White House Tells CNN They’ll Revoke Acosta’s Press Credential Once Restraining Order Passes

CNN’s Brian Stelter reported in Sunday night’s Reliable Sources newsletter that the White House intends to revoke the Press Credential of CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta at the end of the month.

Judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered, on Friday, that Acosta’s “hard pass” be returned immediately. Kelly found that Acosta’s First Amendment rights superseded the White House’s right to hold orderly press conferences.

The ruling only represented a temporary “victory” for CNN and Acosta according to Stelter’s reporting (emphasis his):

After CNN won a temporary restraining order on Friday, forcing the White House to restore his press pass for 14 days, White House officials sent Acosta a letter stating that his pass is set to be suspended again once the restraining order expires.

From the looks of the letter, the W.H. is trying to establish a paper trail that will empower the administration to boot Acosta again at the end of the month.

CNN responded with this statement on Sunday: “The White House is continuing to violate the First and 5th Amendments of the Constitution. These actions threaten all journalists and news organizations. Jim Acosta and CNN will continue to report the news about the White House and the President.”

Acosta’s press credential had been revoked, reportedly at the direction of President Donald Trump, after a contentious White House press conference in which the CNN reporter persisted in asking follow-up questions and refused to give up a microphone despite Trump’s direction.

Supporters of Trump’s banning of Acosta believe that his disruptive behavior flouted accepted standards of White House decorum, while CNN and Acosta supporters point out disruptive questions are a time-honored journalist tradition. Or put another way, “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed; everything else is public relations.”

So it seems the ongoing war over First Amendment rights versus accepted standards of behavior will feature another battle, which will bring another distracting topic for cable news pundits to discuss at length. It’s almost as its a designed distraction from stories that paint the Trump administration in a less than flattering light?

UPDATE: CNN has responded by filed a status report asking for the Court to intervene. BuzzFeed News’ Zoe Tillman reports:

[Mediaite]

Trump says those who made ‘false statements’ about Kavanaugh ‘should be held liable’

Hours after his Supreme Court pick was sworn in Saturday, President Donald Trump said on Fox News that those who made up “false” stories about Brett Kavanaugh should be penalized.

Trump, talking with Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro, said he hated watching the slew of sexual assault allegations grow against Kavanaugh and dubbed all the accusations “fabrications” with “not a bit of truth.”

“I think that they should be held liable,” Trump told Pirro. “You can’t go around and whether it’s making up stories or making false statements about such an important position, you can’t do that. You can destroy somebody’s life.”

Pirro started the segment by congratulating the president on Kavanaugh’s swearing-in then asked about the accusations and whether any of those who came forward or promoted “falsehoods” should suffer “consequences.” She specifically asked about allegations brought by Julie Sweatnick, who was represented by lawyer Michael Avenatti.

Swetnick alleges she witnessed efforts by Kavanaugh and his classmate Mark Judge to get teenage girls “inebriated and disoriented so they could then be ‘gang-raped’ in a side room or bedroom by a ‘train’ of numerous boys.”

Avenatti has been dueling with the president for months in court representing porn star Stormy Daniels, who alleges an affair with Trump and signed a hush money deal to stay quiet.

[USA Today]

Trump Personally Directed His Son Eric, Michael Cohen to Silence Stormy Daniels

A new report indicates that Donald Trump personally involved himself in the effort to enforce the nondisclosure agreement that was meant to keep Stormy Daniels quiet about her alleged affair with the president.

Wall Street Journal says that in February, Trump tried to coordinate with his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, in order to bring a restraining order against Daniels and force her legal compliance with Cohen’s hush money scheme. This news comes months after Cohen implicated Trump as being directly connected to the hush money payments, which were found to be in violation of campaign finance law.

According to WSJ, Trump knew that Daniels intended to speak about their alleged liaison, so he order Cohen to work with his son Eric Trump to coordinate a legal response. The president’s son also reportedly signed a statement denying that the Trump Organization had any formal involvement in the Daniels case.

