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 on: May 23, 2018, 01:32:59 am 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post....

Things blamed for the deadly Texas school shooting:
Ritalin. Abortion. The media. Schools. And doors.

Data paints a different picture. Study after study looking at mass shootings
demonstrates that the single most important variable is the high number of
guns in the country and the relative ease with which they can be purchased.

By ELI ROSENBERG | 10:28PM EDT — Monday, May 21, 2018

A Texas state trooper barricades an entrance at Santa Fe High School, where a gunman killed 10 people last week. — Photograph: Matt Patterson/European Pressphoto Agency/Shutterstock.
A Texas state trooper barricades an entrance at Santa Fe High School, where a gunman killed 10 people last week.
 — Photograph: Matt Patterson/European Pressphoto Agency/Shutterstock.

ANOTHER SCHOOL SHOOTING has prompted yet another debate, the same intractable split about a statistic that has made the United States an outlier compared with other countries: the high number of mass shootings per capita.

Study after study analyzing mass shootings within the United States and in comparison with other countries demonstrate that the single most important variable is the high number of guns in the country, according to The New York Times. Yet after the high school shooting in Sante Fe, Texas, left 10 people dead last week, the National Rifle Association and other conservative entities have offered a host of reasons for the violence, none of which involve the weapons.

Here are some of the problems they spotlighted for blame, followed by what data has shown.

The media

The spokeswoman for National Rifle Association, Dana Loesch, blamed the media for the shooting, in part.

“The media has got to stop creating more of these monsters by over-saturation,” Loesch said on the NRA's television station. “I'm not saying don't responsibly report on things as they happen. Look, I understand it. But constantly showing the image of the murderer, constantly saying their name, is completely unnecessary.”

Loesch's criticism seemed to echo parts of a long-time campaign by some victims' families and others to get national media organizations to focus less on the shooters and their manifestos, pictures, postings and even their names, and more on victims as a strategy to reduce publicity that could inspire others seeking notoriety.

David Hogg, an 18-year-old activist, also asked media organizations this week not to name the Sante Fe High School shooter, although he has remained one of the most prominent gun-control advocates since the Parkland shooting in February.

Video games, abortion, lack of religion in schools

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a Republican and prominent gun proponent in the state, has pointed to numerous issues that he sees lurking behind last week's shooting. In the hours after the violence, he said that reducing the number of entrances at the high school and others like it could have stopped the shooter, a remark that drew jeers on social media from gun-control advocates and others.

On Sunday, Patrick took aim at video games and complained about the lack of religion in schools, as well as the prevalence of abortions in the United States.

“We have 50 million abortions,” he said, according to CNN. “We have families that are broken apart, no fathers at home. We have incredible heinous violence as a game, two hours a day in front of their eyes. And we stand here and we wonder why this happens to certain students.”


Jonathan Stickland, a Republican state representative in Texas, seemed to imply that sending children to school was the problem.

“Hearing from many parents they're scared to send their kids to school,” he wrote on Twitter. “We need to give them as many different choices as possible.”

‘Pummeling received on social media’

Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt (who is also a contributing columnist at The Washington Post), pointed out that the killer did not use an assault rifle and argued that some of the gun-control methods in popular proposals wouldn't have had any impact. Instead, he recommended paying attention to troublesome individuals, a premise broadly echoed by some security experts, and suggested keeping a close eye on students' clothing.

“To the teachers and administrators out there, the trench coat is kind of a giveaway,” he said. “You might just say, ‘No more trench [coats]’. The creepy people, make a list, check it twice.”

He also spoke of the “social media petri dish problem,” saying that the shooter may have been moved by, among other things, a “pummeling received on social media.”

At the American Conservative, a writer mused about modern technology's role.

“Smartphones came out in 2007,” wrote Rod Dreher, in a discursive essay titled ‘Helplessness & The Santa Fe Shooting’. “Social media became a huge thing around 2010. Is there a connection?”

A culture of violence and Ritalin

New NRA President Oliver North blamed a “culture of violence,” and criticized prescription drugs like Ritalin, which is used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, after the shooting.

“The disease is youngsters who are steeped in a culture of violence,” North said on Fox News. “They've been drugged in many cases. Nearly all of these perpetrators are male, and they're young teenagers in most cases. And they've come through a culture where violence is commonplace. All we need to do is turn on the TV, go to a movie. If you look at what has happened to young people, many of these young boys have been on Ritalin since they were in kindergarten.”

The New York Times reported on studies that examined many non-gun-related issues that are often held up as explanations for the mass shootings in the United States. It noted that mental-health issues and video game use did little to explain the mass shootings, as some have claimed, as other developed countries experience similar levels of both but much lower shooting rates. Other studies have shown that the United States is not more crime-prone than other nations, just more mass-shooting- prone. And some have shown a strong positive correlation between higher gun ownership and more gun violence.


• Eli Rosenberg is a reporter on The Washington Post's General Assignment team. He worked as a reporter at The New York Times and the New York Daily News during 10 years living in New York, where he covered cover policing, courts, and other urban issues. He is originally from California.


Related to this topic:

 • Oliver North blames school shootings on ‘culture of violence’. He was a pitchman for a violent video game.

 • Texas official says that fewer doors could mean fewer school shootings. We had experts weigh in.


 on: May 14, 2018, 12:35:11 am 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post....

Congressional candidate drops an f-bomb on the NRA in new campaign ad

“Being polite for years has just given us thoughts and prayers,” Pat Davis said. “But this clearly got their attention.”

By AMY B. WANG | 6:22PM EDT — Saturday, May 12, 2018

Pat Davis, a New Mexico congressional candidate, released an ad that has stirred
controversy for its profane message to the National Rifle Association.

A SHORT POLITICAL AD from a New Mexico congressional candidate is courting controversy for its profane message directed at the National Rifle Association.

In a 15-second television commercial, Democratic candidate Pat Davis opens with an f-bomb before he even blinks.

“F— the NRA,” Davis says, against a backdrop of the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque. “Their pro-gun policies have resulted in dead children, dead mothers and dead fathers.”

He finishes: “I'm Pat Davis, and I approve this message. Because if Congress won't change our gun laws, we're changing Congress.”

The ad is relatively short — 35 words in total — but has drawn ire for its very first word in particular since it aired on KRQE News on Friday afternoon.

On Friday evening, the NRA published a video in response to Davis, running circus-like music under the first part of the candidate's original commercial and suggesting Davis should clean his mouth out with a bar of soap.

“STAY CLASSY, PAT!” the NRA video said in all-caps letters, before urging NRA supporters on Twitter to “let him know how you feel” with the hashtag #DesperateDavis.

Many tweeted profane messages of their own at Davis, a review of the hashtag showed.

An NRA representative did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment on Saturday afternoon.

Davis, an Albuquerque city council member and former police officer, is one of six Democratic candidates running in the primary election for New Mexico's 1st Congressional District. The winner of the primary election in June will face off against the Republican candidate in November. The incumbent, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, is running for governor of New Mexico rather than seeking re-election.

In a phone interview on Saturday, Davis told The Washington Post he wanted to address the issue of gun-control legislation during the primary race. He supports universal background checks and a return to a ban on military-style weapons.

“I was a cop during the first assault-weapons ban, and I'm telling you on the street it made a difference,” said Davis, who was a police officer in Washington from 2000 to 2004, then in Albuquerque from 2005 to 2009. “This is the first election where it looks like we have as many moms and students and [gun-violence] survivors as the NRA has members. I don't remember another year like that where this [issue] was sustaining long enough.”

The idea for the campaign ad was born out of frustration with the status quo, he said.

“Every idea we came up with looked like every other gun ad we'd ever seen,” Davis said. “Finally, somebody just said, you know, like, ‘[bleep] the NRA’. We've told stories and everybody's marching and another ad of stock footage of that is not going to change the game. Everybody's thinking it. Why don't we just say it?”

Men reach for Mossberg shotguns during the annual NRA convention in Dallas in May. — Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters.
Men reach for Mossberg shotguns during the annual NRA convention in Dallas in May. — Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters.

The ad was filmed in a single day against the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque. The campaign spent about $250 to buy only one lunchtime spot on Friday on KRQE News because they weren't even sure if the station would run it, Davis said.

KRQE general manager Bill Anderson said in a statement that federal election laws required the station to run Davis's ad uncensored. He also said it had preceded the commercial with a 15-second warning about offensive language.

“We received a request for air time from a legitimate federal candidate for office, and according to federal election rules we are required to give him the same access as his opponents,” Anderson said. “This station, by law, is not permitted to censor or in any way edit this commercial. What we can control however, is the 15 seconds of air time preceding it, which we will use to warn the viewer of a possible offense, explain our own views, and cite the federal laws imposed on candidates and TV stations.”

Since the ad aired on Friday, Davis said he had been inundated with “belligerent, vulgar” messages from NRA supporters, as well as donations and messages from people who encouraged him to continue in that vein. Among the latter was David Hogg, a student who survived the February 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Hogg has been one of the most vocal teenage activists to emerge from the Parkland tragedy, speaking at the March for Our Lives rally against gun violence in Washington. Since the shooting, he has appeared frequently on television and rallied his growing number of Twitter followers to become civically engaged.

Davis said his campaign did not know Hogg and was “totally surprised to have David pay attention and see it and share it.”

