Trump lawyer: Pre-election payment to porn star unrelated to election

Image: 2018 Adult Video News Awards - Arrivals
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 27: Adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels attends the 2018 Adult Video News Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January...

When it comes to Donald Trump's Stormy Daniels scandal, some of the most interesting revelations come from one of the president's personal attorneys, Michael Cohen. He's the one who quietly created an LLC in 2016 to pay $130,000 in hush money to the porn star, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

It was Cohen, for example, who publicly confirmed the $130,000 figure. It was Cohen who said he borrowed against his home equity in order to facilitate the payment. And now it's Cohen who's now denying any connection between the pre-election payoff and the election itself.

Attorney Michael Cohen, who has said he paid porn actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about any relationship she might have had with his client Donald Trump, told Vanity Fair that the payment had nothing to do with the 2016 campaign. Cohen also denied he has threatened Daniels."People are mistaking this for a thing about the campaign," Cohen told VF. "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."

Given the circumstances, this isn't a surprising argument. As Cohen no doubt realizes, if the hush money was delivered as part of an effort to improve Trump's chances of winning, then it may have been necessary to report the $130,000 as a campaign-related expenditure -- and failure to do so may have violated federal election laws.

And so, naturally, the president's lawyer is now eager to make the case that this had nothing do with the 2016 campaign. Cohen would've paid hush money to the adult-film actress at any time, the story goes, and it's just a remarkable coincidence that the developments unfolded in late October 2016.

If it seems difficult to believe Cohen's claims, it's probably because of what we know about the larger context.

Let's not forget what we already know. In the weeks leading up to Election Day 2016, Donald Trump's campaign was already struggling to deal with reports of the Republican's mistreatment of women -- he was recorded bragging about sexual assault -- when Stormy Daniels was getting ready to talk to the media about her alleged affair with the candidate years earlier.

With less than a month to remaining, Daniels believed Trump World was late in making its payment to her, and on Oct. 17 -- roughly three weeks before Election Day -- her attorney was prepared to walk away from the deal altogether.

On Oct. 27, Daniels received the $130,000, and her planned media blitz was called off. By that point, Election Day was less than two weeks away.

"People are mistaking this for a thing about the campaign"? Yeah, imagine that.

As for the purported threats Daniels has received, Cohen told  Vanity Fair he's never spoken to Daniels. Asked whether others in Trump's orbit may have threatened his alleged mistress, 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."