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Threats, debt and Trump's advances: 'Stormy' doc examines the life of Stormy Daniels

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Threats, debt and Trump's advances: 'Stormy' doc examines the life of Stormy Daniels

Stormy Daniels from the Peacock documentary Stormy.

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Stormy Daniels from the Peacock documentary Stormy.

NBCU

The new documentary Stormy begins in 2023 — around the time former President Donald Trump was indicted over hush-money payments made during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Stormy Daniels, who was paid by Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen to keep quiet about their alleged previous affair, watches the news unfold on TV and then says, “Let’s go,” before she walks off screen.

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Stormy chronicles Daniels’ life from her childhood in Baton Rouge, La., to her rise as an adult film actor and then, in the opinion of some, a feminist hero. It also gives viewers a glimpse into how she went from friend to foe of a celebrity businessman who became president of the United States.

“I am here today to tell my story and even if I just change a few people’s minds, it’s fine. If not, at least my daughter can look back on this and know the truth,” she said in the film.

Trump’s criminal trial over the hush-money payments has been delayed until mid-April. He faces 34 felony counts, alleging he falsified New York business records to conceal damaging information before the 2016 presidential election. Trump denies the allegations that he had an affair with Daniels and has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

On Monday, a judge rejected Trump’s bid to block Cohen and Daniels — whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford — from testifying. The trial date will be set at a hearing on March 25.

The film, released Monday on Peacock, mainly captures Daniels’ life between 2018 and 2023. Here are the main takeaways from the documentary:

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1. Daniels explains why she didn’t say no to Trump’s advances back in 2006

Daniels alleged that she was abused by a neighbor in Louisiana when she was 9 years old. She did not go into further detail except to say that the man, whom she did not name, had abused other young girls and has since died.

Later in the film, as Daniels explained why she did not refuse Trump’s advances when the two met in 2006, she said, “I didn’t say no because I just, I was 9 years old again.” At the time, Daniels was in her 20s and Trump was 60.

Though she described the alleged affair as consensual, Daniels said she did not want to have sex with Trump.

“To this day, I blame myself and I have not forgiven myself because I didn’t shut his a** down in that moment, so maybe make him pause before he tried it with someone else,” she said. “The hardest part about all of this is I feel like I am partially responsible for every woman that could have come after me.”

2. Threats against Daniels have become more disturbing

Throughout the film, Daniels is forced to navigate insults and threats hurled at her and her family.

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But she described herself as having thick skin. In one scene from 2018, Daniels joked that she was disappointed she could not find any hate comments on Twitter after she had received a key to West Hollywood from the city’s mayor.

Fast forward to this past year, after Trump’s indictment, Daniels said the hate comments had become more intense and disturbing.

“Back in 2018, there was stuff like ‘liar, s***, gold digger,’ ” she said. “This time around, it is very different. It is direct threats. It is ‘I’m going to come to your house and slit your throat.’ “

Daniels added that she did not feel protected by the justice system, and accused it of ignoring her concerns about her safety.

3. Daniels says her ‘soul is so tired’ but she is willing to testify against Trump

Amid the six-year conflict with Trump, Daniels’ marriage ended, her relationship with her daughter became strained, and she felt her safety was constantly jeopardized.

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But with Trump about to go on trial, Daniels said she’s willing to testify in court against the former president.

“I’m more prepared with my legal knowledge but I’m also tired. Like, my soul is so tired,” she said. “I won’t give up because I’m telling the truth. And I kind of don’t even know if it matters anymore.”

4. Daniels owes Trump over $600,000 in attorney fees

Near the end of the documentary, it’s clear that Daniels also suffered financially as a result of her years-long legal battle against Trump.

In 2018, Daniels sued Trump for defamation. The suit was based on a tweet Trump wrote that year, which suggested Daniels had lied about being threatened in 2011 to not speak out about her alleged previous affair with Trump.

A federal judge later dismissed the suit and ordered Daniels to pay the then-president’s legal fees.

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Daniels appealed but lost. She now owes Trump over $600,000 in attorney fees. The film asserts that Daniels is afraid she may lose her home.

5. Seth Rogen and Jimmy Kimmel speak on Daniels’ behalf

Among the people who appeared in the documentary were actor Seth Rogen and late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel.

Rogen, who worked with Daniels on the 2007 film Knocked Up, recalled talking with her about Trump. At the time, Daniels said she was communicating with Trump about possibly being on his former reality TV show Celebrity Apprentice.

“She didn’t realize she would one day be at the center of this giant thing as she was messing around with some game show host,” Rogen said. “She’s someone who made an enemy of the most powerful guy on the planet and didn’t, like, cower.”

Kimmel invited Daniels to his show in 2018, when Daniels’ nondisclosure agreement about her previous affair with Trump was still in effect.

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Kimmel described Daniels as having a good sense of humor but also afraid of violating her NDA. He nodded to this during their interview, in which he brought out puppets to reenact her interactions with Trump.

“She told the truth and she paid a price for that,” Kimmel said in the film. “It’s not something that just goes away.”

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Meta shares fall as it predicts higher expenditure on AI

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Meta shares fall as it predicts higher expenditure on AI

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Meta’s revenues jumped by more than a quarter in the first three months of the year, beating expectations, but its forecasts left Wall Street underwhelmed and the shares fell 10 per cent in after-hours trading on Wednesday.

Revenues at the social media group rose 27 per cent to $36.5bn, just above analyst expectations of a rise to $36.2bn.

Meta said it had raised the high end of its full-year capital expenditure guidance from $37bn to $40bn in order to “continue to accelerate our infrastructure investments to support our artificial intelligence (AI) roadmap”. It added that it expected capital expenditures to “continue to increase next year”.

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It said it anticipated current quarter revenues in the range of $36.5bn-$39bn, versus consensus estimates of $38.3bn.

