ABC: Cohen, Trump’s former longtime personal attorney, pleads guilty to illegal campaign contributions ‘at the direction of a candidate for federal office’

Michael Cohen, the former longtime fixer and personal attorney for Donald Trump, appeared in federal court Tuesday afternoon, pleaded guilty to eight counts and said in open court that he made illegal campaign contributions “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office.”

The campaign finance violations are associated with Cohen’s role in alleged hush money agreements with two women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who claim to have had affairs with Trump.

The “candidate” Cohen referred to was not named in court but the criminal information identifies Cohen as the personal attorney “to Individual-1, who at that point had become the President of the United States.”

The information states that Cohen made a contribution to “Individual-1” and “did so by making and causing to be made an expenditure, in cooperation, consultation, and concert with, and at the request and suggestion of one or more members of the campaign, to wit, COHEN made a $130,000 payment to Woman-2 to ensure that she not publicize damaging allegation before the 2016 presidential election and thereby influence that election.”

“I participated in this conduct for the principal purpose” of influencing an election, Cohen said.

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CBS: Paul Manafort trial verdict: Guilty on several counts

Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, has been found guilty on five counts of tax fraud, one count of failing to disclose his foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud.

The jury was unable to reach consensus on 10 of the 18 counts in the bank fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Judge T.S. Ellis III will declare a mistrial on the 10 unresolved counts but is accepting the jury’s verdict on the remaining eight counts. Ellis decided there was “manifest necessity” to proceed.

When the verdict was read, Manafort stood before the judge without flinching, his hands folded beneath his waist. He appears to have lost weight in recent weeks.

Manafort faced 18 counts — five counts related to false income tax returns, four counts of failing to file foreign bank account reports, four counts of bank fraud and five counts of bank fraud conspiracy. The government alleges Manafort hid tens of millions of dollars in income and falsified records to enrich himself and live a life of luxury.

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AP: Notes of support pour in for 2 who started California blaze

A couple whose flattened trailer tire accidentally started a massive fire in Northern California has received more than 100 cards and letters with supportive messages telling them not to feel guilty.

The outpouring of support for an 81-year-old man and his wife started after Rachel Pilli made a Facebook post offering to forward compassionate messages to the couple, the Record Searchlight in Redding, California, reported Wednesday.

Pilli doesn’t know the couple, but said a firefighter who knows them told her the woman blames herself and cries day and night. She decided to send them a card with a supportive message and then posted about the couple on social media.

“I couldn’t imagine the grief,” she said. “If I were the one responsible for the accident I couldn’t imagine the shame and the torture I’d feel.”

The blaze that has destroyed nearly 1,100 homes and killed eight people started on July 23 with a spark from a vehicle driving on a flat tire, fire officials said. It was 67 percent contained as of Wednesday.

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The Washington Post: Trump responds after hundreds of newspaper editorials criticize his attacks on the press

Hundreds of newspaper editorial boards across the country answered a nationwide call Thursday to express disdain for President Trump’s attacks on the news media, while some explained their decision not to do so. The same morning, the president tweeted that the “fake news media” are the “opposition party.”

The editorials came after the Boston Globe’s editorial board called on others to use their collective voice to respond to Trump’s war of words with news organizations in the United States.

Trump has labeled the news media “the enemy of the American people” and called much of the coverage “fake news.”

The Globe’s op-ed board wrote in an editorial published online Wednesday that, “Today in the United States we have a president who has created a mantra that members of the media who do not blatantly support the policies of the current US administration are the ‘enemy of the people.

“This is one of the many lies that have been thrown out by this president, much like an old-time charlatan threw out ‘magic’ dust or water on a hopeful crowd.”

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NBC: Trump revokes former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance

President Donald Trump has decided to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan’s clearance for access to classified information, he said in a statement read by press secretary Sarah Sanders on Wednesday.

The courtesy of allowing a former administration official to retain security clearance has been “outweighed by the risk posed by his erratic conduct and behavior,” Trump said in the statement. “Mr. Brennan has a history that calls into question his objectivity and credibility.”

He added that Brennan “has recently leveraged his status … to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations, wild outbursts on the internet and on television, about this administration.”

Brennan, who served as director of the clandestine intelligence agency in President Barack Obama’s second term, has been a frequent critic of Trump.

Brennan, a senior national security analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, fired back during an interview with MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace and on Twitter on Wednesday.

“If Mr. Trump believes that this is going to lead me to just go away and be quiet, he is very badly mistaken,” Brennan said, describing the move as “his way of getting back at me” and saying it was designed “to intimidate and suppress any criticism of him or his administration.”

