×
May 10, 2018

The Treasury Department inspector general's office has opened up an investigation into whether confidential banking documents for Essential Consultants LLC, Michael Cohen's shell company, were leaked, spokesman Rich Delmar said Wednesday. On Tuesday, Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, released a seven-page dossier listing payments to Essential Consultants from several companies, including the U.S. subsidiary of Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg's Renova Group, AT&T, Novartis, and Korea Aerospace Group.

The New York Times confirmed the gist of Avenatti's research, and the companies acknowledged they that had paid Cohen, President Trump's personal lawyer, purportedly for consulting advice on health care, real estate, and "insights" into the Trump White House. Delmar said Inspector General Eric Thorson's investigation, which will look for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act, was sparked by the New York Times report. On Wednesday, Cohen's legal team contested some of Avenatti's findings and said it appears Avenatti has access to Cohen's bank records, and Cohen "has no reason to believe that Avenatti is in lawful possession of those records."

Experts say Avenatti's language suggests he had access to confidential Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) that banks file when they see an unusual or suspicious transaction. "This has the appearance of a leak," former Treasury deputy general counsel Daniel Stipano told The Washington Post. He said hundreds or thousands of law enforcement and government officials have access to a database of SARs.

On MSNBC Wednesday night, Avenatti wouldn't tell Rachel Maddow where he got his information, but he argued that the Treasury Department should just release the three SARs filed on Essential Consultants. "Normally SARs are confidential, and the reason why they're confidential is because you don't want to tip off the target of the SAR," he said, but when The Wall Street Journal spilled the beans in March, "Michael Cohen became aware that at least one SAR had been filed." Watch below. Peter Weber

2:17 a.m.

"Everybody is breathlessly waiting for the Mueller report to come out, and there have been signs today that it might, maybe, possibly, definitely, or not be really soon," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. Wednesday's sign was yet another senior member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team wrapping up her work. "You know what that means?" Colbert asked. "Probably something."

With all the clues out there, "it's like we're three-quarters of the way through a Scooby-Doo episode," he said. "Just pull the mask off the monster, okay? We know it's Old Man Trump! 'I would've gotten away with it, too, if I wasn't totally guilty.'" At the same time, "some of the clues are pointing to the investigation not being over," he said, nodding to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein disclosing he's going to stay on the job just a little bit longer.

"Now, we've been on high Muller alert" since Feb. 21, when CNN noted some boxes being removed from the special counsel's office, Colbert said. "Yes, CNN is stalking Robert Mueller," but "the media has to look for whatever signs they can find, because the Mueller team has been completely silent. It's like trying to divine messages from the great volcano god — which, come to think of it, is exactly what Robert Mueller looks like."

Whenever Mueller submits his report, Attorney General William Barr will decide what parts of it to release to Congress or make public. But according to CNN, the White House expects to review whatever he plans to release — "you know, the way we let criminals edit their own indictment," Colbert said. Watch below. Peter Weber

1:38 a.m.

When DeLauren McKnight found out she was a perfect kidney donor match for her father, Billy Houze, it just made sense.

"My dad saved me 27 years ago when I was eight months old," the North Carolina resident told Inside Edition. "He saved my life so I could later save his." Houze and his wife adopted McKnight in 1992, and he has "always provided for me," McKnight said. "There is nothing I wouldn't do for my dad to see him live the life he is destined for."

Houze had gallbladder surgery in 2016, and soon after, his kidneys began to fail. A pastor, he is now on dialysis three times a week. His name was put on a kidney donation list, but doctors warned it could take up to eight years to find a donor. All of Houze's children were tested, and only McKnight was a match. "I was just amazed," she said. The pair are now undergoing follow-up tests, and surgery should be scheduled within the next few weeks. Catherine Garcia

1:12 a.m.

President Trump continues to snipe at the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and The Daily Show's Trevor Noah continues to be amazed. "I really can't believe Trump is beefing with a dead man — and losing," he said Wednesday night. But don't worry, "Trump still has time to fight with people who are still alive, and this week his opponent of choice is George Conway."

Conway, a conservative lawyer and husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, has gotten Trump's goat by repeatedly tweeting the clinical definition for narcissistic personality disorder. "Look, I'm not saying Trump is a normal person, but you can't just sit at home and diagnose a mental illness over Twitter," Noah said, and then he started reading the symptoms. "I take it back, this is the most perfect match between disease and person I have ever seen."

