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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 365)

They Said #MeToo. Now They Are Being Sued.

Westlake Legal Group 00ChinaDefame-illo-facebookJumbo They Said #MeToo. Now They Are Being Sued. Women's Rights Suits and Litigation (Civil) sexual harassment Sex Crimes Liu, Richard China #MeToo Movement

In a small courtroom in Beijing, supporters of Wang Qi huddled together, awaiting the start of China’s first #MeToo trial. Ms. Wang had accused her former boss of sexually harassing her.

But it wasn’t Ms. Wang’s former boss who was on trial. It was Ms. Wang herself.

Zhou Fei, a top official at the China branch of the World Wildlife Fund, sued Ms. Wang in August 2018, accusing his former employee of defaming him when she wrote in a social media post that he forcibly kissed her during a work trip. If Ms. Wang loses the case, she has to apologize to Mr. Zhou online and pay him $1,400.

“If one doesn’t make a sacrifice for the protection of women’s rights and interests,” she said last year, before her lawyer warned her she risked further defamation claims by talking, “there will definitely be no progress.”

In China, the accuser can quickly become the accused. At least six men publicly accused of sexual assault or harassment have sued their accusers, or people who have publicized those accusers’ claims, for defamation in the past year.

In fact, of just 34 lawsuits filed in China between 2010 and 2017 related to sexual harassment in the workplace, 19 of those were filed by the accused perpetrators, according to the Beijing Yuanzhong Gender Development Center, an advocacy group. More than half were filed by accused harassers against their employers, citing unfair dismissal or harm to their reputations. In one case, a victim had to compensate her harasser for damaging his eardrum after she slapped him. Women who said they had been harassed filed only two of the lawsuits.

As the #MeToo movement has spread, men in the United States, France, India and elsewhere have turned to the courts, sometimes successfully arguing that they had been defamed by their accusers or by the media. The most famous example might be Geoffrey Rush, the Australian actor, who in April won at least $608,000 from The Daily Telegraph newspaper in Australia.

But #MeToo activists say China represents an extreme example of using courts to suppress accusations. That can make women think twice about going public in a highly patriarchal society that often shames them for speaking out, the activists say.

The government has enacted laws banning sexual harassment but does not define the term. Enforcement is poor. Defamation laws are stacked in favor of plaintiffs, with a greater burden of proof falling on the victim. If she fails, she is presumed to be “subjectively at fault.”

Victims are often pressured to stay silent, said Li Ying, a lawyer and the director of the Yuanzhong Gender Development Center. “Our entire society is still biased, and stigmatizes victims of sexual harassment,” she said.

By some measures, though, the #MeToo movement has changed China. It inspired dozens of women to demand investigations into bosses, teachers and co-workers. In August, the government updated its civil code to increase obligations on Chinese employers to prevent sexual harassment.

But Beijing suppresses #MeToo discussions online because it fears social movements it does not control. Online allegations of sexual misconduct were one of the most heavily censored topics on the messaging platform WeChat in 2018, according to WeChatscope, a research project at the University of Hong Kong. The hashtags #MeToo and #Woyeshi (“me too” in Chinese) are banned on the Chinese internet.

Perhaps the most famous example of a #MeToo defamation suit in China is the one filed by Richard Liu, the e-commerce tycoon. Mr. Liu, founder of online retailer JD.com, is suing two Chinese bloggers for commenting on allegations that he raped a Chinese student at the University of Minnesota last year after a business dinner. Mr. Liu, who has not been charged with a crime, is demanding $436,000 plus legal expenses and an apology.

Last year, Zhou Xiaoxuan became the face of China’s #MeToo movement after she accused Zhu Jun, an anchor for China Central Television, the state-run broadcaster, of sexually assaulting her in 2014. Last year, Mr. Zhu filed a defamation suit against Ms. Zhou describing her accusations as “blatantly fabricated and viciously spread” and seeking about $95,000 in damages.

Ms. Zhou countersued, claiming damage to her dignity.

In July, a court in the city of Shenzhen heard a defamation case filed by Xu Gang, a former professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, against the Wesleyan University professor Wang Ao after Dr. Wang posted on social media that several students had been sexually assaulted by Dr. Xu. Dr. Xu has denied the allegations, which his lawyer has said are defamatory.

In September, Dr. Wang and two of Dr. Xu’s former students filed a lawsuit in Illinois, accusing Dr. Xu of rape, sexual abuse and assault.

The following month, the Chinese court sided with Dr. Xu and awarded him more than $14,000, said Dr. Wang, who said he would appeal.

Incidents often occurred a long time ago and victims often do not retain the evidence, making their cases difficult to prove.

Belinda He, who nine years ago was a 21-year-old intern at a weekly Chinese newsmagazine, accused an older colleague of forcibly kissing her and taking off her clothes in a hotel room. Still, she did not make her allegations public for a long time.

When Zou Sicong, another former journalist, heard Ms. He’s account, he was outraged. Ms. He wrote an article about the incident and passed it to Mr. Zou, who posted it on his personal WeChat account in August 2018. The article named the accused, Deng Fei, the chief correspondent of the magazine. Ms. He was identified as “Lady C.”

Three months later, Mr. Deng sued Mr. Zou for defamation. In August, Ms. He received a court notice that Mr. Deng had also decided to sue her on the same charge.

Mr. Zou said he wants to help women like Ms. He seek justice and to defend his freedom of speech.

“It’s part of my value system and I’m willing to pay the price for it,” he said.

Many of those difficulties have played out in the defamation trial of Ms. Wang, the former W.W.F. employee. Women’s rights activists call it the first trial over sexual harassment since the #MeToo movement emerged in China.

On July 2018, Ms. Wang wrote on Weibo that “a certain leader in W.W.F. surnamed Zhou” kissed her after a drunken night on March 14, 2016 during a work trip. She resigned from her job in 2017 after being diagnosed with depression, she said.

Some people asked her why she was making a big fuss over just a kiss. Her friends warned her not to talk about the incident, telling her she had to “be careful.”

“I am just angry,” Ms. Wang wrote. “I have no ability to take him to court.”

Ms. Wang said that in the wake of her social-media posts, dozens of women wrote to her, “saying they had similar encounters but they didn’t dare to speak up.”

