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Asia Looks for Signals on Policy Ahead of Trump Visit to Region

It was one of Donald Trump’s very first actions as president: pulling the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a free-trade deal he said was hurting the American worker.

The TPP was one of the centerpieces of former President Barack Obama’s so-called Asia “pivot,” an economic, political and military realignment toward a region seen as key to America’s future.

Nine months into his presidency, Trump’s decision to abandon the TPP remains perhaps the clearest evidence yet he intends to ditch the Asia pivot, or perhaps pivot there in his own way.

U.S. officials have not said whether they will unveil a similar, definitive policy to replace the pivot. But signs of a broader strategy could emerge next week when Trump leaves on his first trip to Asia as president.


WATCH: Asia Awaits Trump’s Regional Policy

Trump skipping regional summit

The trip will include stops in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. But it’s where Trump has chosen not to go that has attracted the headlines.

Though Trump is attending the ASEAN multilateral summit in the Philippines, reports have suggested he will head home a day before the annual East Asia Summit, a regional meeting that focuses on Southeast Asia.

The move risks sending the message that Southeast Asia is not a priority for Trump, said Abraham Denmark, a former top East Asia official at the Pentagon.

“The region will see that China is there, and the United States isn’t. And that will send a very stark message,” said Denmark, who is now at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington.

It isn’t the first time that a U.S. president has skipped the summit. Obama also stayed home in 2013 to deal with domestic budget negotiations that resulted in a government shutdown.

Then, too, the move sparked controversy.

Asian diplomats and heads of state talked about Obama’s absence in private circles for years, said Harry Kazianis, who focuses on Asia at the Center for the National Interest.

“Missing one conference doesn’t mean that America is leaving the Asia-Pacific or that China is outpacing us or anything like that. But it’s an extremely big deal, and they’re not going to forget it,” Kazianis said.

​Regional influence

The move could add to concerns the U.S. is ceding regional influence to China, which intensified after Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord as well as the TPP.

The TPP decision in particular sent shockwaves throughout Asia and threatened to fundamentally reshape the U.S. economic relationship with the region.

“You can make positive and negative arguments for the TPP — it was not a net-jobs creator for the U.S. — but it had great strategic value for the U.S.,” Kazianis said. “It was a marker. America was going to be there no matter what. That’s lost, and the Trump administration hasn’t found a formula to replace that.”

Adding to the uncertainty, Trump has also threatened to pull out of the free-trade agreement with South Korea, a longstanding economic and diplomatic partner of Washington.

​North Korea

But much of Trump’s Asia tour is expected to focus on North Korea, which has dominated the bulk of U.S. foreign policy bandwidth during his first year in office.

Trump hopes to put more pressure on China, in particular, to persuade North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to make concessions on his nuclear and missile programs.

Trump has threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if necessary to defend the U.S. and its allies, at times matching the inflammatory rhetoric typically only seen from the North.

During Trump’s trip, Asian diplomats are likely to try to convince the U.S. leader of the need to pursue diplomacy and reduce the level of rhetoric, said Michael Fuchs, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

“War with North Korea is their worst nightmare,” Fuchs said.

But Trump will have plenty of time during the 12-day trip to lay out other priorities, and that can’t come a moment too soon for many.

“What our partners in Asia are looking for is not whether the Obama policy will continue,” Denmark said. “They’re looking for what is the Trump policy, what is America’s policy now.”

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Asia Awaits Trump’s Regional Policy

For much of President Barack Obama’s presidency, U.S. officials touted the so-called “Asia Pivot,” an economic, political and military realignment toward a region seen as key to America’s future. Nine months into the Trump administration, U.S. officials are taking a different approach to Asia. And, as VOA’s Bill Gallo reports, some are concerned the White House is signaling a lack of commitment to the region.

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Retailers Offer New Tools to Help Shoppers Find Clothes That Fit

Stores watching Amazon take a larger share of clothing sales are trying to solve one of the most vexing issues for online shoppers: finding items that fit properly.

The retailers are unleashing tools that use artificial intelligence to replicate the help a salesperson at a store might offer, calculate a shopper’s most likely body shape, or use 3-D models for a virtual fitting room experience. Amazon, which some analysts say will surpass Macy’s this year as the largest U.S. clothing seller, is offering some customers an Alexa-powered device that doubles as a selfie-stick machine and a stylist.

