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The Other Major Bombshell Buried in Michael Cohen’s Felony Charges



Buried in the details of charges Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to on Tuesday is a mysterious claim — and potential bombshell — that went largely overlooked in the original reporting of his conviction.

Cohen’s admission that he violated campaign finance law at the direction of President Donald Trump — then just a candidate — by making hush money payments to silence women who said they had had affairs with Trump drew the most attention. Cohen made those payments and was eventually reimbursed — transactions that allegedly constitute crimes and were not properly reported.

But in addition to the payouts to the women, there was another large sum for which Cohen was later reimbursed, according to the court documents:

The $50,000 represented a claimed payment for “tech services,” which in fact related to work COHEN had solicited from a technology company during and in connection with the campaign.

The document gives no more information about this payment, but the language suggests investigators may know more details about it — including the technology company in question — that they have not yet revealed.

CNBC reported this detail Wednesday night, though other outlets had mentioned it previously.

The payment certainly raises more question than it answers. It’s clear why Trump and Cohen would have wanted to use underhanded payments to silence women who allegedly had affairs with Trump — the whole point was to keep the news a secret. But why would they use the same method to pay for a technology company’s services during the campaign? As long as the services were above board, this would be a legitimate campaign expense.

CNBC notes that Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis has made intriguing remarks that may point to an answer. Cohen, Davis told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Tuesday night, may have “knowledge about the computer crime of hacking and whether or not Mr. Trump knew ahead of time about that crime and even cheered it on.”

If Cohen had participated in covering up Trump’s involvement in the hacking that disrupted the 2016 campaign, this fact would be explosive.

Alternatively, the payment could relate to Cambridge Analytica, the data firm that Trump’s campaign employed that recently shuttered in the wake of a massive data breach scandal. However, that firm was hired on the books, so it’s not clear why an additional $50,000 payment would have been kept hidden.


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Trump Promised Pardon to Head of Customs and Border Protection if He Broke the Law by Blocking Asylum Seekers



One week ago President Donald Trump made a rare trip to California, to dedicate a plaque that falsely marks the start of construction of his border wall. During that trip the president toured an area near the Southern border, held a roundtable with some with Customs and Border patrol agents, and told the head of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency to block asylum-seeking migrants from entering the United States.

Trump, now infamously, and on-camera, told CBP agents to tell migrants – including asylum seekers fleeing violence, rape, drugs, and gangs – “illegal migration, we can’t take you anymore. Our country is full. The sector is full. We can’t take you anymore. Turn around, that’s the way it is.”

That is illegal.

But as CNN is reporting, “the President also told the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, Kevin McAleenan, that if he were sent to jail as a result of blocking those migrants from entering the US, the President would grant him a pardon, senior administration officials tell CNN.”

That may be illegal, especially as The New York Times just published a similar report, but describes the conversation as the President ordering McAleenan to close the border to immigrants.

“President Trump last week urged Kevin McAleenan, whom he was about to name as acting secretary of homeland security, to close the southwestern border despite having just said that he was delaying a decision on the step for a year, according to three people briefed about the conversation,” The Times notes.

The President does not have the authority to indiscriminately and secretly close the border.

And indeed, just two days later Trump fired the Secretary of Homeland Security, caused at least two other DHS officials to resign, so he could name McAleenan Acting Head of the Dept. of Homeland Security, which he did.

Attorney and former FBI Special Agent Asha Rangappa weighs in:

So does MSNBC’s Joyce Vance and CNN’s Jake Tapper:

U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu:

Law Professor and former chief White House ethics lawyer:

Former Senior Advisor to President Obama and current CNN contributor:


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Top Trump Officials Granted Security Clearances to More Than 2 Dozen Applicants Who Had Been Rejected



‘Foreign Influence, Conflicts of Interest, Concerning Personal Conduct, Financial Problems, Drug Use, and Criminal Conduct’

Senior aides within the Trump administration granted security clearances to more than two dozen White House officials – including two current senior White House officials – and others, whose applications had been denied or rejected by career civil service officials charged with reviewing and recommending and approval or denial.

Applications of at least 25 people were denied for a wide variety of reasosn, including, “foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use, and criminal conduct,” a whistle-blower, Tricia Newbold, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee, The New York Times reports.

Newbold, who has worked in the White House for 18 years, serves as a manager in the White House’s Personnel Security Office. Her claims were made public by the Committee in a report after she testified last month.

“The denials by the career employees were overturned, she said, by more-senior officials who did not follow the procedures designed to mitigate security risks.”

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings is planning to subpoena the White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone, on Tuesday.

“The committee has given the White House every possible opportunity to cooperate with this investigation, but you have declined,” Chairman Cummings wrote to Cipollone. “Your actions are now preventing the committee from obtaining the information it needs to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities.”

In a statement on his government website Chairman Cummings praised Newbold for coming forward to share the “grave concerns about the dysfunction” she has observed in the Trump White House.


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McConnell Blocks Senate Resolution to Release Mueller Report After Unanimous House Vote



Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has just blocked a measure sponsored by Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer calling on Attorney General William Barr to release Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report in full to the public.

Just 11 days ago the U.S. House of Representatives in a unanimous 420-0 vote urged the DOJ to release the Mueller report on Russia’s attacks on the U.S. election, any collusion from any member of the Trump campaign, and President Trump’s apparent obstruction of justice.

“McConnell cited national security concerns for his decision to block the resolution, and argued that Attorney General Bill Barr should have time to decide what’s made public,” Axios reports.

Barr took it upon himself to create a false deadline of this weekend to release his four-page memo some experts say was a PR stunt whitewashing important aspects of the Mueller probe.

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. This story will be updated, and NCRM will likely publish follow-up stories on this news. Stay tuned and refresh for updates.

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