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Friday
Sep212018

Before accuser testifies, McConnell predicts Kavanaugh will be confirmed 

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Despite the fact that Brett Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, hasn't testified yet about her alleged sexual assault by the Supreme Court nominee, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared Friday that Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the Supreme Court -- and soon.

"You’ve watched the fight. You’ve watched the tactics. But here’s what I want to tell you: In the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court," the Republican leader from Kentucky said in a speech at the Values Voter Summit Friday in the nation's capital.

"So, my friends, keep the faith. Don’t get rattled by all of this. We’re going to plow right through it and do our job," he said to raucous applause from the audience.

"The most consequential decision I've made in my entire career is the decision not do something, and that was to not fill the vacancy after the death of Justice Scalia," McConnell said, referring the decision to hold up President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

On Kavanaugh, McConnell gave kudos to President Trump for nominating a "stunningly successful individual."

McConnell's remarks came shortly after Trump questioned Ford's account of the alleged assault in a tweet Friday morning.

"I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!" Trump tweeted.

McConnell also openly mocked Democratic leader Sen. Chuck Schumer for striking a deal with Republicans to let them speed up the confirmation of several conservative federal district judges in exchange for a few extra days off in August.

"If you want America to be a right-of-center nation, this last year and a half has been the best year and a half in my time in the Senate," McConnell said. "And the reason you should know that: look how angry the left is, huh? Look at it. The angrier they get, the better we’re doing."

On the transformation of the federal courts, McConnell said: “If you want to have a longtime impact on what kind of country we’re going to have for the next generation, the single most consequential thing we can do is these lifetime appointments of men and women to the court who believe that the job of a judge is to follow the law.”

“Justice Gorsuch put it this way,” McConnell said. “He said judges don’t wear red robes or blue robes; they wear black robes.”

“So these are the kind of men and women that President Trump has been sending up and we’ve been confirming, and I hope it makes you proud,” McConnell said.

“We’re changing America more than a lot of people recognize, but I’m glad you do,” he said.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has been grappling with how to handle the accusation and is currently engaged in negotiations with Ford's attorneys to set the terms under which she would be willing to testify in front of the committee by as early as next week.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Sep212018

Rep. Ralph Norman jokes about Ruth Bader Ginsburg's being 'groped' by Abe Lincoln

Bill Clark / Contributor / Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  Sexual assault allegations have uprooted Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation hearings and prompted outrage, but that didn't stop a U.S. congressman from joking about the topic at a recent debate.

Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., used his opening remarks at a Thursday debate for South Carolina's 5th Congressional District to make an off-color joke about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

"Did y’all hear the latest, late-breaking news from the Kavanaugh hearings? Ruth Bader Ginsburg came out [saying[ that she was groped by Abraham Lincoln," he said to some laughs and applause.

Norman, who has been endorsed by President Donald Trump, later defended his remarks on Twitter, saying they were "meant to add a bit of levity to a very serious debate between me and my Democrat opponent and to point to the circus-like atmosphere that Washington, D.C., has become."

"People really need to learn to lighten up,” Norman, 65, wrote in a string of three tweets. “Clearly my opponent understood it that way since for the next hour we engaged in a substantive discussion about our many differences without mention of my comments.

"Once again, the Democrats and the media have taken an event that was newsworthy for so many substantive reasons and are now only adding more clowns and distractions to the current circus," he wrote.

Norman's opponent, Archie Parnell, criticized the joke later on Twitter, looping it in with a dig about how earlier in the race, Norman brought out his loaded handgun at a campaign event while making a point about gun safety.

(According to The Post and Courier, at that event, Norman said, "I'm not going to be a Gabby Giffords," referencing the former Arizona congresswoman who was shot in 2011 while meeting with constituents at a supermarket.)

Norman fired back by alluding to Parnell's history of domestic violence.

The Post and Courier reported in May that Parnell beat his former wife in the 1970s, which Parnell has confirmed.

"Forty-five years ago, while still a college student, I did something that I have regretted every single day since,” Parnell said in a statement, according to the newspaper. “In response to actions I feel unnecessary to specify, I lashed out and became violent with other people, including my former wife, which led to a divorce and monumental change in my life.