Debates about the appropriate use — and broadcast — of profanity have become prominent in recent months, particularly concerning several high-profile (and profane) incidents involving President Trump. In January, when Trump referred to African countries and Haiti as “shithole countries,” most newspapers and TV stations didn't censor the president's vulgar language.

“When the president says it, we'll use it verbatim. That's our policy,” Martin Baron, The Washington Post's executive editor, said at the time. “We discussed it, quickly, but there was no debate.”

As The Post's Marwa Eltagouri reported, a different standard applied to Trump before he was elected president:

Trump is already known for his use of vulgar language, most notably his comments in a 2005 “Access Hollywood” video in which he bragged in obscene terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women. The video, obtained by The Washington Post in October 2016, recorded Trump using the phrases “Try and fuck her” and “Grab them by the pussy.”

That language was censored by The Post, as Trump was not yet president. The New York Times published the specific language.

On Saturday, Davis brushed off criticism that his ad was inappropriate or that it contributed to the coarsening of public political discourse.

“Being polite for years has just given us ‘thoughts and prayers’, but this clearly got their attention,” Davis said. His main objective, he said, was to “start a conversation” about gun-violence prevention.

“Our primary in just three weeks is one of the earliest in the country,” he added. “If we can show that Democrats can stand up and run on this as a front-running issue, other Democrats with other challenges down the road will follow our lead.”

One of Davis's Democratic opponents, Debra Haaland, indicated she agreed with the ad's sentiments in the commercial but not with the tone.

“The NRA and the arms industry are responsible for horrific preventable deaths all across America — with communities of color hardest hit by this epidemic of violence,” Haaland told KRQE News. “I fully understand the anger many people are expressing, and I share it — even if I might use different words.”


• Amy B Wang is a general assignment reporter covering national and breaking news for The Washington Post. She joined The Post in 2016 after seven years with the Arizona Republic.


Related to this topic:

 • VIDEO: Pat Davis: ‘F— the NRA’ | Campaign 2018

 • Oklahoma's governor angers the NRA and gay rights groups — on the same day

 • ‘This Is America’: Breaking down Childish Gambino's powerful new music video

 • Bank of America to stop lending to some gun manufacturers in wake of Parkland massacre

 • A district armed its teachers with tiny baseball bats, urging them to fight back in a shooting

 • Facing boycott, Laura Ingraham apologizes for taunting Parkland teen over college rejections


 on: May 07, 2018, 03:30:46 am 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the print edition of the Sunday Los Angeles Times....

A letter to Karl Marx on his 200th birthday

By MARY GABRIEL | Sunday, May 06, 2018

Dear Karl,

Happy birthday! It's tempting to say that much has changed in the 200 years since your birth, but as I sit down to describe those changes, I must admit I am more struck by the similarities than the differences between your time and mine.

The big news is, of course, that the kings you fought so hard to unmask as charlatans no longer are divine. Well, there are a few monarchs who still claim tangential ties to a higher power, but most people have cottoned on to the fact that royal power is really just a combination of heredity and tenacity. And, unfortunately, your kings have been replaced by new ones who base their right to rule on an aristocracy of wealth.

Have you heard about the terrible wars of the 20th century? They were called World Wars, and that was no exaggeration. The first one, which involved said kings and their ambitions, killed as many as 40 million people. A second war began 20 years later because the first had never truly ended. It would kill twice as many people and produce a weapon so formidable it could wipe out the planet. In that war, man proved he could kill like a beast and a god. Ironically, your name was invoked in the slaughter.

Yes, Karl, after you died in 1883, people discovered your writings and some promptly misused them. There are statues of you in capitals around the globe where governments expounded “Marxism” to deprive people of the very freedoms you extolled. They reinterpreted your vision of “the free development of each” being “the condition for the free development of all” as the freedom to be equally miserable. Indeed, the repression and butchery accomplished in your name during the last century would horrify you.

Do you remember your high hopes for democracy? How you believed free speech, universal education and the vote would help usher in a world that created the greatest good for the greatest number? It hasn't really worked out that way. While so-called Marxists operating under a communist banner expunged rights around the globe, capitalists busily subverted democracy in a long and insidious hostile takeover.

Don't get me wrong. The initial benefits of capitalism were tremendous. Humankind's possibilities soared. Scientific, technological and medical discoveries ensured that people lived longer and better. The arts flourished because people had leisure time to read, paint and compose. Natural resources were harnessed to improve agriculture, so everyone could eat. It really was marvelous, but as you said, for the capitalist, marvelous isn't enough. That omnivorous beast hungers eternally for more and bigger profits.

In the past 40 years, especially, such capitalists have turned democracies on their heads. Most of those governments are no longer of the people or for the people. They serve one constituent: business. Politicians are bought by the dozen, the highest echelons of government bureaucracies are peopled with titans of industry and finance and their minions, and laws are written to protect corporate interests over people's interests. Citizens of democracies, who fought so hard in your century for the right to vote, have seemed to lose interest in the ballot when faced with the powerful adversary, capital. The vote has been devalued, and like any commodity, it has been snapped up by savvy investors who understand its power.

I remember how much you admired Abraham Lincoln and how you thought that brilliant son of the working class embodied everything good and great about the United States. Well, I hate to tell you, but the man now occupying Lincoln's house is your old capitalist friend Mr. Moneybags. I recently re-read your “Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844” and laughed because you described him to a tee when you wrote about the wizardry of money, which can turn even a brute into a prince. “I am ugly, but I can buy for myself the most beautiful of women. Therefore I am not ugly, for the effect of ugliness — its deterrent power — is nullified by money. … I am bad, dishonest, unscrupulous, stupid; but money is honored and hence its possessor. … Does not all my money, therefore, transform all my incapacities into their contrary?” You must have had a crystal ball in the Paris apartment where you wrote those words.

So, what else has happened 200 years down the road? African men and women are still being sold, but now it's called “people trafficking”. Citizens have been made somnolent by the trinkets of capitalism the way populations in your time were subdued by conquering colonial powers. Now, as then, the distance between factory workers and the people who use their products is great enough that the guilt over the exploitation of workers dissipates by the time coveted stretch jeans or smartphones arrive on store shelves. As in your day, happy consumers congratulate themselves on grabbing a bargain without being troubled by the fact that a person a continent away worked themselves to death to produce it.

It's a grim picture, indeed, I'm sorry to say. But there is hope! This century has seen a series of events that indicate a new generation may be finding its way past the prison houses of 20th century ideologies. A collapse of the global financial system in 2008 exposed for even some free-market stalwarts the flaws in its construction. Newspapers that had previously scoffed at the mere mention of your name began to question, “Was Marx right?” Sometimes, brave individuals stuck their necks out and whispered, “Yes”.

And then, two years later, in late 2010, spontaneous revolts that came to be known as the Arab Spring signaled the possibility of mass social change. It was a revival of your 1848 Springtime of the People revolts in Europe. Entire populations rose up to overthrow autocratic and corrupt rulers in North Africa and the Middle East. Unfortunately, history repeated itself in that, as in 1848, the reaction from entrenched powers was swift and deadly. Alas, the counter-revolution won again. But, eight years later, the embers are still warm, and the wind (which is now called the internet) is spreading them.

In the past two years, individuals have discovered their voices and the strength that resides in their numbers. Black and white citizens have taken to the streets to denounce the murder of black men by police. Women have joined forces to expose sexual predators and the industries that not only enable them, but profit by it. Tens of thousands of children have assumed the mantle of adults by acknowledging the truth their elders are too cowed to express: Guns kill.

So, dear Karl, as you celebrate your 200th birthday, there is hope. And it's great that you are still around to help us, if not in person, then through your work and your words. You inspire us still.

— Mary


• Mary Gabriel is the author of “Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution”. Her latest book, “Ninth Street Women”, will be published by Little, Brown in September.


 on: May 05, 2018, 10:26:42 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The New York Times....

Trump Is Said to Know of Stormy Daniels Payment
Months Before He Denied It

How much the president knew about the $130,000 payment to the porn actress and who else
was aware of it have been at the center of a swirling controversy for the past 48 hours.


President Trump had denied in April that he knew of a $130,000 hush payment made to a pornographic film actress who claimed to have had an affair with him. — Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times.
President Trump had denied in April that he knew of a $130,000 hush payment made to a pornographic film actress who claimed to have had an affair with him.
 — Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times.

WASHINGTON — President Trump knew about a six-figure payment that Michael D. Cohen, his personal lawyer, made to a pornographic film actress several months before he denied any knowledge of it to reporters aboard Air Force One in April, according to two people familiar with the arrangement.

How much Mr. Trump knew about the payment to Stephanie Clifford, the actress, and who else was aware of it have been at the center of a swirling controversy for the past 48 hours touched off by a television interview with Rudolph W. Giuliani, a new addition to the president's legal team. The interview was the first time a lawyer for the president had acknowledged that Mr. Trump had reimbursed Mr. Cohen for the payments to Ms. Clifford, whose stage name is Stormy Daniels.

It was not immediately clear when Mr. Trump learned of the payment, which Mr. Cohen made in October 2016, at a time when news media outlets were poised to pay her for her story about an alleged affair with Mr. Trump in 2006. But three people close to the matter said that Mr. Trump knew that Mr. Cohen had succeeded in keeping the allegations from becoming public at the time the president denied it.

