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Wednesday, May 23rd

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Novartis paid Michael Cohen more than $1m for advice on president's approach to Obamacare

Novartis gave one million to Michael Cohen

Drug giant Novartis paid President Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen more than $1 million for health-care policy consulting work that he actually ended up being "unable" to do, the company said Wednesday.

The company also said it has been questioned by special counsel Robert Mueller's team about the payments to Cohen.

Novartis said it signed a one-year contract with Cohen's shell company, Essential Consultants, for $100,000 per month in February 2017, shortly after Trump was inaugurated as president.

Novartis said it believed Cohen "could advise the company as to how the Trump administration might approach certain U.S. health-care policy matters, including the Affordable Care Act."

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AT&T confirms payment to Trump's personal lawyer for 'insight'

AT&T confirms payments to Michael CohenThe story of a $130,000 payment from President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen to Stephanie Clifford, professionally known as the adult film actress Stormy Daniels, took another turn tonight and it involves AT&T.

Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti tweeted earlier claiming the President and Cohen "have a lot of explaining to do," linking to a document detailing "suspicious financial transactions" involving the Essential Consultants LLC that Cohen formed in 2016 (PDF) to pay Daniels.

In a statement given to CNBC, AT&T confirmed the $200,000 payment reported by Avenatti, saying Cohen's firm was one of several engaged for "insights" into the new administration. In court, Cohen has said he represented only Trump, Elliott Broidy and Sean Hannity.

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Trump attorney Michael Cohen allegedly got about $500,000 from Russian oligarch, Stormy Daniels' lawyer claims

Michael Cohen allegedly received big money from Russians

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, said Tuesday that President Donald Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen, after the 2016 presidential election, received about $500,000 from a Russian oligarch who since has been interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller's team.

Avenatti also suggested in a Twitter post that "these monies may have reimbursed the" $130,000 payment that Cohen made to Daniels right before that election.

The money, Avenatti claimed, came from billionaire Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg, who has ties to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

"Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen have a lot of explaining to do," Daniels' lawyer said in a tweet.

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Trump campaign veteran leaving White House communications office

Trump campaign veteran leaving communications post

Another desk is being vacated in the ever-churning White House communications department.

Cliff Sims, a special assistant to the president who oversees White House message strategy, is expected to take a position at the State Department as a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the coming weeks.

“Cliff worked on communications for Pompeo’s confirmation and did an outstanding job, which led to Secretary Pompeo offering him that position,” said a person close to Pompeo.

Sims was officially offered the post on Monday and is expected to begin as soon as possible, the source said. The White House press office did not respond to a request for comment on the personnel change.

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Carson facing lawsuit for rescinding Obama-era fair-housing rule

Carson to be sued for rescinding fair housing laws

Fair-housing advocates plan to file a lawsuit early Tuesday accusing Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson of violating fair housing standards.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that the lawsuit focuses on Carson’s decision to suspend a 2015 rule that enforced the 1968 Fair Housing Act requirement for communities to desegregate or lose federal funding.

Three fair-housing groups have signed onto the lawsuit, which claims that Carson unlawfully suspended the 2015 rule by not providing proper public notice or a chance for public comment, the Post reported.

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New plagiarism row for Melania Trump as pamphlet bears uncanny likeness to 2014 version

Melania launches cyber bullying A booklet published by Melania Trump’s new campaign for children’s online safety bears an uncanny resemblance to a document released under Barack Obama’s administration.

Donald Trump’s wife gave an opening night address at the Republican National Convention in 2016 that was partly plagiarised from a speech by then first lady Michelle Obama.

Melania’s initiative, Be Best, which launched on Monday, has a page on the official White House website that said near the bottom: “Parents, click here to read Talking with Kids about Being Online, a booklet by First Lady Melania Trump and the Federal Trade Commission.”

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Giuliani not ruling out chance of Trump taking the Fifth

Guiliani not ruling out Trump taking FifthPresident Donald Trump's new attorney, Rudy Giuliani, won't rule out the possibility that the president would assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in the swirling Russia investigation.

"How could I ever be confident of that?" the former New York City mayor and U.S. attorney said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

Giuliani said despite Trump's openness to sit down with special counsel Robert Mueller, he would strongly advise Trump against it.

"I'm going to walk him into a prosecution for perjury like Martha Stewart?" Giuliani said. Stewart, the lifestyle maven, was convicted in 2004 of lying to investigators and obstruction in an insider trading case.

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