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Michael Cohen hearing: What is it about and why is Stormy Daniels going to be there?

Published: Monday, April 16, 2018 @ 1:20 PM

FBI Raids Offices of Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen

Update 3:09 p.m. ET -- Michael Cohen’s lawyer said in court that Cohen’s third client is FOX News commentator Sean Hannity. Judge Kimba Wood ordered the client’s name revealed during the hearing. 

Previous Post: A judge will hear arguments Monday over whether President Donald Trump and his attorney, Michael Cohen, should be allowed to review documents federal agents seized from Cohen last week before federal prosecutors are able to do so.

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The documents, taken from Cohen’s office, apartment and a hotel room, were part of an FBI raid conducted to gather information as part of a criminal investigation into Cohen’s business dealings, according to the Justice Department.  

One of the president’s attorneys has asked the judge to give the president copies of all of Cohen's seized materials so that the attorney could identify any materials that involved Trump. Once they established that the material involved dealings for Trump, the attorney argued, they could then determine what material would be deemed “privileged.” 

Cohen filed a temporary restraining order last week to stop investigators from reviewing the material.

The hearing is set for 2 p.m. Monday in Manhattan. Federal Judge Kimba Wood is presiding.

>> Related: Judge rejects restraining order on evidence seized from Trump's personal lawyer

What is privileged material and why are the president’s attorneys in court Monday? Here’s a look at what led to the hearing.

What's happened to get to the hearing on Monday

  • The Washington Post has reported that Cohen is being investigated for bank and wire fraud.
  • Last week, FBI agents raided Cohen's home, office and safe deposit box. They seized papers and electronic material. 
  • According to Cohen's attorney, investigators in the federal prosecutors office for the Southern District of New York City were informed by Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller that Cohen arranged for a payment of $130,000 to Daniels in exchange for Daniels’ silence about an affair with Trump.
  • Daniels has filed suit to get out of the agreement, claiming it was voided because Trump did not sign the agreement document.
  • Trump says he knew nothing about the agreement, that it was something Cohen did on his own. 

Who are the players

  • Cohen – Trump’s long-time attorney was ordered by the judge to appear at the hearing to answer questions about who his clients are. 
  • Trump – It’s communications with Cohen that Trump is looking to protect.
  • Joana Hendon – Trump’s attorney.
  • Stormy Daniels – Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is an adult movie star who claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006, and that Cohen paid her $130,000 in “hush money” prior to the 2016 presidential election.
  • Michael Avenatti – Daniels’ attorney. Avenatti told The Washington Post he would be there because, “We want to maintain or ensure that the integrity of the documents, whatever was seized, is maintained.” 
  • Todd Harrison – One of Cohen’s attorneys.
  • Attorneys from the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York – They are prosecuting the case.

>> More on Robert Mueller's investigation 

What is this hearing for?

In short Trump wants to review material seized from his personal lawyer before federal investigators review the material.  

The president and Cohen are arguing that they want to be allowed to review documents that in relate to the president in any way. They want to review the documents to protect attorney-client privilege, according to a letter filed with the court on Sunday night.

The Justice Department is arguing that there is no need for Cohen and Trump to see the material because they have created a “clean team,” separate from anything to do with the case, to review the material. 

The job of the “clean team” is to review and separate if necessary material that could compromise attorney-client privilege. 

>> Related: Trump allies fear investigators seized Cohen recordings in raid: reports

What does attorney-client privilege mean and how does it apply here?

Attorney-client privilege means a person has a right not to disclose, and prevent others from disclosing, communications between himself and his attorney.

The privilege is asserted when a person is served with a legal demand for the material.

In this case, material has been collected from Cohen’s home and office, and Cohen and the president (his client), are saying they need to see the material to determine if it falls under the attorney-client privilege.

According to USA Today, Joanna Hendon, one of Trump’s lawyers, filed papers late Sunday asking that prosecutors be blocked from reviewing material seized in the raid until Cohen and Trump can review the material.

"Fairness and justice — as well as the appearance of fairness and justice — require that, before they are turned over to the Investigative team, the seized materials relating to the President must be reviewed by the only person who is truly motivated to ensure that the privilege is properly invoked and applied: the privilege-holder himself, the president," Hendon wrote.  

Attorney-client privilege is different from executive privilege. Executive privilege applies to the president of the United States and is rooted in the Article II, section 2 of the Constitution. Executive privilege means that some conversations with the president are protected from discovery by others. 

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in United States v Richard Nixon, that the executive privilege is not absolute. 

Who are his clients?

The judge has asked that Cohen provide a list of his clients, something Cohen’s lawyers say they shouldn’t have to turn over.

According to a court filing, Cohen worked for three clients providing legal advice during 2017 and 2018 – GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy, Trump, and a third party who asked not to be named. Cohen represented Broidy when he had an extramarital affair.

>> Related: Stormy Daniels to attend Michael Cohen's hearing Monday, attorney says

What about the Stormy factor?

Daniels and her lawyer, Avenatti, will be in court Monday, Avenatti sad over the weekend. Avenatti told The Washington Post why he thought it was important for him to be there last week.

“We want to maintain or ensure that the integrity of the documents, whatever was seized, is maintained,” he said. 

Michael Cohen has been ordered to appear in federal court in New York, Monday, April 16, 2018, for arguments over last week's raid of his home and office. The raid sought information on a $130,000 payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had sex with a married Trump in 2006.(AP Photo)

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Man tries to hire hitman to kill ex-wife for $10,000, Hawks tickets

Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 11:14 PM

Michael McEarchern, a Cobb County man man in Bartow County jail, promised $10,000 and two Atlanta Hawks tickets to anyone who would kill his ex-wife and her current boyfriend.
Bartow County Sheriff's Office
Michael McEarchern, a Cobb County man man in Bartow County jail, promised $10,000 and two Atlanta Hawks tickets to anyone who would kill his ex-wife and her current boyfriend.(Bartow County Sheriff's Office)

An Acworth inmate promised $10,000 and two Atlanta Hawks tickets to anyone who would kill his ex-wife and her current boyfriend. Word got around, including to an FBI informant.

