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National Enquirer Records of Playboy Model Payout Subpoenaed as Investigators Zero in on Michael Cohen: Report

June 20, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The president's ex-lawyer has been facing tough scrutiny from federal investigators, but no charges have been brought against him.


The publisher of the National Enquirer, an outlet that was exceptionally friendly to President Donald Trump during the campaign, has been subpoenaed for its records related to the payment of a playboy model Karen Dougal in relation to her story about an affair with the president, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The subpoena is reportedly a part of the investigation of Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer who arranged for payments to women to keep them quiet about affairs with the president. 

The Enquirer paid McDougal for her story about Trump before the election, but it never published her claims. Reports suggest that this decision may have been part of a “catch and kill strategy,” in which outlets pay sources for stories in order to ensure that they stay secret.

If the Enquirer and Cohen engaged in such a scheme to kill the story for political purposes, the Journal reports, it could raise serious questions about campaign finance laws. The Journal notes:

Corporations are barred from making contributions to candidates under federal election law. If investigators find evidence that Mr. Cohen pressed American Media to buy Ms. McDougal’s story to protect Mr. Trump’s campaign, prosecutors could bring charges against Mr. Cohen, the company or both, legal experts said.

In such a case, prosecutors would have to prove Mr. Cohen coordinated with American Media to provide Mr. Trump something of value for the purpose of influencing the election, said Douglas Spencer, a professor of law and public policy at the University of Connecticut. Proving coordination would likely be the most difficult prong of such a case, he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Cohen officially resigned from the Republican National Committee, where he served as deputy finance chair. Multiple outlets, including CNN, suggest that Cohen may be preparing to flip on the president if he faces charges from investigators.

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'He Got Caught Doing Exactly What He Wanted to Do!’: MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace Explains Why Trump ‘Blinked’ on Family Separation Policy

June 20, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“He didn't blink because he had some sort of wave of morality.”


MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace argued Wednesday that President Donald Trump's decision to stop defending the separation of immigrant families was not a moral awakening on his part, but a cold, political calculation.

It was the devastating impact of the images and reporting on the administration's policy that finally changed his mind, she argued.

“I think he just got caught doing exactly what he wanted to do,” she said on her show “Deadline: White House.” “If we hadn't seen those images, if we hadn't heard the audio of children wailing, if the AP hadn't reported there were three basically prisons for locking up infants and toddlers, I don't think he would have changed — he didn't blink because he had some sort of wave of morality.”

She added: “He blinked for the reasons you just said. He didn't like losing control of the narrative.”

However, even though Trump backed away from defending the separation of families on Wednesday, it's far from clear what effect the order will actually have or what will happen to the families already divided.

“To be clear, we still have not seen anything like the real images of what is going on in these facilities because in most cases cameras have — independent cameras have not been allowed in,” contributor John Heilemann said. “When you hear as [MSNBC Correspondent] Jacob Soboroff heard yesterday, 'we'll show you a picture from 2016, and we might get you pictures from a current date, like 48 hours,' you have to be an idiot to not think there is a cover-up of — the press should be allowed into those facilities.”

Watch the clip below:

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Source: ALTERNET

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Trump Signs an Executive Order to 'End Family Separation' by Locking Up Whole Families Indefinitely Instead

June 20, 2018 in Blogs

By Mark Sumner, Daily Kos

This doesn’t seem any less scary than what was happening before.


Rather than wait for any bill to pass Congress that might have placed some limits and rules around actions at the border, Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday afternoon which, according to Trump, ‘ended’ family separation by ordering that families be locked up together. Both Trump and Mike Pence spoke only briefly, chiefly to make assurances that this was still a “zero tolerance” policy. The title of the executive order “Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation” makes it clear that Trump is not going to stop blaming Congress for the issue. And since no mention was made of any steps to be taken to reunite the families who have already been separated through the brutal application of Trump policy to date, it’s unclear that Trump is giving up his thousands of hostages now scattered around the country.

What is clear he’s now claiming to be the hero who saved immigrants while lamenting that the cause of family separation is “Congress’s failure to act.”

The actual test of the order is so fond of the word “alien” that it applies the term more times than the script for every Ridley Scott film combined. Included are definitions for not just regular “Aliens,” but “Alien families” and “Alien children.” This text also makes it clear that it is “the policy of this Administration to rigorously enforce” laws. So no one should expect that the harsh and arbitrary application of those laws is going to change. The key changes to policy would seem to be found in section three:

The Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary), shall, to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations, maintain custody of alien families during the pendency of any criminal improper entry or immigration proceedings involving their members.

The term “to the extent permitted by law” leaves wide open the questions about how this policy would apply beyond the 20 days that a child can currently be detained. And the “availability of appropriation” would suggest that the order can be ignored when there are no rooms …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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National Outrage Forced Trump to Sign Executive Order to Treat Immigrants Humanely

June 20, 2018 in Blogs

By Leo W. Gerard, Independent Media Institute

With human rights violations like this, America is far from being a shining city on a hill.


By signing an executive order ending forced separation of immigrant families, President Donald Trump today admitted that the cruel practice was his administration’s policy and that he could have stopped it at any time.

Despite having the power to stop taking children from parents, the Republican administration enforced the practice since April, splitting more than 2,300 youngsters, some just months-old babies, from their mothers and fathers. The administration continued to enforce it even after photographs showed toddlers wailing, audio recordings revealed young children sobbing and pleading for their Mami and Papa, a 30-year-old Honduran father torn from his wife and three-year-old son killed himself in a jail cell, and some parents were deported without their children and without information about how to find or reunite with them.

It is appropriate that the United States withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council this week because America has been engaged in appalling human rights violations. The organization Amnesty International accused the Trump administration of hateful politics and violating human rights both in the United States and abroad.

Make no mistake: the American people opposed this policy. It was not their idea. It was a perverse Republican strategy, conceived and instituted by a Republican administration, Republican Attorney General and Republican secretary of Homeland Security. This is a grotesquerie of Republican construction. This is their Frankenstein.

And they need to clean it up. They must ensure that children already separated are returned to their parents. They must ensure this never happens again. And they must deal with the continuing separation of children and parents that occurs when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids workplaces and arrests undocumented immigrants, as happened yesterday in Ohio. Republican-sponsored immigration bills under consideration in the U.S. House and Senate fail to adequately address these and other problems with the U.S. immigration system.

Congress must outlaw the separation of families and children so that some future administration can’t reverse Trump’s executive order and resume the practice. Congress must …read more

Source: ALTERNET