AP News in Brief at 6:04 p.m. EDT

Associated Press • AP • Updated: May 16, 2018 at 5:04 pm • Published: May 15, 2018

Trump disclosure of Cohen payment raises new legal questions

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump noted in his financial disclosure Wednesday that he "fully reimbursed" personal attorney Michael Cohen as much as $250,000 for unspecified "expenses," with no mention of a $130,000 payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about a sexual tryst she said they had.

The head of the nation's ethics office questioned why Trump didn't include this in his previous year's disclosure and passed along his concerns to federal prosecutors.

"I am providing both reports to you because you may find the disclosure relevant to any inquiry you may be pursuing," David Apol, acting director of the Office of Government Ethics, wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Apol wrote that he considers Trump's payment to Cohen to be a repayment on a loan and that it was required to be included in Trump's June 2017 disclosure. Ethics experts says that if that payment was knowingly and willfully left out, Trump could be in violation of federal ethics laws.

"This is a big deal and unprecedented. No President has been previously subject to any referral by (Office of Government Ethics) to DOJ as a result of having failed to report an item on their public financial disclosure report," said Virginia Canter, a former ethics official in the Clinton and Obama White Houses who is now with the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

___

Unapologetic Trump Jr.: Not troubled that I met with Russian

WASHINGTON (AP) — Questioned intently by a Senate committee, President Donald Trump's son struck a firmly unapologetic tone, deflected many queries and said he didn't think there was anything wrong with meeting a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in hopes of election-season dirt on Hillary Clinton, according to transcripts released Wednesday.

Asked if he was troubled by the idea that the meeting in June 2016 was part of a Russian government effort to help his father in the presidential race, Donald Trump Jr. said he didn't give it much thought.

"I don't know that it alarmed me, but I like I said, I don't know and I don't know that I was all that focused on it at the time," Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee in the closed-door interview last year.

The committee released more than 1,800 pages of transcripts of interviews with Trump Jr. and others who attended the New York meeting at which they expected to receive compromising information about Trump's Democratic opponent. The panel also released more than 700 pages of exhibits including numerous emails, heavily redacted phone logs and court depositions.

The Trump Tower meeting is a key point of interest in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible election collusion between Trump aides and the Kremlin.

___

Takeaways from Trump Jr.'s testimony on Russia probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — If there's a single big takeaway from the nearly 2,000 pages of transcripts of interviews with Donald Trump Jr. and others by congressional investigators, it's that Trump Jr. never thought twice about meeting with people tied to Russia promising dirt on his father's political opponent.

Here's what else we know:

THE MEETING WAS A BOMB

After publicist Rob Goldstone promised Trump Jr. "very interesting" information, including documents "that would incriminate Hillary," Trump Jr. responded via email , "if it's what you say I love it."

But during that June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer, Trump Jr. grew impatient and wound up "cutting off" the Russian lawyer, according to Goldstone's testimony .

___

DA: 10 kids were strangled, shot with crossbow, waterboarded

FAIRFIELD, Calif. (AP) — The 10 children rescued from a filthy, abusive California home were strangled, punched, shot with crossbows and subjected to waterboarding by their father and their mother did nothing to stop it, prosecutors said.

The details of alleged abuse were included in a motion to increase the bail of Ina Rogers, 31, who was charged with nine counts of felony child abuse Wednesday in Solano Superior Court. Rogers did not enter a plea, but has previously denied allegations her children were harmed.

"On a continuous basis the children were getting punched, strangled, bitten, shot with weapons such as crossbows and bb guns, hit with weapons such as sticks and bats, subjected to 'waterboarding' and having scalding water poured on them," Solano County Deputy District Attorney Veronica Juarez wrote.

Prosecutors have refused to discuss details of the allegations against Rogers and her husband Jonathan Allen, 29, who has pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of torture and felony child abuse. He is in Solano County Jail on $5.2 million bail.

The motion states that when Fairfield Police arrived at the two-story house in a suburb 46 miles (74 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco on March 31, they found the children "huddled together on the living room floor" in a home littered with feces and trash.

___

Shorter drug treatment OK for many breast cancer patients

Many women with a common and aggressive form of breast cancer that is treated with Herceptin can get by with six months of the drug instead of the usual 12, greatly reducing the risk of heart damage it sometimes can cause, a study suggests.

It's good news, but it comes nearly two decades after the drug first went on the market and many patients have suffered that side effect.

The study was done in the United Kingdom and funded by UK government grants. Results were released Wednesday by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and will be presented at the group's meeting next month.

Herceptin transformed care of a dreaded disease when it was approved in 1998 for women with advanced breast cancers whose growth is aided by a faulty HER2 gene, as 15 percent to 20 percent of cases are. It was later approved for treatment of those cancers in earlier stages, too, based on studies that had tested it in patients for 12 months. That guess, that the drug should be taken for a year, became the standard of care.

But the drug can hurt the heart's ability to pump. That often eases if treatment is stopped but the damage can be permanent and lead to heart failure.

___

Michigan State agrees to pay $500M to settle Nassar claims

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State University agreed to pay $500 million to settle claims from more than 300 women and girls who said they were assaulted by sports doctor Larry Nassar in the worst sex-abuse case in sports history, officials announced Wednesday.

