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Texas sues to end Obama-era DACA program

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the federal government Tuesday to force the cancellation of an Obama administration program that offers deportation protection to unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

>> Read more trending news

The federal lawsuit, filed in Brownsville, was joined by six other states and seeks to bolster President Donald Trump’s efforts to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a program that has shielded about 700,000 young adults from deportation.

To date, however, federal courts have blocked Trump’s attempts to phase out the program, prompting Paxton to try a different tactic -- a lawsuit that names administration officials as defendants but seeks to accomplish the administration’s goal of ending DACA.

President Barack Obama announced the program in 2012, saying he wanted to protect people who were “Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.”

But Paxton and other opponents insist that Obama exceeded his authority, usurping law-making power that the Constitution designated for Congress.

>> Related: Trump tweets 'No more DACA deal'

“Left intact, DACA sets a dangerous precedent by giving the executive branch sweeping authority to ignore the laws enacted by Congress and change our nation’s immigration laws to suit a president’s own policy preferences,” Paxton told reporters Tuesday.

Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, said Paxton’s “cruel anti-immigration agenda will rip over 124,000 Texans away from their families and jeopardize our economy.”

“The average age of DACA participants at the time they arrived in the U.S. is 6½ years old. They should feel safe and accepted in the only country they know to be their home,” Hinojosa said.

>> Related: Sen. Tim Kaine says Trump is either 'lying or completely delusional' about DACA

State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, called the lawsuit unnecessary and cruel. “These are young people who were brought here when they were young. They’ve done nothing wrong on their own,” said Rodriguez, policy chairman for the Mexican American Legislative Caucus.

But Paxton said the lawsuit was necessary to preserve the rule of law and the power of Congress to set immigration policies.

And while he praised Trump’s efforts to end DACA, Paxton sharply criticized “three activist judges” who, reacting to lawsuits filed by DACA recipients and their supporters, in recent months ordered federal officials to keep the program operating.

>> Related: What does the Supreme Court ruling mean for DACA recipients?

Trump’s latest setback came last week, when U.S. District Judge John Bates of the Federal Court for the District of Columbia ordered deportation protections to remain in place and told the Department of Homeland Security to resume accepting new and renewed DACA applications.

Bates said administration officials had acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner by phasing out the program without explaining why they believed it was illegal. The judge also delayed his order for 90 days to give officials time to provide that explanation.

Federal judges in New York and San Francisco have also blocked efforts to cancel the program.

>> Related: Deportations of traffic offenders skyrocketed under Trump, study says

“Our frustration is not with this administration, it’s with three federal judges in various places of the country,” Paxton said. “Unelected federal judges are forcing the Trump administration to leave an unlawful program in place indefinitely as legal challenges drag on.”

The Obama-era policy offers deportation protection and renewable, two-year work permits to about 700,000 people who were brought to the United States before their 16th birthday, have lived in the country continuously since mid-2007, are in school or graduated, or were honorably discharged from the military, and have no felonies or significant misdemeanors.

The lawsuit seeks a federal court order declaring DACA unconstitutional and stopping the federal government from issuing or renewing DACA permits. It does not seek to remove deportation protections from current DACA recipients or to rescind already issued permits, Paxton said.

>> Related: Immigrant protected under Obama program detained near Seattle, faces deportation

A Republican, Paxton has taken a national lead in efforts to upend immigration policies advanced by Obama, a Democrat.

In 2015, Paxton led a coalition of 26 states that successfully challenged an Obama order to expand DACA and add similar deportation protection for unauthorized immigrants who were parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents. Known as DAPA, or Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, the policy could have protected up to 5 million immigrants from deportation but was blocked by the courts before being formally rescinded by the Trump administration in June.

The administration, however, left DACA in place, and Paxton responded last year by threatening to sue federal officials if Trump did not cancel the program.

On Sept. 5 — Paxton’s deadline for action — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that DACA would be phased out and that no new applications would be accepted, prompting multiple lawsuits by those hoping to save the program.

Although Sessions’ action kept Texas from filing suit last year, Paxton said the administration’s inability to follow through on ending DACA prompted Tuesday’s federal court action, which was joined by Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia.

Holding your phone while driving will soon be illegal in Georgia

Georgia's governor is expected to sign a new distracted driving bill Wednesday.

>> Watch the news report here

The law will make it illegal to hold your phone while you're driving.