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The New Yorker: Trump and His Toxic Twitter Insults of Omarosa

The President of the United States called someone a “dog” on Twitter Tuesday morning, another first for his debasement of Presidential rhetoric. It is, sadly, not a surprise. “Dog” has long been one of Trump’s favorite Twitter insults, and he is the first President in more than a hundred years not to have a dog as a pet in the White House. (Trump once told his biographer Tim O’Brien that he considered all animals “germy.”) A more or less complete list of those he has attacked with this label, just since his entry into national politics in 2015, includes: Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee, who “choked like a dog”; David Gregory, the former host of “Meet the Press,” “fired like a dog!”; Chuck Todd, Gregory’s replacement as “Meet the Press” host, “who will be fired like a dog”; Ted Cruz, one of Trump’s opponents in the 2016 Republican primary, who “lies like a dog—over and over again”; Ted Cruz’s former communications director, “fired like a dog”; Brent Bozell, the conservative columnist at National Review, who “came to my office begging for money like a dog”; Erick Erickson, the anti-Trump conservative blogger, “fired like a dog”; Glenn Beck, the former Fox TV host, also “fired like a dog”; George Will, the conservative Washington Post columnist, “thrown off ABC like a dog!”; and Arianna Huffington, the liberal-Web-site founder, “a dog who wrongfully comments on me.”

But all of those tweets, as intemperate as they were, were made before Trump actually became the President. Yes, he complained last October that the Tennessee senator Bob Corker, one of his few remaining public critics in the Republican Party, could no longer get elected “dog catcher.” And Trump has hurled playground taunts at a breathtakingly long line of targets during his eighteen months in office, from African-American football players to the Prime Minister of Canada. But, for whatever reason, Trump had restrained himself from using what is clearly one of his favorite insults until 7:31 a.m. on Tuesday: “When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”

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CNN: More than 100 newspapers will publish editorials decrying Trump’s anti-press rhetoric

“The dirty war on the free press must end.”

That’s the idea behind an unusual editorial-writing initiative that has enlisted scores of newspapers across America.

The Boston Globe has been contacting newspaper editorial boards and proposing a “coordinated response” to President Trump’s escalating “enemy of the people” rhetoric.

“We propose to publish an editorial on August 16 on the dangers of the administration’s assault on the press and ask others to commit to publishing their own editorials on the same date,” The Globe said in its pitch to fellow papers.

The effort began just a few days ago.

As of Saturday, “we have more than 100 publications signed up, and I expect that number to grow in the coming days,” Marjorie Pritchard, the Globe’s deputy editorial page editor, told CNN.

The American Society of News Editors, the New England Newspaper and Press Association and other groups have helped her spread the word.

“The response has been overwhelming,” Pritchard said. “We have some big newspapers, but the majority are from smaller markets, all enthusiastic about standing up to Trump’s assault on journalism.”

Instead of printing the exact same message, each publication will write its own editorial, Pritchard said.

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The Hill: Study: Immigrants have lower health-care costs than people born in US

A new study finds that immigrants have lower health-care costs than people born in the United States, meaning they are likely helping support public health insurance programs like Medicare.

The report from researchers at Harvard Medical School and Tufts University examined all peer-reviewed studies since 2000 on immigrants’ health-care costs in the United States. It found that immigrants’ health-care expenditures were one-half to two-thirds those of people born in the U.S.

“Overall, immigrants almost certainly paid more toward medical expenses than they withdrew, providing a low-risk pool that subsidized the public and private health insurance markets,” the study states.

It comes as the Trump administration is reportedly considering new rules that would make it harder for legal immigrants to become citizens if they have used health-care programs like ObamaCare insurance or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The researchers found that immigrants make up 12 percent of the population but only account for 8.6 percent of total U.S. health-care spending.

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Politico: Trump wildfire tweets spark confusion about California water

Californians are stunned at President Donald’s Trump’s latest tweets on the state‘s catastrophic wildfires — and his insistence that the state is burning because leaders are letting too much fresh water flow into the Pacific Ocean.

Trump tweeted Monday that California “Governor Jerry Brown must allow the Free Flow of the vast amounts of water coming from the North and foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Can be used for fires, farming and everything else. Think of California with plenty of Water – Nice! Fast Federal govt. approvals.”

That tweet — on the heels of a Sunday tweet that referenced California’s “bad environmental laws” as a cause of the state’s current raging wildfires — drew an immediate reaction from veteran California GOP strategist Rob Stutzman, who responded via Twitter: “This is nuts’’ and also “low water IQ.” Stutzman has advised former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and a host of national and state GOP candidates.

Trump’s comments may be referencing an unrelated dispute between Brown’s administration and California Republicans over how much of the state’s water can be diverted to Southern California farms and cities and how much must be allowed to flow naturally to benefit endangered and threatened fish species.

Wildfires around California have killed nine people, but firefighters have not raised concerns about the available water supplies.

“The notion that somehow more water would be mitigating or better in fighting these fires is just mind-boggling,’’ Stutzman told POLITICO on Monday. “I don’t watch ‘Fox & Friends,’ but it would seem that someone has put the idea in his head. It doesn’t even show an elementary understanding of water policy.’’

Fox & Friends had aired a segment about the California fires nearly five hours before Trump‘s Monday tweet but didn’t discuss water issues as part of the segment.

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