Mr. Zhou did not respond to requests for comment made through the W.W.F. and did not answer calls to his mobile phone.

On a chilly day in December 2018, Ms. Wang appeared before a judge in a small courtroom in Beijing as she prepared to defend herself. Her lawyers, journalists, and a supporter — six people in total — were crammed into the four available seats.

When Mr. Zhou, her former boss, walked in, Ms. Wang avoided eye contact. The supporter, Tang Ke, stared at him. Ms. Tang said she did not know Ms. Wang personally but decided to come after she saw her post on Weibo.

“Look at him, how can he still be smiling?” asked Ms. Tang through gritted teeth.

Later, the judge asked the observers to explain what they were doing in court. Mr. Zhou’s lawyers then argued that the trial had to be closed to the public, citing their client’s privacy. The judge approved the request, prompting a protest from Ms. Tang.

Outside the courtroom, Ms. Tang said she, too, was a victim of sexual assault by three men. She called Mr. Zhou a “bully” for suing Ms. Wang, and said that she was at the courthouse to take a stand against the government censorship of #MeToo.

“If every woman is able to speak out about sexual assault and expose these men online, then men will have to pay a price,” said Ms. Tang.

“And if there is a price to pay, then they will not dare to do such things.”

Ultimately, Mr. Zhou prevailed in China’s first #MeToo trial. This week, the court sided with him and against Ms. Wang. Though she will not have to pay him $1,400 in damages, the court ordered her to apologize to him and to delete her accusatory posts.

Elsie Chen and Amber Wang contributed research.

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Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn proposes to NHL star P.K. Subban: ‘he said Yes!’

Westlake Legal Group Vonn-subban-cropped-1157pm Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn proposes to NHL star P.K. Subban: 'he said Yes!' Jack Durschlag fox-news/us fox-news/sports/olympics fox-news/sports/nhl/new-jersey-devils fox-news/sports/nhl fox-news/sports fox-news/person/lindsey-vonn fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox news fnc/sports fnc f3c438ce-123a-5855-af07-686f633d463c article

Former ski racer Lindsey Vonn has always been a bit of a non-traditionalist in everything she’s done, whether competing in the Olympics or her high-profile relationship with golfer Tiger Woods.

LINDSEY VONN, NHL STAR P.K. SUBBAN EYEING ‘SUMMER NEXT YEAR’ FOR WEDDING DATE

The 35-year-old has gone and done it again – announcing on Twitter on Christmas Day she’s asked her boyfriend, defenseman P.K. Subban of the NHL‘s New Jersey Devils to marry her.

Vonn announced she popped the question to Subban in a tweet saying: “Merry Christmas and happy holidays everyone!! On our 2 year anniversary, in a “non traditional” move, I asked PK to marry me and he said, Yes (bashful emoji) ! Women aren’t the only ones who should get engagement rings!”

She closed her tweet with hashtags “MerryChristmas” and “equality.”

LINDSEY VONN AND HER BOYFRIEND, PK SUBBAN, WEAR SAME SWIMSUIT FOR JULY 4: ‘WHO WORE IT BETTER?’

The tweet also included a link to a picture of Vonn and Subban with the ring, while the couple appeared in matching striped pajamas in front of a Christmas tree with three dogs in the foreground. In addition, the tweet included a close-up of Subban flashing the ring, with the words “Drip drip” and a blue teardrop.

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In an August Instagram post about the couple’s relationship and possible engagement, Vonn said:  “I said YES!!! 💍❤️Can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with this crazy/kind/handsome/hyper/giving man #heputaringonit #isaidyes,” Vonn captioned a video of the couple chatting about the major moment, including plans for a summer 2020 wedding date, Fox News reported.

Subban, 30, won the 2013 Norris Trophy with Montreal as the NHL’s top defenseman. He was traded to New Jersey from Nashville in June.

Westlake Legal Group Vonn-subban-cropped-1157pm Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn proposes to NHL star P.K. Subban: 'he said Yes!' Jack Durschlag fox-news/us fox-news/sports/olympics fox-news/sports/nhl/new-jersey-devils fox-news/sports/nhl fox-news/sports fox-news/person/lindsey-vonn fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox news fnc/sports fnc f3c438ce-123a-5855-af07-686f633d463c article   Westlake Legal Group Vonn-subban-cropped-1157pm Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn proposes to NHL star P.K. Subban: 'he said Yes!' Jack Durschlag fox-news/us fox-news/sports/olympics fox-news/sports/nhl/new-jersey-devils fox-news/sports/nhl fox-news/sports fox-news/person/lindsey-vonn fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox news fnc/sports fnc f3c438ce-123a-5855-af07-686f633d463c article

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump warns California: Fix homeless crisis – or feds will step in

Good morning and welcome to Fox News First. Here’s what you need to know as you start your Thursday …

Trump warns California governor to fix state’s homeless crisis – or else
President Trump had a Christmas Day message for California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday, and it wasn’t “Happy Holidays!”

Instead, Trump delivered an ultimatum to the Democrat first-term governor regarding the Golden State’s homeless crisis, warning of federal intervention if the problem isn’t addressed soon.

“Governor Gavin N has done a really bad job on taking care of the homeless population in California,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “If he can’t fix the problem, the Federal Govt. will get involved!”

Images of homeless people camped out on streets and in public parks have become commonplace in San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as the state’s smaller cities. In addition, tech giant Oracle this month moved its long-running OpenWorld conference to Las Vegas, reportedly citing San Francisco’s “poor street conditions” as a factor.

Trump’s latest criticism of Newsom came nearly two months after the president scorched the governor for doing a “terrible job of forest management” as wildfires raged across California.

He also warned Newsom that federal funding to battle the wildfires could stop if the state fails to improve its forest management system. Click here for more on our top story.

Booming US economy helps spread Christmas cheer
Holiday sales rose by more than 3 percent this year – with an 18.8 percent increase in online shopping – as more plentiful jobs and fatter paychecks put American consumers in a spending mood this Christmas season.

Pro-U.S. trade deals in the latter half of the year, have also helped drive the U.S. stock market to record levels – making for what White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow calls a “terrific” economy.

