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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A trespasser and possible burglar found himself in a sticky situation this week after he became trapped in the grease vent of a closed-down Chinese restaurant in San Lorenzo, California, deputies said. >> Read more trending news  According to KGO, firefighters on Wednesday rescued the man from the vent, where he had been trapped for two days, after the owner of a nearby business heard him calling for help. He was hospitalized for dehydration and 'is expected to make a full recovery,' the Alameda County Sheriff's Office said. >> See a photo from the scene here The 29-year-old suspect may have been trying to break in to steal copper wire or plumbing, said Sgt. Ray Kelly, a Sheriff's Office spokesman. 'We can confirm this man was not Santa Claus and did not have legal authority to be here,' Kelly said. Authorities are submitting the case to the district attorney, who will determine whether the man will face any charges, the Sheriff's Office said. Read more here.
  • As President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday by a federal judge, prosecutors in New York revealed that the publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid, American Media Inc., had admitted paying $150,000 to a former Playboy model, in order to insure that her story of an affair with Mr. Trump would not become public before the 2016 election. “AMI admitted that it made the $150,000 payment in concert with a candidate’s presidential campaign, and in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York stated. The feds made clear the financial transaction was completed for only one reason: “AMI further admitted that its principal purpose in making the payment was to suppress the woman’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election,” read the “Statement of Admitted Facts” agreed to by the feds and AMI. The candidate involved in the story was President Trump – the person helping negotiate the deal was Cohen, and the head of AMI was Trump ally, David Pecker. In the ‘Admitted Facts’ laid out on Wednesday, Pecker acknowledged having a meeting around August of 2015 with Cohen – and one unidentified member of the Trump campaign – in which “Pecker offered to help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate’s relationships with women, by among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided.” That’s what happened with the case of Karen McDougal, a Playboy model who has claimed she had an affair with the President. In June 2016, McDougal thought she was selling the rights to her story to be published in the National Enquirer – instead, AMI was looking out for the President. “Following the interview, AMI communicated to Cohen that it would acquire the story to prevent its publication,” the feds stipulated about AMI’s role. The U.S. Attorney’s office announced that officials had agreed not to prosecute AMI for that $150,000 transaction on behalf of Cohen and President Trump, even though it amounted to a violation of federal campaign finance laws. SDNY says it reached a non-prosecution agreement with AMI in connection with the $150k McDougal payment. 'AMI further admitted that its principal purpose in making the payment was to suppress the woman’s story *so as to prevent it from influencing the election.'* pic.twitter.com/NpP1uGGyZC — Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) December 12, 2018 Pecker’s role in the McDougal story did not end with the $150,000 payment, as in the late stages of the 2016 campaign, Cohen moved to buy the ‘limited life rights’ to the McDougal story from AMI for $125,000. But in October of 2016, Pecker backed off – even after signing an agreement with Cohen which utilized a fake payment explanation through a shell company set up by the President’s personal lawyer. “At no time did AMI report to the Federal Election Commission that it had made the $150,000 payment to the model,” prosecutors wrote, saying that “AMI knew that corporations such as AMI are subject to federal campaign finance laws.” In other words – the feds saw this hush money transaction as a contribution to President Trump’s campaign – by keeping the women’s story out of the headlines. Reporters immediately went back to 2016 to dig up denials by AMI that it had been involved in these kinds of actions. American Media to WSJ in 2016: 'AMI has not paid people to kill damaging stories about Mr. Trump.' Fed prosecutors in 2018: 'AMI admitted that it made the $150,000 payment…in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate.' — Joe Palazzolo (@joe_palazzolo) December 12, 2018 The process is known as “catch and kill” – and was documented just before the election by the Wall Street Journal, and then in recent months by the New Yorker magazine. It was not immediately clear if AMI – and Pecker – were in a position to offer other important information to investigators about President Trump and/or his campaign. “The writing’s on the wall,” said Rep. Denny Heck (D-NV) of the President’s legal situation on CNN. “The walls are closing in.”
  • A Kentucky woman is behind bars after police say she killed her newborn baby. According to WKYT, Amber Bowling, 21, of Manchester, has been charged with murder after police say she hid the infant in a garbage bag, then threw the child 'over the upstairs banister' of an apartment building. Police said the baby, born Sunday, was found dead Tuesday morning, WAVE reported. According to the autopsy, the newborn suffered fractures to the cranium and ribs, as well as brain bleeding, WLEX reported. >> Read more trending news  Bowling, who was arrested Wednesday, is being held in the Clay County Detention Center, according to WAVE. Read more here or here.
