Lawyer who made six-figure payment to Stormy Daniels: ‘I will always protect Mr. Trump’

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Michael Cohen, a longtime lawyer for President Trump, told the New York Times he personally paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 of his own money after she claimed to have had an affair with Trump. In a subsequent statement texted to Yahoo News, Cohen suggested the money was not an admission Daniels’ claims were true and described the payment as a product of his fierce loyalty to the president.

President Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen departs following September 2017 meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington.

“Just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean that it can’t cause you harm or damage. I will always protect Mr. Trump,” Cohen said.

Cohen’s payment to Daniels was first revealed by the Wall Street Journal last month.  The newspaper, which said Daniels “privately alleged” her rendezvous with Trump took place at a celebrity golf tournament where they met in 2006, reported Cohen gave the six-figure sum to Daniels as part of a nondisclosure agreement that barred her from discussing her alleged dalliance with Trump. The encounter between Trump and Daniels would have taken place shortly after he married the future first lady, Melania Trump.

At the time of that first report, Cohen told Yahoo News that Trump “vehemently denies any such occurrence.” Cohen also provided Yahoo News and other news outlets with a signed and pre-typed statement from Daniels where she said the rumors of an affair were “absolutely false,” and insisted Trump “was a complete gentleman to me and EVERYONE in my presence.”  In the statement, Daniels also said “rumors that I have received hush money from Donald Trump are completely false.” The Journal subsequently documented how Cohen used a secretive Delaware company to pay Daniels the month before last year’s presidential election.

On Tuesday evening, Cohen admitted to the New York Times that he had indeed made the payment. It was the first time he confirmed his involvement with the $130,000 transaction.

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

Trump has previously ignored questions from Yahoo News about why Cohen paid Daniels.

Stormy Daniels arrives for the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.

Cohen, who did not respond to questions from Yahoo News about whether Trump was aware of the payment, spent almost a decade as an attorney at the president’s real estate company, the Trump Organization. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Cohen helped lead minority outreach efforts for Trump. Cohen left the Trump Organization and became Trump’s personal attorney in January 2017, decades before he assumed the presidency.

Allegations of an affair between Trump and Daniels first surfaced in an October 2011 on the blog TheDirty.com. The celebrity magazine In Touch said it conducted a 2011 interview with Daniels where she described sexual relations with Trump as “textbook generic.” In Touch claimed Daniels also passed a polygraph test about the alleged tryst with Trump. Slate editor-in-chief Jacob Weisberg reported Daniels told him about the alleged affair and the details of her payment agreement with Cohen prior to the 2016 election. Daniels, whose given name is Stephanie Clifford, has starred in a slew of films including “Happy Endings,” “The Madam,” and “Sexbots: Programmed For Pleasure.”

AP

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