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February 14, 2018

On Tuesday night, Michael Cohen, a longtime personal lawyer for President Trump, made the startling admission that he had, after all, paid $130,000 to adult film actress Stephanie "Stormy Daniels" Clifford right before the 2016 election. The Wall Street Journal reported in January that Cohen had paid Daniels $130,000, through a company set up for that purpose, to stay quiet about an extramarital affair she was telling reporters she had with Trump in 2006.

"Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly," Cohen said, not ruling out that Trump himself had reimbursed him. On Tuesday night, Fox News national correspondent Ed Henry tackled the big question: "This might raise more questions about possible hush money, since the president and the porn star have insisted nothing happened, so why pay her? Well Cohen just told me in a phone call, 'Even if something is untrue, it can be damaging.' His goal all along was to protect the president."

On MSNBC, Brian Williams asked legal analyst Jill Wine-Banks why this would "be important and germane enough to re-inject the porn star story back into the news cycle?" Using campaign money "would have been an improper use of campaign funding," Wine-Banks said. "But, first of all, all of Michael Cohen's money comes from the Trump Organization, so it's basically Trump money no matter what. And the admission that they're paying a porn star says something: Why would they pay her? It's because she could have possibly blackmailed the president." Blackmail from a former paramour or Russians would be "a serious problem," she added.

Even if Cohen used his own money, campaign finance experts tell the Journal, he "likely violated election rules because it wasn't reported to the Federal Election Commission." And Cohen's admission that he made the payment to protect Trump suggests he was aiding the Trump campaign. Peter Weber

8:39 a.m.

On Sunday night and early Monday, North and South America witnessed the only total lunar eclipse until 2021, and it had the added bonus of being a so-called supermoon, where the moon appears bigger and brighter than normal due to the Earth's position. If you were asleep or had overcast weather, here's what you missed.

The eclipse was also called a blood moon because of its reddish color and a wolf moon, the Native American term for the first full moon in January, as BBC News explains.

The show, which went on for three hours — totality, or the full eclipse, lasted about one hour — was visible throughout North and South America and parts of Europe, weather permitting. Peter Weber

8:13 a.m.

On Monday morning, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) announced that she's running for president in 2020, joining fellow Senate Democrats Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) in a crowded early field for the Democratic nomination. Harris, 54, made her announcement in a video posted online and also on ABC's Good Morning America.

"The future of our country depends on you and millions of others lifting our voices to fight for our American values," Harris said in her video. "That's why I'm running for president of the United States." She will more formally kick off her campaign in Oakland, California, next Sunday. Elected to the Senate in 2016, Harris was California's attorney general and before that, a district attorney. Harris — the daughter of a father who immigrated from Jamaica and mother who immigrated from India — would be the first woman, first Asian-American, and first black woman to be elected president. "Let's be honest, it's going to be ugly," Harris told MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski in December. "When you break things, it is painful. And you get cut. And you bleed."

Harris, who was raised by her mother after her parents' divorce, grew up attending a Hindu temple and black Baptist church, The Washington Post notes, and she attended the historically black Howard University before getting her law degree from the University of California Hastings College of the Law. Peter Weber

7:30 a.m.

The New England Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs in a 37-31 overtime stunner on Sunday to win the AFC championship and send them back to their third straight Super Bowl appearance, and the ninth for the combination of quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick. "Overtime, on the road against a great team," Brady said after the game. "They had no quit. Neither did we. We played our best football at the end. I don't know, man, I'm tired. That was a hell of a game."

Their Super Bowl LIII rivals Feb. 3 will be the Los Angeles Rams, who beat the New Orleans Saints 26-23, also in overtime. This will be the Rams' first Super Bowl appearance since 2002, when they were still based in St. Louis. The Patriots will be the third franchise to play in three consecutive Super Bowls, and Brady, at 41, was already the oldest quarterback to play in the NFL's championship game. Rams quarterback Jared Goff is 24. Rams coach Sean McVay is 32, making him the youngest head coach in Super Bowl history; Belichick is 66. Peter Weber

January 20, 2019

CNN's Jake Tapper made a valiant effort to extract clarity from President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, in an interview on State of the Union Sunday.

