. Individual-2 is Felix Sater, a Russian-born onetime business associate of Trump’s, according to people familiar with the matter.
Cohen discussed the project with Trump on more than the three occasions he had previously mentioned, prosecutors said, and he briefed Trump family members working within the Trump Organization about the efforts. Cohen also agreed to travel to Russia and asked Trump about the possibility of Trump going there in service of the project. In addition, Cohen “asked a senior campaign official about potential business travel to Russia,” according to prosecutors.
Trump's aggressive bid to define Mueller's end game

In May 2016, after Sater asked Cohen when the trip involving Trump should occur, Cohen responded that Trump’s trip should take place “once he becomes the nominee after the convention.” Sater and Cohen communicated extensively about plans for Cohen’s own prospective trip, filings show, but in June 2016, Cohen told Sater he wouldn’t go. In court Thursday, Cohen added: “I would like to note that I did not in fact travel there, nor have I ever been to Russia.”
After Cohen outlined his lies concerning the extent of his discussion with Trump and his plans for travel to Russia, a special counsel prosecutor, L. Rush Atkinson, told US District Judge Andrew Carter that Cohen had neglected to admit to a third set of falsehoods — those concerning his direct contact with the Russian government about the Moscow project.
Cohen had had a 20-minute phone call with a representative of the Kremlin in January 2016, according to filings. Atkinson was joined in court Thursday by special counsel prosecutors Jeannie Rhee and Andrew Goldstein.
The charge to which Cohen pleaded Thursday carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000 and supervised release of no more than three years.

Democrats vow to investigate

House Democrats, who will retake the majority early next year, plan to use their new power to investigate the disclosures revealed in the new set of charges against Cohen.
California Rep. Adam Schiff, the incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman, said his panel will try to bring in Cohen and investigate whether there was any money laundering by the Russians through the Trump Organization.
Democrats in Congress vow to investigate after Cohen pleads guilty to making false statements

“If Mr. Cohen misled the Congress about the President’s business dealings in Russia deep into the campaign, it also means that the President misled the country about his business dealings, and that the Russians were apparently attempting to gain financial leverage over the potential President of the United States,” Schiff told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

Status of Mueller investigation

Trump has criticized the Mueller probe and his own Justice Department almost daily, fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this month and has hinted at a pardon for his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
But Cohen is the latest former Trump associate to say he lied — apparently to protect the President — a circle of defense that now seems to be quickly unraveling.
Who is Michael Cohen?

The news comes a few weeks after the President installed a skeptic of the Russia probe, Matt Whitaker, as his acting attorney general. The move was seen by some critics as an attempt to disrupt Mueller and to stop him from making new indictments.
The latest charges also cross what Trump has set as a red line — an investigation into his family’s business empire — that the President has warned would cause him to fire the special counsel.
This story has been updated.

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Houston Recalls Legacy of George Bush, Its Lone Star Yankee and Senior Booster

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HOUSTON — Inside the airport that bears his name, George Herbert Walker Bush looks, at a distance, as if he’s wearing a cape.

An 8-foot-tall bronze statue at the Houston airport shows Mr. Bush, who , Barbara Bush[4], who died in April at the age of 92. After Mr. Bush’s death on Friday, Houston lost its two most famous residents in the span of seven months.

“George H.W. Bush served with valor and integrity as the 41st president of the United States,” Houston’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, said in a statement. “But to Houstonians he was one of our most esteemed and relatable neighbors. He and his wife, Barbara Bush, were our sports teams’ biggest fans, and boosters for everything Houston.”

This was the man whose most memorable quote in years had to do with men’s hosiery. In 2012, as his fondness for wearing bright eye-catching socks was going strong, he explained that he simply “likes a good sock.” At his wife’s funeral at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Mr. Bush wore a pair of socks with a colorful stack-of-books design, a tribute to Mrs. Bush’s advocacy work for family literacy.

In Houston and its surrounding suburbs, Mr. Bush had not only an airport in his name but a park, a high school and a few more life-size statues. Above Buffalo Bayou, a bronze statue of Mr. Bush looks out into the distance with his hand in his pocket, gazing at, of all things, James A. Baker III, the former secretary of state and Mr. Bush’s tennis partner at the Houston Country Club. The statues of the two close friends face each other in the downtown park, separated by about 100 yards, in Houston’s oddest and longest-running staring contest.

