Trump slams Cohen and lauds Manafort after twin legal blows

Donald Trump and his former campaign manager Paul Manafort. (Reuters)
Updated 22 August 2018

Trump slams Cohen and lauds Manafort after twin legal blows

  • In a morning tweet, Trump said he felt "very badly" for Paul Manafort
  • Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges of tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump, in tweets about the stunning legal setbacks involving two of his former lieutenants, on Wednesday attacked the one who has turned on him and defended the one who has remained loyal.
Trump lashed out at former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen in a Twitter post by saying the campaign finance violations Cohen pleaded guilty to in federal court in New York on Tuesday were “not a crime” — even though prosecutors and Cohen agreed that they were. Trump made the claim without offering any evidence.
In a separate tweet, Trump said, “If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen.”
Cohen pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges of tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations, and said he acted at the direction of Trump.


In television interviews, Cohen attorney Lanny Davis said that Cohen would not accept a presidential pardon if Trump offered him one because he wanted no part in what he saw as Trump’s abuse of his clemency power.
“He does not want anything from Donald Trump,” Davis told MSNBC.
Davis said Cohen also had information that would be of interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating the 2016 campaign, and that a website had been set up to collect donations for Cohen’s legal expenses.
Cohen, who once said he was so loyal that he would “take a bullet” for Trump, told a federal court in Manhattan that Trump directed him to arrange payments ahead of the 2016 presidential election to silence two women who said they had affairs with Trump.
His plea came as former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight charges in a separate financial fraud trial in Alexandria, Virginia, stemming from a federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.
The Mueller investigation has clouded Trump’s presidency for more than a year.

In a morning tweet, Trump said, “I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. ‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ — make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!“
The two findings of guilt against Cohen and Manafort ratchet up political pressure on Trump and fellow Republicans ahead of November elections, in which Democrats are seeking to regain control of Congress.
The legal developments also increase pressure on Trump personally. While Cohen did not name Trump in court on Tuesday, Davis on Wednesday in television interviews accused the president of being directly involved.
Cohen had “information ... regarding both knowledge of a conspiracy to corrupt American democracy by the Russians and the failure to report that knowledge to the FBI,” Davis told MSNBC.
He also told CNN that “Cohen has knowledge that would be of interest to the special counsel about whether Donald Trump knew ahead of time about the hacking of emails.”
Russia has denied US intelligence community findings that it interfered with the 2016 election with the aim of boosting Trump and hampering his Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton. Trump has denied any collusion by his campaign with Moscow and repeatedly called Mueller’s investigation a witch hunt.
A US grand jury has indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers on charges of hacking the computer networks of Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic Party.

 


WHO warns ‘too early to ease up’ from COVID-19 lockdowns in Europe

Updated 38 min 19 sec ago

WHO warns ‘too early to ease up’ from COVID-19 lockdowns in Europe

  • ‘We need to be patient, it will take time to vaccinate’
  • ‘Pushing transmission down requires a sustained, consistent effort’

GENEVA: The World Health Organization’s European director Hans Kluge said on Thursday COVID-19 transmission rates in Europe remained too high, putting health services under severe strain, and therefore it was “too early to ease up.”
“We need to be patient, it will take time to vaccinate,” he told an online briefing. “We have learned harsh lessons — opening and closing, and reopening (societies) rapidly is a poor strategy” in seeking to curb coronavirus contagion, he said.
“Transmission rates across Europe are still very high, impacting health systems and straining services, making it too early to ease up,” Kluge said. “Pushing transmission down requires a sustained, consistent effort. Bear in mind that just over 3 percent of people in the region have had a confirmed COVID-19 infection. Areas hit badly once can be hit again.”
Kluge said a total of 35 countries in Europe had launched vaccination programs with 25 million does administered so far.
“These vaccines have shown the efficacy and safety we all hoped they would...This monumental undertaking will release pressure on our health systems and undoubtedly save lives.”
He said continued high rates of transmission and emerging variants of the virus made it urgent to vaccinate priority groups, but said the rate of vaccine production and distribution was not yet meeting expectations.
“This paradox, where communities sense an end is in sight with the vaccine but, at the same time, are called to adhere to restrictive measures in the face of a new threat, is causing tension, angst, fatigue, and confusion. This is completely understandable in these circumstances.”