Ms. Clifford signed a non-disclosure agreement, and accepted the payment just days before Mr. Trump won the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Trump has denied he had an affair with Ms. Clifford and insisted that the non-disclosure agreement was created to prevent any embarrassment to his family.

Mr. Giuliani said this week that the reimbursement to Mr. Cohen totaled $460,000 or $470,000, leaving it unclear what else the payments were for beyond the $130,000 that went to Ms. Clifford. One of the people familiar with the arrangement said that it was a $420,000 total over 12 months.

Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, has known since last year the details of how Mr. Cohen was being reimbursed, which was mainly through payments of $35,000 per month from the trust that contains the president's personal fortune, according to two people with knowledge of the arrangement.

One person close to the Trump Organization said people with the company were aware that Mr. Cohen was still doing “legal work” for the president in 2017, but another person familiar with the situation said that Mr. Weisselberg did not know that Mr. Cohen had paid Ms. Clifford when the retainer agreement was struck and when the payments went through.

Mr. Weisselberg's knowledge of the retainer agreement could draw Mr. Trump's company deeper into the federal investigation of Mr. Cohen's activities, increasing the president's legal exposure in a wide-ranging case involving the lawyer often described as the president's “fixer” in New York City.

In interviews on Wednesday and Thursday, Mr. Giuliani insisted that the president had reimbursed Mr. Cohen for the $130,000 hush payment — and then paid him another $330,000, if not more — which was in direct conflict with the longstanding assertion by Mr. Trump and the White House that he did not know about the hush money or where it came from.

In an interview with The New York Times on Friday, Mr. Giuliani sought to clarify his statements by saying that he did not know whether Mr. Trump had known that some of the payments to Mr. Cohen had gone to Ms. Clifford. “It's not something I'm aware of, nor is it relevant to what I'm doing, the legal part,” Mr. Giuliani said.

Mr. Giuliani acknowledged that “politically,” it could be troublesome. “Politically, everything matters, but I don't see a problem here, at least not legally,” he said.

A lawyer for the Trump Organization declined to comment, and a spokeswoman for the organization did not respond to an email about Mr. Weisselberg.

The president has said that he would view any investigation into his finances or those of his family as “a violation,” though he was referring to the investigation into Russia by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III; the investigation into Mr. Cohen is being run by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.

The payment to Ms. Clifford is a part of that investigation. The circumstances surrounding it had become all the murkier this week after Mr. Giuliani gave an explanation of how the funds to Ms. Clifford were accounted for that contradicted all those that came before it.

If Michael D. Cohen, the president's personal lawyer, made the payment primarily out of fear that the allegations would have harmed Mr. Trump's election prospects, then it would most likely be viewed as an illegal campaign expenditure. — Photograph: Jeenah Moon/The New York Times.
If Michael D. Cohen, the president's personal lawyer, made the payment primarily out of fear that the allegations would have harmed Mr. Trump's
election prospects, then it would most likely be viewed as an illegal campaign expenditure. — Photograph: Jeenah Moon/The New York Times.

After initially appearing to back Mr. Giuliani's assertions in a series of Twitter messages on Thursday, Mr. Trump reversed course on Friday, after a series of headlines suggesting that the president had lied about knowing of the hush payment. In remarks to reporters on Friday, Mr. Trump criticized Mr. Giuliani and said he would eventually “get his facts straight.”

“Virtually everything said has been said incorrectly, and it's been said wrong, or it's been covered wrong by the press,” Mr. Trump told reporters, though he excused Mr. Giuliani by explaining he had “just started a day ago.”

In a written statement later in the day, Mr. Giuliani said that he had not been “describing my understanding of the president's knowledge.” And he reversed a previous suggestion that the payment to Ms. Clifford was motivated by the election. Mr. Giuliani said on Friday that the payment was personal in nature and “would have been done in any event, whether he was a candidate or not.” Mr. Giuliani told The N.Y. Times that he had “confused” the two factors, but that it was irrelevant since Mr. Trump had repaid Mr. Cohen.

While some White House officials had insisted that Mr. Trump was pleased with Mr. Giuliani's performance on Fox News in an interview with Sean Hannity on Wednesday night, two people close to the president painted a different picture. They said that Mr. Trump was displeased with how Mr. Giuliani, a former New York mayor, conducted himself, and that he was also unhappy with Mr. Hannity, a commentator whose advice the president often seeks, in terms of the language he used to describe the payments to Ms. Clifford.

The nature of the payments is significant because of campaign finance laws that regulate who may contribute to candidates and how much they can give.

If Mr. Cohen or others paid to silence Ms. Clifford primarily out of fear that a public airing of her story would have harmed Mr. Trump's election prospects — rather than to keep it from his family for personal reasons — then the payment would most likely be viewed as an illegal campaign expenditure. Mr. Giuliani told The New York Times on Friday that the issue was “primarily” about keeping Mr. Trump's wife, Melania, from being embarrassed by the claim, which Mr. Trump has maintained was false.

But if investigators determine that the hush payment was in effect a campaign expenditure, then how the funds were distributed could take on added legal significance. Mr. Cohen had been careful to say that neither the campaign nor the Trump Organization was involved in the deal or any effort to reimburse him.

Under campaign finance law, Mr. Trump would have been within his rights to pay Ms. Clifford himself as a way to protect his presidential prospects — though he would have had to have formally made note of it in his public campaign filings, which had no accounting of the payment. If he directed Mr. Cohen to pay it on his behalf, then that could qualify as an illegal, coordinated campaign expenditure, even if Mr. Trump later paid him back.

Any involvement by the Trump Organization would further complicate the legal picture, given that American election law is strictest of all when it comes to corporate involvement with political campaigns. Businesses are not allowed to donate directly to campaigns or to coordinate with them.

Ms. Clifford's lawyer, Michael J. Avenatti, has been arguing for months that Mr. Trump's company was more involved in the arrangement than Mr. Cohen had been letting on.

After filing a lawsuit on Ms. Clifford's behalf seeking to get out of the deal — which he has called invalid — Mr. Avenatti showed that Mr. Cohen had used his Trump Organization email at one point in arranging the payment. He also pointed to a secret document in California that a Trump Organization lawyer filed to force Ms. Clifford into arbitration this year.

At the time, the Trump Organization said that the lawyer, Jill A. Martin, who works in California, had acted in a personal capacity to help Mr. Cohen, who needed assistance with the initial arbitration filing from someone licensed in the state. The Trump Organization had said that “the company has had no involvement in the matter.”

In an interview, Mr. Avenatti said that any indication that still more executives at the Trump Organization knew about the effort to reimburse Mr. Cohen for the payment to Ms. Clifford could lead to further investigation of the Trump family business.

“There's no question it opens up another avenue of inquiry into the depths of the involvement of the Trump Organization,” he said.


Michael S. Schmidt contributed reporting to this story from New York.

• Michael D. Shear is a White House correspondent in the Washington bureau of The New York Times, where he covers President Trump, with a focus on domestic policy, the regulatory state and life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. A veteran political correspondent, he covered Barack Obama's presidency, including the 2012 re-election campaign. Before coming to The N.Y. Times in 2010, he spent 18 years at The Washington Post, writing about local communities, school districts, state politics, the 2008 presidential campaign and the White House. A member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that covered the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, Mr. Shear is a 1990 graduate of Claremont McKenna College and has a masters in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He lives in Virginia with his wife and two teenage children.

• Maggie Haberman is a White House correspondent. She joined The New York Times in February 2015 as a campaign correspondent. Previously, Ms. Haberman worked as a political reporter at Politico from 2010 to 2015 and at other publications including the New York Post and New York Daily News. She was a finalist for the Mirror Awards, with Glenn Thrush, for What is Hillary Clinton Afraid of? which was published in 2014. Her hobbies include singing, and she is married with three children.

• Jim Rutenberg is a freelance media columnist and former political correspondent for The New York Times, for which he has written over 2,300 articles.

• Matt Apuzzo is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter based in Washington. He has covered law enforcement and security matters for more than a decade and is the co-author of the book Enemies Within. A graduate of Colby College, he joined The New York Times in 2014 after 11 years with the Associated Press. He teaches journalism at Georgetown University and once successfully argued a motion from the audience in federal court.

• A version of this article appears in print on Saturday, May 5, 2018, on Page A1 of the New York edition of The New York Times with the headline: “Trump's Denial On Hush Funds Is Contradicted”.


Related to this topic:

 • Don and Rudy, Disaster Twins

 • The Trump Team's Conflicting Statements About the Payment to Stormy Daniels

 • The Loyalists and Washington Insiders Fighting Trump's Legal Battles

 • Giuliani May Have Exposed Trump to New Legal and Political Perils

 • Trump Says Payment to Stormy Daniels Did Not Violate Campaign Laws

 • New Revelations Suggest a President Losing Control of His Narrative

 • Giuliani Appears to Veer Off Script. A Furor Follows.


 on: May 05, 2018, 10:21:54 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post....

Giuliani tries to clarify comments on Trump's reimbursement
of payment to porn star Stormy Daniels

The president's new attorney issued a statement after Trump said Giuliani was still learning the facts.

