Documents on Trump ex-Lawyer’s Porn Star Hush Payment Released

Nearly 900 pages of documents regarding hush-money payments by Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen to a porn actress and a Playboy model who said they had sexual encounters with the president were made public on Thursday, providing new insight into an investigation that landed Cohen in prison.

U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan on Wednesday had ordered that the material, used by prosecutors to obtain a 2018 search warrant for Cohen’s home and office, be unsealed on Thursday morning. The judge found there was no reason to keep the documents secret after prosecutors told him that their investigation into the payments had ended.

Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty in August 2018 to violating campaign finance law by directing payments of $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels and $150,000 to Playboy model Karen McDougal to avert a scandal shortly before the 2016 presidential

election. Both women have said they had sexual encounters with Trump more than a decade ago and that the money was meant to buy their silence. Trump has denied the encounters.

The search warrant application described a phone call on Oct. 8, 2016, about a month before the election, involving Trump, Cohen and Hope Hicks, then the press secretary for Trump’s presidential campaign, which prosecutors believed was to discuss paying to squash public reports of an affair between Trump and Daniels.

A few minutes after that call, Cohen called David Pecker, the president of American Media Inc who was close to Trump, and then received a call from another employee at AMI, which published the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper. A short time later, Cohen called Hicks back for about two minutes. Calls between the Trump campaign, AMI and Cohen continued through the evening.

Prosecutors said these calls were to discuss getting a payment to Keith Davidson, then an attorney for Daniels. On Oct. 17, Cohen was involved in calls and texts as he feared the attempted settlement agreement might fall apart, according to the warrant application.

Cohen, who was once Trump’s self-described “fixer,” began serving a three-year prison sentence in May for his campaign finance violations and other crimes, including making false statements to a bank and tax evasion.

Pauley had ordered many of the search warrant material about Cohen’s personal business dealings unsealed earlier this year, but allowed the hush-money documents to remain secret because an investigation involving the payments was still in progress.

Cohen pleaded guilty last November to separate charges brought by the office of former Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, who was investigating contacts between Trump’s 2016

presidential campaign and Russia. Cohen admitted he lied to Congress about the extent of contacts between Trump and Russians during the campaign.

 

 

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