Gov. Nathan Deal won't be signing that bill at the Capitol. Deal will do it in Statesboro, home of Georgia Southern University. That's where five nursing students killed in a highway crash went to school.

“Don’t view this as a hostile act by the state government,” Deal said. “It is an act to protect the safety of anyone.”

WSB-TV’s Aaron Diamant spoke exclusively with the parents of one of those women. They fought for the law they say will save lives.

Craig and Kathy Clark of Cobb County will be in Statesboro to mark the milestone.

“This is something that's coming out of a horrific situation,” Craig Clark said.


>> Georgia governor says he plans to sign hands-free bill

>> Georgia lawmakers pushing new ‘hands-free driving' bill

>> Put your phone down: Georgia could soon be a hands-free state

>> Another Cobb County city looks to ban hand-held cellphone use while driving

>> City votes to ban cellphones while driving

>> Lawmaker pre-files bill banning drivers from talking on cell phones without hands-free device

Emily Clark was one of the nursing students who died in the 2015 wreck after a tractor-trailer hit the girl’s SUV while it was stopped in traffic on I-16 eastbound. 

“To take a life, I don’t know how someone could live with themselves just because they were looking at a text message or talking on the phone and was distracted,” Kathy Clark said.

The new law will make it illegal for drivers to hold a phone while driving.

“Taking your eyes off the roads for those few seconds mean the difference between life and death,” Craig Clark said.

>> Read more trending news 

Truck driver John Wayne Johnson is serving a five-year prison sentence for vehicular homicide, and the trucking company paid out tens of millions of dollars in settlements to the families of those who died. The two survivors, including Megan Richards of Loganville, were awarded $15 million after a 2017 trial. 

“If you can say that that this saves one life, then everything that we went through and hoped for could be well worth it,” Kathy Clark said.

The law will go into effect July 1, 2018, and will impose stiff fines for offenders.

Reviews mixed after Michelle Wolf's roast at White House correspondents dinner

Was she funny, or did she cross the line? Opinions vary in the wake of comedian Michelle Wolf’s monologue at Saturday night’s White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner.

>> Read more trending news

Margaret Talev, who is the White House Correspondents Association president, told CNN that her only regret “is that, to some extent, those 15 minutes are now defining four hours of what was a really wonderful, unifying night."

"Comedy is meant to be provocative," she told CNN. “But my interest overwhelmingly was in unifying the country, and I understand that we may have fallen a little bit short on that goal."

>> 9 shocking jokes from Michelle Wolf’s speech

President Donald Trump, who skipped the dinner for the second consecutive year, tweeted that Wolf “bombed.” Former press secretary Sean Spicer tweeted that the dinner “was a disgrace.”

The biggest flash point came when Wolf made uncomplimentary comments about White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, particularly about her physical appearance. She also made profane references to counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, and others in attendance.

Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci called Wolf's performance an "atrocity."

"I think the hostilities need to be de-escalated on both sides. It's not just the White House," Scaramucci told CNN. "It doesn't help what you're trying to achieve and what, I think, all of us are trying to achieve."

“Congratulations, Michelle Wolf. You’re now more unpopular than Hillary Clinton (and that’s pretty hard to do),” Scott Presler tweeted

Wolf wrote on Twitter that “All these jokes were about (Sanders’) despicable behavior," and not her looks.

Still, several journalists were uncomfortable with Wolf’s off-color jokes.

Ed Henry of Fox News, a past president of the association, called for the association to apologize to Sanders.

Peter Baker of The New York Times tweeted,. “Unfortunately, I don't think we advanced the cause of journalism tonight."

Others defended Wolf for lambasting the administration and the press.

"Good lord people, it was a stand-up act. Get over yourselves. Or stop inviting comics and then acting shocked that they said something edgy," MSNBC analyst Matthew Miller tweeted.

White House Correspondents' Dinner: 9 shocking jokes from Michelle Wolf's speech

Comedian Michelle Wolf sparked controversy with her brutal speech at Saturday's White House Correspondents' Dinner, blasting President Donald Trump – who skipped the event to hold a rally in Michigan – and administration officials in the racy half-hour roast.

>> PHOTOS: 2018 White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Here are nine of Wolf's shocking jokes, many of which drew criticism – and praise – on social media:

>> Watch the full speech here (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised.)

1. Referencing Trump's embattled personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and the Stormy Daniels scandal: “And I know as much as some of you might want me to, it’s 2018 and I am a woman, so you cannot shut me up ... unless you have Michael Cohen wire me $130,000.”