The deal surpasses the $100 million-plus paid by Penn State University to settle claims by at least 35 people who accused assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky of sexual abuse, though the Nassar deal involves far more victims.

"We are truly sorry to all the survivors and their families for what they have been through, and we admire the courage it has taken to tell their stories," said Brian Breslin, chairman of Michigan State's governing board. "We recognize the need for change on our campus and in our community around sexual assault awareness and prevention."

It's not clear how much each victim will receive, although the money will not be divided equally. It's also unclear where the money will come from. University spokeswoman Emily Guerrant said school leaders will now work on a way to pay the bill.

Rachael Denhollander of Louisville, Kentucky, who in 2016 was the first woman to publicly identify herself as a victim, said the agreement "reflects the incredible damage which took place on MSU's campus." But she said she still has not seen any "meaningful reform" at the university.

___

Iowa abortion suit won't have easy path to US Supreme Court

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Supporters of the nation's strictest abortion law passed recently in Iowa are hoping a lawsuit filed against it will bring the issue back before the U.S. Supreme Court, but constitutional experts say that's unlikely because of a legal maneuver by abortion-rights groups.

The Iowa affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit this week challenging the constitutionality of a law set to go in effect on July 1 that would prohibit most abortions in the state once a fetal heartbeat is detected. That's around six weeks of pregnancy.

However, the groups filed their complaint in state court in Des Moines, and it focuses on alleged violations of Iowa's constitution rather than federal constitutional law.

The distinction is important, said Columbia Law School professor Katherine Franke. It complicates the legal avenue for challenging Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that established a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy until a fetus is viable.

"The Iowa Supreme Court is the court of last resort on how to interpret the Iowa Constitution," she said. "They're raising it exclusively as a state constitutional issue for obvious reasons. They don't want to be baited into having this case be the opportunity for the U.S. Supreme Court to revise Roe. It's a smart strategy."

___

Senate backs effort to restore 'net neutrality' rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats, joined by three Republicans, pushed through a measure Wednesday intended to revive Obama-era internet rules that ensured equal treatment for all web traffic, though opposition in the House and the White House seems insurmountable.

Republicans on the short end of the 52-47 vote described the effort to reinstate "net neutrality" rules as "political theater" because the GOP-controlled House is not expected to take up the issue and the Senate's margin could not overcome a presidential veto.

Democrats, however, were undeterred, saying their push would energize young voters who are tech savvy and value unfettered access to the internet. "This is a defining vote. The most important vote we're going to have in this generation on the internet," said Democratic Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, who sponsored the measure.

At issue are rules that the Federal Communications Commission repealed in December that prevented providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from interfering with internet traffic and favoring their own sites and apps. Critics, including the Trump administration, said overregulation was stifling innovation, and they backed the FCC's move, which is still set to take effect next month.

Markey said net neutrality has worked for the smallest voices and the largest, but he said internet service providers are trying to change the rules to benefit their interests.

___

With little to lose, Gaza's men drawn to border protests

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Marwan Shtewi is poor, unemployed and at the age of 32 has never even left the Gaza Strip.

With few prospects and little to fear, Shtewi is among the crowds of young men who put themselves on the front lines of violent protests along the border with Israel, risking their lives in a weekly showdown meant to draw attention to the dire conditions of Gaza.

While protest organizers voice slogans of defending Jerusalem and returning to the lost homes of their forefathers in Israel, it is the desperation among young men like Shtewi that has been the driving force in the demonstrations. Recovering from a gunshot wound to his arm that sent shrapnel into his abdomen, Shtewi says his protest days are now behind him and he only dreams of finally finding a job.

"I want to see peace and hope and prosperity spread in Gaza when I get out of the hospital," he said from his hospital bed.

The Hamas-led organizers of what they called the Great March of Return initially billed the six-week protests as a call to break through the border fence and return to homes that were lost 70 years ago during the war surrounding Israel's creation. Two-thirds of Gaza's 2 million people are descendants of refugees who either fled or were forced from their homes.

___

Signs of bomb found at site of deadly California explosion

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. (AP) — A deadly explosion that ripped through a Southern California day spa was a crime, authorities said Wednesday as they tried to figure out why someone would target a business that provided facials, waxing and wrinkle treatments.

Authorities declined to say if they believed the fatally injured spa owner was targeted, but one official briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press that the dead woman had been the intended recipient of an explosive package.

Remnants of an explosive device were found inside the badly damaged spa where the powerful explosion Tuesday afternoon shook the city of Aliso Viejo, about 50 miles (80.5 kilometers) south of Los Angeles, and tore a corner off the building housing medical offices. Two patrons were seriously injured.

"We do not believe this was an accident," said Paul Delacourt, special agent in charge of the FBI's field office in Los Angeles. "Although the damage was extensive, there are some components that we have located at the scene of the explosion that are inconsistent with what one might expect to find at this business."

Investigators were working to determine a motive and figure out exactly how the device got to the spa, Delacourt said. No arrests were made.

Comment Policy
Colorado Springs Gazette has disabled the comments for this article.

Like us on Facebook