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Why It Matters That Trump and Michael Cohen Had a Falling Out
Although Mr. Cohen was not a central part of the Trump family business, he was often at Mr. Trump’s side in the decade before he became president, including helping him sort out difficulties leading up to the 2016 election. Most famously, he helped arrange hush money payments to two women — including the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels — who claimed to have had affairs with Mr. Trump. After months of indecision, he turned on Mr. Trump last summer and has since spoken to the Southern District prosecutors about the Trump family business and more, as well as providing information to the office of the special counsel, Mr. Mueller. Mr. Cohen implicated the president in a crime Federal prosecutors in Manhattan effectively characterized Mr. Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator in the hush money payments, which violated campaign finance laws because they were made to influence the outcome of the election. But when a president is no longer in office, prosecutors are free to bring charges — a possibility cited in the Mueller report released on Thursday. He assisted criminal investigations into Mr. Trump’s business Mr. Cohen did not enter into a formal cooperation agreement with the Southern District prosecutors, but voluntarily met with them about his knowledge of Mr. Trump’s family, business and inner circle. Mr. Cohen used the spotlight to attack the president’s character Since turning on his former boss, Mr. Cohen has become one of Mr. Trump’s fiercest critics, offering fodder for the president’s detractors. He gave Congress a view into the president’s finances Mr. Cohen’s testimony has also provided something of a road map for congressional investigators looking into Mr. Trump’s finances. And as Mr. Cohen’s May 6 surrender date nears, his lawyers appear to be making a last-ditch effort to keep him out of prison. raid and about a Trump Tower project in Russia, as well as discussions with the president’s lawyer about a possible pardon.
White House and Justice Dept. Officials Discussed Mueller Report Before Release
Justice Department officials have had numerous conversations with White House lawyers about the conclusions made by Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, in recent days, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. Mr. Barr, who plans to hold a news conference at 9:30 a.m. Thursday to discuss the special counsel’s report, refused to answer questions from lawmakers last week about whether the department had given the White House a preview of Mr. Mueller’s findings. Much is at stake for Mr. Barr in Thursday’s expected release, especially if the report presents a far more damning portrayal of the president’s behavior — and of his campaign’s dealings with Russians — than the attorney general indicated in the four-page letter he wrote in March. Justice Department rules do not require Mr. Barr to make the special counsel’s report public, and the attorney general’s defenders say he will fulfill pledges of transparency he made during his confirmation hearings to make as much of the document public as possible. The information that Justice Department officials have provided to the White House could potentially be valuable for Mr. Trump’s legal team as it finalizes a rebuttal to the Mueller report — expected to be released not long after the department makes the special counsel’s findings public. Advisers to Mr. Trump insist that they still do not know many details about Mr. Mueller’s conclusions. The House Judiciary Committee has already authorized a subpoena for its chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, to try to force Mr. Barr to hand that material over to Congress. “On the assumption that it’s heavily redacted, we will most certainly issue the subpoenas in very short order,” Mr. Nadler said Wednesday evening at a hastily called news conference in New York. Promising more transparency, the government said it would let a select group of lawmakers see some of the material related to the case against Roger J. in 2016 that prompted law enforcement officials to open the Russia investigation.
Trump Lawyer Urges Treasury Not to Release His Tax Returns
Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times WASHINGTON — President Trump’s personal lawyer on Monday urged the Treasury Department not to hand over Mr. Trump’s tax returns to House Democrats, warning that releasing the documents to lawmakers he accused of having a “radical view of unchecked congressional power” would turn the Internal Revenue Service into a political weapon. Mr. Neal on Saturday gave the Internal Revenue Service until April 23 to provide him with the tax returns after Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, said last week that he could not meet an earlier deadline because he needed to study the lawfulness of the request. Mr. Neal used an obscure provision of the tax code to request the returns, which he said his committee needs in order to evaluate the policy of automatic audits of presidential tax returns. Mr. Neal argued in his letter on Saturday that the administration has no authority to question how the committee would handle the information or the validity of its legislative purpose. Mr. Trump’s lawyer, William S. Consovoy, said on Monday that the legal rationale behind Mr. Neal’s dismissal of the Treasury Department’s concerns was wrong. But Mr. Consovoy, echoing an argument that Trump administration officials have made privately, said that in this case the intent of the law is more important than the letter of the law. “Congress’s motives do matter under the Constitution,” Mr. Consovoy wrote, arguing that the request for Mr. Trump’s tax information does not serve any legislative purpose. “This isn’t an issue just about the president’s tax returns and congressional oversight,” Mr. Mnuchin said on the Fox Business Network on Monday. “This is an issue about protecting Americans.” He added: “I want to make sure that the I.R.S. was weaponized.”
