Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, admitted Tuesday that he paid adult film actress Stephanie Clifford (stage name Stormy Daniels) $130,000 out of his own pocket, but he’s not saying much else about it, according to the New York Times.
Clifford told In Touch magazine in 2011 that she had an affair with Trump in 2006, but has since denied the story.
The Wall Street Journal first reported in January that $130,000 had been paid to Clifford in October 2016, just a month before the presidential election, through a limited liability company that Cohen established.
What did Cohen say?
Cohen released a statement about the transaction to the Times:
Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly. The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.
What did he not say?
Cohen’s statement left several follow-up questions from the New York Times unanswered, because he declined to say:
- whether President Trump knew about the payment;
- why Cohen gave Clifford $130,000; and
- whether Cohen had made similar payments to other people on other occasions
Why make the statement at all?
The reason for Cohen’s statement could be tied to a complaint made to the Federal Election Commission by Common Cause, a government watchdog group.
Common Cause complained that the payment was an in-kind contribution to Trump’s campaign, which Cohen denied.
“The allegations in the complaint are factually unsupported and without legal merit, and my counsel has submitted a response to the FEC,” Cohen said.