Patterico's Pontifications


Reports: Michael Cohen Pleading Guilty Today (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:37 pm

New York Times:

Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s combative former lawyer and fixer, on Tuesday reached a plea agreement with prosecutors investigating payments he made to women on behalf of Mr. Trump, a deal that does not include cooperation with federal authorities, two people familiar with the matter said.

Mr. Cohen is expected to plead guilty to multiple counts of bank and tax fraud charges and campaign finance violations. For months, prosecutors in New York have been investigating him for those crimes and focusing on his role in helping to arrange financial deals to secure the silence of women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump.

The United States attorney’s office announced that there would be a “proceeding of interest” in a case against a defendant identified only as John Doe, language that almost always indicates a guilty plea. One person with knowledge of the matter said the proceeding would be the guilty plea by Mr. Cohen.

So, he’s definitely not cooperating, then? The story says: not so fast. We don’t know.

The plea agreement does not call for Mr. Cohen to cooperate with federal prosecutors in Manhattan, but it does not preclude him from providing information to the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is examining the Trump campaign’s possible involvement in Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign.

Mr. Mueller could in the future seek a reduction in Mr. Cohen’s sentence if he substantially assists the special counsel’s investigation.

As of the time this post was published, it’s not inconceivable that Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort could both end the day as convicted felons. How about that.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

UPDATE regarding Michael Cohen via the NYT:

Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former fixer, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to breaking campaign finance laws and other charges. He made the extraordinary admission that he arranged payments to two women “at the direction of the candidate,” referring to Mr. Trump, to secure their silence about affairs they said they had with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Cohen told a judge in United States District Court in Manhattan that the payments were “for the principal purpose of influencing the election” for president in 2016.

Mr. Cohen also pleaded guilty to multiple counts of tax evasion and bank fraud, bringing to a close a monthslong investigation by Manhattan federal prosecutors who examined his personal business dealings and his role in helping to arrange financial deals with women connected to Mr. Trump.

UPDATE regarding Paul Manafort via NRO:

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty on Tuesday afternoon on eight counts of financial crimes, while Judge T. S. Ellis declared a mistrial on ten other counts for which the jury was unable to reach a verdict.

Manafort was found guilty on five counts of tax fraud, one count of hiding foreign bank accounts, and two counts of bank fraud. Each count carries with it a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, meaning he now faces up to 240 years behind bars.

Manafort has also been charged by Mueller with seven counts of obstruction of justice, failure to register as a foreign agent, and conspiracy to launder money. The trial on those charges is expected to start next month.

President Trump just landed in West Virginia for a Make America Great Again rally and responded to reporters:

President Donald Trump on Tuesday responded to the news that his former campaign chief, Paul Manafort, and Michael Cohen, his former longtime lawyer and fixer, were now both felons.

“Paul Manafort is a good man… it doesn’t involve me but it’s a very sad thing… it had nothing to do with Russian collusion,” Trump told reporters during a campaign trip to West Virginia. Trump pointedly ignored any mention of Cohen, who implicated Trump in two counts of felony campaign finance violations.

–Update by Dana

Facebook Giving Users a Reputation Score

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:59 am

It sounds like a Black Mirror episode, but so far it appears to be internal. What it does, though — like the entire effort against so-called “Fake News” — is further ensconce fact-checkers in the role of arbiters of what’s true:

“One of the signals we use is how people interact with articles,” Lyons said in a follow-up email. “For example, if someone previously gave us feedback that an article was false and the article was confirmed false by a fact-checker, then we might weight that person’s future false-news feedback more than someone who indiscriminately provides false-news feedback on lots of articles, including ones that end up being rated as true.”

The score is one signal among many that the company feeds into more algorithms to help it decide which stories should be reviewed.

“I like to make the joke that, if people only reported things that were [actually] false, this job would be so easy!” said Lyons in the interview. “People often report things that they just disagree with.”

Duh. The problem is, fact checkers also rate as “false” things they disagree with. Whether it’s Carly Fiorina correctly claiming she went from secretary to CEO, or an ad correctly saying Mary Landrieu was the deciding vote on ObamaCare, or the true statement that “Zero Planned Parenthood facilities are licensed to do mammograms” — “fact checkers” love to label true statements as less than true, if they don’t like their political content. I could go on and on and on and on. Fact-checkers get things demonstrably wrong, like saying Obama never ruled out running for President (he did).

And Facebook is trying to put them in charge of your online reputation.

If these scores become public and part of your profile — if this truly becomes a Black Mirror episode — someone is going to sue Facebook for calling them untrustworthy.

I might help fund a lawsuit like that.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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