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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

April 16, 2018 - 8:04 PM

What's in those seized records? Trump's biggest new worry

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and his allies have hit a new level of anxiety after the raid on his personal attorney's office, fearful of deeper exposure for Trump, his inner circle and his adult children — and more than concerned that they don't know exactly what is in those records and electronic devices seized last week.

There is also some worry that Michael Cohen, the self-described legal fixer who helped make bad stories go away and took a leading role in Trump Organization projects in foreign outposts, may strike a deal with prosecutors out of concern about his own prospects.

"I think it's a huge minefield for Donald Trump and the Trump Organization," said trial attorney Joseph Cammarata, who represented Paula Jones in her sexual harassment suit against President Bill Clinton. "I think this is on its own track and this train is coming down the track with brute force."

The wild legal show continued to play out Monday, at a court hearing in New York before a federal judge who is considering what to do with the material that the FBI seized from Cohen. The scene was punctuated by dramatic entrances and revelations. Stormy Daniels — the porn actress who alleged she had a sexual affair with the president — made an appearance, stumbling on her high heels as she was swarmed by press. Cohen was forced to reveal that another one of his clients is Fox News host Sean Hannity, a high-profile confidant of the president.

Trump left the White House for Florida, for a two-day summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the president's Mar-a-Lago estate. Advisers are hoping the meeting will draw attention from the legal tempest in Washington and New York.

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10 Things to Know for Tuesday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday:

1. 'IT'S A HUGE MINEFIELD'

Trump and his allies reach a new level of anxiety after the raid on his personal attorney's office, since they don't know exactly what was in the records and electronic devices seized last week.

2. WHICH RAPPER HAS CAUSE TO CELEBRATE

Kendrick Lamar wins the Pulitzer Prize for music, making history as the first non-classical or jazz artist to win the prestigious prize.

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Chemical weapons team in Syria kept from alleged attack site

DOUMA, Syria (AP) — Syrian and Russian authorities prevented independent investigators from going to the scene of a suspected chemical attack, the head of the chemical watchdog group said Monday, blocking international efforts to establish what happened and who was to blame.

The U.S. and France say they have evidence that poison gas was used in the April 7 attack in the opposition-held town of Douma, killing dozens of people, and that Syrian President Bashar Assad's military was behind it.

But they have made none of that evidence public, even after they, along with Britain, bombarded sites they said were linked to Syria's chemical weapons program.

Syria and its ally Russia deny any chemical attack took place, and Russian officials went even further, accusing Britain of staging a "fake" chemical attack. British Prime Minister Theresa May accused the two countries — whose forces now control the town east of Damascus — of trying to cover up evidence.

The lack of access to Douma by inspectors from the watchdog group, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, has left unanswered questions about the attack.

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Times, New Yorker win Pulitzer for Weinstein scandal

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Times and The New Yorker won the Pulitzer Prize for public service Monday for breaking the Harvey Weinstein scandal with reporting that galvanized the #MeToo movement and set off a worldwide reckoning over sexual misconduct in the workplace.

The Times and The Washington Post took the award in the national reporting category for their coverage of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and contacts between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russian officials.

The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, California, received the breaking news reporting award for coverage of the wildfires that swept through California wine country last fall, killing 44 people and destroying thousands of homes.

The Washington Post also won the investigative reporting prize for revealing decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct against Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama. The Republican former judge denied the accusations, but they figured heavily in Doug Jones' victory as the first Democrat elected to the Senate from the state in decades.

One of the biggest surprises of the day came in the non-journalism categories when rap star Kendrick Lamar was awarded the Pulitzer for music, becoming the first non-classical or non-jazz artist to win the prize.

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US says California rejects proposed border duties for troops

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Trump administration said Monday that California Gov. Jerry Brown rejected terms of the National Guard's initial deployment to the Mexican border, but a state official said nothing was decided.

"The governor determined that what we asked for is unsupportable, but we will have other iterations," Ronald Vitiello, U.S. Customs and Border Protection's acting deputy commissioner, told reporters in Washington.

Brown elicited rare and effusive praise from President Donald Trump last week for pledging 400 troops to the Guard's third large-scale border mission since 2006.

But the Democratic governor conditioned his commitment on his state's troops having nothing to do with immigration enforcement, even in a supporting role.

Brown's announcement last week did not address what specific jobs the California Guard would and would not do, nor answer the thorny question of how state officials would distinguish work related to immigration from other duties.

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Trump lawyer forced to reveal another client: Sean Hannity

NEW YORK (AP) — A legal fight over what should happen to records the FBI seized from President Donald Trump's personal attorney took a surprise twist Monday when the lawyer, Michael Cohen, was forced to reveal a secret — that he had also done legal work for Fox News host Sean Hannity.

