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NEWS     THURSDAY,  DECEMBER   13, 2018    NEWS

Shapiro on Ocasio-Cortez's Claim of Jewish Heritage
Conservative commentator and editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire Ben Shapiro called out Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for claiming Jewish heritage. At a Hanukkah event at a Queens synagogue on Sunday, the incoming congresswoman said that “a very, very long time ago, generations and generations ago, my family consisted of Sephardic Jews.” The New York Times reported: She dated her ancestry to those who had to flee Europe during the Spanish Inquisition more than 500 years ago, and sought refuge in the New World. “Some of those people landed in Puerto Rico,” she explained. "As is the story of Puerto Rico, we are a people that are an amalgamation,” she said. “We are no one thing. We are black; we are indigenous; we are Spanish; we are European.” On "Fox News @ Night" Tuesday, Shapiro said he's sick of politicians claiming a certain heritage and trying to "get off the hook" for their current political positions. Fox
VOA VIEW: Cortez is in fact an idiot.

Pompeo calls for international coalition against Iran
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday he wants to build a “coalition of responsible nations” to push back against malign Iranian actions -- as European countries took to the U.N. Security Council to ramp up pressure on the regime. “The United States will continue to unite sovereign nations in their responsibility to work for the peace and security of their own people and a stable international order,” he said at a meeting of the council on non-proliferation. “The United States will continue to be relentless in building a coalition of responsible nations who are serious about confronting the Iranian regime’s reckless ballistic missile activity.” Fox

Probe of U.S.-funded news network that called George Soros a ‘Jew of flexible morals’
A U.S. taxpayer-funded broadcaster this fall published a ­Spanish-language opinion piece warning that the “Islamization” of Europe by migrants is destroying the continent’s Christian character and posing a danger to the United States “greater than that from the Nazis in the 1940s.” The online piece followed stories by the same government-run publisher, Radio and Television Martí, that described philanthropist and prominent Democratic donor George Soros as a “nonpracticing Jew of flexible morals” and as a “left-wing billionaire of Hungarian-Jewish origin.” The federal agency that oversees Martí launched an internal investigation this fall after a May report about Soros was publicized and widely denounced.  Washington Post
VOA VIEW: Crazy!

Fentanyl is the deadliest drug in America
Fentanyl is now the most commonly used drug involved in drug overdoses, according to a new government report. The latest numbers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics say that the rate of drug overdoses involving the synthetic opioid skyrocketed by about 113% each year from 2013 through 2016. The number of total drug overdoses jumped 54% each year between 2011 and 2016. In 2016, there were 63,632 drug overdose deaths. According to Wednesday's report, which analyzed death certificates for drug overdose deaths between 2011 and 2016, fentanyl was involved in nearly 29% of all overdose deaths in 2016. In 2011, fentanyl was involved in just 4% of all drug fatalities. CNN

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Russian government claims accused spy Maria Butina was 'tortured' in US custody
The Russian government claims that Maria Butina, the accused Russian spy who had cultivated connections with the National Rifle Association before the 2016 US election, was "tortured" while in US custody. In an exclusive interview with CNN Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova alleged that Butina was treated to a "medieval inquisition" while in detention and said the Russian government viewed her as a "political prisoner" who had been targeted by zealous American officials. But Zakharova failed to provide any evidence to support her assertions. "We designated her as a political prisoner from the very first days," Zakharova said. "It's not about justice, it's not justice. CNN

Schumer Scoffs at North Dakota, Indiana
In an off-the-cuff remark at Tuesday's contentious meeting with President Trump, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer showed some liberal scorn for fly-over country.  In that same meeting, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said "people are losing their jobs," then referred to House Republicans who lost their seats in the  midterm election. The remarks came as President Trump repeatedly insisted that a border wall means border security. "It totally solves the problem, and it's very important," Trump told the two liberal lawmakers sitting with him at the White House as the cameras rolled.  CNS
VOA VIEW: Schumer will regret the statements against these states and that will cost Dems.

