Advice for ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen ahead of sentencing: ‘Bring toothbrush to court’

If a federal judge sentences Michael Cohen to prison Wednesday, he may ask that Cohen report at a future date – or he may demand that the former personal lawyer for President Trump be placed behind bars immediately.

Which scenario is more likely?

“If I were advising [Cohen],” Michael J. Stern, a former federal prosecutor in Detroit and Los Angeles, told the Associated Press, “I’d encourage him to bring his toothbrush to court.”

“If I were advising [Cohen], I’d encourage him to bring his toothbrush to court.”

— Michael J. Stern, former federal prosecutor

Trump has accused Cohen of turning against him and cooperating with investigators in the Trump-Russia probe primarily to secure a lighter prison sentence for himself.

On Wednesday morning, Cohen, 52, will learn his fate when he appears before U.S. District Judge William Pauley III in a federal court in New York City.

Prosecutors last week urged that Cohen receive a “substantial” prison sentence after pleading guilty to avoiding taxes, lying to Congress and violating campaign finance laws.

Under federal guidelines, that means a sentence of up to four years.


Cohen’s lawyers, on the other hand, say Cohen deserves leniency for his cooperation and for the humiliation he and his family have suffered since he surrendered to the FBI in August.

Cohen pleaded guilty to misleading Congress about work on a proposal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow – and concealing the fact that he continued to speak with Russians about the plan well into the 2016 presidential campaign.

He also pleaded guilty in August to breaking campaign finance laws by helping arrange payments to silence two women — former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult film actress Stormy Daniels — who said they had sexual encounters with Trump while he was married.

For weeks, Cohen’s legal team portrayed him as a reformed man who decided to cut ties with the president and cooperate with federal investigators. His lawyers have said he could have stayed on the president’s side and angled himself for a presidential pardon.

New York prosecutors have urged a judge to sentence Cohen to a substantial prison term, saying he’d failed to fully cooperate and overstated his helpfulness. They’ve asked for only a slight reduction to his sentence based on his work with the office of special counsel Robert Mueller and prosecutors looking into the campaign finance violations in New York.

A probation-only sentence, they said, is unbefitting of “a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy.”


Prosecutors said Cohen orchestrated payments to McDougal and Daniels at Trump’s direction.

Trump, who insists the affairs never happened, tweeted Monday that the payments to the women were “a simple private transaction,” not a campaign contribution. And if it was campaign contribution, the president said, Cohen is the one who should be held responsible.

“Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me,” Trump wrote, adding, “Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!”

A sentence of hard time would leave Cohen with little to show for his decision to plead guilty, though experts said Wednesday’s hearing might not be the last word on his punishment.

Cohen could have his sentence revisited if he strikes a deal with prosecutors to provide additional cooperation within a year of his sentence, Stern said.

Cohen’s transition from Trump’s “fixer” to a felon has been head-spinning.

He once told an interviewer he would “take a bullet” for Trump. But facing prosecution for evading $ 1.4 million in taxes, Cohen pleaded guilty in August, pledged to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the presidential election and changed his party registration from Republican to Democrat.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Flake blocked in bid to force vote on save-Mueller bill, as Trump court pick caught in crossfire

Outgoing Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake joined with several Democrats on Wednesday in a failed attempt to force a vote on legislation to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from inappropriate removal or political pressure.

Flake, along with Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons and New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, tried to use a parliamentary maneuver to pave the way for a vote on the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act.

Flake asked for unanimous consent to vote on the bill, but Utah Sen. Mike Lee objected, blocking the effort.

The three lawmakers expressed concern over comments made by President Trump, who has called the Mueller probe a “phony witch hunt,” as well as Trump’s ousting of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“It’s clear, therefore, something has to be done to protect Mr. Mueller’s investigation,” Flake said on the Senate floor.

The Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act mandates that a special counsel can only be fired for good cause by a senior Justice Department official.

Some Republicans counter that the bill is unnecessary. During Tuesday’s briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders denied that the president is considering firing Mueller.

“Look, I think that the president has had Robert Mueller doing his job for the last two years, and he could’ve taken action at any point, and he hasn’t. So we’ll let that speak for itself,” she said.

Sanders added, “He has no intent to do anything.”

The blocking of the bill, though, could complicate GOP efforts to confirm Trump’s judicial nominees.

Flake, who is retiring from the Senate, has said he won’t support any of Trump’s judicial nominees until he gets a vote on his bill to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from firing. Later Wednesday, Republicans hope to move forward with plans to vote on Thomas Farr’s nomination to serve on the federal bench for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Should Flake vote against Farr on Wednesday afternoon, that would take the GOP down to a maximum of 50 yeas. Vice President Pence could be needed to break a tie on the procedural vote, and potentially to confirm Farr later this week.

The Farr nomination has been controversial, with all 49 Democrats oppose Farr, arguing that Farr discriminated against African Americans through his rulings on voting laws.

“Mr. Farr defended North Carolina’s absurdly restrictive voter ID law, also passed by the conservative Republican state legislature, and they tailored their election laws to disadvantage African-American voters after requesting race-specific data on voting practices,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said.

Republicans, meanwhile, are standing behind Farr.

“The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary — a body that’s frequently been held up by my Democratic colleagues as the ‘gold standard’ — has awarded Mr. Farr its highest possible rating: unanimously well qualified,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

John Paul Stevens reveals he decided to retire from Supreme Court after mini-stroke while giving dissent

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens revealed he stepped down from the high court because he suffered a mini-stroke the day he delivered his dissent in the Citizens United case.

