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Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen gets 3 years in prison

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Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen gets 3 years in prison

NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s once-devoted lawyer and all-around fixer, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison after telling a federal judge that his “blind loyalty” to Trump led him to cover up the president’s “dirty deeds.”

Standing alone at the defense table, Cohen, 52, shook his head slightly and closed his eyes as the judge pronounced the sentence for crimes that included lying about his boss’ business dealings in Russia and funneling hush money to two women who said they had sex with Trump — payments that both Cohen and federal prosecutors said were made at Trump’s direction to fend off damage to his White House bid.

Cohen is the first and, so far, only member of Trump’s circle during two years of investigations to go into open court and implicate the president in a crime, though whether a president can be prosecuted under the Constitution is an open question.

Separately, prosecutors announced Wednesday that they filled in another piece of the puzzle in the hush-money case: The parent company of the National Enquirer acknowledged making one of those payments “in concert” with the Trump campaign to protect Trump from a story that could have hurt his candidacy.

At the sentencing, U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III said Cohen deserved modest credit for his decision over the summer to admit guilt and cooperate in the federal investigation of efforts by Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election, but his assistance “does not wipe the slate clean.”

“Somewhere along the way Mr. Cohen appears to have lost his moral compass,” the judge said. “As a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better.”

The judge also ordered Cohen to pay $1.39 million restitution, forfeit $500,000 and pay $100,000 in fines. He was ordered to report to prison March 6 and left court without comment.

The prison sentence was in line with what prosecutors asked for. Sentencing guidelines called for around four to five years, and the government asked in court papers that Cohen be given only a slight break.

“It was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light,” Cohen, who once boasted he would “take a bullet” for Trump, told the judge before the sentence came down. “Time and time again, I thought it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than listen to my voice.”

Cohen got choked up near the end of his remarks and paused briefly to compose himself. His daughter, seated behind him, sobbed throughout. As he returned to his seat, he ran his hand across her cheek.

Cohen’s lawyers had argued for leniency, saying he decided to cooperate with investigators rather than hold out for a possible pardon.

“He came forward to offer evidence against the most powerful person in our country,” defense attorney Guy Petrillo told the judge.

Cohen pleaded guilty in August to evading $1.4 million in taxes related to his personal businesses. In the part of the case with greater political repercussions, he also admitted breaking campaign finance laws in arranging payments in the waning days of the 2016 election to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Last month, he also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress by concealing that he was negotiating a proposal to build a Trump skyscraper in Moscow deep into the presidential campaign season. He said he lied out of devotion to Trump, who had insisted during the campaign that he had no business ties whatsoever to Russia.

The sentence was the culmination of a spectacular rise and fast fall of a lawyer who attached himself to the fortunes of his biggest client, helped him get elected president, then turned on him, cooperating with two interconnected investigations: one run by federal prosecutors in New York, the other by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the Russia investigation.

Beyond the guilty pleas, it is unclear exactly what Cohen has told prosecutors, and it remains to be seen how much damage Cohen’s cooperation will do to Trump. Legal experts said Cohen could get his sentence reduced if he strikes a deal with prosecutors to tell them more.

Cohen said in court that he will continue cooperating. And his legal adviser Lanny Davis, who previously represented President Bill Clinton, said the former political fixer will tell publicly “all he knows” about Trump after Mueller completes his investigation, and that includes testifying before Congress.

“Mr. Trump’s repeated lies cannot contradict stubborn facts,” Davis said in a statement.

In the hush-money case, prosecutors said, Cohen arranged for the parent company of the National Enquirer to pay $150,000 to McDougal. He also paid $130,000 to Daniels and was reimbursed by Trump’s business empire.

Prosecutors said the McDougal payment violated federal law against corporate campaign contributions, while the money that went to Daniels exceeded the $2,700 limit on campaign donations. Also, campaign contributions must be reported under law, and the two hush-money payments were not disclosed.

Shortly after Cohen’s sentencing, federal authorities announced a deal not to prosecute the National Enquirer’s parent, American Media Inc. As part of the deal, AMI admitted making the $150,000 payment to McDougal to buy her silence about the alleged affair and fend off damage to Trump’s candidacy.

In a court filing last week, the prosecutors left no doubt that they believe Cohen arranged the hush-money payments at Trump’s direction, saying the maneuver was part of an effort to “influence the election from the shadows.”

Trump had denied any sexual relationship with the women and argued on Twitter earlier this week that the payments to the women were “a simple private transaction,” not a campaign contribution. And if it was a prohibited contribution, Trump said, Cohen is the one who should be held responsible.

“Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me,” Trump wrote, adding, “Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!”

