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Trump lawyer admits paying porn star

Trump lawyer admits paying porn star

Michael Cohen, pictured arriving to an interview by the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2017Image copyright
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The newspaper says Mr Cohen declined to answer why the “private transaction” was made

An adult film star who has been embroiled in allegations of an affair with President Donald Trump is free to tell her story, her manager has said.

Stormy Daniels is no longer bound by a non-disclosure contract after Mr Trump’s lawyer admitted he paid her, manager Gina Rodriguez says.

Mr Trump’s personal lawyer confirmed in a statement to media he privately paid Ms Daniels $130,000 (£95,000) in 2016.

Ms Rodriguez says that acknowledgement allows her client to speak freely.

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Porn actress Stormy Daniels alleged in 2011 that she had an affair with Mr Trump in 2006

“Everything is off now, and Stormy is going to tell her story,” Ms Rodriguez told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

Her statement comes after Trump lawyer Michael Cohen told the New York Times he paid Ms Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

“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,” Mr Cohen told the New York Times.

He said he told the Federal Election Commission the same after a watchdog group filed a complaint about the payment, claiming that it had served as an “in-kind” political contribution to Mr Trump’s campaign.

An X-rated cover-up?

Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC Washington

Donald Trump’s lawyer and all-around fixer Michael Cohen has said he doesn’t plan “further comment” on his six-figure payment to Stormy Daniels. His statements, however, raise more questions than they answer.

While he said the money came from his “personal funds” and was not reimbursed directly or indirectly by the Trump Organization or the Trump campaign, that leaves open the possibility that he was compensated by other parties – including Mr Trump himself.

Why, in his generosity, would Mr Cohen give $130,000 to Ms Daniels? The Wall Street Journal has reported that it was in exchange for a non-disclosure agreement about a decade-old affair between Mr Trump and Ms Daniels. Circumstantial evidence – that Ms Daniels had been in contact with media outlets prior to the transfer and has since gone silent – lends credence to this line.

Even though the alleged affair is long since past, a story about possible hush money and an attempted cover-up just weeks before the presidential election is much more dangerous for a White House already on its heels. And if it turns out there’s more to the money trail than has been disclosed, an embarrassing situation could quickly morph into a criminal inquiry.

“The payment to Ms Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone,” Mr Cohen said.

The lawyer has previously said Mr Trump “vehemently denies” it occurred.

The revelations on Wednesday follow US media reports that the porn actress known as Ms Daniels was paid to sign an agreement stopping her discussing an alleged affair.

She first said she had a relationship with Mr Trump in a 2011 interview.

In a 2011 interview with InTouch magazine, the actress said she began a sexual relationship with Mr Trump in 2006, shortly after Melania Trump gave birth to his son Barron.

The reports re-emerged in January when the Wall Street Journal reported that she was paid to sign a non-disclosure agreement in the run up to the 2016 election, which prevented her from discussing the alleged liaison.

Ms Clifford was believed to be in discussion with US media about an television appearance to discuss Mr Trump at the time, the report said.

Responding to questions from CNN about why the payment was made, Mr Cohen said: “Just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean that it can’t cause you harm or damage.”

“I will always protect Mr Trump,” Mr Cohen added.

On 30 January, Ms Daniels’ publicist released a statement in her name denying having an affair with Mr Trump.

But many – including Ms Daniels herself – were quick to note that the signature attached to that denial did not bear much resemblance to another copy of her autograph which had been attached to an earlier statement.

That denial had been released by Mr Cohen on 10 January.

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Ms Daniels hosted a Super Bowl party last month

She has since made several public appearances on television and at strip clubs, but has remained tight-lipped when asked directly about Mr Trump in interviews.

Minutes after Mr Trump’s first formal State of the Union address to Congress, she gave an interview to late night comedian Jimmy Kimmel.

In it, she refused to directly answer whether she had signed a non-disclosure agreement, or if she had “ever made love to someone whose name rhymes with Lonald Lump”.

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