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Michael Cohen splits with his legal team

Michael Cohen is splitting with his legal team.
Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images
Michael Cohen is splitting with his legal team.

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal attorney and fixer, is parting ways with his legal team as federal prosecutors in New York pursue a criminal investigation of him, according to a person familiar with the case.

Under deep financial pressure, Cohen plans to hire a new lawyer for the next phase of the probe, the person said. Cohen’s move to switch lawyers was interpreted by some legal observers as a sign he may seek to cooperate with federal prosecutors. But he could have other motives. It’s unclear, for example, how Cohen plans to fund his expensive legal defense.

Cohen and his lawyers didn’t respond to requests for comment.

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Cohen has a decade-long view into Trump’s business, including proposed deals in Moscow and the former Soviet Union, as well as his presidential campaign. He’s arranged hush-money payments to women alleging they’d had affairs with Trump. He traded on his Trump connection to take in millions of dollars from global companies and a fund linked to a wealthy Russian.

Bloomberg News

Ryan says he’ll bring pair of immigration bills up for vote

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WASHINGTON — Speaker Paul D. Ryan told a closed-door meeting of House Republicans on Wednesday that his plan to bring two immigration bills up for a vote next week had the approval of President Trump, who is enthusiastic about the effort, according to a person who attended the meeting.

Whether either bill can pass is very much in doubt.

Wednesday’s gathering came less than 12 hours after Ryan’s office announced that the House would consider immigration next week — but not bipartisan bills aimed primarily at protecting young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. Instead, lawmakers will consider a hard-line measure that emphasizes border security and a somewhat more moderate compromise measure, yet to be finalized, that still meets Trump’s standards.

But the approval of an immigration hard-liner like Trump only underscored the growing sense that a rebellion by moderate Republicans seeking bipartisanship had utterly failed. It underscored the looming reality that the president has effectively acquired the last say over the actions of the Republican Congress.

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Lawmakers attending the meeting said the compromise bill will be built around four principles — Trump has called them the “four pillars” — that the president has insisted any immigration bill contain: a path to citizenship for the young unauthorized children known as Dreamers; beefed-up border security, including $25 billion for the wall the president wants to build; an end to the current diversity visa lottery system, which is aimed at bringing in immigrants from underrepresented nations; and limits on family-based migration, known as chain migration.

Ryan told reporters that the “last thing I want to do is bring a bill out of here that I know the president won’t support.”

Democrats slammed the plan as a betrayal of bipartisan efforts to address the fate of young immigrants, known as Dreamers.

“Let’s be clear: these Republican proposals aren’t to provide relief for Dreamers, they’re an avenue for mass deportations and to stoke fear in communities,” said Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

The hard-line bill, known as the Goodlatte bill after its chief author, Representative Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia, is highly unlikely to garner enough votes to pass the House.

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But the compromise bill also faces a highly questionable path. Democrats are all but certain to resist a bill built to the White House’s liking, and conservatives, having secured a vote on the Goodlatte bill, may have little incentive to vote for a slightly more moderate measure that could be perceived as providing “amnesty” to Dreamers.

“We’re working to try to get a bill that will pass,” said Representative Carlos Curbelo, Republican of Florida, a leader of moderate Republicans who have pushed for the House to vote on immigration. “I don’t think anyone’s in a position to make any guarantees on whether a bill will pass or not.”

Another leader of the immigration moderates, Representative Jeff Denham, Republican of California, expressed hope that some Democrats would be persuaded to support the compromise bill out of a desire to address the fate of the Dreamers.

“We’re hopeful that the main thing that both parties look at is that this provides certainty for every Dreamer that’s out there,” Denham said.

Immigrant rights advocates were far less sanguine, accusing the immigration moderates of caving to party pressure.

“It’s a show vote for the right-wingers and a show vote for the so-called moderates,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, an immigrant rights group. “Neither will pass. They will not get Democratic support. It’s a sham. The heroic moderates who were going to fight for Dreamers turned out to be easily rolled by Ryan and the Freedom Caucus.”

New York Times

Norwegian lawmakers nominate Trump for Nobel

COPENHAGEN — Two Norwegian lawmakers have nominated President Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize after the Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Christian Tybring-Gjedde and Per-Willy Amundsen, lawmakers with the populist Progress Party, told Norwegian news agency NTB on Wednesday that Trump ‘‘had taken a huge and important step in the direction of the disarmament, peace and reconciliation between North and South Korea.’’

A group of US lawmakers also are backing Trump’s nomination for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.

The process of considering candidates and awarding the Nobel Peace Prize is done in Norway. Nominations must be sent to the Norwegian Nobel Committee before Feb. 1. The committee doesn’t publicly comment on who was nominated, information which is required to be kept secret for 50 years.

Associated Press