Ex-Trump law firm ordered to release records in New York probe
A law firm that recently cut ties with Donald Trump’s real estate company was ordered to hand over communications to New York investigators looking into whether the former president’s business manipulated the value of assets for loans and tax breaks.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP wrongly asserted attorney-client privilege over some documents subpoenaed by New York Attorney General Letitia James and must hand them over by Feb. 4, state Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron ruled Friday after privately reviewing the disputed documents.
“The court finds that many of the communications Morgan Lewis marked as privileged were communications addressing business tasks and decisions, not exchanges soliciting or rendering legal advice,” Engoron said in the ruling. “Similarly, any communications within Morgan Lewis speaking to public relations are of a business, not legal, nature.”
The lawyer representing Morgan Lewis in New York’s legal action, Timothy Stephens, and spokeswoman Emily Carhart didn’t immediately respond to emails and voice mails seeking comment on the ruling.
The ruling is the latest setback for the Trump Organization since James took legal action in August to enforce about half a dozen subpoenas, including one issued to former Trump tax attorney Sheri Dillon of Morgan Lewis. The investigation has emerged as one of the biggest potential threats to Trump after he left office following a failed bid for a second term. - Bloomberg News
Cuomo to allow NYC indoor dining to return Feb. 14
ALBANY, N.Y. - Restaurants in New York City can welcome back diners beginning on Valentine’s Day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday.
Amid a post-holiday decline in COVID cases and hospitalizations, the governor said Friday during a briefing in Albany that Big Apple eateries can once again serve food and drink indoors at 25% capacity beginning Feb. 14.
Cuomo barred indoor dining in the five boroughs in December as COVID-19 cases spiked. Struggling eateries were forced to offer takeout or outdoor seating during the holiday season.
The announcement comes days after Cuomo said he was “not contemplating” reversing the current ban on serving customers inside.
While restaurants upstate remain capped at 50% capacity, Cuomo said earlier in the week he’s not ready to lift a 10 p.m. curfew that applies statewide to establishments that serve alcohol, arguing that late-night revelry could become a problem. - New York Daily News
‘Prank call’ leads to lockdown at school next to Stoneman Douglas High
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A suspicious 911 call, thought to have been a prank, led authorities Friday to lock down students at Westglades Middle, the Parkland school that’s right next to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. But the all-clear was given about 10:30 a.m. local time.
“We’re taking all precautionary measures to make sure the school is safe and secure,” said Broward Sheriff’s Sgt. Donald Prichard. “It appears to be a prank call at this time. However, out of an abundance of caution, we’re handling it like a real threat.”
The 911 call came at about 9 a.m., and the all-clear was given about 10:30 a.m. Details about what was said in the suspicious call were not immediately available.
Feb. 14 marks three years since the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High, which left 17 dead and another 17 injured. - South Florida Sun Sentinel
Coachella and Stagecoach festivals canceled, again
LOS ANGELES - To the surprise of absolutely no one who’s been paying attention to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival and Stagecoach festival, scheduled for three consecutive weekends in April at Indio’s Empire Polo Club, have been canceled.
According to an announcement by the Riverside County Public Health Officer posted Friday afternoon, the events were shuttered “based on concerns of a fall resurgence” of COVID-19.
Coachella and its country music cousin Stagecoach were both originally scheduled for April 2020, and were among the first festivals canceled during the initial throes of the coronavirus pandemic. They were then rescheduled for October, and then rescheduled again for April 2021.
Travis Scott, Frank Ocean and Rage Against the Machine were the scheduled Coachella headliners.
AEG, which owns festival promoter Goldenvoice, had no further comment on the cancellation, or on when potential new dates would be announced. - Los Angeles Times
Russia sentences Navalny's brother to 2 months of house arrest
MOSCOW - The brother of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny was sentenced to two months of house arrest on Friday, two days before opponents of President Vladimir Putin stage fresh mass protests.
Oleg Navalny is not allowed to move freely or use the telephone or internet until March 23, a Moscow court ruled.
The punishment was imposed in connection with violations of coronavirus hygiene rules during last weekend's unsanctioned mass protests, which Oleg Navalny is said to have helped organize.
The previous day, another court had upheld Alexei Navalny's 30-day prison sentence.
The opposition leader was arrested at the airport just two weeks ago, immediately after his return to Russia, for allegedly violating probation reporting requirements in an earlier criminal case while recovering in Germany from a poison attack that almost killed him.
Next Tuesday, a court is expected decide whether an old suspended sentence should be changed to actual imprisonment. He faces many years in prison.
Since the huge nationwide protests last weekend, authorities have massively stepped up pressure against Navalny's team. On Wednesday, security forces searched their offices and private residences. Several people have been detained.
Protests are again planned for this Sunday in some 80 Russian cities.
Authorities warned against participating in the unsanctioned actions. - dpa, Berlin