LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — It’s been a turbulent week for former Miss Universe Alicia Machado.
Just days after being plunged into the center of the 2016 presidential campaign, Machado – who says that when she gained weight after being crowned Miss Universe for 1996, Donald Trump labeled her “Miss Piggy” – is defending another part of her past.
Now living in Los Angeles, Machado was embroiled in controversy of a different sort in 1998 after a judge in Venezuela accused her of threatening to kill him after he indicted her then-boyfriend for attempted murder.
The boyfriend, Juan Rafael Rodriguez Regetti, was accused of shooting and wounding his sister’s husband, whom he blamed for his sister’s suicide. The victim’s family accused Machado of driving her boyfriend’s getaway car, but she denied any involvement and apparently was never indicted, due to lack of evidence, according to the Associated Press.
But in an appearance Wednesday night on CNN’s “AC360”, Machado responded to the 1998 incident by calling those reports “speculation”.
“There are reports that Trump surrogates tonight have been referencing and pointing to on CNN and elsewhere about an incident in 1998 in Venezuela, where you were accused of driving a getaway car from a murder scene. You were never charged with this,” Cooper said.
“The judge in the case also said you threatened to kill him after he indicted your boyfriend for the attempted murder. I just want to give you a chance to address these reports that the Trump surrogates are talking about,” Cooper continued.
“[Trump] can say whatever he wants to say, I don’t care,” she responded. “You know, I have my past. Of course, everybody has a past. I’m not a saint girl. But that is not the point now.”
“The point is that happened 20 years ago,” Machado added.
Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton told Machado’s story toward the end of Monday’s first presidential debate, scolding Trump for referring to the Venezuelan-born actress as “Miss Housekeeping,” as Clinton said, “because she was Latina.”
After the debate, Machado tweeted her thanks to Clinton, writing in Spanish: “Thanks Mrs. Hillary Clinton. Your respect for women and our differences makes you great. I’m with you.”
Clinton later tweeted out a video of Machado’s endorsement on her official Twitter page.
On Monday, Machado – who became a U.S. citizen in August – tweeted out a photo of her with a newly-acquired passport saying she’s “ready to vote” for Clinton.
Earlier this year, the Clinton campaign was criticized after the father of Orlando mass shooter Omar Mateen and former Southland political TV host Seddique Mateen was spotted at a campaign rally in Florida.