“Mr. Trump told Mr. Cohen to coordinate the legal response with Eric Trump, one of the president’s sons, and another outside lawyer who had represented Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization in other matters,” the report states. “Eric Trump, who is running the company with his brother in Mr. Trump’s absence, then tasked a Trump Organization staff attorney in California with signing off on the arbitration paperwork.”

[Mediaite]

Trump campaign files for arbitration against Omarosa over confidentiality breach

President Trump‘s campaign has filed for arbitration against former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, alleging she violated a non-disclosure agreement by publishing a tell-all book.
A Trump campaign official said in a statement it filed a claim with the American Arbitration Association in New York City against Manigault Newman “for breach of her 2016 confidentiality agreement with the Trump Campaign.”
The legal action ramps up the feud between Trump and his former adviser, who has engaged in a days-long media tour to promote her new book “Unhinged,” in which she assails the president as a racist and an incompetent leader.
The book draws upon her time on Trumps’ 2016 campaign and in the White House.
Manigault Newman has also released secret audio recordings of Trump, White House chief of staff John Kelly and Trump associates Katrina Pierson and Lynne Patton that she says back up explosive claims in her book.
Manigault Newman, who was fired from the White House in 2017, has admitted she signed a confidentiality agreement with Trump’s 2016 campaign. She also claims she was offered $15,000 per month and a job with Trump’s reelection campaign in exchange for signing a new non-disclosure agreement that guaranteed her silence.
She did not take the offer. Her book is set to be officially released on Tuesday. 
Manigault Newman has caused a headache for the White House by making a series of explosive claims about Trump, including that he used the n-word on the set of “The Apprentice,” which the president has denied.
Trump has sought to undercut Manigault Newman’s credibility by attacking her and rebutting her claims. But by doing so, the president has drawn criticism for his scorched-earth approach.
The latest example came on Tuesday morning, when Trump called Manigault Newman, who was once the highest-ranking African-American in the White House, “that dog.”
“When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!” Trump tweeted.

Theresa May: Trump told me to sue the EU

Donald Trump told Theresa May she should sue the EU rather than negotiate over Brexit, she has told the BBC.

The US president said on Friday at a joint news conference he had given Mrs May a suggestion – but she had found it too “brutal”.

Asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr what it was he said, she replied: “He told me I should sue the EU – not go into negotiations.”

It came as another government member resigned over her Brexit plans.

Robert Courts said he quit as a Parliamentary Private Secretary – an unpaid Parliamentary aide – at the foreign office to “express discontent” with Mrs May’s policy before key Brexit votes on Monday.

“I had to think who I wanted to see in the mirror for the rest of my life,” he said in tweet.

He could not tell his constituents he supported Mrs May’s proposals “in their current form,” he added.

Mr Courts replaced David Cameron as the Conservative MP for Witney, Oxfordshire in 2016.

[BBC]

NPR publishes audio of Cohen threatening reporter

New released audio recordings revealed on Thursday that President Trump‘s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen made a string of vulgar legal threats to a reporter in an effort to protect Trump.

The audio, taken from a 2015 interview with Cohen and then-Daily Beast reporter Tim Mak and published by NPR – Mak’s current employer – on Thursday, reveal Cohen making legal threats to Mak over a piece he was writing about a 1993 Trump biography.

The biography, written by former Newsweek reporter Harry Hurt III and titled “The Lost Tycoon,” details a sworn deposition from Trump’s first wife, Ivana, who alleged during her divorce proceedings that Trump had raped her.

When he reached out to Trump’s then-campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks for more information about the claim, Mak said he received an angry call from Cohen.

According to Mak, the lawyer initially attempted to convince him not to go through with the story by falsely claiming that spousal rape was not a crime.

