Apr 24, 2019

Michael Cohen denies parts of guilty plea in private phone call

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

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The cost of going after Bloomberg

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Here's the growing dilemma for 2020 Democrats vying for a one-on-one showdown with frontrunner Bernie Sanders: Do they have the guts — and the money — to first stop Mike Bloomberg?

Why it matters: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren all must weigh the costs of punching Bloomberg where he looks most vulnerable: stop-and-frisk, charges of sexism, billionaire entitlement. The more zealous the attacks, the greater the risk he turns his campaign ATM against them.

How Trump’s economy stacks up

Source: "Presidents and US Economy", Trump figures through 2019 courtesy of Alan Blinder; Note: Data shows real GDP and Q1 growth in each term is attributed to the previous president; Chart: Axios Visuals

Average economic growth under President Trump has outpaced the growth under Barack Obama, but not all of his recent predecessors.

Why it matters: GDP is the most comprehensive economic scorecard — and something presidents, especially Trump, use as an example of success. And it's especially relevant since Trump is running for re-election on his economic record.

Coronavirus cases rise as 14 American evacuees infected

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

14 Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for the novel coronavirus before being flown in a "specialist containment" on a plane repatriating U.S. citizens back home, the U.S. government said early Monday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,770 people and infected almost 70,000 others. Most cases and all but five of the deaths have occurred in mainland China. Taiwan confirmed its first death on Sunday, per multiple reports, in a 61-year-old man with underlying health conditions. Health officials were investigating how he became ill.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health