1/ Michael Cohen has "knowledge" implicating Trump in a "criminal conspiracy" to hack the Democratic emails during the 2016 election, according to Cohen's attorney. Lanny Davis also said Cohen's knowledge reached beyond "the obvious possibility of a conspiracy to collude" and that Cohen is willing to share "all that he knows" with Robert Mueller's team. (Washington Post / NBC News / Los Angeles Times / Politico)

  • Cohen's lawyer said his client would never accept pardon from "corrupt" Trump because he "is not interested in being dirtied" or bailed out like Trump's "political cronies." (NPR / Politico / Washington Post)

  • Cohen's attorney called for Congress to open an investigation into whether Trump directed Cohen to commit a crime. "There is most certainly enough evidence now" for Congress to open a probe, Lanny Davis said. (Bloomberg)

  • Democrats, meanwhile, have drafted contingency plans should Mueller be fired or Trump tries to end the Russia investigation by firing Rod Rosenstein or pardoning key witnesses. (NBC News)

2/ Trump's real estate company approved $420,000 in "election-related" expenses to Michael Cohen for his effort to silence Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal during the presidential campaign. The documents show an unnamed Trump Organization executive instructing an employee to describe the payments to Cohen as legal expenses "for services rendered for the year 2017." Prosecutors say "the invoices were a sham," and Cohen's own disclosures filed with the Office of Government Ethics report that he had incurred "election-related" expenses in 2016 just before the election, and that Trump fully reimbursed him in 2017. Cohen's reimbursements included the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, other fees and taxes, and a $60,000 bonus. (Washington Post)

  • What Michael Cohen's plea and Paul Manafort's conviction mean for Trump the Mueller investigation. (Lawfare)

  • Michael Cohen deleted a 2015 tweet mocking Hillary Clinton about going to prison. The now-deleted tweet read: "@HillaryClinton when you go to prison for defrauding America and perjury, your room and board will be free!" A cached version can still be found here. (The Hill / Washington Post)

3/ Cohen coordinated with the CEO of the National Enquirer's publisher, American Media Inc., to pay off Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. David Pecker, known as "Chairman-1" in Cohen's court filings, "agreed to keep COHEN apprised of any such negative stories" that would have been harmful to "Individual-l" regarding "relationships with women." The documents indicate that AMI and Cohen "worked together to keep an individual from publicly disclosing" negative information about "Individual-1." AMI paid Karen McDougal $150,000 in 2016 for her rights to her story about an affair she had with Trump. They didn't publish her story – the practice is known as "catch and kill." The court filings also show that AMI tried to "catch and kill" Stormy Daniels' story in October 2016 when her agent contacted the National Enquirer about going public with her allegations of an affair with Trump. Pecker contacted Cohen, and Cohen negotiated with Daniels' attorney to "purchase [her] silence" for $130,000. Cohen failed to execute the agreement, prompting Pecker to contact Cohen 14 days before the election to tell him the deal needed to be completed "or it could look awfully bad for everyone," according to court filings. The next day, Cohen used $131,000 from a "fraudulently obtained" home equity loan and deposited it in a bank account he had opened in the name of Essential Consultants LLC. While Pecker and AMI are not directly named in the court filings, they describe "Corporation-1" as "a media company that owns, among other things, a popular tabloid magazine." (Daily Beast / CNN)

  • 🔎 In Cohen's plea agreement, Trump is not mentioned by name, but referred to as "Individual-1." Cohen's charging document identifies Cohen as the personal attorney "to Individual-1, who at that point had become the President of the United States." (ABC News / CBS News / New York Times)

4/ Cohen paid an unnamed tech company $50,000 "in connection with" Trump's campaign. Cohen reported the $50,000 expense to the Trump Organization in January 2017, but provided no paperwork. Instead, he provided a handwritten sum at the top of a bank document. Cohen did not have an official role with the Trump campaign's digital operation, nor did he ever have a formal staff position on the campaign itself. The Trump Organization later characterized the $50,000 as a "payment for tech services." (CNBC)