By DEVLIN BARRETT, JOSH DAWSEY and JOHN WAGNER | 9:22PM EDT — Friday, May 04, 2018

Rudolph W. Giuliani and President Donald J. Trump. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.
Rudolph W. Giuliani and President Donald J. Trump. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.

PRESIDENT TRUMP's lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani sought on Friday to clean up a series of comments he had made about a settlement with an adult-film actress who allegedly had a relationship with Trump, backtracking on his previous assertions about what the president knew and why the payment was made.

The cautious wording of the written statement released by Giuliani stood in sharp contrast to his previous two days of wide-ranging television and print interviews in which, according to legal experts, he exposed his client to greater legal risks and might have compromised his own attorney-client privilege with the president.

The former New York mayor startled White House officials and other members of Trump's legal team by announcing on Wednesday that the president had reimbursed his personal lawyer Michael Cohen for a secret $130,000 payment he made in 2016 to actress Stormy Daniels. In several interviews, Giuliani also talked at length about how much Trump paid Cohen and when the reimbursements were made.

Some Trump advisers said they fear that Giuliani may have waived his right to assert that his conversations with the president are private — and that government or private lawyers pursuing lawsuits could now seek to interview him.

The drama instigated by the freewheeling former U.S. attorney — who signed on as Trump's lawyer just last month — is the latest crisis to hit the president's legal team, which has weathered numerous departures in recent months as it contends with the special counsel investigation into Russian election interference and a newly revealed separate criminal probe into Cohen.

The most recent shake-up came this week, with the news that Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer dealing with the special counsel, will be replaced by veteran white-collar defense attorney Emmet Flood.

Despite the fallout from his comments, Giuliani still appeared to be in good graces with the president, according to people familiar with his standing. The two men continued to confer privately about how to handle the Daniels matter, without consulting with the White House communications shop or the White House counsel's office.

In an interview on Friday with The Washington Post, Giuliani said Trump was not mad at him. “He says he loves me,” Giuliani said.

For his part, Trump told reporters on Friday that Giuliani, who joined the legal team on April 19th, “just started a day ago” and is “learning the subject matter.”

“He knows it's a witch hunt,” the president added. “He'll get his facts straight.”

But Giuliani's attempt at damage control will probably do little to mitigate the legal problems he has caused, legal experts said.

“The first rule is to shut up, which he is unable to do,” said Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University. “False exculpatory statements often come back to bite.”

“Giuliani's barrage harmed his client,” he added. “He waived the privilege for communications with Trump on the subject of his public statements.”

One close Trump adviser agreed, saying Giuliani had “waived the privilege, big time,” with his public descriptions of his conversations with the president.

Trump initially did not appear concerned about Giuliani's revelations, telling him on Wednesday night that he was “very pleased” with his comments, as Giuliani told The Washington Post that night.

But on Friday morning, the two men had a long conversation, during which they decided that a clarification was needed, Giuliani said in an interview on Friday evening.

“We wanted to get everyone on the same page,” he said.

In the statement he released, Giuliani insisted that the settlement with Daniels to keep her from disclosing an alleged sexual encounter with Trump in 2006 was made solely “to protect the President's family.”

“It would have been done in any event, whether he was a candidate or not,” he added in his statement.

That contrasted with comments he made earlier in the week, when he referred to the Daniels settlement in the context of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Appearing Thursday on Fox News Channel, for instance, Giuliani asked viewers to imagine if Daniels had aired her allegations “in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton.”

He added that Cohen “made it go away. He did his job.”

Campaign finance law experts said such remarks by Giuliani may have offered new potential evidence for federal prosecutors in Manhattan who are investigating Cohen.

In his statement, Giuliani also sought to make clear that he spoke in recent interviews about his understanding of events in which Trump had been involved — not about what the president knew at the time.

“My references to timing were not describing my understanding of the President's knowledge, but instead, my understanding of these matters,” he said.

The distinction is important because if Giuliani had publicly described a private conversation with the president, he might have inadvertently waived attorney-client privilege on that conversation — potentially opening the door for prosecutors to probe further into what was said, legal experts said.

In interviews earlier in the week, Giuliani indicated that he had conferred with the president before he divulged that Trump had reimbursed Cohen.

“He was well aware that at some point when I saw the opportunity, I was going to get this over with,” Giuliani told The Post on Wednesday night, adding that he had discussed the matter with Trump “probably four or five days ago.”

In a subsequent interview with NBC, Giuliani said he told Trump what Cohen had done on his behalf.

“I don't think the president realized he paid him back for that specific thing until we made him aware of the paperwork,” he said.

Giuliani said the president responded, “Oh my goodness, I guess that's what it was for.”

Giuliani's statements were based on a relatively short conversation he had with Trump about the Daniels matter, according to two people familiar with their discussions. Giuliani did not independently delve into the details of the case before he went on the air during Wednesday night, they said.

“Rudy followed the client's wishes without knowing all the facts,” one person said.

Giuliani disputed that, telling The Washington Post on Friday evening that his understanding of the case came from “co-counsel, from reading documents, from conversations I had.”

“It wasn't all from talking to the president,” he said.

He also offered more details about the repayment arrangements, saying Trump had re­imbursed Cohen by paying him $35,000 a month in 2017 for legal work Cohen did the previous year.

“It was sort of a straight-out bill,” he said. “If he didn't pay it every month, he paid it many months.”

“The monthly bill was paying down the expenditures…. It was not a loan,” Giuliani added. “Some of it was for taxes, some of it was for incidental expenses, it covered things that might come up.”

Giuliani said he did not know whether the president knew the details of the work Cohen performed for him.

“I have not been able to determine that,” he said. “He trusted Michael a lot.”

He said the president's legal team recently asked a campaign finance lawyer to scrutinize the payment to Daniels, and the lawyer concluded that no laws were broken.

Several legal experts said Giuliani's expansive statements could spur a lawyer — either a prosecutor or an attorney involved in civil litigation — to seek to compel him to offer testimony about that discussion.

Michael Avenatti, an attorney for Daniels, said he was considering whether to try to seek testimony or other information from Giuliani in a civil case the actress has brought against Cohen and the president.

“We're still in the process of analyzing what he said, and we may very well make that argument, but we want to be thoughtful and strategic about it,” Avenatti said.

In his statement, Giuliani also said it was “undisputed” that Trump had the constitutional power to fire former FBI director James B. Comey, which he did last year. Trump's action is among those under scrutiny by Mueller as part of his investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 election.

Giuliani appeared to be backing away from an assertion he made earlier this week that the president acted out of frustration that Comey wouldn't publicly state that the president was not under investigation by the FBI.

That statement raised concerns among some legal experts who said that Giuliani seemed to indicate Comey was fired over the Russia investigation — and that such an admission could further an obstruction-of-justice probe involving the president.

Inside the White House, there is sensitivity among counsel Donald McGahn and others about the Comey firing, an official said, and Giuliani's comments were seen as “not helpful.”

Senior White House staffers were caught off guard on Wednesday by Giuliani's first appearance on Fox News, when he disclosed that Trump had repaid Cohen. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Thursday that she had not learned about the repayment until seeing Giuliani on television.

On Friday, a person close to the White House said Giuliani was still not consulting with McGahn or Flood or the press office.

For his part, Trump told associates that he resented media coverage saying he had lied about the Daniels affair after Giuliani revealed the repayment and wanted a statement issued declaring that he had not lied, according to a senior administration official.

Trump's comments that Giuliani was a “great man” reminded several current and former officials of Trump's kiss of death: lavishly praising a subordinate just before the person is fired. But a person close to both men said Giuliani and Trump remained on good terms.

Trump also told reporters on Friday that if he could be treated fairly, he would “love to speak” to federal prosecutors investigating ties between his campaign and Russia. He said he would do so even over the objections of his lawyers — if he could be convinced that the Russia probe is not a “witch hunt.”

“I would love to speak. I would love to go,” Trump said. “Nothing I want to do more, because we did nothing wrong.”

But, he added, “I have to find that we're going to be treated fairly…. Right now, it's a pure witch hunt.”


Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Beth Reinhard contributed to this report.

• Devlin Barrett writes about national security and law enforcement for The Washington Post. He has previously worked at The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press and the New York Post, where he started as a copy boy.

• Josh Dawsey is a White House reporter for The Washington Post. He joined the paper in 2017. He previously covered the White House for Politico, and New York City Hall and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for The Wall Street Journal.

• John Wagner is a national reporter who leads The Washington Post's new breaking political news team. He previously covered the Trump White House. During the 2016 presidential election, he focused on the Democratic campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. He also chronicled Maryland government for more than a decade.


Related to this topic:

 • VIDEO: Trump on Giuliani: ‘He'll get his facts straight’

 • VIDEO: Trump maligns special counsel investigators

 • Kellyanne Conway says she didn't know about payment to porn star while she ran Trump's campaign

 • Analysts: Giuliani's media blitz gives investigators new leads, new evidence

 • ‘The gloves may be coming off’: Shake-up of Trump legal team signals combative posture toward special counsel


 on: May 05, 2018, 09:45:46 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The New York Times....

U.S.-China Trade Talks End With Strong Demands, but Few Signs of a Deal

American officials called for shrinking the trade gap with China and curbing
Beijing's plan to use government support to upgrade its economy.