Retailers want to reduce the rate of online returns, which can be up to 40 percent, and thus make customers happier — and more likely to be repeat shoppers. And the more interaction shoppers have with a brand, the more the technology will learn about shoppers’ preferences, said Vicky Zadeh, chief executive of Rakuten Fits Me, a tech company that works with QVC and clothing startup brands.


“It’s all about confidence,” she said. “If they have the confidence to buy, they will come back to the retailer time and time again.”

The push is coming from big names like Levi’s and The Gap and startups like Rhone and Taylrd.

Levi’s new Virtual Stylist texts back and forth with online customers to offer recommendations, based on their preferences. Marc Rosen, Levi’s president of global e-commerce, said early tests show the chatbot is driving more browsers to become buyers.

Reliance on body shape

Rakuten Fits Me, which works with QVC and other companies, fine-tuned its fitting technology this summer and said its retail partners now offer garments that should fit shoppers’ body shapes when the customer first does the initial search. Shoppers provide three measurements — height, weight and age — and then it calculates a person’s most likely body shape, not size, to determine the fit for any garment and offer more accurate recommendations.

And Gap Inc. has an augmented reality app in collaboration with Google and startup Avametric that allows shoppers to virtually try on clothes. Shoppers enter information like height and weight and then the app puts a 3-D model in front of them. However, the tool only works on Google Tango smartphones.

Sebastian DiGrande, executive vice president and strategy and chief customer officer at Gap, said the augmented reality app had produced good feedback, but the company is still determining whether shoppers really want a virtual 3-D model.

Clothing brand Tommy Hilfiger similarly has built its mobile app around the camera and image recognition. It has an augmented reality feature enabling shoppers to see what the clothes look like on a virtual runway model — but not their own body type.

And men’s online clothier Bonobos, now owned by Wal-Mart, launched an app that offers customers a virtual closet to see items they bought and saved. The app is converting browsers to buyers at a faster rate, said Andy Dunn, founder of Bonobos.

Companies are smart to offer new tools, but many are too “gimmicky,” said Sapna Shah, principal at Red Giraffe Advisors, which makes early-stage investments in fashion tech.

“If it’s not Amazon, will brand-specific apps be the way for people to shop in the future?” she said. “How many apps are people going to have on their phone?”

And all the companies need to win over customers who prefer to touch and see things in person.

“It’s great that they’re busting their tail with all these apps, but I am skeptical,” said Doug Garnett of Portland, Oregon. Garnett said he buys some clothes online when he knows and understands the brands, but otherwise, “I really need to see them on my body before I act, and really prefer that to be in a store.”

Personalized offers

As Amazon dives further into fashion, it could use its base of data to spur trends and personalize offers for its customers. Its Echo Look features a built-in camera that photographs and records shoppers trying on clothes and offers recommendations on outfits. It works with its Style Check app, using machine learning and advice from experts. The potential: Learn shoppers’ styles and recommend outfits to buy. Amazon reportedly is exploring the idea of quickly fulfilling online orders for custom-fit clothing.

The company also reportedly acquired Body Labs, which creates true-to-life 3-D body models.

“We’re always listening to our customers, learning and innovating on their behalf and bringing them products we think they will love,” said Amazon spokeswoman Molly Wade. She wouldn’t comment on the prospect of custom-fit or the reports about Body Labs.

Steve Barr, the U.S. retail and consumer sector leader at consultants PwC, said that Amazon was trying for a curated experience based on massive data analytics. But he said he thought such an approach had limitations.

“No matter how great Amazon is with artificial intelligence and predictive behaviors,” Barr said, “they can’t put a red tab on a pair of a jeans or a swoosh on a pair of shoes.”

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Facebook Moves to Increase Transparency in Political Ads

Under pressure in advance of hearings on Russian election interference, Facebook is moving to increase transparency for everyone who sees and buys political advertising on its site.

Executives for the social media company said Friday they will verify political ad buyers in federal elections, requiring them to reveal correct names and locations. The site will also create new graphics where users can click on the ads and find out more about who’s behind them.