Trump "did not have discussions with" his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, before Cohen gave false congressional testimony, Giuliani said, adding, "certainly [Trump] had no discussions with [Cohen] in which he told him or counseled him to lie."

But with his next breath, Giuliani allowed that some discussions may have happened after all. "If [Trump] had any discussions with [Cohen], they'd be about the version of the events that Michael Cohen gave them, which they all believed was true," he said.

Tapper pressed Giuliani to recognize he'd "just acknowledged that it's possible that President Trump talked to Michael Cohen about his testimony" after denying exactly that, and Giuliani responded with a wealth of answers.

Such a conversation "would be perfectly normal," Giuliani said, before emphasizing that he personally does not know whether it occurred and noting that even if he did know, he might not be able to talk about it because of attorney-client privilege.

All that said, Giuliani concluded, it's "not significant" whether such a conversation happened — which it didn't. Unless it did. Rudy Giuliani doesn't know, and if he did, it's possible he couldn't tell you. Bonnie Kristian

January 20, 2019

Vice President Mike Pence on Fox News Sunday slammed congressional Democrats' rejection of the immigration policy package President Trump proposed Saturday as a deal to re-open the federal government from its partial shutdown.

"Well, there's a legislative process that is going to begin on Tuesday in the United States Senate" based on Trump's pitch, Pence said, "and it was disappointing to see [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)] reject the offer before the president gave his speech. I mean, look, the president is offering a solution, and what we have from Democrat [sic] leadership so far is just soundbites."

There were multiple points of overlap between Trump's plan and the statement Pelosi released shortly before Trump's Saturday remarks, though Pelosi panned Trump's deal as "a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total, do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people's lives."

Pence also pushed back on claims from immigration hardliners that Trump's offer of "three years of legislative relief" for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and temporary protected status (TPS) recipients amounts to amnesty. "This is not amnesty," he said. "There's no pathway to citizenship there's no permanent status here at all, which is what amnesty contemplates."

In a Sunday morning tweet, Trump also said the three-year extension is not amnesty, but he suggested he could accept amnesty in a future immigration deal.

Watch Pence's full interview below, or read a transcript here. Bonnie Kristian

January 20, 2019

President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen pursued the possibility of a Trump Tower project in Moscow as late as October or November of 2016, Trump's current personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday.

Cohen initially told Congress he abandoned the project in January of 2016, as the Republican primary elections began. He later admitted this was a lie and said talks related to the project continued through June of 2016, around the time Trump clinched the GOP nomination.

"Well, it's our understanding [conversations about the project] went on throughout 2016. Weren't a lot of them, but there were conversations," Giuliani told host Chuck Todd. "Can't be sure of the exact date. But the president can remember having conversations with [Cohen] about it ... as far as October, November. Our answers cover until the election."

Trump has repeatedly claimed the Moscow deal ended before his presidential campaign began. "I mean, I have nothing to do with Russia. I don't have any jobs in Russia. I'm all over the world but we're not involved in Russia," he said in July of 2016 — per Giuliani's present account, four to five months before these conversations about the Moscow project ended.

Watch a clip of Giuliani's comments below, and read his full interview here. Bonnie Kristian

January 20, 2019

About 170 migrants are missing and feared dead after two shipwrecks in the Mediterranean this week.

Three survivors of one wreck rescued by an Italian naval helicopter on Friday said they'd been on a ship with about 120 people which began sinking after leaving Libya Thursday. A 2-month-old baby was among the passengers. Another 53 people who sailed from Morocco are also missing, though at least one person from that boat was rescued.

"We cannot turn a blind eye to the high numbers of people dying on Europe's doorstep," said a statement from the United Nations' refugee agency. "No effort should be spared, or prevented, from saving lives in distress at sea." Bonnie Kristian

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