The 98-year-old writes in his forthcoming memoir, “The Making of a Justice: My First 94 Years,” that the incident caused him to stumble over and mispronounce several words during the dissent, according to the New York Times.

“Unbeknownst to me, I apparently had suffered a mini-stroke,” he writes.

“That was it,” he told the Times. “I made the decision that day. After I went to see the doctor, I sent a letter to the president right away.”


Stevens dissented from the landmark campaign finance case in 2010, which eased restrictions on election spending. Months after Stevens broke with the majority’s ruling, he announced he’d be retiring, giving then-President Barack Obama his second Supreme Court vacancy.

Click for more from the Washington Examiner.

Avenatti accuser claims he ‘dragged’ her on floor, court filing reportedly says

The actress who was granted a temporary restraining order against attorney Michael Avenatti claimed that he “dragged” her on the floor and put her into a public hallway dressed only in a T-shirt and underwear, a report said, citing court documents.

In a sworn declaration, Mareli Miniutti, 24, said she and Avenatti, 47, dated from October 2017 to Nov. 13, the night Avenatti allegedly hit her in the face with pillows and followed her into a guest bedroom where she went to sleep alone, the New York Times reported.

Miniutti said they had an argument about money in his Los Angeles apartment.

“He dragged me on the floor of the apartment towards and out of the door into the public hallway,” she wrote in the declaration. “I was wearing only my underwear and a T-shirt at the time, and suffered scratches to the bare skin on my side and leg.”

Avenatti pulled Miniutti back into the apartment and blocked the door, the declaration reportedly said. She eventually left and said she spoke with building security. A friend picked her up and she called the police, the report said. The court filing includes photos that appears to show bruising and scratches, the paper reported.

Miniutti did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment.

Avenatti was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence the next day and a judge granted Miniutti’s request for a temporary restraining order this week.

Avenatti denied the claims in a series of tweets Monday. He said he has never abused a woman and has called for the release of video footage from the building’s security cameras.

“I am a target,” he said. “And I will be exonerated.”

In a separate episode, Miniutti also claimed Avenatti had been drinking and pushed her out of a different apartment into a hallway, threw shoes at her and struck her in the leg.

She reportedly said the high-profile lawyer “has a history of being very verbally abusive and financially controlling towards me,” and that he “made promises to ‘take care of me’ financially and sometimes fails to follow through.”

A fierce critic of President Donald Trump, Avenatti has advocated on behalf of women’s rights and represented adult-film star Stormy Daniels, in a legal dispute against Trump.

“I continue to be afraid of” Avenatti, she wrote, according to the paper, “and do not want him to contact me.”

Actress files restraining order against Avenatti, court records show

An aspiring actress filed a petition for a restraining order against lawyer Michael Avenatti on Monday.

Mareli Miniutti, who appeared in a number of small films, filed the paperwork at a Santa Monica courthouse just days after Avenatti was accused of domestic violence, according to court records.

Avenatti, a lawyer for porn actress Stormy Daniels, was briefly detained by police on Friday when a woman accused him of assault.

It was not clear Monday night if Miniutti was the same woman who made the accusation against him last week.

To read more from The New York Post, click here.

‘Trolley man’ hailed as hero in Melbourne attack appears in court

A still taken from video of the attack shows Rogers running with the shopping cart towards the attacker.

(CNN)A homeless man who was hailed as a hero after intervening in a terror attack in the Australian city of Melbourne just over a week ago has appeared in court charged with theft, Australia’s ABC News reported.

Michael Rogers was captured in shaky cellphone images from the scene repeatedly shoving a shopping cart, known as a shopping trolley in Australia, at attacker Hassan Khalif Shire Ali who had just stabbed three people and was threatening police officers with a knife.
After Rogers, nicknamed “trolley man,” was identified as the brave bystander concerned, a GoFundMe page was set up in his honor.
    Police subsequently said they wanted to question Rogers, 46, over alleged offenses that predated the Melbourne attack, ABC reported. He handed himself in to police on Friday.
    He has since appeared in court accused of stealing a bike from an apartment block in Melbourne in October and breaking into a downtown cafe earlier this month and taking $ 367 (AUD 500), ABC reported. He has been released on bail.
    The court heard Rogers had faced homelessness and drug issues, and was released from a five-month spell in prison in August, ABC said.
    Michael Rogers, also known as "trolley man" seen in an interview with CNN affiliate Seven News.

    The GoFundMe page set up on Rogers’ behalf by the charity National Homeless Collective was closed to new donations on Saturday after reaching its target.
      The $ 106,000 (AUD 145,000) raised will be held in a trust account for Rogers, the charity said, to ensure he is “well taken care of and guided financially as he moves forward.”
      The charity said people’s generosity would be life-changing for Rogers. “We’ll be continuing to support Michael through National Homeless Collective for as long as he needs us,” it said.

      Trump turns to Supreme Court to wind down ‘Dreamer’ immigration program

      President Donald Trump’s administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to allow it to end a program introduced by former President Barack Obama that protects thousands of young immigrants who live in the United States without legal status.

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      U.S. Supreme Court ends fight over Obama-era net neutrality rules

      The legal fight over a 2016 lower court ruling upholding Obama-era net neutrality regulations aimed at ensuring a free and open internet – rules that have since been repealed by President Donald Trump’s administration – came to a formal end on Monday, with the U.S. Supreme Court declining to take up the matter.

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      Chilean court orders Catholic Church to pay damages over abuse: report

      Chile’s Court of Appeal has ordered the office of Santiago’s Archbishop to pay $ 450 million pesos ($ 650,000) to three men who alleged they were sexually abused for decades by Chilean priest Fernando Karadima, a local newspaper reported on Sunday.

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