Trump’s Attorney Has Been Trying To Keep Stormy Daniels Quiet Since At Least 2011

New reports indicate that Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen has been involved in efforts to keep Stormy Daniels from telling her story for at least the past seven years.

The Washington Post reports that people close to Donald Trump, including his personal attorney Michael Cohen, have been working to stop Stormy Daniels from telling her story since long before Trump was a candidate for President:

The president’s personal attorney Michael Cohen interceded in 2011 to prevent porn star Stormy Daniels from airing her story about an alleged affair with Donald Trump, telling the agent who arranged for its publication that he could harm her career, according to a person involved in the discussions.

Randy Spears, the ex-husband of agent Gina Rodriguez, told The Washington Post he answered the phone when Cohen called Rodriguez after she arranged for Daniels to earn $15,000 by telling her story to a celebrity publication.

“You tell Gina that if she ever wants to work in this town again, she’ll call me immediately,” Spears said Cohen told him. He said Rodriguez, who declined to take Cohen’s call, contacted her lawyer instead.

Spears’s account offers the first look at the original effort by Trump’s lawyer to silence Daniels, who resurfaced again in 2016 as Trump ran for president. Cohen has acknowledged arranging a $130,000 payment in October 2016, using money from his own home equity line of credit, to ensure her silence. Cohen did not respond to questions from The Post.

In recent weeks, Daniels’s nondisclosure agreement has brought tense legal negotiations as she prepares once again to tell her story — this time, to CBS’s “60 Minutes” in a segment with Anderson Cooper tentatively scheduled for March 25. Lawyers for a Cohen company involved in the Daniels payment are trying to enforce a provision that makes Daniels liable for a $1 million penalty each time she speaks publicly about a relationship with Trump. The lawyers claimed in a federal court filing Friday that the total penalty they seek is now up to $20 million.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, had first agreed to tell her story to Bauer Publications, publisher of celebrity tabloids, in 2011. She abruptly pulled out of the deal and the story was held. Bauer could not be reached Saturday.

According to Spears, the deal included a 20 percent commission for Rodriguez, a $1,500 payment to him, and, Spears believes, the same amount for Michael Mosny, who lived with Daniels about the time of the alleged interactions with Trump. All of them had previously been active in the porn industry. Rodriguez declined to comment, and Mosny, also known as Mike Moz, could not be reached.

Spears said he had to agree to a polygraph test commissioned by Bauer in 2011 to describe when he first heard of Daniels’s purported relationship with Trump. The tests were intended to bolster Daniels’s veracity, he said.

Spears, whose real name is Greg Deuschle, said Daniels first told him about an alleged affair with Trump in summer 2006, not long after the celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe where she said she met “The Apprentice” star and began a sporadic sexual relationship.

Spears and Daniels were friends at the time. They often acted together in pornographic films for an adult-film studio, Wicked Pictures.

He said he didn’t give her account much thought until 2011, when Daniels called him to ask if she should try to sell her story.

He said he set her up with Rodriguez, his ex-wife, who had left the porn business to start a media and talent company. He said she put the wheels in motion for the interview’s publication in Life & Style, a Bauer publication. It also owns InTouch Weekly,

In May 2011, Daniels told her story by phone to reporter Jordi Lippe-McGraw.

Spears recalled going to an office on Los Angeles’s Wilshire Boulevard for the polygraph.

“Of course if they asked me, ‘Did it happen?’ I couldn’t have answered,” Spears said. “I have no reason to believe Stormy Daniels would ever lie to me.

He said the call from Cohen came out of the blue. He said he regarded Cohen’s comments as “trying to bully us. And Gina won’t be bullied. She ranted and raved, like ‘How dare he?’ ”

Spears listened as Rodriguez called her attorney, Keith Davidson.

After some back and forth, Spears said, Davidson urged them to back out of the arrangement. Rodriguez called off the deal. A spokesman for Davidson, who resurfaced in recent weeks as an attorney for Daniels, said he could not comment because of attorney-client privilege.

Four former Bauer employees told the Associated Press that Cohen also reached out directly to Bauer, sending an email to the general counsel saying Trump would sue if the story was printed.

None of this should come as a surprise, of course. Michael Cohen has long been known as Donald Trump’s “fixer” and in that role, he has frequently been known to engage in hardball tactics in court, during the course of litigation, and when no litigation has been pending in an effort to intimidate journalists and others who were saying negative things about his client. Back in July 2015, for example, The Daily Beast ran with a story that repeated claims that had been made by Trump’s first wife Ivana during the course of her divorce from Trump in which she alleged that Trump had been physically abusive toward her during their marriage. Ivana Trump later withdrew those claims and now denies that the incidents alleged ever occurred. When The Daily Beast ran a story about the allegations in July 2015, though, Cohen called one of the reporters involved and threatened to take them “for every penny you don’t have” because of the story she reported. No lawsuit was ever filed over the incident, of course, but this fits a pattern of behavior for Cohen that has been discussed elsewhere in connection with other cases, and in connection with the Stormy Daniels case in particular.

