WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney has acknowledged making a $130,000 payment to a pornographic film actress, although he said the money came out of his own pocket.
In a statement on Tuesday to the New York Times, Michael Cohen did not indicate why he made the payment to Stormy Daniels (whose real name is Stephanie Clifford), who allegedly had an affair with the real-estate mogul more than a decade before he became president.
“In a private transaction in 2016, I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms. Stephanie Clifford. 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,” the statement read. “The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.”
In January, The Wall Street Journal, citing corporate records and people familiar with the matter, reported that Cohen used a private Delaware company to pay Clifford $130,000 in return for her agreeing not to publicly discuss an alleged extramarital affair with Trump more than a decade earlier.
Cohen’s admission marks the first time anyone close to Trump has acknowledged that such a payment was made.
The affair allegedly occurred in 2006, a year after the New York tycoon and current first lady Melania Trump were married.
Cohen also said in the statement to the Times that he had provided explanations to the Federal Election Commission after a Washington DC-based government watchdog group, Common Cause, contended that the payment was an in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign.
“The allegations in the complaint are factually unsupported and without legal merit, and my counsel has submitted a response to the F.E.C.,” he wrote.
The Times said Cohen did not respond to follow-up questions, including why he made the payment, whether Trump was aware of it and whether he had made similar payments to other people.
After the Wall Street Journal’s report, Cohen released a statement signed by Stormy Daniels in which the actress denied having a relationship with Trump and saying that rumors she had received hush money were false.
Clifford, however, said in a 2011 interview with a magazine that she had had multiple sexual encounters with Trump five years earlier.