Trump accuses ex-lawyer Michael Cohen of 'lying to reduce his jail time' in wake of BuzzFeed bombshell
- President Trump accuses his former lawyer Michael Cohen of "lying to reduce his jail time" in the wake of a bombshell report from BuzzFeed News that said the president himself directed Cohen to lie to Congress.
- BuzzFeed cited two federal law enforcement officials involved in the investigation. Neither NBC News nor CNBC has confirmed the BuzzFeed report.
Published 6 Hours Ago Updated 4 Hours AgoCNBC.com
President Donald Trump on Friday accused his former lawyer Michael Cohen of "lying to reduce his jail time" in the wake of a bombshell report from BuzzFeed News that said the president himself directed Cohen to lie to Congress.
Trump did not directly address the BuzzFeed article in his tweet, but added, "Watch" Cohen's "father-in-law!"
Kevin Corke, @FoxNews “Don’t forget, Michael Cohen has already been convicted of perjury and fraud, and as recently as this week, the Wall Street Journal has suggested that he may have stolen tens of thousands of dollars....” Lying to reduce his jail time! Watch father-in-law!
BuzzFeed reported Thursday night that Trump directed his former personal lawyer and fixer to lie to Congress about talks regarding a possible Trump Tower project in Moscow.
BuzzFeed's report did not rely on Cohen's claims, but rather attributes the information to two federal law enforcement officials involved in the investigation. It also cites "multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents" related to Trump's reported directive that were found by special counsel Robert Mueller's team of investigators.
Confronted with such evidence, Cohen acknowledged that he received the instructions from Trump during his interviews with the special counsel's office, BuzzFeed said.
Neither NBC News nor CNBC has confirmed the BuzzFeed report.
The president's son, Donald Trump, Jr., called the story "the usual clickbait BS" and "textbook #fakenews" in a tweet.
Here we go again... another CNN/Buzzfeed "bombshell" with no evidence. The usual clickbait BS... and when it fails as all the others have there will be ZERO coverage. Textbook #fakenewsJack Posobiec
Buzzfeed reporter just admitted on CNN they haven’t actually seen any evidence that confirms their story
"I'm not going to give any credence" to Cohen, "who's a convicted liar," White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said on Fox News minutes after Trump's tweet.
A lawyer for the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment. Rudy Giuliani, who represents Trump in the Mueller probe, told The Washington Post: "If you believe Cohen, I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge." He made a similar remark to NBC News.
Later on Friday, Giuliani said in a statement that "any suggestion – from any source – that the President counseled Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false."
"Today's claims are just more made-up lies born of Michael Cohen's malice and desperation, in an effort to reduce his sentence," Giuliani added.
Lanny Davis, who represents Cohen, said the former Trump fixer declined to comment on the BuzzFeed article. A spokeswoman for Davis did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on Trump's tweet.
Trump has previously suggested that he has knowledge of damaging information about Cohen's father-in-law.
Cohen's father-in-law, Fima Shusterman, reportedly loaned at least $20 million to a Chicago taxicab mogul whose name appeared in documents related to FBI raids on Cohen's home, office and hotel room in April.
In a telephone interview on a Fox News program on Saturday, Trump slammed Cohen as a "rat" and said he "should give information maybe on his father-in-law, because that's the one that people want to look at."
Mueller, a former FBI director under President George W. Bush, is investigating Russia's attack on the 2016 election and potential coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. Trump has repeatedly denied collusion and obstructing justice, while labeling the Mueller probe a "witch hunt."
Cohen talked to Senate and House investigators in October 2017about the Moscow real estate negotiations.
Cohen, who once said he would take a bullet for Trump, pleaded guilty in November to lying to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow project, which never came to fruition. Prosecutors said Cohen gave congressional investigators the false impression that talks about the possible tower ended in January 2016, just as the presidential primary season was kicking off. Cohen later admitted he had actually talked about it as late as June 2016.
Cohen has cooperated extensively with Mueller, according to court filings.
In August, Cohen had pleaded guilty to several charges in a case brought by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. He said Trump had directed him to commit campaign finance violations by coordinating payoffs to two women who had said they had sexual interactions with Trump more than a decade before he ran for president.
The White House has denied the president engaged in the purported trysts.
In December, Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison, and is due to begin his term in March. Trump has called Cohen a "weak person" and a "rat."
Cohen is scheduled to testify publicly before the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 7.
BuzzFeed's story came after The Wall Street Journal reported that Cohen had made a failed attempt to rig online polls — including one conducted by CNBC — in 2014 "at the direction and for the sole benefit of" Trump when he was thinking about making a run for the White House.
