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February 13, 2018

President Trump's longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, told The New York Times on Tuesday he paid $130,000 out of his own pocket to Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who told multiple media outlets ahead of the 2016 presidential election that she had an extramarital affair with Trump a decade earlier.

In a statement, Cohen told the Times that "neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction" with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. He also said neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign reimbursed him for the payment "either directly or indirectly," calling the $130,000 disbursement a "lawful" and "private transaction." The payment, first reported in January by The Wall Street Journal, was made shortly before the presidential election; after that, Daniels stopped cooperating with the media outlets. Trump has denied the affair.

Cohen said he had given a similar statement to the Federal Election Commission, which was investigating a complaint from the watchdog group Common Cause alleging that Cohen's payment violated campaign finance laws. The Times says Cohen would not answer questions about whether Trump knew he made the payment, what Cohen's motivation was to make the payment, and if he's paid any other women with similar stories. Catherine Garcia

Update 2:30 a.m. Wednesday: BuzzFeed News has obtained Cohen's full statement, which you can read below.

11:03p.m.

President Trump better hope the man he once dubbed Lyin' Ted was telling the truth on Monday night, when he declared that "in 2020, Donald Trump will be overwhelmingly re-elected."

Trump was in Houston for a campaign rally in support of Sen. Ted Cruz (R), up for re-election and facing Democrat Beto O'Rourke. Cruz touted his record and accused his opponent of being soft on immigration, The Associated Press reports, but his line about Trump gave him his biggest cheers of the night.

As for Trump, he said Cruz supported him in his quest to cut taxes and regulations, and shared that Cruz has "become a really good friend of mine." Onstage, they patted each other on the back, and it was almost as if 2016 — when Trump ridiculed Cruz's wife's appearance, accused his father of being involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, said he was "choking like a dog" in the Republican presidential primary, and anointed him "Lyin' Ted," while Cruz called Trump "utterly amoral," "a pathological liar," a "sniveling coward," and "narcissist at a level I don't think the country's ever seen" — never happened. Catherine Garcia

10:13p.m.

Despite a judge ordering in July that the U.S. government stop giving undocumented children in migrant shelters psychotropic medications, the practice is continuing, civil rights attorneys said in a court filing on Friday.

Attorneys from the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law said that children at the Shiloh Residential Treatment Center in Texas and other migrant shelters run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement say they are still being administered "psychotropic drugs without informed parental consent or court order." The government is "almost certainly not complying" with a California judge's July 30 order, the lawyers said, offering written statements from four children and one child's aunt about the medication they are being given inside Shiloh.

A 17-year-old whose name was redacted said they are given three medications in the morning, including Zoloft, and four at night. They see a doctor every two weeks, and "he tells me the drugs I need to take, but doesn't explain why," the teenager wrote on Oct. 18. "The drugs make me feel really tired and sluggish. I have trouble concentrating in class. Sometimes I have stomach pain and a lot of headaches. Sometimes I feel numb on one side of my body. I tell the doctor about these problems, and he says it is all normal." The Department of Health and Human Services oversees the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and told CBS News the agency will submit a reply to the court filing on Friday. Catherine Garcia

8:59p.m.

Monday was the first day of early voting in Texas, and lines were already forming well before dawn.

At one Houston polling place, thousands of people waited hours for doors to open, including Cody Pogue, who arrived at 8:30 p.m. Sunday night. Pogue wanted to be one of the first people in the state to vote for Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Beto O'Rourke, telling the Houston Chronicle this is "one of the most important elections of our lifetime."

Voter registration is at a record high of more than 15.7 million voters, with about 400,000 people added to the rolls between the March primary and the last day of voter registration this month, the Chronicle reports. Much of the excitement is due to the Senate race between O'Rourke and Sen. Ted Cruz (R). On Tuesday afternoon, the Texas Secretary of State's office will release Monday's early voting numbers. Catherine Garcia

8:12p.m.

In either late 2017 or early 2018, murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi met with Prince Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the United States and younger brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, while at Saudi Arabia's embassy in Washington, several people with knowledge of the meeting told NBC News on Monday.

Khashoggi was at the embassy to take care of a routine matter, and after he was recognized by officials, they called the ambassador's office, and he was invited up to meet with him, two friends of Khashoggi's said. It was a friendly meeting, he told them, which lasted about 30 minutes. The embassy confirmed the meeting happened, but it's not clear what they discussed.

