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Donald Trump Jr. and Trump Org. in spotlight after Cohen plea



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Michael Cohen pleads guilty, says he lied about Trump's knowledge of Moscow project

After previously saying that the Moscow project had stopped in January 2016, just before the Iowa caucuses, Cohen said Thursday in federal court that discussions actually continued until June 2016 — when Trump was the presumptive Republican nominee.
Cohen, in accepting a plea deal, admitted that he had “more extensive communications” than the three he previously indicated he had with Trump, which he previously claimed lasted no more than a few minutes, and added that he “briefed” Trump family members about the project. The guilty plea doesn’t state which family members Cohen is referring to or when he spoke with them. It would not be illegal to discuss the plans with Trump’s children, who were helping steer the business.
At least one of Trump’s children, Donald Trump Jr., a loyal surrogate for his father on the campaign trail, has provided testimony under oath to at least three congressional committees where he was asked about the proposed deal. Most of that testimony is not public and it isn’t clear how detailed the questions were about the project. Yet it could place him in legal jeopardy if anything he told Congress conflicts with information provided by Cohen if it is supported by other evidence.
A person close to the company tells CNN that Trump Jr. did know about the project as did his sister, Ivanka, whose involvement was limited to recommending architects and designers. The source says Trump Jr.’s testimony that his knowledge was “peripheral” is “100% accurate.”
The source added that the Trump Organization found one email involving Trump Jr. and a few that included Ivanka, but said all of those communications were sent before January 2016.
Trump Tower Moscow concept included idea of giving penthouse to Putin

One House panel said in a footnote to a report that Trump Jr. told them he believed the Moscow project was dormant as of early June 2016. But it was not clear the context of what Trump Jr. was asked or exactly how he answered it.
“All communications, all document that we have [about] Trump Moscow end by January 2016,” the source said. The person added, if Cohen continued to work on the project into 2016 “we weren’t aware of it.”
It is not clear if Trump Jr. has testified before the special counsel and he has not been accused of wrongdoing.
Trump Jr. is already under the spotlight because of his role in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting that he agreed to take after being told a Russian lawyer had incriminating information on Hillary Clinton.
The President has previously said an investigation into the Trump Organization, his family’s closely-held business, would be a red line for him in terms of his tolerance for the special counsel probe.
Following the guilty plea Thursday, Trump called Cohen a liar, saying on the South Lawn of the White House. “Michael Cohen is lying[1] and he’s trying to get a reduced sentence for things that have nothing to do with me,” Trump said.
Rudy Giuliani: There is 'no contradiction' between Cohen and Trump responses to Mueller

The President defended the deal for a possible Trump real estate venture in Moscow. The project, Trump said, “lasted a short period of time,” adding that he decided not to do it because he wanted to focus on running for president. In Cohen’s now-discredited testimony, he told lawmakers that he made the decision to terminate the deal on his own without consulting with Trump or any members of the Trump family.
However, the President maintained Thursday that “there would’ve been nothing wrong if I did do it.”
The overlap of Trump’s business ties and his political ambitions has been a knotty issue for him since the campaign. He only handed the reins of his business over to his two sons and chief financial officer on the eve of his inauguration, keeping his hand on the steering wheels during the campaign.
Trump kept a firm grip on the business before he took the oath of office in 2017, with key decisions about projects belonging to him and his children Trump Jr, and Ivanka Trump. They were more intimately involved in real estate projects than their younger brother, Eric Trump.
A majority has long not believed Trump on Russia

