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Hillary Clinton to address New York Democrats



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Hillary Clinton plans to deliver the keynote address at a gathering of Democrats in New York state on Wednesday that comes at an especially tumultuous time for a party torn apart by scandal and challenges from its left wing.

The former secretary of state, U.S. senator and Democratic presidential nominee will speak on the first day of the two-day gathering at Hofstra University.

Ahead of her remarks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo easily won his party’s nomination for a third term, winning more than 95 percent of the votes cast by delegates. “Sex and the City” star and liberal activist Cynthia Nixon received a smattering of votes in the convention process, largely controlled by Cuomo supporters. She can still secure a place on September’s Democratic primary ballot by collecting voter signatures.

Cuomo plans to address the convention Thursday, when former Vice President Joe Biden is also scheduled to speak. Cuomo was nominated by a group of convention speakers that included his mother Matilda Cuomo; a survivor of the Parkland, Florida school shooting; and Stuart Appelbaum, president of the powerful Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. The speakers cited Cuomo’s work to pass same-sex marriage, increase the minimum wage to $15 and enact tougher gun control rules.

“Andrew Cuomo has proven himself to be a national progressive leader and a friend of working people,” Appelbaum said.

Nixon attended Wednesday’s convention events and told reporters that she believes the voters will make up their own minds this fall. Nixon has faulted Cuomo for not doing enough to address education inequalities, corruption or the lack of funding for New York City’s subways.

“The fact of the matter is people are going to be voting on his record, which is not very progressive,” she said.

The party will also nominate its candidate to succeed ex-Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned earlier this month amid allegations that he assaulted four women he dated. Two Democrats have so far formally announced their intention to run: New York City Public Advocate Letitia James and Leecia Eve, a Buffalo attorney and former adviser to Clinton and Cuomo.

James has emerged as the front runner, securing endorsements from Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat.



Melania Trump’s poll numbers plummet




melania trump

Melania Trump’s favorable rating has fallen by double-digits, according to a new CNN poll. The first lady, whose favorability stood at 54% in October, has slipped to 43% in just two months.

Additionally, 36% of those polled found her unfavorable, a 6-point increase since October.
The 11-point drop-off is notable for Trump, who has for most of 2018 maintained positive polling numbers, staying in the high-40s to high-50s. However, unlike the numbers of her husband, who has steadily maintained a favorable rating of about 40%, public opinion of the first lady has varied.

Melania Trump’s popularity peaked in early May of this year at 57%, following her first official State Dinner in late April, a public coming-out of sorts for the extremely private first lady. It was also on the heels of Trump’s solo trip to Houston, Texas, to attend the funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush, where she posed, smiling, for a photograph with living former presidents and first ladies, many of whom have icy relationships with her husband.

A June survey, taken weeks after the announcement of her “Be Best” initiative and her subsequent hospitalization for a kidney procedure, which kept her out of the public eye for almost three weeks, Trump maintained strong favorable ratings at 51%.

This most recent poll is still 13 points higher than the first lady’s lowest polling numbers, which occurred in January 2017, days prior to her husband’s inauguration; at that time, her favorability stood at 36%, her unfavorable at 35% — 23% had no opinion of her at all.
These new numbers reflect Trump maintains her strongest support from older, white, male Republicans and conservatives, while her biggest detractors are women, mainly younger and those who are college-educated.

While the drop occurs across the board, it is bigger among the President’s detractors. She is down 6 points among those who approve of the job her husband is doing as President, yet she’s down 11 percentage points among those who disapprove. She has lost five points among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, but 13 points among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.

The biggest decrease for Melania Trump is among liberals and white college-graduates — down 17 percentage points each.
In recent weeks, Trump has been more visible, often appearing side-by-side with the President at events, as well as accompanying him during travel to Argentina for the G20 Summit. The first lady has also been more vocal about policy issues, making longer, more detailed speeches on the opioid epidemic.
But she was also criticized after an October ABC News interview when she said women who accuse men of sexual misconduct must have “hard evidence.” She did say she supports women who say they have experienced sexual abuse.

She also made headlines for claiming: “I could say that I’m the most bullied person in the world.”
Melania Trump weighed in on immigration during the interview, as well, saying she was “blindsided” by the administration policy separating children from their families at the border.
The poll was conducted for CNN via telephone by SSRS, an independent research company. Interviews were conducted from December 6-9 among a sample of 1,015 respondents.


