Lawyer Reportedly Paid Porn Star Hush Money for Sexual Encounter With Trump

If we know one thing about President Trump, it's that he's a con artist. Since he took office, the Washington Post has kept track of the number of lies he's told under oath; on Jan. 10, days before he's completed one year as our president, he's already logged 2,001 fictitious claims, a truly absurd feat.

So it's no surprise that when a new report from Wall Street Journal surfaced, citing that a longtime lawyer for the Trump Organization paid $130,000 to a porn star over a sexual encounter she had with Trump in 2006—Trump denied it.

The report states that Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, “arranged a $130,000 payment to a former adult-film star a month before the 2016 election as part of an agreement that precluded her from publicly discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump.” Both Trump's lawyer and Stephanie Clifford—known as Stormy Daniels in the adult film industry—deny the encounter as well.

These sort of charges aren't new for Trump. During his presidential campaign, more than a handful of women lodged sexual assault allegations against him, and during the more recent, viral #MeToo campaign, even more women came forward. While Clifford has admitted that her relationship with Trump was consensual, that certainly wasn't the case for the rest of these women whom he violated.

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Black Unemployment Falls to Record Low, Trump Takes Credit

You'll never guess who took credit for the recent news that black unemployment in the U.S. reached its lowest recorded percentage since the statistic was first tracked in 1972. That's right, it was this guy:

As he has done for much of his presidency, Donald Trump wasted no time taking credit for an accomplishment that likely has little to do with him. Much of the United States' present economic growth has been attributed to Barack Obama's policies, not Trump's, and the Washington Post published an extensive piece claiming that job growth under the new president has largely lagged behind Obama's pace in five of the last seven years.

The news is an obvious positive, with the Washington Post noting that in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, black unemployment reached as high as 16.8 percent in 2010. Full data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics can be seen here.

Predictably, the news sparked a ruckus on Twitter between those who refuted the president's statement and those who bizarrely claimed this news proves something about Trump's personal feelings on race.

Trump seemingly has more pressing matters to attend to than taking credit for another accomplishment that likely doesn't belong to him, such as the incendiary new book about his White House, his petty feud with Steven Bannon or, you know, the looming threat of nuclear war with North Korea.

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A Timeline of Donald Trump’s Beef with LaVar Ball

At some point, you just knew that Donald Trump and LaVar Ball were going to cross paths in 2017. After all of the completely off-the-wall shit that has taken place this year, it wouldn’t be right if we went into 2018 without their names being linked for one reason or another. But we really have to give it up to them: In our wildest dreams, we couldn’t imagine them being connected as a result of a story involving Louis Vuitton sunglasses, shoplifting, and international politics.

And yet, here we are! With still about a month to go in 2017, the inevitable Donald Trump vs. LaVar Ball feud that we all knew was going to happen has happened. The two engaged in a war of words over the weekend, and thanks to their beef, LaVar made an appearance on CNN on Monday night that will more than likely receive a response from Trump.

Let’s take a look at how we got here. Here’s a timeline of Donald Trump’s beef with the head of the Ball family.

Nov. 7, 2017: LiAngelo Ball and two UCLA teammates are arrested in China for shoplifting

During a trip to China to take part in a game against Georgia Tech, LiAngelo and his two teammates, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, were arrested after they were caught stealing from a Louis Vuitton store near their team hotel. They were released from police custody but were ordered to give up their passports and stay at the hotel until an investigation into the shoplifting allegations took place. Initial reports indicated they could face 3 to 10 years in prison.

Nov. 8, 2017: LaVar Ball says LiAngelo’s arrest “ain’t a big deal”

Despite the possibility of the serious prison sentence that was first reported, LiAngelo’s dad LaVar downplayed the situation. “He’ll be fine,” LaVar told ESPN’s Arash Markazi. “Everyone’s making it a big deal. It ain’t that big a deal.”

