Gregory Craig: former White House counsel for Obama indicted – as it happened

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1.31am BST

Thanks for reading along! These are the key events from this evening:

Related: Jussie Smollett: actor refuses to reimburse city for investigation costs

12.44am BST

It wasn’t that long ago that Michael Avenatti was eyeing a presidential run and appearing regularly on prime time news shows.

Now, Stormy Daniel’s former lawyer is facing more than a life sentence, after federal prosecutors issued a 36-count indictment against him today.

The LAT is describing some real cartoon villain allegations against Michael Avenatti in today’s indictment:

I intend to fully fight all charges and plead NOT GUILTY. I look forward to the entire truth being known as opposed to a one-sided version meant to sideline me.

‘Michael Avenatti allegedly stole from his clients, and he stole from the IRS,’ said Ryan L. Korner, the chief of Internal Revenue Service criminal investigations in Los Angeles. ‘The money was used to fuel a lavish lifestyle that had no limits, including making mortgage payments on a multimillion-dollar home in Laguna Beach and purchasing a private plane’.

The breadth of Avenatti’s alleged crimes is clear in the maximum sentence he would face if convicted on all counts: 335 years in prison.

11.54pm BST

The city of Chicago is officially suing actor Jussie Smollett, for reportedly refused to pay the costs associated with the investigation into an attack against him that was allegedly staged.

In a civil complaint filed by the city’s Law Department today, officials accused the former Empire star of failing to respond to a requested reimbursement of more than $130,000 for the costs associated with investigating the falsified crime.

MORE: In the complaint city attorneys say Smollett told one of the Osundairo brothers before the alleged attack “he was unhappy with the way his employers handled the racist and homophobic letter he had allegedly received and as a result wanted to stage an attack”.

‘As part of this legal action, the Law Department will pursue the full measure of damages allowed under the ordinance’, the statement from Chicago said. It didn’t say what those damages could be.

The municipal code stipulates that the city can triple the amount originally demanded if someone fails to pay an initial amount. That means the city could demand more than $390,000 from Smollett.

10.27pm BST

Gabrielle Canon here taking over for Adam Gabbatt.

Tulsi Gabbard weighed in this afternoon, on the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, tweeting that it sent a censorship signal out to political critics.

The arrest of #JulianAssange is meant to send a message to all Americans and journalists: be quiet, behave, toe the line. Or you will pay the price.

US presidential candidate @TulsiGabbard this evening: WikiLeaks spurred ‘necessary change’


10.05pm BST

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London this morning. Assange has been found guilty of breaching bail, and the US has charged him with involvement in computer hacking with Chelsea Manning.

Read our latest Assange coverage here.

Related: Assange arrest: Trump claims to ‘know nothing about WikiLeaks’ despite past praise – live

9.46pm BST

The chances of former presidential hopeful and pizza magnate Herman Cain winning a seat on the Federal Reserve now appear virtually non-existent after four Senate Republicans said they would oppose his nomination.

Cain, who dropped out of the 2012 Republican presidential race amid allegations of sexual harassment, was the left-field choice of Donald Trump to serve on the Federal Reserve’s board of governors.

9.12pm BST

Gregory Craig, who was charged this afternoon with lying to US authorities, is the first prominent Democrat to face criminal prosecution as a result of Mueller’s investigation. He was charged in relation to his work alongside Paul Manafort for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

Craig is charged with giving false information to the justice department officials who regulate work in the US by lobbyists, lawyers and other representatives of foreigners under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (Fara). He is also charged with concealing details of his work from the same officials.

Related: Former White House counsel for Obama charged in Mueller-related case

8.52pm BST

The Senate has voted to confirm David Bernhardt, a former a former oil and gas and water lobbyist, as Secretary of the Interior.

Bernhardt, who was previously deputy secretary, has been acting secretary since Ryan Zinke – who was plagued by scandal – stepped down in December.

8.28pm BST

Pete Buttigieg has come third in a poll of likely Iowa Democratic voters – ahead of more vaunted figures including Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Beto O’Rourke.

