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March 13, 2014

On Wednesday, federal Judge Shira Scheindlin dismissed the high-profile case against Devyani Khobragade, India's former acting consul general in New York, on relatively narrow grounds involving diplomatic immunity. When U.S. prosecutors had Khobragade arrested in 2013 for alleged visa fraud and illegally underpaying her domestic help, they insisted that her job at the consulate didn't provide her diplomatic immunity against the charges. The day before they indicted her, however, Khobragade was transferred to India's United Nations mission, where she did have broad immunity. Because she had the greater diplomatic protections when she was indicted, the case had to be tossed, Scheindlin ruled.

Federal prosecutor Preet Bharara said he will pursue a new indictment against Khobragade, based on an opening in Scheindlin's ruling. Khobragade's lawyer, Daniel Arshack, essentially threatened Bharara not to file new charges, which he said "might be viewed an aggressive act and one that (prosecutors) would be ill-advised to pursue." The case roiled diplomatic relations between the U.S. and India. --Peter Weber

3:39 p.m.

After Time's person of the year shortlist reminded us all what a decade this year has been, Google is here to hammer that point home even further.

Google on Wednesday released its annual "year in search" list, which takes a look at which topics earned the biggest spike in Google search traffic in 2018 compared to the year before. It reveals that the No. 1 global search trend of the year was the World Cup, which, despite how it might feel, was only five months ago. The next two most popular search topics concern two musicians who died suddenly at a young age: Avicii, who committed suicide in April, and Mac Miller, who died of a drug overdose in September.

Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee, who died in November, took the fourth spot, and the fifth is the Marvel Studios' film Black Panther, which was released in February and saw the biggest search spike of any movie in 2018.

Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, topped the list of most popular people, followed by singer Demi Lovato, actor Sylvester Stallone, YouTuber Logan Paul, and reality TV star Khloé Kardashian. The World Cup also topped the list of news events, followed by Hurricane Florence, the Mega Millions results, the Royal Wedding, the election results, Hurricane Michael, and Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation.

All of the lists look a bit different when specifically honing in on the U.S., though. The World Cup also had the biggest search spike domestically, but in America, designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain made the top five searches after being further down the list worldwide. The biggest movie in the U.S. was Black Panther, the biggest video game was Fortnite, the biggest TV show was Roseanne, the biggest song was "Bohemian Rhapsody," the biggest athlete was Tristan Thompson, and the biggest politician was Stacey Abrams. Check out the full results at Google. Brendan Morrow

2:39 p.m.

The National Enquirer's publisher is cooperating with New York prosecutors, telling them that it paid one of the women alleging she had an affair with President Trump $150,000 and did so specifically to prevent her from influencing the election.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York said Wednesday that prosecutors reached a non-prosecution agreement with American Media, Inc., the Enquirer's publisher, and that as part of this agreement, AMI says it "made the $150,000 payment in concert with a candidate's presidential campaign, and in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election," per NBC News.

Karen McDougal, a model, says she had an affair with Trump in 2006 and 2007, which Trump denies. Prosecutors also say AMI has admitted the "principal purpose" of paying McDougal was to "suppress" her story and "prevent it from influencing the election."

This news comes after Trump's ex-lawyer, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to three years in prison in part due to his role in violating campaign finance laws by paying McDougal in order to keep her silent about an alleged affair. Cohen did not pay McDougal directly but rather made arrangements for AMI to purchase the rights to her story but not publish it.

AMI's admission in court stands in contrast to its 2016 statement to The Wall Street Journal: "AMI has not paid people to kill damaging stories about Mr. Trump." Brendan Morrow

2:31 p.m.

If Special Counsel Robert Mueller doesn't release all his dirt on President Trump, Michael Cohen just might do it himself.

Cohen, Trump's former fixer, was sentenced to three years in prison Wednesday for financial crimes, many of which also implicated the president. But in the months prior, Cohen spent more than 70 hours cooperating with Mueller's team as it investigates Trump's ties with Russia. And once Mueller "completes his investigation and issues his final report," Cohen plans to "state publicly all he knows about Mr. Trump," Cohen's representative Lanny Davis said in a statement.

Most of Cohen's financial crime charges, which composed the bulk of his sentence, stemmed from his hush money payments to two women on Trump's orders. Cohen acknowledged this and other close work with Trump during Wednesday's sentencing, tearfully saying he felt it was his "duty" to cover up his boss' "dirty deeds."

Just what those deeds are, though, largely remain sealed with Mueller's team. A prosecutor from the special counsel's office did say Wednesday that Cohen provided "valuable information" to the Russia investigation. But judging by just how redacted Mueller's previous reports have been, we'll likely have to wait for Cohen's tell-all to learn more. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:24 p.m.