Cohen addressed that story directly in a tweet Thursday morning, lamenting his "blind loyalty to a man who doesn't deserve it."
AG nominee Barr's obstruction answers scrutinized in wake of BuzzFeed report
Washington (CNN)Donald Trump's attorney general nominee Bill Barr's take on what constitutes obstruction of justice is under renewed scrutiny following an explosive BuzzFeed report that the President told his personal lawyer to lie to Congress.
News that Netflix (NFLX - Get Report) is richly valued has been known for a long time and will not be a shock to anyone. What will be a meaningful shock, however, is the fact that Netflix's growth is forecast to meaningfully slow down.
This insight is a game changer that is not being adequately reflected in Netflix's share price. Investors should act swiftly and use the opportunity to exit now before sentiment turns strongly negative.
Netflix is RealMoney's stock of the day -- see trader Sarge Guilfoyle's take on Netflix shares.
Q4 2018 Results
The main focus of Netflix's shareholder letter was on strong subscriber growth. But what the letter did not spend much energy on was highlighting the pace of revenue growth deceleration.
Some readers might look at the above graph and wonder whether Netflix is being overly conservative in order to make it easy to beat estimates next quarter. But I strongly urge readers not fall into this faulty logic. The fact of the matter is that Netflix's top line is slowing at a rapid clip.
Which brings up the question, how is it possible for revenue to decelerate in the face of strong subscriber growth? That's because the devil is in the details. Or lack of details, as is the case with Netflix's Q4 2018 shareholder letter. Looking back on previous quarters' letters, investors can see that international subscribers are meaningfully less profitable than U.S subscribers -- specifically, they're worth worth roughly one-third as much as a U.S. subscriber.
In the past, Netflix was a rapid growth company that carried a multiple proportional to the fact that it was an innovative disruptor. However, as the graph above highlights, Netflix's 30%+ year-over-year growth rates are likely a thing of the past.
Weak Financial Position
Netflix saw its debt soar by 60% year-over-year, while at the same time its top line only increased 35% in 2018. Furthermore, its content obligations also continued to increase and now stand at over $19 billion. In other words, while Netflix shows no sign of decreasing the burden on its balance sheet, this added burden is not being effectively translated into top line growth. That brings up a further problem.
For as long as Netflix is perceived to be a high growth company, investor's sentiment will remain positive, allowing Netflix to continue to raise cheap debt from creditors. However, when equity markets start to lose confidence in Netflix as its growth rate slows, credit markets will also respond and make it expensive for Netflix to raise further debt. In fact, Netflix's interest expense in Q4 2017 stood at 2.3%, but in Q4 2018, it has already jumped to 3.1%.
Further compounding issues for Netflix is the fact that its end market is highly fragmented. Moreover, Netflix claims that it holds 10% of television screen time. Although Netflix argues this is a positive, showing it has room for improvement, another way to look at the figure is to ask whether one should pay a steep premium for a company with only a small market share and a lot of competition? I argue that investors should not.
Moving on, 2019 is expected to see heavyweights Disney (DIS - Get Report) , AT&T (T - Get Report) and Apple (AAPL - Get Report) launch their own direct-to-consumer video platforms. Consequently, not only does Netflix have to contend with slower growth and more debt and content obligations, but increased competition from companies with strong financial resources lead by highly capable management teams.
In the past, Netflix's main competitive advantage had been its ability to stream high-quality, on-demand content at an affordable price. However, its recent push to raise prices by roughly 13% to 18% is likely to eat into Netflix's own competitive advantage, further hindering its growth as the go-to, affordable streaming content provider.
This year is set to be a year where consumers will be presented with more choices than ever before in terms of what content they chose and at what price points. The competition will range from Disney to Apple to Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) Prime Video to Alphabet's (GOOGL - Get Report) YouTube and numerous other providers. Netflix has achieved a tremendous amount in a short amount of time. Now, the competition has woken up and is determined to take back market share. With only 24 hours in a day, the battle for screen time will be formidable.
Investors thirsty for Netflix (NFLX) to turn on the earnings spigot will have to wait a bit longer. The internet television network late Thursday disappointed with its profit forecast for the first quarter, sending Netflix stock lower on Friday.
Mirroring the "choose-your-adventure" theme of Netflix's recent interactive movie "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch," some investors chose to look on the bright side. Netflix attracted more new subscribers than expected last quarter and guided higher for subscriber additions in the current period. The Los Gatos, Calif.-based company also delivered better-than-forecast earnings on roughly in-line sales for the December quarter.
