Facts Matter: No evidence women got 'a lot of money' to claim Trump misconduct

Sandwiched between the Tuesday sentencing of actor Bill Cosby for drugging and assaulting women and Christine Blasey Ford's account of a sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh Thursday, President Donald Trump addressed sexual misconduct allegations during a news conference on Wednesday.

"I was accused by four or five women who got paid a lot of money to make up stories about me," Trump said, adding one was given $52,000 to pay off her mortgage and another was paid $750,000 "to say bad things about me."

Thirteen women have accused the president of inappropriate sexual contact, according to The Washington Post. There is no evidence any of them were paid to come forward, the Post said, and no evidence they are making up stories, as many told friends or family about the incidents at the time.

Two of the women did receive money, the Post and The New York Times reported. Women's rights attorney Gloria Allred raised money to defray legal costs for Summer Zervos, who said Trump sexually assaulted her, the Times said.

And lawyer Lisa Bloom, Allred's daughter, set up a GoFundMe account for her client Jill Harth, who claims Trump groped her during a beauty pageant in the early 1990s. The account has raised $2,317 toward its goal of $10,000 but also facilitated a donation that paid off the mortgage on Harth's apartment, the Post reported.

During the campaign leading up to his 2016 election, Trump authorized payments of $130,000 to Stormy Daniels and $150,000 to Karen McDougal to prevent them from telling stories about alleged affairs with him to the media.

Cooper didn't fake hurricane coverage

False reports were recently shared on social media claiming CNN anchor Anderson Cooper faked the intensity of Hurricane Florence, according to The Associated Press.

Donald Trump Jr. tweeted an image of Cooper broadcasting in waist-deep water while his camera crew stood a few feet away in ankle-deep water, AP said. The president's son did not mention Hurricane Florence in the post.

The photo is actually from 2008 when Cooper reported from Texas during Hurricane Ike, AP said.

"I've covered hurricanes for about 14 years, and it really does make me sad to think that anyone would believe that I would try to fake something or overly dramatize a disaster," Cooper said during a broadcast last week.

Trump didn't create Bible day

A recent Facebook post claims President Trump is making Wednesday Bring Your Bible to School Day.

"I pray that every school in America is full of Bibles that day," the post said.

Bring your Bible to School Day is an annual event started in 2014 by Christian group Focus on the Family. Trump did not create the event, and it's not sponsored or sanctioned by the federal government, according to

A promotional video says nearly 500,000 students participated in the event in 2017.

Did candidate try to leave accident scene?

During a debate with Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, his Democratic opponent Beto O'Rourke admitted driving while drunk at age 26 in 1998 but said he "did not try to leave the scene of the accident."

That contradicts police reports from the time, according to The Washington Post.

The Post quotes the police report written by officer Richard Carrera as giving this timeline:

The officer was dispatched to a crash at 3 a.m. on Sept. 27, 1998, in Anthony, Texas, where he met driver O'Rourke, who told the officer "that he had caused an accident."

A witness said O'Rourke's Volvo was going fast and hit a truck going in the same direction.

"The defendant/driver then attempted to leave the scene," the report states. It later quotes the witness again as saying O'Rourke tried to leave the scene and that the witness has tried to stop him by turning on overhead lights on his vehicle.

There are inconsistencies in the reports, including the color of the Volvo and the direction of travel, the Post said.

Charges against O'Rourke were dismissed after he completed a court-appointed diversion program, the Post said. O'Rourke, now 46, turned 26 the night of the crash.

Although he claimed he didn't try to leave the scene, O'Rourke said "driving drunk, which I did, is a terrible mistake for which there is no excuse or justification or defense, and I will not try to provide one."

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at

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