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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Michael Cohen, President Trump's former lawyer and fixer, denied portions of his February guilty plea in a private phone call recorded without his knowledge by actor and comedian Tom Arnold, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The big picture: "There is no tax evasion. ... And the Heloc? I have an 18% loan-to-value on my home. How could there be a Heloc issue? How? Right?… It's a lie," he reportedly said, referring to a criminal charge involving his home-equity line of credit. Cohen's comments are unlikely to have much, if any, effect on his 3-year prison sentence, set to start on May 6, for campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress.

  • Cohen had pleaded guilty to criminal charges brought by New York federal prosecutors last August, explicitly stating that he acting knowingly. Since, he has been trying to reduce his sentence by helping with other congressional investigations.

Statement from Lanny Davis, Cohen's attorney:

"Nothing said by Mr. Cohen to Tom Arnold contradicts Mr. Cohen’s previous defense attorney, Guy Petrillo, in his sentencing memorandum to the presiding federal US District Court Judge William H. Pauley III back in December. I would also add the important words used by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and others, in describing Michael Cohen’s cooperation and testimony as “credible” addressing the “core” issues involved in his investigation."

Go deeper: Recap: Michael Cohen's explosive public testimony

Go deeper

25 mins ago - Technology
Column / Tech Agenda

The new digital extortion

Shoshana Gordon/Axios

If you run a hospital, a bank, a utility or a city, chances are you'll be hit with a ransomware attack. Given the choice between losing your precious data or paying up, chances are you'll pay.

Why it matters: Paying the hackers is the clear short-term answer for most organizations hit with these devastating attacks, but it's a long-term societal disaster, encouraging hackers to continue their lucrative extortion schemes.

55 mins ago - Health

CDC mask guidance sparks confusion, questions

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The CDC's surprise guidance last week freeing the fully vaccinated to go maskless sowed plenty of concerns across the country— even earning the "Saturday Night Live" treatment for all the questions it spurred.

Why it matters: With plenty of Americans still unvaccinated — and without any good way to confirm who has been vaccinated — some experts worry this could put many at increased risk.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

In photos: Israel-Hamas aerial bombardments enter second week

A ball of fire and a plume of smoke rise above buildings in Gaza City as Israeli forces shell the Palestinian enclave, early on May 17. Photo: Mahmud Hams/AFP via Getty Images

Israel and Hamas continued aerial bombardments into Monday morning, as fighting entered a second week.

Why it matters: The worst violence in the region since 2014 has resulted in the deaths of 197 people in Gaza, ruled by Hamas, and 10 in Israel. 58 Palestinian children and two Israeli children are among those killed since the aerial exchanges began on May 10, Reuters notes.