Saudi Arabia had been pushing for Khashoggi to return; the journalist was critical of some of the government's decisions, and had left to live in the United States. Khashoggi's friends said he had not only been contacted by Prince Khalid but also one of the crown prince's top aides, Saud al-Qahtani, about a high-ranking job in the royal court, but Khashoggi was wary of the overtures, afraid he was being tricked and would be punished upon his return to Saudi Arabia. Four people with knowledge of how Saudi intelligence operates told NBC News that for years, the plan has been to negotiate with dissidents in an attempt to get them back to the kingdom.

Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, with Saudi Arabia only admitting he was dead on Friday, after Turkish officials said for weeks he had been murdered within hours of his arrival at the consulate. Saudi Arabia claims he was killed in a fight, and Qahtani has been fired for his role in the "rogue operation." After Khashoggi was reported missing, Prince Khalid went back to Saudi Arabia, and has yet to return to the U.S. Catherine Garcia

7:30p.m.

After journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, he was seized by 15 Saudi agents, and endured verbal abuse by Saud al-Qahtani via Skype, people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday.

Qahtani was one of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's top aides, running his social media, and after insulting Khashoggi, he ordered the Saudi agents "bring me the head of the dog," a Turkish intelligence source told Reuters. It is unclear if he watched as Khashoggi was murdered. Qahtani was adamant about who he worked for, tweeting last summer, "Do you think I make decisions without guidance? I am an employee and a faithful executor of the orders of my lord the king and my lord the faithful crown prince."

On Friday, weeks after Khashoggi was first reported missing and after Turkey declared he had been murdered, Saudi Arabia said Khashoggi was killed in a "rogue operation," which the crown prince knew nothing about, and his death was an accident. People with knowledge of the matter said Qahtani has been chosen as one of the fall guys to protect the crown prince, and on Saturday, Saudi state media reported King Salman had fired Qahtani and four others involved in the operation. Catherine Garcia

5:59p.m.

Former President Barack Obama is sticking to one message this midterm season: Just vote.

Speaking at a Las Vegas rally for Democrats on the Nevada ballot on Monday, Obama was particularly focused on Nevada's tight Senate race between incumbent Sen. Dean Heller (R) and Rep. Jacky Rosen (D). The latest polls show Heller an average of just 1.7 points over Rosen, per RealClearPolitics, and the race is vital for Democrats' hope of flipping the Senate this fall.

But Obama also emphasized the importance of down-ballot races. "If all it took was being president, shoot, I would've solved everything," he said, reports Bloomberg's Jennifer Epstein. Democrats "overcomplicate stuff" instead of just telling people to vote across the board, Obama insisted. But "staying home would be profoundly dangerous for our country" in an election year that's "more important than any in my lifetime," he continued.

Obama's rally came just two days after President Trump campaigned for Heller in Nevada, and on the same night that Trump is stumping for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in Houston. When Obama mentioned Republican leaders in Congress, it elicited boos from the audience. That prompted what has become Obama's signature rallying cry: "Don't boo, vote." Obama repeatedly chanted the mantra with the audience. Watch the moment below. Kathryn Krawczyk

Kathryn Krawczyk

5:18p.m.

Consider your holiday shopping done.

Texas resident Trisha Hope has published a book that's literally a compilation of President Trump's many tweets, spanning the entire first year of his presidency. It's fittingly called Just the Tweets, and it seems both of its authors are planning to attend a Texas rally on Monday night.

Hope got the idea to bind Trump's tweets in a book because her relatives weren't on Twitter, she tells KPRC, Houston's NBC affiliate. But "after publishing the tweets on a website, she realized she could just make a book," Galveston County's The Daily News writes. The first of four — or, as the Trump-supporting Hope wishes, maybe eight — expected volumes was published earlier this year.

While selling the book online, Hope quickly ran out of the book's first 500 copies. She has since sold thousands more copies while touring Trump rallies around the country, she told the Daily News. And now, it appears Hope is back in her hometown, selling the $35 books ahead of Trump's Houston rally for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Monday night.

Hope wasn't the first or the last person to publish Trump's tweets in a book, the Daily News points out. But at this rally, at least, Hope seems to have the hometown advantage — and what she describes as some "ornate gold foil lettering" on the cover to help it stand out. Kathryn Krawczyk

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