  • With more evidence of election fraud still surfacing in the race for North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District, the legislature in the Tar Heel State voted on Wednesday to give new powers to the state elections board, allowing the panel to call for an entirely new election – including a new primary – possibly allowing Republicans to field a new candidate for the seat in 2019. No action on the race – in which Republican Mark Harris defeated Democrat Dan McCready by just 905 votes – has yet been taken by the North Carolina State Board of Elections, which is set to hold a new hearing before December 21; the Governor must decide whether to sign this new bill by December 22. The actions by the state legislature came as new evidence has emerged of possible absentee ballot fraud, including charges that a GOP operative may have been in possession of hundreds of ballots, and that preliminary totals of absentees in one county were tallied before Election Day, a violation of state law. Well, looks like there will be a primary in the #nc09 after all #StayTuned pic.twitter.com/aDJXnURV1I — Michael Bitzer (@BowTiePolitics) December 12, 2018 Under North Carolina law as currently written, the board of elections can only order a new election with the same candidates involved – but Republicans are worried that Harris – who also faces questions about possible fraud in the GOP primary – might be too tainted because of his ties to McRae Dowless, who was running some kind of absentee ballot operation in rural Bladen County for the Harris campaign. While Harris lost the absentee-by-mail votes across the Ninth District to Democrat Dan McCready, Harris on 61 percent of those votes in Bladen County – even though registered Republicans cast only 19 percent of those specific ballots. Stories have also emerged in recent days from people who did work for Dowless, saying that he had hundreds of absentee ballots in his possession, something which is illegal under North Carolina law. Dowless has been accused of not only collecting ballots, but also possibly tampering with, and discarding them. While Harris has denied knowledge of any absentee ballot operation, the GOP winner has been quiet about the almost daily drumbeat of new information, save for a video statement made several days ago. BREAKING: We have obtained a photo of Mark Harris and McCrae Dowless together. The picture was taken in March at a political event in Bladen County. The person who took the photo has asked us to not identify them. #NC09 #ncpol @wsoctv pic.twitter.com/v4w9L6GwAa — Joe Bruno (@JoeBrunoWSOC9) December 12, 2018 If the North Carolina elections board decides to hold a new election, it would probably take months for the primary and general election – leaving that seat vacant as the 116th Congress convenes in January. So far, Democrats have not indicated whether they will investigate the election fraud questions from the November election, along with questions about possible absentee ballot fraud in the GOP primary, which saw Harris win an astounding 95 percent of the absentee-by-mail ballots in Bladen County, as he defeated incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC). Pittenger has not said if he will run again, but has raised questions about Dowless and possible fraud.
  • Winning over the votes of a last rebel group of House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday evening that she would agree to serve no more than four years as Speaker of the House, accepting a plan from younger lawmakers in her party which would limit senior House leadership to a maximum of eight years in those high profile positions. “I am comfortable with the proposal and it is my intention to abide by it whether it passes or not,” Pelosi said in a statement, as Democrats planned a vote by mid-February on the term limit plan. Pelosi’s agreement seems to pave the way for her to bring on board a final group of Democrats who had demanded an overhaul of their party’s leadership in the House, which is dominated by lawmakers – like Pelosi – who are in their 70’s. “I firmly believe that the reforms we have advocated for will create advancement opportunities for the next generation of Democratic leaders and will strengthen our Caucus,” said Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA). “I have pushed for new leadership because I want to see generational change in the Democratic Caucus,” said Rep. Earl Perlmutter (D-CO). “We will support and vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House in the 116th Congress,” a group including Perlmutter and six other Democratic holdouts said in a statement. BREAKING: Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, a Democrat, says she'll serve no more than four years as House speaker, all but ensuring she'll be elected to the post in January. — AP Politics (@AP_Politics) December 12, 2018 While Pelosi had easily won a vote of House Democrats after Thanksgiving to be the next Speaker, there were still questions about whether she could secure 218 votes on the floor of the House in January. This agreement will seal the deal, as Pelosi said she would serve no more than four more years as Speaker. Pelosi is the first House member to serve as Speaker – then see her party lose the minority, and return as Speaker – since Sam Rayburn did that in the mid-1950’s. While Republicans in the House had embraced term limits for committee chairs, the GOP had not applied those limits to the Speaker. Pelosi had expressed confidence that she would be able to grind out enough votes to win a floor showdown as Speaker, but in the end, she decided to cut a deal to end any suspense. “Over the summer, I made it clear that I see myself as a bridge to the next generation of leaders,” Pelosi said in a statement, “a recognition of my continuing responsibility to mentor and advance new Members into positions of power and responsibility in the House Democratic Caucus.”