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Matt Lauer. Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Former co-host of NBC's "Today" show Matt Lauer on Wednesday responded to new allegations of workplace sexual misconduct detailed in Ronan Farrow’s new book “Catch and Kill,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Why it matters: Lauer said his silence amid the accusations "has been a mistake" and that the women who have made claims of misconduct have "shielded themselves from blame behind false allegations." NBC fired Lauer in Nov. 2017.

What they're saying: Specifically, Lauer admitted to an extramarital affair with NBC News employee Brooke Nevils, that took place at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but denied allegations of rape, and said it "was mutual and completely consensual." Nevils, however, said she was too drunk at the time to give consent.

"The story Brooke tells is filled with false details intended only to create the impression this was an abusive encounter. Nothing could be further from the truth. There was absolutely nothing aggressive about that encounter. Brooke did not do or say anything to object. She certainly did not cry. She was a fully enthusiastic and willing partner."
— Matt Lauer

Lauer said Nevils and he had multiple sexual encounters after the Olympics. When he ended the illicit relationship, he said Nevils filed a complaint with NBC "in an effort to rekindle the affair."

"I attempted to go back to my life and pretend as if nothing had happened. I understand how that must have made her feel. However, being upset or having second thoughts does not give anyone the right to make false accusations years later about an affair in which they fully and willingly participated."

NBC said in a statement to Farrow: "Matt Lauer’s conduct was appalling, horrific and reprehensible, as we said at the time. That’s why he was fired within 24 hours of us first learning of the complaint. Our hearts break again for our colleague."

Go deeper: Ronan Farrow's new book accuses Matt Lauer of raping NBC colleague

Go deeper

8 mins ago - Health

U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record

Expand chart
Data: COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The United States reported 88,452 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, setting a single-day record, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The country confirmed 1,049 additional deaths due to the virus, and there are over 46,000 people currently being hospitalized, suggesting the U.S. is experiencing a third wave heading into the winter months.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day.
  2. Politics: Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president" — Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. Sports: MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.
  5. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

The norms around science and politics are cracking

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Crafting successful public health measures depends on the ability of top scientists to gather data and report their findings unrestricted to policymakers.

State of play: But concern has spiked among health experts and physicians over what they see as an assault on key science protections, particularly during a raging pandemic. And a move last week by President Trump, via an executive order, is triggering even more worries.