TPM News

Texts and emails sent by President Trump’s fixer Michael Cohen show that his work on a Trump Tower Moscow deal continued at least through May 2016, well after January 2016 end-date Cohen previously claimed, Yahoo News reported Wednesday evening.

The messages were provided to Special Counsel Robert Mueller and congressional investigators by Felix Sater — a Cohen pal and former business associate of Trump’s — who previously told TPM that work on the Moscow Trump deal continued through at least late 2015.

Cohen, in congressional testimony, claimed work on the project, which never came to fruition, ended in late January 2016.

Yahoo News confirmed existence of the texts and emails with multiple sources who were able to describe them. Sater told Yahoo News he provided the texts to investigators voluntarily and without a subpoena.

The messages sent between Cohen and Sater show Cohen’s desire to involve high-ranking Russian officials in the project, according to Yahoo News. It was previously reported that in mid-January Cohen sought to reach out to the Kremlin, using a public facing email for Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Peskov says he saw Cohen’s message but never responded to it.

But the Sater-Cohen communications about the project continued well after that, according to the Yahoo News report, and Sater also encouraged Cohen to attend a St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in mid-June 2016, which Washington Post previously reported.

Cohen, citing the need to prepare for the 2016 Republican Nation Convention in July, did not attend the forum, the Washington Post reported.

Cohen’s discussions with Sater about the Trump Tower Moscow ended then, according to Yahoo News, but Sater said he continued working on a potential deal through December 2016, stopping only after Trump had been elected.

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary “RBG ” is turning into a mini box office phenomenon. The film cracked the top 10 this weekend with $1.2 million from only 180 screens nationwide.

In just over two weeks of limited release it’s made over $2.2 million.

Exhibitor Relations box office analyst Jeff Bock says documentaries don’t often enter the top 10 if they’re not politically charged or about cuddly animals, noting that “RBG” is neither. He says that for a documentary, “RBG” is essentially doing blockbuster business.

The film from directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West gives an intimate peek at the life of the famed Supreme Court associate justice from her childhood to her present day pop culture icon status and even her impressive workout routine.

“RBG” expands to 330 screens on Friday.

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If Michael Cohen doesn’t want Michael Avenatti to show up at his federal court hearing next week, Cohen’s lawyers are going to have to find a legal basis to block him – and fast.

U.S. Judge Kimba Wood ruled Wednesday that Cohen had to promptly respond to Avenatti’s motion to intervene at a status conference related to the criminal investigation into Cohen’s financial dealings. The proceeding is focused on the rules governing materials seized from Cohen’s premises by federal agents.

In her ruling, Wood pointedly wrote that Cohen “should include citations to any legal authorities that support his position.”

Last week, after Avenatti released a document detailing some of Cohen’s private bank records, Cohen’s lawyers submitted a filing requesting that Avenatti be barred from intervening for spreading “misinformation.” They cited a few parts of Avenatti’s document that appear to have mistakenly conflated Cohen with a Canadian businessman who shares his name.

But the key information released by Avenatti has been confirmed by several major news outlets. It showed that Cohen set up a shell company to receive huge corporate payments and handle hush money payouts to his client, adult film star Stormy Daniels. Daniels alleges that she had an affair with President Trump in 2006.

Avenatti responded this week with a sharp letter of his own, pointing out that it was his First Amendment right to publish information that is “of the utmost public concern.” He said Cohen’s team’s arguments should be rejected based on their failure to “cite a single statute, rule, case or any other legal authority” supporting their position.

Wood gave Cohen’s lawyers a Friday evening deadline to respond. The hearing is scheduled for next Thursday, May 24.

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — When the call went out for a doctor on board, the U.S. surgeon general says he gladly stepped in to help with a medical emergency on a commercial flight.

Dr. Jerome Adams, an anesthesiologist, said he assisted someone on a Delta Air Lines jet as he prepared to fly Wednesday to Jackson, Mississippi.

Adams tweeted that a call went out requesting a doctor.

A person lost consciousness when the plane was on the ground in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Adams and two nurses responded, said Kate Migliaccio-Grabill, a Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman.

The patient woke up, and Adams determined it was best for the plane to return to the gate and for the patient to go to a hospital for further evaluation. Adams also called the patient’s spouse to explain what happened, the spokeswoman said.

Adams tweeted that the patient was doing well and, like a good public health service doctor, he was happy to assist.

Adams was on a flight from Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta to catch a connecting flight to Mississippi’s capital city, where he has public events Thursday, including a panel discussion on opioid abuse.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant tweeted back at the surgeon general: “Nice job, Dr. Adams!”