The disclosure came as a New York judge disappointed a lawyer for Trump by letting prosecutors proceed with the cataloguing of evidence including multiple electronic devices that were seized in raids while a system is set up to ensure that records protected by attorney-client privilege aren't disclosed to investigators.

Lawyers for Cohen and prosecutors both had reason to claim success after three hours of arguments before U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, who said she may appoint a special master, a neutral lawyer, to help decide which materials should stay confidential.

Wood denied a request by Trump's lawyer, Joanna Hendon, that the president and Cohen get the first crack at designating which documents should be off-limits to investigators.

Hannity's name emerged after the judge pressed Cohen to divulge the names of the clients he's worked with since the 2016 election, whose privileged communications might be contained within his files.

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7 inmates killed as prisoners fight over money, territory

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Inmates armed with homemade knives fought each other for about seven hours over territory and money, leaving seven of them dead in the worst U.S. prison riot in a quarter-century, officials said Monday. An inmate who witnessed the violence told The Associated Press that bodies were "literally stacked on top of each other."

At least 17 prisoners were seriously injured at Lee Correctional Institution, South Carolina prisons chief Bryan Stirling said. The first fight started in a dorm about 7:15 p.m. Sunday and appeared to be contained before suddenly starting in two other dorms. Cellphones helped stir up the trouble, and state officials urged the federal government to change a law and allow them to block the signals from prisoners' phones.

"These folks are fighting over real money and real territory while they're incarcerated," Stirling said at a news conference.

No prison guards were hurt. Stirling said they followed protocol by backing out and asking for support. It took several hours to restore order, but once a special SWAT team entered, the inmates gave up peacefully, he said.

The prisoner who saw the riot exchanged messages with AP on the condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to have a cellphone and fears retribution from other inmates.

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Starbucks to train workers on 'unconscious bias,' CEO says

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Starbucks wants to add training for store managers on "unconscious bias," CEO Kevin Johnson said Monday, as activists held more protests at a Philadelphia store where two black men were arrested after employees said they were trespassing.

Johnson, who has called the arrests "reprehensible," arrived in Philadelphia this weekend after video of the incident gained traction online. He said he hopes to meet with the two men in the next couple of days and apologize face to face. A company spokesman said the men have agreed to a meeting with Johnson, but it was not immediately known when it would take place.

"I'd like to have a dialogue with them and the opportunity to listen to them with compassion and empathy through the experience they went through," said Johnson, who has been CEO for about a year. Stewart Cohen, the lawyer for the two men, said he hopes "something productive for the community" can come out of such a meeting.

The incident is a major blow to Starbucks' image, since the company has promoted its coffee shops as neighbourhood hangouts where anyone is welcome. After a video of the arrests spread online, the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks trended on Twitter.

And on Monday morning, about two dozen protesters took over the Philadelphia shop, chanting slogans like, "A whole lot of racism, a whole lot of crap, Starbucks coffee is anti-black." A Starbucks regional vice-president who attempted to talk to the protesters was shouted down.

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Commercial and critical darling Kendrick Lamar wins Pulitzer

NEW YORK (AP) — Kendrick Lamar won the Pulitzer Prize for music Monday, making history as the first non-classical or jazz artist to win the prestigious prize.

The revered rapper is also the most commercially successful musician to receive the award, usually reserved for critically acclaimed classical acts who don't live on the pop charts.

The 30-year-old won the prize for "DAMN.," his raw and powerful Grammy-winning album. The Pulitzer board said Monday the album is "a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life." He will win $15,000.

Lamar has been lauded for his deep lyrical content, politically charged live performances, and his profound mix of hip-hop, spoken word, jazz, soul, funk, poetry and African sounds. Since emerging on the music scene with the 2011 album "Section.80," he has achieved the perfect mix of commercial appeal and critical respect.

The Pulitzer board has awarded special honours to Bob Dylan, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Hank Williams, but a popular figure like Lamar has never won the prize for music. In 1997, Wynton Marsalis became the first jazz act to win the Pulitzer Prize for music.

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White House says Russia sanctions still under consideration

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House scrambled Monday to walk back U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley's weekend announcement that new economic sanctions against Russia are imminent, but stressed the penalties are still being considered.

Haley created a firestorm Sunday when she said the new sanctions would be imposed by the Treasury Department on Monday, when, in fact, no such announcement was planned, according to two officials familiar with the matter.

In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to clarify the situation, but her explanation created more confusion and led to suggestions that President Donald Trump had personally intervened to halt the sanctions from taking effect Monday.

"We are considering additional sanctions on Russia and a decision will be made in the near future," Sanders said in a statement.

The two officials, who were not authorized to discuss private administration deliberations publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said Haley had misspoken when she said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would announce the sanctions Monday "if he hasn't already." Haley said the sanctions would target those who are enabling Syrian leader Bashar Assad's government to continue using chemical weapons.

News from © The Associated Press, 2018
The Associated Press

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