As if you couldn’t get enough scandal from the Trump White House already, earlier this year the story burst back onto the scene of an alleged affair between the president and an adult film star known as Stormy Daniels.
The most recent development in that scandal was a lawsuit from Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, alleging that the non-disclosure agreement she signed in relation to the alleged affair should be considered invalid because the president never personally signed it. She has also alleged that Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen used force and intimidation in an effort to get her to hold up the agreement.
In conjunction to that non-disclosure agreement, Cohen has admitted to personally seeing through a payment of $130,000 in hush money to Clifford. He’s claimed, however, that he saw the payment through independent of the president himself, but there’s a new report out from NBC that is yet another undercut to those claims.
An email obtained by Clifford’s current lawyer Michael Avenatti and provided to NBC News shows that the bank from which the $130,000 was transferred communicated with Trump’s personal lawyer about the sum using his official Trump Organization email account. What Avenatti wants to know is where the money came from before it was deposited into an unspecified account at First Republic Bank.
The president did have a personal checking account at the bank at the time of the transfer, but there is no indication that the money ever came through that account.
Even still, as Avenatti cast the issue:
‘I think this document seriously calls into question the prior representation of Mr. Cohen and the White House relating to the source of the monies paid to Ms. Clifford in an effort to silence her… We smell smoke.’
Avenatti added a call for Cohen to “immediately” release prior correspondence between him and First Republic Bank to show where the $130,000 came from. If the money did come through the Trump Organization, that would be yet another undercut to the claim that the president had no part in the hush money negotiations.
The exact path of the money could also determine whether or not the hush money represented a campaign finance law violation. For example, if Cohen was reimbursed for having contributed the money out of his own funds, that could constitute a secret campaign contribution beyond the allowed amounts for such contributions.
Undercutting yet again Cohen’s claim that he “facilitated” the transfer entirely of his own accord, he’s reported to have privately griped about not yet having been reimbursed for the payment.
Topping off the case against Trump and Cohen is the fact that, as Avenatti notes, the rules of the New York Bar require Cohen to keep his client informed at all times. Thus, he insists, the efforts on Cohen’s part to silence Clifford, through such means as a restraining order meant to bar her from speaking publicly about the affair, could be easily being carried out with the knowledge of the president himself.
Ironically, the issues of the Stormy Daniels scandal aren’t where Cohen’s issues end. His role in items like negotiations over a potential Trump Tower in Moscow has earned him reported scrutiny from Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
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