President Trump on Thursday told reporters aboard Air Force One that he was unaware that his personal lawyer had paid a former adult film star to keep quiet about an alleged affair she had with the erstwhile Manhattan billionaire.
The attorney, Michael Cohen, admitted earlier this year to transferring $130,000 to actress Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence about a tryst she says she had with Trump in 2006. The payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was made in late October 2016, just weeks before the presidential election.
BREAKING: Press aboard Air Force One asked Trump if he knew about the $130,000 in hush money paid to STORMY DANIELS.
“No,” he said.
Why did Cohen do it?
“You have to ask Michael Cohen,” he said, per @jeneps. “Michael’s my attorney and you’ll have to ask Michael.”
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) April 5, 2018
Daniels and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, are currently embroiled in a back-and-forth with Trump's legal team. Daniels is suing to be released from the nondisclosure agreement she signed with Cohen, arguing that because Trump never signed the contract, it is void. Lawyers for Trump have asserted that Daniels will be hit with financial penalties for breaking the agreement by talking about the alleged affair.
Trump has steadfastly denied that he was ever involved with Daniels — though New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman notes that Trump's specific characterization of Cohen as "my attorney" could make "attorney-client privilege assertion likelier," as the legal saga drags on. Read more about Daniels' unlikely heroism here at The Week. Kimberly Alters
These are the races to watch in Tuesday's primaries in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Vermont
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Vermont are holding primary elections on Tuesday. Republicans in key races in the upper Midwest have been battling over who can most forcefully renounce their former criticisms of President Trump, while Democrats are fighting to reverse recent losses in Wisconsin and hold off a Republican challenge in the race to replace outgoing, unpopular Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D).
In Wisconsin, eight Democrats are fighting to take on Gov. Scott Walker (R), with state schools chief Tony Evers the best known of the candidates. Two Republicans, state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R) and Marine veteran Kevin Nicholson, are battling to face Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D), and both parties have competitive races to replace House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) — Democrats will chose between iron worker Randy "Iron Stache" Bryce and Janesville school board member Cathy Myers, while former Ryan staffer Bryan Steil faces off against four lesser-known Republicans.
Vermont Democrats have four choices to challenge Gov. Phil Scott (R), including a transgender woman, former energy executive Christine Hallquist, and 14-year-old Ethan Sonneborn. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is expected to win the Democratic primary, then renounce the nomination and run as an independent.
In Minnesota, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) is vying for a shot at his old seat against Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, and the Democrats running to replace outgoing Gov. Mark Dayton (D) include Rep. Tim Walz (D), Attorney General Lori Swanson, and state Rep. Erin Murphy. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), appointed to replace former Sen. Al Franken (D), is running to finish Franken's term, and she will face Richard Painter, former ethics lawyer to President George W. Bush. The winner's likely Republican challenger will be state Sen. Karin Housley. The race for state attorney general has been roiled by a domestic abuse allegation against Democratic frontrunner Rep. Keith Ellison. Peter Weber
At a little after 7:30 Tuesday morning in London, a car crashed into a security barrier outside Britain's Parliament building, injuring at least two pedestrians, neither seriously. There was a large and rapid response from armed police officers, and the male driver was arrested without incident. "While we are keeping an open mind," Scotland Yard said in a statement, "the Met's Counter-Terrorism Command is leading the investigation into the Westminster incident." Parliament is not in session, but the area around Parliament Square and subway stations in the area were closed to the public.
BBC staffer Barry Williams told BBC News he witnessed the crash. "The car went onto the wrong side of the road to where cyclists were waiting at lights and ploughed into them," he said. "Then it swerved back across the road and accelerated as fast as possible and hit the barrier at full pelt. It was a small silver car and he hit it at such speed the car actually lifted off the ground and bounced. Then the police just jumped. Two officers managed to leap over the security barriers and then the armed police vehicles all sped towards the scene." Security barriers around Parliament were beefed up after a driver deliberately plowed into pedestrians on nearby Westminster Bridge in March 2017, killing four people. Peter Weber
"We know that diplomacy isn't President Trump's 'thing,'" Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show, but neither, apparently, is geography or the concept of time zones. That means, according to a former National Security Council official, Trump wants to call world leaders at all hours, not grasping that noon in Washington is 1 a.m. in Tokyo. And when he finally learned that Bhutan and Nepal were the "stuff" between India and China, "Trump referred to Bhutan as 'button' and mispronounced Nepal as 'nipple,'" Colbert said, laughing. "Then, word is, he then touched the map without its consent."