“We are in a middle-class boom,” Kudlow told FOX Business’ “Bulls and Bears” last week. “Wage-earners, people on the production line are making faster wage increases than their managers. Average income nationwide is up $5,000 after-tax, in the prior two administrations it was flat.”

President Trump helped spread the good news with a Twitter message on Christmas Day.

“2019 HOLIDAY RETAIL SALES WERE UP 3.4% FROM LAST YEAR, THE BIGGEST NUMBER IN U.S. HISTORY,” Trump wrote. “CONGRATULATIONS AMERICA!” Click here for more.

National debt disappears as 2020 campaign issue – but it keeps growing
Remember the Tea Party revolution? “Taxed enough already!,” they shouted, in hopes of forcing Washington to address runaway spending.

Well, guess what? Nearly a decade later, no major presidential candidates from either party seem interested in a national debt that now stands at more than $23 trillion, leaving every American citizen on the hook for almost $70,000.

Meanwhile, the federal deficit — or the annual budget shortfall — is more than $1 trillion.

Democrats generally blame the Trump tax cuts for the rising budget deficit. But both parties have gone along with more spending.

Just last week, Congress passed and Trump signed a $1.4 trillion budget package that boosts spending levels and is expected to add hundreds of billions to the debt over the next decade. In July, the Democratic House and Republican Senate passed, and Trump signed, a budget to temporarily suspend the debt ceiling and hike federal spending by $300 million.

But Jenny Beth Martin, founder of the Tea Party Patriots, remains hopeful that Trump has the American taxpayers’ backs in the long term.

“What President Trump has done in his first term is reform government and cut regulation,” she said. “He has begun to reduce the size and scope of government and his policies are also growing the economy. The only way to get a balanced budget is to cut spending and grow the economy.” Click here for more.

MAKING HEADLINES:
Tennessee man wanted in bar stabbings that killed 2, including 49ers QB’s brother, arrested
MSNBC’s Chuck Todd faces backlash for confusing Toni Morrison with Maya Angelou
Rachel Maddow says ‘implosion’ of NRA would be ‘biggest’ political story if not for impeachment

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TODAY’S MUST-READS
Wisconsin waitress gets $1,300 tip after valiant cancer fight alongside her sister
Navy SEAL who survived 37 surgeries tells tale of redemption and shares how he overcame adversity
‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ film secrets you probably haven’t heard

THE LATEST FROM FOX BUSINESS
How to snag the real deals the day after Christmas
Tesla faces burgeoning threat in US electric-vehicle market
China ramped up US soybean purchases to 20-month high ahead of partial trade deal 

SOME PARTING WORDS

During a Christmas Day broadcast of “Your World,” the Rev. Robert Sirico of The Acton Institute said people should reflect on opportunities for peace in the midst of “very contentious circumstances.”

Not signed up yet for Fox News First? Click here to find out what you’re missing.

Fox News First is compiled by Fox News’ Bryan Robinson. Thank you for making us your first choice in the morning! We’ll see you in your inbox first thing Friday morning.

Westlake Legal Group 0dfb02fd-Trump-Newsome_AP Trump warns California: Fix homeless crisis – or feds will step in fox-news/columns/fox-news-first fox news fnc/us fnc article 84dd37bd-31bd-5be4-a092-c004595e5353   Westlake Legal Group 0dfb02fd-Trump-Newsome_AP Trump warns California: Fix homeless crisis – or feds will step in fox-news/columns/fox-news-first fox news fnc/us fnc article 84dd37bd-31bd-5be4-a092-c004595e5353

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Matthew Barnett: Opioid epidemic is destroying us — here’s a way forward

Westlake Legal Group Opioids112719 Matthew Barnett: Opioid epidemic is destroying us — here's a way forward Matthew Barnett fox-news/topic/opioid-crisis fox-news/opinion fox-news/health/mental-health/addiction fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/opinion fnc e9cff2bb-c2e9-595c-98e2-df40fcede6bc article

Beau was a young man with a bright future ahead of him. He began his first year of college while still a senior in high school, and he earned good grades. He enjoyed baseball, basketball and snowboarding. He had a desire to help others, especially in their worst moments, so he chose to pursue a degree in emergency medical studies. Upon graduation from college, he had a stable job as a medical professional at a hospital.

Yet, Beau’s life was not what it appeared to be.

After he finished his shifts at the hospital, Beau sold prescription opioids across state lines. Soon, Beau was using high quantities of prescription Oxycodone himself on a daily basis. His life began to spiral out of control.

JUSTIN HASKINS: CONGRESS, PASS THIS OBAMACARE FIX NOW BEFORE FAMILIES SUFFER

With a life now saddled with addiction and illegal drug sales, Beau eventually found himself in jail. However, if he stayed clean for a year, his charges would be dropped. But not long into his probation Beau was arrested twice in the same month on drug charges.

“I was in a pretty dark place,” Beau told us.

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Beau met with his probation officer and pleaded for mercy. She told him that if he would commit himself to an inpatient rehabilitation program for six months and make it through, then his charges would not be held against him.

In the turmoil of his drug addiction, Beau learned about the Los Angeles Dream Center. Although Beau initially balked at the idea of traveling 3,000 miles from home, he sensed something was telling him to go. He arrived in November of 2016 and planned to stay only six months.

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“The first two weeks were really hard,” Beau said. “I was sober for the first time in years, and I felt good. I didn’t have that want.”

It was such a positive experience that Beau decided to stay. He is now entering his third year at the Dream Center and is in the Transitions Program, a residential program that helps prepare men and women to return to independent living after recovering from addiction or abuse. He has a job and is studying to retake his EMT certification, with hopes of joining the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

“I’m so grateful for the Dream Center,” Beau said. “Without this program, I don’t know where I would be.”

Beau’s story is one that resonates with many Americans. Today, our country is in the midst of an epidemic unlike anything we have ever seen. If this opioid crisis is not reversed, thousands more lives will be destroyed.

An addict needs an internal to external transformation, a way to reform a person’s identity that will in effect transform one’s mindset, decision-making and behavior.  

From 2011 to 2017, in my home of Los Angeles County, there were approximately 2,784 opioid-related deaths. In fact, deaths from opioids peaked in Los Angeles County in 2017, a significant increase from past years.