5/ Trump denied that he directed Cohen to buy the silence of Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. Several weeks ago, Cohen released an audio tape of him discussing one of the hush payments with Trump, contradicting the president's current version of events. On the tape, Trump suggests to "pay with cash," as Cohen says, "No, no, no, no, no." In an interview Wednesday on Fox News, Trump said he learned about the payments to the women "later on" and underscored that Cohen was reimbursed from his personal funds and not his 2016 campaign fund. (Wall Street Journal / Daily Beast)

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders maintains that Trump "did nothing wrong" and called a question about whether Trump lied to the American people "a ridiculous accusation." (CNN)

6/ In a pair of tweets, Trump attacked Michael Cohen and then praised Paul Manafort for refusing to "break" or "make up stories in order to get a 'deal'." Manafort was convicted of tax and financial fraud yesterday. Cohen, meanwhile, pleaded guilty yesterday to eight criminal charges of tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations, and told prosecutors he acted at the direction of Trump. Without offering any evidence, Trump claimed that the campaign finance violations were "not a crime." At the same time, Trump said he had "such respect" and feels "very badly" for Manafort, calling him a "brave man!" for not cooperating with federal authorities. Trump capped off his Twitter tirade by taking a shot at Cohen: "If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don't retain the services of Michael Cohen!" (New York Times / NBC News / Reuters / CNBC)

  • Trump didn't mention Paul Manafort or Michael Cohen once during his rally in West Virginia last night. Instead, Trump egged on his supporters in the Charleston crowd as they chanted "drain the swamp" and "lock her up." He also reminded the crowd how smart they are. "We're the smart ones," Trump said at the rally. "Remember, I say it all the time: you hear, 'the elite,' you’re smarter than they are, you have more money than they do…let them have the word elite. You’re the super-elite." Trump also spent a few minutes going after Mueller and calling his investigation a witch hunt. (NY Daily News)

7/ New York state subpoenaed Michael Cohen for information about the Trump Foundation. The New York State Attorney General alleges that Trump illegally tapped his Trump Foundation to settle legal disputes, help his campaign for president, and pay for personal and business expenses, which included spending $10,000 on a 6-foot portrait of himself. (Associated Press)

8/ The Democratic National Committee contacted the FBI after detecting an unsuccessful attempt to hack into its voter database. A cloud service provider and a security research firm alerted the DNC to a fake login page that had been created to gather usernames and passwords that would allow access to the party's database. The fraudulent page was designed to trick people into entering their login details for access to a service called Votebuilder, which hosts the database. (CNN / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

  • Facebook says it has identified multiple new misinformation campaigns aimed at misleading people. The company removed 652 fake accounts, pages, and groups. Facebook says the campaigns originated in Iran and Russia and targeted people in Latin America, Britain, and the Middle East. (New York Times)

poll/ 61% of adults considered the record-breaking number of female candidates for Congress to be a good thing, with 5% of those surveyed calling it a bad thing. (Politico)

poll/ In a hypothetical 2020 match-up, Trump trails both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders by 12 percentage points each. Trump also trails Elizabeth Warren by 4 percentage points. (Politico)


Notables.

  1. Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife were indicted for improperly using hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds to pay for personal expenses, like family vacations and dental work. The California GOP congressman is also accused of filing false campaign reports and wire fraud. Hunter was one of the first lawmakers to endorse Trump's 2016 campaign. (Politico / CNN / New York Times)

  2. The first two Congressmen to endorse Trump for president have been indicted, and the next three have also had significant issues of their own. (HuffPost)

  3. Trump and his Trump Tower security force must face claims from a group of human rights activists who say they were attacked by Trump's guards in 2015 while protesting Trump's remarks about the Black Lives Matter movement and Mexican immigrants. A New York State judge denied Trump's motion to dismiss the lawsuit. A jury will now be asked to determine the extent to which the guards were directly ordered to attack the protesters by Trump and whether he personally "authorized and condoned" the attack. (Bloomberg)

  4. Steven Tyler sent Trump a cease-and-desist letter for playing Aerosmith without permission at his political rallies. Tyler's attorney contends that playing an Aerosmith song in a public arena gives the false impression that Tyler is endorsing Trump's presidency. (Variety / Rolling Stone)