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AP FACT CHECK: Trump denies knowing women he met

By Associated Press

Published: 08:36 EST, 16 December 2017 | Updated: 08:37 EST, 16 December 2017



By Associated Press

Published: 08:36 EST, 16 December 2017 | Updated: 08:37 EST, 16 December 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) – Like Roy Moore before him, President Donald Trump has denied he knows or ever met women who have accused him of unwanted sexual advances. That denial is no more plausible than what people heard from the defeated Alabama Senate candidate.

Trump's tweet on the subject is at odds with the record – photos included – and was just one in a series of questionable statements he made over the past week on a variety of subjects.

A look at a sampling:

In this Dec. 12, 2017, photo, President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. Trump has denied he knows or ever met women who have accused him of unwanted sexual advances. That denial is no more plausible than what people heard from defeated Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. Trump's tweet on the subject is at odds with the record _ photos included _ and was just one in a series of questionable statements he made over the past week on a variety of subjects. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

In this Dec. 12, 2017, photo, President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. Trump has denied he knows or ever met women who have accused him of unwanted sexual advances. That denial is no more plausible than what people heard from defeated Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. Trump's tweet on the subject is at odds with the record _ photos included _ and was just one in a series of questionable statements he made over the past week on a variety of subjects. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

TRUMP: "Despite thousands of hours wasted and many millions of dollars spent, the Democrats have been unable to show any collusion with Russia – so now they are moving on to the false accusations and fabricated stories of women who I don't know and/or have never met. FAKE NEWS!" – Tuesday.

THE FACTS: There's no question he met and knew accusers, whatever the truth of the allegations. Two were contestants on "The Apprentice," the show he hosted. Another woman was a People magazine journalist who interviewed him. Another was a would-be business partner with whom he posed for a photo. Another was a Miss Finland who appeared on David Letterman's former late-night TV show with him and has a photo of the two of them. Also: a porn actress and director who shows up in a photo with him, and a former Fox News host who had lunch with him.

Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, trying to clarify, said Trump was referring only to the three women who discussed their accounts Monday at a news conference and on TV, but that was not what Trump's tweet said.

Of those three, one was a Miss USA contestant when Trump was running the pageant and another worked at Trump Tower. Neither circumstance, by itself, proves that Trump met them. But no one has refuted their accounts or the account of the third woman, who said Trump groped her when they were seat-mates on a flight in the 1980s. More than a dozen women have alleged inappropriate behavior by Trump. He has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.

In his Alabama Senate campaign, Moore likewise denied knowing his accusers in the face of firm evidence he knew at least some.


TRUMP: "There is absolutely no collusion. That has been proven. … So now even the Democrats admit there's no collusion. There is no collusion – that's it."

THE FACTS: Nothing has been proves. It's true that collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russians has not been established, as far as is publicly known. It's not true that collusion has been ruled out, by Democrats or others. The most they've said is that they have not seen firm evidence of it so far. It can't be ruled out because Russia's interference in the election and the Trump team's contacts with Russians are still under criminal investigation by the special counsel and the subject of continuing congressional inquiries. "That's it" is premature.


TRUMP: "Instead of adding costs, as so many others have done, and other countries, frankly, are doing in many cases, and it's hurting them, for the first time in decades, we achieved regulatory savings." – White House event Thursday on cutting regulations.

THE FACTS: There's incomplete accounting behind that claim. Trump and his administration are adding up savings from the regulations that have been withdrawn through September and omitting the economic benefit that those rules provided.

All federal rules are supposed to have some economic benefit. Rules that are meant to clean up streams have a cost to industry, the government or both but also an anticipated benefit to local businesses from increased tourism, for example. The government has yardsticks to measure such gains. For one, it attaches a value to a human life. The Transportation Department, for example, set that value at $9.6 million in 2016.

So a rule that protects health, the environment or public safety and is projected to save lives as a result can be credited with an economic gain of $9.6 million or so per person saved. It's an imprecise measure but one baked into cost-benefit calculations that are used in federal rule-making. Other economic benefits are looked at, too, such as whether a regulation will save consumers money or reduce how much sick leave employees need to take.

