Michael Cohen Does Not Say He Wasn’t Compensated in Any Way, and Why Make the Admission Now?
The New York Times Tuesday night published a bombshell: Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen admitted he paid adult film actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 of his own money just weeks before the 2016 election.Â
Everything about the story stinks.
â€œNeither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly,â€ Cohen told The Times in a carefully-crafted statement. Stormy Daniels is the stageÂ name of Stephanie Clifford. â€œThe payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.â€
His statement does not say if Donald Trump reimbursed him, orÂ compensated him in any manner. Did he get a raise? A bonus? A house? His statement does not say if a Trump family memberÂ reimbursed him, orÂ compensated him in any manner.
His statement does not say, and he refused to answer, if Donald Trump knew about the payment, or if he has made similar transactions before.
Perhaps mostÂ importantly, his statement does not say why he paid Stormy Daniels $130,000.
Trump denies having an affair with Daniels in 2006, months after his youngest son was born to his wife Melania.
Recently, Stormy Daniels appeared to deny the affair, recently brought to light again by The Wall Street Journal. Shortly after, The Washington Post detailed all the times she did not deny the affair â€“ all the times before the $130,000 payment.
What also stinks is the timing of the revelation: During one of the biggest scandals to plague the Trump administration to date, this news, perhaps designed to distract, comes out.Â
But what’s very important and separated from some of the salacious headlines is that this is a matter for the Federal Election Commission.
The former director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, offered this sarcastic response to the news (which he appears to have later deleted):
Trump’s lawyer says he paid $130k out of his own pocket to silence Stormy Daniels right before the election – and refuses to answer follow-up questions – but it super definitely wasn’t an excess, in-kind campaign contribution. Well if he says so, okeedokee https://t.co/LfaohsVx1v
â€” Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) February 14, 2018
Common Cause, which filed aÂ Federal Election Commission complaint, supposedly triggered the statement from Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen.Â
Here’s what one Common Cause attorney, a former special counsel at the FEC, said:
If made for the purpose of influencing the electionâ€”itâ€™s an excessive in-kind contribution and should have been reported. https://t.co/0iBHHj0TbM
â€” Steve Spaulding (@SteveESpaulding) February 14, 2018
Common Cause says Cohen’s admission of making the payment “does not make the Trump campaign’s legal problems go away.”
â€” Julie Bykowicz (@bykowicz) February 14, 2018
Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell weighed in when the news broke Tuesday night, insisting theÂ Federal Elections Commission investigate:
BREAKING: Trump’s personal lawyer says he paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130K out of his own pocket, the New York Times reports.@Lawrence and @Maddow react to the latest chapter in this bizarre scandal, including why the FEC must investigate. #LastWord pic.twitter.com/z79invYDmi
â€” The Last Word (@TheLastWord) February 14, 2018
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QAnon Sends Death Threats to Gay Senator for Trying to Make Sex Laws Less LGBTQ-phobic
Democratic California State Senator Scott Wiener has received death threats from far-right supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory after he introduced legislation to reform the state’s sex offender registry to be less queerphobic.
Right now, California law allows judges to refuse to list the full names of certain offenders from the sex offender registry if the judge finds a valid reason to do so—let’s say, for example, if an 18-year-old has sex with a 16-year-old. The rule only applies for offenders who have sex with minor ages 15 to 17 and it only applies to penis-in-vagina sex.
As such, in any cases involving digital penetration, anal or oral sex—sexual methods often used by LGBTQ people—the judge has no choice but to list the offender’s full name without exception.
Wiener wanted to change the law to include all types of sex, and that’s when the death threats started pouring in.
“You’re dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. I’ll publicly execute you. I’m gonna embarrass you. Pedophile,” one Instagram user wrote.
Another wrote, “I’ll come cut your head off and deliver it to your mom if you even considering introducing your ‘bill.’ Got it?”
Others messages were anti-Semitic or accused Weiner of being a child rapist. Because it’s against the law for elected officials to block users on social media, all of his social media channels have to remain open to such threats.
The QAnon conspiracy theory believes that the Trump administration will expose a top-secret international child sex trafficking network run by “deep state” senior Democrats who are determined to stop Trump at all costs. Its theories infamously led an armed gunman in 2017 to enter a gay-owned Washington D.C. pizza parlor, Comet Ping Pong, to investigate “Pizzagate,” the claim that the pizzeria had child sex slaves locked in its nonexistent basement.