By KEITH BRADSHER | 7:46PM EDT — Friday, May 04, 2018

The United States delegation in Beijing for trade talks on Friday included Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, center left, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, center right. — Photograph: Nicolas Asfouri/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
The United States delegation in Beijing for trade talks on Friday included Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, center left, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, center right.
 — Photograph: Nicolas Asfouri/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.

BEIJING — Senior Chinese and American officials concluded two days of negotiations on Friday with no deal and no date set for further talks, as the United States stepped up its demands for Chinese concessions to avert a potential trade war.

The American negotiating team, which included Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the United States trade representative, Robert E. Lighthizer, headed for the airport after the talks and did not release a statement. But a list of demands that the group took into the meeting called for reducing the United States' trade gap with China by $200 billion over the next two years and a halt on Chinese subsidies for advanced manufacturing sectors.

The demands, which spread on Chinese social media and were confirmed by a person close to the negotiations, suggested that both sides hardened their positions this week despite the two days of talks. Senior Chinese officials and their advisers were also sending a deliberate message to the West that the days of Beijing being conciliatory were over, and that China was staking out its own position in the negotiations.

The person close to the negotiations insisted on anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivities.

The extensive list of United States trade demands was unexpectedly sweeping, and showed that the Trump administration has no intention of backing down despite Beijing's assertive stance in the last few days. “The list reads like the terms for a surrender rather than a basis for negotiation,” said Eswar Prasad, an economics professor at Cornell University.

Here are the highlights of the demands:

China must …

  • Cut its trade surplus by $100 billion in the 12 months starting in June, and by another $100 billion in the following 12 months.

  • Halt all subsidies to advanced manufacturing industries in its so-called Made In China 2025 program. The program covers 10 sectors, including aircraft manufacturing, electric cars, robotics, computer microchips and artificial intelligence.

  • Accept that the United States may restrict imports from the industries under Made in China 2025.

  • Take “immediate, verifiable steps” to halt cyber-espionage into commercial networks in the United States.

  • Strengthen intellectual property protections.

  • Accept United States restrictions on Chinese investments in sensitive technologies without retaliating.

  • Cut its tariffs, which currently average 10 percent, to the same level as in the United States, where they average 3.5 percent for all “non-critical sectors.”

  • Open up its services and agricultural sectors to full American competition.

The United States also stipulated that the two sides should meet every quarter to review progress.

Chinese officials put the talks in a positive light. “The two sides agreed that a sound and stable China-U.S. trade relationship is crucial for both, and they are committed to resolving relevant economic and trade issues through dialogue and consultation,” Xinhua, the official news agency, said soon after the talks ended.

But the negotiations also highlighted key differences — and the American delegation's tight-lipped departure from Diaoyutai, the park-like enclosure of guesthouses where the talks were held, suggested that the two sides had made little headway in solving them.

Before the trade talks began, people involved in China's policy-making said, Beijing was willing to act on some concessions previously laid out by President Xi Jinping. Among the most notable was a willingness to make it slightly easier for foreign automakers and financial services companies to compete in China.

But China has its own demands. Beijing wants the United States to relax restrictions on exports of high-tech commercial products that may have military applications. During the trade talks here this week, Chinese officials also took issue with the penalties that American officials imposed last month on ZTE, a Chinese telecommunications company, for repeatedly violating United States sanctions on Iran.

The Commerce Department banned all shipments of American wares to ZTE, including chips and other equipment that are essential to many of the company's products. The move appears to have strengthened China's resolve to continue its drive for self-sufficiency and to curb imports in various high-tech fields.

China's push to upgrade its technology accounts for many of its disagreements with the United States. The American document reiterated Trump administration calls for a broad halt of Chinese subsidies to manufacturers in advanced technology industries. And Chinese officials have defended the Made in China 2025 program as essential to upgrading the economy and have said they would not agree to any limits on the Made in China program.

Beijing has said it would be willing to reduce some trade barriers, but only if the United States also lowered trade barriers. Chinese officials particularly object to American limits on the export of high-tech goods that have both civilian and military applications, contending that these restrictions prevent sizable potential exports.

They also objected to United States demands for a specific cut in the bilateral surplus. Li Gang, the vice president of the Commerce Ministry's research and training institute, said in a separate interview last month that a $100 billion cut in the surplus was “impossible.” China's surplus has been widening lately as the United States economy grows fairly strongly and takes in more imports.

The Commerce Department announced on Thursday in Washington that the trade imbalance with China had widened slightly in March compared with the same month a year ago, although it narrowed slightly compared with February, possibly for seasonal reasons.

The lack of a deal this week, as well as the failure to schedule further talks right away, does not rule out the possibility that Chinese negotiators will visit the United States next month for further talks. One possibility that American officials have considered is whether China might send Vice President Wang Qishan, who is close to Mr. Xi, on a follow-up trip.

So far, the Chinese side has been led by Liu He, a Politburo member who is also the vice premier for finance, trade and technology.

Trade experts have been saying for weeks that Chinese officials would like to resolve the dispute with the United States so that they can go back to focusing on issues closer to home.

“That's the immediate problem, because it's a headache for them that's distracting from a very pressing domestic agenda,” said Christopher K. Johnson, a former C.I.A. officer who analyzed China and now holds the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The Beijing talks were unlikely to result in a comprehensive deal, but experts said they could still be a first step toward reaching some sort of accord.

“There's no way our team is going to risk signing up to something without getting back here and making sure that Trump is happy with it first,” Mr. Johnson said. “Maybe there's also some optics where Trump wants to be seen standing with Wang Qishan and striking the deal.”

“I think we're still several jumps down the track from that.”


Chris Buckley contributed reporting to this story.

• Keith Bradsher is the Pulitzer Prize-winning Shanghai bureau chief for The New York Times, having reopened the Shanghai bureau on November 14th, 2016. He has previously served as the Hong Kong bureau chief and the Detroit bureau chief for The Times. Before those postings, he was a Washington correspondent for The Times covering the Federal Reserve and international trade, and a New York-based business reporter covering transportation and telecommunications for The Times. Born in 1964, Mr. Bradsher received a degree in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Scholar. He received a master's degree in public policy with a concentration in economics from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. Prior to joining The New York Times, Mr. Bradsher wrote for the Los Angeles Times from 1987 until 1989.

• A version of this article appears in print on Friday, May 5, 2018 in the New York edition of The New York Times with the headline: “No Trade Deal With China As Talks End”.


 on: May 05, 2018, 09:44:18 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post....

As a willing warrior for Trump, Sarah Sanders
struggles to maintain credibility

The White House press secretary plays a precarious role representing
a president who traffics in mistruths and obfuscations.


Sarah Sanders takes questions from the press during a news conference at the White House. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.
Sarah Sanders takes questions from the press during a news conference at the White House. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.

THE West Wing shouting match was so loud that more than a dozen staffers heard it.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders cursed and yelled at White House Counsel Donald McGahn during the February confrontation, according to two people familiar with the episode. Misleading statements about the domestic abuse scandal that felled staff secretary Rob Porter had dragged the administration into a maelstrom of chaos and contradictory public statements.

Exasperated, Sanders told McGahn she would not continue to speak for the administration unless she was provided more information about Porter's situation.

The dispute, which erupted in a hallway outside Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin's office, was resolved after Sanders received the clarity she sought, the people familiar with the argument said. Hours later, Sanders returned to her lectern to field queries from a skeptical press corps, though her answers left reporters with more questions.

The moment illustrates the precarious role Sanders has chosen to fill as the public face of the Trump administration — and the doubts about her credibility in representing a president who traffics in mistruths and obfuscations.

Sanders was thrust into an especially harsh limelight over the past week. She was the subject of an acerbic broadside about her “bunch of lies” by comedian Michelle Wolf at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. Then she was forced to explain the inconsistent accounts from her, President Trump and his new personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, about the hush money paid to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels. The week was punctuated by an onslaught of commentary about Sanders's character.

By virtue of her position, Sanders is inextricably bound in the mistruths of the Trump administration. She is a willing warrior for Trump, and her critics say she should be held accountable for his utterances — from the untruthful to the racist to the sexist. Since taking office, Trump has made more than 3,000 false or misleading claims, according to an analysis by The Washington Post's Fact Checker.

“When the president blithely admits to lying, it makes all those who are paid to repeat and defend his stories liars, as well,” said David Axelrod, who was a senior White House adviser under President Barack Obama. “Their credibility is tied to his. It's a high price to pay for a job, even in the White House.”

Sanders, 35, is no political ingenue. She was raised in the wild-and-woolly politics of Arkansas, the only daughter of former governor Mike Huckabee, and grew up to work on his two unsuccessful presidential campaigns.

By the time she took over as White House press secretary from Sean Spicer in July, the administration's penchant for misleading the public at the president's direction was well established. At his first press briefing, Spicer vigorously misrepresented the size of Trump's inaugural crowds, soaring to national fame for the wrong reasons.

Those in Trump's orbit argue that the attacks on Sanders have been more sustained and personally vicious than those faced by press secretaries in previous administrations. They argue that in a hyper-polarized nation — and amid the frenzied environment nurtured by a president who is at war with what he calls the “Fake News” media — Sanders has become an unwitting Rorschach test for Trump's critics.

Allies of Sanders say that she often pushes back on Trump, who wants her to attack the media even harder and more frequently, and that other administrations have also faced credibility problems, such as the mistruths on the Monica Lewinsky affair under President Bill Clinton and the false information on weapons of mass destruction under President George W. Bush.