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Michael Lawrence Dane McEarchern, 29, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday, according to federal court documents.

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McEarchern was in Bartow County jail during October on drug charges when he started circulating his the word that he wanted to hire a hitman.

The FBI found out from the confidential informant and they had McEarchern send a $800 down payment to a P.O. box in late November to see if he was serious, according to federal court records. His girlfriend at the time sent the money for him.

McEarchern told the would-be assassin where his ex-wife lived in Smyrna, what the best time of day would be to find her, and the name of the barbershop where the current boyfriend worked.

>> Trending : Atlanta mayor racks up nearly $12,000 in limousine tab in less than 5 months

McEarchern was indicted on charges in the murder-for-hire plot at the start of the year. He pleaded guilty and was convicted in late April.

Federal court documents show he’ll have three years of supervised release after prison.

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Video shows black bear snarfing down family’s picnic in Georgia

Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 10:22 PM

(WSBTV.com)
(WSBTV.com)

A bear made a beeline for a picnic table in Pickens County, Georgia. The incident was caught on camera, WSB-TV reported.

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Video shows black bear snarfing down family’s picnic in Georgia.

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The large female black bear can be seen in the video climbing onto the picnic table and grabbing a package of hot dogs buns at the Big Canoe community in Jasper.

The family was unable to scare the bear off, according to WSB-TV.

“(The bear is) not afraid of people, so the last thing I want is a child sitting there eating a sandwich, and the bear decides he wanted that sandwich first,” community general manager Jill Philmon said.

The bear turned out to be a mother with three little cubs nearby. State wildlife biologists said the bears have probably been fed by people or have gotten used to eating out of the residents’ trash cans. 

The Department of Natural Resources told the news station they have set some traps to attempt to catch the bears if they continue to return for food.

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Atlanta mayor racks up nearly $12,000 in limousine tab in less than 5 months

Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 11:01 PM

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms speaks onstage during the 2018 Essence Festival presented by Coca-Cola at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 7, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  
Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms speaks onstage during the 2018 Essence Festival presented by Coca-Cola at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 7, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence)

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has spent nearly $12,000 of taxpayer money on limousines in just five months, according to an investigation by WSB-TV and the  Atlanta Journal-Constitution and AJC.com.

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An Atlanta City Hall spokesperson said that you can’t put a price tag on the mayor’s safety, calling Bottoms’ use of a

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luxury car service “an expedient solution that had already been assessed for safety.”

Through an open records request into Bottoms’ city-issued credit card statements, the WSB/AJC investigation found 27 separate charges to Carey Limousine during out of town trips. The average bill was $431.

There was a $3,900 charge in April. The city said the limo company billed the city late for services during the Super Bowl in Minneapolis and the company may have mistakenly kept the car on standby status during a day-long event.

“The public will have to be the judge as to whether they think that’s excessive or not,” City Council President Felicia Moore said.

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Bottoms’ monthly limo spending is outpacing former Mayor Kasim Reed.

Reed’s bills show more than $28,000 spent with Carey Limousine, but that was over his final three years in office. Reed’s average charge was about $200.

“If Mayor Bottoms wants her administration’s legacy to be a ‘we’re too greedy to care,’ then they’re off to a great start,” said former federal prosecutor Jeff Brickman.

In a written statement, a city spokesperson said, “Mayor Bottoms relied heavily upon the procedures previously used, including the use of a secure and vetted car service. As the use of the service was being examined by the Bottoms’ administration, a significant increase in the trajectory of the costs over the course of those first few months was noted. She immediately began to explore alternative methods of ground conveyance.”

Our review of credit card statements for members of Bottoms’ executive protection unit showed they booked about a dozen far cheaper out-of-town Uber and Lyft trips in April and May. 

>> Trending: Man tried to hire hitman to kill ex-wife for $10,000, Hawks tickets

That’s a trend Brickman hopes will continue.

“If you really want to be transparent, and you really want to separate and distinguish yourself from the previous administration, show us, you know, ways that you are really meaning what you’re saying. Do it. Don’t just say it,” Brickman said.

The city said the best use of ground transportation will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

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Parents file lawsuit after daughter drowns when she’s swept over dangerous dam while kayaking

Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 10:29 PM

The Dashields Locks and Dam is located along the Ohio River, north of Sewickley in Moon Township, Pennsylvania
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/via Wikicommons
The Dashields Locks and Dam is located along the Ohio River, north of Sewickley in Moon Township, Pennsylvania(U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/via Wikicommons)

The parents of a kayaker who drowned after she was swept over a dam on the Ohio River last year are suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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Brittany Evans and Helene Brandy, both 25 years old, were killed when they went over the Dashields Dam in May of 2017. 

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The dam is located along the Ohio River, north of Sewickley in Moon Township, Pennsylvania.

>> Related: Conditions too dangerous to recover body near dam on Ohio River

Evans' parents have now filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

"Too many people are losing their lives on that river. We wanna be part of the process to correct that," said Helene's uncle, Ken Brandy. 

According to the lawyer who filed the federal lawsuit, Evan's parents are echoing those concerns. The couple contends the Army Corps of Engineers has not provided adequate warnings about the dangerous Dashields Dam to boaters and kayakers.

The lawsuit is asking for more warning signs along the river.

Evans' family is also asking for earnings potential and damages for pain and suffering.

>> Trending: DNA test solves 1988 cold case rape, murder of 8-year-old April Tinsley, suspect arrested

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