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WSJ: Cohen reversed course on Stormy Daniels payment after Access Hollywood tape release

Posted at 9:46 PM, Aug 16, 2018

Michael Cohen informed a representative for Stormy Daniels he was willing to strike a deal to buy her silence only after the release of the now-infamous "Access Hollywood" recording where President Donald Trump can be heard talking about grabbing women without their consent, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

The Journal cited a person familiar with the conversation that took place between Cohen, Trump's former attorney, and Daniels' representative just one day after the October 2016 release of the recording. The newspaper reported that Cohen indicated during that conversation that "he was open to a deal," despite having "initially balked at the idea."

The same source told the Journal that Cohen "resisted" making a payment to Daniels when the idea was proposed in September 2016.

Daniels is a former adult film star who claims she had a consensual sexual encounter with Trump, who denies any affair.

Citing individuals familiar with the matter, the Journal reported that federal prosecutors in New York state believe that the "Access Hollywood" recording may have caused Cohen to take action to keep negative stories about Trump out of the news. Federal prosecutors are investigating if that payment to Daniels was an illegal contribution to the campaign or should have been disclosed by the Trump campaign.

A spokesperson for the US attorney's office in Manhattan, which is investigating Cohen, declined to comment to the Journal.

Lanny Davis, an attorney for Cohen, told the newspaper that he cannot comment on "any matters even possibly remotely related to those that might be under investigation," as a result of advice of counsel.

The White House, which has said in the past that Trump denies an affair with Daniels, did not respond to a request for comment from the Journal.

The Justice Department said in April that Cohen is under criminal investigation, a revelation that came after a raid of Cohen's properties and office.

Cohen acknowledged to The New York Times in February that he had made a $130,000 payment to Daniels, but said that neither the Trump organization nor the campaign had reimbursed him.

Trump's story over the payment, meanwhile, has shifted. In April, the President denied knowing about the payment when questioned by reporters. The following month, Trump said on Twitter that Cohen had entered into an agreement "to stop the false and extortionist accusations" that he claimed were made by Daniels.

The acknowledgment from Trump came after the President's lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Fox News' Sean Hannity that Trump had reimbursed Cohen for the hush money payment.

The payment to Daniels "is going to turn out to be perfectly legal," Giuliani said at the time.