More broadly, Rob Goldman, Facebook’s vice president in charge of ad products, said the company is building new transparency tools in which all advertisers, even those that aren’t political, are associated with a page, and users can click on a link to see all of the ads any advertiser is running.

Users also will be able to see all of the ads paid for by the advertisers, whether those ads were originally targeted toward them.

3,000 Russia-linked ads

The move comes after the company acknowledged it had found more than 3,000 ads linked to Russia that focused on divisive U.S. social issues and were seen by an estimated 10 million people before and after the 2016 U.S. elections.

Facebook, Twitter and Google will testify in Congress Tuesday and Wednesday on how their platforms were used by Russia or other foreign actors in the election campaign. The Senate and House intelligence committees and the Senate Judiciary Committee are all holding hearings as part of their investigations into Russian election interference.

Facebook’s announcement comes a day after Twitter said it will ban ads from RT and Sputnik, two state-sponsored Russian news outlets. Twitter also has said it will require election-related ads for candidates to disclose who is paying for them and how they are targeted.

Federal election ad archive

Facebook’s Goldman said the company also will build a new archive of federal election ads on Facebook, including the total amount spent and the number of times an ad is displayed, he said. The archive, which will be public for anyone to search, would also have data on the audience that saw the ads, including gender and location information. The archive would eventually hold up to four years of data.

Goldman said the company is still building the new features. They plan to test them in Canada and roll them out in the United States by next summer ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

“This is a good first step but it’s not at all the last step, there’s a lot to learn once we start testing,” Goldman said in an interview.

Facebook already had announced in September that the platform would require an advertiser to disclose who paid for the ads and what other ads it was running at the same time. But it was unclear exactly how the company would do that.

​Heading off legislation

The moves are meant to bring Facebook more in line with what is now required of print and broadcast advertisers. Federal regulations require television and radio stations to make publicly available the details of political ads they air. That includes who runs the ad, when it runs and how much it costs.

It is also likely meant to head off bipartisan legislation in the Senate that would require social media companies to keep public files of election ads and try to ensure they are not purchased by foreigners. Though Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, a Democratic co-sponsor of the legislation, has said his bill would be “the lightest touch possible,” social media companies would rather set their own guidelines than face new regulation.

Facebook has responded swiftly to the attention it has received in recent months on Capitol Hill, boosting staff and lobbying efforts. The company has spent more than $8.4 million in lobbying Congress and the rest of the government through the third quarter of this year, according to federal records.

Some analysts have warned that policing such online election ads can be difficult. It’s one thing to enforce advertising rules for a print newspaper or a TV station, where real humans can vet each ad before it is printed or aired. But that is much more complicated when automated advertising platforms allow millions of advertisers, basically anyone with a credit card and internet access, to place an ad.

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First Charges Reportedly Approved in Russia Probe; Details Still Unclear

A U.S. federal grand jury has approved the first charges in an investigation of Russian influence on U.S. elections, according to several major news outlets.

The grand jury’s action, resulting from the probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller, was first reported by CNN on Friday evening. It quoted sources as saying anyone who was charged could be taken into custody as soon as Monday. The exact charges were unclear.

Reuters, The Wall Street Journal and NBC News subsequently issued similar reports. All the reports were attributed to unnamed sources.

President Donald Trump on Saturday visited his Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia. He sent three tweets but they did not refer to the reports.

On Friday evening, the president did post a social media message linking to a New York Post story headlined: How Team Hillary played the press for fools on Russia.

White House officials have not commented on the president’s activities Saturday, but he was seen by VOA News exiting the north portico of the residence, clad in slacks, a windbreaker, what appeared to be white golf shoes and a baseball cap before entering a black vehicle for the 40-minute ride in the presidential motorcade to his private club along the Potomac River.

CNN said lawyers working on Mueller’s team were seen entering the federal courtroom in Washington, D.C., on Friday, where the grand jury meets to hear testimony.

Mueller has kept a tight lid on information about the probe, and a spokesman for Mueller’s office declined requests for comment on the media reports about the indictment.

Working since May

Mueller was appointed special counsel in May, shortly after the firing of then-FBI Director James Comey, to look into allegations that the Trump campaign might have colluded with Russia to win the election. He is also examining the possibility that the president may have tried to interfere with the Russia investigation.