At least 20 Wall Street analysts raised their price targets on Netflix stock following the earnings release.
The subscription video-on-demand service added 8.8 million paying subscribers in the December quarter, bringing its worldwide total to 139.3 million. Netflix had forecast 7.6 million new paying subscribers. It earned 30 cents a share on revenue of $4.19 billion in the fourth quarter, vs. analyst estimates for 24 cents and $4.21 billion.
For the current quarter, Netflix expects to add 8.9 million paying subscribers, vs. analyst expectations for 8.4 million.
Netflix Operating Margins Improving
Several analysts cheered Netflix's improving operating profit margins.
Netflix reported an operating margin of 10% for 2018 and reiterated its guidance of 13% for 2019. Its operating margin is likely to reach 25% in 2023, RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney said.
"GAAP operating margins are scaling rapidly and materially," he said in a report Friday. Mahaney reiterated his outperform rating on Netflix stock and raised his price target to 480 from 450.
Netflix reported negative free cash flow of $3 billion in 2018 because of its heavy investment in original content. It expects 2019 free cash flow to be similar to 2018 "and then will improve each year thereafter," Netflix said in a letter to shareholders.
Facing New Rivals Later This Year
Netflix isn't taking its foot off the gas pedal when it comes to producing new content, Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger said. The streaming video leader doesn't want to declare "mission accomplished" and regret it later, he said in a report Friday. He maintained his outperform rating on Netflix stock and upped his target to 451 from 421.
"When you spend $12.1 billion on content in a year (growing to $14.7 billion in 2019, in our model), your ambition is to deliver a regular, frequent cadence of impactful shows," Juenger said. "There should always be something new and exciting for Netflix members to watch — and equally importantly, a constant anticipation about whatever is coming next."
Netflix needs to fill its library with original content to offset licensed programming that Hollywood studios are pulling to support their own competing services, Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter said. He expects "the overall quality of Netflix content to suffer mightily over the next two years" as it loses content from Walt Disney (DIS), 21st Century Fox (FOXA), AT&T's (T) WarnerMedia and Comcast's (CMCSA) NBCUniversal. He rates Netflix stock as underperform with a price target of 165.
Disney and WarnerMedia plan to launch competing subscription video-on-demand services later this year, followed by NBCUniversal next year. They will join Amazon (AMZN) Prime Video, Hulu and others in an increasingly crowded market.
Netflix Reveals Viewership Numbers For Hit Shows
In a change of pace, Netflix on Thursday revealed substantially more viewership data for select shows than it has previously.
For instance, it noted that over 80 million member households watched post-apocalyptic horror movie "Bird Box" in its first four weeks.
Spanish series "Elite" has reached more than 20 million member households worldwide in its first four weeks. Original series "Bodyguard" from Britain, "Baby" from Italy and "The Protector" from Turkey each were watched by over 10 million member households in their first month.
U.S. series "You" and U.K. series "Sex Education" are on pace to reach 40 million member households in their first four weeks of availability, Netflix said.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk dropped an email to employees last night at 1am PT, which was also released publicly and filed with the SEC, to announce important job cuts to control costs. It also served to temper profit expectations for TSLA stock holders.
[Update: TSLA stock down nearly 10% in early morning trading]
In it, he details the challenges ahead for Tesla as it tries to reduce the price of its Model 3 to the $35,000 price point and make its other products more competitive to fossil fuel equivalents. The standout TSLA statistic is that Tesla will reduce its workforce by 7% to try to make its products more cost competitive. That 7% doesn’t seem dire when shown against the 30% employee growth Tesla accumulated last year.
Tesla also again plans to retain only the “most critical temps and contractors” as well. This is after Musk ran a brutal review of contractors last year after he found that a great deal of waste in the sector at Tesla.
Musk also noted that Q4 wouldn’t be as profitable for TSLA (but it would still be in the black) as Q32018 in which Tesla reported its first significant profit of $312 million.
Tesla (TSLA) shares are down in mornings pre-trading almost 7%.
Here’s the email to employees in full:
January 18, 2019
This morning, the following email was sent to all Tesla employees:
As we all experienced first-hand, last year was the most challenging in Tesla’s history. However, thanks to your efforts, 2018 was also the most successful year in Tesla’s history: we delivered almost as many cars as we did in all of 2017 in the last quarter alone and nearly as many cars last year as we did in all the prior years of Tesla’s existence combined! Model 3 also became the best-selling premium vehicle of 2018 in the US. This is truly remarkable and something that few thought possible just a short time ago.
