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Porn star Stormy Daniels picked up a check from somebody

See this original article here

Let’s just get this out of the way right up front. This looks bad. The real question is whether it has any lasting impact.

President Trump’s lawyer of many years, Michael Cohen, has told the New York Times that he personally paid adult actress Stormy Daniels $130K in October of 2016. (Those with sharp memories will recall that this date was only weeks before the presidential election.) He stressed that he made the payment himself, using his own funds, not any cash from the campaign or from the soon-to-be president. (Washington Times)

President Trump’s longtime lawyer told the New York Times on Tuesday that he personally paid off a porn star who claimed to have had an affair with Mr. Trump.

In a statement to The Times, Michael Cohen said he paid the $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford, best known as “Stormy Daniels, ”without the connivance of Mr. Trump or his entities, and was not compensated after the fact.

“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,” he said in his statement. “The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.”

If Cohen is telling this story to the Gray Lady you can bet somebody else had some sort of confirmation and this was a preemptive, damage control strike. Cohen is saying that someone (not specified) had suggested that this represented an in-kind contribution in violation of FEC campaign finance rules. But if there was never a check drawn to or from the campaign or any proof of goods or service going to the campaign, that sounds like a bit of a stretch.

Cohen also refused to answer several follow-up questions which might have provided at least some sort of explanation for how and why the payment was made other than the obvious one. Were there other payments? No response. Did the President know about the payment? Cohen didn’t respond, but his statement contains an unusual phrase. The payment was made, ”without the connivance of Mr. Trump or his entities.” That’s a particularly lawyerly phrase to choose. Connivance means, “willingness to secretly allow or be involved in wrongdoing.” It doesn’t necessarily mean that Trump didn’t know about it, just that he wasn’t enabling or involved in wrongdoing.

And let’s face it… it’s a bit of a stretch to think that Cohen was just randomly handing out six figure checks to porn stars. Unless he or his boss were thinking of starting their own motion picture business on the side, there aren’t many other explanations which leap to mind other than the one everyone is already suspecting.

But if there wasn’t a campaign finance violation involved, what other peril does this pose for the President? Well, if this was hush money to stop her from disclosing something sordid, it needed to be made public. Anything which makes the President a possible target for blackmail is a national security issue. (Not suggesting that Stormy Daniels was setting up shop as an international spy, but someone else who got hold of the information could use it to ill intent.) Still, adultery isn’t technically a crime these days. If it was, Al Gore would have been the nation’s 43rd president, at least for a year or so. And entering into a non-disclosure agreement including some form of payment doesn’t necessarily prove that blackmail was going on or that a crime took place. Also, Trump has never had to deny having an affair with her under oath, so he’s not facing the same trap that Bill Clinton fell into.

The biggest danger may be of a more personal nature in the Trump household. Whether it would stand up as evidence in a court of law or not, the First Lady can’t possibly be thrilled to have this news making headlines. Trouble in the First Family’s marriage also isn’t a de facto end to the presidency, but as I said at the top… this just looks really bad.

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