- Adult-film actress Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said he’s vetting claims of agreements between additional women and President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, involving hush-money payments.
- Avenatti said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that two women’s claims are almost completely vetted and that it would soon be up to them whether they want to come forward.
The attorney for adult-film actress Stormy Daniels said Thursday that he has nearly completed vetting claims from two additional women who said they had signed similar nondisclosure agreements with President Donald Trump.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, alleged that she had had a 2006 affair with the president. The White House and Trump’s longtime attorney, Michael Cohen, who negotiated the NDA and a $130,000 payment with her, have denied her claims. Daniels is suing Cohen and Trump.
Speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Thursday, Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said he has nearly completed reviewing claims from two additional women who said they signed similar, Cohen-negotiated NDAs for affairs they alleged to have had with the president.
“They are not fully vetted, but I think they are on solid ground,” Avenatti said. “I think as the evidence comes out over the coming months, disclosures are going to be made that my client was not alone, that Michael Cohen was not a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week fixer for the sole purpose of taking care of Stormy Daniels,” he said.
Avenatti, now a regular presence on cable news, said the two women received payments larger than $130,000. Playboy model Karen McDougal has also alleged in a lawsuit that Cohen was involved in a $150,000 agreement she made with a Trump-friendly tabloid publisher to prevent her from telling the story of her alleged 2006 affair with Trump to any other outlet. American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer, did not run her story.
- REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid
On Thursday, Avenatti said the two women appeared to have documentation of their agreements but that he had not yet verified the claims. He said it was possible the two women would become his clients. He said there were additional claims beyond just those two women that he was vetting, though they were in an earlier stage of vetting.
“I think we’re on the verge of saying” the first two women “are fully vetted,” Avenatti said, adding that it is “up to them” whether they want to come forward with their stories once the process is completed.
He said their stories “may create additional exposure” for Trump.
“They may prove to be problematic,” he said.
After the interview Avenatti tweeted there were “two more women and counting.”
“Big problems lie ahead for Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump,” he wrote.
Watch Avenatti’s ‘Morning Joe’ interview:
In addition to being sued by Daniels, Cohen – whose home, office, and hotel room were raided by the FBI last month – is under criminal investigation in the Southern District of New York for possible campaign-finance violations and bank fraud.
Trump reported on his 2018 financial-disclosure report, released Wednesday, that he had reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 payment to Daniels. The 92-page disclosure form said the payment was “not required to be disclosed as ‘reportable liabilities,'” though it said Trump disclosed it “in the interest of transparency.”
The Office of Government Ethics, which released the report, disagreed with that assessment.
- Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
David Apol, the director of the OGE, sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, saying he “may find the disclosure relevant to any inquiry you may be pursuing regarding the President’s prior report that was signed on June 14, 2017.”
“This is tantamount to a criminal referral,” said Walter Shaub, the former director of the OGE under Trump who has since become one of his chief critics.
The president’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told Business Insider that Trump’s disclosure of the payment on the 2018 report “vindicates” their position on the payment. Giuliani also took issue with whether the reimbursement, which he said had been paid through a 12-installment retainer to Cohen, “even had to be disclosed” at all.
“I don’t think he’s right,” Giuliani said of Apol. “I think it is an expenditure that was reimbursed. Not a liability.”