The administration contends that it has completed 67 deregulatory actions and three regulatory actions through the end of September that will result in a cost savings of $570 million a year. But that figure does not include the offsetting of benefits that will now be missed because those rules are gone. The White House Office of Management and Budget confirmed that foregone benefits from retracted or modified rules are not part of that calculation.


TRUMP: "You remember how bad we were doing when I first took over. There was a big difference. And we were going down. This country was going economically down." – deregulation event Thursday.

THE FACTS: Not really. It's true that growth cooled in 2016, but other measures showed improvement or held steady in President Barack Obama's final year. For example, hourly wages perked up in 2016, increasing 2.9 percent in December 2016 from a year earlier. Wage growth has since slipped to a 2.5 percent annual pace.

According to the Census Bureau, median household income rose at a healthy clip in 2016 for the second year in a row, finally matching its 1999 peak. The economy expanded just 1.5 percent in 2016, down from 2.9 percent in 2015. Consumers and businesses are more optimistic after Trump's election, and that is probably accelerating growth this year. But the economy was not collapsing or heading to recession in 2016.


TRUMP: "We're lifting restrictions on American energy, and we've ended the war on coal. We have clean coal, beautiful, clean coal, another source of energy." – deregulation event Thursday.

THE FACTS: If that implies a dramatic turnaround, it's misleading. Coal production and jobs have staged a slight comeback under Trump but are still far below levels of just a few years ago.

Trump has lifted some regulations on coal mines implemented by Obama. But the industry is still struggling to compete with natural gas, which has become much cheaper because fracking techniques have greatly increased U.S. gas production. Coal production is on track this year to top last year's output, according to the Energy Information Administration. But based on current trends, it will probably still be below 2015's level and as much as 20 percent below 2011's output.

Coal mining companies have added 1,200 jobs since Trump's inauguration, but there are still 7,600 fewer such jobs than just two years ago.


Associated Press writers Joan Lowy, Christopher S. Rugaber and Josh Boak contributed to this report.


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Sydney seaplane crash: Exhaust fumes affected pilot, report confirms




The pilot of a seaplane that crashed into an Australian river, killing all on board, had been left confused and disorientated by leaking exhaust fumes, investigators have confirmed.

The Canadian pilot and five members of a British family died in the crash north of Sydney in December 2017.

All were found to have higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, a final report has found.

It recommended the mandatory fitting of gas detectors in all such planes.

British businessman Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside his 48-year-old fiancée, magazine editor Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44. Mr Cousins was the chief executive of catering giant Compass.

The family had been on a sightseeing flight in the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane when it nose-dived into the Hawkesbury River at Jerusalem Bay, about 50km (30 miles) from the city centre.

The final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed the findings of an interim report published in 2020.

It said pre-existing cracks in the exhaust collector ring were believed to have released exhaust gas into the engine bay. Holes left by missing bolts in a firewall then allowed the fumes to enter the cabin.

“As a result, the pilot would have almost certainly experienced effects such as confusion, visual disturbance and disorientation,” the report said.

“Consequently, it was likely that this significantly degraded the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”

The ATSB recommended the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider mandating the fitting of carbon monoxide detectors in piston-engine aircraft that carry passengers.

It previously issued safety advisory notices to owners and operators of such aircraft that they install detectors “with an active warning” to pilots”. Operators and maintainers of planes were also advised to carry out detailed inspections of exhaust systems and firewalls.

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Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021, says top official




Australia is unlikely to fully open its borders in 2021 even if most of its population gets vaccinated this year as planned, says a senior health official.

The comments dampen hopes raised by airlines that travel to and from the country could resume as early as July.

Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy made the prediction after being asked about the coronavirus’ escalation in other nations.

Dr Murphy spearheaded Australia’s early action to close its borders last March.

“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.

“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.

Citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions are allowed to enter Australia if they complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.

Qantas – Australia’s national carrier – reopened bookings earlier this month, after saying it expected international travel to “begin to restart from July 2021.”