"These actions were inexcusable, wrong and downright embarrassing.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Sep212018

Kavanaugh protests flashpoints as #MeToo movement and politics collide 

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In hearings on the Hill, in the halls outside of congressional offices and in a slew of press conferences, supporters, and opponents of embattled Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh have sought to influence the direction of what participants have come to view as a pivotal political moment in the #MeToo movement.

Women who say they support Kavanaugh, who Christine Blasey Ford alleges sexually assaulted her roughly 30 years ago when they were both high school students attending separate private schools in suburban Maryland, have written letters to vouch for his character and were slated to hold a press conference on Friday.

Their event comes a day after a similar show of support from Ford's classmates and senators.

And on Thursday, a wave of protesters descended on Capitol Hill — and into senators' offices — to oppose Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

The protesters took to the halls of the Dirksen and Hart Senate office buildings, confronted key members of the Senate committee charged with hearing testimony from both the accused and the accuser, and share personal stories of sexual assault.

The gathering chanted "We believe Anita Hill" and "We believed Dr. Blasey" with fists in the air, as they defied warnings from Capitol Police to disburse.

Dozens of protesters, many of them women, converged at Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley's office to pressure him to vote "no" on Kavanaugh's nomination, before being arrested.

"He has one of the most important decisions facing our country before him right now," one protester urged while occupying the Iowa Republican's office.

"Sen. Grassley's position is that they're going to be hoping to have a hearing on Monday regarding the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh by Dr. Ford," one staffer responded to the crowd of demonstrators.

"What about an investigation," another protester demanded, despite the senator not being there.

"Sen. Grassley's position remains that the — it is the committee's job to determine qualifications of nominations," the staffer replied.

Wearing buttons that read, "I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford," the demonstrators would not let up, even as police officers detained them.

By the end of the day, Capitol Hill Police arrested 56 people for "unlawful demonstration activities," according to Capitol Hill spokesperson Eva Malecki.

"We believe that he should be here listening to people's voices from all across the country about why he should vote no on Brett Kavanaugh," the protester added.

Among the earlier protesters, 23 were removed from the fourth floor of Dirksen. Another 33 were removed from the first floor of the Hart, after protesting outside Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee.

"Sometimes it takes a woman a long time to talk about something like that," a protester, referring to sexual assault, said directly to one of Corker's staffers. "It doesn't mean she's lying when she does. And I think Sen. Corker should listen for real."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Sep212018

Trump considers walking back from declassifying Russia investigation documents 

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump is backing down -- at least temporarily -- from his declassification order for Department of Justice documents related to the origins of the Russia investigation.

Citing concerns from allies -- whom he doesn't identify -- and from the DOJ that that release would have a "perceived negative impact" on the Russia probe, the president says the Inspector General has now been asked to review the documents on an expedited basis.

"I met with the DOJ concerning the declassification of various UNREDACTED documents. They agreed to release them but stated that so doing may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe," Trump tweeted.

"Also, key Allies’ called to ask not to release. Therefore, the Inspector General ... has been asked to review these documents on an expedited basis. I believe he will move quickly on this (and hopefully other things which he is looking at)," the president continued. "In the end I can always declassify if it proves necessary. Speed is very important to me - and everyone!"

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Sep212018

'I don't see any possibility' Christine Blasey Ford is mistaken about Kavanaugh, sister-in-law says

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The sister-in-law of Christine Blasey Ford, the college professor who's accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her as teenagers, said on Good Morning America that "I don't see any possibility" that Ford is mistaken.

Deborah Ford Peters said Ford is down to earth, hardworking and honest.

Peters also said that since the accusation against Kavanaugh, which he's denied, Ford has received death threats.

Ford spoke out, writing a letter to Sen. Diane Feinstein in July, Peters said, because "I assume that she was very concerned about Judge Kavanaugh being considered for the Supreme Court."

"I think she doesn't want her story misrepresented, in the way that it was leaked," Peters added, "but I think she also strongly believes that story needs to be heard by that American public, that they need to know what this man did in his youth so that he is held responsible."