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President Donald Trump on Thursday said a new report that an unidentified government official met several times with two Trump campaign officials in 2016 could make the Russia investigation “bigger than Watergate!”

That tweet came just minutes after Trump tweeted congratulating America for being in “the second year of the greatest Witch Hunt in American History,” using his exasperated pet name for the probe into the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election.

While Trump cited former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy — who was interviewed on “Fox and Friends” Thursday morning — in his tweet, the New York Times reported Wednesday afternoon that “at least one” government informant met with Trump campaign national security advisers Carter Page and George Papadopolous several times during the 2016 campaign.

The meetings were reportedly part of the FBI’s efforts to determine whether Trump’s campaign was colluding with Russia ahead of the election, according to the Times.

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FBI Director Christopher Wray reiterated his position that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia probe is not a witch hunt in an appearance before the Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday, continuing to stake a position opposite to President Donald Trump’s.

According to a Wednesday CNN report, in reply to a question from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) about if Wray still stands by his confirmation position that the probe is not a witch hunt, Wray answered succinctly: “yes.”

Wray also reportedly defended the agency as a whole against Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and other House Republicans who accuse the Justice Department of withholding documents under false pretenses of source endangerment.

“The day that we can’t protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe,” Wray reportedly said. “Human sources in particular who put themselves at great risk to work with us and with our foreign partners have to be able to trust that we’re going to protect their identities and in many cases their lives and the lives of their families.”

When asked about his reaction to more of the President’s recent criticism, Wray dodged the questions, largely sticking to praise of the agency and its work.

On Thursday, Trump sent out a morning tweet about Mueller’s investigation in the well-worn “witch hunt” vein.

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President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen has reportedly confided in friends that he’s at his wit’s end with federal investigations into his business dealings, Vanity Fair reported Wednesday.

According to two people familiar with Cohen’s thinking who spoke to Vanity Fair, Cohen is “fuming” over Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti’s release of information about his bank records and has grown weary of all the news coverage surrounding his attempts to sell access to Trump after the 2016 election. Cohen has reportedly confided in friends that he “just can’t take this anymore” and is focused on protecting his family, whom he thinks is suffering because federal investigators want to get to Trump, a friend told Vanity Fair.

Despite his exasperation over the probe, he spends hours every day with his lawyers reading through documents that the government has returned to him after the FBI raided his house, hotel and office last month and has told friends, “I’m not going to roll over.”

Cohen has been bombarded with headlines in recent weeks, ever since the FBI seized documents related to his business dealings and a $130,000 payment he made — and Trump reimbursed — to porn actress Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged affair she had with Trump a decade ago. The barrage continued after Avenatti released information related to payments Cohen received from companies like Novartis and AT&T in 2017. Most of the businesses confirmed they made deals with Cohen in order to gain access to Trump.

Read Vanity Fair’s full report here.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is dangling the threat of canceling the Senate’s August recess to pressure Democrats eager to get back to their hometown campaign trails, on key votes, according to a Wednesday Politico report.

McConnell is reportedly planning to meet with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and President Donald Trump to see if he can negotiate with Schumer to get nominees confirmed and a spending bill passed in exchange for a ceasefire from Trump in attacking the Senate and it’s four-week break.

Sixteen Republican senators signed a letter last week urging McConnell to cancel the recess to force Democrats’ hand. They say that they want to forego the break to get work done amid “historic obstruction” from the Democrats.

However, the fact that ten Democrats are up for reelection this year in states won by Trump certainly factors in. Only one Republican, Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), is up in a state won by Hillary Clinton in 2016.

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A man who served as a translator for Michael Cohen while he brokered a deal with Korean Aerospace Industries was recently interviewed by the FBI, signaling federal investigators are interested in the the $150,000 payment Cohen received from the company, according to the Washington Post.

The translator, Mark Ko, who lives in California, told the Post that he had been interviewed by FBI agents about the contract “a few weeks ago,” but would not provide details about the interviews. Ko told the Post that he didn’t know if the agents were members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Korean Aerospace Industries is one of several companies — like AT&T and drug company Novartis — that’s been questioned by federal authorities over its payments to President Donald Trump’s personal attorney after the 2016 election. AT&T and Novartis have both confirmed they went into business with Cohen, through his shadow consulting company Essential Consultants, because Cohen sold them access to Trump and his policy makers.

Novartis paid Cohen $1.2 million over the course of a year and AT&T spent $600,000 to work with Cohen. Both companies have expressed regret for the decision and have ousted top executives over the matter.

The South Korean aerospace company, on the other hand, has defended its contract with Cohen, saying it didn’t know about Cohen’s relationship with Trump and went into business with him to get legal advice on U.S. accounting procedures.

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