However, it added this depended on the Australian government’s deciding to reopen borders.

Australia’s tight restrictions

The country opened a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand late last year, but currently it only operates one-way with inbound flights to Australia.

Australia has also discussed the option of travel bubbles with other low-risk places such as Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.

A vaccination scheme is due to begin in Australia in late February. Local authorities have resisted calls to speed up the process, giving more time for regulatory approvals.

Australia has so far reported 909 deaths and about 22,000 cases, far fewer than many nations. It reported zero locally transmitted infections on Monday.

Experts have attributed much of Australia’s success to its swift border lockdown – which affected travellers from China as early as February – and a hotel quarantine system for people entering the country.

Local outbreaks have been caused by hotel quarantine breaches, including a second wave in Melbourne. The city’s residents endured a stringent four-month lockdown last year to successfully suppress the virus.

Other outbreaks – including one in Sydney which has infected about 200 people – prompted internal border closures between states, and other restrictions around Christmas time.

The state of Victoria said on Monday it would again allow entry to Sydney residents outside of designated “hotspots”, following a decline in cases.

While the measures have been praised, many have also criticised them for separating families across state borders and damaging businesses.

Dr Murphy said overall Australia’s virus response had been “pretty good” but he believed the nation could have introduced face masks earlier and improved its protections in aged care homes.

In recent days, Australia has granted entry to about 1,200 tennis players, staff and officials for the Australian Open. The contingent – which has recorded at least nine infections – is under quarantine.

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Covid: Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown over single infection




The Australian city of Brisbane has begun a snap three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with coronavirus.

Health officials said the cleaner had the highly transmissible UK variant and they were afraid it could spread.

Brisbane has seen very few cases of the virus beyond quarantined travellers since Australia’s first wave last year.

It is the first known instance of this variant entering the Australian community outside of hotel quarantine.

The lockdown is for five populous council areas in Queensland’s state capital.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the measure on Friday morning local time, about 16 hours after the woman tested positive.

Ms Palaszczuk said the lockdown aimed to halt the virus as rapidly as possible, adding: “Doing three days now could avoid doing 30 days in the future.”

“I think everybody in Queensland… knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain,” she said.

“And we do not want to see that happening here in our great state.”

Australia has reported 28,500 coronavirus infections and 909 deaths since the pandemic began. By contrast, the US, which is the hardest-hit country, has recorded more than 21 million infections while nearly 362,000 people have died of the disease.The lockdown will begin at 18:00 on Friday (08:00 GMT) in the Brisbane city, Logan and the Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands local government areas.

Residents will only be allowed to leave home for certain reasons, such as buying essential items and seeking medical care.

For the first time, residents in those areas will also be required to wear masks outside of their homes.

Australia has faced sporadic outbreaks over the past year, with the most severe one in Melbourne triggering a lockdown for almost four months.

A pre-Christmas outbreak in Sydney caused fresh alarm, but aggressive testing and contact-tracing has kept infection numbers low. The city recorded four local cases on Friday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has pledged to start mass vaccinations in February instead of March as was planned.

Lockdown interrupts ‘near normal’ life in Brisbane

Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Brisbane

At 8:00 today I popped to the local supermarket for some bread, milk – and because it’s summer here – a mango. I was pretty much the only customer.

When I went past the same shop a couple of hours later it was a different story – 50 people standing in the drizzle – queuing to get inside as others emerged with bulging shopping bags. “Heaps busier than Christmas,” a cheery trolley attendant told me. “It’s off the scale”.

Despite the “don’t panic” messages from authorities, pictures on social media show it’s a pattern being repeated across the city.

While shutdowns are common around the world, the tough and sudden stay-at-home order for Brisbane has caught people on the hop here after months of near normality.

But while such a rapid, hard lockdown off the back of just a single case of Covid-19 will seem crazy in some parts of the world, I’ve not come across too many people complaining.

And I don’t think that’s just because Aussies love to follow a rule. This is the first time the UK variant of the virus has been detected in the community in Australia.

And nobody here wants Brisbane to go through what Melbourne suffered last year. Even if it means going without mangoes.

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