President Trump's personal attorney claims he personally paid $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, a former porn actress who allegedly had a sexual relationship with Trump in 2006.
In a statement to The New York Times, Michael Cohen said he made the payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and was not reimbursed by the Trump campaign or the Trump organization.
“The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone," Cohen told The Times, adding that he delivered a similar statement to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in response to a complaint by Common Cause, a government watchdog group.
In its complaints to the Justice Department and the FEC last month, Common Cause argued that the alleged payment to Daniels likely violated federal campaign-finance laws as an unreported, in-kind donation to Trump’s campaign.
“The complaint alleges that I somehow violated campaign finance laws by facilitating an excess, in-kind contribution,” Cohen told The Times. “The allegations in the complaint are factually unsupported and without legal merit, and my counsel has submitted a response to the FEC.”
Campaign contribution limits in effect during the 2016 election capped direct donations to candidates at $2,700 for a primary or general election. In addition, corporations are prohibited from giving campaign donations to congressional and presidential candidates.
In January, The Wall Street Journal reported that Cohen arranged the payment with Daniels to keep her from publicly discussing the alleged sexual encounter during the presidential campaign.
A week later, In Touch published a 2011 interview with Daniels in which she claimed she and Trump had a sexual encounter after meeting at a golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nev., a year after his marriage to Melania Trump, his third wife.
At the end of January, Daniels said in a written statement that the alleged affair never occurred. But in an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Daniels appeared to disown that statement, saying she didn’t know where it came from and the signature didn’t look like hers.
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Contributing: Fredreka Schouten and The Associated Press