Knights of Columbus Applaud Genocide Relief Law Signed by Trump
The Knights of Columbus, which has been aiding religious minorities persecuted by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, attended a White House ceremony today where President Donald Trump signed into law the "Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018." The legislation is similar to past efforts to aid the survivors of the Armenian genocide and the Jewish holocaust. “The legislation signed today again reminds us of America’s earlier efforts to aid victims of genocide – Christian communities targeted by Ottomans a century ago and Jewish survivors of Shoah," said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson in a press release. “With the legislation signed today, America speaks with bold moral clarity and political unanimity,” he said. NS

Publisher of the National Enquirer admits to hush-money payments made on Trump’s behalf
The National Enquirer’s parent company acknowledged paying hush money to a woman who alleged an affair with Donald Trump to “suppress the woman’s story” and “prevent it from influencing the election.” The admission came as federal prosecutors announced Wednesday that they would not prosecute the company, American Media Inc. (AMI), for its role in a scheme to tilt the presidential race in favor of Trump. In the agreement, AMI said it would cooperate with prosecutors and admitted it paid $150,000 to Karen McDougal before the 2016 election to silence her allegations of an affair with Trump.  Washington Post
VOA VIEW: Liberal propaganda.

Trump's payment explanations shift as legal exposure grows
The sentencing of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, brought a perilous investigation into the president's campaign one step closer to the Oval Office. Though Cohen broke down during his sentencing hearing Wednesday, Trump remained uncharacteristically quiet, his Twitter feed still while he ignored shouted questions about his former attorney at a White House event. But Trump has been far from silent during the monthslong Cohen saga, with the president's explanations frequently shifting as his legal exposure grew. Houston Chronicle

US seeks to counter growing Chinese influence in Africa
The Trump administration wants to see an increase in U.S. investment and trade in Africa as part of a new strategy aimed at countering China's growing influence on the continent. National security adviser John Bolton is expected to lay out priorities Thursday for what the administration calls "the continent of the future" during remarks at the Heritage Foundation. Critics are skeptical because it has taken so long into the presidency to announce the initiative and Trump has made disparaging remarks about a region that is home to 1.2 billion people. Houston Chronicle

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Michael Cohen sentenced to 3 years in prison, blames President Trump for his 'path of darkness'
A federal judge in Manhattan has sentenced Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, to three years in prison for various crimes including campaign finance violations, tax evasion, and lying to Congress. Before leveling his sentence, Judge William Pauley said “Cohen pled guilty to a veritable smorgasbord of fraudulent conduct" and “lost his moral compass,” adding that “as a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better.” In addition to his imprisonment, Cohen will have to pay $1.39 million in restitution plus $500,000 in forfeiture for the financial and campaign finance crimes. He will face an additional fine of $50,000 for lying to Congress. For more than a decade, Cohen stood by Trump’s side as a personal attorney, fixer and confidant, famously proclaiming that he would “take a bullet for the president” and “never walk away.” ABC
VOA VIEW: Cohen got off light for all the crimes he committed.

Former Obama official Julian Castro announces he's exploring 2020 presidential run
In what could be one of the first campaign announcements ahead of the 2020 presidential campaign, former San Antonio Mayor and Obama housing chief Julian Castro said he will announce whether he’ll make a run for the Democratic presidential nomination on Jan. 12. Castro, who has been open about exploring a run for president for months, released a video on Wednesday where he outlined his vision for America and announced that he had set up an exploratory committee. “Americans are ready to climb out of this darkness, we’re ready to keep our promises, and we’re not going to wait. We’re going to work. That’s why I’m exploring a candidacy for president of the United States in 2020,” he said in a four-minute video released on social media. ABC
VOA VIEW: Another loser - good for Trump.

