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Michael Cohen asks Supreme Court to reopen lawsuit against Trump, Bill Barr for retaliatory jailing

NEW YORK — Michael Cohen asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to reopen his lawsuit against Donald Trump, former Attorney General Bill Barr, and others for jailing him in 2020 when he refused not to criticize the then-president under house arrest.

In his request for review, the former Trump fixer asked the justices to revive the case dismissed in January and decide “whether there is any consequence for executives who incarcerate their critics.”

Cohen, 57, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, was about halfway through a three-year sentence for issuing the notorious hush money payoff to Stormy Daniels and other crimes when the Bureau of Prisons released him to home confinement in May 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He wound up back in a prison camp in upstate Otisville the following July, when he wouldn’t immediately agree not to publicly mouth off about Trump during the pendency of his sentence.

Cohen spent 16 days in solitary confinement before Manhattan federal court Judge Alvin Hellerstein released him. In the July 2020 release order, the jurist remarked that the clause presented to Cohen — which would have prohibited him from publishing a Trump book before the 2020 election, talking to reporters, or using social media — had no purpose other than retaliation and was unlike anything he’d seen in his decades on the bench.

“(He) was presented with a document that had no federal serial number attached to it — that all documents like it have — that had a paragraph with misspellings, unusual syntax, and punctuation, that said he would not speak, write and would cause his family to not speak or write about anything related to the reasons he was in prison,” Cohen’s lawyer, Jon Dougherty, told the New York Daily News.

Dougherty said Cohen asked the U.S. Marshals if he had to agree to it, and they said they didn’t know and would check with their superiors. They returned 90 minutes later with an order sending him back to prison even as he agreed to sign it. It’s not clear who marshals spoke with in the interim.

Cohen filed his suit against Trump, then-Attorney General Bill Barr, and others in December 2021, alleging they conspired to imprison him and violated his First Amendment rights.

Manhattan federal court Judge Lewis Liman dismissed the suit in November 2022.

In January, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Liman’s decision, which Cohen’s Wednesday request asks the Supreme Court to reconsider. Cohen needs four justices to agree to review the case.

— New York Daily News

Senators argue over whether federal government should pay 100% for new Key Bridge

BALTIMORE — Whether the federal government will pay 90% or 100% of the new Francis Scott Key Bridge — a difference that is expected to be roughly $170 million — was at the center of a discussion Wednesday in a U.S. Senate hearing.

President Joe Biden, a Democrat who is up for reelection this fall, has pledged full federal support and Maryland’s congressional legislators introduced a bill in April that would completely fund the Baltimore bridge with federal money.

Generally, federal highways — such as the portion of Interstate 695 that the new bridge will carry over the Patapsco River — are funded with 90% federal money and 10% state money. In times of disaster, though, the federal government can move to fully fund rebuilding efforts and has done so in the past.

That was at the crux of the arguments from Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both Democrats, citing other disasters, including the 2007 collapse of a bridge over the Mississippi River in Minnesota.

“It has been a tradition in the United States of America of providing 100% support for states that have undergone this kind of tragedy,” Van Hollen said Wednesday in the hearing of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from West Virginia, questioned whether the federal government should completely fund the new span. She noted that the federal government’s Emergency Relief Program has a “funding shortfall” of more than $3.5 billion, with a “backlog” of 130 projects in 38 states and territories. She also said the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the federal government’s Highway Trust Fund has a “shortfall” of more than “$284 billion over a 10-year budget window.”

“So you see where we are,” she said, adding that Congress should “determine an equitable basis” for which projects receive more funding than others.

Capito said that because the state of Maryland receives revenue from Key Bridge tolls — $56 million in fiscal year 2023, she said — it could afford to eventually pay off 10% of the span, which is expected to cost $1.7 billion in total.

Maryland Secretary of Transportation Paul Wiedefeld, who testified before the committee, countered that Maryland needed those toll funds to operate and maintain its toll bridges and tunnels.

He also added that the state will experience further economic loss for the next four years, since it will not receive toll revenue from the Key Bridge, which was knocked down by a cargo ship on March 26. The new bridge is expected to be completed by October 2028.

While the new Baltimore span would cost roughly $1.7 billion, the federal government is expected to be reimbursed at least some of that money from insurance and third-party claims. About $350 million is expected to come from Chubb, which insured the bridge. More funds could be recovered from “culpable parties,” Wiedefeld said.

