‘IT’S A LIE’: Cohen backs away from plea bargain claims

NEW YORK — Michael Cohen, who once served as President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, is walking back claims he made as part of his plea bargain according to a report published by the Wall Street Journal.

Cohen, who pled guilty to eight criminal charges, including campaign-finance violations regarding hush-money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal, now claims he did not commit tax evasion and that a criminal charge related to a home-equity line of credit was “a lie.”

“There is no tax evasion,” the Journal claims Cohen said during a secretly recorded phone call with former television star Tom Arnold, a vocal critic of the president. “And the Heloc? I have an 18% loan-to-value on my home. How could there be a Heloc issue? How? Right? . . . It’s a lie.”

During the call, Cohen, who is preparing to face a three-year prison sentence in exchange for testifying against the president, said he felt like a man “all alone.”

“You would think that you would have folks, you know, stepping up and saying, ‘You know what, this guy’s lost everything,'” Cohen said.

“My family’s happiness, and my law license. I lost my business . . . my insurance, my bank accounts, all for what? All for what? Because Trump, you know, had an affair with a porn star? That’s really what this is about.”

Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, told CNN in response to the report that nothing Cohen said to Arnold during the course of the phone conversation “contradicts Mr. Cohen’s previous defense attorney, Guy Petrillo, in his sentencing memorandum to the presiding federal US District Court Judge William H. Pauley III back in December.”

“I would also add the important words used by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and others, in describing Michael Cohen’s cooperation and testimony as ‘credible’ addressing the ‘core’ issues involved in his investigation,” Davis said.

According to the Journal report, Cohen told Arnold that he agreed to the plea deal in order to protect his wife.

“I love this woman,” Cohen said. “I am not going to let her get dragged into the mud of this crap, and I never thought the judge was going to throw a three-year fricking sentence.”

Cohen is scheduled to begin his prison sentence on May 6.

Trump and Cohen during a campaign stop at the New Spirit Revival Center church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio

MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN: Jobless claims fall to 49 year low

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. jobless claims have fallen to the lowest level since 1969, according to a report published Thursday by Marketwatch (https://tinyurl.com/yd9gfxt5).

The new numbers bypassed the expectations of economists surveyed by Marketwatch and Reuters who had expected the claims to total 226,000. The actual four-week average fell by 5,000 to 220,000, states the report.

“The latest decline in weekly claims shows a tight labor market is increasingly pushing employers to hold on to existing staff amid a persistent shortage of qualified workers,” reports Bloomberg (https://tinyurl.com/y97ra5o5). “Applications for jobless benefits are well below the 300,000 tally that’s typically considered consistent with a healthy labor market.”

The Labor Department also revised the number of unemployment claims reported for the previous week, saying that it was 2,000 lower than had been erroneously reported.

The numbers prompted President Donald Trump to take to Twitter, where he praised the economy.

“Unemployment filings are at their lowest level in over 48 years. Great news for workers and JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! #MAGA,” the president tweeted (https://tinyurl.com/y8qlshns).

When running for president, Trump vowed to be the “best job creating president of all time”. Many economists say the president has not only met, but exceeded that goal.

“Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal say President Donald Trump has had generally positive effects on U.S. economic growth, hiring and the performance of the stock market during his first year in office,” Town Hall reported in January (https://tinyurl.com/yd73d5vv).”The professional forecasters also predicted 2018 would see solid growth and a continued decline in the jobless rate. One factor: the tax cuts signed into law by Mr. Trump in December, which most economists say will boost the economy for several years at least.”

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RUSSIAGATE EXPLODES: MEULLER CALLS GRAND JURY INTO RUSSIAN PROBE

Washington, D.C.– Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury to investigate Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, according to a report published Thursday by The Wall Street Journal (https://www.wsj.com/articles/special-counsel-mueller-impanels-washington-grand-jury-in-russia-probe-1501788287).

According to the report, the newly impaneled grand jury will focus on Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election and on allegations of obstruction of justice.

A grand jury has already been impaneled in Virginia to investigate Michael Flynn and his work in the private sector on behalf of foreign interests and most legal analysts agree that Meuller’s decision to extend the probe is a likely sign that he is leaning toward filing of criminal charges.

“This doesn’t mean [Mueller] is going to bring charges, but it shows he is very serious,” Thomas Zeno, a former federal prosecutor, told The Journal. “He wouldn’t do this if it were winding down.”

Russia has denied interfering in any way with the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, as has President Donald Trump who has frequently called allegations of “collusion” between himself and Russian officials nothing more than a political “witch hunt.”

The impaneling of the new grand jury means that Mueller’s team will have the power to subpoena records and extract testimony from witnesses who are sworn in under oath.

The president has openly criticized Mueller in recent weeks and has publicly blamed Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russia case, which ultimately cleared the way for Mueller’s appointment.

When reached for comment, Trump attorney John Dowd refused to issue statement other than to say, “We have no reason to believe President Trump is under investigation,” but added “the president wants a swift end to this matter and will cooperate in any way necessary to ensure that is the end result.”

In a related matter, Reuters also reported on Thursday that grand jury subpoenas have been issued in connection with the June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr., a Russian lawyer and others who were present (http://mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKBN1AJ2V0).

Trump, Jr has admitted meeting with the Russian official but claims that the meeting ultimately resulted in a request for information on the adoption of Russian children by U.S. families. Trump, Jr has claimed the meeting so insignificant that he didn’t bother to notify his father about it because it wound up being nothing more than “a waste of time”.

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