How Yemen's war is killing children — no weapons necessary
Three-year-old Yussuf Adel escaped some of the fiercest fighting in Yemen's civil war. He and his mother made it to the southern city of Aden. But he's not out of danger. Hiding from bombs and bullets meant Yussuf didn't get his childhood vaccinations, and now he has diphtheria. Before diphtheria was largely brought under control through the introduction of a vaccine in the late 1920s and early 1930s, it was known for killing children. The highly infectious respiratory disease creates a layer of dead cells in the throat and nose, which can block an airway. Conflict zones like Yemen — where people live in close contact and have poor access to medical care, and where vaccination rates are low — are breeding grounds for infections like diphtheria. CBS

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Mark Meadows out of the running for White House chief of staff
House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows is out of the running to replace John Kelly as chief of staff. President Trump wants the North Carolina Republican to stay in Congress. "Congressman Mark Meadows is a great friend to President Trump and is doing an incredible job in Congress," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. "The president told him we need him in Congress so he can continue the great work he is doing there." Meadows had been a contender for the role, after Mr. Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, Nick Ayers, dropped out of the running. Ayers and Mr. Trump couldn't come to an agreement on a time commitment for the post, and the president was forced to revisit other options.  CBS

Orrin Hatch warns Senate 'is in crisis' in farewell speech
Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, in his farewell address on Wednesday, warned his colleagues that the upper chamber of Congress where he has served for four decades "is in crisis." “All the evidence points to an unsettling truth: The Senate, as an institution, is in crisis or at least may be in crisis. The committee process lies in shambles," Hatch said in remarks delivered on the Senate floor. "Regular order is a relic of the past. And compromise — once the guiding credo of this great institution is now synonymous with surrender." Hatch, 84, is retiring this month after serving in the Senate since 1977. He is currently the Senate's president pro tempore. On Wednesday, he reminisced about a time when the chamber was "the world's greatest deliberative body." "Times have certainly changed," the Utah Republican said, adding that to "mend the nation, we must first mend the Senate."  NBC
VOA VIEW: Hatch will be missed.

Apple announces $1 billion campus in Texas, part of plan to create 20,000 US jobs by 2023
Apple is expanding its presence in the U.S. as a part of a billion-dollar investment that the company said would generate at least 5,000 new jobs. The iPhone maker will build a new $1 billion campus in Austin, Texas, and open new offices in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, California, to broaden its U.S. footprint, according to a statement released early Thursday morning. "Apple is proud to bring new investment, jobs and opportunity to cities across the United States and to significantly deepen our quarter-century partnership with the city and people of Austin," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a press release. ABC

Trump cancels White House Christmas party for the press
President Trump has canceled the White House holiday party for the media, making the decades-old tradition a victim of his increasingly contentious relationship with major news organizations. The annual Christmas-season gathering was a significant perk for those covering the White House, as well as other Washington reporters, anchors and commentators, and New York media executives would regularly fly in for the occasion. At its peak, the invitation-only soirees grew so large that there were two back-to-back events, one for broadcast outlets and one for print organizations. Journalists who attended the events, which featured a catered buffet of lamb chops, crab claws and elaborate desserts, got to roam the decorated mansion with a spouse or other family member, a friend or a colleague, adding to the invitation's allure. Fox

California Dem Ted Lieu say he would 'love to regulate' speech, bemoans US Constitution that prohibits him
California Democrat Ted Lieu bemoaned on Wednesday that though he would “love to be able to regulate the content of speech,” including that on Fox News, he can’t do it because of the U.S. Constitution. Lieu made the comments during an interview about the testimony of Google CEO Sundar Pichai at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, where he dismissed the allegations that the tech giant amplifies negative stories about Republican lawmakers, saying “if you want positive search results, do positive things." CNN host Brianna Keilar praised Lieu for his performance but asked whether other Democrats should have used the committee to press Google on conspiracy theories that spread on their platforms. Fox
VOA VIEW: Costly stupidity that will hunt him a election time.

