Cain's accuser allegedly got a year's salary in severance pay

The <em>New York Times</em> claims that woman who made sexual harrassment allegation received $35,00

In the latest instalment in the Herman Cain scandal, the New York Times has alleged that the one of the women who accused the Republican presidential hopeful of sexual harrassment in the 1990s received $35,000 (£22,000) severance pay -- one year's salary -- over the incident.

The paper cites "three people with direct knowledge of the payment", and says that "new descriptions from the woman's friends and colleagues of her level of discomfort at work" challenge Cain's claim that he is the victim of a "witchhunt". The Republican hopeful's spokesman declined to comment on the severance pay allegation.

Indeed, the scale of the payment will be difficult to justify, if proved true. As I reported earlier this week, Cain has denied all knowledge of any pay-out, telling Fox News:

If the Restaurant Association did a settlement, I wasn't even aware of it and I hope it wasn't for much.

Adding to the pressure on Cain, a lawyer for the second woman has requested that the National Restaurant Association, where all three parties were employed, lift the non-disclosure agreement so that she can publicly dispute Cain's version of events.

In an attempt to focus on the positives, Cain's team have been trumpeting the support he has received from high profile conservatives, including Rush Limbaugh, and fundraising successes.

However, Cain's inability to deny that a settlement had been made more or less guaranteed that this story would rumble on, and it is difficult to see how he will recover from it. Asked by conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer if his race was one of the reasons for this negative coverage, he said: "I believe the answer is yes, but we do not have any evidence to support it." Such attempts to detract attention and shift the blame compound Cain's initial tactical errors -- such as inconsistency about the nature of the "agreement" reached and vagueness about whether a payment had been made. It is time for him to change his tactics, and fast.

 

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Britain is running out of allies as it squares up to Russia

For whatever reason, Donald Trump is going to be no friend of an anti-Russia foreign policy.

The row over Donald Trump and that dossier rumbles on.

Nothing puts legs on a story like a domestic angle, and that the retired spy who compiled the file is a one of our own has excited Britain’s headline writers. The man in question, Christopher Steele, has gone to ground having told his neighbour to look after his cats before vanishing.

Although the dossier contains known errors, Steele is regarded in the intelligence community as a serious operator not known for passing on unsubstantiated rumours, which is one reason why American intelligence is investigating the claims.

“Britain's role in Trump dossier” is the Telegraph’s splash, “The ‘credible’ ex-MI6 man behind Trump Russia report” is the Guardian’s angle, “British spy in hiding” is the i’s splash.

But it’s not only British headline writers who are exercised by Mr Steele; the Russian government is too. “MI6 officers are never ex,” the Russian Embassy tweeted, accusing the UK of “briefing both ways - against Russia and US President”. “Kremlin blames Britain for Trump sex storm” is the Mail’s splash.

Elsewhere, Crispin Blunt, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, warns that relations between the United Kingdom and Russia are as “bad as they can get” in peacetime.

Though much of the coverage of the Trump dossier has focused on the eyecatching claims about whether or not the President-Elect was caught in a Russian honeytrap, the important thing, as I said yesterday, is that the man who is seven days from becoming President of the United States, whether through inclination or intimidation, is not going to be a reliable friend of the United Kingdom against Russia.

Though Emanuel Macron might just sneak into the second round of the French presidency, it still looks likely that the final choice for French voters will be an all-Russia affair, between Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen.

For one reason or another, Britain’s stand against Russia looks likely to be very lonely indeed.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.