Michael Cohen paid to rig online polls during the 2016 campaign.
Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, says he paid an IT firm to rig election polls “at the direction of and for the sole benefit of” Donald Trump. Trump reportedly reimbursed Cohen $50,000 for the task, but the director of the firm claims Cohen only gave him a Walmart bag stuffed with around $12,000 cash and a boxing glove used by a Brazilian MMA fighter. Weird, but very on brand.
Did it work?
Doesn’t look like it. The firm was hired to manipulate CNBC and Drudge polls in Trump’s favor, but the attempts were unsuccessful.
Wait, isn’t Cohen already in prison?
Almost. He was sentenced to three years in prison for campaign finance violations (read: hush-money payments), but he doesn’t have to report to prison until March 6. In the meantime, he’s set to give public testimonyabout his work for Trump in front of Congress on February 7.
Could this get any weirder?
Sorry in advance, but yes. Cohen also paid the tech firm to create the Twitter account @WomenForCohen and post about his “looks and character.” The account regularly tweeted about Cohen being a “stud” and a “sex symbol,” which is, uh, not so convincing.
Family separation was way worse than anyone knew.
A federal audit released yesterday shows “more children” were separated at the border than the Trump administration previously admitted.
How many more?
The new report says “thousands of children may have been separated” in addition to the 2,737 we already knew about. Apparently, there was a “steep increase” of child separations beginning in the summer of 2017, long before the “zero tolerance policy” was announced in April of 2018.
They didn’t even keep track?
Nope. The Trump admin didn’t keep records across different agencies, so we’ll probably never know exactly how many children were separated from their families.
Didn’t federal courts make them reunite all the separated children?
Not exactly. By the time the Trump admin was court-ordered to reunite children with their families, an unknown number — possibly thousands — had already been released from custody. That group of kids was not included in the court order.
Where’s Mitch McConnell?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been searching all over D.C. for the Senate majority leader, tweeting, “We’re here doing our job – the House has voted to reopen government whole or in part several times – so why can’t we find GOP Senators to ask them do theirs?”
Oh, THERE he is.
Yesterday, McConnell resurfaced ever so briefly to waste the Senate’s time on a pointless vote unrelated to the shutdown. Meanwhile, the House passed yet another bill to reopen the government.
Federal employees are now guaranteed back pay whenever the shutdown ends.
Yesterday, Trump signed a bill assuring back pay for roughly 380,000 workers who have been forced to take unpaid leave during the shutdown. This has been the norm for previous shutdowns, but it was never written into law.
What about the rest of the workers?
There are another 420,000+ government employees currently working without pay, but they were already guaranteed back pay before this bill was signed.
Kraft opens a free grocery store for furloughed workers in D.C.
Happy birthday, Michelle Obama!
Yesterday was Michelle’s birthday, and her husband took to Twitter to remind all of us that she’s “one of a kind.”
The New York Times took portraits of 130 women in Congress.
The photographs, referred to as “a testament to what power looks like in 2019,” appear in a special feature on the record-breaking number of women in the 116th Congress. The print edition will feature 27 different covers, one for each of the 27 regions where the Times is distributed.
The Louisville airport is being renamed after Muhammad Ali.
Pretty soon, you’ll be able to fly out of the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport. In making the announcement, Mayor Greg Fischer stated, “Muhammad Ali belonged to the world, but he only had one hometown, and fortunately, that is our great city of Louisville.”
The Women’s March is tomorrow!
The big one will take place in Washington, D.C., at 10 a.m.
What if I’m not in D.C.?
Check out this map to find a sister march near you. If there isn’t one in your city, or if you’re just looking for other ways to create change, check out this list of Women’s March alternatives.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement tried to deport a Marine veteran from Michigan.
by Reed Redmond
On Dec.14, Jilmar Ramos-Gomez expected to be released from the Kent County Jail in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The 27-year-old had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor trespassing, and a judge had ordered his release. But when his mother arrived to pick him up in the afternoon, she received some unexpected news: her son had been transferred to an immigration detention facility.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), working with local law enforcement, had picked up Jilmar from the Kent County Jail, driven him to a nearby detention center, and began the deportation process. But…here’s the problem: Jilmar Ramos-Gomez is a U.S. citizen, born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is also a decorated Marine veteran who served in combat in Afghanistan.
Three days went by before Jilmar was released from ICE custody. His mother told a local news outlet, “They don’t care what he did for his country. That makes me mad.” Jilmar suffers from severe PTSD, and according to his attorneys, “His mental health has deteriorated even further as a result of his unlawful incarceration.”
Why was he handed over to ICE in the first place?
It’s not entirely clear why, but Jilmar was flagged for an ICE detainer — a tool used by ICE to request custody of inmates from local law enforcement agencies. In Jilmar’s case, the Kent County Jail chose to cooperate without asking for any justification. According to the ACLU, “It is unclear how that was possible or why the jail believed it should hand Mr. Ramos-Gomez over to ICE, rather than release him as required by the court order.”
Are there other cases like this?
In the past, ICE has publicly claimed, “ICE does not detain United States citizens,” but the evidence shows otherwise. In 2011, a political scientist at Northwestern University found at least 160 cases where U.S. citizens were detained illegally by ICE and 32 cases in which U.S. citizens were actually deported. Since 2012, the Los Angeles Times reports that ICE has released more than 1,480 people from custody after looking into claims of citizenship.
U.S. citizens are collateral damage in government efforts to deport undocumented immigrants.
What can I do?
Sart by signing this ACLU petition to “put ICE back on its leash.” You can also check out their website to donate or to learn more about issues related to ICE and immigrants’ rights.
Three Chicago officers have been acquitted of trying to cover up the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald. Former officer Jason van Dyke will be sentenced today for McDonald’s murder.
Rudy Giuliani went from ‘no collusion’ to ‘maybe a little collusion.’ But no need to worry, he’s back to ‘no collusion.’
There will be a ‘super blood wolf moon’ this Sunday night. Nothing apocalyptic about that.
Poet Mary Oliver has passed away at age 83. The Pulitzer prize-winner leaves behind more than 15 collections of poetry and essays.
Trump hits back at Nancy Pelosi by canceling her trip to Afghanistan. This comes after Pelosi threatened to delay the State of the Union until the shutdown is over.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has released a 4-minute video apologizing for her past anti-LGBTQ statements. She says her views “have changed significantly since then.”
The Louisville Courier-Journal refused to run a paid obituary stating, “Her passing was hastened by her continued frustration with the Trump administration.” Now, the paper is apologizing.
A Republican state lawmaker in Virginia has started openly carrying a gun on the Senate floor. But, uh, she says she doesn’t want to “raise alarm for other people.”