—The Baltimore Sun

Could nuclear power restart at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island?

 

PHILADELPHIA — It’s been half a decade since Three Mile Island provided power to Pennsylvania, but one of the nuclear plant’s decommissioned reactors might have a restart in its future.

Three Mile Island owner Constellation Energy Corporation is in talks with Gov. Josh Shapiro’s office and state lawmakers to potentially bring the site’s Unit 1 reactor back online, according to a recent report from Reuters. That reactor is separate from the infamous Unit 2 reactor, which suffered a partial meltdown in 1979, and has been dormant ever since.

Unnamed sources told Reuters that the talks were “beyond preliminary,” but neither the governor’s office nor Constellation Energy has publicly confirmed that a restart is imminent.

Constellation Energy, which operates more than a dozen nuclear power plants nationwide (including two others in Pennsylvania), has “not made any decision,” but has determined a restart would be “technically feasible,” a company spokesperson told Reuters. Shapiro’s office, meanwhile, told the Susquehanna Valley’s Fox 43 that it “recognizes the role Pennsylvania’s nuclear generation fleet plays in providing safe, reliable, carbon-free electricity,” but did not confirm the talks.

Rumblings of a potential restart at Three Mile Island comes amid a renewed interest in nuclear energy in nationally and in Harrisburg, with lawmakers earlier this month announcing the relaunch of a bipartisan Nuclear Energy Caucus that will work to shore up the state’s nuclear power industry. And earlier this year, the Department of Energy announced a $1.5 billion loan to reopen a Michigan-based nuclear plant that shut down in 2022.

But any restart would likely face roadblocks due to safety and environmental concerns, as well as economic and logistical issues. Three Mile Island is the home of what is considered to be the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history thanks to its partial meltdown more than 40 years ago.

—The Philadelphia Inquirer

Suspect nabbed in crossbow killings of BBC commentator John Hunt’s wife and daughters

The man suspected of killing BBC commentator John Hunt’s wife and his two adult daughters with a crossbow on Tuesday was captured by police after nearly 24 hours on the run.

Kyle Clifford, 26, who’s believed to be the former boyfriend of one of the daughters, was found in North London “following an extensive search,” the local constabulary said.

The man was taken into custody without incident and is being treated for injuries sustained prior to his discovery. No shots were fired when he was apprehended.

“This continues to be an incredibly difficult time for the victims’ family and we would ask that their privacy is respected as they come to terms with what has happened,” Major Crime Unit Detective Inspector Justine Jenkins said.

“This investigation is moving at pace and formal identification of the victims is yet to take place. The premature naming of potential victims has caused great upset to the family when they should’ve been given the space to come to terms with their sudden loss.”

The three women were killed in the attack around 7 p.m. local time Tuesday night in Bushey, a town north of London, spurring a manhunt. They have only been officially identified by their ages, 25, 28 and 61, but police described the incident as “targeted.”

According to Sky News, those ages match the ages of Hunt’s wife, Carol, and daughters Hannah and Louise.

The BBC reported Hunt’s wife, Carol, and two daughters were slain, while a third daughter was not harmed.

Clifford was found at Lavender Hill Cemetery in Enfield and carried away in a stretcher, Sky News reported. Enfield is about 20 miles east of Bushey, where the murders occurred.

Prior to locating Clifford, a large police presence descended on the area, including several officers in tactical gear carrying long guns.

Police had earlier warned the public to stay away from Clifford if they came into contact with him as the British Army vet was believed to still have the weapon used in the killings.

Crossbows are legal in the U.K., albeit with strict stipulations for use and display. In the wake of the murders, the Home Office is now weighing whether tougher crossbow laws should be enacted, the BBC reported. The office had started considering new laws earlier this year in response to a spate of other crimes committed with crossbows.

“The home secretary will swiftly consider the findings to see if laws need to be tightened further,” a spokesperson said Wednesday.

John Hunt is a radio horse racing commentator for BBC Racing and for Sky Sports Racing.

“The news today about John Hunt’s family is utterly devastating,” the BBC said. “Our thoughts are with John and his family at this incredibly difficult time and we will provide him with all the support we can.”

—New York Daily News


 

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