Feb 14, 2018, 8:47 AM ET

Trump lawyer Michael Cohen admits paying porn actress Stormy Daniels $130,000, but mum on why


President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen has acknowledged using his private funds shortly before the 2016 election to pay $130,000 to a porn actress who had once claimed to have had an affair with Trump.

“In a private transaction in 2016, I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms. Stephanie Clifford,” Cohen said in a statement emailed to ABC News, referencing the actress also known as Stormy Daniels.

Cohen’s statement, first reported by the New York Times, came in direct response to a Jan. 22 complaint filed by watchdog group Common Cause with the Federal Election Commission, questioning whether the payment represented an illegal, in-kind contribution to Trump’s presidential campaign, or whether the campaign reimbursed Cohen for the expense.

PHOTO: Personal attorney for President Trump, Michael Cohen, addresses the media, Sept. 19, 2017.Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images
Personal attorney for President Trump, Michael Cohen, addresses the media, Sept. 19, 2017.

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

Cohen said he has filed a response to the Common Cause complaint, calling the allegations “factually unsupported and without legal merit.”

Vice President Mike Pence has called the affair and payment allegations “baseless.”

While Cohen’s statement Wednesday tackles the election law issues, the president’s longtime close advisor added little to the larger question – why he made the payment in the first place.

In January, the Wall Street Journal first reported on the payments to Daniels, an actress who alleged she had an affair with Trump while at a 2006 Lake Tahoe golf tournament. Shortly after those reports, In Touch Magazine published a 2011 interview with Daniels in which she had described the alleged incident.

PHOTO: Adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels attends the 2018 Adult Video News Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Jan. 27, 2018 in Las Vegas. Ethan Miller/Getty Images, FILE
Adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels attends the 2018 Adult Video News Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Jan. 27, 2018 in Las Vegas.

The payments came shortly before the 2016 election, at a time when Daniels was reported to be in talks with several news outlets to tell her story.

Daniels has since deflected questions about the matter. During a January appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” she demurred when asked about her relationship with Trump. When Kimmel asked if she had a nondisclosure agreement, she replied, “Do I?”

And when Kimmel asked about a statement released by a representative earlier in the day saying the alleged affair “never happened,” Daniels appeared to question how the document came to be.

“That doesn’t look like my signature, does it?” Daniels said. “I do not know where it came from.”

PHOTO: President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump attend the National African American History Month reception in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 13, 2018Carolyn Kaster/AP
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump attend the National African American History Month reception in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 13, 2018

A statement released by Cohen Jan. 10 that appeared to be signed by Daniels called the alleged affair “absolutely false” and said her relationship with Trump was “limited to a few public appearances and nothing more.”

Cohen’s latest statement did not address whether the payment was intended to keep Daniels quiet about an affair. But he did note that the payment should not be viewed as any sort of admission.

"Just because something isn't true doesn't mean that it can't cause you harm or damage,” Cohen said. “I will always protect Mr. Trump.”

News - Trump lawyer Michael Cohen admits paying porn actress Stormy Daniels $130,000, but mum on why

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  • Jay C

    Stormy is has been whippin up a storm alright. Whether you like Donald Trump or not, stormy Daniels is putting our country at National Risk right now because our President has to concentrate on Stormy Daniels and her money hungry lawyer. Apparently she's not happy with the $130,000 dollars that she signed/agreed upon. She had no shame back then when she was spreading her legs and she has no shame now. Not to mention that she is getting older and her money maker(ass) is not lucrative any more, so she has to go on this campaign that she was forced to take the $130,000. You know thats a bunch of crock(bullshit)

  • MauiOhana808

    Aloha : O

  • Timehascome

    I GOT IT!!!!
    Cohen got the $130K from a Home Insurance Claim, and gave the check to her...Daniels.
    The Insurance Claim = "Storm Repairs"
    Why didn't you think of researching that ...The Media???