Ivanka Trump was often at her father’s side and visited projects. She posted a photo of her at a construction site for a project in Azerbaijan on Instagram while both Trump Jr. and his sister attended ribbon cutting ceremonies at project announcements and openings around the globe, from Trump Soho in New York to condo-hotel projects in Toronto and Vancouver.
Alan Futerfas, an attorney for the Trump Organization and Trump Jr., did not respond to a request for comment. An attorney for Ivanka Trump declined to comment.
Discussions over the Trump Tower Moscow project began in 2015 and by October 28, Trump had signed preliminary agreement that would have brought $4 million in fees to his business to work with a Russian to develop a luxury hotel.
According to documents provided to CNN, the project under discussion would have named the hotel spa named after Ivanka Trump. Trump’s company was explicitly given the option to “brand any or all portion of the spa or fitness facilities as ‘The Spa by Ivanka Trump’ or similar brand,” according to the document. And if they did name it after Trump’s daughter, then Ivanka or her designee would be given “sole and absolute discretion” to approve “all interior design elements of the spa or fitness facilities,” the document says.
The deal never came to fruition.
The only one of Trump’s children who has testified under oath about the Trump Tower Moscow effort in 2015 and 2016 is Trump Jr., who was questioned by several congressional committees investigating Russia’s interference in the election.
Who is Michael Cohen?

Trump Jr was asked by the House Judiciary Committee if he had any involvement in the potential deal. He responded, under oath, “Like I said, I was peripherally aware of it, but most of my knowledge has been gained since as it relates to hearing about it over the last few weeks,” according to a transcript of the interview, which occurred in September 2017, shortly after Cohen publicly revealed details about the Trump Tower Moscow proposal.
He also testified before the Senate and House Intelligence committees. The House Intelligence panel report released by the Republicans references Trump Jr.’s testimony about the Moscow deal. The report says in a footnote, “Trump Jr. testified that, as of early June 2016, he believed the Trump Tower Moscow project was dormant.”
By contrast, Cohen says he lied when he told lawmakers the deal talks ended in January. The House report does not provide direct quotes from Trump Jr.’s testimony. The Senate has not released any information about Trump Jr.’s testimony.
Trump calls Cohen 'very weak' in wake of former lawyer's new guilty plea

Cohen’s guilty plea does not indicate when he briefed the family members about his dealings to get the project off the ground. The source close to the Trump Organization said, “Michael’s modus operandi is to work independently. He doesn’t have a great history in including people in the discussion. And on this project, everything that we’ve seen and all the prep we’ve done of Don (Jr.) indicates he really knew nothing about this project.”
According to court papers filed Thursday, Cohen spoke with the assistant to Putin’s spokesman in January about moving the project forward and possible financing. He also discussed traveling to Moscow in early May 2016 adding that Trump could travel “once he becomes the nominee after the convention.”
Cohen spoke again in June with a person identified as “Individual 2” in Thursday’s court filings but known to be Felix Sater, a Russian-American business partner who was involved in other Trump Organization projects in Florida and New York.
Between June 9 and June 14, 2016, the court papers allege, Sater sent multiple messages to Cohen about traveling, including forms for Cohen to fill out.
Cohen met with Sater in the lobby of Trump Tower on June 14, 2016, to tell Sater he wouldn’t be traveling.
Sater has shared documents with the special counsel’s office. He has been a government informant for years stemming from his role in a stock manipulation scheme from the late 1990s. Sater’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump Tower meeting on Clinton

The Moscow project overlaps with another critical meeting that is of interest to the special counsel’s investigation.
On June 3, a publicist for a Russian pop star reached out to Trump Jr. to arrange a meeting with a Russian lawyer promising incriminating information on presidential rival Hillary Clinton.
Several phone calls, including one to a blocked phone number, followed.
READ: Michael Cohen's plea agreement

Trump Jr. had several brief phone calls with Emin Agalarov, the son of a Russian real estate magnate, who requested the meeting. Trump Jr. told lawmakers he didn’t recall speaking with Emin ahead of the June 9 meeting.
Nestled between those calls was one made to a blocked number. Lawmakers have openly suggested Trump Jr. may have called his father on that line. During its investigation, the House Intelligence Committee heard testimony that Trump’s primary residence has a blocked phone line.
Trump Jr. told lawmakers “I have no idea” who the blocked call was with. When asked if he told his father about the meeting or the underlying offer he said, “No, I did not.”


  1. ^ Michael Cohen is lying (

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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.

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.”


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

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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.


  1. ^ Bryce Edgmon (

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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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