After months of denials, President Donald Trump has acknowledged paying off porn star Stormy Daniels. Trump’s story about the $130,000 payment — what he knew about it and when — has evolved over time. (May 4)
President Donald Trump personally directed his attorney and one of his sons to prevent porn star Stormy Daniels from going public with her claim that she’d had a sexual affair with him before he won the presidency, according to a media report Tuesday.
Trump issued the directive to get a legal restraining order via a secret arbitration proceeding against Daniels during a February telephone call with his then-attorney Michael Cohen, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the events.
The president indicated he would pay for the legal costs involved, saying “I’ll take care of everything,” the report said.
The call allegedly occurred after Trump and Cohen learned that Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, planned to disregard an October 2016 non-disclosure agreement about the reported affair and agree to a media interview about it. Trump has denied having the affair.
Trump also told Cohen to coordinate the legal silencing effort with Eric Trump, one of the president’s sons, as well as an outside lawyer who had represented Trump and his Trump Organization business, the Journal reported.
Eric Trump, who is running the family business with his brother, Donald Trump Jr., then asked a Trump Organization attorney to approve the arbitration paperwork, the report said.
Undercutting earlier denials, the reported episode signals direct involvement by President Donald Trump and Eric Trump in the silencing attempt, as well as the president’s continued involvement in his business during his White House term.
The White House and a spokesperson for Cohen attorney Lanny Davis did not immediately respond to USA TODAY messages seeking comment on the report Tuesday.
However, the Journal reported that Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for President Trump, declined to comment, as did theTrump Organization. Eric Trump acted as the president’s son, not as a company executive, the report said, citing an unidentified person close to the situation.
Michael Avenatti, an attorney representing Daniels, said in a Twitter post that the report “describes what we have been saying for months, and what Trump and Cohen denied repeatedly.”
Trump has acknowledged reimbursing Cohen for $130,000 in hush money paid to Daniels.
Daniels has filed a lawsuit in California federal court that alleges the non-disclosure effort she agreed to is invalid because Trump never signed it. The case is pending.
Cohen pleaded guilty to federal crimes in August during a court proceeding in which he said he paid hush money to Daniels and another woman “at the direction of” a candidate running for federal office, a direct reference to Trump.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kevin McCoy on Twitter: @kmccoynyc
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