The saga of Stormy Daniels — the porn actress who had an alleged affair with Donald Trump in 2006 then signed a “hush agreement” to keep the matter under wraps in 2016 — keeps growing, and it could mean legal trouble for the president and his team.
Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 as part of a nondisclosure agreement in late October 2016 — 12 days before the presidential election, while Trump was besieged by a series of sexual harassment accusations from many different women. In exchange for the money, Daniels agreed not to come forward about the alleged sexual encounter. The Wall Street Journal broke news of the arrangement in January 2018.
In April, FBI investigators raided Cohen’s office and residence, looking for, among other things, documents related to the Daniels payment, which could constitute an illegal campaign contribution.
Trump and the White House deny that the affair ever took place — and Trump had previously denied knowing anything about the cover-up payment. But then Rudy Giuliani, the newest member of Trump’s legal team, revealed in a shocking Fox News interview with Sean Hannity that the president had repaid Cohen.
Trump confirmed this on Twitter, stating that Cohen had “received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign.” Regardless, experts say the $130,000 payment could be illegal. If the money was intended to help the Trump campaign and was not properly disclosed, it could be a campaign finance law violation.
Giuliani himself suggested that politics played a role in crafting the agreement, saying on Fox, “Imagine if that [Stormy Daniels’s story] came out on October 15, 2016, in the middle of the, you know, last debate with Hillary Clinton.”