Nov. 9, 2017: LaVar is told not to comment on LiAngelo’s arrest again

Just one day after LaVar said LiAngelo’s shoplifting arrest wasn’t “that big a deal,” LaVar refused to comment further on the situation. ESPN’s Arash Markazi reported that someone had told LaVar not to speak about LiAngelo any further until he was allowed to return to the U.S.

Nov. 13, 2017: Trump asks China’s President Xi Jinping to help settle LiAngelo’s case

Several days after LiAngelo was arrested, The Washington Post reported that Trump reached out to President Xi Jinping of China to try and resolve the case. When asked about it, Trump said that President Xi had been “terrific” with regards to his request. But he said that the shoplifting case was “not something that should have happened” in the first place. He also reportedly referred to LiAngelo and his teammates as “knuckleheads” while speaking with President Xi.

Nov. 14, 2017: LiAngelo and his teammates are allowed to leave China

One week after being arrested, LiAngelo and his teammates were finally allowed to leave their hotel and board a flight for Los Angeles. The shoplifting charges that were originally filed against them were reportedly dropped, clearing the way for them to make their way home.

Nov. 15, 2017: Trump calls for LiAngelo and his teammates to thank him for his help

Almost as soon as LiAngelo and his teammates arrived back in the U.S., Trump sent out a tweet that seemed to suggest he was expecting them to say thank you to him at some point. “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump?” he wrote. “They were headed for 10 years in jail!”

Nov. 15, 2017: LiAngelo and his teammates thank Trump

During a press conference in which all three UCLA players apologized for their actions in China, they also offered up their thanks to Trump.

Nov. 18, 2017: LaVar says he doesn’t think Trump helped LiAngelo and his teammates

While speaking with ESPN a few days after LiAngelo’s safe arrival back in the U.S., LaVar said he didn’t believe Trump played a big part in bringing the UCLA players home. “Who?” LaVar said. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”

LaVar continued: “As long as my boy’s back here, I’m fine. I’m happy with how things were handled. A lot of people like to say a lot of things that they thought happened over there. Like I told him, 'They try to make a big deal out of nothing sometimes.' I’m from L.A. I’ve seen a lot worse things happen than a guy taking some glasses. My son has built up enough character that one bad decision doesn’t define him.”

Nov. 19, 2017: Trump says he should have left LiAngelo and his teammates in jail

In response to LaVar’s “Who?” comment, Trump responded by saying that he should have left LiAngelo and his teammates in jail in China. “Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal,” he wrote. “I should have left them in jail!”

Trump added: “Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be (5-10 years in jail), but not to father LaVar. Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!”

Nov. 20, 2017: LaVar refuses to thank Trump during CNN appearance

During one of LaVar’s most memorable media appearances yet, he refused to thank Trump for whatever role he played in bringing LiAngelo back to the U.S. “Did he help the boys get out?” he asked. “I don’t know. If I was going to thank someone, I would probably thank President Xi.”

Towards the end of the interview, LaVar also said the only way he would have thanked Trump is if he would have personally put LiAngelo on Air Force One to bring him home. “I would have said, 'Thank you,' if he put him on his plane and took him home,” he said. “Then I would have said, 'Thank you, Mr. Trump, for taking my boys out of China and bringing them back to the U.S.' There’s a lot of room on that plane. I would have said, 'Thank you kindly for that.'”

And at one point, LaVar also made a Trump-esque statement by saying that he played a bigger part in freeing LiAngelo than Trump did. “I had some people that had boots on the ground that knew the situation when we first jumped on there,” he said. “I keep those people in mind.”

Trump and Ball both seem like the kind of guys who want to have the last word. So we wouldn’t expect this to end anytime soon.

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Trump’s Release of Classified JFK Documents Means He’s Attended at Least One White House Briefing

When you elect a former reality show host with no previous governing experience to the highest public office in the country, it’s very likely that person will repeatedly misinterpret public policies. So if you woke up Saturday wondering when and how one Donald J. Trump would manage to fail up while tweeting from a golf course, the answer came in the form of a tweet about the 35th President, John F. Kennedy.

“Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened,” Trump tweeted Saturday morning.

Technically, Trump was correct here, although he won’t need to release the JFK files so much as just not overtly block them from being publicly disclosed—as they would have anyway next Thursday. The JFK Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992—enacted on October 26, 1992—states the following:

“Each assassination record shall be publicly disclosed in full, and available in the Collection no later than the date that is 25 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, unless the President certifies, as required by this Act, that 

(i) continued postponement is made necessary by an identifiable harm to military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement or conduct of foreign relations; and

(ii) the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

The 1963 assassination of President Kennedy has remained a source of fascination for history buffs and conspiracy theorists alike for over half a century. Furthermore, most of the CIA and FBI documents about JFK have already been released either in their full form or partially redacted. Essentially, all Trump had to do here was get out of his own way and focus on more pressing matters such as aiding hurricane-battered Puerto Rico or not sub-tweeting an equally moronic dictator with access to nuclear launch codes.

But Trump is going to Trump, so what seems like an inevitable bit of governmental minutiae can still prove entertaining. The Washington Post reports that according to an unnamed National Security Council official, “government agencies were urging the president not to release some of the documents.” If that’s true, then Trump has actually attended at least one White House briefing and doesn’t get all of his updates from Fox News. The same report noted that Trump’s confidant Roger Stone bragged about lobbying the president to release the files during an appearance on Alex Jones’ Infowars.

This would be the time where we collectively hang our head in shame that a sitting president hangs out with white nationalists and has friends who brag about being guests on Infowars.

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The Black Lives Matter Movement Is Coming to a TV Near You

AMC Is developing a Black Lives Matter TV show based on a book by ‘Washington Post’ reporter Wesley Lowery.

Why Didn’t Houston Evacuate Before Hurricane Harvey Hit? An Explanation

Houston is suffering from a devastation of tragic proportions. Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast of Texas last weekend and has been sitting squarely over Houston for the past several days, causing severe flooding. Citizens and celebrities alike are coming together to help Houston, by raising money, donating clothing, food and other items, and even leading rescue efforts. (To find out how to get involved and where to donate, click here.)

You might be wondering why the city's residents didn't get the hell out of Houston before Harvey came barreling through. In order to get why they stayed put, you have to understand the city's complicated history with floods and evacuations. We've put together a timeline that breaks down Houston's reactive and proactive decisions in response to hurricanes—and why some of them led to more fatalities than the natural disasters themselves.

Hurricane Katrina

Aug. 28, 2005

On Aug. 28, 2005, Hurricane Katrina was identified as an incredibly dangerous Category 5 storm. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered the first-ever mandatory evacuation of the city—around 80 percent of the 1.3 million residents evacuated. The storm made landfall at a Category 3 the next day, causing massive destruction, and killing hundreds.

Katrina ended up displacing over one million people from the Central Gulf Coast, creating the largest diaspora in U.S. history. According to the Washington Post, as many as 250,000 people from New Orleans landed in Houston after the disaster, and anywhere from 25,000 to 40,000 people made the city their home.

Hurricane Rita

Sept. 21, 2005

Not even a month after Katrina, Hurricane Rita came along. The storm developed into a record-breaking Category 5, putting everyone in southeast Texas on alert. As Rita's power rapidly gained intensity and unpredictability, the forecast worsened.

Former Houston Mayor Bill White told city residents in certain areas that evacuations were voluntary, with mandatory evacuations to be implemented the next day for Houston proper; the advisory was put in place to give coastal residents the opportunity to leave using routes Houston evacuees would be using.

With such widespread panic, especially in light of Katrina, many residents didn't pay attention to the distinction between voluntary and mandatory evacuations. 

Sept. 22, 2005

Even though weather trackers suggested Rita's path was veering away from Houston, city officials proceeded with the mandatory evacuation. The voluntary evacuation was already underway, but in light of the forecast's significant day-to-day shift, the risk was seen as too high to leave to chance.

