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April 10, 2018

Feds Ask Trump Org for Stormy Daniels Payoff Docs, Report Says

One day after the FBI raided the offices—as well as the home and hotel room—of Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen,  reportedly seizing documents related to Cohen’s “hush money” $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, the feds now want more documents about the Daniels deal. But this time, federal prosecutors are going straight to Trump’s private business to get those documents, according to a report Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal. (Note that the Journal article is behind a paywall, but a summary of the report may be read online at this link.) On Tuesday afternoon, NBC News reported that Daniels is now officially cooperating with federal investigators in their investigation of the hush money payoff. Trump has denied that he was aware that Cohen made the payment and entered into a non-disclosure agreement with Daniels over the sexual relationship in which Daniels alleges she engaged with Trump in 2006. But federal prosecutors in New York apparently are not fully buying Trump’s denial, and have put in a formal request to the Trump Organization to hand over documents that may shed light on the Daniels payoff. The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, was appointed by Trump on an interim basis after Trump fired the previous U.S. attorney there, Preet Bharara. But Berman has been recused from the investigation into the Cohen investigation and was not involved in the decision to raid Coehn’s offices and homes, according to media reports Tuesday.  In addition to documents regarding the payment to Daniels, prosecutors also want the Trump Organization to turn over any records relating to former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal, who also says that she had a sexual relationship with Trump in 2006 and 2007. McDougal received a $150,000 payoff from the National Enquirer tabloid, owned by close Trump friend and loyalist David Pecker, to maintain her silence about the alleged affair.  In addition to suing Trump and Cohen to be released from her silence agreement, Daniels is also suing Cohen for defamation, saying that he called her a liar for claiming that she had sex with Trump. But on Tuesday, Cohen asked a federal judge in California to throw that lawsuit out of court.  But in his court filing Tuesday, Cohen claimed that his statement characterizing Daniels’ claims of the affair as “not true” was nothing but a “figurative, hyperbolic expression.” “The statement by Mr. Cohen is not defamatory as a matter of law, but rather is hyperbole,” the court filing said.  Also on Tuesday, Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti—who previously said that he would be releasing a forensic sketch of a man who allegedly threatened Daniels over the Trump story in a Las Vegas parking lot—announced that he will delay releasing that sketch in light of the raids on Cohen’s offices. He did not give a date for when he now planned to release the sketch. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

 
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