“You’re talking about Donald Trump, you’re talking about the frontrunner for the GOP, presidential candidate, as well as private individual, who never raped anybody and of course understand that by the very definition you can’t rape your spouse,” Cohen said in one audio recording.

Spousal rape has been illegal in the state of New York, where Donald and Ivana Trump resided during their marriage, since 1984. The incident to which Ivana Trump’s claim refers took place in 1989.

“Mark my words for it, I will make sure that you and I meet one day over in the courthouse and I will take you for every penny you still don’t have, and I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know,” Cohen went on. “Do not even think about going where I know you’re planning on going. And that’s my warning for the day.”

“Michael, besides the warning, do you have a substantive comment that I can include in the piece that reflects your views on this?” Mak responds.

“I have no views because there’s no story,” Cohen said before warning Mak to “tread very f—ing lightly because what I’m going to do to you is going to be f—ing disgusting.”

“Do you understand me? Don’t think you can hide behind your pen because it’s not going to happen.” Cohen said. “I’m more than happy to discuss it with your attorney and with your legal counsel because motherf—er you’re going to need it.”

The release of the audio recordings come amid Cohen’s ongoing legal trouble.

Cohen is at the center of special counsel Robert Mueller‘s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. His home and office were raided by the FBI last month as part of Mueller’s investigation.

[The Hill]

Trump legal team blasts explosive Michael Wolff book in cease-and-desist letter

President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Charles Harder, has demanded on behalf of his client that author Michael Wolff and his publisher immediately “cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination” of a forthcoming book, “Fire and Fury, according to a letter obtained by ABC News.

The book is scheduled to be released next week but excerpts have caused a stir.

“We are investigating numerous false and/or baseless statements that you have made about Mr. Trump,” the lawyer wrote to Wolff.

The letter goes on to say they are looking into possible defamation of Trump and his family and invasion of privacy.

The lengthy letter to Wolff and Henry Holt and Co. Inc. goes on to accuse the author of actual malice.

It states, “Actual malice (reckless disregard for the truth) can be proven by the fact that the Book admits in the Introduction that it contains untrue statements. Moreover, the Book appears to cite to no sources for many of its most damaging statements about Mr. Trump. Also, many of your so-called ‘sources’ have stated publicly that they never spoke to Mr. Wolff and/or never made the statements that are being attributed to them. Other alleged ‘sources’ of statements about Mr. Trump are believed to have no personal knowledge of the facts upon which they are making statements or are known to be unreliable and/or strongly biased against Mr. Trump.”

Harder sent a similar letter to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon Wednesday night demanding he cease and desist from making allegedly false statements against the president and his family.

Bannon has not responded to ABC News’ request for comment. Wolff and his publisher have also not responded.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump hit back at Bannon in scathing comments, saying that when Bannon was fired “he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”

President Trump’s comments, which came in the form of a written statement from the White House, were in response to Bannon’s strident criticism of Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort for sitting down with a group of Russians who promised damaging information against Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election in excerpts from Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House”.

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party,” the president said in a statement. “Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base — he’s only in it for himself.”

[ABC News]

Reality

Man who lead the racist birther movement upset with book of “false” claims about him.

Trump Reportedly Threatened USGA With Lawsuit If It Moved Women’s Open

U.S. Golf Association executive director Mike Davis told members of the USGA’s executive committee that Donald Trump threatened to sue the organization if it moved the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open from Trump National Golf Club in Bedminister, N.J., according to a person with direct knowledge of the meeting.

Davis informed the USGA executive committee about Trump’s threat on a conference call about two years ago, just as Trump was beginning his successful campaign for president, according to the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the USGA has not publicly discussed the matter.

Davis, who told the group he and other USGA officials had met with Trump, told the executive committee, “We can’t get out of this. He’s going to sue us,” according to the person.

Reached on his cell phone Monday morning at Trump National, where the U.S. Women’s Open takes place this week, Davis said, “I have no comment on that. It would be inappropriate if I said that it happened or that it didn’t.”