It has not been a good day for Michael Cohen. The former lawyer and "fixer" for President Trump was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in hush-money payments to two women during the presidential campaign, and for lying to Congress about Trump's business dealings in Russia. But that's not all. In drawings of today's courtroom scene, sketch artist Jane Rosenberg depicted Cohen as a half-human, half-owl creature, looking wracked with guilt that his admissions of wrongdoing have done nothing to assuage.

REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

Cohen's head — possibly swollen with self-recrimination and wonder at his fall — is nearly twice the size of that of the attorney at his side. Cohen's eyes seem to be literally sliding from his face, as if mere tears are not enough to convey his sorrow. The sketch seems an homage to Edvard Munch's The Scream (or, at least, to Rosenberg's similarly expressive 2015 work, Tom Brady) — could it be a similar commentary on man's anxiety? Cohen, for one, will soon have plenty of time to ponder the answer. Jacob Lambert

1:47 p.m.

First Oprah left us — now Ellen wants to leave us too.

The comedian and star of The Ellen DeGeneres Show is considering leaving daytime television after her contract ends in 2020. In a Wednesday profile in The New York Times, DeGeneres revealed that she's tired of dancing her rhythmless dance and thinks it might be time to move on.

Currently in its 16th season after originally airing in 2003, The Ellen DeGeneres Show has controlled the host's schedule for well over a decade. Her wife, actress Portia de Rossi, thinks quitting the show would give DeGeneres the opportunity to explore other creative projects such as radio and podcasts. "I just think she's such a brilliant actress and stand-up that it doesn't have to be this talk show for her creativity,” said de Rossi. "I don't see the end of her show as her career ending." However, there are others in DeGeneres' family, like her brother, who believe she shouldn't stop.

More recently, DeGeneres has started dipping back into stand-up (after 15 years!) with her new Netflix special, Ellen DeGeneres: Relatable. The special shows the comedian in a new light, reports BuzzFeed News, with DeGeneres poking fun at how fame has made her unrelatable and even cursing.

Whether she quits or not, DeGeneres hopes to act in more movies. In another sign of her breaking from her ultra-nice public persona, she says she'd like to play "someone unappealing." Read more at the The New York Times. Amari Pollard

1:29 p.m.

Britain is slated to leave the European Union — and its prime minister is ready to exit as well.

At a Conservative Party meeting on Wednesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said she won't run as the party's leader in the next general election, a lawmaker at the meeting told Reuters. Instead, she'll step down as soon as "she has delivered an orderly Brexit," a member of Parliament tweeted Wednesday. May's revelation comes just ahead of a vote of no confidence scheduled for Wednesday night, which could force her out of office early.

May's approval has been waning the past few weeks as her signature promise to leave the E.U. flounders in Parliament. The U.K. voted for Brexit more than two years ago, but lawmakers have since been torn over just how close Britain should remain with the rest of Europe. May's Brexit deal was set for consideration in Parliament this week, but she postponed the vote over fears it would fail.

The whole Brexit debacle — which even some experts don't quite understand — sparked at least 48 pro-Brexit members of May's Conservative Party to trigger a no-confidence vote in their leader. If May gets no-confidence votes from a majority of Conservative MPs on Wednesday night, she'll have to step down and Tories would vote on a new leader. Regardless of the no-confidence vote's results, May affirmed Wednesday she wouldn't try to lead the party again in the next general election slated for 2022, per Reuters.

Here's a helpful chart for what happens if May loses the vote this afternoon. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:47 p.m.

President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen on Wednesday said he takes "full responsibility" for his actions before being sentenced to three years in prison.

Cohen in his hearing, which came after he pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and lying to Congress, said that he is "getting my freedom back" after having lived in a "personal and mental incarceration" as a result of agreeing to work for Trump, per Courthouse News. While working for Trump, Cohen said he felt it was his "duty" to cover up his boss' "dirty deeds," and this "blind loyalty" to Trump caused him to "follow a path of darkness rather than light."

Cohen went on to apologize directly to the American people, saying, "You deserve to know the truth and lying to you was unjust." By pleading guilty, Cohen said he wants to ensure “that history will not remember me as the villain of [Trump's] story," CNN reports.

Judge William Pauley subsequently sentenced Cohen to three years in prison, saying that Cohen "appears to have lost his moral compass" and that he "should have known better," Bloomberg reports. Cohen reportedly shook his head as if in disbelief as the sentence was read. Brendan Morrow

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