We at the Dream Center believe that in order to defeat any kind of addiction, the deeper reasons why people like Beau fall into this trap have to be identified. Most of our residents who have a past with addiction have dealt with sexual abuse, abusive parents, the death of a loved one, bullying or peer pressure throughout their childhood. As these traumatic events linger into their adult years, many turn to opioids to cope.

We find a holistic approach (attention to mind, body and spirit) is the only way to fully heal from drug addiction. An addict needs an internal to external transformation, a way to reform a person’s identity that will in effect transform one’s mindset, decision-making and behavior.

For the first few months, residents in our program go through detox in order to clear their minds and prepare them for the classes and work therapy included in the later stages of the program. The classes they take are a combination of life skills (finance, boundaries and character traits) and faith-based teaching.

The typical 30-day programs readily available simply aren’t a sufficient amount of time for someone to withdraw from addiction, physically heal and then transition back into society. Our residents agree that the one year they are required to commit with us is the most effective amount of time to fully recover.

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I’ve met many men and women who, like Beau, battle the demons of drug addiction. In reality, Beau’s story could be any of ours. Any one of us could fall prey to addiction. Check in with your spouse, children, siblings, friends and colleagues. The important thing is acknowledging when it’s happening and getting a hand up to beat this vicious cycle.

If you find that you are heartbroken by this epidemic, I encourage you to volunteer with the Dream Center or other similar organizations. This is a national problem, and it will take the transformation of a nation — one life at a time — to end it.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BY MATTHEW BARNETT

Westlake Legal Group Opioids112719 Matthew Barnett: Opioid epidemic is destroying us — here's a way forward Matthew Barnett fox-news/topic/opioid-crisis fox-news/opinion fox-news/health/mental-health/addiction fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/opinion fnc e9cff2bb-c2e9-595c-98e2-df40fcede6bc article   Westlake Legal Group Opioids112719 Matthew Barnett: Opioid epidemic is destroying us — here's a way forward Matthew Barnett fox-news/topic/opioid-crisis fox-news/opinion fox-news/health/mental-health/addiction fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/opinion fnc e9cff2bb-c2e9-595c-98e2-df40fcede6bc article

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Behind a U.A.W. Crisis: Lavish Meals and Luxury Villas

On a single day in December 2015, Gary Jones, who resigned last month as president of the United Automobile Workers, spent more than $13,000 of the union’s money at a cigar store in Arizona. His purchases included a dozen $268 boxes of Ashton Double Magnums and a dozen boxes of Ashton Monarchs at $274.50 each. “Hi Gary, Thank you & Happy New Year,” read a handwritten note from the store.

The purchases, documented by a federal complaint filed against a union leader in September, were part of more than $60,000 in cigars and cigar paraphernalia that Mr. Jones and other U.A.W. officials expensed to the union between 2014 and 2018. And the cigar purchases were in turn just a small portion of the roughly $1 million in union money that court filings say U.A.W. officials spent on golf outings, four-figure dinners and monthslong villa rentals during regular retreats in Palm Springs, Calif., and elsewhere.

The scandal comes on top of an investigation into company and union officials’ improper use of millions of dollars from a joint Fiat Chrysler-U.A.W. training center. Mr. Jones’s predecessor as president, Dennis Williams, is accused of encouraging the use of Fiat Chrysler funds meant for worker education as a way to pay for the extravagant spending in Palm Springs and other places.

In direct financial terms, the scandals don’t approach the scale of the corruption that plagued organized labor in the 1960s and ’70s.

But the stakes are nonetheless enormous, given the U.A.W.’s outsize influence over auto manufacturing, a pillar of the United States economy that generates hundreds of billions of dollars in annual revenue and employs hundreds of thousands of workers. The union’s 40-day strike against General Motors this year cost the automaker an estimated $3 billion in profit. Last month, G.M. contended in a lawsuit that Fiat Chrysler had bribed the U.A.W. to help it undermine G.M. by manipulating labor costs.

And no one in the union had more influence over the industry than its two flawed former presidents.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_89194883_1f88e19f-91bb-44fd-bde8-2f3153cea1c2-articleLarge Behind a U.A.W. Crisis: Lavish Meals and Luxury Villas Williams, Dennis (1953- ) United Automobile Workers Organized Labor Jones, Gary (1956- ) General Motors Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV embezzlement Automobiles

Dennis Williams was president of the U.A.W. from 2014 to 2018 and backed Gary Jones as his successor.Credit…Joshua Lott/Reuters

Mr. Williams, 66, who was president from 2014 to 2018, is a former welder and by most accounts a committed progressive, but also a man susceptible to the perquisites of power. According to court documents, Mr. Williams and his team celebrated a Fiat Chrysler labor agreement they negotiated in 2015 with a $7,000 dinner paid for by the company. The agreement was so disliked by rank-and-file members that they soon took the highly unusual step of rejecting it.

Mr. Jones, 62, a union accountant known both for asking colleagues to pray and for lashing them with profanity, is said to have used the illicit Palm Springs spending to win over union power brokers and help him secure the top job in 2018. As president, Mr. Jones led the U.A.W. into its recent G.M. strike just weeks after federal agents raided his house and hauled away more than $30,000 in cash.

Of the more than 15 current or former U.A.W. officials interviewed for this article, most declined to comment on the record, citing an ethos of silence at the union or a fear of retribution. But together with government documents, the picture they paint of Mr. Jones and Mr. Williams suggests a leadership that has at times aspired more to the role of fat cat than defender of workers. The consequences for the rank and file may take decades to tally fully.

“There was a culture of corrupt activities spanning years. That’s what we’re trying to turn around,” said Matthew Schneider, the United States attorney in Detroit, who is leading the investigation into the U.A.W. “The purpose of the union is not to serve the leadership. It is to serve the members.”

Mr. Jones and Mr. Williams have not been charged and appear in court filings only as “Official A” and “Official B,” pseudonyms that two union officials told The Times refer to them, a fact that other news organizations have also confirmed. In an email, Bruce Maffeo, a lawyer representing Mr. Jones, dismissed the accusations as stemming “from public documents in which Gary was not charged.”

A person close to Mr. Williams rejected the accusation, first reported in The Detroit News, that he urged the diversion and misuse of training center funds.

