It’s no secret that Donald Trump is stewing over the investigation into Russia’s attempt to hack the election for him. Lately, he’s been working overtime to try to hush up the firestorm resulting from that investigation.
Just last week, Vice President Mike Pence all but begged special counsel Robert Mueller to hurry up and finish his probe. And on Thursday, Trump marked the one-year anniversary of the start of the investigation in what has become all-too-typical fashion for him.
But lately, Trump has spent a lot of time trying to put out another brush fire. Or rather, another storm–the growing scandal surrounding his team’s attempt to hush up his 2006-07 affair with porn star Stormy Daniels. Just days before the election, Trump’s longtime attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, hammered out a non-disclosure agreement with Daniels in which Daniels accepted $130,000 in return for her silence on the affair.
We have since learned that there is a rank odor surrounding this agreement. Under federal election law, this payment amounts to an in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign, as it was intended to keep Daniels from revealing information that could damage Trump’s election chances. That payment was not properly disclosed. Moreover, on Wednesday, after months of denying that he even knew about the payment, Trump released a financial disclosure form in which he tacitly acknowledged reimbursing Cohen in 2016.
Well, it turns out there may be a lot more where this came from. On Thursday morning, Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti revealed that at least two other women say that they had affairs with Trump–and that Cohen arranged hush money payments to them.
Avenatti detonated this bombshell on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Watch here.
Avenatti has said in the past that other women had come forward since Daniels spoke up; he is in the process of vetting their claims. But on Thursday, he told co-host Mika Brzezinski and MSNBC legal correspondent Ari Melber that there are at least two other cases that he believes “are on solid ground.”
Avenatti hinted that in the coming months, more information will come out that will prove Trump–or “David Dennison,” as he was called in the NDA with Daniels–had affairs with these two other women, and Cohen brokered agreements similar to the one he brokered with Daniels. Pressed for details, Avenatti revealed that they received larger hush payments than what Daniels received in return for their silence. He believes that the manner in which the payments were arranged “may create additional exposure” for Trump or Cohen.
What kind of exposure? Well, Avenatti noted that Trump and Cohen were consulted on the preparation of Trump’s 2016 disclosure statement, which was created in May 2017. Avenatti believed that given Cohen’s prominent role in Trump’s 2016 assets and liabilities, it’ll be very interesting to know what Cohen told whoever prepared that form.
Melber added that Trump and Cohen could be in hot water if they lied on the disclosure forms about the payments. Additionally, when columnist Mike Barnicle raised the prospect of tax fraud, Avenatti noted that Trump could be in real trouble if he deducted this payment as a legal expense–knowing full well that hush money isn’t deductible.
The most telling thing? Trump has declared any negative stories about him to be fake news. But as I write this on Thursday night, we have yet to see any rage tweets about Avenatti’s latest bombshell. Perhaps Trump knows that once again, Avenatti has him busted.
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