  • TexasVulcan

    The lawyer paid off someone FOR a billionaire? The (so-called) billionaire did not know? Why is this not credible?

  • sixstrings


    That’s stretching just a bit.

  • Nearl45 5

    One lawyer pays off accusers.

    Another tweets anything that appears self-incriminating, while sitting in bed with Trump @ 4 AM.

    This stuff is just so believable.

  • Nearl45 5

    This story, like Cohen and Trump. May be classified under: smarmy.

  • Expert

    Threesome was it. Trump paid up front, Cohen paid separately.

  • Realpshep

    He basically admitted to paying money to quiet someone for Trump's benefit. That may not be illegal but its almost NEVER done. Lawyers don't loan or pay bills for clients,but everything about this WH is unethical

  • FarmFamily

    A lawyer dig into his own pocket to pay off a bribe for a client? Yeah, that didn't happen.

  • THEFred

    Cohen said. “I will always protect Mr. Trump.”

    Brilliant move Cohen!
    Sacrifice yourself, to protect the world's most corrupt lying narcissistic backstabbing p o s traitor! I see you have your priorities in order!

  • Joe Mac Pherson

    "I have great respect for women. Nobody has more respect for women than I do." - Donald Trump, April 9, 2016
    TRUE!! Just ask his THREE different wives, Ivana! Marla! Melania! AND, then there's Stormy Daniels, too!

  • virgillionhere

    The Cover up administration

  • No one you know

    So, Trump and Cohen were outsmarted by a porn star. Sorry, fellas- she had you coming and going, so to speak

  • (redacted)

    Yes, Im sure he paid her with personal money and didn't tell Trump, or expect any money from Trump. Totally believable.

  • Eva

    Apparently this admission violates the non-disclosure agreement which means Stormy can tell all.

    Just call the book Fire and Fury 2:)

  • JohnC

    So how does Cohen decide who will get paid out of the many women that have accused Trump?

  • adamrussell

    graduated summa kinda dumm from Trump University of Law.

  • adamrussell

    Hey you can pay me to not say I had sex with Trump. I promise Ill never tell!

  • kritikosman

    Trump and the lawyer were booby trapped!

  • PeterFromDuluth

    Is Stormy Daniels supposed to report this income in her 1040? This seems to fit quite nicely as her business income.

  • fmd160

    But he (Cohen) did note that the payment should not be viewed as any sort of admission.
    Yeah, but........the payment should be viewed for proof of his statement......................

  • TrumpLovesPelosi

    If Trump would pay a blackmailing porn star $130,000 to keep something quiet, would he sell out American interests to Russia if Putin had something on him ?

  • TrumpLovesPelosi

    Remember when Trump asked a crowd of supporters at a rally for a "loyalty pledge" ?
    Remember when Trump asked James Comey for a "loyalty pledge" ?
    Remember when Trump released a "doctor's note" that said he "tested positive for everything" (obviously written by Trump himself), then he had his Doctor claim that the Doctor wrote it ?
    Remember when Trump had the military Doctor say stuff that was unprofessional ?
    Remember when Trump got one of his Daddy's Doctors to claim that he had "heel spurs" that kept him out of Viet Nam ?
    Remember when Trump got angry at Sessions for not protecting him ?

    There is a clear pattern with this guy getting others to lie for him.
    I have no doubt that Cohn is lying for Trump now.

  • carcar

    Why are Trumps lawyers so dumb? Guess the smart ones are trying to get away from him and then you got these dummies that throw themselves under the bus for him.

  • Jive Turkey

    With friends like that...

  • Guest

    Why is it that lawyers are voluntarily doing trump's dirty work out of the goodness of their own hearts? LOL

  • Emma Lou #2

    what a transparent coverup..i hope he gets audited and fined.

  • LMcW

    My question is this. If the Lawyer paid her the money from his own personal account and says that Trump nor the campaign knew anything about it, why did he set up a fake LLc to exchange the money? If it was all on the up and up why not just cut her a check?