“All I can do now,” Mr. Bush told The New York Times in 2011 about the statue, “is hope that the pigeons will be kind and gentle.”

Charles C. Foster, a Houston immigration lawyer and a longtime friend of the Bush family, came up with the idea for the George H.W. Bush Monument, which was unveiled in 2004. Mr. Foster recalled the day he sat in Mr. Bush’s office at 10000 Memorial Drive and asked for his blessing for the project.

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Mr. Bush in 1970, when he was a congressman.CreditAssociated Press

“He looked at me and he sort of looked up at the ceiling,” Mr. Foster said. “He pointed to the ceiling and said, ‘Shouldn’t you wait until I’m up there?’ And then he said, pointing downward, ‘Or perhaps down there?’”

In 1990, Mr. Bush helped turn the eyes of the world to Houston.

As president, he brought thousands of reporters and foreign dignitaries to Houston that summer for the Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations, an annual gathering of the world’s economic powers. The summits had been held in a number of global cities — London, Tokyo, Paris, Venice — and Mr. Bush made the case that his adopted hometown belonged among such world-class company.

Houston was scrappier back then. The city was rebounding from an oil bust in the 1980s that crippled the economy, and it tried hard to present its best, and cleanest, face to the cameras and the visitors, picking up millions of pounds of trash, repaving roads and enlisting the aid of 12,000 volunteers.

“That was huge for Houston,” Mr. Foster said of the 1990 summit. “When the president had a chance, he could have picked some mountain retreat. But he picked his hometown. He was well aware of the chip on our shoulders that we didn’t feel like Houston got the recognition that it should.”

Now, with 2.3 million residents (compared with 1.6 million in 1990), Houston is the fourth-largest city in America, known as much for its diversity as its energy-capital status. George Bush High School, part of the Fort Bend school district, is 43 percent Hispanic, 38 percent black, 12 percent Asian and 4 percent white. More than 90 languages and dialects are spoken in the district.

Early Saturday morning in the upscale Tanglewood area, Houstonians paused at the gates at South Post Oak Lane and North West Oak Drive — the entrance to the gated community where Mr. Bush lived. Someone draped an American flag in the center of the gates, decorated for the holidays with Christmas wreaths.

Shirley Matthews, 66, a lifelong Houstonian who lives nearby, walked up and took a picture of the memorial for her mother. “He was just a good person,” she said. “He wasn’t perfect. But it’s family, and we love each other.”

References

  1. ^ died at his home here on Friday (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ Read the obituary of George H.W. Bush. (www.nytimes.com)
  3. ^ the funeral for his wife (www.nytimes.com)
  4. ^ Barbara Bush (www.nytimes.com)

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A Close Race, a Mysterious Ballot and Control of Alaska’s House at Stake

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With a crucial legislative seat in Alaska teetering toward a tie earlier this month, lawmakers in Juneau braced for the possibility of a coin toss deciding control of the state’s House of Representatives. Then a mysterious extra ballot emerged that threw the process into further disarray.

Amid several counts, the latest coming on Friday afternoon, a single ballot drew scrutiny across the state.

The state’s review board certified the race, between Kathryn Dodge, a Democrat, and Bart LeBon, a Republican, as a tie earlier this week, with exactly 2,661 votes going to each candidate. The extra ballot, for Ms. Dodge, could have settled the race for the Fairbanks-area district seat.

Later on Friday, the mystery appeared to have been solved — but the standoff over who won the election continued.

Samantha Miller, a spokeswoman for the state elections office, said that workers at Fairbanks’s No. 6 precinct told officials that a woman had come into the polling place to request a special needs ballot on behalf of her husband, who was outside in a vehicle.

The woman came back into the precinct. Her husband had made a mistake, she told the precinct worker, and needed a new ballot. She left behind the one he had already marked, thus making it a spoiled ballot.