At the heart of the U.A.W. embezzlement scandal, which dates back at least to 2013, was an elaborate hospitality tab known as the “master account.” Union officials opened such accounts at hotels like the Renaissance Palm Springs, the site of an annual series of conferences. According to the federal complaint, union officials billed to this account not just rooms and food that they bought at the hotel but also a variety of other expenses weeks before and after the conferences.

Union officials did conduct work at the meetings, including discussing contract enforcement and upcoming negotiations. But the gatherings also appeared to be a pretext for power brokers to enjoy a comfortable winter getaway.

Among the expenses charged to the master account were the villas, which were tucked away in a gated community and cost about $5,000 a month, and dinners that ran into thousands of dollars. The bill for one meal at LG’s Prime Steakhouse topped $6,500 and featured a $1,760 charge for four bottles of Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne.

Union officials also spent more than $80,000 at the Indian Canyons Golf Resort in Palm Springs for green fees, shoes, golf bags, sunglasses, shirts and “fashion shorts,” according to the complaint. They shipped many of these items home to Michigan on a semi-truck.

Mr. Williams, who was the U.A.W. president for much of this period, was often the gravitational center of the Palm Springs sabbaticals. According to the federal complaint, the union paid for a monthlong stay for Mr. Williams at a villa in the winter of 2013-14. Two years later, the union paid for more than three months.

In interviews, union officials said Mr. Williams would spend his days in Palm Springs conferring with aides and colleagues on the phone and in person, sometimes while playing golf. Nights were frequently given to socializing.

The villa at a resort that was rented for Mr. Williams.Credit…Patrick T. Fallon for The New York Times A golf course at the resort, the Desert Princess Country Club.Credit…Patrick T. Fallon for The New York Times

Two former U.A.W. officials recalled a night in which a few dozen people, including the wives of male officials, gathered at Mr. Williams’s villa for pizza. The men gathered around a fire on the back patio, where they smoked cigars, drank whiskey and discussed car restoration projects.

The federal complaint said that friends of Mr. Williams who had “no legitimate reason to attend” union events joined him in Palm Springs on the U.A.W.’s dime.

The arrangement helped create an in crowd and an out crowd at the union. Officials who were uneasy with the cigar-and-whiskey atmosphere in Palm Springs were left out and had more limited interactions with Mr. Williams. Three former officials said in interviews that they rarely saw him in Detroit during the winter.

Other U.A.W. officials spent far more time in Palm Springs over the winter, including those tasked with negotiating the union’s contract with Fiat Chrysler. These officials charged more than $25,000 in Palm Springs meals to the company in January 2015 alone, according to court documents.

A person close to Mr. Williams said that Mr. Williams was frequently traveling away from Palm Springs on union business during the dates in which the villas were rented on his behalf. The person also said that no one enjoyed special influence over Mr. Williams as a result of additional face time with him.

According to documents filed by prosecutors, the orchestrator of the master account was Mr. Jones, the U.A.W. president who resigned in November.

Mr. Jones spent more than a decade as an accountant and senior aide at the union’s headquarters before 2004, when he became assistant director of the union’s Region 5, then one of 11 geographic units.

The U.A.W.’s regions are often run like fiefs, but Region 5, which was based in Missouri but sprawled all the way to the West Coast, was more fieflike than most.

According to two Region 5 officials, the region’s longtime director, Jim Wells, had a knack for extracting cash from members and staff, and there were few constraints on how he spent it. They said that under Mr. Wells, staff members were expected to buy a Region 5 jacket every four years at a cost of $1,000, ostensibly to support Mr. Wells’s campaign for re-election as director.

Elizabeth Bunn, who served as the U.A.W.’s second-ranking officer from 2002 to 2010, said that under Mr. Wells, Palm Springs was known as a place where officials could enjoy themselves at union expense for well beyond the length of a conference, though the behavior may have been legal. Ms. Bunn also recalled facing internal pressure while investigating wrongdoing in the region.

“A lot of people saw things and did not react with the moral clarity that they exercised in every other situation,” she said.

Mr. Wells died in 2012. A U.A.W. press officer declined to comment on those complaints.

Mr. Jones did not appear to blanch at this culture of financial laxness. At least as early as 2010, according to court filings, Mr. Jones and a colleague began submitting receipts that had already been reimbursed, or that they had manufactured, to a fund that supports the union’s political efforts. The two men would split the reimbursement. Mr. Jones personally received hundreds of thousands of dollars from this scheme from 2010 to 2017, according to prosecutors.

After Mr. Jones became regional director in 2012, he took an active role in directing the Palm Springs spending, prosecutors have asserted. U.A.W. officials who wanted to play golf or buy golf apparel were told to charge the purchase to the Gary Jones “group,” and the bill would flow to the master account at the Renaissance Hotel. The hotel declined to comment.

A crucial purpose of the spending by Mr. Jones was to “curry favor with U.A.W. ‘Official B,’ who also enjoyed the lavish lifestyle,” according to the federal complaint, referring to Mr. Williams.

In interviews, three union officials said it was clear that Mr. Jones was courting Mr. Williams in order to succeed him as president. One Region 5 official noted that Mr. Jones, who was not previously a regular cigar smoker, turned himself into a cigar aficionado in the mold of Mr. Williams after becoming regional director. The official said Mr. Jones acquired a few humidors for the regional headquarters in Hazelwood, Mo.

Colleagues said that despite their expensive tastes, Mr. Jones and Mr. Williams were a study in contrasts. Mr. Williams told fellow officials in the 2000s that he was a socialist. As union president, he hired consultants to bolster the union’s organizing efforts in areas like higher education and technology, including those at the electric carmaker Tesla.

Mr. Jones, by contrast, appeared to be more conservative and less interested in new organizing opportunities. He blocked a promising effort to organize thousands of research assistants within the University of California system, according to two officials.

The officials said Mr. Jones feared that adding members in higher education would threaten his power base among blue-collar workers. When Mr. Jones would meet with graduate students, according to two Region 5 officials, he would often joke that “my major was partying” as a way to belittle their academic experience.

In the end, the power of U.A.W. regional directors is such that Mr. Williams, normally a charismatic leader, was unable to move Mr. Jones on some of his top organizing priorities, three current and former officials said. Mr. Jones also later pushed to let most of the union’s Tesla organizers go.