  • Roger

    Another trump deception. Another lie. Another misdirection.

  • SpeakingForThoseWithBrains

    Wouldn't it be poetic if a woman named "Stormy" Daniels is the one to speed up the unraveling of this administration...

  • Art Hegewald

    How stupid is a lawyer that violates his own non-disclosure agreement?

  • will Russell

    Just wondering how the IRS and their state taxing authorities will look at this. When you make a gift to someone - $14,000 in 2016 and 2017, that comes under "gift tax." Just wondering if she reported it and if he paid the tax.

  • brickmette

    None of Donald Trump's political enemies could do as much to destroy the Trump Administration as he and his associates do.

  • brickmette

    Poor Millennia.

  • Anthony Martin

    So either Stormy 'blackmailed' the lawyer or the lawyer paid Stormy a "bribe'. And in between,
    the lawyer, gave a service (a gift) on behalf of his client (who was running for office) whom he was protecting against potential charges of adultery( which could be used in a civil case) (and as negative campaign material). Where does illegal, immoral, unethical, & stupid come into play.

    Stormy should spill the beans. She didn't 'blackmail" anyone and as far as accepting gifts and bribes, she can claim to have been just a naive porn star. Why does Cohen have a license or is not in prison?

  • brickmette

    I'm very confused.
    If Michael Cohen paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 in order to protect the President by keeping this incident private, and away from public scrutiny, ....what happened??? Did the check bounce?

  • TrumpLovesPelosi

    "I did not have sex with that Porn Star".
    "I did not collude with Russia."

    If he lied about one, did he lie about the other ?

  • Lavendar62

    Now it seems that the Trump administration forged a statement that Daniels was supposed to have written, stating that they never had an affair. If Trump and minions are so stupid to do that, then you know that (1) he did have the affair and (2) you should be serious concerned about the truthfulness of any suppose evidences that Trump and his minions say or submit concerning other investigations.

  • Brooks Payne

    Cohen says, "I'll always protect President Trump."
    THIS is how he protects someone?

  • Lavendar62

    So is Melania going to stand by her man, as Hillary did; or is she going to dump the idiot?

  • adamrussell

    Not sure if this is intended to be a distraction from the Porter story but...

    Her manager says that Cohen has voided the NDA and that Stormy is now free to tell all.

  • TrumpLovesPelosi

    Who cares if a sitting President paid blackmail to a pornstar to keep an affair quiet just before an election ?

    That wouldn't translate to Trump selling out American interests to an adversary that knows secrets about Trump's involvement in money laundering would it ?

    Trump has :
    - Never criticized our brutal adversary who has done everything they can to damage America.
    - Lobbied Congress to weaken Russian Sanctions.
    - Refused to implement new sanctions that Congresss voted for overwhelmingly.
    - Lobbied Congress to return Russian Spy-Dens on American soil.
    - Proposed that we have Russia involved with American cyber-security.
    - Has helped Putin-tied Oligarchs launder dirty Russian money stolen off of the Russian people.
    - Leaked classified information to the Russian Ambassador.
    - Lied about his connections to Russia.
    - Lied about why his son met with Russians (Adoptions my butt. It was to get dirt on Hillary in return for repealing the Maginsky act.).
    - Fired Comey to impede the Russian investigation (He said so himself on national TV).
    - Removed Intelligence assets from Syria at Putin's request.
    - Warned the Russians before an American air strike in Syria.
    - Has done little to defend our allies (Kurds) in Syria.
    - Has fallen all over himself to meet secretly with Putin when they are in the same location at the same time.

    Mueller ?
    Mueller ?

  • Sonora Nomad

    Stormy...you gotta come out of retirement, make a final movie!!!! ....starring you and , and what's his name again???

  • mollydtt

    Just keep talking.....

  • Bill William

    An attorney that pays for you to go with prostitutes, how unusual.