The probe also is examining possible financial ties between Russian businesses and members of the Trump campaign, and foreign lobbying conducted by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

In addition to Mueller’s probe, three congressional committees are conducting their own investigations into possible Russian influence on the election.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday told reporters it was “a pretty big waste” for the news media to investigate connections between Trump associates and Russia. Her comment was made in response to a question about Trump’s tweeting earlier in the day that it was “commonly agreed” there had been no collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia.

“It is now commonly agreed, after many months of COSTLY looking, that there was NO collusion between Russia and Trump. Was collusion with HC!” the president tweeted.

HC is a reference to Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and Democratic nominee whom Trump defeated in last November’s presidential election.

VOA’s Marissa Melton contributed to this report.

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Weirdness, Few Tourists, Return to Key West After Irma

Things are weird, as usual, in Key West.

A pair of Vikings push a stroller full of stuffed chimps down Duval Street. A man with a ponytail swallows a steel sword. People dressed only in body paint and glitter wander and jiggle from bar to bar.

Fantasy Fest, one of Key West’s major tourist draws of the year, is in full swing. And that’s a relief for Florida Keys business owners trying to weather the economic storm that hit after Hurricane Irma battered the middle stretch of the tourism-dependent island chain.

Bucket list trip

The festivities have not disappointed Gary Gates from Buffalo, New York, who planned this “bucket list” trip 10 months ago with six friends.

“We were coming whether there was a hurricane or not,” the former NFL cameraman said. “I’ve never seen anything quite like this. To come down here and actually see people dressed in all kinds of costumes — or no costumes at all — was something that I needed to see.”

Gates flew into Key West and has not left during its annual 10-day festival of costume parties and parades, so he has not seen the devastation that lingers more than a month since Hurricane Irma made landfall Sept. 10 about 20 miles north of the city.

​Middle Keys hit hardest

The mostly residential middle stretch of the island chain took the brunt of the hurricane’s 130-mph winds. The area is almost entirely brown, with debris piled alongside the highway and mangroves stripped bare. A stranded boat was christened the SS Irma with spray paint and offered “free” to drivers passing by.

But at opposite ends of the 120-mile-long island chain, tourist attractions in Key Largo and Key West escaped significant damage.

Dolphins Plus Bayside was ready for visitors three days after Irma’s landfall, but business has been down by half compared to last fall, said Mike Borguss, the third generation in his family to run the Key Largo attraction.

Some staff now live with friends or in temporary trailers parked outside their damaged homes, but the dolphins swim up to the water’s edge to check out new people toting cameras, and an adjacent hotel property is open for weddings and other events that had to be canceled elsewhere in the Keys because of Irma, said Art Cooper, Borguss’ cousin and curator at Dolphins Plus Bayside.

“The water’s pretty, the weather’s beautiful and we wish you were here,” Cooper said.

​Tourism down significantly

Scott Saunders, president and CEO of Fury Water Adventures, estimated tourism in Key West has been about a third of what it was at this time last fall, even though the city’s hotels, restaurants, cruise ship operations and beaches quickly reopened after the storm.

“There’s no reason not to be doing everything we did last year,” Saunders said before one of his fleet’s sunset cruises. “We should be having that tourist base down here, but we haven’t had any.”

Jodi Weinhofer, president of the Lodging Association of the Florida Keys and Key West, blames news coverage of Irma, but not the hurricane itself, for the downturn.

“There was over a $100 million worth of negative press,” Weinhofer said.

Tourism big business in Keys

Tourism is a $2.7 billion industry in the Keys, supporting 54 percent of all jobs in the island chain, according to Monroe County’s Tourist Development Council.

Some jobs have been lost to Irma. Last week, Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key, about 35 miles northeast of Irma’s landfall, let go 260 workers amid ongoing repairs. The Islamorada Resort Company said its four properties in the Middle Keys will be closed for renovations over the next six months.

But up and down the island chain, bars, marinas and mom-and-pop establishments able to reopen have been hiring laid-off workers and keeping people from moving away, Daniel Samess, CEO of the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce.

About 70 percent of roughly 35 hotels and motels in the Middle Keys are open, though those rooms mostly are filled by displaced residents and state and federal recovery workers. Officials plan to provide alternative housing and open those hotel rooms fully to tourists within the next two months, Samess said.

