Wednesday morning news: August 22, 2018

Former Trump attorney strikes plea deal in fraud case » President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty Tuesday to campaign-finance violations and other charges.

In entering his plea, Cohen seemed to suggest he paid hush money to an adult film performer and a former Playboy model at the direction of then candidate Donald Trump.

Cohen did not expressly name President Trump or the women who received the payments. Instead, he referred to an “unnamed candidate.” However, the amounts and the dates all lined up with the payments made to Stephanie Clifford and Karen McDougal.

In total, Cohen pleaded guilty to 8 felony charges.

KHUZAMI: Five of those dealt with tax evasion for years 2012 through 2016 in which he failed to report approximately $4.1 million dollars in reported income. 

That’s Deputy U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Robert Khuzami.

Cohen could get up to five years in prison at sentencing in December.

Jury finds Manafort guilty on some counts » Meantime, the jury in the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort found him guilty Tuesday on 8 of the 18 counts against him.

Jurors could not reach a consensus on the 10 remaining counts, and Judge T.S. Ellis declared a mistrial on those.

Manafort’s conviction includes five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failing to file foreign bank account reports. Jurors deliberated for four days before announcing their verdict. Manafort could face decades behind bars.

President Trump on Tuesday said he was saddened by the news. Speaking outside Air Force One, he called Manafort a good man caught up in a witch hunt.

TRUMP: This has nothing to do with Russian collusion. This started as Russian collusion. This has absolutely nothing to do—this is a witch hunt and it’s a disgrace. 

The charges against Manafort were the first stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, though the crimes occurred years before Manafort joined the Trump campaign.

Congressman Duncan Hunter, wife indicted on corruption charges » Federal prosecutors on Tuesday filed corruption charges against California Republican, Congressman Duncan Hunter and his wife Margaret. They stand accused of using more than $250,000 of campaign funds to finance family vacations, school tuitions and other personal expenses. Prosecutors also accuse the couple of trying to disguise illegal spending in federal records.

In a statement, House Speaker Paul Ryan called the charges “deeply serious” and said Hunter will be removed from his committee assignments, pending resolution of the case.

Trump rolling back Obama-era clean power plan » The Trump administration is scrapping more Obama-era regulations, looking to overhaul the so-called Clean Power Plan.

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed new rules Tuesday that would roll back constraints on coal-fired power plants. Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the rule would give more authority back to states

WHEELER: We believe the law requires states to have primary authority for implementing this program, determining what emissions, limitations, or other measures actually should be applied to power plants within their jurisdiction. 

But Wheeler said the EPA would provide oversight as states develop their own plans to reduce emissions.

Democrats on Tuesday blasted the move. Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey said it will allow utilities to run older, dirtier power plants.

MARKLEY: This dirty power plan or dirty power scam will mean increased power carbon and other dangerous pollutants in the air. It will mean more emissions of harmful sulfur dioxide, mercury, and arsenic that will harm the health of American families. 

By dictating specific emission targets for states, President Obama aimed to cut U.S. carbon emissions to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The Supreme Court put that plan on hold in 2016 following a legal challenge by industry and coal-friendly states, an order that remains in effect.

Critics of the Obama-era plan said it would have had no effect on global emissions and would have caused electricity rates to skyrocket.

Russian hacking attack » Hackers tied to the Russian government attempted to breach the websites of two conservative think tanks in the U.S. ahead of midterm elections. That according to Microsoft on Tuesday. The company said hackers created fake internet domains spoofing the websites of the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute. It then tried to trick employees of the think tanks into entering their login information on the fake sites. No evidence yet that the effort succeeded.

Microsoft said it also spotted three other fake domains designed to mimic the U.S. Senate website. Russia has once again denied any wrongdoing.

Authorities arrest unauthorized immigrant in murder of Iowa student » Police announced Tuesday they have charged a man living in the U.S. illegally with murder in the death of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts.

The 20-year-old Tibbetts disappeared a month ago while jogging in a rural area of her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa.

Rick Rahn is a special agent with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. He said Tuesday police have a suspect in custody.

RAHN: A complaint in affidavit names Christian Behena Rivera, age 24, who resides in rural Poweshiek County. And he has been charged with murder in the first degree.

Rahn said his office has confirmed with Homeland Security Investigations that Rivera is in the country illegally, but has resided in the area for several years.

Surveillance video from a house in the area helped investigators spot the suspect’s car. They say he has admitted to kidnapping and killing Mollie Tibbetts.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: a conversation on the upcoming midterm elections. And Janie B. Cheaney on what it means to be body and soul. This is The World and Everything in It.

(Dana Verkouteren via AP) This courtroom sketch shows Paul Manafort, third from the right, and members of his defense team including Kevin Downing, standing left, as they listen to verdicts in federal court in Manafort’s the bank fraud and tax evasion trial in the courtroom of U.S. District court Judge T.S. Ellis III in Alexandria, Va., Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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