Peters met Ford in 2002 shortly before Ford married her brother.

"She's quite gregarious and quite a good listener -- and kind of the family glue I would say," Peters recalled.

Some Republicans have suggested Ford's accusation against Kavanaugh could be a case of mistaken identity.

"I can't imagine any reason that it would be mistaken identity," Peters said. "Specifically working with people who have been through traumas, the details of the traumas are often etched in their minds forever."

Peters said she hasn't yet had a chance to sit down with Ford and discuss the specific incident in clinical detail, but "people who experience sexual assaults that are as scary as this one seems to be, according to her story, can suffer shame, fear, depression, anxiety. It can inhibit them socially, professionally. So I don't know which of those things she's carried with her, but I'm sure it's carried some scars."

Overall, Peters added, she's proud of her sister-in-law for coming forward in the first place.

"I feel very proud of her and kind of impressed and amazed that she has the courage to come out and face whatever consequences she has to face," Peters said. "But she's a strong person. She's showing us she's capable of doing it."

Peters is a psychologist who works in private practice in California.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Sep212018

At Las Vegas rally for Republican candidate, Trump says Kavanaugh 'is going to be just fine'

ABC News(LAS VEGAS) -- In front of a friendly crowd at the Las Vegas Convention Center, President Donald Trump, who flew out to show support for Republican Sen. Dean Heller, said that his Supreme Court nominee "is going to be just fine."

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's pick to succeed Anthony Kennedy, has denied an accusation by Christine Blasey Ford that he sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.

"You know," Trump said, "one of the reasons I was elected was because you believed that I was going to pick great Supreme Court justices."

"Brett Kavanaugh -- and I'm not saying anything about anybody else -- but I want to tell you that Brett Kavanaugh is one of the finest human beings you will ever have the privilege of knowing or meeting," the president added. "A great intellect, a great gentleman, an impeccable reputation, went to Yale Law School, top student, so we have to let it play out, but I want to tell you, he is a fine, fine person."

Trump added: "So we will let it play out, and I think everything is going to be just fine."

The president was in Sin City to help support Heller in a contentious, high-profile, high-dollar Senate race. Heller is up against Democrat Jacky Rosen.

For Heller, it's a bit of a gamble to stick with Trump. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the Silver State, and Heller has only recently warmed to the president.

"We started out -- I didn't like him, he didn't like me," Trump said. "And as we fought and fought and fought, believe it or not, we started to respect each other, then we started to like each other, then we started to love each other."

Trump slammed Rosen as "Wacky Jacky," and rattled off her voting record, claiming that the Democrats' new platform is "radical socialism" and "open borders."

"I don't want the United States of America to become the next Venezuela," Trump continued, to loud chants of "Build the wall!"

He mentioned Hillary Clinton, to loud chants of "Lock her up!"

Trump blamed the country's woes on Democrats.

"I'm angry at Democrats because of what they do to our country," he said. "Today's Democratic party is held hostage by left-wing haters, angry mobs, socialist fanatics, deep-state bureaucrats and their fake-news allies.

"Except for a lot of the fake news that you see from these people back here, this is an incredible time for our country. America is winning again. America is being respected again."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Sep212018

Judiciary Committee Republicans have maintained open line of communication with Ford lawyers

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Emails between Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s staff and the legal team of Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford, obtained by ABC News, show that Republican staffers reached out the day after Ford’s identity was made public and offered to have her testify later that same week or the following Monday at an upcoming hearing on the Supreme Court nominee.

On Thursday afternoon, Ford’s lawyers told the committee in an email that she would be open to testifying next week as long as terms are met that are “fair and ensure her safety.”

That email was the latest in a four-day-long chain of correspondence between her legal team and Republican committee staff, according to documents obtained by ABC News.

The emails do not indicate any responses from Ford's legal team prior to Tuesday evening. It was not immediately clear whether there was additional correspondence beyond the emails ABC News obtained, and Ford's lawyers did not respond to request for comment about the email outreach.

The tone of the correspondence is markedly different from the heated rhetoric being employed by members of both parties on the Judiciary Committee, who have accused one another of mishandling Ford’s allegations.