Trump looks at these mistakes as just doing things his way, according to one aide. "But it is important that the most powerful man in the world knows what countries are in that world," Colbert said, "so tonight we're here to help." He brought out a world map and tried to rename the world in a way he thought Trump might remember. And he didn't even have to change the name Djibouti. Watch below. Peter Weber
In pushing back against damaging new claims by former White House adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman, the Trump administration confirmed reports that President Trump had White House staffers sign nondisclosure agreement (NDAs). On Sunday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told ABC News that NDAs are "typical" in offices and "we've all signed them in the West Wing," and Trump tweeted Monday: "Wacky Omarosa already has a fully signed Non-Disclosure Agreement!" This raises a lot of questions. Here are five:
1. What does the White House NDA say? Several Trump aides told The Washington Post it prohibits sharing any confidential or nonpublic information outside of the White House at any time. It specifically "prohibited top aides from disclosing confidential information in any form including books, without the express permission of the president," a former administration official tells Politico. And violators "would have to forfeit to the U.S. government any royalties, advances, or book earnings."
2. Are these NDAs enforceable? Most legal experts say no, because muzzling government employees would violate the First Amendment. Also, public employees "are supposed to serve the public and the institution of the president, not any one particular person," Politico explains.
3. Did Manigault Newman sign one? She says she refused. She did, however, apparently sign a stricter NDA to work on the Trump campaign and, according to The Daily Mail, the Trump 2020 campaign plans to sue her for breach of that agreement.
4. So which White House employees did? Conway suggests she was one of the "dozens of seniors aides" who signed the NDA, some after being told it was unenforceable, The Washington Post reports. Still, any officials who did sign away the right to say anything negative about Trump for years or forever "probably shouldn't be given a platform — on, say, a cable news channel — to opine about Trump," notes The Weekly Standard's Jonathan Last, "because you're not allowed to say what you really think."
5. If the NDA is toothless, does it matter? Yes, Last argues, because "the purpose of an NDA isn't to be enforced — it's to obstruct the revelation of information by making such revelations costly." Peter Weber
It's a wedding that a Dover, New Jersey, couple and the Bogota Police Department won't soon forget.
On Saturday evening, bride and groom Sabrina Torens and Connor Reilly got caught in a massive storm while driving to their wedding. Their car became stuck in an area of Bogota prone to flooding, and they called for help. Officer Michael Laferrera responded, and got his car as close as possible to the stranded vehicle. He climbed on the roof, then reached out to Torens, who had climbed out of her sunroof.
Torens was in her wedding dress, which managed to stay dry throughout the entire ordeal. Reilly scrambled out behind her, and the couple went on to continue their wedding festivities. "It was definitely a first for my career and [Laferrera's] career," Sgt. Geoffrey Cole told NorthJersey.com. Catherine Garcia
On Monday, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said a firefighter from Utah has died battling the Mendocino Complex fire in Northern California. Cal Fire did not identify the firefighter, saying "fact finding on the accident is ongoing and notification of the next of kin in progress." The Mendocino Complex fire, the largest in California's recorded history, has burned about 350,000 acres and destroyed 139 homes in Lake, Mendocino, and Colusa counties. One of the two conjoined fires, the Ranch Fire, is completely contained while the River Fire is 59 percent contained.
It has been an unusually hot and destructive summer for wildfires in California, and more than 40 people have been killed in fires throughout the state since last fall, the Los Angeles Times reports. Recently, two firefighters died battling the Ferguson Fire in Yosemite, and the Carr Fire claimed eight lives: a firefighter, bulldozer operator, mechanic, PG&E utility worker, and four civilians. Peter Weber
Late Monday, the West Virginia House of Delegates voted to impeach all four justices on the Supreme Court of Appeals, the state's highest court.
The lawmakers approved 11 articles of impeachment against the justices, and impeached the court as a whole for not enacting policies to prevent wasteful spending, The New York Times reports. In June, Chief Justice Allen Loughry was suspended after being accused of lying to lawmakers and using state property for personal use. He is facing a 23-count federal indictment.
Loughry and another justice, Robin Davis, have been accused of frivolous spending on office renovations, with Loughry purchasing, among other items, a $32,000 couch. Two other justices were charged with overpaying retired justices who filled in for them, and in July, a fifth justice resigned after pleading guilty to fraud for using a state car for personal business.
This now moves to the state Senate, and if the justices are convicted at trial, Gov. Jim Justice (R) will pick their replacements. Most of the justices were elected as Democrats, the Times reports, and Democratic lawmakers are concerned that this is an easy way for the Republican-led legislature to assist Justice in appointing GOP justices. Catherine Garcia