Silent on Cohen, Trump says Manafort conviction ‘a disgrace’ but ‘does not involve me’

Donald Trump told reporters in West Virginia that Manafort’s conviction “has nothing to do with Russian collusion.”. (Reuters/Leah Millis)
Updated 22 August 2018
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Silent on Cohen, Trump says Manafort conviction ‘a disgrace’ but ‘does not involve me’

  • Trump hasn’t publicly reacted to former personal attorney Michael Cohen’s guilty pleas to felonies
  • Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said there’s no allegation of any wrongdoing
WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump says the conviction of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on financial crimes is “a disgrace.”
But he hasn’t publicly reacted to former personal attorney Michael Cohen’s guilty pleas to felonies, including campaign finance violations he stated he carried out in coordination with Trump.
Manafort was convicted Tuesday in Virginia on charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential obstruction of justice. Cohen pleaded guilty in New York, saying he and Trump arranged the payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model to influence the election.
Trump told reporters in West Virginia that Manafort’s conviction “has nothing to do with Russian collusion.” Of Manafort’s crimes, he says: “It doesn’t involve meRudy Giuliani  Trump’s personal lawyer says criminal charges against Michael Cohen don’t include the assertion he made in court that Trump directed him to make hush-money payments to influence the election.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said that there’s “no allegation of any wrongdoing against the President in the government’s charges.”
Giuliani’s comments came after Cohen pleaded guilty to charges including campaign finance fraud.
The charging documents say Cohen made the payments “at the request and suggestion of one or more members of the campaign.”
Cohen told a judge that he and Trump arranged to pay Daniels $130,000 and $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal as the 2016 election loomed.

Both women claimed they had affairs with Trump, which he denies.

Giuliani echoed Deputy US Attorney Robert Khuzami’s assessment that the charges against Cohen “reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time.”

Michael Cohen’s lawyer is suggesting President Donald Trump should face criminal charges for directing his longtime “fixer” to make hush-money payments to two women to influence the election.
Lawyer Lanny Davis tweeted on Tuesday: “If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?“
Davis’ comments came after Cohen pleaded guilty to charges including campaign finance fraud.
Both women claimed they had affairs with Trump, which he denies.
Davis tweeted that by pleading guilty Cohen was “fulfilling his promise” to “put his family and country first and tell the truth about Donald Trump.”
Stormy Daniels’ lawyer says Michael Cohen’s guilty plea to charges involving hush-money payments should open the door to questioning President Donald Trump about “what he knew, when he knew it, and what he did about it.”
Cohen said in court on Tuesday that he coordinated with Trump to pay Daniels $130,000 and $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to influence the election. Both women claimed they had affairs with Trump, which he denies.
Daniels said she and lawyer Michael Avenatti felt vindicated and look forward to apologies “from the people who claimed we were wrong.”
Avenatti is flirting with running for president in 2020 as a Democrat. He said the likelihood of that happening will dwindle if Trump resigns or decides not to run for re-election.


Brexit in disarray as Theresa May faces possible ouster plot

Updated 24 March 2019
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Brexit in disarray as Theresa May faces possible ouster plot

  • British politics is at fever pitch and nearly three years since the 2016 Brexit referendum
  • With Theresa May humiliated and weakened, ministers insist she and the British government are still in charge of the country

LONDON: The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union was in disarray on Sunday as Prime Minister Theresa May faced a possible plot by ministers to topple her and parliament prepared to grab control of Brexit from the government.
At one of the most important junctures for the country since World War Two, British politics was at fever pitch and, nearly three years since the 2016 referendum, it was still unclear how, when or if Brexit will ever take place.
With May humiliated and weakened, ministers insisted she and the British government were still in charge of the country, and that the best option was still for parliament to ratify May’s twice-defeated Brexit divorce deal.
As hundreds of thousands of people marched across central London on Saturday to demand another Brexit referendum, May was the subject of what The Sunday Times said was a “coup” by senior ministers seeking to oust her.
The newspaper cited 11 unidentified senior ministers and said they had agreed that the prime minister should stand down, warning that she has become a toxic and erratic figure whose judgment has “gone haywire.”
When asked by Sky about reports in The Sunday Times and other newspapers of a plot and whether she had run out of road, finance minister Philip Hammond said: “No. I don’t think that is the case at all.”
“Changing prime minister wouldn’t help us,” Hammond said. “To be talking about changing the players on the board, frankly, is self-indulgent at this time.”
Hammond said the best way forward would be for parliament to back May’s deal, although he said that it might not be approved and so parliament should then try to find a way to end the impasse.
“I’m realistic that we may not be able to get a majority for the prime minister’s (Brexit) deal and if that is the case then parliament will have to decide not just what it’s against but what it is for,” he said.
Brexit had been due to happen on March 29 before May secured a delay in talks with the EU on Thursday.
Now a May 22 departure date will apply if parliament rallies behind the British prime minister and she is able to pass her deal. If she fails to do so, Britain will have until April 12 to offer a new plan or decide to leave the EU without a treaty.
Some lawmakers have asked May to name her departure date as the price for supporting her deal, though it was unclear when a third vote might take place.
If May’s deal is dead, then parliament will try to find a different option. That opens an array of options including a much softer divorce than May had intended, a referendum, a revocation of the Article 50 divorce papers or even an election.
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said May’s deal was the best option and urged people to get behind the prime minister.
“The government and the prime minister are in charge,” Barclay said. May went to her usual church service near her Chequers country residence on Sunday with her husband.
The Sunday Times reported that May’s de-facto deputy, David Lidington, was one contender to be interim prime minister but others are pushing for Environment Secretary Michael Gove or Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
“I don’t think that I have any wish to take over from the PM, I think (she) is doing a fantastic job,” Lidington told reporters outside his house.
“One thing that working closely with the prime minister does is cure you completely of any lingering shred of ambition to want to do that task,” he quipped.
Lawmakers are due on Monday to debate a government motion saying parliament has considered a statement made by May on March 15 which set out the government’s next steps on Brexit, including the plan to seek a delay.
They are likely to propose changes, or amendments, to this motion setting out alternative ways forward on Brexit. These are expected to include a proposal to approve May’s deal only if it is put to a public vote.
While amendments are not legally binding, instead simply exerting political pressure on May to change course, lawmakers could use one to attempt to change the rules of parliament to wrest control of the Brexit process from the government.
A British election could be the consequence of parliament seizing control of the Brexit process if lawmakers back proposals contrary to the pledges the government was elected on, Barclay said.