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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The rise of anti-Semitism in Donald Trump's America

On Monday, a Jewish cemetery was desecrated. 

Anti-Semitism is once again on the rise in America. Since January alone, there have been 67 bomb threats against Jewish Community Centres in around 27 states around the country. On Monday, a Jewish cemetery in St Louis, Missouri was desecrated, with over 100 headstones overturned. There has been a large increase in online anti-Semitic threats and hate speechSwastikas have been spray painted on the streets of New York.

Trump's poorly-executed "Muslim Ban" has closed the United States to people from seven majority-Muslim countries, including refugees from Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia. But the divisive "them" and "us" rhetoric of the White House has had repercussions for other groups as well. 

Jewish people have not explicitly been the focus of any kind of executive order (after complaints about his lack of action, Trump called anti-Semitism "horrible"). Nevertheless, the new administrations appears to be implicitly pandering to anti-Jewish sentiment.

Take, for example, the official White House tribute issued on Holocaust Memorial Day in January. It failed to directly mention Jewish people at all. Jewish groups, including those representing Republicans, criticised the omission. Trump's chief of staff Reince Priebus defended the statement, saying: "I mean, everyone’s suffering in the Holocaust, including, obviously, all of the Jewish people.”

Superficially, one could attribute this to ignorance. But how politicians phrase their words matters. It is a common tendency of anti-Semites to play down, ignore or reject the idea that the Holocaust was targeted at Jews. It is hard to believe that no one within the White House would have been aware of the kind of dog whistle this omission sent to the extreme right. 

That White House staff includes Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who was the executive chairman of Breitbart, viewed widely as the online news outlet of the "alt right".

Timing also matters. The decision to shut US doors to Syrian and and Iraqi refugees was announced on Holocaust Memorial Day. The irony of an order singling people out for their faith wasn't lost on Jewish groups, who know all too well how many German Jews fleeing the Nazis were turned away from other shores. 

Trump's response time sent a message too. When a Hasidic Jewish reporter asked Trump about the growing anti-Semitism at his press conference on 16 February, he responded as if it was a personal attack, calling the question "very insulting" and telling him to sit down. Despite tweeting vociferously about Saturday Night Live and his daughter’s clothing line being dropped by a department store, Trump only managed to issue a statement condemning anti-Semitism on Tuesday.

David Samuels is a prominent Jewish writer living in Brooklyn, New York. He told me: "American Jews are threatened by rising anti-Semitism on both the right and left, which FBI statistics show to be more serious and more deadly than any animus directed towards Muslims or any other religious group.

"I feel sad that this is now my country, not because I am Jewish but because anti-Semitism is a degenerative thought-virus that makes people crazy by promising to explain everything that happens in the world with reference to a single prime mover - the Jews.

"Because anti-Semitism is a conspiracy theory, and not a form of social prejudice, it is fatal to rational thinking, in a way that simple racial or religious prejudice - including prejudice against Jews - is not."

Whatever the intentions of the Trump administration, the reaction in the country at large shows it is playing with fire. Americans must hope that Trump, who has three Jewish grandchildren, will come to his senses and rid his support base of any who seek to use the presidency to infect the country with their diabolical ideology. 

Lola Adesioye is a British writer based in New York. Follow her @LolaAdesioye.