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May 14, 2018

The lawyer representing adult film star Stormy Daniels has threatened to sue journalists if they do not "stop with the hit pieces," a screenshot of one correspondence shared by The Daily Caller's Peter J. Hasson shows. The warning by attorney Michael Avenatti came after The Daily Caller published an article digging into Avenatti's past, including allegations that he never paid for $160,000 worth of coffee from a supplier while he owned Tully's.

The article also noted Avenatti's preference for high-profile cases like going up against Jim Carrey. "I know this guy; he doesn't care about anybody but himself," one person who worked with Avenatti told The Daily Caller reporters.

The email sent to Hasson by Avenatti has the subject line "Cut it Out" and begins by saying the conversation is "off the record." Hasson notes that "of course [those] aren't terms I agreed to since it was an uninvited email." In the message, Avenatti writes: "If you and your colleagues do not stop with the hit pieces that are full of lies and defamatory statements, I will have no choice but to sue each of you and your publication for defamation." Avenatti adds: "This is the last warning."

CNN's Ryan Lizza reacted to Avenatti's threat by tweeting that The Daily Caller's article "seems fair and well-reported to me" and added that "this is the sort of intimidation tactic, suggesting a complete contempt for what reporters do, that someone like Michael Cohen would use." The New York Times' Nick Confessore wrote that "the piece in question seems like a reasonably straightforward dig through public records." Read the email below. Jeva Lange

11:21 p.m. ET

Speaking to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Tuesday night, Michael Cohen's lawyer said his client has "knowledge on certain subjects" that should be of interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and he's "more than happy" to share "all that he knows."

Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer, pleaded guilty Tuesday to eight charges of bank and tax fraud and campaign finance law violations, and said he made hush payments to two women who claimed they had affairs with Trump "at the direction of a candidate for federal office." Davis told Maddow Cohen now feels "liberated to tell the truth, everything about Donald Trump that he knows."

Davis said one thing Cohen is open to talking about it is a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, attended by Donald Trump Jr., Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, and his former campaign chairman and recently convicted felon Paul Manafort. They met with several Russians connected to the Kremlin, who promised compromising information on Hillary Clinton, and there is the "obvious possibility of a conspiracy to collude and corrupt the American democracy system," Davis said.

The lawyer also appeared on CNN's Cuomo Prime Time, where he told host Chris Cuomo he believes Cohen "has information about Mr. Trump that would be of interest in Washington as well as New York state." Watch the Cuomo interview below. Catherine Garcia

10:16 p.m. ET

Lawyer and academic Alan Dershowitz appeared on Tucker Carlson's Fox News show Tuesday night, where he scoffed at those who are "playing funeral music for Trump" in the wake of his former campaign chairman being convicted of eight counts of financial fraud and his former personal lawyer pleading guilty to eight felony charges.

Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws and making an "excessive campaign contribution," and said in 2016, he made payments to two women who claimed they had affairs with President Trump, in order to keep them quiet. Cohen said the payments were made "in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office" for the "purpose of influencing the election."

Carlson said it's a "common scenario among famous people" to make secret payments to keep people quiet about possible wrongdoing, and wondered, "How is that a crime?" Dershowitz explained that the "allegation here is it was Cohen who paid it and made a campaign contribution, which he didn't report, at the direction of the president." When Carlson said he still didn't understand, Dershowitz again said if "somebody else pays the money in order to influence the outcome of the election, it is technically, perhaps, a violation of the election laws."

Dershowitz then declared that the violation of election laws is no big deal, and "regarded as kind of jaywalking in the realm of things about elections. Every administration violates the election laws, every candidate violates the election laws when they run for president, usually they pay a fine or something like that. Here, they're trying to elevate this to an impeachable offense or a felony against the president." Sure, it was a "negative day," Dershowitz admitted, but "we're a long way from tolling the bells for this administration." Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia

9:03 p.m. ET
Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook has removed 652 pages, groups, and accounts that originated in Iran and Russia and sought to covertly spread political content to users in the United States, United Kingdom, Latin America, and the Middle East, the company announced Tuesday.

The accounts were in violation of Facebook's terms of service due to "coordinated inauthentic behavior." These campaigns were separate and Facebook has not been able to find any connection between them, but they used "similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing," Facebook said in a blog post.

Cybersecurity experts were able to determine that some of the pages were linked to Iranian state media, and others to Russian military intelligence services. The Iranian accounts were able to spend more than $12,000 on ads and hosted more than 20 events, Facebook said, and also attempted to spread malware. Catherine Garcia

8:18 p.m. ET

It was not a good day for President Trump — his former campaign chairman was found guilty of eight counts of financial fraud and his former personal lawyer and fixer pleaded guilty to eight counts of financial crimes — but he was able to take solace in a familiar cry emanating from a crowd of supporters Tuesday night in West Virginia.

Trump came to West Virginia to drum up support for Republican candidates like Senate hopeful Patrick Morrisey. Morrisey, West Virginia's state attorney general, joined him onstage, and mentioned that his opponent Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) once said nice things about Hillary Clinton. As soon as her name escaped his lips, the crowd began chanting, "Lock her up! Lock her up!"

But before you think this was the night's only moment of irony, the crowd later started in on another common refrain, shouting, "Drain the swamp! Drain the swamp!" Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia

7:37 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Apparently a guilty plea is not enough to get a reaction out of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

The Washington Post's Josh Dawsey asked Ryan's office for their reaction to President Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleading guilty on Tuesday to eight counts of financial crimes. Their response was ... this: "We are aware of Mr. Cohen's guilty plea to these serious charges. We will need more information than is currently available at this point."

The information that is currently available includes Cohen admitting he made hush payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, two women who said they had affairs with Trump, "in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office" with the "purpose of influencing the election." Catherine Garcia

6:58 p.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and his wife and former campaign manager, Margaret, were indicted on charges of wire fraud, falsifying records, campaign finance violations, and conspiracy.

The Justice Department has spent more than a year investigating the Hunters. The are accused of misusing $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses and filing false campaign finance records. Several charges on a campaign credit card have come under scrutiny, including dental work and airline fare for his family's pet rabbit. Hunter has maintained his innocence, and said any charges were accidental.

Federal Election Commission records show that after Hunter was questioned about money spent on video games in 2016, he reimbursed his campaign account $65,000, CNN reports. The Hunters are set to be arraigned Thursday morning in San Diego. Catherine Garcia

6:33 p.m. ET
Yana Paskova/Getty Images

President Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to eight counts of financial crimes, something his own lawyer said he needed to do "so that his family can move on to the next chapter."

On Twitter, Lanny Davis said that Cohen is "fulfilling his promise made on July 2nd to put his family and country first and tell the truth about Donald Trump." In a follow-up tweet, Davis said Cohen "stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn't they be a crime for Donald Trump?"

Two of the charges are in connection with payments Cohen made before the 2016 presidential election to two women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who said they had affairs with Trump. In his plea agreement, Cohen said he made those payments "in coordination with an at the direction of a candidate for federal office" with the "purpose of influencing the election." Catherine Garcia

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