The Rundown for Dec. 20, 2018

TRUMP SIGNED MOSCOW TOWER AGREEMENT… President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani admitted yesterday that Trump signed a letter of intent to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 campaign, but claims the letter was invalid. Giuliani told CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday that nobody signed the Oct. 28, 2015 letter. Trump repeatedly insisted during his campaign that he had “nothing to do” with Russia and had no business interests there. The non-binding letter revealed plans or the project. Giuliani admits he was wrong to claim the letter wasn’t signed.

TRUMP ORDERS WITHDRAWAL FROM SYRIA… President Trump reversed U.S. policy yesterday by ordering the “full” and “rapid” withdrawal of American troops from Syria. The president also defied military statements about the threat of ISIS by declaring that the U.S. has defeated the Islamist extremists. South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, led criticism of the decision. “An American withdrawal at this time would be a big win for ISIS, Iran, Bashar al Assad of Syria and Russia,” he said. “I fear it will lead to devastating consequences for our nation, the region, and throughout the world.”

D.C. ATTORNEY GENERAL SUES FACEBOOK… Washington D.C.’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against Facebook yesterday for allowing political-consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to access the private data of tens of millions of users without their knowledge. “Facebook failed to protect the privacy of its users and deceived them about who had access to their data and how it was used,” Attorney General Karl Racine said. Whistleblower Christopher Wylie broke the Cambridge Analytica scandal in March when claimed that the firm had used the data of more than 80 million Facebook users to create “psychographic” profiles. A federal investigation into Facebook’s relationship with the firm is currently ongoing.

SENATE RE-CLASSIFIES LYNCHING… The Senate yesterday unanimously approved a bill that makes lynching a “federal civil-rights crime.” The bill would force anyone found guilty of lynching to serve a life sentence. California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris, who spearheaded the bill, noted the Senate had failed to pass such a bill in almost 200 previous attempts. Supporters say if the legislation isn’t passed on time by Congress, it will be reintroduced through the new Congress next year.

OBAMACARE SIGNUPS DROP… Government figures released yesterday indicate that the number of Americans who signed up for 2019 insurance plans created by the Affordable Care Act have fallen by about 4 percent to 8.5 million people from 2018. A spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services attributed the decrease to increased employment, which raised the number of people who had employer-based health insurance. Analysts also cited competing insurance options, a cut in advertising spending from the previous administration to promote the program and the removal of the law’s individual mandate that had required people to have health insurance or pay a fine.

GEORGE LUCAS TOPS WEALTHIEST CELEBRITY LIST… Filmmakers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, respectively, hold down the top two spots in Forbes’ 2018 list of America’s wealthiest celebrities. Lucas’ net worth was estimated at $5.4 billion, due largely to the $4.1 billion he made when he sold his production company to Disney in 2012. Spielberg had an estimated net worth of $3.7 billion. Oprah Winfrey was third on the list with $2.8 billion. Retired basketball player Michael Jordan, who is a 90-percent owner of the Charlotte Hornets NBA team, was fourth with $1.7 billion. Reality TV star Kylie Jenner and music mogul Jay-Z are tied for fifth on the list, with each having an estimated net worth of $900 million.

GWEN STEFANI COULD BE LIABLE FOR FAN’S INJURIES… A federal judge has ruled that singer Gwen Stefani could be held liable for allegedly causing a stampede that left a fan injured at a concert in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2016. The plaintiff claims she suffered her injuries after Stefani caused a stampeded by urging the audience to move closer to the stage. The judge left liability on the singer after finding that promoter Live Nation had put in place reasonable precautions to protect fans.

CHARLOTTE 110 – Cleveland 99… The Hornets took control in the second half to put away the Cavaliers. Kemba Walker scored 30 points to lead all scorers. Jeremy Lamb had 18 points and 12 rebounds. Marvin Williams added 18 points and 10 boards.

PHILADELPHIA 131 – New York 109… Joel Embiid led a second-half surge and finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds as the 76ers pulled away from the Knicks. Jimmy Butler tossed in 20 points.