Brad Pitt is responsible for charity's defective New Orleans homes
Attorneys for two New Orleans residents who sued Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation for allegedly selling them poorly constructed homes are asking a federal judge to deny Pitt’s request to be removed from the suit. The lawsuit, filed in September and now being heard in the Eastern Louisiana U.S. District Court, alleges that Make It Right, a charity formed by Pitt in 2007 to help Lower Ninth Ward residents return after Hurricane Katrina, built “defective” homes that leaked, were filled with mold and fell apart. In their suit, the two residents, Lloyd Francis and Jennifer Decuir, accuse Pitt and Make It Right of unfair trade practices, breach of contract and fraud.
NBC

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Google hearing sees 'idiot' trending
The word "idiot" has been searched for more than one million times, following testimony typing it into Google Images threw up pictures of President Trump. The link between the two was mentioned during a congressional grilling of Google chief executive Sundar Pichai. He was asked whether this was an example of political bias in algorithms, something he denied. According to Google Trends, "idiot" is currently the number one most searched for term in the US. Democratic congresswoman Zoe Lofgren posed the question about why "idiot" highlighted results that included pictures of the president. "How would that happen? How does search work so that would occur?" she asked. Mr Pichai replied that Google search results were based on billions of keyword ranked according to more than 200 factors, including relevance and popularity. BBC
VOA VIEW: Google is bias against conservatives.

Australia, Indonesia top U.S. as 'most generous' nation
Indonesia, Australia, the United States and New Zealand were declared Wednesday the world's most generous countries in an annual study by pollster Gallup. Gallup released its "Most Generous Countries" list for 2018. Indonesia and Australia tied for the top spot, and the United States and New Zealand tied for third. To rank more than 140 nations in its wide-ranging survey, Gallup said it examined which gave the most volunteer time, how many gave per its population and which helps strangers most often. Indonesia and Australia were given a score of 59. The United States and New Zealand tied for third place with a score of 58.  UPI

Senate votes to overturn Trump donor disclosure rule
The Senate passed legislation Wednesday to reverse a Trump administration policy limiting donor disclosure requirements for political nonprofits in a rare rebuke to the White House. In a 50-49 vote, the Senate approved a resolution from Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) that would block the recent Treasury Department change to IRS forms allowing political nonprofits to avoid listing some donors. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joined every Democrat in support of the measure, which required only a simple majority to pass under the Congressional Review Act. "The Trump administration's dark money rule makes it easier for foreigners and special interests to corrupt and interfere in our elections," said Wyden, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee in a Senate floor speech.
Politico
VOA VIEW: Collins proved to be a traitor.

Kotex Sleek tampons recalled after reports of unraveling, pieces left in body
Kimberly-Clark issued a recall of its U by Kotex Sleek Tampons, Regular Absorbency, in the United States and Canada due to a "quality-related defect," the company announced Tuesday. According to the company, consumers have reported the tampons unraveling and/or coming apart during removal, with some users needing medical attention to remove tampon pieces remaining in the body. There were also some reports of infection, irritation and injury, the company said. The recall includes all U by Kotex Sleek Tampons, Regular Absorbency, manufactured between Oct. 7, 2016 and Oct. 16, 2018, and distributed between Oct. 17, 2016 and Oct. 23, 2018. Customers can identify the product by looking for specific lot numbers at the bottom of packages – and those recalled numbers can also be found on the U by Kotex website. No other U by Kotex-branded products are subject to the recall, the company said.  USA Today

Toyota recalls 70,000 vehicles to replace air bag inflators
Toyota is recalling about 70,000 Toyota and Lexus brand vehicles in North America to replace air bag inflators that could explode and hurl shrapnel at drivers and passengers. The recall covers the 2003 to 2005 Corolla, the 2002 to 2005 Sequoia, the 2003 to 2005 Tundra and the 2002 to 2005 Lexus SC. Takata uses the chemical ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion and inflate the bags. But it can deteriorate and burn too fast, blowing apart a metal canister. The Toyota and Lexus vehicles were recalled previously and the inflators replaced with new ones that still used ammonium nitrate. New York Post

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Nicolas Maduro accuses White House of direct role in assassination plot
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has accused the US of attempting to assassinate him, claiming he has uncovered a plot that leads directly to the White House.
Mr Maduro repeated his frequent warning that a US invasion is imminent - this time giving some details but no evidence. He accused President Donald Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton of overseeing a plot to replace him with a dictator. He alleged that Washington is using "dirty dollars, bled from the US empire" to train 734 mercenaries with in neighboring Colombia to carry out the plot. Telegraph
VOA VIEW: Maduro is making up stupidity.

