The Weekly National News Roundup – by Shlomo Rudman

Cohen Gets Sentenced – Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney and “fixer” for Donald Trump was sentenced to three years in prison for breaking campaign finance laws, tax evasion, and lying to Congress, all of them crimes committed while working on behalf of Trump. In his public address to the court, Cohen said it was his “blind loyalty” to Trump “that led me to choose a path of darkness over light”. President Trump responded to the sentencing on Thursday morning, blaming Cohen for any wrongdoing. “I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. He was a lawyer and is supposed to know the law,” Trump tweeted. The sentence is the first significant jail term handed to an individual implicated in Robert Mueller’s probe. The 52 year old Cohen will begin his prison sentence on March 6th.

Showdown In The Oval Office – With the press in attendance, a meeting in the Oval Office between President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi became heated, with the participants quarreling and attacking one another in an odd and epic confrontation. Trump threatened to shut down the government if Democrats refused to provide funding for a wall on the US-Mexico border. Schumer and Pelosi attacked Trump over the threat, with Schumer saying that the shutdown was “because you can’t get your way”. Pelosi later said that she had a phone call with Trump which was productive.

Search For Next Chief Of Staff – With Chief of Staff John Kelly expected to leave his position by the end of the year, the White House is conducting a comprehensive search to find a suitable replacement. Nick Ayers, currently the Chief of Staff for VP Mike Pence, was Trump’s original choice for Chief of Staff, but Ayers backed out, saying he would instead assist Trump by running a re-election SuperPAC. Rep. Mark Meadows was also strongly considered for the position, but the White House said Trump would prefer that he remain in the House of Representatives promoting Trump’s agenda. The latest rumor is that Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and current Fox News contributor, is the most likely person to be offered the job.

Russian Spy Reaches Plea Deal – Maria Butina, a Russian government agent, has agreed to plead guilty on conspiracy charges and cooperate in ongoing investigations. Butina admitted that she and “U.S. Person 1”, identified as Republican operative Paul Erickson, who Butina had a years-long relationship with, acted in the United States on behalf of the Russian government. In the plea deal, Butina said she conspired with close Putin ally and deputy governor of the Russian Central Bank Alexander Torshin to establish unofficial lines of communication between Russia and politically powerful Americans.

Comey Sits For Hearing – Former FBI Director James Comey sat for a closed Congressional hearing in regards to the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign. Comey told lawmakers that the FBI’s investigation originally focused on four individuals, and Trump was not one of them. Comey also denied that former FBI agent Peter Stzrok was biased in favor of Hillary Clinton, saying that Strzok helped draft the letter sent to Congress before the 2016 election which many see as having sunk Clinton’s chances of winning election. Comey also added that he has tremendous respect for Robert Mueller and believes he is conducting his probe in an appropriate manner, but that he is not friends with him in any conventional sense.

Senate: Pull Saudi Funds – On Thursday, the Senate voted 56-41 to withdraw funding for Saudi Arabia’s ongoing war in neighboring Yemen. The vote to limit presidential war powers comes as a stern rebuke of President Trump who has been supportive of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman even after US intelligence agencies concluded that he ordered the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Senate also voted to condemn bin Salman for his role in Khashoggi’s murder.

Time Names ‘Person Of The Year’ – Time Magazine named Jamal Khashoggi, murdered by the Saudi Arabian government, and other journalists, in a group Time called “the guardians of truth” as their 2018 Person Of The Year. Time said the choice was based on the importance of the work journalists do to keep the public informed. The runner ups were President Donald Trump, who came in second, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who came in third.

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