An attorney for the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At the sentencing, a prosecutor in Mueller’s office, Jeannie Rhee, said Cohen has “sought to tell us the truth and that is of the utmost value to us” and has “provided consistent and credible information about core Russia-related issues under investigation.” She did not elaborate.

But the New York-based prosecutors who handled the case against Cohen had urged the judge to sentence him to a “substantial” prison term and said he failed to tell investigators everything he knows.

In addressing the judge, Cohen described the sentencing as “the day I am getting my freedom back.” He said he had suffered from a “personal and mental incarceration” ever since agreeing in 2007 to work for Trump, a man he admired. “I now know there is little to be admired,” Cohen said.

Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, who played a major role in exposing the hush-money discussions, said outside the courthouse: “We will not stop until the truth is known relating to the conduct of Donald Trump.” But he added: “Let me be clear, Michael Cohen is neither a hero nor a patriot” and “he deserves every day of the 36-month sentence he will serve.”

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Associated Press writer Jim Mustian contributed to this report.

___

This story has been corrected to fix “felt” to “thought” in Cohen’s quote about covering up “dirty deeds.”

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Guns and Crime

California’s new red flag gun law is so radical, the ACLU opposes it

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Californias new red flag gun law is so radical the ACLU opposes it

If you want to see the direction the national Democratic Party will go, just watch California. As the radical progressives of California go, so too will other progressive states follow. That should be terrifying to gun owners in any blue states as Governor Gavin Newsom signed a red flag gun law on Friday that is so over-the-top, even the leftists at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have come out against it.

This is just another reason efforts to force a recall election have been very successful so far.

The new law expands the previous red flag gun law by allowing teachers, co-workers, and employers to petition the court to remove someone’s firearms without due process. Previously, only law enforcement officers and immediate family members had the power to petition the court.

The ACLU called into question the constitutionality of the law, saying it’s attack on civil liberties by taking away someone’s property for up to five years without giving them a chance to defend themselves from the alleged future crimes they may have committed. They also noted the expansion puts too much power into the hands of people who may “lack the relationship or skills required to make an appropriate assessment.”

With red flag gun laws, a court order is issued after interested parties petition a judge with claims the gun owner may pose a threat to themselves or others. They’re very similar to current laws that allow for involuntary commitment, except the accused under red flag gun laws are not allowed to defend themselves before their property is confiscated.

California’s version will be the most obtuse in the nation once it takes effect January 1, 2020.

2nd Amendment rights groups are finding the ACLU as an unexpected partner if fighting this law. Most of the rights groups are right-leaning while the ACLU is notoriously progressive. But even they cannot abide by this law without a fight.

The expansion of the red flag gun laws in California were just one of a dozen gun control laws signed by Governor Newsom. It’s time for California voters to find their nearest recall petition location so we can get Newsom out ASAP.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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Guns and Crime

Shannon Grove’s statement on Taft Correctional Institution

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Shannon Groves statement on Taft Correctional Institution

SACRAMENTO – California Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) released the following statement upon learning that House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA 23rd District) will meet with the Attorney General and the U.S. Department of Justice next week to discuss suspending activities relating to the closure of Taft Correctional Institution (TCI). Along with Congressman McCarthy, Senator Grove recently sent a letter to the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) urging federal officials to reconsider the shutdown.

Taft correctional facility may not be closing in January

https://bakersfieldnow.com/news/local/taft-correctional-facility-may-not-be-closing-in-januaryCongressman Kevin McCarthy released the following statement on the Taft Correctional Institution:

“I appreciate the Attorney General and the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision to temporarily suspend activities related to the Bureau of Prisons’ rash decision to deactivate the Taft Correctional Institution. I am looking forward to meeting with the Attorney General next week to discuss why this deactivation action was taken in the first place.”

The facility is run by the Management & Training Corporation said they were shocked when the closure was previously announced.

TCI employs more than 340 individuals and provides $4.66 million in economic support to the local economy. The pending closure date will take place on January 30, 2020.

“I am thrilled to hear the joint effort led by Congressman McCarthy and our incredible community has helped to suspend the impending closure of the Taft Correctional Institution. This suspension reaffirms the serious ramifications that the closure would have on our local community.

“I look forward to receiving an explanation on the detrimental decision to shut down Taft Correctional Institution which would severely affect the livelihoods of employees and their families,” said Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove.

Senator Grove’s letter.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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Democrats

The next demand after ‘universal’ background checks: Governmental permission to defend yourself

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Universal Background Checks Video

As predicted, the left is now moving on to new demands for licensing for unalienable human rights.

FreedomToons debunks the next stage in the authoritarian socialist left’s obsession with gun confiscation, the requirement for governmental permission to possess an unalienable human right. The left is never satisfied with just one incremental imposition on our freedom. They see their campaign to destroy liberty as a multi-step process.