Kim Jong Un beauty masks are pulled off shelves in South Korea
South Korea is known for its robust beauty industry, with the country’s focus on personal appearance so intense that it has recently drawn a backlash. But now the industry faces unwelcome attention of a different sort: A company’s decision to market Kim Jong Un beauty masks — complete with “nuclear bomb” packaging that promises to moisturize and whiten the face — has led to such an uproar that the product has been pulled from some store shelves. More than 25,000 of these facial masks, which feature the North Korean leader’s face and blocky hairline, have been sold online and in stores since June, according to 5149, the South Korean cosmetics and fashion company that produced them. Seattle Times

Nancy Pelosi agrees to proposed term limits if elected speaker
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, has agreed to abide by proposed term limits if elected speaker, a move that would cap her speakership at four more years that is expected to clear her path to the speaker's gavel in the Jan. 3 floor vote. The proposal would limit members to three terms of service in those roles, with the option of seeking an additional fourth term with the support of two-thirds of House Democrats. It would be retroactive, including her first two terms as speaker from 2007-2011. Pelosi said she will abide by the rule whether it is approved by the caucus in February or not. ABC

Trump confides to friends he's concerned about impeachment
Despite President Donald Trump's public declaration that he isn't concerned about impeachment, he has told people close to him in recent days that he is alarmed by the prospect, according to multiple sources. Trump's fear about the possibility has escalated as the consequences of federal investigations involving his associates and Democratic control of the House sink in, the sources said, and his allies believe maintaining the support of establishment Republicans he bucked to win election is now critical to saving his presidency.  NBC
VOA VIEW: Liberal propaganda.

Criminal justice reformers reach cusp of history
There are no sure bets in this Congress, especially when it comes to the politically fraught issue of criminal justice reform. But a rare coalition of lawmakers, activists, prosecutors and defense attorneys spanning the political spectrum believe they are on the cusp of a vote that would usher in the broadest set of changes to federal criminal statutes in a generation.  President Donald Trump backs the bill. So does Paul Ryan, speaker of the House. Republican opponents, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, say they’ve been assuaged by changes that give less leniency to people with long criminal histories and those convicted of violent offenses. A dam seemed to break on Tuesday, when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, under pressure for weeks, agreed to bring the bill to the floor for a vote before Congress breaks for the holidays. It would then have to pass the House, which has already approved a more limited version. NBC

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Congress agrees on bill holding lawmakers financially liable in sexual harassment settlements
House and Senate negotiators have reached an agreement on a bill to overhaul the process for handling sexual misconduct allegations in Congress, which will make lawmakers, not taxpayers, financially liable for settlements. The bill updates the decades-old Congressional Accountability Act, which governs how lawmakers and aides report sexual misconduct claims. The law has been widely criticized as confusing, cumbersome and unfair to victims of harassment and abuse. The push for the legislation took on new urgency in the past year, as more than a half-dozen lawmakers resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct and Capitol Hill found itself squarely at the center of the growing #MeToo movement. Both chambers passed their own versions of the bill earlier in the year. USA Today

Accused 'terrorist' behind migrant caravan members demand of $50,000 apiece to go back home
A splinter group from the migrant caravans camped out on the U.S.-Mexico border has offered the U.S. a deal: Pay them $50,000 each and they’ll go back home.
Several San Diego news outlets have reported that dozens of people presented the offer to the U.S. consulate in Tijuana on Tuesday. “It may seem like a lot of money to you,” organizer Alfonso Guerrero Ulloa told the San Diego Union-Tribune.  Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Total madness.