2. On White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: "We are graced with Sarah's presence tonight. I have to say, I'm a little starstruck. I love you as Aunt Lydia in 'The Handmaid's Tale.' Mike Pence, if you haven't seen it, you would love it."

3. Another jab at Sanders: "I actually really like Sarah. I think she's very resourceful, but she burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Maybe she's born with it; maybe it's lies. It's probably lies."

4. On Trump's suggestion to arm some teachers in wake of the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida: "He wants to give teachers guns, and I support that because then they can sell them for things they need like supplies."

5. On Vice President Mike Pence: "Mike Pence is what happens when Anderson Cooper isn't gay. Mike Pence is the kind of guy who brushes his teeth and then drinks orange juice and thinks, 'Mmmm.'"

6. On Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway: "Kellyanne Conway has the perfect last name for what she does – Con-way. You guys have to stop putting Kellyanne on your shows. If you don't give her a platform, she has nowhere to lie. If a tree falls in the woods, how do we get Kellyanne under that tree? I'm not suggesting she gets hurt, just stuck – stuck under a tree."

>> Read more trending news 

7. On Trump's net worth: "Mr. President, I don't think you're very rich. Like, you might be rich in Idaho, but in New York, you're doing fine."

8. On Democrats: "Democrats are harder to make fun of because you guys don't do anything. People think you might flip the House and Senate this November, but you guys always find a way to mess it up. You're somehow going to lose by 12 points to a guy named Jeff Pedophile, Nazi doctor."

9. On Trump's cabinet: "I did have a lot of jokes about cabinet members, but I had to scrap all of those because everyone has been fired. You guys have gone through cabinet members quicker than Starbucks throws out black people."

‘You may shut the — up!’: Port Authority commissioner resigns after tirade caught on dash cam

A Port Authority of New York and New Jersey commissioner resigned last week following a profane tirade against two police officers who had stopped her daughter and some friends and impounded the car they were traveling in. 

Caren Z. Turner’s rant, during which she cursed at the officers and flashed her Port Authority badge, was all caught on dashboard camera. Officials with the Tenafly Police Department released the footage Tuesday, along with a police report on the traffic stop, upon request by NJ Advance Media and other news organizations, reported.  

Turner, 60, appeared to try to curry favor in the video, shot over Easter weekend when two Tenafly officers pulled over Turner’s daughter and three friends on a rural Bergen County road, the news site reported. The video, which prompted Turner’s resignation after Tenafly Police Chief Robert Chamberlain sent it to the Port Authority, shows her spending nearly 10 minutes demanding information on the traffic stop, despite the driver being over 18 years old.  

When the officer who handled the stop tries to end the confrontation, Turner turns vulgar. 

“You may not tell me when to take my child. You may shut the (expletive) up, and not tell me when I may take my kid!” she says. “And her friends, who are Ph.D. students from MIT and Yale. You may tell me nothing.” reported that though Chamberlain said he felt Turner’s behavior warranted turning the video and police report over to the Port Authority, she was not charged with any crime. An investigation by the state Ethics Commission could result in up to $10,000 in fines or prosecution for disorderly conduct or criminal official misconduct, the news site reported

Watch the entire video of Turner’s run-in with police officers below. 

The Port Authority announced Turner’s resignation Monday. In a statement obtained by, agency officials called described her conduct as “profoundly disturbing.”

The Port Authority has zero tolerance for ethics violations,” the statement said. “This is the basis of the tough, systematic integrity reforms the Port Authority has implemented over the past year. Immediately upon learning of allegations that Commissioner Turner violated the Board's newly-enacted Code of Ethics, an Inspector General investigation was begun.”

Turner resigned upon learning of the investigation, the statement said. 

Turner, who was appointed to her position last year by then-Gov. Chris Christie, chaired the Port Authority’s ethics committee. She is chief executive of Washington, D.C.-based Turner Government and Public Affairs, according to The Washington Post

The lobbying firm’s website had been taken down as of Friday. She had also removed her social media profiles. 

In a statement issued through her lawyer, Turner denied wrongdoing.

“At no point did I violate the Port Authority’s Code of Ethics or ask for special treatment for anyone involved, nor did I suggest, in any way, that I would use my position at the Port Authority to affect the outcome of the violations issued to the driver,” Turner said in the statement. 