Mayor White told residents, “Don't wait—the time for waiting is over… don't follow the example of New Orleans.” With that message in mind, residents disregarded the planned staggered evacuation, taking to the road immediately. With gas shortages that left numerous vehicles stranded, it didn't take long for heavy traffic to clog the roads leading out of town. Seeing the massive backup, Mayor White told residents to follow the news and use common sense if they were not in the mandatory evacuation area. It didn't matter at that point: by afternoon, there were 100-mile traffic jams.

By the end of the day, forecasters predicted the path of the storm would shift north, away from Houston, deteriorating. But evacuations were already in full force, and millions along the coast continued to flee in historic numbers.

Sept. 23, 2005

Hurricane Rita deescalated to a Category 3 hurricane by the afternoon. Officials from Houston TranStar, Harris County’s transportation and emergency management center, reported seeing almost no movement on Houston area freeways.

Among the many to voluntarily evacuate were Brighton Gardens nursing home residents from nearby city Bellaire, Texas. The bus carrying the senior citizens hit the road the previous day, en route to Dallas. After a 15-hour trip, the bus caught on fire after residents' oxygen canisters exploded. 24 people died.

Sept. 24, 2005

12 hours after making landfall, Rita deescalated from a Category 3 hurricane to a tropical storm. But the panic had already settled in: an estimated 2.5 million people attempted to leave the city nearly simultaneously, leading to the most intense state of gridlock in Houston history. Drivers sat in standstill traffic for 20-plus hours, and some fights even broke out on the highway. All told, more than 100 evacuees died in the mass exodus of complications from heat stroke and dehydration. The casualties from the storm itself paled in comparison, amounting to less than 10.

Hurricane Harvey

Aug. 24, 2017

Harvey officially became a hurricane. Texas coastal communities in its path are urged to evacuate. By the end of the day, it is upgraded from a Category 2 hurricane to a Category 4.

Aug. 25, 2017

Harvey, still a Category 4 hurricane, made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast, causing damage to cities like Rockport and Corpus Christi. Heavy rains befell cities in the state's southern regions.

Aug. 26, 2017

Harvey is downgraded to a Category 3, then further to a Category 2, then 1. While the storm weakened, forecasters predicted potentially catastrophic flooding in the coming days. Harvey is eventually downgraded to a tropical storm.

Aug. 27, 2017

Devastating floods pour into Houston, leaving thousands of people seeking higher ground. The U.S. Coast Guard reports saving more than 1,000 people.

Houston records nearly 25 inches of rain by this day, leading Houston Gov. Greg Abbott to request 3,000 National Guard and State Guard members help save residents of the city. 

Kam Franklin, lead singer for the Suffers and Houston resident, applauds the decision to not evacuate, saying the city's mayor ultimately saved lives.

Aug. 28, 2017

Officials reported more than 6,000 people were rescued by police and the Coast Guard since the storm hit. Countless more were rescued by good Samaritans. Harvey, which dumped 30-plus inches of rain in some places, increased in intensity as it drifted back over the Gulf of Mexico. 

Aug. 29, 2017

Harvey hovered over the gulf as a tropical storm, leading forecasters to predict it will turn back toward southeast Texas. Numerous people were reported missing, and several were reported dead. Hundreds of thousands of Houston residents remained without power.

President Donald Trump traveled to Corpus Christi and Austin for on-the-ground briefings on disaster relief, but did not visit Houston. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner imposed a curfew on the city to curb looting efforts, and federal and local authorities reported somewhere near 13,000 rescues since the storm hit.

Aug. 30, 2017

As of Wednesday, Harvey is still a tropical storm. It made a second landfall in western Louisiana, where forecasters anticipate between 5 and 10 inches of rain. The New York Times reports up to 30 deaths in Texas so far; dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, are still awaiting rescue.

