It's Friday, Dec. 14, 2018. Thanks for choosing to start here.
1. George, Michael
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former attorney and fixer, told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview that Trump directed him to make hush-money payments to two women so their allegations of having affairs with the then-candidate wouldn't become public.
The sit-down, which will air later this morning on "Good Morning America," came just one day after Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for crimes committed while working for Trump.
Meanwhile, the president is distancing himself from Cohen, saying he "never directed Michael Cohen to break the law," contrary to what federal prosecutors contend.
2. Missing Canadians held by China in dispute with US and Canada
A second Canadian citizen was detained in China this week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed on Thursday, in addition to a former Canadian diplomat previously reported missing.
Entrepreneur Michael Spavor and the diplomat Michael Kovrig were taken into custody for allegedly "endangering national security," according to China's Ministry for State Security. Their detention comes in the wake of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou's arrest in Canada and her possible extradition to the U.S. linked to allegations of bank fraud and sanctions violations.
"China wants to stop that extradition before it actually happens," says ABC News' Conor Finnegan, who covers the U.S. State Department. "They're now using these Canadians, it seems, as sort of hostage diplomacy to prevent the Canadians from handing over Meng Wanzhou."
3. Apple announces Austin hub as part of US expansion
Apple has announced a major expansion to Austin, Texas, including an investment of $1 billion that could lead to the creation of 5,000 jobs.
In stark contrast to Amazon's headquarters sweepstakes, Apple received only a fraction of the tax breaks Amazon got in New York and Virginia, preferring instead to go with a "stealth announcement," says ABC News' Zunaira Zaki.
Apple also said it will open new offices in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, California, with plans to keep expanding throughout the U.S.
'He said that, but it doesn't make any sense': Nancy Pelosi says she is praying for Donald Trump.
'We're worried sick': A 14-year-old shooter, who may have been targeting students at an Indiana middle school, exchanges gunfire with police before taking his own life.
'We trust the United States Forest Service to "speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues"': A federal judge quotes "The Lorax" in asking the U.S. agency to revisit plans for a natural gas pipeline on the East Coast.
From our partners at FiveThirtyEight:
What Comes Next In That Contested Election In North Carolina: "As it currently stands, the extent of the suspected election fraud could be enough to change the outcome of the election -- Harris leads by just 905 votes."
The renewed pushback against online porn and NSFW content: Tumblr's announcement to ban adult content and a group of male Notre Dame students' asking for a porn filter on campus Wi-Fi are just two recent efforts to tame digital pornography.
Broadway's 'King Kong,' a modern spin on classic Hollywood tale: Christiani Pitts talks about what it means to be cast as the first African-American woman in the iconic Ann Darrow role.
Today in history:
Dec. 14, 2012 -- Twenty children and six adults are murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The must-see photo:
Firefighters work to put out the smoldering remains of an overnight fire that engulfed six businesses on Queens Boulevard, Dec. 13, 2018, in Queens, New York.
For more great photos from around the world click HERE.
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