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April 05, 2018

Trump Breaks Months of Silence, Denies He Knew Cohen Paid Stormy

WASHINGTON, D.C.—It's been just under four months since the Wall Street Journal first reported that Stormy Daniels was paid to keep quiet about her alleged 2006 affair with President Donald Trump—and in all that time, the word "Stormy" has never once crossed Trump's lips, nor was there a single mention of the name in his voluminous Twitter output. But this afternoon, just as Air Force One had landed, returning Trump from a trip to West Virginia, the president for the first time responded to a question about the Daniels affair from a reporter, who asked, "Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?" The usually verbose Trump responded simply, "No." "Then," the reporter followed up, "why did Michael Cohen make it, if there was no truth to her allegations?" "You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen," Trump said. "Michael's my attorney, and you'll have to ask Michael." Cohen has already been asked, as Trump undoubtedly knew, and has stated that he made the payment to quash what he considered to be a nuisance allegation. "Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?" the reporter pressed. Trump denied any knowledge of the source, but Cohen had previously asserted that he mortgaged his property to obtain the funds, and when the reporter asked Trump, "Did you ever set up a fund of money that he could pull from?" Trump ignored the question. It had been rumored that Cohen had confided to friends that he expected Trump to reimburse him for the cash outlay, but without access to Trump's financial records, the truth of that statement will likely have to wait for the trial in the matter—and indeed, Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti tweeted shortly after Trump's statements, saying, "We very much look forward to testing the truthfulness of Mr. Trump’s feigned lack of knowledge concerning the $130k payment as stated on Air Force One. As history teaches us, it is one thing to deceive the press and quite another to do so under oath." And though it wasn't under oath, Daniels did pass a lie detector test in which one of the questions was whether she had had sex with Trump. But what's newsworthy about that short Q&A is that it's the first time Trump has even acknowledged that Daniels exists—and now the question will be, will he ever mention her again? UPDATE: Kerry Eleveld of DailyKos had a couple of interesting thoughts: "The first thing that answer likely does is invalidate the NDA that Daniels signed (and Trump didn't) and that Cohen has been using as the foundation to sue Daniels for supposedly violating said agreement," Eleveld wrote, adding, "Trump’s answer also puts Cohen in a whole lot of trouble in terms of running afoul of the law... he could lose his law license for executing an agreement without informing his client, he could be accused of perpetrating fraud, and he could be sued for defamation for accusing Daniels of lying about something that he supposedly never even confirmed with Trump. Additionally, the possibility that this could be construed as an illegal campaign contribution still dangles out there."

 
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