Looking ahead at our mission of accelerating the advent of sustainable transport and energy, which is important for all life on Earth, we face an extremely difficult challenge: making our cars, batteries and solar products cost-competitive with fossil fuels. While we have made great progress, our products are still too expensive for most people. Tesla has only been producing cars for about a decade and we’re up against massive, entrenched competitors. The net effect is that Tesla must work much harder than other manufacturers to survive while building affordable, sustainable products.
In Q3 last year, we were able to make a 4% profit. While small by most standards, I would still consider this our first meaningful profit in the 15 years since we created Tesla. However, that was in part the result of preferentially selling higher priced Model 3 variants in North America. In [TSLA] Q4, preliminary, unaudited results indicate that we again made a GAAP profit, but less than Q3. This quarter, as with Q3, shipment of higher priced Model 3 variants (this time to Europe and Asia) will hopefully allow us, with great difficulty, effort and some luck, to target a tiny profit.
However, starting around May, we will need to deliver at least the mid-range Model 3 variant in all markets, as we need to reach more customers who can afford our vehicles. Moreover, we need to continue making progress towards lower priced variants of Model 3. Right now, our most affordable offering is the mid-range (264 mile) Model 3 with premium sound and interior at $44k. The need for a lower priced variants of Model 3 becomes even greater on July 1, when the US tax credit again drops in half, making our car $1,875 more expensive, and again at the end of the year when it goes away entirely.
Sorry for all these numbers, but I want to make sure that you know all the facts and figures and understand that the road ahead is very difficult. This is not new for us – we have always faced significant challenges – but it is the reality we face. There are many companies that can offer a better work-life balance, because they are larger and more mature or in industries that are not so voraciously competitive. Attempting to build affordable clean energy products at scale necessarily requires extreme effort and relentless creativity, but succeeding in our mission is essential to ensure that the future is good, so we must do everything we can to advance the cause.
As a result of the above, we unfortunately have no choice but to reduce full-time employee headcount by approximately 7% (we grew by 30% last year, which is more than we can support) and retain only the most critical temps and contractors. Tesla will need to make these cuts while increasing the Model 3 production rate and making many manufacturing engineering improvements in the coming months. Higher volume and manufacturing design improvements are crucial for Tesla to achieve the economies of scale required to manufacture the standard range (220 mile), standard interior Model 3 at $35k and still be a viable company. There isn’t any other way.
To those departing, thank you for everything you have done to advance our mission. I am deeply grateful for your contributions to Tesla. We would not be where we are today without you.
For those remaining, although there are many challenges ahead, I believe we have the most exciting product roadmap of any consumer product company in the world. Full self-driving, Model Y, Semi, Truck and Roadster on the vehicle side and Powerwall/pack and Solar Roof on the energy side are only the start.
I am honored to work alongside you.
Thanks for everything,
This isn’t surprising and as dire as I’m seeing everyone report. Tesla introduced the lower price Model 3 Medium range at the end of the year which means its average selling price dipped. That likely ate into margins and profitability quite a bit. Tesla also spent quite a bit of money trying to get every car it could delivered before the end of the year, incurring additional one time shipping and labor premiums.
Tesla also may have been forced to take the charge on its lucrative referral program which also likely ate into its profitability and is likely the reason it ended abruptly yesterday (though it will run the next 2 weeks until the end of January).
For me this is a natural progression as the Federal Tax program is reduced. Demand likely fell off quite a bit in the US meaning few people needed in sales and delivery centers and on the lines until demand is again spiked by a lower-priced Model 3.
Again, Tesla’s workforce grew at a 30% clip last year which seems like an astronomical rate to deal with the massive growth of Model 3 sales. So scaling back here makes some sense. It is absolutely unfortunate that a chunk of Tesla’s workforce has to be let go, especially in this tumultuous labor climate, but a healthy Tesla is better for everyone.
As for TSLA profitability, I expect it to be significantly lower in Q4 2018 perhaps at $100M or less, otherwise I don’t think Tesla would have made as drastic cuts to labor and referral program as we’re seeing here.
‘General Hospital’ Spoilers: Maxie, Newest Potential Threat To Ryan? Serial Killer Gets Ready To Strike!
General Hospital’ spoilers relate that Ryan Chamberlain is soon to make his deadly attack, and he has aded the names of Carly Corinthos (Laura Wright) and Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) on his kill-list. He will make his deadly move very soon but will it succeed? Lots is happening as it’s inauguration day in Port Charles, and there’s plenty of drama to go along with it to make up for the calm election. Did you miss all the General Hospital spoilers? Well, don’t worry, because we’ve got your General Hospital recap here to catch you up.
