NEW YORK — Porn actor Stormy Daniels met Wednesday with prosecutors who are investigating hush money paid to her on former president Donald Trump’s behalf, her lawyer said Wednesday.
The news emerged as Michael Cohen, a former Trump attorney who orchestrated the payment, was giving a second day of testimony before a New York grand jury looking into the matter.
The $130,000 payment was made in 2016, as Trump’s first presidential campaign was in its final weeks and Daniels was negotiating to go on television to air her claims of a sexual encounter with him a decade earlier. Cohen made the payment and arranged another payout — at Trump’s direction, he says.
Daniels met with and answered questions from Manhattan prosecutors and is willing to be a witness, her attorney, Clark Brewster, tweeted. The adult film actor tweeted her thanks to her attorney for “helping me in our continuing fight for truth and justice.”
A message seeking comment was sent to the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
Earlier Wednesday, Cohen said he felt “great” as he headed into what he expected to be his final day of grand jury testimony.
Daniels has said she had a 2006 sexual encounter with Trump that she didn’t want, but didn’t say no to. Trump says it never happened. The former president’s current lawyer said Trump was invited to testify before the grand jury but has no plans to do so.
Federal prosecutors in 2018 charged Cohen with campaign finance crimes related to payments to Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, arguing that the payouts amounted to impermissible gifts to Trump’s election effort.
McDougal, who was paid $150,000, alleged she had an affair with the married Trump in 2006-07. He denied it.
Cohen pleaded guilty, served prison time, and was disbarred. Federal prosecutors never charged Trump with any crime.
Manhattan prosecutors have been examining whether any state laws were broken in connection with the payments or the way Trump’s company compensated Cohen for his work to keep the women’s allegations quiet.
Cohen and federal prosecutors said the company paid him $420,000 to reimburse him for the payment to Daniels and to cover bonuses and other supposed expenses. The company classified those payments internally as legal expenses.
Falsifying business records can be a misdemeanor under state law, or a felony if the fudging of paperwork is done in connection with a more serious crime.
Trump and his lawyers have said he was extorted into paying the money to Daniels and should be considered the victim in the investigation. Daniels and the lawyers who helped arrange the payment have denied extorting anyone.
Senate confirms Garcetti as ambassador to India
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Eric Garcetti, the former mayor of Los Angeles, to be the US ambassador to India, ending a two-year saga that left a top diplomatic post vacant amid allegations that he mishandled workplace misconduct and sexual harassment.
Garcetti was confirmed by a vote of 52 to 42, with a few Democratic senators who had expressed deep reservations voting “no” but several more Republicans voting in favor of moving forward, effectively saving Garcetti’s bid from collapse.
It was a victory for President Biden, who stuck by his political ally in the face of the allegations and the prolonged process that has left the United States without a permanent envoy in one of the world’s most populous and geopolitically important democracies.
“The United States-India relationship is extremely important,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said after a test vote earlier on Wednesday. “It’s a very good thing we now have an ambassador.” He offered no specific praise for Garcetti.
Garcetti, who dropped a presidential exploratory bid in 2019 to become an early backer of Biden’s campaign, had been on the shortlist for a number of Cabinet posts before the president nominated him to be the ambassador to India.
But his nomination languished amid a Republican blockade of Biden’s Senate-confirmed nominees. It sank further after Senate Republicans produced an investigative report last year that found “numerous credible allegations from multiple whistle-blowers” of misconduct by a top aide to Garcetti, and asserted that “it is more likely than not that Mayor Garcetti either had personal knowledge of the sexual harassment or should have been aware of it.”
Garcetti has consistently denied the accusations, and the White House has dismissed them as partisan attacks, but they effectively stalled action in the Senate, leaving Garcetti’s fate up in the air. The nomination died at the end of the last Congress, and in January, Biden renominated Garcetti.
New York Times
Conservative group buys up string of D.C. properties
At first glance, the flurry of real estate sales two blocks east of the US Capitol appeared unremarkable in a city where such sales are common. In the span of a year, a seemingly unrelated gaggle of recently formed companies bought nine properties, all within steps of one another.
But the sales were not coincidental. Unbeknown to most of the sellers, the limited liability companies making the purchases — a shopping spree that added up to $41 million — are connected to a conservative nonprofit led by Mark Meadows, former president Donald Trump’s chief of staff. The organization has promoted MAGA stars like Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado.
The Conservative Partnership Institute, as the nonprofit is known, now controls four commercial properties along a single Pennsylvania Avenue block, three adjoining rowhouses around the corner, and a garage and carriage house in the rear alley. CPI’s aim, as expressed in its annual report, is to transform the swath of prime real estate into a campus it calls “Patriots’ Row.”
The acquisitions strike some Capitol Hill regulars as puzzling, considering that Republicans have long made a sport of denigrating Washington as a dysfunctional “swamp,” the latest evidence being a successful GOP-led effort to block local D.C. legislation to revise the city’s criminal code.
“So you don’t respect how we administer our city and then you secretly buy up chunks of it?” said Tim Krepp, a Capitol Hill resident who works as a tour guide and has written about the neighborhood’s history. “If it’s such a hellhole, go to Virginia.”
Reached on his cellphone, Edward Corrigan, CPI’s president, whose name appears on public documents related to the sales, had no immediate comment on the purchases, which were first reported by Grid News and confirmed by The Washington Post. “I’ll get back to you,” Corrigan said. He did not respond to follow-up messages.
Former senator Jim DeMint, CPI’s founder, and Meadows, a senior partner at the organization, did not respond to e-mails seeking comment. Cameron Seward, CPI’s general counsel and director of operations, whose name appears on incorporation documents related to the companies making the purchases, did not respond to a text or an e-mail.
In Wis. court race, GOP candidate asserts help is on the way
As conservatives in Wisconsin seek to maintain control of the state Supreme Court in an all-important election for a crucial swing seat, they would appear to be fighting uphill.
The conservative candidate, Daniel Kelly, is trailing in limited private polling of the race. Abortion rights, which powered Democrats in the midterm elections, are driving the party to shovel enormous sums of money into the campaign. And perhaps most significantly, Kelly’s campaign has been outspent by a staggering margin on television since the Feb. 21 primary: $9.1 million to nothing.
But Kelly, who sat on the court before losing reelection in 2020, appears unfazed. He told supporters Sunday in northwest Wisconsin that help was on the way from unidentified outside groups in his race against Janet Protasiewicz, a liberal Milwaukee County judge opposing him in the April 4 election.
Wisconsin is at the midway point of a six-week general election for a seat that will determine the balance of the state Supreme Court. Victory by Kelly would preserve conservatives’ sway over the court, which they have controlled since 2008, while success by Protasiewicz would give Wisconsin liberals an opportunity to legalize abortion rights and invalidate the state’s Republican-drawn gerrymandered legislative maps, as well as roll back other measures put in place by the court and GOP lawmakers.