In a Monmouth University poll Buttigieg was the choice of 9% of likely caucus-goers, although Joe Biden – who is yet to enter the race – had a big lead, with 27% support among those surveyed. Bernie Sanders was the choice of 16% of responders.

Related: ‘Pete! Pete! Pete!’ Buttigieg fever hits New Hampshire – can he keep up the pace?

7.45pm BST

Gregory Craig, a former White House counsel for then president Barack Obama, has been indicted for allegedly making false statements to Robert Mueller during the special counsel’s Russia investigation.

Yesterday lawyers for Craig said they expected their client to be indicted. According to the New York Times:

They expect[ed] him to be charged with making false statements to the Justice Department officials examining whether he was required to register under the law for work he did in 2012, while he was a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

The work, on behalf of the government of Viktor F. Yanukovych, then the president of Ukraine, was linked to Paul Manafort, who at the time was a political consultant earning tens of millions of dollars for his representation of Mr. Yanukovych.

7.29pm BST

Ohio’s governor has said he will sign a bill which bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected – which is typically before most women even know they are pregnant.

Mike DeWine, a Republican, confirmed he will sign the legislation, which passed the Ohio legislature on Wednesday.

7.07pm BST

A group of top House and Senate Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Adam Schiff, have written to attorney general Bill Barr demanding he release the full, unredacted, Mueller report to Congress.

In a letter to Barr the Democrats said they wanted to “restate” that the report should be handed over in full.

You have outlined four kinds of information that you plan to redact from this report: grand jury information, classified information, information that may impede an ongoing investigation, and information that may affect the privacy and reputational interests of third parties. We acknowledge that there may be legitimate reasons for withholding some of this information from public view.

As recent precedent makes clear, however, the Department of Justice has no legitimate reason for withholding these materials from Congress. In every other instance where a federal grand jury was used to probe the alleged misconduct of a sitting president—namely, in the Watergate and Starr investigations—the Department of Justice worked with the relevant federal court to release the grand jury information to the House Judiciary Committee. That has not happened in this instance, despite numerous direct requests, nor have you provided us with any legitimate reason for failing to follow the Department’s precedent.

6.19pm BST

Donald Trump has just held a press conference at the White House, where he claimed: “I know nothing about WikiLeaks, it’s not my thing.”

Trump’s response came after he was asked if he still loved the organization – now that Julian Assange has been arrested and the US is seeking his extradition from the UK.

Trump 2016: “I love Wikileaks.”
Trump 2019: “I know nothing about Wikileaks.”

Related: Assange arrest: Trump claims to ‘know nothing about WikiLeaks’ despite past praise – live

5.42pm BST

Elizabeth Warren has released a new plan to properly tax large companies.

Warren’s proposal, the Real Corporate Profits Tax, would place a 7% tax on corporate profits above $100 million. The Massachusetts senator estimates the tax would raise $1tn in new revenue over 10 years.

Her campaign estimates the proposal would hit roughly 1,200 firms. Those corporations would pay the tax on top of any liability under current tax rules, which, as Warren said in a Thursday blog post on her plan, is necessary because “our corporate tax code is so littered with loopholes that simply raising the regular corporate tax rate alone is not enough.”

Dubbing her pitch “the Real Corporate Profits Tax,” Warren wrote: “It will make our biggest and most profitable corporations pay more and ensure that none of them can ever make billions and pay zero taxes again.”

My new idea, the Real Corporate Profits Tax, would fix some huge holes in our corporate tax code. Giant companies like Amazon shouldn’t be able to get away with paying $0 in federal corporate income taxes. Add your name if you agree.

4.58pm BST

My colleague Lauren Aratani has been at the Women in the World Summit in New York City, where Stacey Abrams, the 2018 Georgia governor candidate has refused to rule out running for president.

Lauren reports that Abrams also threw just a little bit of shade at some of those running for the Democratic nomination. Abrams respects “most of the folks” in the race, she said, although she was wary of using it as “a vanity exercise”.