She said she regretted her “tone toward the police officers.” She also encouraged the Tenafly Police Department to re-evaluate its de-escalation policies so “incidents like this do not recur,” the Post reported

The patrol officers appear to remain calm throughout the hourlong video that depicts the events of March 31 from the start of the traffic stop through Turner’s angry reaction to it. The officers, who have been identified as Officer Matthew Savitsky and Officer Tom Casper, initially pulled the male driver over that afternoon for two minor reasons, one of which was because the front side windows of the vehicle were tinted, which is against the law in New Jersey.

Savitsky is heard in the video telling the front-seat passenger, who is the usual driver of the car, that the other second reason they were pulled over was because the car’s Nevada license plate was partially obscured by the silver bracket holding the tag in place. 

“I actually could barely tell what state the license plate is from,” Savitsky says. 

When the officer asks the front seat passenger, who let her boyfriend drive the car, for her license and registration, she is unable to show proof of registration or an insurance card for the car, which she says belongs to her parents. 

A computer check finds that the registration for the car had long since expired.

“So this is the situation,” Savitsky tells the male driver, who he asks to step out of the car. “This car’s been unregistered for two years. And you’re driving it.”

“Are you kidding me?” the young man says. 

Savitsky and Casper write the driver tickets for an unclear plate, a failure to produce proof of insurance and driving an unregistered motor vehicle. The officers also order the car impounded. 

That is when Turner’s daughter, who was riding in the back seat when the car was stopped, calls her mother to the scene to pick them up. 

The video shows Turner walk up to the officers and introduce herself. She tells them she is there not only as a ride for the stranded driver and passengers, but as a “concerned citizen and friend of the (Tenafly) mayor.”

She tells the officers that she takes full responsibility for the people who were in the car and asks the officer in charge why they were pulled over. 

“The driver has all of the information,” Savitsky says. 

“No, no, no, no, no, I need to know,” Turner says.

“No, you don’t need to know. You were not involved here. You are picking them up,” Savitsky responds. 

Turner says that she is “very involved” and asks her daughter and the others to give her some space to talk to the officers. She hands them her identification and business card.

She also flashes her Port Authority badge.  

“That is my ID and that is my business card. I am the commissioner of the Port Authority, and I’m heading up over 4,000 police officers, OK? So, if there’s a problem, I think I have --,” she says. 

“There’s no problem,” Savitsky says.  

“Well, I think there is a problem,” Turner says. 

The officer, whose partner remains quiet through most of the confrontation, attempts to explain to her that it was an unregistered vehicle, and Turner demands to know all the reasons why her daughter and her friends were pulled over. 

“Miss,” Savitsky begins.

“No, don’t call me ‘Miss,’” Turner says angrily. “I’m ‘Commissioner.’ Thank you.”

“Commissioner, all due respect, the driver will tell you,” Savitsky says. 

Turner continues to demand that the officer tell her why the car was being impounded. 

“Miss, this does not involve you 1 percent,” he says. 

“Yes, it does,” she responds. “It does. It does. Because I am picking them up and I am offering to take responsibility for them, and you can’t even tell me the charges? I am also an attorney.”

Turner continues to demand that the officers, who are beginning to sound frustrated, tell her what the charges are. She claims that she is impacted by the charges because she is taking the driver, her daughter and the other two passengers home with her. 

Savitsky tells Turner that he does not appreciate her approach to the situation, or her demeanor. He tells her if she wants to know what the traffic stop was about, she can go to the police department on Monday and get a copy of his report. 

“You have no right to know what’s going on,” Savitsky tells her. 

“No, I do,” Turner says. 

Turner continues to demand information, telling Savitsky she will go to the Tenafly police chief, who she claims as a personal acquaintance. 

The officer tells her repeatedly to step back because he is backed up against the patrol car and she keeps edging closer to him. 

“I can’t move back any farther and you keep moving closer to me,” Savitsky says. “Can you take a step back?”

>> Read more trending news

The officer again tells Turner he is under no legal obligation to tell her why the driver was pulled over. She then appears to threaten the officer. 

“And I’m under no legal obligations to tell you what I will be doing, but I will,” Turner says. 

Turner then tells the officers she was there for their graduation from the police academy, which she says was “not that long ago.”

“What graduation? What are you talking about?” Savitsky asks, sounding perplexed. 

Turner then sarcastically thanks Savitsky for his help and tells him she hopes he has a nice holiday weekend.