“It doesn't matter who holds this job for President Trump, they're going to be unfairly attacked and ridiculed,” said Jason Miller, a former Trump campaign adviser. “Since Sarah Huckabee Sanders works for President Trump, it seems to be open season on her professionally and personally.”

Sanders declined to be interviewed for this article.

Fresh trouble for Sanders arose on Wednesday night, when Giuliani, in a freewheeling interview with Sean Hannity, told the friendly Fox News host that Trump had reimbursed his longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, for the $130,000 in hush money he paid to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. The payment helped secure her silence shortly before the 2016 election about an alleged sexual affair with Trump a decade earlier, which the president has denied.

Giuliani's disclosure appeared to be at odds with Sanders's repeated insistence that Trump was not aware of Cohen's payment to Daniels. The interview, which Sanders did not coordinate, left her in an untenable position, she told colleagues.

So did Giuliani's proclamation that three American prisoners soon would be released from North Korea, a development the White House had not confirmed.

Reporters pressed Sanders on Thursday: Was she a liar or simply in the dark? And why was the president's personal attorney authorized to announce news about sensitive hostage negotiations?

“I've given the best information I had at the time,” Sanders said, a line she repeated in general six times. “Some information I am aware of, and some I'm not.”

Sanders said she first learned that Trump had reimbursed Cohen by watching Giuliani's interview with Hannity. At another point in her briefing, she repeated her assertion that she does not intentionally mislead the public, but acknowledged that she is not always provided the most accurate or complete information about her boss.

Sanders also offered a general criticism of peddling untruths — or, as White House counselor Kellyanne Conway once memorably dubbed them, “alternative facts.”

“I would always advise against giving false information,” Sanders said. “As a person of human decency, I do my best to give the right information.”

Sanders's defenders say she spends considerable time crafting talking points that convey the president's wishes but also are technically truthful. If she is guilty of anything, they say, it is providing incomplete information.

In the Daniels episode, for instance, Sanders has largely cited the president's own statements and referred questions to his outside attorneys.

Before most briefings, she meets with Trump in the Oval Office to discuss how he would like her to answer news-of-the-day questions, White House officials said. The president sometimes dictates lines for her to read or orders her to use precise words on particularly sensitive matters.

Sanders routinely dodges questions on hot topics by telling reporters she has not asked the president about it — a deliberate strategy to avoid having to wade into delicate issues, according to a Sanders confidant.

She deflects nearly every question about the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the election unless she has a prepared statement from the president to read — a protective move against creating legal exposure for herself with extemporaneous answers.

“Sarah has done a fantastic job of keeping in line with understanding how to effectively communicate what the president's thoughts are at any given time, recognizing that it is a very dynamic and fluid situation in many cases,” Spicer said. “What she has done is, she has realized, you can't get in trouble for what you don't say.”

Behind the scenes, Sanders has joked with colleagues that she has no idea whom the president will fire, what he will tweet or when he might change his mind. Unlike the more pugilistic Spicer, Sanders has privately displayed a gallows humor.

Sanders sometimes finds herself out of the loop and is not the ubiquitous presence that former communications director Hope Hicks was in the president's daily life.

When Trump offered John Bolton the job as national security adviser, the president had already begun configuring his own press strategy before Sanders was alerted, according to White House officials, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment. Sanders was soon hustled into the Oval Office shortly before Trump tweeted about the hiring.

After Trump revealed that he was urging states to send troops to the U.S.-Mexican border, Sanders scurried to figure out why he had said that and how it would work, only to learn he had been briefed on a proposal the week before, officials said.

In a West Wing riven by infighting and a revolving door, Sanders is one of the only senior officials who does not generally draw arrows. She has lasted longer than some of her colleagues expected.

During the Porter saga, colleagues say, they frequently saw Sanders upset as she managed the fallout. She helped craft a statement that defended Porter and that later became an embarrassment to the administration. But, officials said, she was careful not to betray the administration's mis-steps publicly, as her deputy Raj Shah had when he said that “we all could have done better” — which attracted criticism from the president.

Although combative with reporters on camera, Sanders is largely regarded as more pleasant and helpful behind the scenes. She works to provide reporters answers to their questions, including hunting down colleagues for help.

Sanders often mentions her three small children during her briefings, reminding the millions of viewers tuning in on television that she is a mother. She sometimes makes hokey jokes to leaven the mood in the briefing room and is known to wish some reporters a happy birthday from the lectern.

“Sarah has always been cool-headed and professional and always gives our arguments for greater transparency and openness a respectful hearing,” said Olivier Knox, the chief Washington correspondent for SiriusXM, who will assume the presidency of the White House Correspondents' Association this summer.

Last Saturday night, Sanders sat next to Knox at the head table for the correspondents' dinner. She did not stand up to congratulate the journalists who were presented awards — including a team from CNN, which Trump has assailed as “fake.” And as Wolf mocked her, joking that she “burns facts and then uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye,” Sanders sat stoically.

Later that evening, Sanders and her husband, Bryan, were spotted at the invite-only MSNBC after-party, greeting friends and reporters well after midnight.


• Ashley Parker is a White House reporter for The Washington Post. She joined The Post in 2017, after 11 years at The New York Times, where she covered the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns and Congress, among other things.

• Josh Dawsey is a White House reporter for The Washington Post. He joined the paper in 2017. He previously covered the White House for Politico, and New York City Hall and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for The Wall Street Journal.

• Philip Rucker is the White House Bureau Chief for The Washington Post. He previously has covered Congress, the Obama White House, and the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns. Rucker also is a Political Analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. He joined The Washington Post in 2005 as a local news reporter.


Related to this topic:

 • VIDEO: Sanders: Trump did not know initially about Cohen reimbursement

 • VIDEO: Sanders learned of Trump-Cohen reimbursement on ‘Hannity’

 • VIDEO: Sanders avoids questions about leaked Mueller questions for Trump

 • The Fix: Sarah Huckabee Sanders basically just blamed Trump for misleading her

 • Trump and his attorney didn’t tell the truth, if Giuliani is right. Will that change anything?


 on: May 05, 2018, 04:56:54 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times....

Story shift poses risk for Trump — Giuliani's strategy is unclear

New legal strategy and Giuliani remarks on Stormy Daniels threaten to exacerbate president's troubles.


President Donald J. Trump turned his attention from the scandal to the National Day of Prayer, inviting faith leaders to his Rose Garden signing of an executive order creating a White House advisor on religious liberty. — Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
President Donald J. Trump turned his attention from the scandal to the National Day of Prayer, inviting faith leaders to his Rose Garden signing
of an executive order creating a White House advisor on religious liberty. — Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

WASHINGTON D.C. — President Trump and his new legal point man, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, are off to an explosive start together, admitting what Trump had only recently denied — that he reimbursed his personal lawyer for hush money paid to a porn actress before the election.

The question roiling Washington, ever since Giuliani disclosed the stunner late on Wednesday, is “Why?”

If the new version of events was meant to reduce Trump's legal liability, the success of the strategy seemed in doubt on Thursday. Some legal experts say Giuliani may even have made things worse, not only for the president but also for Michael Cohen, the lawyer who paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 shortly before the 2016 election to stay quiet about an alleged sexual liaison with Trump.

“What you see here is a real effort to cover this up, and the story keeps shifting,” said Larry Noble, former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission.

One central issue, legal experts say, is whether the payments amounted to a campaign expense — despite Trump and Giuliani's denials — to silence an alleged paramour of the candidate and avoid alienating voters. The non-disclosure agreement with Daniels came as the campaign already was contending with the furor over Trump's boasts suggesting sexual assault that were recorded as he prepared for an “Access Hollywood” television appearance a decade earlier.

By saying in tweets early on Thursday that he paid the legal settlement with Daniels, Trump may be trying to protect his attorney from charges that Cohen violated federal reporting requirements and limits on campaign donations. Trump associates worry whether Cohen, who is under FBI investigation in New York, will remain loyal to the president as prosecutors seek the lawyer's cooperation.

Yet Trump, by acknowledging he paid the money, is raising new political questions about his honesty and new legal questions about his own failure to comply with federal law and disclose the payments either on campaign finance filings or his personal financial disclosures.

Legal experts noted that if the $130,000 was intended as a campaign loan from Cohen to Trump, that should have been disclosed.

“Giuliani did not materially improve the president's position. But he may have materially made it worse,” said Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor. “It's mystifying to me.”

Cohen's pre-election role in quashing a potential political problem, once a salacious sideline to the Justice Department's inquiry into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia and Trump's potential obstruction of the investigation, has taken on added significance with the recent developments.

Cohen's office, residence and hotel room were raided last month by the FBI, suggesting that federal agents could have evidence of payments from Trump. Giuliani and Trump may have been anticipating that, and trying to get ahead of any disclosure.

Last month, in his first public statement about Daniels, the president told reporters on Air Force One that he knew nothing of the payments. “You'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael's my attorney,” he said then.

Trump said last week on “Fox & Friends” that Cohen had represented him in the Daniels matter, though he gave no details. The White House has denied that Trump had a one-night stand with her in 2006, as she contends.

