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March 06, 2018

FBI May Probe Stormy Daniels ‘Hush Money’ Payout As ‘Felony’

CYBERSPACE—The FBI may soon be involved in investigating the payout from Michael Cohen, the self-described “fix-it guy” for Donald Trump, to Stormy Daniels. Cohen sent Daniels the $130,000 payment in October of 2016, allegedly as “hush money” to buy her silence about an affair she had with Trump a decade earlier. On Monday, two Democratic members of congress, Ted Lieu of California and Kathleen Rice of New York—both former prosecutors—sent a request to FBI director Christopher Wray, asking that the Bureau open an inquiry into the Daniels payment, which they said could constitute a felony. Lieu and Rice also asked the FBI to investigate a $150,000 payment allegedly made by the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper to a former Playboy Playmate, Karen McDougal, who also says that she had an affair with Trump—at the same time that the then-Apprentice star was carrying on his sexual dalliance with Daniels.  While neither Trump nor Cohen has acknowledged that Trump’s affair with Daniels—which would have begun when he was newly married to his third wife, Melania—took place, Cohen has admitted that he used his personal cash to “facilitate” the payment. In fact, on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that not only did Cohen make the $130,000 payout to Daniels by wire transfer, and that Daniels received the money on October 27, 2016—but that the financial institution from which Cohen drew the funds, First Republic Bank, reported the payment as “suspicious” to the United States Treasury Department. The Journal also reported that Cohen “complained to friends that he had yet to be reimbursed for the payment to [Daniels],” despite the fact that he had earlier claimed, “neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with [Daniels], and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly.” But if, in fact, Cohen did expect reimbursement, as the Journal reported, that fact indicates that Trump himself was likely aware of the payment, and presumably would have approved it. “Payments to silence individuals with negative information about then-candidate Trump may violate federal election laws,” said Lieu and Rice in a statement issued last week, adding in their letter to Wray that “there is more than sufficient evidence” that Cohen and possibly Trump himself committed felonies by breaking those laws, with the payments both to Daniels and McDougal. Read the complete text of the Lieu and Rice letter to Wray by visiting this link. Above, Kathleen Rice and Ted Lieu

 
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