“Gary started as a factory worker for Ford and dedicated over 40 years of his life as a member and officer of the U.A.W. to improving the lives of that union’s members and their families,” said his lawyer, Mr. Maffeo.

But Mr. Jones’s intransigence did not stop his ascent within the union.

When the union’s board discussed whom to back for president in fall 2017, its members were aware that Mr. Williams supported Mr. Jones, according to several people close to the situation. They said the rest of the board quickly backed Mr. Jones as well, all but ensuring that he would take over the union at its convention the following June.

These people said in interviews that Mr. Jones was the only viable candidate by this point, but two also said that Mr. Williams’s support had helped ensure that this was the case.

Since Mr. Jones resigned as president last month, the U.A.W. board has replaced him with Rory Gamble, who previously oversaw the union’s negotiations with Ford. Mr. Gamble has put forth reforms to “deliver a clean union on solid footing” by the time he retires from the post in 2022.

They include regular audits of spending by programs run jointly with automakers, a new ethics officer and an ethics hotline. Mr. Gamble also announced that Mr. Jones’s former region would be split into two pieces that would each be merged into another region.

And he has indicated that he intends to press for more, unspecified changes. “We have a lot more stuff we’re going to be doing,” Mr. Gamble said in an interview.

But many current and former U.A.W. officials say that to be truly effective, the reforms must reduce the power of the union’s board members. They said that cozy relationships among union leaders may have led them to tolerate questionable behavior by one another.

Bob King, who was the union’s president from 2010 to 2014, confronted colleagues about improper training center spending, according to court documents. He said in an interview that he had not sufficiently scrutinized Mr. Jones’s former region, partly because he was focused on preserving unity among leadership.

“I do feel anger and responsibility,” Mr. King said. “I should have been looking at some stuff more closely. I would really encourage the current board to not make the same mistakes.”

Mr. King said he supported the union’s current reform efforts but urged it to go further. “They have to figure out how to create a system that is more open and transparent,” he said. “It’s not about a few bad apples.”

Matthew Goldstein contributed reporting. Susan Beachy contributed research.

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Trump Hotel Room Prices Spiked 13x Last Weekend. We Finally Know Why.

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New Mexico police say 4 bodies found inside home after gunfire

Westlake Legal Group Crime-scene-iStock New Mexico police say 4 bodies found inside home after gunfire fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/new-mexico fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox-news/us/crime fox news fnc/us fnc Dom Calicchio article 6a5605ac-d0f5-557d-a5fd-162280d4b88a

Police in New Mexico are investigating the circumstances that led to four people being found dead from gunshot wounds on Christmas Day in a home on a quiet suburban neighborhood north of Albuquerque.

Officers were called to the scene around 4:14 p.m. in Rio Rancho, a town of about 94,000 residents, where many homes were decorated with Christmas lights.

PHILADELPHIA MAN KILLS WOMAN, INJURES HER 14-YEAR-OLD SON IN STABBING IN FRONT OF KIDS, POLICE SAY

No suspect was in custody in connection with the shootings, but authorities believe no threat to the general public existed, Capt. Andrew Rodriguez of the Rio Rancho police told the Albuquerque Journal.

A woman who claimed to be a relative of the family that lived in the home said her brother and mother had gone inside and found two of the bodies. She said her family and the gunshot victims had been together the night before for a Christmas Eve celebration and were supposed to meet again Wednesday.

“I just had a feeling something was wrong, cause since yesterday in the evening I was telling my sister my heart was heavy and racing and I didn’t know why,” Rose Varona told KRQE-TV of Albuquerque.

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“I really don’t understand what’s going on,” she added. “We just try to draw the strength from God, even though we don’t understand what’s going on.”

Authorities would not disclose any information about the identities, ages or relationships of the victims. But Rio Rancho police said they would provide more information when they can.

Westlake Legal Group Crime-scene-iStock New Mexico police say 4 bodies found inside home after gunfire fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/new-mexico fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox-news/us/crime fox news fnc/us fnc Dom Calicchio article 6a5605ac-d0f5-557d-a5fd-162280d4b88a   Westlake Legal Group Crime-scene-iStock New Mexico police say 4 bodies found inside home after gunfire fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/new-mexico fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox-news/us/crime fox news fnc/us fnc Dom Calicchio article 6a5605ac-d0f5-557d-a5fd-162280d4b88a

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Jason Greenblatt: Palestinian terror attack shows Israel needs US support – Trump gives it, Sanders wouldn’t

Westlake Legal Group benjamin-netanyahu-3-AP Jason Greenblatt: Palestinian terror attack shows Israel needs US support – Trump gives it, Sanders wouldn’t Jason Greenblatt fox-news/world/world-regions/israel fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/benjamin-netanyahu fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc c66c14c7-b60f-5a76-a601-4a62d8d8b12f article

The rocket attack Wednesday by Palestinian terrorists on an Israeli city where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was appearing at an election campaign event is just the latest example of how the Gaza Strip has become a base for anti-Semitic murderers out to kill as many Jews as possible.

Fortunately, Israel’s Iron Dome defense system – supplied by the United States – destroyed the terrorist rocket in midair, before it could kill or injure anyone in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon. Thanks to President Trump and his strong support of Israel’s right to self-defense, the Jewish state can count on America as its most powerful and reliable friend.

Netanyahu was rushed offstage and into a bomb shelter when the incoming rocket was detected. This was the second time he had to be rushed to a bomb shelter while campaigning, following an earlier incident in September.

NETANYAHU RUSHED TO BOMB SHELTER AFTER ROCKET ATTACK ON SOUTHERN ISRAEL

Israel responded forcefully and justifiably to the unprovoked rocket fired from Gaza. Israeli Defense Forces fighter jets and helicopters attacked targets used by the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza, including the group’s military complexes.

Let’s imagine for a moment what the reaction of the United States would be – under any leader who takes the security of Americans seriously – if a rocket attack was launched toward a campaign event being held by a presidential candidate.

What would America or any other nation do? I think it is fair to say that the reaction to such an attack would be quick, decisive and punishing.

More from Opinion

Yet no matter what Israel does, and no matter the extraordinary lengths it goes to avoid civilian casualties, its critics in other nations – including some Democratic politicians here in the U.S. – hold it to an impossible and discriminatory standard.