What all of this means, of course, is that the Daniels affair is something that Trump and Cohen were obsessed with keeping quiet for a much longer period of time than just the seventeen months that have elapsed since the settlement agreement that Cohen drafted was signed and Daniels received the $130,000 in hush money that Cohen claims he paid out of his own funds and without Trump’s knowledge. This report, though, is yet another strong indication that there is at least some degree of truth to the allegations that Trump had an affair with Daniels while his wife was pregnant with his youngest son. It also lends credence to the idea that, contrary to Cohen’s claims, Trump was well aware of what was going on in October 2016 with respect to the settlement agreement and the payment that was made by Cohen to Daniels through the dummy limited liability company he formed. Of course, the idea that Cohen was doing this on his own without the knowledge of his client has never been credible to begin with, but the fact that we now know that what happened in 2016 fits a pattern that dates back to at least 2011 would tend to show that Cohen’s claim that he was acting alone is a lie. That could prove to be relevant in connection with the questions I’ve previously raised regarding the nature and intent of the payment to Daniels and could implicate Trump personally in both an attempted cover-up and an act that would seem to be a clear violation of money laundering and election laws.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Gustopher says:

    Lawyers for a Cohen company involved in the Daniels payment are trying to enforce a provision that makes Daniels liable for a $1 million penalty each time she speaks publicly about a relationship with Trump. The lawyers claimed in a federal court filing Friday that the total penalty they seek is now up to $20 million.

    Given that they now seek more than her likely assets, is there any reason she would not speak publicly about it now?

    Further, would a pornographic film with an actor playing Donnie Dennison constitute speech? And if so, is it one instance of publicly speaking? How much revenue could it generate? How much money has Michael Wolff made on “Fire and Fury”? Can $1M just a be cost of doing business?

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  2. CSK says:

    @Gustopher:

    A porn movie starring an actor playing Dennis Dennison probably wouldn’t have any legal problem at all, given that Who’s Nailin’ Paylin, featuring an actress portraying “Serra Paylin” had none. Nor did the sequel in which she dreams of being nailed by her “white knight,” Barack Obama.

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  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    More in the we need to shut them up world, over at the Post Ruth Marcus claims to have a draft of the non-disclosure agreement that allegedly Trump has had senior administration officials sign.

    It appears to be a doozey.

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  4. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Is such an agreement even enforceable?

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  5. Lounsbury says:

    The affaire and cheating on the pregnant wife are boring trivialities one rather expects from Trump, the short-fingered vulgarian. No genuine scandal. But the actions on this:

    Of course, the idea that Cohen was doing this on his own without the knowledge of his client has never been credible to begin with, but the fact that we now know that what happened in 2016 fits a pattern that dates back to at least 2011 would tend to show that Cohen’s claim that he was acting alone is a lie. That could prove to be relevant in connection with the questions I’ve previously raised regarding the nature and intent of the payment to Daniels and could implicate Trump personally in both an attempted cover-up and an act that would seem to be a clear violation of money laundering and election laws.

    While not an attorney, it does rather seem to me that these angles give her attorney’s quite the interesting angle to void the NDA, no?

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  6. mike shupp says:

    Let’s suppose that in another world, Richard Nixon had imposed NDAs on all White House personnel back in 1970 or so, with the intention that no one in the outside world would ever hear a word about spying on Daniel Ellsberg and the Democrats in the 1972 election. Would he have been successful? Should he have been successful?

    Or would the American legal system have resisted such an effort, perhaps on the grounds that morality and good public policy require — eventually — open and honest disclosure of facts?

    Do our attorneys here have opinions?

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  7. R.Dave says:

    What I’m wondering is *why* Trump would go to such lengths (e.g., funneling the payment through his lawyer in the first place) to shut her up. It’s not like he’s ever been shy about his sexual “conquests”. Maybe Melanie has some mega payout in her prenup if Trump cheats?

  8. JohnMcC says:

    @mike shupp: Morning talking heads and quick-reaction internet know-it-alls indicate strongly that drawing a paycheck from the U.S. Treasury pretty much voids an NDA. I’d expect that a grand jury or congressional committee could subpoena their way right through one too. But I also have the good fortune of NOT being a lawyer.

  9. CSK says:

    @R.Dave:

    If Melania did have such a clause in her pre-nup, she could have exercised it seven years ago when Trump and Cohen first tried to muzzle Daniels.

    Daniels must have something really humiliating on Trump for him to be so frantic to muzzle her. As you say, he’s certainly never been hesitant to brag about his other sexual indiscretions/assaults.

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