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Michael Cohen Sentenced to 3 Years After Implicating Trump in Hush-Money Scandal




michael cohen sentenced

Michael D. Cohen, a former lawyer for President Trump, was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday after denouncing Mr. Trump and explaining that “I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds.”

Mr. Cohen gave an emotional apology to the court for his involvement in a hush-money scandal that could threaten the Trump presidency — a scheme to buy the silence of two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump to protect his chances before the 2016 election. Mr. Cohen said his blind loyalty to Mr. Trump led him to ignore “my own inner voice and my moral compass.”

The sentencing in federal court in Manhattan capped a startling fall for Mr. Cohen, 52, who had once hoped to work by Mr. Trump’s side in the White House but ended up a central figure in the inquiry into payments to an adult-film star and a former Playboy model before the 2016 election.

Judge William H. Pauley III called Mr. Cohen’s crimes a “veritable smorgasbord of fraudulent conduct” and added, “Each of the crimes involved deception and each appears to have been motivated by personal greed and ambition.”

He added that Mr. Cohen’s particular crimes — breaking campaign finance laws, tax evasion and lying to Congress — “implicate a far more insidious harm to our democratic institutions.”

“As a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better,” the judge said.

Mr. Cohen had pleaded guilty in two separate cases, one brought by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, the other by the office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Before he was sentenced, a solemn Mr. Cohen, standing at a lectern, sounded emotional, but resolved, as he told the judge he had been tormented by the anguish and embarrassment he had caused his family.

“I blame myself for the conduct which has brought me here today,” he said, “and it was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man” — a reference to Mr. Trump — “that led me to choose a path of darkness over light.”

Mr. Cohen then apologized to the public: “You deserve to know the truth and lying to you was unjust.”

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Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, called Mr. Cohen’s assertion he had acted out of loyalty to Mr. Trump “a complete lie.”

“I feel sorry for him,” Mr. Giuliani added. “He’s a pathetic serial liar.”

Federal agents raided Mr. Cohen’s office and home in April, and he later turned on Mr. Trump, making the remarkable admission in court that Mr. Trump had directed him to arrange the payments.

Mr. Trump at first denied knowing anything about the payments, but then acknowledged that he had known about them. This week, he insisted that the payments were “a simple private transaction” — not election-related spending subject to campaign-finance laws.

He also maintained that even if the hush-money payments were campaign transactions in violation of election law, that should be considered only a civil offense, not a criminal one.
Since Mr. Cohen came under investigation, Mr. Trump has mocked him as a “weak person” who was giving information to prosecutors in an effort to obtain leniency when he is sentenced.

In fact, Mr. Cohen did not sign a formal cooperation agreement with the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan or with Mr. Mueller. In addition to the campaign-finance violations, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to charges of tax evasion, making false statements to a bank and lying to Congress.

He took a calculated gamble in pleading guilty to this litany of federal crimes without first entering into a cooperation agreement with the government. He offered to help prosecutors, but only on his terms, and there were some subjects he declined to discuss.

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His lawyers argued he should not serve time in prison. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said he deserved around four years.

Judge Pauley had the final say. The judge said Mr. Cohen’s assistance to the special counsel’s office, though useful, did not “wipe the slate clean,” and a “significant term” of prison was justified.
In the end, the judge gave Mr. Cohen three years for the crimes he committed in New York and two months for lying to Congress, to be served at the same time. He was also asked to pay nearly $2 million in fines, forfeitures and restitution. The judge ordered Mr. Cohen to begin serving his sentence on March 6.

Mr. Cohen’s sentencing was unusual because it involved guilty pleas he had made in cases brought by the two separate prosecutors.

In the case brought by Mr. Mueller’s office, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the duration of negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, as well as about the extent of the involvement of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Cohen revealed that Mr. Trump was more involved in discussions over the potential deal during the election campaign than previously known.

Mr. Cohen’s three-year sentence is the first substantial prison term in a case stemming from Mr. Mueller’s inquiry. The special counsel had referred the case to the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, where it was overseen by Robert S. Khuzami, the No. 2 official there, who attended the hearing on Wednesday.