Beginning on Wednesday night on Fox News, Giuliani gave a series of interviews in which he conceded that Trump reimbursed Cohen through “retainer” payments of $35,000 apiece over several months, giving Cohen “a little profit and a little margin for paying taxes.”

Giuliani told The New York Times that the total paid to Cohen since the end of the campaign was between $460,000 and $470,000, but he did not account for the money spent beyond Daniels' $130,000, raising another question about the purpose of those payments.

Trump, in his tweets, called the non-disclosure agreement “a private contract between two parties,” unrelated to the campaign — the sort of thing “very common among celebrities and people of wealth.” He again denied he and Daniels had a sexual liaison and said he would pursue damages against her for “false and extortionist accusations.”

Giuliani denied in interviews that the payments were an effort to help Trump's campaign, insisting they were intended to protect his marriage and reputation from Daniels' allegations. Yet Giuliani undermined that argument by saying on “Fox & Friends” on Thursday morning, “Imagine if that came out on October 15, 2016, in the middle of the, you know, last debate with Hillary Clinton.”

“Cohen didn't even ask” Trump, Giuliani said. “Cohen made it go away. He did his job.”

President Donald J. Trump and Rudolph W. Giuliani. — Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press.
President Donald J. Trump and Rudolph W. Giuliani. — Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press.

It remained unclear exactly what Trump knew about Cohen's dealings with Daniels, and when. Giuliani, in his Thursday interview on Fox, said the president “didn't know the details of this” until “a couple weeks ago, maybe 10 days ago” — a timeline that could account for Trump's previous denial and failure to report the expenditures.

“But he did know about the general arrangement, that Michael would take care of things like this,” Giuliani told Fox host Sean Hannity during Wednesday's interview.

Cohen has said he borrowed money to pay Daniels through a home equity line of credit, and his lawyer has said Cohen wasn't repaid. By spending personal funds, without reimbursement, he could be liable for violating the federal cap on campaign donations, which was $2,700 per candidate in 2016, and Trump's campaign could face trouble for failing to disclose them as contributions.

Federal enforcement, however, is notably lax and slow-moving. The FEC typically treats omissions in campaign disclosure reports as civil violations that sometimes result in fines.

But Trump's admission that he reimbursed Cohen could result in criminal charges if prosecutors believed the two men had a “knowing and willful intent” to conceal spending intended to influence the election, Noble said.

“What they did was pay $130,000 to Stormy Daniels to stop her from going public right before the election, because they were afraid it was going to hurt [Trump's] chances in the election,” Noble said.

Stephen Spaulding, a former FEC lawyer who is chief of strategy at the ethics watchdog group Common Cause, called Trump and Cohen's handling of the matter a textbook example of a potentially criminal coverup more serious than the underlying offense.

“Rudy Giuliani has only made the situation worse for both the president and Michael Cohen,” Spaulding said.

Common Cause has filed complaints with both the FEC and the Justice Department arguing that the payment to Daniels was an illegal campaign contribution.

Separately, another public-interest advocacy group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, has filed a complaint to the Justice Department alleging that if the president knew he owed Cohen money, he violated federal law by failing to report the debt on his 2016 personal finance disclosure. Federal law requires officials to list outstanding liabilities over $10,000. Trump signed his report in June 2017, months after Giuliani said the president started to make monthly payments to Cohen.

“He had this six-figure debt that he is paying off in chunks month to month — that is exactly how a loan works,” said Jordan Libowitz, a spokesman for the group. “If he knew that liability was there, that could be a potentially criminal false statement.”

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is suing Trump in Los Angeles federal court to void the non-disclosure agreement barring her from discussing her alleged one-night stand with Trump. She argues, among other things, that the pact is invalid because its purpose was to break federal law by hiding from voters a $130,000 payment made to influence the election.

Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said the revelations that Trump reimbursed Cohen expose the president to criminal liability for potential money laundering and fraud. “This is a bombshell,” Avenatti told CNN.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the new information caught her by surprise and she referred most questions about it to Giuliani.

The news about Trump's payments over a porn star made for an awkward Rose Garden celebration of the National Day of Prayer on Thursday. Trump signed a new order creating a religious liberty advisor, a move aimed at pleasing conservative evangelical supporters who have stuck with him through prior sexual allegations. Some were in the audience.

“Isn't it a glorious day?” Vice President Mike Pence said to the audience, proceeding to characterize the White House as a place of prayer, and reading a Bible verse.

Trump pointed to the crowd and raised his fists. “Our nation will be renewed by hard work, a lot of intelligence and prayer,” he said.


Los Angeles Times staff writer Chris Megerian in Washington contributed to this report.

• Noah Bierman covers the White House in Washington, D.C. for the Los Angeles Times. Before joining the newspaper in 2015, he worked for the Boston Globe in both Boston and Washington, covering Congress, politics and transportation in the immediate aftermath of the Big Dig. He has also reported on higher education, crime, politics and local government for the Miami Herald, the Palm Beach Post and the Duluth (Minnesota) News-Tribune. Bierman is a native of Miami who attended Duke University.

• Michael Finnegan is a Los Angeles Times politics writer. Since joining the L.A. Times in 2000, he has covered elections for mayor, governor and president, most recently the Donald Trump campaign. In 2011, Finnegan and fellow Los Angeles Times reporter Gale Holland won the Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism for articles on rampant waste in the $6-billion rebuilding of Los Angeles community colleges. A Los Angeles native, Finnegan started newspaper work at the Hudson Dispatch in New Jersey. For seven years, he covered city and state politics at the New York Daily News. He plays piano on the side.

• Joseph Tanfani covers the Justice Department and Homeland Security in the Washington, D.C., bureau of the Los Angeles Times. Before joining the L.A. Times in 2012, he worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he was a reporter and investigations editor, and at the Miami Herald, the Press of Atlantic City and the Williamsport Sun-Gazette.



 on: May 05, 2018, 04:13:57 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times....

Seeing red over Marx's specter

German hometown's tribute for his 200th birthday is
stirring debate about the communist-capitalist divide.

By ERIK KIRSCHBAUM | Friday, May 04, 2018

Workers install a statue of Karl Marx in Trier, Germany, which is planning a year of events to celebrate the founding father of communism. The fact that the statue is a gift from China has only added to the controversy. — Photograph: Harald Tittel/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
Workers install a statue of Karl Marx in Trier, Germany, which is planning a year of events to celebrate the founding father of communism. The fact that
the statue is a gift from China has only added to the controversy. — Photograph: Harald Tittel/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.

BERLIN — A specter is haunting Germany — the specter of Karl Marx.

A curious debate has erupted just as the hometown of communism's founding father is about to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth in the western German town of Trier.

Is it appropriate for a country split by the Cold War, which pitted communism against capitalism, to honor the 19th century critic of free markets? Is it tasteless to capitalize on Marx's name for the sake of tourist income? Is nostalgia for communist East Germany clouding people's memories? Or might Marx be a modern-day antidote to an era of unbridled capitalism?

Those are among the questions roiling Germans — and people across Europe — this week as his hometown prepares to pay tribute to Marx's memory by unveiling an 18-foot-high statue of its native son. The inauguration of the colossal statue will kick off a year featuring 600 events in the Trier area celebrating Marx, who was born on May 5, 1818. That the 2.3-ton bronze memorial of the bearded philosopher in a pensive pose and frock coat was a gift from the People's Republic of China has only added to the controversy.

“It just wouldn't have been possible to do this 30 years ago,” Trier Mayor Wolfram Leibe told reporters last month as workers bolted the still-concealed monument onto its pedestal on a square just around the corner from the house where Marx lived with his family until he was 17. “Karl Marx is one of Trier's greatest citizens and we shouldn't have to hide that.”

Leibe did not have to mention the 150,000 Chinese tourists who make the pilgrimage to Trier each year and his city's hopes that even more will make the journey after the statue's wrapping is removed Saturday.

In a nod to the debate that has raged since the Trier city council agreed last year to accept the gift made in China, Leibe did acknowledge that it took time after German reunification for “a more distanced and differentiated” view of the town's most famous son to evolve. “The monument should inspire people to think about Marx and his literary works,” Leibe said.

Marx's signature work, the book “Das Kapital”, and “The Communist Manifesto”, a pamphlet written with fellow German Friedrich Engels, shaped 20th century history. They provided the philosophical underpinnings of the Russian Revolution, which gave birth to the Soviet Union, and the Chinese Revolution, which created the People's Republic. Together, the events divided the world for decades into sharply defined blocs of East and West, capitalist and communist.

“A specter is haunting Europe — the specter of communism,” The Communist Manifesto famously begins.

Marx's theories on economics and politics came to be known collectively as Marxism. His works had a major impact on his native country, which was divided into capitalist West Germany and communist East Germany for more than four decades after World War II.

The last capitalist we hang shall be the one who sold us the rope,” he wrote. And: “Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workingmen of all countries unite!”

In his writings, Marx argued that the relentless drive for profits in the capitalist system would lead enterprises to continuously mechanize their workplaces and that it would, in turn, lead to more goods being produced even as workers' wages were being squeezed. He warned, also prophetically, that capitalism's tendency to concentrate high value on arbitrary products would lead to a “subservience to inhuman ... unnatural and imaginary appetites.”

