The saga of hush money paid to a porn star to keep her affair with Donald Trump quiet keeps getting more convoluted by the day.
On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the president’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, set up a shell company to pay Daniels — whose real name is Stephanie Clifford — a sum of $130,000 to secure her silence about an alleged affair she had with Trump in 2006. This is the first reporting about the specific mechanism Cohen used to make the payment, which has been the subject of some speculation.
The lawyer, Michael Cohen, established Essential Consultants LLC, on Oct. 17, 2016, just before the 2016 presidential election, corporate documents show. Mr. Cohen, who is based in New York, then used a bank account linked to the entity to send the payment to the client-trust account of a lawyer representing the woman, Stephanie Clifford, one of the people said.
There is still no clear information as to whether the money came directly from Cohen, from the president, or from a third party on the president’s behalf. The latter could be construed as an “in-kind” campaign donation, which may run afoul of campaign finance laws.
In order to further obfuscate the identity of the parties involved, Cohen had a document drawn up using fake names as part of the payment arrangement with Daniels.
To further mask the identities of the people involved in the agreement, the parties used pseudonyms, with Ms. Clifford identified as “Peggy Peterson,” according to a person familiar with the matter.
For any other president, this scandal might be enough to warrant a resignation… or at the very least a censure. For Donald Trump, it’s just a run-of-the-mill week where affairs are the story du jour and the leader of the free world refers to parts of the world primarily populated by people of color as “shithole” countries.