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Police Have Identified and Arrested the Suspected Driver in Charlottesville Tragedy

Following the death of at least one person and injuries sustained by dozens, the man believed to have driven a car into a crowd in Charlottesville, Virginia has been arrested by local police.

According to the Washington Post, the suspect in question is James Alex Fields Jr., the man to whom the vehicle is registered. Just 20 years old, Fields' arrest was confirmed by the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail Superintendent, Martin Kumer, and Fields is facing an extensive list of charges. He was reportedly booked by police for, “suspicion of second-degree murder, malicious wounding, failure to stop for an accident involving a death, and hit and run.”

Fields, a registered Republican hailing from Maumee, Ohio, is believed to be the man behind the wheel of the Dodge Challenger that careened into a crowd of protesters in Virginia on Saturday. Video of the incident shows the despicable act in full detail, with the car sending bodies flying before crashing into other cars on the narrow street.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who declared a state of emergency to prepare for the escalating violence between protesters and counter-protesters over the weekend, spoke forcefully following the outburst of violence in his state. He was clear in placing the blame on the shoulders of white supremacists, who he insisted were not welcome in Virginia.

“You pretend that you are patriots, but you are anything but a patriot,” said McAuliffe. “You came here today to hurt people, and you did hurt people. My message is clear: We are stronger than you. You have made our commonwealth stronger. You will not succeed. There is no place for you here. There is no place for you in America.”

While McAuliffe was unequivocal in his condemnation of white supremacists, President Donald Trump was decidedly softer in his response to the tragedy, refusing to target any specific group in the aftermath of the incident. 

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms,” said Trump, “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides.”

Trump's statement on the incident was roundly criticized, especially after his response to the matter was delayed until Saturday afternoon, half a day after the initial rallies at Charlottesville were taking shape.

Fields is currently being held without bail. 

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Mark Cuban Says the NBA Would Welcome Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem Protest

Regardless of whether he ends up playing in the NFL this year, Colin Kaepernick and his protests have left their mark on pro sports. Teams have had to release formal statements denying they're trying to blackball him from the NFL, and his peaceful protest has sparked a lot of debate over the role of protest within professional sports.

Even for owners of teams in other sports leagues, the Kaepernick saga has been an important one to follow. And if you ask one of the NBA's most vocal owners, Dallas Mavericks' firebrand Mark Cuban, his league is far better equipped to handle causes like Kaepernick's. He said as much to The Washington Post, saying he believes a player in a similar position would be embraced by the NBA as a whole.

“I don’t know what his status is in the NFL, but I’m glad the NBA doesn’t have a politician litmus test for our players. I’d like to think we encourage our players to exercise their constitutional rights,” said Cuban. “The NBA is such a global game, I think our players' exposure to different political systems among their teammates may help them appreciate our country even more and encourage their participation.”

No entity as large as the NBA can claim to be perfect on social issues—remember, they let Donald Sterling own a team—but the NBA does have a strong recent track record when it comes to forms of peaceful protest. A group of players including LeBron James and Kyrie Irving wore, “I CAN'T BREATHE” shirts prior to several games in late 2014, as a tribute to the late Eric Garner, whose life was claimed by NYPD. James was part of a similar tribute during his days with the Miami Heat, posing in hoodies with Dwyane Wade and other teammates in memory of slain teenager Trayvon Martin.

On the league's behalf, they've also taken some drastic steps to protect and promote human rights. They famously moved the All-Star Game out of Charlotte for 2017, amidst outrage regarding anti-LGBT bathroom laws drawn up by North Carolina legislators. Commissioner Adam Silver announced the decision with a forceful statement at the time.

“We have been guided in these discussions by the long-standing core values of our league,” said Silver. “These include not only diversity, inclusion, fairness and respect for others, but also the willingness to listen and consider opposing points of view.”

