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Published: Friday, December 01, 2017 @ 9:23 AM
Updated: Saturday, December 02, 2017 @ 12:19 PM
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty Friday to "willfully and knowingly" lying to the FBI in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Flynn lied to investigators in January about conversations he had in December 2016 with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, according to court documents released Friday.
WATCH: Flynn arrives at the U.S. District Court in Washington DC pic.twitter.com/svWWILvLHL— Axios (@axios) December 1, 2017
Read the document released Friday:
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 7:32 PM
Over two weeks after being the subject of an FBI raid, President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer filed notice in a California federal court on Wednesday that he would exercise his right against self-incrimination, and refuse to answer questions about a lawsuit linked to a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, who has claimed she had a past affair with Mr. Trump.
“Based upon the advice of counsel, I will assert my 5th amendment rights in connection with all proceedings in this case due to the ongoing criminal investigation by the FBI and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York,” Cohen said in a court declaration.
The legal battle centers on the $130,000 payment – which Daniels said amounted to ‘hush money’ – to keep her quiet before the 2016 election, money which Cohen has publicly acknowledged that he paid.
In his court filing on Wednesday, Cohen made clear “the FBI seized various electronic devices and documents in my possession, which contain information relating to the $130,000 payment.”
Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, immediately seized upon the decision by Cohen, labeling it a ‘stunning development.’
Meanwhile, the President seemed to be ready to personally get involved in Cohen’s legal battle over the evidence seized in the FBI raids, which involved information and electronic devices in his home, office and hotel room in New York.
In a letter sent to Federal Judge Kimba Wood in New York, lawyers for Mr. Trump wrote, “our client will make himself available, as needed, to aid in our privilege review on his behalf.”
It’s not clear what documents the government has seized from Cohen which would involve the President, what subjects they might cover, and how it is related to any investigation of Cohen.
Judge Wood set a Thursday midday hearing to get an update from the FBI on what exactly was seized in the April 9 raids, and what has been duplicated and shared with Cohen and his lawyers.
For now, those documents are in the hands of a special FBI team, which is not linked to the investigation of Cohen; the judge has suggested she might appoint a “special master” to oversee the handling of that evidence.
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 1:05 PM
With few answers yet as to why a group of IT aides were fired by House Democratic lawmakers in 2017, a U.S. House panel on Wednesday approved a series of plans designed to tighten internal procedures for internet technology workers who have ‘privileged access’ to the House internet network, focusing on those who work for multiple members of Congress.
“It’s important that we actually get this right,” said Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), who led a task force that looked at how to more closely monitor part-time workers known on Capitol Hill “shared employees.”
Under the plan, House officials would get 30 days to report back on how they would implement the changes, which Davis said would include ‘a much needed background check system.’
“It will strengthen the regulations associated with individuals known as ‘shared employees,’ who are employed by three or more offices,” said Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS), the Chairman of the House Administration Committee.
During the committee’s meeting on Wednesday, there was never a mention of the name of Imran Awan, a naturalized U.S. citizen who has become the focus of press allegations that he – and his relatives – may have compromised information on the House computer system, while working for several dozen House Democratic offices over a number of years.
No official explanation has been given as yet – by lawmakers or House officials – as to why Awan, his wife, and a handful of their relatives were suddenly terminated, and while no charges have been filed, it was clear from the proposed policy changes advanced on Wednesday that lawmakers believe tighter controls are needed for the future.
The new proposals for U.S. House employees would include:
+ A requirement for background checks “as a condition of privileged access” to the network not only for IT workers, but also for other ‘shared employees’ who do budget, payroll or other financial work for a lawmaker.
+ Setting up a task force to routinely review polices related to IT workers employed by multiple members of Congress.
+ Develop a new employee ID badge which clearly identifies ‘shared employees’ who are doing work on Capitol Hill.
+ Make it easier to block access for those workers – not only to the Congressional IT network – but also limit physical access for them if there are issues with the employees.
+ Not allow shared employees to also be engaged in an outside business activity which sells/leases/provides goods or services to any House office.