Trump's pushback was unequivocally bad, though, Noah said. "Damn, Donald Trump calling someone 'the husband from hell' is pretty amazing. I mean, this is the same dude who has a separate checkbook for paying off porn stars." Stuck in the middle, meanwhile, is Kellyanne Conway, and "you've gotta admit this sucks for her," Noah said. "No discussion of someone's marriage problems should ever be on cable news, all right? It should be on Dr. Phil." And since Dr. Phil wasn't available, Noah took matters into his own hands.

Late Night's Seth Meyers marveled that "the guy who called his opponents 'babies' has spent his entire term as president whining about people being mean to him, from Saturday Night Live to John McCain to Google," and now Conway. "I'm sorry, but you are the last person who should call anyone else 'the husband from hell,'" he said. "You've been divorced twice, you paid hush money to a porn star, your affairs were all over the tabloids, and you misspelled your wife's name. If anything, 'Husband From Hell' sounds like the name a Lifetime movie about you." Peter Weber

12:58 a.m.

At least 1,500 hotel guests in South Korea had no idea there were spy cameras hidden in their rooms and the footage was being livestreamed to the internet, police said Wednesday.

The cameras were concealed inside 30 hotels in 10 cities. The videos were streamed to a site that has more than 4,000 members who pay for access. Police said they have arrested four men in connection with the case.

Law enforcement agents in South Korea have been dealing with an uptick in spy cameras recording unsuspecting people, and it's become such a problem that female inspectors now search Seoul's public bathrooms to make sure there aren't any hidden cameras, BBC News reports. In 2017, police investigated more than 6,400 reports of illegal filming, and last year, tens of thousands of women marched in cities across South Korea to demand an end to such recordings. Catherine Garcia

12:19 a.m.

Born 16 weeks early, Isabella Ciriello spent the first three months of her life in the neonatal intensive care unit, listening to Mozart sonatas inside her incubator.

Ciriello's doctor at New York-Presbyterian Komansky Children's Hospital, Jeffrey Perlman, told her mother that premature babies find classical music soothing, and she began playing it for her daughter when she was about 49 days old. Now 12, Ciriello plays the guitar, piano, and drums, and believes that this early exposure sparked her interest in classical music.

Last summer, Ciriello asked to meet the doctor who took care of her in the NICU, and during lunch with Perlman, he told her that he would love to have an "orchestra of all my favorite patients" come back and play for the babies now in the NICU. Ciriello took him up on his offer, and held a performance in the NICU to mark World Prematurity Month, playing five songs on her guitar. It wasn't just the babies taking in the music — nurses and doctors, including some who took care of Ciriello 12 years ago, came in to listen. "I was in their position once," Ciriello said of the babies, and "it feels good to give back and help them." Catherine Garcia

March 20, 2019

Less than a week after a gunman murdered at least 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern effectively banned the sale of AR-15s and all similar assault rifles Thursday afternoon. "Six days after this attack, we are announcing a ban on all military-style semi-automatics (MSSA) and assault rifles in New Zealand," Ardern said. "Related parts used to convert these guns into MSSAs are also being banned, along with all high-capacity magazines."

These changes will require legislation, and Ardern said she expects the bans to be enshrined in law by April 11, with a buy-back program put in place afterward. In the meantime, the government has immediately reclassified "virtually all" of the weapons she mentioned so buying them now require a special permit from the police. "I can assure people that there is no point in applying for such a permit," Ardern added.

"I strongly believe that the vast majority of legitimate gun owners in New Zealand will understand that these moves are in the national interest, and will take these changes in their stride," Ardern said. She got immediate backing from the trade group Federated Farmers, which said "this will not be popular among some of our members, but after a week of intense debate and careful consideration by our elected representatives and staff, we believe this is the only practicable solution."

Australia banned semi-automatic weapons after a 1996 mass shooting in which a gunman with an AR-15 murdered 35 people. Peter Weber

March 20, 2019

Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter made a most triumphant announcement on Wednesday, revealing that they will start filming a third Bill & Ted movie, Bill & Ted Face the Music, this summer.

Reeves and Winter will reprise their roles as Ted Logan and Bill S. Preston Esq., respectively. Entertainment Weekly reports that the movie will follow the best friends as they encounter a "visitor from the future [who] warns them that only their song can save life as we know it and bring harmony to the universe." After Reeves and Winter shared the big news, Orion Pictures announced the release date: Aug. 21, 2020.

Bill & Ted Face the Music is set to be directed by Dean Parisot, with Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, writers who worked on the earlier films, penning the screenplay. Catherine Garcia

See More Speed Reads