The names in the emails have been redacted to protect privacy.

Committee Republicans first reached out to her legal team Monday afternoon after a Washington Post article naming Ford as the woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault was published the day before.

“The Chairman’s staff would like to schedule a phone call tomorrow at a time convenient for you and your client. The standard practice of the Committee is to follow-up on any allegations with a phone call to relevant parties. The call will allow our staff to obtain additional information regarding the events described in Professor Ford’s letter to the Ranking Member and the September 16, 2018, Washington Post article,” a GOP committee staffer wrote.

The staffer also said committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein’s staff would be invited to participate in the call. The staffer provided an email and direct phone line at which they could be reached.

After receiving an out-of-office message from Katz, the staffers then forwarded the message to the firm's office manager minutes later, at 3:53 p.m., to ensure it was received.

Republican staff on the committee also interviewed Kavanaugh over the phone Monday, and “made contact” with other alleged witnesses including Mark Judge, who Ford said was in the room during the alleged assault. Judge responded through his lawyer, saying he had “no memory” of the alleged incident. Judge is the author of the book "Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk," a memoir which details incidents of heavy drinking as a teen and young adult.

In the emails to Ford’s legal team, the majority staff said they invited Democrats to participate in all phone interviews but that Democrats declined, citing the need for the FBI to first conduct its investigation.

In response to a request for comment, a Democratic aide rejected the notion that the Republican emails to Ford's lawyers were adequate.

“Republicans announced the hearing and then sent an email to Dr. Ford’s lawyers inviting her to testify—that’s not consultation or working in good faith," the aide said in an emailed statement.

Since Ford’s name became public, Democrats and Republicans on and off the Judiciary Committee have traded barbs. On Wednesday, Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Hawaii Democrat, said Grassley’s assertions that committee Republicans had done everything to contact Ford’s legal team was “bull----.”

The rhetoric has been equally heated on the Republican side. On Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham said the Democrats' handling of the Ford accusations has been “a drive-by shooting when it comes to Kavanaugh.”

As the shots were fired in public, committee staff and Ford’s lawyers privately continued their correspondence, lamenting the occasional missed missive. Some of their dialogue did play out almost simultaneously in public, however, via media disclosures.

Grassley’s staff emailed Katz about 6 p.m. Monday that Grassley intended to re-open the confirmation hearing and invite both her and Kavanaugh to testify, about the same time the committee made that announcement publicly.

The following day, after the Judiciary staffer had not heard back from Ford lawyer, Debra Katz, they emailed again, noting that they had also tried to call her twice. They reiterated their invitation for her to testify on Monday, and that “we can have this session open or closed to the public depending on what Dr. Ford prefers.”

Several hours later, Judiciary wrote again to Katz, attaching a formal letter from Grassley inviting Ford to testify.

Then, at 7:57 p.m., Katz’s colleague Lisa Banks responded with a letter saying that “an FBI investigation of the incident should be the first step in addressing [Ford’s] allegations.”

About 8 p.m., the letter was obtained by and reported on by multiple news outlets, including ABC News.

That letter prompted Grassley to respond with a request to hear from Ford by 10 a.m. Friday.

Grassley staffers first sent a formal request on Wednesday morning and resent it that afternoon, correcting a typo. Banks responded soon after, noting that it was Yom Kippur and that the legal team would likely not respond again until the following day.

When Banks had not heard back for several hours, she had her assistant resend the email because “our outgoing emails were not working today.”

“Completely understand,” the Judiciary staffer responded. “Thanks for following up.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Sep212018

Christine Blasey Ford 'prepared to testify next week,' her lawyer tells senators

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has alleged Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both teenagers, told the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday that she "would be prepared to testify next week."

Thursday evening, the White House released a letter from Kavanaugh saying, "I will be there" on Monday, the day on which both were originally invited to testify.

The move by Ford, first reported by the New York Times, signaled a possible break in the high-stakes stalemate over whether she would tell senators her side of the story.

In the text of an email, Ford's lawyer Debra Katz said, "she wishes to testify, provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety," noting that Ford has received death threats.

It wasn't clear whether Ford was willing to testify in public, in private or in some other form.