Davis added later in a statement to USA TODAY Sports: “As a matter of policy, the terms of our contracts with championship host sites are confidential and accordingly the USGA will not comment. We are excited that our U.S. Women’s Open Championship week has begun and are focused on providing the ultimate test of golf for the best female players in the world.”

Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime attorney, referred request for comment to Trump organization executive vice president and chief legal officer Alan Garten and Trump organization executive vice president of development Larry Glick. USA TODAY Sports left messages for both men as well as two officials at Trump National in Bedminster Monday afternoon. None of the messages has been returned.

The USGA’s choice of Trump National to host the crown jewel of women’s golf was barely noticed when it was announced in 2012. That began to change in the spring of 2015, according to the person, with Trump’s interest in and subsequent announcement that he was going to run for president.

“More than anything, it was very pre-emptive, before the storm if he did get elected president,” the person said. “We were starting to get some pressure and so it was brought up and he said he would sue us if we moved it.”

Then, in October 2016, during the final weeks of the presidential campaign, the infamous Access Hollywood video tape was made public, on which Trump is shown bragging that his celebrity status allowed him to grope women without having to worry about ramifications. This was particularly embarrassing for the USGA, which, as the national governing body for golf in the United States, has sought for years to attract more women and girls to a game with a history of discriminatory and exclusionary practices at private clubs.

After the Access Hollywood tape surfaced, three U.S. senators — Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) — sent a letter to the USGA asking that the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open not be played at Trump National.

“The decision that the USGA makes is more consequential than simply the geographic location of a golf tournament,” the senators wrote. “In declining future association with a brand that degrades women, the USGA and LPGA have an opportunity to make clear to the world, and most especially young Americans, that our nation will not tolerate nor do business with any company that condones or excuses action that constitutes sexual assault.”

The USGA declined to move the tournament, which begins Thursday morning at Trump National.

“Let me make it very clear,” Davis told reporters in May, “that when we came here, it was all about coming to a great golf course playing the greatest championship in women’s golf. The USGA, since its founding in 1894, has never been involved with politics. Our focus is solely on the game of golf. We appreciate that there’s some out there that want to make this a political event. We’re not. This is a golf event of the United States Golf Association. We’re really excited about this.”

[USA Today]

 

 

The US Department of Justice is Literally Prosecuting a Woman for Laughing at Jeff Sessions

It is hard to believe this is happening, but it’s real: The US Department of Justice is literally prosecuting a woman for laughing at now–Attorney General Jeff Sessions during his Senate confirmation hearing earlier this year.

According to Ryan Reilly at HuffPost, Code Pink activist Desiree Fairooz was arrested in January after she laughed at a claim from Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) that Sessions’s history of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented.”

Sessions, in fact, has a long history of opposing the equal treatment of all Americans under the law. He has repeatedly criticized the historic Voting Rights Act. He voted against hate crime legislation that protected LGBTQ people, arguing, “Today, I’m not sure women or people with different sexual orientations face that kind of discrimination. I just don’t see it.” And his nomination for a position as a federal judge was rejected in the 1980s after he was accused of making racist remarks, including a supposed joke that he thought the Ku Klux Klan “was okay until I found out they smoked pot.”

Given this history, Fairooz laughed at Shelby’s claim.

But federal prosecutors have pushed forward with the case against Fairooz. As Reilly reported, prosecutors argue that “the laugh amounted to willful ‘disorderly and disruptive conduct’ intended to ‘impede, disrupt, and disturb the orderly conduct’ of congressional proceedings.” In court, they have tried to emphasize that the laugh was extraordinarily disruptive, with a US Capitol Police officer claiming that Fairooz laughed “very loudly” and people in the hearings turned around when they heard it.

Fairooz’s defense, meanwhile, has argued that her laughter was a reflex and not meant to disrupt the hearings. Fairooz was also in the back of the room, and her laughter had no noticeable impact, based on video of the hearings, on Shelby’s introductory speech for Sessions.