“Because you’ve just ruined it for a lot of people,” she says. “Without even the decency --.” 

“I didn’t ruin anything. I’m just doing my job,” the officer says. “I would just hope, with you being a commissioner, that you would understand the job police officers have to do.”

The situation continues to escalate, with Turner telling the officers she is “very disappointed in the way the two of (them) are acting.” Ultimately, Savitsky tells her that he thinks they should all get off the side of the road. 

“For safety reasons -- this is a high-speed road -- I think we should all get off of the road,” he says. “It’s a little dangerous with us being out here as long as we were anyway.”

Turner thanks Savitsky for his concern for her safety. She then accuses him of being unable to put a sentence together. 

“That’s pathetic, and you are a disappointment,” she says, before turning to Casper and accusing him of following his partner’s lead. 

“So you are also a disappointment,” she says. 

A few moments later, she curses at the officers and walks off, but before leaving, she again threatens that she is “not so nice” and, after repeating the officers’ last names back to them to show she will remember them, she reiterates that she will talk to the mayor and police chief about them. 

Savitsky makes it easier for her. 

“Badge No. 540,” he says. “Just to make sure there are no discrepancies. Matt is the first name.”

“I’ve got all your information, sweetheart,” she says as the video ends. 

Residents and public officials in New Jersey and beyond have praised Savitsky’s and Casper’s handling of the situation. New Jersey state Sen. Vin Gopal called Turner’s behavior toward the officers “inexcusable and appalling” and said the only thing more disturbing was her lack of remorse. 

“Ms. Turner has issued excuses in the place of the sincere and humble apology these fine officers more than deserve,” Gopal wrote on Facebook. “No one is above the law and no one deserves special favors or treatment. I thank officers Matthew Savitsky and Tom Casper for remaining calm and professional throughout this incident.”

Chamberlain wrote on the department’s Facebook page that he is “extremely proud” of his officers, about whom he said he has received hundreds of phone calls and emails in which people commented on their professionalism, patience and restraint. 

“Your kind words of encouragement and praise are truly appreciated,” the chief wrote. “We promise that as we move forward, we will continue to incorporate technology, progressive training methods, sound policies & procedures, and individual accountability in an attempt to maintain the highest standards of professionalism while serving the residents of Tenafly.”

North Korea: What you should know about the country and its people

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has made abrupt overtures toward peace this year, offering to meet with President Donald Trump and pledging to end nuclear weapons testing in a bid to reduce military tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Here is a primer on North Korea, its leader and its people.

The name: North Korea -- or formally, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea -- borders China, Russia and South Korea.

Population: 25,115,311 (estimated as of July 2016)

Area: North Korea is a little bigger than Virginia, with 46,000 square miles.

Capital: The capital city is Pyongyang. An interesting fact: Pyongyang runs on its own time zone. It’s about 30 minutes behind Japan and South Korea.

No ties: North Korea does not have diplomatic representation in the United States, nor does the U.S. have diplomatic representation in North Korea.

Median age: North Korea’s median age is estimated to be 33.8 years.

GNP: The gross domestic product, per capita, is $1,800. In the U.S., it’s $51,638.10

Leaders: North Korea is led by Kim Jong-un. Since 1945, the country has been led by three generations of the same family: Kim Il-Sung, in 1945; then his son, Kim Jong-Il, upon his father’s death in 1994; then the current leader, Kim Jong-un, upon his father’s death in 2011.

Why are there two Koreas?From 1910 until the end of World War II, Japan controlled the Korean Peninsula. After the Japanese lost the war, the U.S. occupied the southern half of the peninsula and the Russians occupied the north half. 

In 1945, Kim Il-Sung became the country’s first leader. In 1948, separate governments -- one in the north and one in the south -- formed after regional differences went unresolved.

On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea. The United Nations intervened with troops, and the “police action” (another name for a war), continued until 1953. 

After a peace treaty was brokered, the country broke into two countries. South Korea becomes a prosperous capitalist nation, while North Korea remains a poor country.

Why are tensions high now?

North Korea’s leader is considered unstable and his regime is a brutal one. It is believed that North Korea spends between one-quarter and one-third of its GDP on the military and weapons development in a country where nearly 2 million people starved to death in the 1990s. 

A series of nuclear weapons tests by North Korea has world leaders on edge. 