The letter from Ford's legal team also said it is "not possible" for Ford to testify at Monday's scheduled hearing, as Republicans want, saying "the Committee's insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event."

The letter also made clear that Ford's "strong preference continues to be for the Senate Judiciary Committee to allow for a full investigation prior to her testimony."

An aide to Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, confirmed the email's contents, and the email was later also obtained by ABC News.

The aide said, "We are happy to hear from her," adding the committee would work with Ford's lawyers.

In the letter from Kavanaugh to Grassley, he also said, "I look forward to the opportunity to testify before the Committee. I also appreciate the time that Committee staff took to interview me on Monday, September 17. During that interview, I twice requested a Committee hearing for the following day, Tuesday, September 18. I continue to want a hearing as soon as possible, so that I can clear my name," he said.

"Since the moment I first heard this allegation, I have categorically and unequivocally denied it. I remain committed to defending my integrity," Kavanaugh said.

Also Thursday, Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, joined by all other Judiciary Committee Democrats, sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, asking for the agency to immediately investigate "alleged death threats" against Ford, "the hacking of her email and the harassment and intimidation" they said she has faced "since being forced into the spotlight late last week."

"Americans are closely watching," their letter reads. "We strongly believe that how Dr. Blasey Ford is treated in this moment reflects upon how seriously our Nation treats credible claims of sexual assault, and whether we have learned from past mistakes."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Sep202018

Judiciary Committee Republicans have maintained open line of communication with Ford lawyers

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Emails between Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s staff and the legal team of Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford, obtained by ABC News, show that Republican staffers reached out the day after Ford’s identity was made public and offered to have her testify later that same week or the following Monday at an upcoming hearing on the Supreme Court nominee.

On Thursday afternoon, Ford’s lawyers told the committee in an email that she would be open to testifying next week as long as terms are met that are “fair and ensure her safety.”

That email was the latest in a four-day-long chain of correspondence between her legal team and Republican committee staff, according to documents obtained by ABC News.

The emails do not indicate any responses from Ford's legal team prior to Tuesday evening. It was not immediately clear whether there was additional correspondence beyond the emails ABC obtained, and Ford's lawyers did not respond to request for comment about the email outreach.

The professional tone of the correspondence is markedly different from the heated rhetoric being employed by members of both parties on the Judiciary Committee, who have accused one another of mishandling Ford’s allegations.

The names in the emails have been redacted to protect privacy.

Committee Republicans first reached out to her legal team Monday afternoon after a Washington Post article naming Ford as the woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault was published the day before.

“The Chairman’s staff would like to schedule a phone call tomorrow at a time convenient for you and your client. The standard practice of the Committee is to follow-up on any allegations with a phone call to relevant parties. The call will allow our staff to obtain additional information regarding the events described in Professor Ford’s letter to the Ranking Member and the September 16, 2018, Washington Post article,” a GOP committee staffer wrote.

The staffer also said committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein’s staff would be invited to participate in the call. The staffer provided an email and direct phone line at which they could be reached.

After receiving an out-of-office message from Katz, the staffers then forwarded the message to the firm's office manager minutes later, at 3:53 p.m., to ensure it was received.

Republican staff on the committee also interviewed Kavanaugh over the phone Monday, and “made contact” with other alleged witnesses including Mark Judge, who Ford said was in the room during the alleged assault. Judge responded through his lawyer, saying he had “no memory” of the alleged incident. Judge is the author of the book "Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk," a memoir which details incidents of heavy drinking as a teen and young adult.

In the emails to Ford’s legal team, the majority staff said they invited Democrats to participate in all phone interviews but that Democrats declined, citing the need for the FBI to first conduct its investigation.

In response to a request for comment, a Democratic aide rejected the notion that the Republican emails to Ford's lawyers were adequate.

“Republicans announced the hearing and then sent an email to Dr. Ford’s lawyers inviting her to testify—that’s not consultation or working in good faith," the aide said in an emailed statement.

Since Ford’s name became public, Democrats and Republicans on and off the Judiciary Committee have traded barbs. On Wednesday, Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Hawaii Democrat, said Grassley’s assertions that committee Republicans had done everything to contact Ford’s legal team was “bull----.”

