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April 19, 2018
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President Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has dropped libel lawsuits against BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS over last year's publication of a dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, Politico reports. Among its other allegations, the dossier claims Cohen "secretly [met] with several Russian Presidential Administration (PA) Legal Department officials" in Prague in August 2016 and that he is "heavily engaged in a cover up and damage limitation operation in the attempt to prevent the full details of Trump's relationship with Russia being exposed."

Cohen has repeatedly denied going to Prague, tweeting in January 2017 after the publication of the dossier that he had never visited the Czech city "in my life." McClatchy wrote a week ago that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has "evidence that … Cohen secretly made a late-summer trip to Prague during the 2016 presidential campaign," adding that if their reporting is true, "it would … be one of the most significant developments thus far in [Mueller's] investigation of whether the Trump campaign and the Kremlin worked together to help Trump win the White House." Cohen replied by tweeting again "no matter how many times or ways they write it, I have never been to Prague."

Cohen is also wrapped up in a suit brought by adult film star Stormy Daniels, and pursuing the libel case "could have [made it] difficult for Cohen to convince that judge to put Daniels' case on hold while Cohen continued to press civil suits in other federal courts," Politico writes.

In a statement, Cohen's attorney David Schwartz said: "We believe the defendants defamed my client, and vindicating Mr. Cohen's rights was — and still remains — important. But given the events that have unfolded, and the time, attention, and resources needed to prosecute these matters, we have dismissed the matters, despite their merits." Jeva Lange

10:52 a.m. ET

Women who have accused former movie producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual abuse and harassment reacted strongly to his surrender to New York police on Friday. A few of the more than 50 women who have alleged misconduct took to social media to address his arrest.

Rose McGowan, who alleges that Weinstein raped her in 1997, appeared on Megyn Kelly Today and Good Morning America and described how his criminal charges made her feel. "We got you," she said in a message to Weinstein. "I have to admit I didn't think I would see the day that he would have handcuffs on him. I have a visceral need for him to have handcuffs on."

Asia Argento, an actress who also alleges that Weinstein raped her in 1997, tweeted that Weinstein was taking "his first step on his inevitable descent to hell," additionally asking what took so long. In response to a photo of Weinstein smiling as he walked out of the NYPD station in handcuffs, Argento wrote "wipe that smile off your face you f--king monster."

Mira Sorvino, who alleges that Weinstein sexually harassed her and tried to pressure her into sex, had a simple message for the former mogul ahead of his criminal charges: "#Justice" Summer Meza

10:37 a.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Less than two weeks before the inauguration, President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, met with a Russian oligarch to discuss strengthening relations between Washington and Moscow, The New York Times reports. Viktor Vekselberg, who has ties to the Kremlin, met with Cohen three separate times, including on the day of the inauguration.

Just days afterwards, the private equity firm of Andrew Intrater, who is Vekselberg's cousin and client, awarded Cohen a $1 million contract. Intrater spoke to the Times, saying he did nothing wrong and made the decision independently.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Cohen was separately paid at least $400,000 to arrange a talk between Trump and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Cohen also received hundreds of thousands of dollars from businesses like AT&T and Novartis to provide access and insight into the Trump administration.

The Times writes that the Vekselberg meeting "sheds additional light on the intersection between Mr. Trump's inner-circle and Russians with ties to the Kremlin." Read more about the meetings at The New York Times. Jeva Lange

10:02 a.m. ET

President Trump's allies are claiming that the administration's decision to pull out of a historic summit with Kim Jong Un is evidence of his deal-making skills, even as critics are citing the move as proof that Trump was unprepared and in over his head. Following Trump's letter notifying Kim that he was pulling out of talks, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan reemphasized that Pyongyang is willing to meet "at any time."

That was seemingly proof enough for Donald Trump Jr.:

But Junior might have jumped the gun. Notably, nothing has changed: No deal has been made, and Pyongyang has not said anything they haven't said before. Most significantly, North Korea has made no indication that it is now willing to denuclearize, the objection that led to the dissolution of the summit in the first place.

In fact, as Trump said Friday, the summit might even still be on. Jeva Lange

9:49 a.m. ET

President Trump apparently blindsided U.S. allies when he announced in an open letter Thursday that he would not be attending his scheduled June 12 summit in Singapore with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un. "Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting," Trump wrote.

Less than 24 hours later, Trump is now saying the June 12 meeting might go forward after all. "We will see what happens," Trump said Friday. "We're talking to them now."

ABC's Jonathan Karl asked Trump if "the North Koreans are playing games with him — skipping planned meetings and then saying they will meet anytime," to which Trump replied, "Jon, everybody plays games." Kim had told Trump that pulling out of the summit wasn't "the world's desire." Jeva Lange

9:47 a.m. ET
Screenshot/YouTube/NBC Nightly News

Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, was not pleased to find out that President Trump's attorney in the Russia investigation attended classified intelligence briefings on Thursday.

"What the president's team did yesterday is something no other citizen in this country would be permitted to do," said Steele, during a Friday appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe. Attorney Emmet Flood sat in on meetings with Justice Department officials regarding an FBI informant who spoke with Trump campaign staffers about Russia's interference in the 2016 election. Lawmakers called the move "completely inappropriate."

Steele found it inappropriate as well, and called out Republicans for being "complicit in this crazy."

"They're sitting here now and dumbing down the system, they're disintegrating the very pillars of justice in this country. A., by going after those institutions like the FBI and the DOJ, but then permitting the president to behave in a way in which no other American citizen — and they know damn well that this is true — would be able to behave." Watch Steele's comments below, via MSNBC. Summer Meza

Summer Meza

9:16 a.m. ET
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When Donald Trump announced he was running for president in 2015, he also set the tone for how he would speak about immigration. "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best," he told the crowd, going on to describe immigrants as criminals and "rapists," although "some, I assume, are good people." Recently Trump has come under fire again for his language, calling MS-13 gang members "animals."

The Washington Post on Thursday published a new revealing anecdote about how Trump joked in private about immigrants to his staff last year:

The night before Trump delivered his first speech to Congress in February 2017, he huddled with Jared Kushner and [Stephen] Miller in the Oval Office to talk immigration. The president reluctantly agreed with suggestions he strike a gentler tone on immigration in the speech.

Trump reminded them the crowds loved his rhetoric on immigrants along the campaign trail. Acting as if he was at a rally, he then read aloud a few made up Hispanic names and described potential crimes they could have committed, like rape or murder. Then, he said, the crowds would roar when the criminals were thrown out of the country — as they did when he highlighted crimes by illegal immigrants at his rallies, according to a person present for the exchange and another briefed on it later. Miller and Kushner laughed. [The Washington Post]

A third official disputed the story, telling the Post that Trump never made up Hispanic names to make a point about "crowd enthusiasm for crackdowns on criminal aliens." Read more about Trump's approach to immigration at The Washington Post. Jeva Lange

8:45 a.m. ET
Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company

Disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein turned himself in to police Friday morning. "Today, at the NYPD's 1st Precinct, Harvey Weinstein was arrested, processed, and charged with rape, criminal sex act, sex abuse, and sexual misconduct for incidents involving two separate women," the New York Police Department said. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are in the final stages of an investigation into allegations of sexual assault from actresses Paz de la Huerta and Lucia Evans. Weinstein, accused of wide-ranging abuse by more than 50 women, has denied all wrongdoing. After being booked and charged, NBC News reports, Weinstein is expected to be moved to New York County Criminal Court, then likely released on $1 million bail and fitted with an ankle monitor. Peter Weber

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