The changes were approved with little debate in an eleven minute meeting of the House Administration Committee. There were no direct references made to the Awan investigation, and no hints at any further developments in the probe of why Awan, his wife, and relatives were fired in February and March of 2017.
As of now, no charges have been filed for any wrongdoing involving the House IT system, though Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, face federal bank fraud charges involving a home equity loan.
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 3:04 AM
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday wades into one of the more controversial policy matters of the Trump Administration, as the Justices will hear arguments on the merits of the revised effort by President Donald Trump to block certain foreign nationals from traveling to the United States, what critics often deride as his “Muslim ban.”
Before the Court is the third version of the Trump travel order, which began just a week into his Presidency, as an effort to stop travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries.
After the first two versions were blocked by the courts – this third one would limit visits to the United States by people from Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iran, and Somalia, and slow down the number of refugees accepted into the U.S.
“As President, I must act to protect the security and interests of the United States and its people,” Mr. Trump said as he issued the third version of the travel order in September of 2017.
Lower courts have ruled against the Trump plan.
The travel order is being challenged by the state of Hawaii, which has tried to use the President’s past statements and tweets about the threat of Islamic terrorism against the travel order, which the Supreme Court allowed to take effect while the case was being litigated.
“The arguments against the travel ban come from every corner of our country,” says Neal Katyal, who will carry Hawaii’s case before the Justices.
“It comes down to who we are as a nation,” Katyal wrote.
Interest in the case has been strong, as the line for public seats began forming on Monday outside the U.S. Supreme Court.
The arguments on the Trump travel order come as lower courts are still duking it out over efforts by the President to terminate the DACA program from the Obama Administration – that question is expected to reach the Justices in coming months.
On Tuesday evening, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. became the third to block the President’s effort to end DACA, the program which allows younger illegal immigrant “Dreamers” to temporarily stay in the U.S. and avoid deportation proceedings.
“DACA’s rescission was arbitrary and capricious because the Department failed adequately to explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful,” wrote Judge John Bates, though he gave the feds 90 days to better explain the decision.
As with the Trump travel order, the President’s effort on DACA could be on the docket next term for the Justices.
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 4:05 PM
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that his pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, White House physician Ronny Jackson, will decide whether it’s worth it to pursue the post after lawmakers postponed a hearing on his nomination in light of several allegations.
“I don’t want to put a man through a process like this. ... It’s totally his decision,” the president told reporters at the White House, according to Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree. “I will tell you, he is one of the finest people that I’ve met.”
Trump: "It's totally his decision" on the future of Veterans nominee Dr Ronny Jackson https://t.co/btuhee2nFM— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) April 24, 2018
Lawmakers indefinitely postponed a hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, to consider Jackson’s nomination. The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs’ top Republican and its top Democrat said in a joint statement that the decision was made “in light of new information presented to the committee.”
“We take very seriously our constitutional duty to thoroughly and carefully vet each nominee sent to the Senate for confirmation,” Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, and Jon Tester, D-Montana, said in the statement. “We will continue looking into these serious allegations and have requested additional information from the White House to enable the committee to conduct a full review.”
The congressmen also sent a letter addressed to Trump on Tuesday asking for "all documentation pertaining to Rear Admiral Jackson's service in the White House Medical Unit and as Physician to the President."
Committee members didn’t elaborate on the allegations levied against Jackson, although The New York Times reported that they include accusations that Jackson oversaw a hostile work environment while serving as White House doctor, that he allowed for drugs to be overprescribed and that he might have drank while on the job.
Jackson declined Tuesday to answer questions from reporters about the allegations.
"I'm looking forward to rescheduling the hearing and answering everyone's questions," Jackson told reporters on Capitol Hill, according to CNN.
Trump nominated Jackson to fill the role left vacant after he fired David Shulkin from the position late last month. Shulkin had been a top holdover from President Barack Obama’s administration, but he clashed with Trump administration officials and faced criticism over his use of resources.