Records detail frenetic effort to bury stories about Trump
NEW YORK — Court records released Thursday show that President Donald Trump took part in a flurry of phone calls in the weeks before the 2016 election as his close aides and allies scrambled to pay porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about an alleged affair.
The documents detailing calls and text messages were made public as federal prosecutors closed their investigation into the payoff — and a similar payment to Playboy model Karen McDougal — with no plans to charge anyone in the scandal beyond Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen.
Federal prosecutors in New York said in a court filing that they investigated whether other people gave false statements or otherwise obstructed justice. In the end, the decision was made not to bring additional charges, according to two people briefed on the matter. They were not authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan declined to comment and did not explain its decision not to prosecute anyone else. U.S. Justice Department policy prohibits the indictment of a sitting president.
The White House had no immediate comment on the latest documents. On Thursday, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow welcomed the closing of the investigation into the “ridiculous” allegations and denied anew that the president broke campaign finance law.
Man shouting ‘You die’ kills 33 at Japan anime studio
TOKYO — A man screaming “You die!” burst into an animation studio in Kyoto, doused it with a flammable liquid and set it on fire Thursday, killing 33 people in an attack that shocked the country and brought an outpouring of grief from anime fans.
Thirty-six others were injured, some of them critically, in a blaze that sent people scrambling up the stairs toward the roof in a desperate — and futile — attempt to escape what proved to be Japan’s deadliest fire in nearly two decades. Others emerged bleeding, blackened and barefoot.
The suspect, identified only a 41-year-old man who did not work for the studio, was injured and taken to a hospital. Police gave no details on the motive, but a witness told Japanese TV that the attacker angrily complained that something of his had been stolen, possibly by the company.
Most of the victims were employees of Kyoto Animation, which does work on movies and TV productions but is best known for its mega-hit stories featuring high school girls. The tales are so popular that fans make pilgrimages to some of the places depicted.
The blaze started in the three-story building in Japan’s ancient capital after the attacker sprayed an unidentified liquid accelerant, police and fire officials said.
The heat goes on: June toastiest on record, July might follow
WASHINGTON — The heat goes on: Earth sizzled to its hottest June on record as the climate keeps going to extremes.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Thursday announced that June averaged 60.6 degrees, about 1.7 degrees warmer than the 20th century average.
It beat out 2016 for the hottest June with records going back to 1880. NASA and other groups also concluded that last month was the hottest June on record.
Europe shattered June temperature records by far, while other records were set in Russia, Africa, Asia and South America. France had its hottest month in history, which is unusual because July is traditionally hotter than June. The Lower 48 states in America were near normal.
“Earth is running a fever that won’t break thanks to climate change,” North Carolina state climatologist Kathie Dello said in an email. “This won’t be the last record warm summer month that we will see.”
Deemed dangerous, Epstein denied bail in sex abuse case
NEW YORK (AP) — A judge denied bail for jailed financier Jeffrey Epstein on sex trafficking charges Thursday, saying he poses a danger to the public and might use his “great wealth and vast resources” to flee the country.
Epstein, with his hands folded before him, showed no reaction to the announcement by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman. His lawyers did not comment afterward.
“I doubt that any bail package can overcome danger to the community,” Berman said, citing a danger for both the “minor victims in this case and prospective victims as well.”
The decision means Epstein will remain behind bars while he fights charges that he exploited dozens of girls in New York and Florida in the early 2000s. He faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted.
Two politicians lauded Berman’s bail decision, with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz saying the “survivors deserve more answer and true justice.”