Final sweeps for debris in some parts of the Keys are scheduled Sunday, which also is the finale for Fantasy Fest. So far, the amount of broken tree branches and remnants of homes and belongings wrecked by Irma could fill over 133 Goodyear Blimps, according to Monroe County officials.

The cleanup will help create a good impression for visitors to Key West long before they arrive in the southernmost city in the continental U.S., said Key West Mayor Craig Cates.

“It’s a scenic cruise in your car coming down, and it’s very important that they get it cleaned up,” he said.

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At US Border, Dramatic Spike in Searches of Phones, Electronic Devices

U.S. border agents are searching nearly four times as many international travelers’ smartphones and other electronic devices as they did two years ago, expanding the use of a little-known search-and-seizure authority that has sparked fresh legal challenges from digital rights advocates and defendants in several criminal cases.

The content searches of electronic devices, conducted without a warrant or any individualized suspicion, spiked during the final year of the Obama administration but have continued to surge this year as the Trump administration has adopted extreme vetting of travelers entering the country.

In the first six months of fiscal 2017, which ended Sept. 30, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents searched the electronic devices of 14,993 arriving international travelers, according to the most recent CBP data.

CBP has not released data for all of 2017, but unofficial estimates put the number of searched devices at 30,000. That compares with 19,000 in 2016 and 8,500 in 2015.

​‘Border search exception’

The searches are conducted under the so called “border search exception” to the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. The amendment protects Americans’ rights against unreasonable searches and seizures without a warrant. But the U.S. border is a legal gray zone, where customs agents have long enjoyed legal authority to stop and search “any vehicle, beast or person” without a warrant.

Since the 2000s, the Department of Homeland Security has interpreted the border exception authority to include examinations of a host of electronic devices: cellphones, tablets, laptops, cameras and digital media players.

A 2009 CBP directive authorizes agents to examine electronic devices and to “review and analyze” their information “with or without suspicion.”

All travelers, whether U.S. citizens or foreign nationals, are subject to these searches. The CBP directive says privileged and other sensitive material, including legal communications, are not “necessarily exempt from a border search.”

Refusal to unlock and hand over a device may result in its “detention.”

Agents look at text messages, emails, photo albums and other personal data for evidence of terrorism links or criminal activity, such as child pornography.

CBP agents are allowed to seize devices and copy their content for on-site or off-site forensic tests, which can take weeks and sometimes months and yield personal data, sometimes in large quantities. In one case, a forensic test performed on a cellphone generated enough information to “fill 896 printed pages.”

Former Acting CBP Commissioner Jay Ahern, who signed the directive, called it “the broadest search authority anywhere in the world without a warrant.” He spoke at a Cato Institute criminal justice conference in Washington last week.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents operate under similar guidelines.


CBP and ICE officials defend the practice, noting that the searches affect less than 1 in 10,000 international travelers and an even smaller number of U.S. citizens.

Last year, CBP processed more than 390 million international travelers at the country’s 238 ports of entry.

“It’s something we use in a very measured fashion when there is an indicator of concern,” Acting CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, who is President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the agency, told a Senate panel Wednesday.

Search triggers range from a previous violation of a customs law to having a name that matches a person of interest in a U.S. national security database, according to the CBP form that agents hand to travelers whose devices are detained. Travelers may also be stopped at random.

McAleenan said the searches of electronic devices have yielded “very serious and significant information,” including “everything from national security concerns to child pornography to evidence of crimes to determinations of people’s admissibility status.”

​Court challenges

But as border agents look at a larger number of people’s electronic devices for evidence of terrorism or other national security matters, privacy rights groups say the once-narrow border search authority is being too broadly interpreted for the digital age. The advocates are now challenging the government’s authority in court.

Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) sued the acting heads of the Department of Homeland Security, CBP and ICE on behalf of 11 travelers whose devices were searched and, in some instances, seized over the past year.

The complaint alleges that the “warrantless and suspicionless searches” violated the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment on free expression and assembly and the Fourth Amendment on privacy.

