5 things for April 17: Cohen, Syria, Canada & Cuba, Starbucks, online sales tax

1. Michael Cohen

Michael Cohen got some of what he wished for. A federal judge said Cohen, President Trump’s personal lawyer, could review items seized when the FBI raided his home, office and hotel room for material that might be covered by attorney-client privilege. But the judge is still considering letting prosecutors allow independent investigators — a so-called “taint team” — also go over the material. Cohen’s and Trump’s lawyers don’t want that.
There was the expected sideshow of Stormy Daniels sitting in the audience for all of this, but there was also the unexpected jolt of Sean Hannity into the case. The Fox News host is Cohen’s mystery third client, and there were audible gasps in the courtroom when Hannity’s name was revealed. Hannity — who went berserk over the Cohen raid last week without revealing his connection to the attorney — said Cohen never represented him and they only talked briefly about real estate. Then, off course, he blamed the media. CNN’s Brian Stelter says this is a big problem for Fox.
Chemical weapons experts still can’t enter the Syrian city of Douma, the site of the suspected chemical attack on civilians. The UK says Syria and Russia are blocking the UN-cleared investigators, and the US believes Russia has tampered with evidence at the site. A Russian military official said investigators would be allowed to enter the city tomorrow.
Meanwhile, looks like those new Russia sanctions that Nikki Haley promised won’t happen anytime soon. The UN ambassador had said over the weekend that new sanctions from the Treasury Department were coming this week, but the White House has reportedly put a hold on that plan because President Trump — upset with the sanctions rollout — hadn’t signed off on it.

3. Canada & Cuba

Families of Canadian diplomats in Cuba are being sent home because of unexplained health concerns. Some diplomats and their families last year experienced dizziness, headaches and other health woes. The symptoms are similar to what some Americans diplomats reported while working in Cuba. The State Department last year evacuated non-essential personnel and their families from Cuba, believing that a device operating outside the range of audible sound had been used in an “acoustic attack” on US embassy staff.

4. Starbucks controversy

Two black men arrested at a Starbucks in Philly will meet with the coffee chain’s CEO. Starbucks wants it to happen this week, while CEO Kevin Johnson is in Philadelphia dealing with the controversy.  A store manager called police because the two men were sitting in the store without ordering. They were arrested for trespassing. Customers said they were waiting for another man to arrive. Video of the arrest caught fire on social media over the weekend and led to accusations of racism and protests. Johnson has apologized, and the manager no longer works at that location. CNN’s W. Kamau Bell said he knows how the men feel: He was kicked out of a coffee shop, too.

5. Online sales tax

The battle over online sales tax will be fought at the Supreme Court today. The court will hear arguments in South Dakota v. Wayfair. A 1992 decision by the court requires online retailers to collect sales tax only in states where they have a physical presence. This case could reverse that, meaning all online retailers would have to collect sales tax everywhere. It’s an issue that brick-and-mortar retailers insist will provide a level playing field with online competitors and help provide state and local governments with tax revenue.


The number of court cases associated with independent counsel Ken Starr’s investigation into President Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky that will largely be made public in response to a request from CNN
125 million
The number of customers who now subscribe to Netflix, which had a blockbuster (ha!) first quarter, even after hiking prices


Good night, Your Honor
Harry Anderson was a good comedian and magician, but he’ll always be Judge Harry Stone, who presided over the wacky “Night Court.” He died at 65.
Soggy success
Congrats to Desiree Linden, who battled a cold rain to become the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in more than 30 years.
‘DAMN’ right
Kendrick Lamar’s adding the Pulitzer Prize to his jam-packed trophy case. His politically charged opus, “DAMN,” is the first rap album to win the prize.
Just what the doctor ordered
Amazon’s reportedly backing away from selling prescription drugs, and you can just hear CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens popping the champagne.
Lights out
Just how bad is the ongoing blackout in Puerto Rico? It’s now the second-largest blackout in history.
Night with the stars
Drama students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High teamed up with Broadway and TV stars last night for a benefit concert.


Watch closely
These cats watching a Japanese chef prepare sushi is pretty much all of us when we’re hungry. (Click to view.)