There were statues, streets, squares and schools named after Karl Marx throughout East Germany and even in parts of West Germany, but his name lost its luster as communism collapsed across Eastern Europe and the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. An East German city of 240,000 known as Karl-Marx-Stadt changed its name back to Chemnitz in 1990.

Marx-like green and red figures on traffic lights for pedestrian crossings are part of the Marx mania in Trier, the philosopher's west German hometown. — Photograph: Patrik Stollarz/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
Marx-like green and red figures on traffic lights for pedestrian crossings are part of the Marx mania in Trier, the philosopher's west German hometown.
 — Photograph: Patrik Stollarz/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.

But generations of East Germans raised on Marx's teachings began recalling his lessons in the wake of the global financial crisis starting in 2007.

“Karl Marx had a lot of good ideas and many of them are still valid,” said Hartmut Meier, a 57-year-old mechanic who grew up on a steady diet of Marxism at a school in East Berlin. Although he does not miss life in communist East Germany, Meier said he harbors fond memories of Marx's ideas. “Unfortunately, most of them weren't implemented. I do like the idea that they're putting up a monument for him.”

Ilona Tschitschke, 66, studied Marx and “Das Kapital” at university in East Germany and believed that he was wrong about a lot of things — in particular his views against private ownership. But she was always impressed with the way he was able to describe and define the capitalist system in society at such an early date in the 19th century.

“I've got a lot of respect for what he achieved and he deserves recognition,” Tschitschke, a retiree who worked in administration and marketing after reunification, said in an interview. “His goals were utopian and he got a lot wrong. But I think we're all more open now to acknowledge and admire what he did. He tried to make the world a better place.”

That is far from a unanimous opinion. Hubertus Knabe, head of a memorial at a former prison for political inmates in East Berlin, is among those who has criticized the Marx memorial in Trier.

“It is hard for many victims of the communist system to accept that a west German city is putting up a monument like this,” he said.

Still, a recent poll by Ipsos in 28 nations found that Germans, whose country is now the economic powerhouse of Europe, were far more skeptical about capitalism and free markets than people in other countries. The online survey of 20,793 adults around the world last month found that only 49% of German respondents agreed that free market competition brings out the best in people, compared with clear majorities of 70% and higher in a host of other countries — including not only the United States but also China. Only in France were people more doubtful about free markets bringing out the best in people.

“There's a lot of criticism about the excesses of the free market economy in Germany,” said Robert Grimm, 43, director of political research at Ipsos in Germany and an East German by birth.

“Social inequality and poverty is the biggest worry,” he added. “People have lost faith in capitalism. It's created an economic environment that's not as transparent as it was and a dynamic where many people feel threatened.”

In any event, Trier, a city of 115,000 in the Moselle River wine region whose politics have long been dominated by Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, is banking on capitalism fueled by Marx. Vendors are busy selling everything from zero-euro notes with Marx's hirsute face on them (for nearly $4) to rubber ducks wearing Marx-style beards. It has installed Marx-like green and red figures on traffic lights for pedestrian crossings and a local jeweler is selling silver Marx rings bearing his visage.

Over in the eastern city of Chemnitz, the nostalgia for Marx in the place that long bore his name led one savings bank to issue credit cards with a picture of the 23-foot-high Marx bust that still stands in the city. A local brewery created a “Marx Staedter” (Marx city dweller) brew in March.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will give a speech in Trier on Saturday to launch the Marx commemorations, ignoring criticism from Britain and elsewhere that he is being insensitive to people killed in the conflicts waged over Marxism and communism.

“Nobody can deny that Karl Marx is a figure who shaped history in one way or another,” a spokeswoman for Juncker said. “Not speaking about him would come close to denying history.”


• Erik Kirschbaum is a special correspondent to the Los Angeles Times and is based in Berlin. A native of New York City, he grew up in Connecticut and studied history and German at the University of Wisconsin.


 on: May 05, 2018, 01:12:19 am 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The New York Times....

Damaging Moments for Trump, in an Unlikely Setting: Fox News

A statement by Rudolph W. Giuliani on “Hannity” was the latest agita-inducing
moment for President Trump to have played out on his favorite network.

By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM | 7:26PM EDT — Thursday, May 03, 2018

Rudolph W. Giuliani, who has joined President Trump's legal team, made a surprising disclosure on Sean Hannity's Fox News program about a $130,000 payment to an pornographic film actress. — Picture: Fox News Channel.
Rudolph W. Giuliani, who has joined President Trump's legal team, made a surprising disclosure on Sean Hannity's Fox News program
about a $130,000 payment to an pornographic film actress. — Picture: Fox News Channel.

THERE IS NO friendlier territory on television for Trump supporters than Sean Hannity's nightly hour on Fox News, where President Trump is forever the victim of a witch hunt and the liberal media is perennially bent on his destruction.

That safe-space bubble popped — in dramatic, headline-making fashion — on Wednesday night, when Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor and current member of Mr. Trump's legal team, casually confirmed to the startled host that the president had personally repaid his lawyer the money he had laid out to make his problem with a pornographic actress go away.

“Oh,” Mr. Hannity replied, his usual bombast briefly escaping him. “I didn't know — he did?”


It was an off-message moment from the ultimate on-message show — and just the latest in a string of agita-inducing moments for Mr. Trump that have played out, improbably, on his favorite television network.

Mr. Giuliani's admission stunned Mr. Trump's closest advisers, many of whom — including the press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders — learned about Mr. Trump's payment while watching “Hannity”. Even so, the candor may have been by design: Mr. Giuliani said the president's involvement showed that the payment had not violated campaign finance laws.

It was harder to locate the strategy behind Mr. Trump's swerving, stream-of-consciousness telephone interview last week on “Fox & Friends”. On live TV, the president seemed to stumble into acknowledging, for the first time, that he knew about his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, funneling $130,000 in hush money to an adult film actress who had claimed to have had an affair with the future president.

“He represents me, like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal,” Mr. Trump said, as the show's hosts listened politely.

The president went on to say that Mr. Cohen does “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work — prompting prosecutors to file a fresh brief saying that the comment had undermined the president's legal argument that documents seized from Mr. Cohen in a raid by prosecutors, were protected by attorney-client privilege.

On Thursday, “Fox & Friends” played host to another awkward and possibly significant exchange. Mr. Giuliani, back on the network less than 12 hours after his appearance on “Hannity” aired, mused that Mr. Cohen's efforts to quiet Ms. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, had helped Mr. Trump's presidential bid.

“Imagine if that came out on October 15, 2016, in the middle of the, you know, last debate with Hillary Clinton,” Mr. Giuliani said.


Fair point — but problematic for Mr. Trump, whose legal team would be better off avoiding any suggestion that he had violated federal campaign finance laws that require the disclosure of spending meant to influence the electorate.

Michael Avenatti, the voluble lawyer representing Ms. Clifford, responded on Twitter by thanking “Fox & Friends” for “helping our case week in and week out.”

“You are truly THE BEST,” Mr. Avenatti wrote. “Where can we send the gift basket?”

Perhaps Mr. Trump and his defenders feel more relaxed when chatting with Fox News's stable of pundits, whose questions tend to be gentle. Those who know Mr. Trump well said that the president's meandering call to “Fox & Friendsresembled the way he talks in private.

Also, Mr. Trump and some of his closest allies choose to appear only on Fox News — meaning that any gaffes are bound to appear there, rather than on rival networks.

Still, other moments have scrambled the usual Fox News formula.

When the correspondent Ed Henry sat down in April with Scott Pruitt, the embattled head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. Pruitt was hoping for the interview to clear up a cloud of ethics problems hanging over his tenure. Instead, Mr. Henry pelted him with questions that Mr. Pruitt visibly struggled to answer.

Mr. Henry, though, belongs to the reporting side of Fox News, rather than its conservative commentariat. And the network's pundits have been less aggressive in their questioning when interviews go south.

On Wednesday night, Mr. Hannity did not press Mr. Giuliani for details about the president's reimbursing of Mr. Cohen, and the host even offered the former mayor a mulligan.

“But do you know the president didn't know about this?” Mr. Hannity asked, seeming to prompt Mr. Giuliani to correct his earlier statement.

“He didn't know about the specifics of it as far as I know,” Mr. Giuliani said. “But he did know about the general arrangement that Michael would take care of things like this.”

Later, Laura Ingraham, who follows Mr. Hannity at 10 p.m., seemed taken aback at what had transpired in the previous hour.

“God, if you go on ‘Hannity’ you better think it through, as the attorney for the president,” she said, her eyes wide in disbelief.

“I love Rudy,” she added, “but they better have an explanation for that. That's a problem.”


• A version of this article appears in print on May 4, 2018, on Page B2 of the New York edition of The New York Times with the headline: “For Trump, Fox's Friendly Turf Proves to Be a Minefield”.

• Michael M. Grynbaum is a media correspondent for The New York Times, covering the intersection of business, culture and politics. Since starting at The N.Y. Times as an intern, he has served as City Hall bureau chief, Metro political writer, transportation reporter and economics writer during the 2008 financial crisis.


Related to this topic:

 • Giuliani May Have Exposed Trump to New Legal and Political Perils

 • Giuliani: The President's Attack Dog Who May Have Bitten Trump

 • Trump Says Payment to Stormy Daniels Did Not Violate Campaign Laws

 • The Trump Team’s Conflicting Statements About the Payment to Stormy Daniels


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