April 13, 2018

The Department of Justice cannot dole out federal funding based on whether jurisdictions follow sanctuary city policies, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

The city of Los Angeles filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions after he announced a crackdown on sanctuary laws, which allow local law enforcement to decline to work with federal immigration agencies. The city claimed that Sessions was abusing his power by basing funding decisions on whether local agencies cooperated with demands to increase immigration policy enforcement, Bloomberg reports. The district judge agreed with Los Angeles, saying that the Justice Department shouldn't give extra grant money to cities that don't employ sanctuary policies.

The ruling was one of several similar cases. After President Trump signed an executive order blocking sanctuary cities from receiving certain federal grants, San Francisco sued to continue receiving federal funding and won. Lawsuits in Chicago and Philadelphia also halted enforcement of the Trump administration's conditional funding, reports Bloomberg.

A DOJ spokesperson disagreed with the ruling for Los Angeles, saying in a statement that "the department has the lawful discretion to give additional consideration for jurisdictions that prioritize the safety of their communities." Read more at Bloomberg. Summer Meza

March 19, 2018

President Trump's longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen told his side of the Stormy Daniels story in a Vanity Fair interview published Monday, describing the negotiations that led to the now-infamous $130,000 payment to the adult film actress.

Cohen told Vanity Fair that until 2011, he didn't know that Trump had ever met Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. But when a website published an interview about the alleged affair between Trump and the porn star, Cohen says, Daniels' former attorney, Keith Davidson, called him to work on getting the story removed.

When Trump's presidential campaign placed new scrutiny on rumors of the alleged affair in 2016, Cohen called Davidson to get ahead of newfound media interest. Cohen asked Davidson how much it would cost to "own the story" and keep Daniels from talking to media outlets that were sniffing around the scandal. Davidson told Cohen that Daniels wanted $130,000, a number that Cohen says he found strange in its apparent randomness.

Cohen says that when he asked Davidson why Daniels would talk to media outlets in 2016, when she had denied reports of the affair half a decade ago, the answer was that "she needed the money." Davidson declined to comment to Vanity Fair on the matter.

Trump has consistently denied that he was ever sexually involved with Daniels. Read Cohen's entire interview — in which he also discusses an impromptu meeting he had with Daniels' current lawyer, Michael Avenatti — at Vanity Fair. Summer Meza

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