QAnon conspiracy theorists have become more active during the COVID-19 lockdown and the runup to the November 3 presidential elections as many U.S. residents find themselves at home without jobs.
“Whether its QAnon or Russian troll farms, these are factories of false info designed to undermine democracy and public discourse, and also to send a message to elected officials that if you pursue unpopular progressive change to help marginalized groups like queer kids, ‘We’re going to target you,'” Weiner told Mother Jones.
“I’m Not a Racist” Says Republican Politician Who Repeatedly Uses N-word to Discuss Black Lives Matter
Tom Eckerle—a Republican road commissioner for Leelanau County, Michigan—is reportedly resigning after political pressure for repeatedly using the n-word, an anti-Black racist slur, to describe racial justice protestors.
Before a meeting of the road commission started last Tuesday, Eckerle was asked by a commission member why he wasn’t wearing a mask. He responded, “Well this whole thing is because of them (n-words) down in Detroit.”
When Bob Joyce, the commission’s chair, told Eckerle he couldn’t say that, Eckerle said, “I can say anything I want. Black Lives Matter has everything to do with taking the country away from us.”
Let’s be clear: the social aims listed on the Black Live Matters (BLM) website do not mention white people. According to its website, the BLM movement seeks to unite Black communities worldwide to oppose state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism while also create creating healing, empathetic communities free from prejudice.
When asked about his comments during a Thursday interview with Interlochen Public Radio, Eckerle said didn’t realize the public found out about his comments and said, “No, I don’t regret calling it an (n-word). A( n-word) is a (n-word) is a (n-word). That’s not a person whatsoever.”
Eckerle also told the Associated Press, “I’m not a racist. Black Lives Matter is racist. If I believed in Black Lives Matter, I would be racist. … Black Lives Matter has no heart. And that is as offensive to me as the N-word,” before saying the actual n-word again, just to make his point.
“If I could get a few people that, when they see a Black Lives Matter sign up, to think the N-word, I have accomplished what I’m after,” he added.
Eckerle was elected to his eight-year position in 2018. Of Leelanauhas County’s 21,700 residents about 90 percent are white. Black people are less than 1 percent of its population.
Trump’s Postmaster General Destabilizes Postal Service Just 87 Days Before Presidential Elections
In a memo released yesterday, President Donald Trump ally Louis DeJoy — who was hired by Trump’s handpicked Postal Service Board of Governors — reshuffled two top executives and 21 to 31 other executives and staffers who represent “decades of institutional postal knowledge” out of leadership roles or into new positions in the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).
This move, along with other recent “cost-saving” measures which have slowed down mail delivery and threatened to worsen the service, comes as an unprecedented wave of mail-in ballots are expected in the November presidential elections as voters avoid in-person polling stations to reduce possible COVID-19 exposure.
The USPS was already in financial trouble because of a 2006 law requiring it to pre-fund 75 years worth of retirement benefits — a $110 billion cost. Also, like many U.S. businesses, the epidemic significantly harmed the USPS. Many workers fell ill or began quarantining, causing USPS leaders to spend millions on personal protective equipment, plexiglass and social distancing equipment for offices while its reduced workforce began working overtime at increased pay to help continue services.
New measures instated by DeJoy ban employees from working overtime and making extra trips to deliver mail while reducing hours at different branches nationwide. The Friday memo also said the service would implement a hiring freeze, ask for voluntary retirements, and reduce its operating units and service regions.
These moves are allegedly meant to help the USPS stay financially solvent as it’s expected to run out of money anytime between March and October 2021, despite the recent approval of a $10 billion Treasury loan approved in the upcoming coronavirus relief package.
The moves are also eyebrow-raising seeing as DeJoy and his wife have between $30.1 million and $75.3 million in assets in USPS competitors and contracts who might directly benefit from the USPS’s failure.
People suspect Trump of deliberately sabotaging the USPS as a way to try and sway the upcoming November elections in his favor. Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed that mail-in voting increases voting fraud, wants to deny the service billions in federal aid unless USPS quadruples its prices, something that would compel people to use USPS competitors.
The Trump campaign has sued state and local governments nationwide over mail-in ballot rules, and according to Vox.com:
Different states have different laws about how mail-in ballots work. Currently, 34 states — including swing states like Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — require ballots to be received by election authorities by Election Day, so any delay in the mail could lead to untold numbers of votes going uncounted.
“We’ve been doing mail ballots as postal workers for generations,” said Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union. “It’s been increasing in popularity. In the last election, 31 million people voted by mail. There’s virtually no fraud.”
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