Mnuchin Says White House and Treasury Discussed Trump Tax Return Request
I am not briefed on the full extent of those conversations.” Mr. Mnuchin’s statement sent Democratic congressional aides scrambling to assess whether conversations between the White House and the Treasury Department about Mr. Trump’s taxes represented political interference and violated the law. “The general public when they elected President Trump made the decision to elect him without his tax returns being released,” Mr. Mnuchin said, adding that the president complied with requirements to release a financial disclosure form. While Mr. Mnuchin has been fairly cautious in discussing the request, Mr. Trump and his top advisers have made it increasingly clear that they will not allow the president’s tax returns to be released without a fight. Pressed by Representative Maxine Waters of California, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, about Mr. Trump’s penchant for firing cabinet members, Mr. Mnuchin said on Tuesday that job security would not be a factor in how he manages the fight for Mr. Trump’s taxes. Last week, Representative Richard E. Neal, the Massachusetts Democrat who leads the House Ways and Means Committee, requested that the I.R.S. “It will never end, but that’s the way life goes!” Mick Mulvaney, the president’s acting chief of staff, said over the weekend that Democrats would “never” obtain the president’s taxes and called their efforts “a political hit job.” Last Friday, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer asserted Mr. Trump’s right as a citizen to keep his tax returns private and told the Treasury Department not to hand the returns over to House Democrats. If the agency objects to the request or does not answer, Mr. Neal could press his case and warn the agency that House Democrats will view not handing over the documents as a violation of the law. He said he expected Mr. Neal to turn to the courts to try to force compliance with the law. “Mnuchin obviously has a very close relationship with the president, he is very loyal to the president,” Mr. Suozzi said in an interview. audits and enforces the federal tax laws against a president.” Mr. Gibbs noted that the provision Democrats were using to seek Mr. Trump’s returns was drafted when the tax code was being rewritten to improve protection of taxpayer privacy.
Trump Retreats on Health Care After McConnell Warns It Won’t Happen
Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times WASHINGTON — President Trump backed off plans to introduce a Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act after Senator Mitch McConnell privately warned him that the Senate would not revisit health care in a comprehensive way before the November 2020 elections. Reversing himself in the face of Republican consternation, Mr. Trump said his party would not produce a health care plan of its own, as he had promised, until after the elections, meaning he will only try to fulfill his first-term promise to repeal and replace his predecessor’s signature program if he wins a second term. “He did say, as he later tweeted, that he accepted that and that he would be developing a plan that he would take to the American people during the 2020 campaign.” The president’s last attempt to replace Mr. Obama’s health care program blew up in 2017 when his party controlled both houses of Congress. Mr. Trump had surprised allies by ordering his administration to ask a federal court to invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act and then promised a Republican replacement. Democrats, consumer groups, doctors, hospitals and insurance companies have said that 20 million people could lose health coverage if courts accept the administration’s argument. Hours later, Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, “The Republicans are developing a really great HealthCare Plan with far lower premiums (cost) & deductibles than ObamaCare.” “In other words it will be far less expensive & much more usable than ObamaCare,” he said in a string of three tweets posted Monday night. “I see what the Democrats are doing; it’s a disaster what they’re planning and everyone knows it,” Mr. Trump told reporters on Tuesday at the White House. Soon after the president decided last week to intervene in a Texas court case on the side of invalidating the entire Affordable Care Act without a Plan B, Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence held a conference call with Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, and Brad Parscale, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager. Mr. Trump denied on Tuesday that Mr. McConnell asked him to back off, saying, “I wanted to delay it myself” because Republicans do not control the House. Mr. Trump has basically commissioned four Republican senators to devise a replacement for the Affordable Care Act.