President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer used funds from his own home equity line to make a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels on Trump’s behalf, he told CNN.
“The funds were taken from my home equity line and transferred internally to my LLC account in the same bank,” Michael Cohen said in a statement.
Cohen also confirmed that he used his Trump Organization email account to communicate details of a payment transfer to Stephanie Clifford, the adult film star known as Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had an affair with the President before his time in office.
Earlier Friday, Clifford’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, provided an email to CNN in which Cohen confirmed the transfer to Daniels’ former attorney, Keith Davidson. In the email, both Cohen’s personal email account and trumporg.com email account were used. The deposit was confirmed to Cohen by a First Republic Bank employee.
Cohen responded later Friday, saying that he regularly used his business email account for personal matters.
“I sent emails from the Trump Org email address to my family, friends as well as Trump business emails. I basically used it for everything. I am certain most people can relate,” he said.
Avenatti, speaking on MSNBC, said Cohen’s use of his business email to conduct this transaction could be an indication that he was acting in an official capacity as a legal counsel to Trump when he transferred the money to Clifford.
While this development brings the payment to Clifford closer to Trump himself, it is not proof that he knew about it. Any involvement by Trump would indicate the payment was an in-kind campaign contribution which was not disclosed to the Federal Election Commission, which would be a violation of federal law, according to Paul S. Ryan, a campaign finance attorney who works for Common Cause.
The email does not say where the funds originated from.
NBC News first reported Cohen’s use of the email account.
The day after the email, Cohen wired money from First Republic Bank to Davidson’s bank account, according to NBC News.
Davidson did not respond to a request for comment from CNN. First Republic Bank declined to comment to the network.
Trump’s 2017 financial disclosures listed an account at First Republic Bank, valued between $15,001 and $50,000.
Cohen also regularly used that same email account to negotiate with Clifford last year before she signed a nondisclosure agreement, NBC News reported.
Last month, Cohen said he wired Clifford $130,000 of his own money right before the 2016 election in exchange for her silence about the alleged affair.
Cohen said Friday that he is in the midst of a “witch hunt,” saying, “These incessant attacks against me are meritless and are concocted by the liberal mainstream media to continue to malign our President and distract the country from his historic achievements over the past year. This witch hunt has now gone from ludicrous to insane.”
He has denied the Trump Organization’s involvement in the payment, and both Cohen and the White House have denied any sexual encounter between the President and Clifford.
“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 in February. “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.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday that “arbitration was won in the President’s favor” regarding the case. The statement is an admission that the nondisclosure agreement exists and that it directly involves Trump. It was the first time the White House had admitted the President was involved in any way with Clifford.
Clifford filed suit against Trump on Tuesday, alleging that he never signed a hush agreement regarding the alleged affair and therefore the agreement is void.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer contributed to this report.