There’s nothing holding me back. I think you have to do things for the right reason and at the right time, not just because it’s available. I call it a vanity exercise. There are some folks that when they wake up and they see something’s open, they think “well, I should do it because it’s there.” Well, that’s not how I operate. Often when you come from an outside community, you don’t have that luxury.

My responsibility is number one, to figure out what I actually want now. That’s why I’m giving very careful consideration to the Senate. If I decide to run for the Senate, then I’m likely not going to run for anything else. I also have to think through what does it mean to say this is the thing I’m going to do for the next 12 years, next 18 years.

It’s this a false narrative that is set from those on the far right, and then it’s repeated by punditry until it sounds like truth. Having access to healthcare is not a leftist idea, it’s a human idea. We’ve been talking about it since Truman. Having access to a planet that still exists is a pretty basic thing to want.

Making enough money to take care of your family, working full time and earning a wage that lets you take care of your family, that’s economic security. These are not leftist ideas, these are progressive ideas meaning that we’re moving forward from where we are.

4.16pm BST

CNN has released its April “power rankings” of the Democrats most likely to win their party’s nomination… and Pete Buttigieg has had quite the surge.

Buttigieg – powered by a series of strong performances in national TV interviews as well as several viral moments (speaking Norwegian, talking about his marriage to husband Chasten) – has rocketed to the edge of the top tier in this month’s rankings.

And it’s not just buzz, which, last time we checked, doesn’t pay for staff or TV ads in Iowa. It’s real money, too: Buttigieg raked in more than $7 million in the first three months of the year, eclipsing the likes of Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar in the process.

3.42pm BST

In London, Julian Assange has been found guilty of breaching bail in 2012 after being arrested at the Ecuadorean embassy on Thursday.

Judge Michael Snow said he will be sentenced next month at Southwark Crown Court. He said Assange had shown the “behavior of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest”.

Related: Julian Assange: US justice department says he faces five years in jail – live updates

3.23pm BST

Bernie Sanders is way out ahead of his Democratic competitors in fundraising, according to unofficial fundraising totals from Politico.

Sanders raised $18.2m in the first three months of 2019, according to Politico, while Kamala Harris hauled in $12m.

Beto O’Rourke: $9.4m;

Pete Buttigieg: $7m;

2.54pm BST

Presidential candidate Kamala Harris has won her first Iowa endorsement, from a major state Democratic activist.

Jean Hessburg, a former Iowa Democratic Party executive director and the current chair of the party’s Women’s Caucus, told the Associated Press that she’s endorsing Harris because:

2.42pm BST

Donald Trump was excited to pump out a poll yesterday which supposedly showed him with a 55% overall approval rating.

There was just one problem. Trump tweeted a screengrab from Fox News, which had got the numbers wrong. Trump actually had a disapproval rating of 55% in that poll, conducted by the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service.

Great news! #MAGA

I’m the Director of @GUPolitics & this graphic is incorrect.

The Battleground Poll shows 58% approval on the economy.

But it shows only 43% overall approval, & 52% disapproval.

The 55% number is the President’s unfavorable rating. (Only 40% favorable.)

“[Trump’s] tweet featured a poll that was not entirely accurate, which Fox Business would like to correct. According to a poll from Georgetown University, 58 percent of respondents approved of the president’s handling of the economy. That portion of the graphic was right. However, the graphic also showed that 55 percent of the respondents approve of the president, that number is not correct. The 55 percent number was those who have an unfavorable impression of President Trump.”

2.29pm BST

Extremely-longshot candidate Eric Swalwell’s campaign has received a boost (sort of): Swalwell’s dad has said he will vote for his son.

Hello! This is Eric Sr., Eric’s dad. I am a Republican but in 2020, I’m going to vote Democrat, for Eric Swalwell.
I’m not just going to vote for Eric because he’s my son. I’m going to vote for Eric because he’s the best person to do good & better our country for all Americans.

2.02pm BST

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested in London and faces extradition charges to the US. Assange is due in court this morning. The Guardian is running live coverage of all the Assange developments here.

Related: Julian Assange ‘further arrested’ on behalf of the US after extradition request, police say – live updates

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Link : Gregory Craig: former White House counsel for Obama indicted – as it happened


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