Can North Korea attack nearby countries with nuclear weapons?They can now if they have indeed created a warhead small enough to be delivered on a missile that is fired at an enemy. North Korea says it has done that, but there has been no verification of that by the U.N. or other countries.

Interesting facts about the country

  • USA Today reports that North Koreans born after the Korean War tend to be shorter than South Koreans of the same age. About 2 inches shorter, in fact. 
  • According to The Chosun Ilbo, men are encouraged to copy the hairstyle of the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un. No long hair. Women should copy the style of his wife, he reportedly said.
  • North Korea claims it has a 100 percent literacy rate for both men and women, according to the CIA World Factbook.
  • Only 3 percent of the roads in North Korea are paved. (CIA World Factbook.)
  • You cannot become a citizen of North Korea unless one of your parents is a citizen. (CIA World Factbook.)
  • The last election was held in the country on March 9, 2014. Kim Jong-un won 100 percent of the vote. The next one is scheduled for March 2019.

Congressmen want answers after Ryan asks House chaplain to resign

Democratic congressmen are seeking answers after House Speaker Paul Ryan asked the House chaplain to resign earlier this month, CNN reported.

>> Read more trending news

Father Pat Conroy resigned April 15, ending nearly seven years of praying to kick off House of Representatives sessions.

Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly said he wasn't sure why Ryan asked for the Jesuit priest’s resignation, and wants the Wisconsin Republican to answer questions over "this breach that he created." 

Both Ryan and Connolly are Catholic, CNN reported.

"For a lot of members, the outrage is personal, and it's not about Catholicism," Connolly told CNN. "It's about this relationship with this personal counselor. It's very offensive personally to a lot of members.”

Ryan's spokeswoman AshLee Strong denied that Conroy was pushed out of the position for anything he said or did, but did not elaborate on what prompted Ryan to ask for Conroy’s resignation.

"The speaker consulted with the minority leader, but the decision was his," Strong told CNN in a statement. "He remains grateful for Father Conroy's service."

An aide for Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi told CNN that the House minority disagreed with the decision and told Ryan that she had only received positive comments about Conroy's service.

Trump confirms Cohen represented him in 'crazy Stormy Daniels deal'

President Donald Trump on Thursday said attorney Michael Cohen represented him “with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal” weeks after he told reporters that he had no knowledge of a $130,000 payment paid to the adult film star by Cohen.

>> Read more trending news

During a phone interview on “Fox & Friends,” Trump said Cohen did “a percentage of my overall legal work -- a tiny, tiny fraction.”

“Michael would represent me … on some things,” Trump said. “He represents me — like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me.”

Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, called the admission “another gift from the heavens in this case” in an interview on MSNBC.

“It’s a hugely damaging admission by the president because according to what he said on Air Force One a few weeks ago, he didn’t know anything about the agreement, he didn’t know anything about the payment, Michael Cohen went off and did this on a lark and Mr. Trump knew nothing about it,” Avenatti said. “He tripped himself up.”

Cohen negotiated a $130,000 payment to Daniels in October 2016 in exchange for her signing a nondisclosure agreement barring her from talking about an alleged sexual encounter she had with Trump in 2006, The Wall Street Journal reported in January.

Trump told reporters on Air Force One earlier this month that he was unaware of the payment or where the money had come from.

Avenatti told CNN Thursday that Trump’s most recent comments would only bolster his efforts to force Trump and Cohen to testify under oath about their knowledge of the payment to Daniels.

>> Related: Trump says he didn't know about Stormy Daniels payment

“It’s going to add considerable momentum to our efforts to depose the president and put him under oath, because now we have two contrary statements in less than a month,” Avenatti said.

Daniels, who was born Stephanie Clifford, is suing to break the nondisclosure agreement, claiming the document is invalid because it was never signed by Trump.

Cohen filed notice Wednesday that he would not answer questions in the Daniels case, exercising his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Trump VA nominee Ronny Jackson withdraws name from consideration

Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, has withdrawn his name from consideration, multiple news outlets are now reporting.

>> MORE COVERAGE: Embattled VA nominee Ronny Jackson accused of drunken driving, drug use | Jamie Dupree: Trump pick to head VA in trouble as Senators postpone hearingSenate postpones hearing for Trump VA pick Ronny Jackson amid 'serious allegations'More trending news 

Photos: President Trump, Melania host 1st White House state dinner

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania hosted their first White House state dinner, welcoming French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte.

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