WASHINGTON >> President Donald Trump said today that his personal attorney Michael Cohen represented him “with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal,” after previously denying any knowledge of a payment Cohen made to the porn actress who alleges an affair with Trump.
He said weeks ago that he had no knowledge of a $130,000 payment Cohen made to Daniels before the 2016 election in exchange for her silence about an alleged sexual tryst with Trump in 2006.
Arguing that Cohen was one of his “many attorneys,” Trump said today: “He represents me like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal,” and added, “From what I see, he did absolutely nothing wrong. There were no campaign funds going in.” The telephone connection seemed to cut out for a few seconds after Trump mentioned Daniels.
Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti responded today: “Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen previously represented to the American people that Mr. Cohen acted on his own and Mr. Trump knew nothing about the agreement with my client, the $130k payment, etc. As I predicted, that has now been shown to be completely false.”
Avenatti told the AP today, “This is going to add considerable momentum to our effort to depose the president and place him under oath in an effort to discover which version of the facts is accurate.”
Cohen is under federal criminal investigation in New York into his personal business dealings. A New York judge said today that she was appointing a former Manhattan federal judge to help determine what materials seized in FBI raids on Cohen are subject to attorney-client privilege. The judge noted that the government and Cohen’s lawyers agreed that a “special master” was the best way to determine which materials should or shouldn’t be off-limits to federal investigators.
Cohen is also dealing with a civil case filed by Daniels, who is seeking to invalidate the confidentiality agreement she signed before the election. He said Wednesday that he would assert his constitutional right against self-incrimination in that case.
Cohen has been asking a federal judge in Los Angeles to delay Daniels’ case after FBI agents raided his home and office earlier this month. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is also suing Cohen, alleging defamation.
Cohen sought to delay the civil case 90 days after the raid, arguing that his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination may be jeopardized if legal proceedings aren’t stayed. But last week, U.S. District Judge S. James Otero said there were “gaping holes” in Cohen’s request for a delay.
In a court filing on Wednesday, Cohen said that FBI agents had seized “various electronic devices and documents in my possession” which contain information about the payment to Daniels. Agents also seized communications with his lawyer, Brent Blakely, about the civil case, Cohen said.
Daniels has offered to return the $130,000 and argues the agreement is legally invalid because it was signed only by her and Cohen, not by Trump.