The 11 plaintiffs include 10 U.S. citizens and one U.S. permanent resident. Among them are three journalists, a filmmaker, an artist, a NASA engineer and a former Air Force captain. Six are Muslims, one is a Haitian national and four are white Americans.

Examples of search and seizure

Their combined experiences shed light on an otherwise opaque system and show just how far border agents would go to scrutinize electronic devices.

In July, Nadia Alasaad was stopped at the Canadian border and forced to unlock her phone and hand it over to a customs agent even after she protested that she had photos of herself without a headscarf that she did not want any male agents to view.

Akram Shibly, a New York-based filmmaker, said his phone was searched in December 2016 and January 2017 as he crossed the U.S.-Canadian border.

During the first stop, he alleges, agents ordered him to fill out a form disclosing his mobile phone password and social media identifiers. The agents used the information to view his “cloud-based apps and content.” (CBP says agents are not allowed to view data that only resides in the cloud). During the second border encounter, Shibly claims, CBP agents used force to seize his phone after he refused to hand it over.

Jeremy Dupin, the Haitian journalist who is a U.S. permanent resident, was stopped twice in December 2016, once during a layover at the Miami International Airport, and a second time as he and his daughter tried to enter the U.S. from Canada.

According to the complaint, his phone contained “reporting notes and images, source contact and identifying information, and communications with editors.”

The complaint calls the examinations “an unprecedented invasion of personal privacy” and “a threat to freedom of speech and association.” It also cites a 2014 Supreme Court decision that declared warrantless searches of cellphones of arrested suspects unconstitutional.

Supreme Court

In Riley v. California, the Supreme Court rejected the government’s claim that searching a suspect’s cellphone was indistinguishable from searching his or her other belongings.

“We think that rationale holds just as true for the border context, where the privacy interests are so great that the Fourth Amendment requires a warrant,” ACLU lawyer Esha Bhandari said.

Unlike legal challenges raised against the government’s border search authority in criminal cases, none of the 11 plaintiffs named in the ACLU/EFF lawsuit is accused of any wrongdoing, noted EFF lawyer Aaron Mackey.

“This is one case where we’re trying to change the law, where we’re trying to get the courts to recognize that the practice that the CBP has been operating under and the previous decisions (in border exception cases) … were incorrect,” Mackey said.

Spokespeople for DHS, CBP and ICE declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Laura Donohue, director of Georgetown’s center on national security and the law, said electronic device searches run afoul of other constitutional guarantees as well, including the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

While courts have consistently upheld the government’s border exception authority, Donohue said, “The laws that we have focus on luggage and not digitalization.”

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Trump Administration Shifts Persecuted Minority Aid Away From United Nations

The Trump administration announced a shift Wednesday in foreign aid funding for persecuted minorities. Vice President Pence told a global assembly of Christians the U.S. would instruct the State Department to stop funding United Nations programs for persecuted minorities, instead providing funding through USAID and other faith-based NGOs. VOA’s Katherine Gypson reports from Washington on the consequences of the administration’s decision.

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White House: Women Accusing Trump of Sexual Harassment are Lying

A White House spokeswoman said Friday that all of the women who have accused President Donald Trump of sexual harassment are lying, echoing the president’s statement last week that the accusations are “fake news.”

Sarah Sanders took a question during the White House briefing from a television reporter asking about the White House’s official position on charges by at least 16 women that the president has engaged in inappropriate behavior.

“Is it the official White House position that all of these women are lying?” asked Jacqueline Alemany of CBS News.

“Yeah, we’ve been clear on that from the beginning, and the president’s spoken on it,” Sanders answered.

The reporter asked the question after alluding to a number of other prominent men in the media who have lately been accused of harassment, such as movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, television host Bill O’Reilly, and journalist Mark Halperin, all of whom have lost jobs over the matter.

Last week Trump was queried over the accusations, in particular a subpoena issued by lawyers for a former contestant on his television show, Summer Zervos, who accused him of groping and kissing her during the taping of the show.

The president replied, “All I can say is, it’s totally fake news. It’s just fake. It’s fake. It’s made-up stuff, and it’s disgraceful, what happens, but … that happens in the world of politics.”

A year ago at a campaign rally, then-candidate Trump responded to accusations of sexual harassment by calling himself “a victim of one of the great political smear campaigns in the history of our country.”

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