March 4, 2019

A lawyer for Michael Cohen brought up the possibility of a pardon to President Trump's attorneys last April, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal in a report published Monday.

The discussion took place after FBI agents raided Cohen's home, office, and hotel room. His lawyer at the time, Stephen Ryan, was reviewing seized files with Trump's attorneys. The lawyers — Jay Sekulow, Rudy Giuliani, and Joanna Hendon — rejected the idea of a pardon, although Giuliani said it could happen in the future, the Journal reports.

People familiar with the matter said Ryan seemed to hint that if there were no hope of a pardon, Cohen would start cooperating with federal prosecutors. Giuliani declined to confirm to the Journal whether or not Ryan asked about a pardon, and congressional investigators are now looking into the conversation.

After Ryan finished reviewing the seized documents, Cohen hired a new attorney and went on ABC News, saying his "first loyalty" was to his family and the United States. He has spoken to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office several times, as well as investigators in the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan who are investigating the Trump Organization.

Last year, Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations in connection with paying off two women who said they had sexual affairs with Trump. Catherine Garcia

10:39 p.m.

Media insiders are labeling the South Carolina Democratic debate a "disaster" following a messy and often out-of-control evening that frequently devolved into shouting matches between the candidates. The event marked CBS News' first foray into hosting a debate this election cycle, and the moderators — CBS Evening News anchor Norah O'Donnell and CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King — often appeared to be overpowered by the seven candidates they were supposed to be keeping in line.

TV regulars at rival networks, including former DNC head and Fox News contributor Donna Brazile, Morning Joe's Mika Brzezinski, and The View's Meghan McCain, expressed horror over how the night unfolded:

Brian Stelter, the chief media corespondent for CNN, confirmed the industry's general reception of the debate:

Sean Illing of Vox was even blunter: "These are the worst moderators in the history of moderation," he tweeted. Jeva Lange

10:12 p.m.

The recent comments made by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) about Cuba and its former leader Fidel Castro were bound to come up during Tuesday's Democratic primary debate in Charleston, South Carolina.

When the topic eventually made its way into the chaos, Sanders' fellow candidates zeroed in on his past praise for certain aspects of the Cuban government, such as its literary program and health care system. Sanders once again clarified he was merely pointing a few good things about the Castro regime, which he describes as otherwise authoritarian. But that wasn't good enough for his competitors.

Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, for example, said such comments could have consequences for Democrats down the line, suggesting the party could lose House and Senate races because of them. "We're not going to win these critical, critical House and Senate races if people in those races have to explain why the nominee of the Democratic Party is telling people to look at the bright side of the Castro regime," Buttigieg said.

Sanders once again argued he has routinely condemned authoritarianism before pointing out that the U.S. government supports Saudi Arabia despite its human rights violations. Tim O'Donnell

9:55 p.m.

If he didn't get his message across during the debate, all former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg had to do was wait for the commercial break.

During Tuesday night's Democratic debate in South Carolina, 60-second ads for Bloomberg aired during the first two commercial breaks. This didn't go over well on Twitter, where people, like former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, were upset at CBS for letting Bloomberg purchase the ad time:

Over the last three months, Bloomberg has spent more than $500 million of his own money on campaign advertisements. Catherine Garcia

9:36 p.m.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg may have been pummeled at a Democratic debate less than a week ago, but the crowd in South Carolina sounded surprisingly sympathetic to the billionaire candidate on Tuesday night. Attacks on Bloomberg often spurred the audience to loudly boo, while his attacks on his opponents would receive enthusiastic cheers:

The tone was so markedly different from that of the debate in Nevada that many viewers were suspicious of the authenticity of the hecklers:

Tickets to attend the South Carolina debate were prohibitively expensive, some have pointed out; the only way to obtain a ticket was to sponsor the debate, with such sponsorships ranging from $1,750 to $3,200 each. Whether that meant the demographic of the attendees naturally skewed toward a group that was more tolerant of billionaires — or if the hecklers' seats were being paid for by someone else — wasn't immediately clear. Jeva Lange

9:13 p.m.

The shouts of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the screeches of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and the shrieks of former Vice President Joe Biden ricocheted around the stage during Tuesday night's Democratic debate in South Carolina.

Right from the start, it was a raucous affair, with the candidates consistently — and loudly — interrupting each other and ignoring the time limits to respond. At one cacophonous point, it sounded like all of the candidates were trying to answer a question, but no one could understand what they were saying. When things settled down a bit, billionaire investor Tom Steyer tried to get a word in, but was scolded by Sanders; later, an annoyed Sanders tried to get former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg to stop talking by saying, "Hellllooo!" It didn't work.

Biden cracked the code about 30 minutes into the debate, saying, "I guess the only way to do this is jump in and speak twice as long as you should." He then attacked Steyer for once investing in private prisons, said Sanders hasn't passed "much of anything" during his time in the Senate, and refused to yield any of his time to the other candidates. "I'm gonna talk," he snapped, which got the crowd cheering. Expect none of these people to have a voice tomorrow. Catherine Garcia

9:13 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), like everyone else, has some regrets.

He let the country know about about one during Tuesday's Democratic primary debate in Charleston, South Carolina. Former Vice President Joe Biden went after Sanders for his past gun control record, which Biden doesn't think is strong enough.

Sanders was then asked about previously voting for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act which shields gun manufacturers from liability in shootings. Instead of immediately pushing back, he admitted he considers that one of the bad votes among the thousands of his votes he's cast during his time in Congress, adding that he now has a D-minus rating from the National Rifle Association.

He then went on to point out that Biden also has what he considers bad votes under his belt, like his support for the Iraq War, which Sanders didn't back. Tim O'Donnell

8:59 p.m.

The billionaire former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, has been slammed by his Democratic primary opponents for allegedly "buy[ing] his way into the debate[s]." On Tuesday night, he nearly admitted to buying a whole lot more than just that.

The Freudian slip came as Bloomberg was bragging about spending $100 million in the 2018 midterm elections to back 21 of the 40 Democrats who were elected to the House. "All of the new Democrats that came in, put Nancy Pelosi in charge, and gave the Congress the ability to control this president, I bought — I got them," Bloomberg said, quickly correcting himself.

Bloomberg is self-funding his campaign, the most expensive in presidential history; he broke the $500 million mark in ad spending on Monday. Read more about the former mayor's possible attempts to "buy an election" here at The Week. Jeva Lange

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