One of those leveling the harshest, most absurd and most frequent attacks on Israel is self-proclaimed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

At the debate of Democratic presidential candidates held last week, Sanders said that as president he would change U.S. foreign policy so it is “not just being pro-Israel. We must be pro-Palestinian, as well.”

Sanders added that “right now, Israel is under the leadership of Netanyahu, who has recently been indicted for bribery, who in my view, is a racist.”

This slur on the leader of Israel echoes the anti-Semitic claims of Israel’s enemies, who falsely argue that Zionism itself – the movement supporting a Jewish homeland where Judaism was born more than 3,000 years ago – is a racist philosophy,

This past November, at the annual J Street conference, Sanders threatened Israel by saying: “You get $3.8 billion every year. If you want military aid, you’re going to have to fundamentally change your relationship to the people of Gaza. . . .  In fact, I think it is fair to say that some of that should go right now into humanitarian aid in Gaza.”

The sheer absurdity of this statement shows just how far left and how anti-Israel some in the Democratic Party have gone. It also shows a complete lack of recognition that the state of Israel is one of the greatest allies of the United States.

The plain truth is that Israel’s stability and security is essential to the security of numerous Arab countries in the region, as well as to the United States. If not for Israel and the U.S., the fanatical anti-American dictatorship that rules Iran would pose an even greater threat to all its neighbors and to the U.S.

The anti-Israel views of Sanders and some other Democrats irrationally promote rewarding Hamas and its partner in crime Palestinian Islamic Jihad for their acts of terror against Israelis, and for the tremendous suffering they inflict on Palestinians victimized by Hamas’ brutal rule of Gaza.

The Sanders position also falsely suggests that humanitarian aid can fix the tragedy that is Gaza. For years now, well-meaning countries and international organizations have tried to help the people of Gaza. Yet year after year, nothing changes.

Most people not blinded by hostility to Israel recognize that no meaningful help can come to the Palestinians in Gaza unless dramatic changes occur within Gaza and within Palestinian politics.

The claim by Sanders and other critics of Israel that Palestinians in Gaza are suffering is correct. But the suffering is not caused by Israel – it is caused by the Palestinian terrorists who rule Gaza as despots, depriving Palestinians of the legal rights and human rights all Arabs living in Israel receive.

The truth is that Israel is doing its best to manage an almost impossible situation of trying to keep its own citizens safe while, to the extent possible, avoiding harming Palestinians in Gaza.

Many Israel-bashers around the world have protested about how Israel is blockading Gaza. But few have discussed the underlying reasons for Israel restricting the entry into Gaza of goods and material that are repurposed by terrorists and radical thugs into weapons of war to murder and maim Israelis.

Even fewer people speak about the truckloads of aid that Israel allows into Gaza in an effort to alleviate suffering caused to the Palestinians by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

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Anyone interested in bettering Palestinian lives and working toward peace must acknowledge that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are interested in nothing short of the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel and the murder of the Jews living there.

Israel must continue to defend itself. It must defend its citizens and its prime minister, its democracy, and all that it stands for. It must defend itself against the Jew-hatred of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and all other evil individuals and groups that work relentlessly to destroy it.

Israel defends itself with the friendship and support of President Trump and the Trump administration. The president and his administration have stood up for Israel to the degree that perhaps no other president or American administration have. The contrast between Sen. Sanders and some of the other Democratic candidates for president as compared to President Trump could not be starker.

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The time has come for people to understand that the state of Israel can, will and must defend itself against its enemies wherever and whenever they arise.

And the time has come to recognize that Palestinians will continue to lag behind and peace will be unlikely to be achieved until terrorists who hate Israel more than they love their own people remain in power.

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Westlake Legal Group benjamin-netanyahu-3-AP Jason Greenblatt: Palestinian terror attack shows Israel needs US support – Trump gives it, Sanders wouldn’t Jason Greenblatt fox-news/world/world-regions/israel fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/benjamin-netanyahu fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc c66c14c7-b60f-5a76-a601-4a62d8d8b12f article   Westlake Legal Group benjamin-netanyahu-3-AP Jason Greenblatt: Palestinian terror attack shows Israel needs US support – Trump gives it, Sanders wouldn’t Jason Greenblatt fox-news/world/world-regions/israel fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/benjamin-netanyahu fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc c66c14c7-b60f-5a76-a601-4a62d8d8b12f article

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Judge Andrew Napolitano: Christmas in America

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6118036826001_6118034191001-vs Judge Andrew Napolitano: Christmas in America fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/opinion fox-news/lifestyle/occasions/christmas fox news fnc/opinion fnc article Andrew Napolitano 7b9a0f26-0390-57c8-bddd-a5cd11475c7b

What if Christmas is a core value of belief in a personal God who lived among us and His freely given promise of eternal salvation that no believer should reject or apologize for? What if Christmas is the rebirth of Christ in the hearts of all believers? What if Christmas is the potential rebirth of Christ in every heart that will have Him, whether a believer or not?

What if Jesus Christ was born about 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem? What if He is true God and true man? What if this is a mystery and a miracle? What if this came about as part of God’s plan for the salvation of all people? What if Jesus was sent into the world to atone for our sins by offering Himself as a sacrifice? What if He was sinless? What if His life was the most critical turning point in human history? What if the reason we live is that He died?

What if after He died, He rose from the dead? What if He was murdered by the government because it feared a revolt if it did not murder Him? What if the government thought He was crazy when He said He was a king but His kingdom was not of this world? What if He was not crazy but divine? What if when He said that He could forgive sins, He was referring to Himself as God?

NEWT GINGRICH: GEORGE WASHINGTON EXPERIENCED AMERICA’S FIRST CHRISTMAS MIRACLE – AND IT CHANGED OUR HISTORY

What if He is one of the three parts of a triune God? What if this is an inexplicable mystery? What if there is no power without mystery? What if the power He possessed, He exercised only for the good? What if He truly gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, musculature to the lame, hope to the disillusioned, courage to the weak and life to the dead?

What if He freely did these things but sought no acclamation for them? What if after each of these miracles, He disappeared into the temple precincts or walked well past the crowd, lest the crowd hail him as a temporal or secular leader? What if there was in that towering personality a deep thread of shyness? What if He was shy about His Godness? What if He was shy about His goodness? What if He loved saving us? What if He was joyful but did not want us to see His joy?