Mexico announces crackdown on illegal immigration: 'Get in line and you can enter our country'
Mexico’s top security official said Wednesday the government will close off illegal entries at its southern border with Guatemala, but didn’t say how the country plans to do it. Interior Secretary Olga Sanchez Cordero also said the migrant caravans that crossed the southern border in October “is no longer an issue.” “Do you know why it is no longer an issue? Because in five days this administration solved the issue, five days,” she said, referring to the first week since President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office Dec. 1. “The United States was impressed.” Washington Times

Verizon loses bet on digital ads, takes $4.6B accounting hit
Verizon’s big bet on digital advertising isn’t panning out. The wireless company spent more than $4 billion to buy AOL and nearly $5 billion to buy Yahoo as part of an effort to compete with Facebook and Google in a growing market for digital advertising. Now, Verizon is slicing the value of those two businesses in half, taking a $4.6 billion accounting write-down in the fourth quarter. The company blamed weak revenue and earnings from the two businesses, known jointly as Oath , and said the benefits from integrating Yahoo and AOL were less than expected. The write-down “puts a period at the end of a short and inconsequential sentence,” said Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathanson “They tried to create an alternative revenue stream for wireless, but they have ultimately found it too hard to make advertising into what they had originally hoped,” he said. Seattle Times

Trump hints he’d intervene in case of Chinese telecom executive detained in Canada
When President Donald Trump said in an interview this week that he was willing to intercede in the case of a Chinese telecom executive facing extradition to the United States if it helped achieve “the largest trade deal ever made,” it was a clear signal that his White House saw no problem intervening in the justice system to achieve what it considered economic gain. A range of experts agreed on Wednesday that the president had the legal authority to order the government to rescind the extradition request for the executive, Meng Wanzhou, or even drop the charges against her.  Seattle Times

Melania blasts ‘opportunists,’ says media focuses too much on ‘nonsense’
Melania Trump on Wednesday blasted so-called “opportunists,” like journalists and writers, who she claims are trying to make a name for themselves by using her family. The hardest part of being in the White House are “the opportunists who are using my name or my family name to advance themselves from comedians, to journalists, to performers, book writers…,” the first lady told Sean Hannity in a sit-down interview aboard the USS George HW Bush aircraft carrier that aired on Fox News. “It doesn’t hurt,” Trump, 48, said. “But they are writing history. And it’s not correct.” New York Post

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DECEMBER 13, 2018

     A good victory for Trump and rationalism. Adult film star Stormy Daniels must pay President Trump $293,000 in legal fees, a judge ruled on Tuesday.  "The U.S. District Court today ordered Stormy Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford) to pay President Trump $292,052.33 to reimburse his attorneys’ fees (75% of his total legal bill), plus an additional $1,000 in sanctions to punish Daniels for having filed a meritless lawsuit against the President designed to chill his free speech rights," Charles J. Harder, the president's legal counsel, said in a statement. "The court’s order," Harder said, "along with the court’s prior order dismissing Stormy Daniels’ defamation case against the President, together constitute a total victory for the President, and a total defeat for Stormy Daniels in this case."

      Attorneys for President Trump had asked a court earlier this month for nearly $800,000 in lawyers’ fees and penalties from Daniels for the failed defamation lawsuit against him. Harder defended more than 500 hours his firm spent that rang up a nearly $390,000 legal bill for the president and asked for an equal amount in sanctions as a deterrent against a “repeat filer or frivolous defamation cases.” Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti quickly reacted, declaring the ruling wouldn't survive an appeal.

     Daniels alleged she had a one-night affair with Trump in 2006. She sued him earlier this year seeking to break a non-disclosure agreement she signed days before the 2016 election about the alleged affair as part of a $130,000 hush money settlement. Trump has strongly denied the affair took place. Despite the deal to stay quiet, Daniels spoke out publicly and alleged that five years after the alleged affair she was threatened to keep quiet by a man she did not recognize in a Las Vegas parking lot. She also released a composite sketch of the mystery man. She sued Trump for defamation after he responded to the allegation by tweeting: “A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!”