With friends like Rudy Giuliani… Newly tapped Trump legal adviser Rudy Giuliani didn't do the president any favors on Fox News yesterday. Talking about lawyer Michael Cohen's $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels—one which Cohen has said he made on his own accord and Trump has said he knows nothing about—Giuliani claimed that Trump had indeed repaid the money to Cohen after all.
"The president repaid it," Giuliani told Fox host Sean Hannity, seeming to believe that Trump paying back the money out of his own pocket made any campaign finance violation concerns moot. But this is likely wrong.
"How the payment was made doesn't affect the legality," writes Phillip Bump at The Washington Post. "There was still almost certainly a campaign finance violation."
Giuliani also didn't seem to think his statements implicate Trump in a Daniels "hush money" payoff, explaining that Trump only knew "the general arrangement, that Michael would take care of things like this." Giuliani likened the Cohen-Trump-Daniels payments to the way "I take care of things like this with my clients. I don't burden them with every single thing that comes along," he said.
"If Rudy wants the public to believe that Donald Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen $130K and didn't know what it was for… that is unworthy of belief."- Andrew Napolitano just now on @foxandfriends. Adds Trump is "a man who knows where every one of his nickels has gone."
— Sarah Boxer (@Sarah_Boxer) May 3, 2018
Lastly, the former New York City mayor told Hannity that Trump fired James Comey over the former FBI director's refusal to say the president wasn't under investigation—which runs counter to the official reason given by the Trump administration.
This bit was lost amid the Stormy payout news. Giuliani provides a very different reason for Trump firing Comey than the one in the admin firing memos… https://t.co/hIcDoeBASR
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) May 3, 2018
Giuliani on Fox says Trump "fired Comey because Comey would not—among other things—say that he wasn't a target of the investigation.
"He is entitled that. Hillary Clinton got that, and he couldn't get that.
"So he fired him, and he said I'm free of this guy." pic.twitter.com/GzClqXaIKA
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) May 3, 2018
"I am stunned and speechless," Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti said on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night. "If this is accurate, the American people have been lied to and deceived for months. And justice must be served."
"I realized I have that part of me locked up in jail." A new clinical study of U.S. military veterans and first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) found that a combination of MDMA—the active ingredient in the party drug Ecstacy—plus psychotherapy was "effective and well tolerated," especially at higher dosing levels.
"Encouraging results from previous therapeutic trials of MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) led to the new study," notes Boing Boing's Xeni Jardin. While this study was a small trial (just 26 patients), it builds on previous promising studies showing therapeutic benefits for MDMA.
Conducted by scientists with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), the research was published Tuesday in The Lancet Psychiatry and marks the end of MAPS' Phase 2 trials on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. A much larger Phase 3 trial—the final step before FDA approval—is slated to start soon.
One participant in the MAPS study "was a Marine Corps veteran who served two tours in Iraq," reports Military.com.
He received treatment for PTSD at the Department of Veterans Affairs but continued to have severe symptoms, including fits of "uncontrollable rage," during which he would yell at his wife and punch holes in the wall, according to the study.
During the psychotherapy, the veteran thought of the part of himself that's full of rage. "I realized I have that part of me locked up in jail," he is quoted as saying in the study. "I went and opened the door and hugged him, and his evil eyes faded away."
After his first session, his wife confirmed the veteran's rage attacks stopped. Other symptoms improved over the following weeks, according to the study.
These results are further evidence that MDMA, used just two times at monthly intervals, can make psychotherapy much more effective and better tolerated," [lead investigator Michael] Mithoefer said.
In 2017, the FDA designated MDMA a "breakthrough therapy" for PTSD, which could help speed up MDMA's approval as a prescription psychiatric medication.
Marijuana testing for job applicants waning. Companies across a range of sectors and job types are "quietly taking what once would have been a radical step: They're dropping marijuana from the drug tests" required by job applicants, AP reports. Testing for marijuana has been "a fixture at large American employers for at least 30 years," it notes.
While testing for marijuana has been an annoyance for a lot of job seekers and outrageous on principle to some—there's no reason why people who smoke or consume pot in their own time can't be perfectly competent employees—the practice had become so well ingrained in the status quo that it barely yielded much protest in recent decades. The loudest complaints may have come from within big companies, where managers found too many potential employees of all sorts were shying away from applying or being excluded from jobs because of marijuana tests.
There's evidence "the Trump administration also may be softening its resistance to legal marijuana," AP points out. At a congressional hearing in April, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta floated a "step back" on employer marijuana testing. With "all these Americans that are looking to work," asked Acosta, "are we aligning our … drug testing policies with what's right for the workforce?"
- The American economy added 204,000 jobs in April, according to the latest national report.
- Since sex robots are back in the news, now as a possible deterrent to mass murder (I don't know), it seems like a good time to re-up this Reason story on the social and moral implications of sexbots and social robots more generally.
- Budweiser is releasing a "Freedom Reserve Red Lager" that is supposedly "inspired by George Washington's hand-penned recipe from his personal military journal dating back to 1757."
- From "never underestimate a commie, even a baby one" to sympathy for the spies in The Americans and Homeland: the evolution of Russian villains on U.S. television sets.
- Summer Zervos, a former Apprentice contestant who has since accused Donald Trump of sexual assault, is seeking receipts. Her lawyers have subpoenaed archival footage from the show "that include any mention or discussion by Donald J. Trump of Summer Zervos" and "all video and audio recordings that include Donald J. Trump talking or commenting on female candidates or female potential candidates of any season of 'The Apprentice' in any sexual or inappropriate manner."
- A new paper finds that "although police now typically describe young sex workers not as juvenile delinquents but as victims of sex trafficking, a major tool in their work remains arrest and detention."
- Going to the sauna is good for your blood pressure.
- Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour has been convicted of incitement and supporting a terrorist organization for publishing her poetry to social media.
- Florida homeowners are fighting to keep a "Starry Night"–themed paint job on their home. The city has ordered them to repaint and is finding per day that they don't. "How would you like to pay for your First Amendment? $100 a day," said owner Ludomir Jastrzebski, who was born in Poland. "I came to this country and I appreciate the value of my constitutional rights."