Contrary to Cuban's claim, however, the league does have some history with a protest similar to Kaepernick's and it didn't go so well.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, best known for his time with the Denver Nuggets, was in the midst of his best pro season when he launched a national anthem protest, allegedly refusing to stand because of his deeply-held Muslim values. The league suspended him for a game—costing him roughly $32,000 in the process—and following pressure from the NBA players union, reached a “compromise” that forced him to stand but allowed him to bow his head and pray with his head down. Two years following his best season as a pro, Abdul-Rauf was out of the league and playing in Turkey.

That was 20 years ago, and now the NBA's actions on social issues have changed dramatically. But it's worth noting as a historical comparison, because there's at least some precedent for the league failing to step up to the plate for a similar player.

In any case, Kaepernick may not ever get another shot, but he has a strong group of supporters standing behind him. A Change.org petition is calling for a total NFL boycott if Kaepernick doesn't find work, and as of this writing, over 30,000 people have already pledged to stand in solidarity with the quarterback.

The real shame in all this is that Kaepernick's stance is a controversy to begin with. Speaking out against injustice is as patriotic as it gets, and he has been able to spark dialogue and support through silent, peaceful protest. If he loses out on a job because of that, the parties involved should feel ashamed. 

Send all complaints, compliments, and tips to sportstips@complex.com.

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Tomi Lahren Says Just Because She’s on Obamacare Doesn’t Mean She Can’t Still Hate Obamacare

Conservative pundit and noted snowflake Tomi Lahren wrote an op-ed that ran in The Hill Wednesday morning, which addressed comments she made at Politicon during a conversation with Chelsea Handler. Lahren, who is a staunch opponent of people having healthcare, accidentally admitted to directly benefiting from one of the major provisions of the 2010 Affordable Care Act​ or “Obamacare.” Lahren, who is 24, is still on her parents' health insurance plan. This was previously not possible until the passage of the ACA, which extended the age allowing children to remain on their parents' plan from 19 (unless enrolled in college full-time) to 26. 

The hypocrisy of Lahren was duly noted on social media. 

In the op-ed, Lahren launched into a diatribe, lamenting how her pleasant day was ruined from the media coverage. She pointed out that she and others can oppose the ACA while thinking that some of its provisions are worth keeping. Unsurprisingly, the extension allowing children to stay on their parents' healthcare plan until 26 was one of them. 

Lahren, who complained throughout the piece, also brought up Chelsea Handler's criticism of her supporting Trump's military ban on trans service members. She wrote that the ban “would save taxpayers millions of dollars and make our military stronger. To say so isn't anti-trans—I have nothing against transgender people, or anyone for that matter. But allowing them to serve in the military makes the world's greatest fighting force less combat-ready.”

Lahren, who I strongly suspect is deeply transphobic, might find a recently published Washington Post article fascinating and at odds with her baseless assertions. The piece reports that the U.S. military spends a whopping five times more on Viagra pills for military members with erectile dysfunction than it does on transgender troops' medical care. Imagine that.

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DMX Pleads Not Guilty to Tax Evasion Charges

DMX was released from jail Friday after pleading not guilty to 14 counts of tax evasion.

According to the Washington Post, the 46-year-old rapper was let out on a $500,000 bond that required two co-signers; however, he must abide by court-imposed travel restrictions that prohibit him from leaving NYC unless he is cleared to perform in other areas. Additionally, DMX is prohibited from carrying a firearm while on bail and will be under strict drug testing.

The rapper spoke to reporters Friday as he was leaving federal court in NYC.

“It’s allowed me to not be scared of the situation and face it head-on, you know what I’m saying?” he said as he stood by his attorney, Murray Richman. “My life is in God’s hands.”

DMX turned himself into federal authorities Thursday after he was accused of conducting a multi-year scheme to avoid paying $1.7 million in taxes. The IRS accused the artist of providing false information on bankruptcy forms as well as using other people’s bank accounts to hide his earnings. The rapper is now facing up to 44 years in federal prison if found guilty.

Despite the legal drama, DMX told reporters he still plans to headline the 2017 Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival on Saturday night.

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