The precinct chair told the worker who took the spoiled ballot to put it into a secrecy sleeve, “and that they would deal with it later in the day,” Ms. Miller said.

But instead, the spoiled ballot was put into a compartment with other questioned ballots.

Typically, Ms. Miller said, spoiled ballots are destroyed once they are accounted for. So, because the mystery ballot was found to be spoiled, it will not be counted, she said.

Still, that left the question of what happens if the recount that began on Friday afternoon ends in a tie — again.

Ms. Miller said that both candidates had five days to file a legal challenge to the results. And if the court decided the recount went as it should have, and the race was still a tie?

The prevailing candidate would be determined “by lot,” Ms. Miller said. “It could be a coin toss or some other way of deciding, as long as it’s random.”

It would not be the first time an Alaska race was determined by coin toss.

In 2006, State Representative Bryce Edgmon[1], a Democrat from Dillingham, beat the incumbent, Carl Moses. Mr. Moses’s name was drawn, so he got to make the call: Heads.

The state’s elections director at the time flipped an Alaska Mint medallion — the side with a walrus being heads and the side with the state seal being tails. It landed state seal side up.

Ms. Miller would not speculate about when the recount would be complete, but said both candidates were present, along with observers and officials.

Mr. LeBon did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.

Sara Harriger, a spokeswoman for Ms. Dodge, said in a statement that during Friday’s recount, one additional vote was found for Ms. Dodge and a challenged ballot was allowed for her opponent, Mr. LeBon, which meant that the tally stood at 2,662 apiece. Still tied.

Ms. Dodge said in a statement that she believed every legally cast ballot should be counted. “I just want everyone watching this process to take away a sense of confidence in our democratic system and a commitment to cast their votes in future races,” she said, “and knowing that their votes will matter.”

Ms. Dodge had said earlier on Friday that legal action “unfortunately” seemed probable.

“It’s certainly not what any of us expect when we set out to campaign, to find ourselves in a squeaker of this nature,” she said. “I hope we don’t have a coin toss. I don’t know quite what to say, but it doesn’t feel like it’s an appropriate way to settle an election.”

In Alaska, the repercussions of this race will be felt into the next legislative session, though party control of the House in Juneau will be far from clear-cut.

Political coalitions in Juneau do not always come down to party-line votes like in other state houses. Even if Ms. Dodge wins the race, Democrats would still not have an outright majority, and so members of the House will still be tasked with negotiating a coalition majority.

References

  1. ^ Bryce Edgmon (akleg.gov)

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3 Killed After Pickup Truck Fleeing Border Patrol Hits Tire Spikes and Crashes

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Three people in a packed pickup truck were killed on Thursday afternoon after the driver ran over tire spikes and crashed on a Southern California highway while trying to flee Border Patrol officers, the authorities said.

The officers turned on their vehicle’s emergency lights and began chasing the pickup truck on Interstate 8, near Boulevard, Calif., at around 4:20 p.m., according to the United States Customs and Border Protection. The authorities said they believed that the pickup truck had been illegally driven over the southern border and had crashed through an “iron bar vehicle barrier.” They said they identified it by matching a piece that was missing from the truck to one agents had spotted on the ground near the border, though they did not elaborate.

The pickup truck reached speeds of over 100 miles per hour, weaving between cars and bypassing others on the side of the highway, before it drove over spikes that the Border Patrol had placed on the road, the California Highway Patrol said. About a mile later, the truck spun out of control and flipped over, ejecting the nine people who were riding in the truck’s bed, the authorities said.

A woman inside the truck, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was killed, as were two people riding in the bed, the police said. Seven people who had “multiple serious injuries” were taken to the hospital, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection said.

The driver, a United States citizen whose name was not released, was the only person wearing a seatbelt, the agency said. The California Highway Patrol took the man into custody, but it was not clear whether he had been charged. The identities of the passengers in the truck have not been released either.

“The investigation into the smuggling incident is ongoing,” the spokesman said in an email, “and the Border Patrol is fully cooperating with the CHP in their investigation of the collision.”

About an hour after the crash, the Border Patrol stopped another vehicle that officers believed had crossed over the border with the pickup truck, the agency said. The driver of that car was also arrested.

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