Prior to the announcement, Meta’s stock had risen more than 40 per cent this year, having been in record territory since a bumper fourth-quarter earnings announcement in February during which it announced its first dividend and signalled a strong recovery from a recent advertising slump. 

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has been attempting to keep investors happy and cut costs while investing in the artificial intelligence race, its longer-term metaverse ambitions and the costly technology and infrastructure required to support both.

This month Meta released a new version of its AI model, Llama 3, which it said had vastly improved capabilities, including the ability to reason. The company also unveiled a new generation of its AI custom-made chips.  

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With federal fraud trial looming, George Santos drops out of New York House race

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With federal fraud trial looming, George Santos drops out of New York House race

Former Republican Rep. George Santos of New York has dropped his bid to return to the U.S. House.

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Former Republican Rep. George Santos of New York has dropped his bid to return to the U.S. House.

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Another chapter in the scandal-plagued career of New York Republican George Santos sputtered to an end this week as he abandoned his independent bid for a U.S. House seat on Long Island.

“I don’t want to split the ticket and be responsible for handing the house to Dems,” Santos wrote in a social media post. “Staying in this race all but guarantees a victory for the Dems.”

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Santos won his election in New York’s 3rd Congressional District in the 2022 midterms. He was part of a red wave in New York that helped give Republicans a razor-thin majority.

But his personal and professional narratives quickly unraveled.

It turned out Santos, who was initially supported by many of New York’s most prominent GOP leaders, lied about his family’s religion, his education and his business experience.

Santos even claimed falsely to have been a competitive college volleyball player.

In May 2023, while facing a House ethics probe, Santos was arrested on federal fraud charges that accuse him of bilking political donors. Santos has pleaded not guilty. The Justice Department eventually expanded the criminal counts against Santos to 23 charges.

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“Santos is charged with stealing people’s identities and making charges on his own donors’ credit cards without their authorization,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in an October 2023 statement.

Santos’s trial on Long Island is expected to get underway in September. His former campaign treasurer has already pleaded guilty in the case.

Ousted from Congress, Santos tried for a comeback

In December 2023, with his scandals and legal troubles deepening and political allies abandoning him, Santos was expelled from Congress in a 311-114 vote. Many Republicans joined the effort to purge him from office.

In the months since, Santos has emerged as a far-right gadfly and influencer, firing political salvos at Democrats and at moderate Republicans.

Santos initially said he would run in the Republican primary in New York’s 1st Congressional District but later shifted to run as an independent.

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In his social media post announcing that he’s abandoned his campaign, Santos again blasted the “abysmal” voting record of Rep. Nick LaLota, the Republican who currently holds the seat.

LaLota played a key role in the bipartisan effort to force Santos from office.

John Avlon, who is running in the 1st Congressional District’s Democratic primary, expressed his disappointment at the end of the three-way race: “Gotta say: I was really looking forward to the debates.”

Since Santos’s numerous lies were revealed, he has become a political pariah in New York City. But Santos’ post suggested that even now his political career may not yet be over:

“It’s only goodbye for now, I’ll be back.”

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Boeing burns through $4bn in first quarter after door plug blowout

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Boeing burns through $4bn in first quarter after door plug blowout

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Boeing burnt through almost $4bn of cash in the first quarter, reflecting slower 737 Max production and compensation to customers as the US plane maker grappled with the aftermath of the mid-air accident in January.

The $3.9bn of free cash outflow is slightly lower than the $4bn-4.5bn the company had warned in March, but compares with an outflow of $786mn for the same period last year. Boeing reported a $355mn net loss in the first quarter.

The company’s financial results “reflect the immediate actions we’ve taken to slow down 737 production to drive improvements in quality”, said chief executive Dave Calhoun.

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There has been a 500 per cent increase in reports to Boeing’s internal safety hotline compared with last year.

The company is working to improve processes including training, inspection and how “travelled work” where jets that move through the production line with problems addressed later in the assembly process, is handled in the 737 factory in Renton, Washington. Boeing also is attempting to stabilise its supply chain.

“Near term, yes, we are in a tough moment,” said Calhoun in a letter to staff on Wednesday. “Lower deliveries can be difficult for our customers and our financials. But safety and quality must and will come above all else.”

The plane maker is building fewer than 38 Maxes per month, reducing deliveries that are necessary to bring in cash in order to improve the quality of its manufacturing following the mid-air blowout of a door plug on an Alaska Airlines flight.

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Boeing faces investigations by aviation regulators and the US Justice Department. Though no one was killed, the explosive loss of cabin pressure injured some on board and recalled the two fatal crashes that led to the worldwide grounding of the Max for nearly two years.

A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board found that four bolts meant to fasten the panel to the fuselage were missing.

A US Federal Aviation Administration audit of Boeing found “multiple instances” where it allegedly failed to meet manufacturing and quality control requirements. Regulators have given the company until the end of May to submit a plan to improve.

Boeing said on Wednesday it was “implementing a comprehensive action plan” to address the audit’s findings.

The company did not issue any financial guidance for the year on Wednesday. It initially declined to issue guidance in January, with Calhoun saying “now is not the time”.

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The 737’s troubles have led to a shake-up in Boeing leadership. Calhoun said last month he would step down as Boeing chief executive at the end of the year, with the chair of the board Larry Kellner leaving after the annual meeting in May. Stan Deal, head of Boeing’s commercial plane division, departed immediately.

Boeing shares rose 3.6 per cent in pre-market trading after closing on Tuesday at $169.28.

Baird analyst Peter Arment said the stock represented “a buying opportunity”. “The kitchen sink quarter was not bad as feared, with progress expected on production, deliveries and [free cash flow] in the coming quarters coupled with a management change,” he said.

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