The investigation of Mr. Cohen by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan burst into public view in April when the F.B.I. raided his office, apartment and hotel room. Agents hauled off eight boxes of documents, about 30 cellphones, iPads and computers, even the contents of a shredder.

Four months later, on Aug. 21, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and making false statements to a financial institution.

Mr. Cohen admitted in court that he had arranged the payments “for the principal purpose of influencing the election” for president in 2016.

The payments included $130,000 to the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, which the government considers an illegal donation to Mr. Trump’s campaign since it was intended to improve Mr. Trump’s election chances. (The legal limit for individual contributions is $2,700 in a general election.)

Mr. Cohen also admitted he had arranged for an illegal corporate donation to be made to Mr. Trump when he orchestrated a $150,000 payment by American Media Inc. to a former Playboy playmate, Karen McDougal, in late summer 2016.

Prosecutors in Manhattan wrote last Friday to Judge Pauley that Mr. Cohen, in arranging the payments, “acted in coordination with and at the direction” of Mr. Trump, whom they referred to as Individual 1.

On Nov. 29, charged by Mr. Mueller’s office with lying to Congress, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty again.

The two prosecuting offices each wrote to Judge Pauley, offering sharply contrasting portrayals of Mr. Cohen. The Southern District depicted him as deceitful and greedy and unwilling to fully cooperate with its investigation. Mr. Mueller, on the other hand, said Mr. Cohen had “gone to significant lengths to assist” the Russia investigation and recommended that he receive some credit for his help.

Mr. Cohen’s lawyer, Guy Petrillo, made an impassioned plea for leniency, citing his client’s courage in cooperating with the Russia inquiry, which he said was “of the utmost national significance,” comparing it to Watergate.

He added: “He came forward to offer evidence against the most powerful person in our country,” without knowing what the result would be, how the politics would play out, or whether “the special counsel would even survive.”

Jeannie Rhee, a prosecutor from Mr. Mueller’s office, with which Mr. Cohen met seven times, told the judge that Mr. Cohen had accepted responsibility for the lies he told Congress and had provided “credible and reliable information about core Russia-related issues.”

But a Manhattan prosecutor, Nicholas Roos, said of Mr. Cohen’s cooperation that as much as he “claims he’s done for the republic, the same can be true in the way in which he’s undermined it.”

In the end, Judge Pauley seemed to side with the defense. He said that “cooperation, even when it is not the product of a formal agreement, should be encouraged” when it advances a criminal investigation. “Our system of justice would be less robust without the use of cooperating witnesses to assist law enforcement,” the judge said.

Shortly before Mr. Cohen and his family and friends walked out of the courtroom, roughly 20 minutes after the sentencing had ended, he briefly addressed a cluster of reporters who were waiting in an anteroom between the courtroom and the hallway.

“This is my last time talking to you guys,” he said abruptly, then said nothing more.

He and his lawyers waited briefly in the courthouse lobby while his wife, son and daughter, left the building, passed through a huge gantlet of television crews and photographers outside, and climbed into a waiting black Infiniti QX60.

Cohen then walked out of the building with a hangdog expression and made a silent beeline to the car.


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Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Faces Sentencing on Federal Charges




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MICHAEL COHEN, THE former longtime lawyer and confidant to President Donald Trump, is set to be sentenced in federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III is expected to sentence Cohen during an 11 a.m. court appearance for illegally paying hush money to an adult film actress and a former Playboy playmate in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election and for lying to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Cohen pleaded guilty to the crimes in August and in a surprise court appearance late last month. He has said he committed the acts at the direction of Trump. He has also pleaded guilty to bank fraud and tax evasion related to his management of New York taxi medallions and his personal finances.

Cohen, 52, could face more than five years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. Federal prosecutors, acknowledging that Cohen has cooperated with parts of the investigation, have called for a shorter sentence, but they have nonetheless sought a “substantial term of imprisonment,” noting that Cohen has never agreed to divulge everything he knows.

Cohen’s lawyers have asked the court for no jail time, stating that Cohen’s actions arose simply from his “fierce loyalty” to Trump and were steered through “close and regular contact with White House-based staff and legal counsel.”

The guilty pleas concerning the illegal payoffs and the negotiations in Moscow are the latest result of the Justice Department special counsel’s investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

Trump has repeatedly dismissed Cohen and the special counsel’s investigations on Twitter, declaring Monday, “Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!”


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