The rhetoric has been equally heated on the Republican side. On Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham said the Democrats' handling of the Ford accusations has been “a drive-by shooting when it comes to Kavanaugh.”

As the shots were fired in public, committee staff and Ford’s lawyers privately continued their relatively mundane correspondence, lamenting the occasional missed missive. Some of their dialogue did play out almost simultaneously in public, however, via media disclosures.

Grassley’s staff emailed Katz about 6 p.m. Monday that Grassley intended to re-open the confirmation hearing and invite both her and Kavanaugh to testify, about the same time the committee made that announcement publicly.

The following day, after the Judiciary staffer had not heard back from Ford lawyer, Debra Katz, they emailed again, noting that they had also tried to call her twice. They reiterated their invitation for her to testify on Monday, and that “we can have this session open or closed to the public depending on what Dr. Ford prefers.”

Several hours later, Judiciary wrote again to Katz, attaching a formal letter from Grassley inviting Ford to testify.

Then, at 7:57 p.m., Katz’s colleague Lisa Banks responded with a letter saying that “an FBI investigation of the incident should be the first step in addressing [Ford’s] allegations.”

About 8 p.m., the letter was obtained by and reported on by multiple news outlets, including ABC News.

That letter prompted Grassley to respond with a request to hear from Ford by 10 a.m. Friday.

Grassley staffers first sent a formal request on Wednesday morning and resent it that afternoon, correcting a typo. Banks responded soon after, noting that it was Yom Kippur and that the legal team would likely not respond again until the following day.

When Banks had not heard back for several hours, she had her assistant resend the email because “our outgoing emails were not working today.”

“Completely understand,” the Judiciary staffer responded. “Thanks for following up.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Sep202018

Michael Cohen spoke to Mueller team for hours; asked about Russia, possible collusion, pardon: Sources

Yana Paskova/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has participated over the last month in multiple interview sessions lasting for hours with investigators from the office of special counsel, Robert Mueller, sources tell ABC News.

The special counsel’s questioning of Cohen, one of the president’s closest associates over the past decade, has focused primarily on all aspects of Trump's dealings with Russia -- including financial and business dealings and the investigation into alleged collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign and its surrogates to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News.

Investigators were also interested in knowing, the sources say, whether Trump or any of his associates discussed the possibility of a pardon with Cohen.

Over the 16 months that Mueller has been investigating -- the president has repeatedly bashed the investigation as a partisan witch hunt, insisting there has been no collusion and no obstruction of justice.

The interviews with Cohen took place in Washington, D.C., and New York City. They were also attended in part by prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.

Cohen’s participation in the meetings has been voluntary -- without any guarantee of leniency from prosecutors, according to several people familiar with the situation.

ABC News has also learned that Cohen is also cooperating with a separate probe by New York state authorities into the inner workings of the Trump family charity and the Trump Organization, where Cohen served as an executive vice president and special counsel to Trump for 10 years.

The news of Cohen’s dealings with federal and state investigators comes close on the heels of another potentially perilous legal development for the president: the guilty pleas last week from Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who struck a deal with Mueller’s prosecutors in exchange for his cooperation.

As the Manafort deal was taking shape -- Mueller’s team had already been talking to Cohen.

And given Cohen’s prolonged time spent in proximity to Trump, his family and the inner-workings of the Trump Organization, some insiders consider his cooperation with authorities to be one of most serious potential legal threats to confront the president.

“Both of these guys want to be loved and they both want loyalty,” says a person close to both President Trump and Cohen, who asked not to be named in order to speak freely. “Cohen’s disavowal of Trump has triggered a series of events that turned once very good friends into permanent enemies. The consequences for both will be ugly.”

President Trump and his lawyers have lately been harshly critical of Cohen ever since he made clear earlier this year, in an exclusive interview with ABC News, that he was willing to cooperate with prosecutors, even if that placed the president in legal or political jeopardy. The former Trump loyalist said in the interview he rejected Trump’s claims that the Mueller investigation was a “witch hunt” orchestrated by his political enemies.

