President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney said last week that he has never threatened the adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with Trump, and that Daniels’s legal effort to void a nondisclosure agreement about that affair will fail and ultimately cost her millions.
“I have never spoken to her. I have never e-mailed her. I have never met her. I have never texted her,” Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney whose signature appears on the non-disclosure agreement, told Vanity Fair. “Every interaction with Ms. Clifford was always through her previous attorney.”
Asked if Daniels, whose given name is Stephanie Clifford, had been threatened by anybody with a connection to the president, Cohen replied “I can only speak for myself… I have never threatened her in any way and I am unaware of anyone else doing so.”
Michael Avenatti, Daniels’s attorney, said last week on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that his client had been threatened with physical harm, although Avenatti refused to say who issued those threats or when they were received.
Allegations of an affair between Daniels and Trump surfaced last January, when The Wall Street Journal reported that Cohen had paid Daniels $130,000 as part of a nondisclosure agreement. Daniels initially denied the affair but her denial was quickly refuted by the publication of an interview she gave to “In Touch” magazine in 2011 – predating by years the non-disclosure agreement – in which she detailed her sexual relationship with the president, which began in 2006.
More recently, Daniels has launched a legal campaign to void the non-disclosure agreement, arguing that because it was never signed by Trump – who Avenatti claims is referred to in the document by the alias David Dennison – it is not valid. Cohen has said his payment to Daniels, made in the closing weeks of the 2016 election, came from his own funds and that Trump was not aware of it. Avenatti has cast doubt on that argument, suggesting that Cohen would never make such a payment without consulting his client.
The payment has also raised questions related to election-law, prompting one group to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission that Cohen’s payment represented an unreported contribution to Trump’s campaign. Cohen told Vanity Fair that there is “clear case law” on his side regarding the FEC complaint and that “the only issue that will ultimately be decided is the amount of damages Ms. Clifford will owe.”
“People are mistaking this for a thing about the campaign,” he said. “What I did defensively for my personal client, and my friend, is what attorneys do for their high-profile clients. I would have done it in 2006. I would have done it in 2011. I truly care about him and the family—more than just as an employee and an attorney.”