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What if He knew all along how profoundly untimely and utterly painful the end of His life on earth would be, but He neither feared nor avoided it? What if His greatest display of love was self-restraint on the cross?

What if most of the world that He came to save has rejected Him? What if He still loves those who have rejected Him? What if He still offers them salvation? What if His offer is real and forever?

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What if many folks today have rejected the true God for government-as-god? What if the government-as-god has set itself up as providing for all secular needs in return for fidelity to it? What if this seductive offer has been accepted by millions in America?

What if the acceptance of this seductive offer of government-as-god has ruined individual initiative, destroyed personal work ethic, fostered cancerous laziness, enhanced deep poverty and impelled thoughtless obedience to government in those who have accepted it? What if the blind acceptance of government-as-god chills the exercise of personal freedoms for fear of the loss of the government’s munificence? What if government charity is really munificence with money it has taken from those who work and earn it? What if it’s then given to those who don’t? What if it is impossible to be truly charitable with someone else’s money?

What if the God-as-baby whose birthday we celebrate is the Savior of the World? What if we don’t mask this but live it? 

What if Jesus came to set us free from the yoke of government oppression and the chains of personal sin? What if freedom is our birthright, given to us by the true God, not by the government-as-god? What if the true God made us in His own image and likeness? What if the most similar likeness between us mortals and the true God is freedom? What if just as God is perfectly free, so are we perfectly free? What if we have failed to preserve freedom and have permitted governments to take it from us? What if we are not fully human without full freedom?

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What if the world was full of darkness before He came into it? What if there is darkness still today but yet much light? What if we recognize that He is the light of the world? What if Christmas is the birthday of the Son of God and the Son of Mary? What if we recognize the presence of the Son of God and the Son of Mary in our hearts and among us? What if the God-as-baby whose birthday we celebrate is the Savior of the World? What if we don’t mask this but live it?

What if we say with our hearts and mean with our words – Merry Christmas?

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Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6118036826001_6118034191001-vs Judge Andrew Napolitano: Christmas in America fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/opinion fox-news/lifestyle/occasions/christmas fox news fnc/opinion fnc article Andrew Napolitano 7b9a0f26-0390-57c8-bddd-a5cd11475c7b   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6118036826001_6118034191001-vs Judge Andrew Napolitano: Christmas in America fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/opinion fox-news/lifestyle/occasions/christmas fox news fnc/opinion fnc article Andrew Napolitano 7b9a0f26-0390-57c8-bddd-a5cd11475c7b

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Michael Avenatti was $15M in debt when he sought $25M from Nike in extortion plot: prosecutors

California attorney Michael Avenatti was deeply in debt, owing money to former clients, former law partners and two ex-wives – for alimony and child support — when he tried to extort $25 million from sports apparel giant Nike, federal prosecutors claim.

The lawyer who became a national figure when he represented porn actress and stripper Stormy Daniels in her case against President Trump was in arrears to the tune of “conservatively, in excess of $15 million,” the authorities assert in court papers filed late Christmas Eve in New York City.

AVENATTI BLASTS CALIFORNIA STATE BAR HEARING ABOUT BLOCKING HIM FROM PRACTICING LAW

Avenatti denied the claims Wednesday when contacted by The Associated Press.

“Any claim that I was $15 million in debt is ridiculous, absurd and laughable,” the 48-year-old attorney said. “I look forward to the upcoming trial at which time I will be exonerated and the truth will be known.”

“Any claim that I was $15 million in debt is ridiculous, absurd and laughable. I look forward to the upcoming trial at which time I will be exonerated and the truth will be known.”

— Michael Avenatti

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-ec967aa9f93349bcb521d401b9f6fcef Michael Avenatti was $15M in debt when he sought $25M from Nike in extortion plot: prosecutors fox-news/person/michael-avenatti fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/entertainment/events/in-court fox news fnc/us fnc Dom Calicchio article 8b81a9a7-4df7-5d2d-882b-02be4cd139b1

Attorney Michael Avenatti speaks outside court in New York City, Dec. 12, 2018. (Associated Press)

The case is the first of three scheduled trials the embattled Avenatti will face over the next five months. In each case, he has denied all the charges against him.

MICHAEL AVENATTI LOOKING TO HIDE LUXURY EXPENSES FROM NIKE EXTORTION TRIAL JURY

Lawyers for Avenatti claim he was seeking $15 million to $20 million from Nike to conduct an internal investigation into the company following allegations linking it to improper payments to high school athletes and coaches, the AP reported.

Avenatti’s lawyers claim that Nike’s legal team expressed interest in such a probe, which can cost companies more than $100 million, according to a New York Times story that Avenatti’s lawyers cite in their court documents.

Avenatti also plans to argue that Nike, facing federal scrutiny over the possible improper payments to athletes, had motivation to aid authorities as they also targeted someone “against whom the leader of the Executive Branch had expressed disdain.”

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Before Avenatti and Daniels ended their lawyer-client association in March, Avenatti and Trump frequently traded accusations against one another in public statements. Avenatti had represented Daniels (aka Stephanie Clifford) in connection with her claim of a past extramarital affair with Trump, a claim that the president has denied.

In addition to the Nike case, Avenatti faces an April trial over allegations that he stole $300,000 from Daniels, and a May trial over allegations that he stole millions from clients to pay personal and business expenses and lied to the IRS and a Mississippi bank about his financial history.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-ec967aa9f93349bcb521d401b9f6fcef Michael Avenatti was $15M in debt when he sought $25M from Nike in extortion plot: prosecutors fox-news/person/michael-avenatti fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/entertainment/events/in-court fox news fnc/us fnc Dom Calicchio article 8b81a9a7-4df7-5d2d-882b-02be4cd139b1   Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-ec967aa9f93349bcb521d401b9f6fcef Michael Avenatti was $15M in debt when he sought $25M from Nike in extortion plot: prosecutors fox-news/person/michael-avenatti fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/entertainment/events/in-court fox news fnc/us fnc Dom Calicchio article 8b81a9a7-4df7-5d2d-882b-02be4cd139b1

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