TRUMP-RUSSIA PROBE-COHEN Prosecutors: Illegal hush-money paid at Trump’s ‘direction’ WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department says Donald Trump directed illegal payments to buy the silence of women whose claims of extramarital affairs threatened his presidential…
Prosecutors: Illegal hush-money paid at Trump’s ‘direction’
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department says Donald Trump directed illegal payments to buy the silence of women whose claims of extramarital affairs threatened his presidential campaign.
The allegation made in court papers Friday is the first time the government has connected Trump to what it says are criminal campaign finance violations.
Federal prosecutors say former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen arranged the payments “in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump.
The filing stops short of accusing Trump of committing a crime. Whether a president can be prosecuted while in office remains a matter of legal dispute.
Cohen pleaded guilty in August. He’s said the payments to buy the silence of porn actress Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal were made to influence the election.
Trump has denied having an affair.
CONFEDERATE MONUMENT PROTEST-THE LATEST
The Latest: Charlottesville hopes verdict will help healing
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Charlottesville City Councilor Wes Bellamy says he hopes the guilty verdict in the trial of a man who drove his car into counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally will allow the city to move forward.
Thirty-two-year-old paralegal Heather Heyer was killed, and dozens of people were injured on Aug. 12, 2017, when James Alex Fields Jr. plowed into the group.
Bellamy said Friday that the psychological damage caused by the event cannot be undone, nor can the fact that Heyer was killed. But he said that the justice system has shown that it can do the right thing.
The 21-year-old Fields was found guilty Friday of first-degree murder in an attack that inflamed long-simmering racial and political tensions across the country.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s reluctance to hold a vote on a popular criminal justice bill is angering some Republican senators and creating an unusual rift with a longtime ally, Chuck Grassley of Iowa.
Grassley has spent years working to build a coalition around the bill. The Judiciary Committee chairman is pushing for a year-end vote and has support from President Donald Trump. But McConnell says it’s too divisive, and he’s refusing to bring the legislation forward.
The legislation would reduce mandatory sentences for some drug crimes. But opponents say it would allow some dangerous criminals to leave federal prison earlier.
Now there’s talk of attaching the justice reforms to a year-end spending bill that’s needed to keep government running. Senators want to avoid a partial shutdown days before Christmas.
Absentee vote changes may have invited ‘ballot harvesting’
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Changes made to absentee voting procedures five years ago in North Carolina may have emboldened workers to run the type of illegal “ballot-harvesting” operation alleged to have been used in a disputed congressional race.
That’s according to election experts and lawmakers.
Some observers are concerned that the changes made it possible for more people to apply for absentee ballots. Then so-called harvesters could collect unsealed ballots and manipulate them or throw out ones from minority voters who might have otherwise gone to the polls.
The heavily Republican Legislature crafted the 2013 law that scaled back some voting options amid a national GOP push for voter ID laws and other restrictions they said were aimed at preventing in-person voting fraud. Experts say that type of fraud is rare.
Ex-captives describe torture by Yemen’s Houthi rebels
MARIB, Yemen (AP) — Former Yemeni prisoners have told The Associated Press of the brutal torture they suffered at the hands of Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
Thousands have been imprisoned by the Houthi militia during Yemen’s four-year civil war. Many of them, an Associated Press investigation found, suffered extreme forms of torture — smashed in their faces with batons, hung by their wrists or genitals for weeks at a time or scorched with acid.
The Abductees’ Mothers Union, an association of female relatives of detainees jailed by Houthis, has documented at least 1,000 cases of torture in a network of secret prisons, including 126 who died of the abuse.
BC-IMMIGRATION-TEEN DETENTION CAMPS
Caregivers for 3600 migrant teens lack complete abuse checks
Nearly every adult who wants to work with children in the U.S. — from nannies to teachers — has undergone state screenings to ensure they have no proven history of abusing or neglecting kids. But The Associated Press has learned that a major exception is the staff at two federal facilities holding 3,600 migrant teens in the government’s care.
Florida law bans any outside employer from reviewing information in its child welfare system, so the child abuse background checks aren’t being conducted at a Miami-area detention center. The federal facility does ensure its staffers pass criminal history and FBI fingerprint checks, however.
A tent city in Tornillo, Texas, also is not putting staff through the child abuse background checks routinely required for adults who work with children.
The Latest: Huawei exec to spend weekend in Canadian jail
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Chinese executive will spend the weekend in jail after a Canadian judge said he needs to weigh her proposed bail conditions.
Meng Wanzhou’s lawyer also says he will continue his arguments for her bail on Monday.
Meng is the chief financial officer of telecommunications giant Huawei and daughter of its founder.
She is facing possible extradition to the U.S, where officials allege that Huawei used a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment in Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.
The U.S. also says that Meng and Huawei misled American banks about its business dealings in Iran.
Meng was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport last Saturday — the same day that Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping of China agreed over dinner to a 90-day cease-fire in a trade dispute that threatens to disrupt global commerce.
PEARL HARBOR-REMEMBERING FROM AFAR
Pearl Harbor attack survivor remembers the day from afar
HONOLULU (AP) — Retired U.S. Navy Cmdr. Don Long was alone on an anchored military seaplane in the middle of a bay across the island from Pearl Harbor when Japanese warplanes started striking Hawaii on December 7, 1941 — watching from afar as the bombs and bullets came closer, eventually reaching and destroying his solitary outpost.
The waves of attacking planes reached his military installation on Kaneohe Bay soon after Pearl Harbor was struck, and the young sailor saw buildings and planes start to explode all around him.
When the gunfire finally reached him, setting the aircraft ablaze, he was forced to jump into the water and swim through fire to safety.
Now, 77 years later, Long will remember that day in Napa, California, where the 97-year-old survivor will reflect on the anniversary and honor those who died.
Report: Uber files preliminary papers for Wall Street debut
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Ride-hailing giant Uber has filed confidential preliminary paperwork for selling stock to the public.
That’s according to a report late Friday in the Wall Street Journal.
Citing people familiar with the matter whom it did not identify, the Journal says San Francisco-based Uber Technologies Inc. filed the paperwork earlier this week. That would indicate it could go public within the first three months of next year.
Uber declined to comment on the Journal report.
The filing would come on the heels of a similar move by Uber’s smaller rival Lyft. The two initial public offerings could raise billions for the two companies to fuel their expansions, while giving investors their first chance to buy stakes in the ride-hailing phenomenon.
US appeals court won’t immediately allow Trump asylum ban
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A divided U.S. appeals court has refused to immediately allow the Trump administration to enforce a ban on asylum for any immigrants who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
In a 2-1 ruling late Friday, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the ban is likely inconsistent with existing U.S. law.
An email to a spokesman for the Justice Department was not immediately returned.
At issue is President Donald Trump’s Nov. 9 proclamation that barred anyone who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border between official ports of entry from seeking asylum. Trump issued the proclamation in response to caravans of migrants approaching the border.
A lower court judge temporarily blocked the ban and later refused to immediately reinstate it. The administration appealed to the 9th Circuit.