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Trump attorney Michael Cohen loaned millions to Ukrainian cab mogul involved in legal pot industry

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It’s not clear whether Sthtayner used any of the loans — $6 million of which have come directly from Cohen since 2014 — to finance his grow operation.

Earlier this month, FBI agents searched Cohen’s hotel, office and home seeking banking records, as well as records related to his dealings in the taxi industry, people familiar with the probe told the AP, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation.

Public records show the Ukraine-born Shtayner, 63, his wife and companies they control have used their properties in Chicago and Sunny Isles, Florida, as collateral for the loans from Cohen and his father-in-law, Fima Shusterman.

Neither Cohen nor his attorney responded to phone messages or an email seeking comment about the loans.

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An attorney representing Shtayner in his Nevada marijuana ventures told the AP his client had no comment.

Reached on his cellphone, Shusterman declined to discuss his loans or Shtayner.

News of Shtayner’s ties to the medical marijuana industry comes as the Trump administration finds itself somewhat split on marijuana policy.

Trump recently indicated he will support a law protecting states that already have legalized the drug — a position counter to that of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who stridently opposes any such effort and in January lifted restrictions that had kept federal prosecutors from pursuing cases against those complying with state marijuana laws.

Marijuana use is fully legal in Nevada, seven other states and Washington, D.C., and 38 states allow medicinal or other limited uses.

It was not clear why Shtayner has decided to move out of taxis and into the grow business. But the rapid rise of ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft has disrupted the taxi industry, and Shtayner is among a handful of prominent taxi owners who face lawsuits from creditors who once lent liberally to medallion owners.

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The value of medallions — the physical plates affixed to cabs that owners are required to display — have dropped precipitously in recent years from highs of over $1 million apiece in New York just a few years ago to nearly half those amounts today.

The subsequent drop has left many taxi medallion owners overleveraged.

One former Cohen business partner, who managed Cohen’s taxis for years, is accused in a lawsuit by creditors of hiding his assets in financial disclosures to his bank — including a luxury apartment in a Trump skyscraper.

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Cowboys for Trump founder arrested after allegedly leading Capitol rioters in prayer

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A New Mexico county official was arrested Sunday after federal authorities said he entered a restricted section of the U.S. Capitol during the deadly pro-Trump incursion and led rioters in prayer.

Couy Griffin, an Otero County commissioner and founder of Cowboys for Trump, was arrested in Washington. D.C., and faces a single charge of knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building without lawful authority, a federal criminal complaint said.

In an affidavit, a Metropolitan Police detective said a Cowboys for Trump videographer told authorities that after he and Griffin saw the group push past security barriers, they scaled the Capitol building’s wall before making their way to an outside deck.

There, Griffin used a bullhorn to lead the group in prayer, the document states.

In a video cited by the affidavit, Griffin also told the crowd that it was a “great day for America” and that “people are showing that they’ve had enough.”

“People are ready for fair and legal elections, or this what you’re going to get,” he said, according to the affidavit.

In a Facebook post on the Cowboys for Trump page, Griffin later said he planned to return to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20 for a possible “2nd Amendment rally” that would include “blood running out of that building,” the affidavit says.

At a Jan. 14 Otero County meeting, Griffin told other officials that he planned on taking a rifle and a revolver when he returned to Washington, according to the affidavit.

Additional information about Griffin’s arrest was not detailed in the document, and it wasn’t clear whether he had retained a lawyer. A message left with Cowboys for Trump was not immediately returned Sunday.

In an interview with police, Griffin said he had gotten “caught up” with the crowd and that authorities never asked him to leave, according to the affidavit.

He told authorities he left the area peacefully and hoped there could be a change in leadership “without a single shot being fired.” He added that there’s “no option that’s off the table for the sake of freedom,” the affidavit says.

Dozens of people have been arrested and charged for allegedly participating in the Capitol takeover, including a Kentucky man who was taken into custody Sunday for appearing to use a rolled-up Trump flag to smash a window in the Speaker’s Lobby, which leads to the House chamber, according to an affidavit filed in federal district court in Washington.

Chad Barrett Jones faces charges of assault on a federal officer, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and other crimes. It was unclear Sunday if Jones had a lawyer.

Court documents said Jones was arrested when a relative contacted authorities after seeing him in news coverage.

Another person arrested Sunday, Bryan Betancur, was captured on video holding a Confederate battle flag in a restricted section on the west side of the Capitol, the FBI said in court documents.

Betancur, who was on probation for a burglary conviction, was wearing an ankle bracelet, and GPS data showed he was in the area for three hours on Jan. 6, according to the documents.

Betancur faces charges of participating in unlawful activities on restricted grounds and other crimes. It was unclear Sunday night whether he had a lawyer.

In court documents unsealed Sunday, a Colorado man described as an affiliate of the 3 Percenters, a far-right militia group, was charged with assaulting a federal officer, aiding and abetting destruction of federal property and other crimes.

In an affidavit, an FBI agent said the man, Robert Gieswein, was captured on video spraying law enforcement officers with an unknown substance before he and others knocked down a barricade and scrambled into the building.

The agent said Gieswein, who was seen wearing goggles and military-style gear, appears to run a private paramilitary training group, the Woodland Wild Dogs. Court records did not list a lawyer for him.

A University of Kentucky student, Gracyn Courtright, faces charges of theft, knowingly entering a restricted building and other crimes, according to court documents unsealed Sunday.

In Indiana,the FBI announced the arrest of Jon Schaffer, a guitarist with the metal band Iced Earth, who allegedly used pepper spray on Capitol Police. He faces six charges, including engaging in physical violence in the Capitol, the FBI said.

In a Facebook post, Iced Earth’s bassist, Luke Appleton, said other band members “DO NOT condone nor do we support riots or the acts of violence that the rioters were involved in on January 6th at the US Capitol building. We hope that all those involved that day are brought to justice to be investigated and answer for their actions.”

It was unclear Sunday night whether Schaffer had a lawyer.

Authorities still have hundreds of other open cases linked to the riot, in which five people died, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. The FBI released photos Sunday of seven men it said assaulted a Washington police officer.

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Biden picks Rohit Chopra to lead consumer protection agency

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WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Rohit Chopra to be the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, two sources told NBC News.

Chopra, a member of the Federal Trade Commission, helped launch the agency in 2011 and previously served as its assistant director.

He is an ally of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who proposed and built the consumer-focused agency. He is also backed by progressive groups. Bloomberg first reported Chopra’s selection.

Among those who applauded the move Sunday were Randi Weingarten, leader of the American Federation of Teachers, and the consumer advocacy organization Public Citizen, which called him a “fantastic pick who will return the agency to its days of actually fighting for consumers.”

At the CFPB, Chopra worked on student loan issues and helped secure funding for people unlawfully targeted by debt collectors, for-profit colleges and others, according to his agency biography.

At the FTC, he “pushed for aggressive remedies against lawbreaking companies, especially repeat offenders, and has worked to reverse the FTC’s reliance on no-money, no-fault settlements,” his biography says.

Geoff Bennett reported from Washington and Tim Stelloh from California.



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'Bring it on!' Britons back Boris to make UK the 'Singapore of Europe' with new freedom

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BORIS JOHNSON has been urged to make Britain the “Singapore of Europe” with its new-found freedom after Brexit, according to the results of an Express.co.uk poll.

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