Cohen vowed to put “family and country first.”

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s current personal attorney, who in May called Cohen “an honest, honorable lawyer,” has more recently claimed that Cohen is fabricating stories about Trump in order to protect himself.

“There’s nobody that I know that knows him that hasn’t warned me that if his back is up against the wall, he’ll lie like crazy, because he’s lied all his life,” Giuliani told CNN in July.

Last month in New York, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felonies, including bank fraud, tax evasion and two campaign finance violations in connection with alleged hush money payments to women who have claimed affairs with Trump. Mueller’s team had referred the investigation of those crimes to federal prosecutors in New York, which led subsequently to coordinated raids of Cohen’s law office and residences in April.

At a plea hearing in August, Cohen told a federal judge that he had arranged for the payments to two women “in coordination with, and at the direction of a candidate for federal office," referring to then-candidate Trump, and added that he participated in the transactions with the principal purpose of influencing the election.

Those statements, under oath, were an about-face from Cohen’s public comments about his role in the deals with Karen McDougal and Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels. Cohen had previously insisted that he’d paid Clifford with his own money, on his own initiative and without the knowledge of Trump.

The president has long denied the allegations of the affairs with McDougal and Clifford and has claimed he did not know in advance about the deals Cohen secured. On the day of Cohen’s court appearance, the president openly mocked him on Twitter.

“If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!” the president wrote.

Since entering his guilty pleas last month -- Cohen has also been in contact with the New York Attorney General’s office, according to multiple people close to the matter.

In June, the acting New York Attorney General, Barbara Underwood, filed a civil lawsuit accusing Trump's charitable foundation and its directors of having "operated in persistent violation of state and federal law governing New York State charities" for more than a decade by paying off legal bills with charitable funds, promoting Trump hotels, and purchasing personal items.

The lawsuit names Trump, his sons Don Jr. and Eric, and his daughter, Ivanka, as defendants.

A representative of the Trump Foundation called the lawsuit, “politics at its very worst.”

Underwood’s office has not ruled out launching a state criminal investigation into the foundation if evidence warrants it. And she has also asked the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission to look into the charity’s operations.

A spokesperson for the acting New York Attorney General’s office declined to comment for this report.

In a prior public statement from the office, the spokesperson Amy Spitalnick said: “We cannot comment on potential or ongoing investigations. As our lawsuit against the Trump Foundation illustrates, we will hold Donald Trump and his associates accountable for violations of state law, and will seek a criminal referral from the appropriate state agency as necessary.”

Cohen’s relationship with Trump dates to the mid-2000’s after Cohen, who owned condominiums in multiple Trump buildings in New York, took Trump’s side in a legal dispute with the condo board at Trump World Tower on Manhattan’s East Side. He joined the Trump Organization in 2007.

Cohen’s dealings at the Trump family business cover a broad sweep of its global empire -– including several projects that have caught the attention of federal investigators. Cohen played an integral role in early discussions about a possible Trump Tower in Moscow -- negotiations that were going on during the early months of the 2016 presidential campaign.

That deal never reached fruition.

Cohen has confirmed he attended a lunch meeting with a Ukrainian politician one week after Trump took office, where the two men discussed the potential for Cohen to share a Ukraine peace proposal with his contacts at the White House.

And Cohen’s name appeared repeatedly in the now infamous dossier of unverified allegations, which included salacious claims about Trump, prepared by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. The agent, who was hired by an opposition research firm that was paid initially by Republicans and later by Democrats, alleged Cohen’s involvement in attempting to covering up contacts between Russian operatives and members of Trump campaign.

Cohen has fiercely denied the claims. In January, he tweeted: “Enough is enough of the #fake #RussianDossier.”

Since entering his guilty pleas last month, friends of Cohen say that he has felt isolated. He is unemployable, facing an avalanche of debt and the possibility of spending several years in federal prison.

With a net worth at one time of several million dollars, Cohen recently launched an online GoFundMe fundraising effort to help pay his mounting legal fees.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in New York federal court on December 12.

A spokesman for Office of the special counsel declined to comment on this story. An attorney for Cohen could not immediately be reached.

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