Nation & World Briefs

Published: 1/10/2019 11:27:02 PM
Cohen, ex-Trump lawyer, to testify publicly before Congress

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, will testify publicly before a House committee next month in a hearing that could serve as the opening salvo of a promised Democratic effort to scrutinize Trump, his conflicts of interest and his ties to Russia.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee announced Thursday that Cohen will testify before that panel Feb. 7, a little more than a month after the Democrats took the House majority.

The hearing marks the latest step in Cohen’s transformation from a trusted legal adviser to the president to a public antagonist who has cooperated extensively against him. It is likely to pull back the curtain on key episodes involving Trump’s personal life and business dealings, including hush-money payments to women and a proposed Moscow real estate deal, that federal prosecutors have been dissecting for months.

Cohen is a pivotal figure in investigations by special counsel Robert Mueller into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign and by federal prosecutors in New York into campaign finance violations related to payments to buy the silence of a porn actress and a former Playboy Playmate who say they had sex with Trump. Federal prosecutors have said Trump directed those payments during the campaign. Trump has denied having the extramarital affairs.

Cohen has pleaded guilty in both investigations and was sentenced last month to three years in prison. An adviser to Cohen, Lanny Davis, said shortly after he was sentenced that the former political fixer wanted to testify and “state publicly all he knows.”

Government shutdown stymies immigrants’ asylum cases

The partial government shutdown over President Donald Trump’s demand for a border wall is playing havoc with the nation’s already backlogged immigration courts, forcing the postponement of hearings for thousands of immigrants.

For some of those asking for asylum in the U.S., the impasse could mean years more of waiting — and prolonged separation from loved ones overseas — until they get a new court date.

But for those immigrants with little chance of winning their bids to stay in this country legally, the shutdown could help them stave off deportation that much longer — adding to the very delays the Trump administration has railed against.

“It is just dripping with irony,” said Sarah Pierce, policy analyst at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. “This administration has put a lot of emphasis on speeding up court cases, and the shutdown obviously is just going to cause massive delays.”

The shutdown has furloughed hundreds of thousands of government employees and halted services that aren’t deemed essential, including, in many instances, the immigration courts overseen by the Justice Department.

Top US diplomat assails Obama in Mideast policy speech

CAIRO — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a scathing rebuke of the Obama administration’s Mideast policies on Thursday, accusing the former president of “misguided” thinking that diminished America’s role in the region while harming its longtime friends and emboldening Iran.

In a speech to the American University in Cairo, Pompeo unloaded on President Donald Trump’s predecessor, saying he was naive and timid when confronted with challenges posed by the revolts that convulsed the Middle East, including Egypt, beginning in 2011.

Pompeo denounced the vision outlined by President Barack Obama in a speech he gave in Cairo in 2009 in which he spoke of “a new beginning” for U.S. relations with countries in the Arab and Muslim world.

“Remember: It was here, here in this very city, another American stood before you,” Pompeo told an invited audience of Egyptian officials, foreign diplomats and students. “He told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from ideology. He told you 9/11 led my country to abandon its ideals, particularly in the Middle East. He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed ‘a new beginning.’ The results of these misjudgments have been dire.”

Documentary puts new attention on R. Kelly sex allegations

R. Kelly, one of the top-selling recording artists of all time, has been dogged for years by allegations of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls — accusations he and his attorneys have long denied.

But an Illinois prosecutor’s plea for potential victims and witnesses to come forward and new protests have sparked hope among some advocates that the R&B star might face criminal charges.

“Please come forward. There’s nothing that can be done to investigate these allegations without cooperation between victims and witnesses,” Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx said Tuesday at a news conference in Chicago. “We cannot seek justice without you.”

Still, some legal experts and prosecutors say it may be difficult to bring charges. Accusers and witnesses would have to speak out, and even then, prosecutors could have a hard time winning a conviction.

In recent days, Kelly has faced increased pressure from advocates who have protested outside of his Chicago studio and demanded that police investigate allegations against minors.

Doctors: Pelvic mesh lawsuits by 4 states are ill-advised

SEATTLE — Doctors who specialize in female pelvic medicine say lawsuits by four states, including Washington and California, over products used to treat pelvic floor disorders and incontinence might scare patients away from the best treatment options — or maybe even push the products off the market.

Sixty-three Washington surgeons signed a letter to state Attorney General Bob Ferguson , arguing his consumer-protection lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and its Ethicon Inc. subsidiary is off-base. The lawsuit says the companies failed to disclose risks associated with the products, but in their letter the doctors said they were never deceived and that the case is based on a misconception about how they assess dangers posed by medical procedures.

From Associated Press




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