July 25, 2018
Longtime fixer is thought to have uniquely sensitive information – and has produced a stark change in the president’s strategy
Trumps pay with cash offer on Cohen tape could spell fresh peril for president
The broadcast on US television on Tuesday night of an audio recording in which Donald Trump appears to advise one of his most trusted lieutenants to use cash to pay off a former Playboy model could indicate new legal hazards ahead for the president, analysts say.
Indications over the last month that Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, was seeking a deal to cooperate with federal investigators already looked bad enough for Trump, according to former Trump insiders familiar with Cohen’s role.
After a decade of working as Trump’s personal lawyer entrusted with the boss’s most sensitive tasks, Cohen, 51, is thought to have uniquely sensitive information about the flows of money and influence that permeated the Trump Organization from bottom to top.
That knowledge extends at a minimum to Trump’s relationships in Russia, where Cohen was working on a Trump Tower project in Moscow, and to multiple alleged extramarital relationships, whose secrecy Cohen was charged with securing.
Even before any talk of recordings, it was clear that some of what Cohen knew would be of interest to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Trump’s Russia ties.
But the revelation that Cohen was apparently walking around the 26th floor of Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign with a recording device in his pocket has produced a whiplash change in the White House strategy of dealing with Cohen, and introduced a note of anxiety in Trump’s own tone.
“What kind of a lawyer would tape a client?” the president tweeted on Wednesday. “So sad! Is this a first, never heard of it before?”
If Cohen’s legal saga by now has the president’s full attention, the focus may not be misplaced, considering the stakes for Trump – and the possibility that more taped conversations with Trump may be out there.
Political adviser Sam Nunberg, who worked for Trump for four years and at one time had a close working relationship with Cohen, said that Cohen’s cooperation with prosecutors represented a legal hazard for the president.
“I don’t pretend to know what Michael knows,” Nunberg said, but that knowledge plainly extends to the truth behind “rumors and innuendo” about Trump and multiple women as well as the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian operatives.
“Michael has essentially said that Trump is lying about what he knows about the infamous Trump Tower meeting” at which Donald Trump Jr hosted Russians with concealed Kremlin ties in June 2016, Nunberg pointed out.
In the audio recording, first obtained by CNN, Cohen is heard to say, “we’ll have to pay”.
“Pay with cash,” Trump says.
“No, no,” Cohen responds, saying he planned to “open a company for the transfer of all of that info”.
Cohen faces potential charges of bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations in relation to suspicious money flows through a company he set up before the election that was used to pay pornographic film actor Stormy Daniels and potentially others.
Mimi Rocah, a former assistant US attorney for the southern district of New York, told MSNBC that “there’s a whole host of crimes that this could be evidence of”, possibly including bank fraud or campaign finance violations.
“If Cohen cooperates, this shows people how valuable he can be, because he can interpret conversations like this,” Rocah said.
Trump has denied all wrongdoing. Through his spokesman Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, Trump even made the audio recording a target in his specious war on “fake news”, denying that it captured him floating the idea of paying former Playboy model Karen McDougal with cash.
Shortly before the 2016 election, McDougal received a $150,000 payment from the publisher of the National Enquirer, a tabloid run by Trump’s longtime friend David Pecker. The magazine never published the story, in an apparent “catch and kill” exercise.
Giuliani said the Trump camp had waived attorney-client privilege that might have protected the conversation between Cohen and Trump from being used in court – although it is not clear that the conversation was protected by such a privilege – and the former mayor insisted the tapes would not hurt the president.
“We’re not getting to impeachable offenses,” Nunberg agreed.
But Rocah said the conversation could be one brick that prosecutors could use to build a wall of evidence.
“From a prosecutor’s perspective, what I hear on this recording is a good piece of evidence in showing that some laws were broken,” she said.
The charges he faces have led Cohen to a seeming change of heart about Trump. In an interview with ABC earlier this month, he said: “My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will,” adding: “I put my family and country first.”
Nunberg called it a “tragedy”.
“It’s also a tragedy because I will tell you that Michael genuinely had an affection for Donald Trump,” he said, “and it’s sad that it’s come to this.”
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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