Let’s recap the Trump camp’s account of the Stormy Daniels story in all its ludicrous glory. They insist that the tryst Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claimed to have had with Trump never happened. It’s all a big lie. And despite the fact that it never happened, Michael Cohen, Trump’s notoriously combative consigliere (he reportedly told a journalist working on a negative story about his boss, “I’m warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting”) took out a line of credit on his own home to pay Daniels $130,000 in hush-money.
Margaret Hartmann wrote for New York magazine that, “while there’s little evidence that Cohen was kept on the payroll for his sharp legal mind, he’d demonstrated again and again that he possesses the unshakable loyalty that Trump values so highly,” and yet Cohen claims that he didn’t even tell his boss about this magnanimous gesture, and never planned to do so. He says that he negotiated the agreement and made Trump a party to it without uttering a word about it, and certainly didn’t ask to be reimbursed for it. Paying a porn star $130,000 to keep quiet about an affair that never happened was just a personal transaction by a guy who refers to himself as a “pit bull” on behalf of a guy with much deeper pockets than he has. (The White House has consistently dodged the question of whether Trump knew of the payoff.)
Cohen further insists that it had nothing to do with the Trump Organization, despite the fact that he used his company e-mail address to set up the wire transfer to Daniels and, according to CNN, “Jill Martin, a top lawyer at the Trump Organization,” is listed in a court filing as the attorney representing the LLC that Cohen established specifically to pay off Daniels. Martin, whose title is vice president and assistant general counsel for the Trump Organization, also issued a statement claiming that she worked on the matter only “in a personal capacity,” despite the fact that the address she listed on the filing is that of the Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles.
All of this, according to the White House and Cohen, also had nothing to do with the presidential campaign—never mind that this all went down just weeks before Election Day, at a time when it appears the campaign was working furiously to kill off stories about the affair that were set to run in at least three outlets. If it had been related to the campaign, Cohen would be liable for an illegal $130,000 campaign contribution, but he insists that it wasn’t.