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US: Trump’s ex-lawyer deserves prison despite cooperation

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US Trumps ex-lawyer deserves prison despite cooperation

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, deserves a substantial prison sentence despite his cooperation in a hush money payment case that implicated the president, federal prosecutors said Friday.

Court filings by prosecutors from both New York and the Trump-Russia special counsel’s office laid out for the first time details of the cooperation of a vital witness who once said he’d “take a bullet” for the president but who in recent months has become a prime antagonist. He is to be sentenced next week.

They filings reveal that Cohen told prosecutors he and Trump discussed a potential meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in 2015, shortly after Trump announced his candidacy for president.

In a footnote, special counsel Robert Mueller’s team writes that Cohen conferred with Trump “about contacting the Russia government before reaching out to gauge Russia’s interest in such a meeting,” though it never took place.

An additional filing was expected later Friday in the case of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who prosecutors say lied to them even after agreeing to cooperate.

Prosecutors in Cohen’s case said that even though he cooperated in their investigation into hush money payments made to two women who said they had sex with Trump, he nonetheless deserves to spend time in prison.

“Cohen did provide information to law enforcement, including information that assisted the Special Counsel’s Office,” they said. “But Cohen’s description of those efforts is overstated in some respects and incomplete in others.”

In meetings with Mueller’s team, Cohen “provided information about his own contacts with Russian interests during the campaign and discussions with others in the course of making those contacts,” the court documents said.

Cohen provided prosecutors with a “detailed account” of his involvement, along with the involvement of others, in efforts during the 2016 presidential campaign to complete a deal to build a Trump Tower Moscow, the documents said. He also provided information about attempts by Russian nationals to reach Trump’s campaign, they said.

However, in the crimes to which he pleaded guilty in August, he was motivated “by personal greed and repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends.”

Prosecutors said the court’s Probation Department estimated that federal sentencing guidelines call for Cohen to serve at least four years in prison. They said that “reflects Cohen’s extensive, deliberate and serious criminal conduct.”

Prosecutors say Cohen “already enjoyed a privileged life,” and that “his desire for even greater wealth and influence precipitated an extensive course of criminal conduct.”

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Associated Press writers Larry Neumeister in New York and Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report.

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Entertainment and Sports

As Jussie Smollett story evolves, let’s not give it the Covington Catholic School treatment

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As Jussie Smollett story evolves lets not give it the Covington Catholic School treatment

When a juicy story hits social media, the instant reaction is to run with it and all the implications. That’s the nature of our on-demand, always-on, real-time media world. The only thing faster than hot takes from the first hint of a story are the assumptions made by both sides regardless of the details.

Such is the case with Jussie Smollett, the actor who was allegedly attacked by MAGA-loving bigots. Smollett, a gay man of color, was allegedly targeted on the streets of Chicago, but now reports are coming in that it may have been an elaborate hoax designed to help him save his job on the cast of Empire.

But so far, police have only confirmed that Smollett is still being treated as a victim. Yes, there were two persons of interest questioned by police. Yes, Smollett skipped a voluntary interview with police this morning. Yes, the story was strange from the start and this new narrative seems to match much better regardless of which side of the political or cultural aisle you’re on.

And yet, nothing has been confirmed.


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It’s incumbent on us, whether journalists or simply social media users, to wait for the facts before jumping to conclusions. It works in both directions.

Was it all a hoax? Possibly. Some who are looking at he evidence today and the report released by local Chicago news may come to the conclusion that a hoax was likely. But let’s not assume until the truth is revealed by officials.

 


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Democrats

Democrats push background check bill in the House

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Democrats push background check bill in the House

As social media buzzes about the one-year anniversary of the Parkland shooting, Democrats hope to put their latest iteration of gun control on the floor and onto the Senate. Called a “bipartisan” attempt to initiate more background checks on firearm purchases and sales, many conservatives on Capitol Hill are speaking out against it.

The House Judiciary Committee advanced the bill yesterday.

My Take

Gun control bills, of which this is merely the first to be pushed by the current iteration of Democrats, usually have two things in common. First, they don’t address the problem they’re allegedly trying to solve; neither the Parkland shooting nor any mass shooting in the 21st century would have been prevented had this bill been in place. Second, they are a stepping stone through which leftists will attempt to initiate more draconian laws that eat away at our 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.

As with the abortion issue, the gun control issue is one in which “common sense” is used to push harsher laws down the line.

It should be strange to cognizant Americans that Democrats continue to push laws that make it easier to kill preborn babies while making it harder for innocent people to defend themselves with firearms. Are you seeing a trend in their mentality?

 


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Guns and Crime

Freedom-lovers, keep an eye on AG William Barr

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Freedom-lovers keep an eye on AG William Barr

Today, William Barr is likely to be confirmed to be the next Attorney General. While he’s a qualified leader to take the reins over the Justice Department and a strong patriot, there are concerns that we must remember as he joins the Trump administration.

First and foremost, Barr’s record on the 4th Amendment is abysmal.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

One would hope the top law enforcer in the nation would be an ardent defender of the 4th Amendment, but Barr has demonstrated not only a willingness to circumvent it at times but has also expressed annoyance that it prevents law enforcement from doing its job, particularly as it pertains to stopping terrorism. He’s also a fan of the Patriot Act, though if anything it didn’t go far enough.

Sadly, only a tiny handful of Republicans in DC seem to be concerned.

The tribalism that has infected the country and plagued groups on both sides of the political aisle has struck once again. There would be plenty of objections from conservatives if Barr had been nominated by President Obama or another Democrat, but since he’s a Trump nominee it appears he’s going to fly through with no GOP Senators objecting other than Rand Paul.

It’s a shame that the President decided to go with Barr. It’s likely he did so based on Barr’s objections to Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian hacking of the election, but otherwise Barr’s record is one that doesn’t seem very conducive to freedom. We’ll be keeping a close eye on him.

 


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