‘General Hospital’ Spoilers: Jordan Makes Questionable Decision
Not long ago, we took the position that Jordan Ashford (Vinessa Antoine) is far superior to her NBC counterpart, but she goes and proves us wrong with a questionable decision today. She and Mac Scorpio (John J. York) visited Maxie Jones (Kristen Storms) to convince her to cancel the signing event for Lucy Coe’s (Lynn Herring) travel guide.
While they’re talking, Lulu Spencer Falconeri (Emme Rylan) comes in to borrow a dress for the inauguration since her cleaner ruined her other one. Jordan tries to send Lulu on her way until they’re done here, but Lulu goes into reporter mode and starts trying to get info on the case.
Jordan refuses comment, and gets herself in a bit of a mess with Lulu by mentioning Nathan West (Ryan Paevey) on his and Maxie’s wedding anniversary. She apologizes, but Maxie tells her that Jordan is wrong about what Nathan would want. He’d say that life has to go on, or the killer wins.
‘General Hospital’ Spoilers: Drama At the Inauguration
Meanwhile, at the site of the bigger event of the day, Laura Collins (Genie Francis) is distressed when Not-Kevin Collins (Ryan Chamberlain, Jon Lidstrom) shows up to the event looking for a finalized divorce. She thought they had a happy marriage, and that this whole situation has more to do with him wanting a chance to run off with Ava Jerome (Maura West).
He doesn’t deny that he wants to think about the future, but he also thinks it’s the best thing for all involved. She insists that her priority now is the people of Port Charles, not the divorce. It seems that some of what he said did get to her, though, because she interrupts the ceremony to state that she can’t do the oath of office as is and takes off her wedding ring first.
‘General Hospital’ Spoilers: Cameron Has Reason To Be Concerned
Meanwhile, Cameron Spencer (Willian Lipton) is concerned about Aiden Spencer (Jason David) after Aiden expressed worry about Charlotte Cassadine (Scarlett Fernandez) being at the event. He had asked Jake Spencer (Hudson West) about the situation, and Jake eventually confirms that the kids are still bothering him. Given the youngest’s newest hobby, Cameron is worried that Aiden is in for more trouble ahead.
Also going down after the event ends, Lulu is all ready to get home and start working on the story about the possible Ryan Chamberlain connection she’d discussed with Peter. What Lulu doesn’t know, is Mac had a talk with Peter August (Wes Ramsey) earlier, asking him to get Lulu to drop the story for Maxie’s sake. If the new killer is really copying Ryan, then there’s a potential threat to Maxie, as Ryan was obsessed with Felicia Jones (Kristina Wagner).
‘General Hospital’ Spoilers: Declining Situation
Finally, Sonny and Carly Corinthos (Maurice Bernard and Laura Wright) are having a lot of their plates today. Not only is Ava trying to get them to allow her to take Avery Jerome-Corinthos (Ava and Grace Scarola) out of the country for extended periods of time (which they’re both totally dead-set against), Mike Corbin (Max Gail) is not doing so well. A big crash sounds and they rush to find out what happened.
Turns out that Mike was searching for a watch he wants to show Yvonne (Janet Hubert, who he’s still spending time with now that things were worked out with Marcus, played by Real Andrews). The problem is, he can’t find it, so he’s tearing the place apart. Sonny assures him the watch is safe and pulls it out. This sends Mike into a rage.
He accuses Sonny of being a thief, and even punches Sonny, much to Carly’s surprise. Mike is completely confused, and Sonny and Carly try to calm him. Unfortunately, it takes Carly yelling at him to go to his room or he’s out to get him to go upstairs and get some peace going. Carly wants to discuss the situation, but Sonny isn’t having it and leaves.
Carly takes a call from Not-Kevin, who unknown to her wants to discuss the Ava/Avery situation. She wants to talk something over with him as well, but wants to meet with Sonny as well. We’re assuming it’s about Mike and the decline in his condition. Good luck with that, Carly. Not only are she and Sonny both on the kill list, but Not-Kevin seems even more determined to get through any remaining obstacles to getting Ava out of Port Charles.
Daily Soap Dish is a leader for ‘General Hospital’ Spoilers, News, Comings and Goings and more. Come back often on our General Hospital page as we will provide updates once we find out more GH spoilers on the Ava revenge front. Don’t forget like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter so you can get the most up to date General Hospital content on your favorite platform.