The trial will continue at the Superior Court in DC this week. If convicted, Fairooz faces a fine up to $500 and up to six months’ imprisonment for the laugh-related charge. She is also charged with another misdemeanor for “allegedly parading, demonstrating or picketing within a Capitol, evidently for her actions after she was being escorted from the room,” Reilly reported.

Fairooz has a history of disruptive protests. During protests over the Iraq War, she put fake blood on her hands and confronted then–Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

This time, however, Fairooz claims she was not trying to be disruptive — but merely laughing.

These details are all salient for the legal case, but it’s important not to lose sight of the big picture here: The federal government is literally prosecuting someone for laughing. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Justice Department — which Sessions now leads as attorney general — is doing the prosecuting when the laughter was directed at its leader. At the very least, it’s not a good look for the top law enforcement agency in the country.

(h/t Vox)

Melania Trump Wins Damages From Daily Mail Over ‘Escort’ Allegation

The UK’s Daily Mail newspaper has agreed to pay damages and costs to the first lady of the United States over an article about her modelling career.

The newspaper had reported allegations that Melania Trump once worked as an escort, but later retracted the claims.

The story was published during the US election campaign last year.

Mrs Trump accepted damages and an apology from the newspaper at London’s High Court.

She filed lawsuits against the Daily Mail newspaper in the United Kingdom, and its digital operation Mail Online in the United States.

The US suit, filed last year, sought damages of $150m (£120m). The amount accepted by Mrs Trump in London was not disclosed in court.

However, reports suggest the payout was closer to $3m, including legal costs and damages. It is understood it will also settle the case in New York.

In its apology, the Daily Mail acknowledged it had published “allegations that she provided services beyond simply modelling”.

The article also claimed that Mr and Mrs Trump may have met three years before they actually did, and later “staged” their first meeting.

“We accept that these allegations about Mrs Trump are not true,” the newspaper said.

A lawyer for Mrs Trump told the London court the allegations “strike at the heart of the claimant’s personal integrity and dignity”.

Her lawyer said the double-page spread in August last year, titled “Racy photos and troubling questions about his wife’s past that could derail Trump”, featured an old nude photo of Mrs Trump from her modelling career.

“Readers of the newspaper that day could not fail to miss the article,” he said.

And so the mighty Mail titles have been Trumped.

Well, almost. There are people in the legal profession flabbergasted at the size of the damages that Melania Trump has received from Associated Newspapers.

But given some of the figures bandied about when this case first arose, that isn’t as bad as some at the Mail group may have feared.

Moreover, the Mail are pointing out that they stick by some aspects of their original story, but accept error on the most salacious: that the First Lady was an escort.

It will be interesting to see if this settlement encourages others to be more aggressive toward UK papers, and also whether it helps to spread the trend for legal action across multiple jurisdictions.

Charles Harder, Mrs Trump’s lawyer, also acted for Hulk Hogan when the wrestler brought his $140m (£112m) case against Gawker Media, forcing its sale.

Compared to that, this action is small fry.

Mrs Trump’s lawsuit initially said that Mrs Trump had the “unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity… to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories, each of which could have garnered multi-million dollar business relationships for a multi-year term during which [she] is one of the most photographed women in the world”.

Critics used the phrasing to question whether Mrs Trump had plans to make financial gains from her position as first lady.

A second version of the suit, re-filed weeks later, dropped the controversial wording.

Mrs Trump was born Melanija Knavs, in Sevnica, a small town about an hour’s drive from Slovenia’s capital of Ljubljana.

She was signed to a modelling agency in her late teens, and began flying around Europe and the US, appearing in high-profile ad campaigns.

She met Donald Trump in 1998, when she was 28 years old, at a party during New York Fashion week.

They married seven years later.

(h/t BBC News)

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