‘Universal’ background checks place the government in control of private property, something the founding fathers would find to be abhorrent. Having to obtain governmental permission to buy, sell or transfer private property means the government is asserting control over that property, to record who has that property, tax it when they see fit or even deny said transfers. This is why the national socialist left obsesses over this step towards gun confiscation.

Registration/licensing is the next step on this journey, formally placing the government in control of an unalienable human right.

‘Universal’ background checks change the essential relationship of government having the consent of the people, to that of the people needing to obtain the consent of the government in exercising their unalienable human rights. Make no mistake, these kinds of tyrannical moves only begin with the right of self-preservation. Soon enough, they morph into requirements for other freedoms.

Registration is confiscation.

Placing the government in control of an unalienable human right means that permission can be withdrawn at any moment. We have already proven that registration/licensing is confiscation with the only distinction being were the guns are stored until they are destroyed.

Licensing/registration schemes for basic civil rights means that the government can simply revoke it’s permission on a whim and demand that the people surrender their guns as has happened down through history. Our second video will make that point clear.

While they will promise that each new restriction on freedom will miraculously solve the problem, these are but mere steps to their ultimate goal of gun confiscation. As we already predicted, the demand for ‘universal’ background checks will quickly morph into demands for self-defense licensing. A requirement that everyone obtain permission from the government in order to exercise the basic human right of self-preservation. Never mind that setting up the government to be in control of it’s own constraints makes no sense.

Does the left really want to place the government in control of our civil liberties?

We would have riots in the newsrooms of the New York Times if freedom of the press depended upon governmental permission. The precepts of the Bill of Rights are constraints on the government, they don’t exist if they depend upon it’s permission. The right to privacy or due process, won’t exist if the powers that be control their implementation. But somehow the authoritarian socialist left doesn’t seem to have a problem with this issue when applied to guns. It’s that special exception that everyone misses in the founding documents that says that these are unalienable human rights, but only if kids aren’t crying on the tele.

Please note that the 2nd amendment only affirms a pre-existing right:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

[Emphasis added]

Note that says the people, not militia and that this pre-existing right shall not be infringed. This was meant as a bulwark against tyranny, it doesn’t make any sense to have this control against tyranny in the hands of the government.

Sometimes, it’s just too easy to predict the actions of the authoritarian socialist left.

It was only back in August that we predicted that if the Republicans and President Trump knuckled under to the liberty grabber leftists, that they would be back with new demands for licensing/registration requirements on our inalienable human rights.

In the case of the original video from VOX, published in September, they are getting ahead of themselves with new demands even before their old obsessions were fulfilled. Apparently the left is so obsessed with gun confiscation, they couldn’t wait to make this new demand for the restriction of liberty.

The authoritarian left wants to restrict liberty based on what might happen.

One almost has to admire the chutzpah of the authors of the original production in talking about restricting the liberty of people based on future actions. Part of their ‘logic’ being that a long arduous licensing process would catch or deter someone who is ‘in crisis’ [whatever that means] before they might do something ‘bad’.

Again, it’s easy to predict where this will go from here, since it’s just a minor leap in logic to decide to preclude any future actions with the final solution of gun confiscation.

Registration, Confiscation, Annihilation.

Our second video proves the point that licensing/registration is virtually confiscation. It is a first hand account of what happens when people forget that the common sense human right of self-defense is a restraint on the government.

We also had gun control. The government said that children were playing with guns and we had hunting accidents. People accidentally shooting each other and we had criminals again murderers. The only way that they could track the murderer was by the serial number of the gun so bring us your gun to the police station then we can register the serial number and we can track the criminal.

Not long afterwards they said, no it did not help we could not track all the criminals the best way to have no more crimes and no more people getting hurt. Bring your guns to the police station and they already know who had guns because we registered our guns.

[Emphasis added]

The Bottom-line.

Everyone should be able to see why the national socialist left obsesses over ‘universal’ background checks, a critical step to gun confiscation. The ‘big picture’ on all of this should make it clear why the left is double-dealing on demanding gun confiscation while denying they are demanding gun confiscation.

They need to determine gun ownership with ‘universal’ background checks. This is followed by virtual gun confiscation with licensing/registration schemes. From there it’s just a matter of calling in the guns at the appropriate time, most likely after another mass murder tragedy since these requirements never solve the problem of societal violence.

This is why more people are answering NO or we will not comply to the demands of the left in destroying our liberty. The original VOX video proves than ‘universal’ background checks won’t ever be enough. Virtual gun confiscation with licensing/registration won’t be enough for the liberty grabbers. For the national socialist left, gun confiscation will always be the final solution to the liberty problem.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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