Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight Committee has revived the Stormy Daniels subplot, with the reminder that Cohen paid the porn actress $130,000 in hush money on behalf of Trump to cover up an alleged affair ahead of the 2016 election.
Daniels responded to Cohen’s testimony on Wednesday with a statement of her own, saying that she’s proud of Cohen for telling the truth and feels for him and his family.
“You spoke about how the president and his attorney put you and your family in danger by calling you a liar and a rat and disparaging you in public,” Daniels said in the statement.
“I understand your fear, Michael. I have family too,” she said. “Do you believe now that when you and the president called me a liar, when you were his attorney and you insulted me, threatened to bankrupt me and worse, that you put me and my family in danger?”
“I remember the fear,” Daniels continued. “I still feel it. Thank you for having the courage, at long last, to begin to tell the truth. I hope that someday soon your family and mine can both leave this nightmare behind.”
Cohen pleaded guilty to eight federal crimes in August, including campaign finance violations related to the payout to Daniels as well as another payment to Playboy model Karen McDougal. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have alleged that Cohen made those payments “in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump.
Cohen repeated this allegation during his hearing on Wednesday, and he presented an August 2017 check with Trump’s signature that Cohen says was partial reimbursement for the hush money payment to Daniels. Trump admits to personally reimbursing Cohen but says he only found out about the payments later on. He also says the money didn’t come from his campaign and has denied any wrongdoing.
Daniels said she had sex with Trump in 2006, a claim the president continues to deny. Before federal prosecutors got involved, Daniels sued to get out of her hush money agreement, which led to a lot of litigation, including an attempt by Cohen to prevent Daniels from talking.
She had also tried to publish her story prior to the 2016 election, including in In Touch magazine in 2011. The publication dropped the story, however, after Cohen — then Trump’s attorney and fixer — threatened to sue.
Daniels also said in a 60 Minutes interview in March 2018 that she had been threatened in a parking lot in Las Vegas with her infant daughter in tow shortly after In Touch killed the story. The unidentified person told her to “leave Trump alone” and abandon the story, Daniels said.
Cohen denied any involvement with that apparent threat in the parking lot, and Cohen’s lawyer sent Daniels a cease-and-desist letter over her “defamatory” claim that Cohen was responsible for the “alleged thug” who’d threatened her.
It’s still not clear whether Trump or Cohen had anything to do with the parking lot encounter. But Daniels’s statement draws distinct parallels between her own experiences and the threats Cohen says he and his family have gotten from the president and his allies.