San Antonio 129 – ORLANDO 90… The Spurs made 12 of 19 3-point attempts in bombing the Magic. LaMarcus Aldridge led a balanced scoring attack with a game-high 20 points.

Phoenix 111 – BOSTON 103… The Suns shook off a slow start to down the Celtics for their fourth straight win. Devin Booker pumped in 25 points. Deandre Ayton racked up 23 points and 18 boards. T.J. Warren added 21 points.

TORONTO 99 – Indiana 96… The Raptors held the Pacers to 11 fourth-quarter points in erasing a 17-point deficit. Fred VanVleet knocked down a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 25 seconds remaining and Toronto made it stand. Kawhi Leonard led Toronto with 28 points and 10 rebounds.

Detroit 129 – MINNESOTA 126 (OT)… The Pistons came from 14 points down entering the fourth quarter to outlast the Timberwolves. They got 34 points from Blake Griffin and 33 from Reggie Bullock. Andre Drummond had 16 points and as many boards.

Brooklyn 96 – CHICAGO 93… The Nets held off the Bulls to extend their winning streak to seven games. Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench to score a game-high 27 points and make a critical defensive play in the final seconds.

HOUSTON 136 – Washington 118… The Rockets set an NBA record by making 26 3-pointers in their pounding of the Wizards. James Harden scored 35 points to lead six players in double figures. Clint Capela had 20 points and 12 rebounds.

MILWAUKEE 123 – New Orleans 115… The Bucks were too much for the shorthanded Pelicans in the second half of their win. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 25 points.

UTAH 108 – Golden State 103… The Jazz built a lead in the first quarter and held on the rest of the way to down the Warriors. Joe Ingles dropped in 20 points. Jae Crowder delivered 18 points and 11 boards of the bench. Rudy Gobert had 17 points and 15 boards.

PORTLAND 99 – Memphis 92… The Trail Blazers scored the first 11 points of the fourth quarter and held on to beat the Grizzlies. Damian Lillard scored 15 of his 24 points in the third quarter. Memphis has lost four straight.

Oklahoma City 132 – SACRAMENTO 113… The Thunder built a 19-point halftime lead and coasted past the Kings. Paul George poured in 43 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Jerami Grant had 22 points. Steven Adams finished with 20 points and 23 boards. Russell Westbrook tallied 19 points, 11 rebounds and 17 assists in the 112th triple-double of his career.

Houston is at Miami…
the L.A. Clippers host Dallas

Pittsburgh 2 – WASHINGTON 1… Sidney Crosby scored the tying goal in the second period and assisted on Bryan Rust’s game-winner later in the period to send the Penguins past the Capitals. Goalie Matt Murray made 31 saves. The loss snapped Washington’s five-game winning streak.

Montreal 2 – COLORADO 1… Gabriel Landeskog batted in a tie-breaking goal 35 seconds into the third period and the Canadiens held on to edge the Avalanche. Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist for Montreal. He leads the NHL with 58 points.

Nashville is at Philadelphia…
Columbus hosts New Jersey…
Florida is at Toronto…
Pittsburgh hosts Minnesota…
Detroit is at Carolina…
Boston hosts Anaheim…
Chicago is at Dallas…
Arizona hosts Montreal…
Tampa Bay is at Calgary…
Vegas hosts the N.Y. Islanders…
St. Louis is at Vancouver…
San Jose hosts Winnipeg

#3 TENNESSEE 83, Samford 70…
#5 Virginia 69, SOUTH CAROLINA 52…
NORTH CAROLINA STATE 78, #7 Auburn 71…
#11 FLORIDA STATE 95, North Florida 81…
#13 VIRGINIA TECH 82, North Carolina A&T 60…
#17 MISSISSIPPI STATE 98, Wofford 87…
#22 INDIANA 86, Central Arkansas 53…

Ohio 27, San Diego State 0 in the Frisco Bowl

Marshall (8-4) plays South Florida (7-5) in the Gasparilla Bowl

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