Stormy Daniels: Trump attorney Michael Cohen reportedly confirms he paid adult actress $130,000

World

One of Donald Trump’s lawyers has reportedly confirmed that he personally paid out more than $100,000 to an adult actress who once claimed to have had an affair with Mr Trump.

Attorney Michael Cohen told the New York Times that he paid actress Stephanie Clifford – stage name Stormy Daniels – $130,000 out of his own pocket in the months leading up to the 2016 election.

“Neither the Trump Organisation nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly,” Mr Cohen told the Times.

He added: “The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.”

The Wall Street Journal reported in January that Mr Cohen had arranged a payment to Ms Daniels in order to keep her quiet about a prior affair with Mr Trump. Both Mr Trump and Ms Daniels have denied an affair occurred, and Mr Cohen has denied a payoff took place.

The Journal later reported that Mr Cohen had set up a private company specifically to pay Ms Daniels, using code names to disguise the identities of those involved. Mr Cohen did not respond directly to that report.

The lawyer said on Thursday that he had informed the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that he made the payment himself, after watchdog group Common Cause filed a complaint alleging the payment could be considered an in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign.

Common Cause said in their complaint that they did not know the source of the money. But regardless of where it originated, they argued, it could count as a campaign contribution because it was intended to affect the outcome of the election.

“The complaint alleges that I somehow violated campaign finance laws by facilitating an excess, in-kind contribution,” Mr Cohen said in his statement. “The allegations in the complaint are factually unsupported and without legal merit, and my counsel has submitted a response to the FEC.”

Who is Stormy Daniels?

In a 2011 interview, Ms Daniels told In Touch that she had an affair with Mr Trump in 2006. The interview was not published until recently. Jacob Weisberg, chairman and editor in chief of the Slate Group, said he had also discussed the alleged affair with Ms Daniels in 2016.

In the wake of the Journal story, however, Ms Daniels issued a statement denying the affair ever took place.

“The fact of the matter is that each party to this alleged affair denied its existence in 2006, 2011, 2017 and again in 2018,” she said. “I am not denying this affair because I was paid “hush money” as has been reported in overseas-owned tabloids. I am denying this affair because it never happened.”

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