Attorney Michael Cohen, who has said he paid porn actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about any relationship she might have had with his client Donald Trump, told Vanity Fair that the payment had nothing to do with the 2016 campaign. Cohen also denied he has threatened Daniels.
“People are mistaking this for a thing about the campaign,” Cohen told VF. “What I did defensively for my personal client, and my friend, is what attorneys do for their high-profile clients. I would have done it in 2006. I would have done it in 2011. I truly care about him and the family — more than just as an employee and an attorney.”
Cohen had said the money paid to Daniels through Essential Consultants LLC, a Delaware company he formed, came out of his own pocket and wasn’t reimbursed by Trump’s campaign or business.
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In regards to the campaign, Cohen said he was “hopeful and optimistic” Trump would defeat Democratic presidential nominee and former secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but didn’t expect him to. “Everyone said that you can’t beat the Clinton machine,” he told VF. “The election would be over in a few weeks.”
And Cohen denied doing anything to threaten Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.
“In fact, I have never spoken to her. I have never emailed her. I have never met her. I have never texted her,” he told VF. “Every interaction with Ms. Clifford was always through her previous attorney.”
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The magazine pushed the topic a bit further, asking if Cohen knew of anyone else threatening Clifford on Cohen’s behalf. “I can only speak for myself,” he replied. “I reiterate: I have never threatened her in any way and I am unaware of anyone else doing so.”
Cohen filed papers Friday seeking to move the matter back into arbitration, away from public scrutiny. Cohen claims Clifford violated the non-disclosure agreement 20 times and, at $1 million per, she could be liable for $20 million in damages.
For her part, Clifford recently filed a lawsuit in California claiming the non-disclosure agreement was invalid because Trump never signed it and Cohen has discussed some aspects of the agreement publicly.
She has also offered to return the $130,000, an amount Cohen says Clifford came up with, so she could be free to talk freely about an alleged sexual relationship she had with Trump in 2006 and 2007.
Cohen said despite Clifford’s offer of repayment that came through her attorney Michael Avenatti, he prefers to duke it out in court. “Unlike Mr. Avenatti, we are not handling this matter through the court of public opinion,” Cohen told VF. “We are handling it through a court of competent jurisdiction.”
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