Michael Cohen's story on his Stormy Daniels payout doesn't pass the smell test
alysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-Large - Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's personal lawyer, says he made a $130,000 payment from his own pocket to porn star Stormy Daniels in the run-up to the 2016 election -- a pre-emptive measure to protect the presidential candidate from accusations that she and Trump had a physical relationship.
To make this six-figure payment, Cohen set up an LLC in Delaware, a state famous for its lack of corporate transparency. He says he neither told Trump nor anyone else in the Trump Organization he was making the payment. And he was not paid back in any way, shape or form.
"Just because something isn't true doesn't mean that it can't cause you harm or damage," Cohen said in a statement issued Tuesday night. "I will always protect Mr. Trump."
That's the story Cohen told The New York Times' Maggie Haberman on Tuesday night. By any standard of logic, it's a very, very hard one to swallow.
Don't overthink it. Cohen -- out of the goodness of his heart!!!! -- dropped a six-figure payment to a porn star even though he didn't believe her allegations that she and the President had an affair after the birth of his son Barron? I mean, come on.
People don't do that. I don't care how rich Cohen is. Why would he spent $130,000 to make Daniels go away -- and not tell her story -- if her story was fundamentally without merit?
Remember that the 2016 campaign saw more than a dozen women come forward with allegations, which Trump has denied, that Trump had either sexually assaulted them or acted inappropriately toward them over his decades in public life. Why would Cohen feel compelled to cut a massive check to a porn star -- from his own coffers -- who was making false allegations of an affair?
Right. I thought so.
Trump was not someone who presented a squeaky clean image to the public. He has been married three times and created a character -- "John Miller" -- to brag about the sexual prowess of "Mr. Trump" to the New York City tabloids in the 1980s.
Why was Cohen so concerned about this allegedly false allegation that he felt compelled to dump a ton of his own money into keeping it away from the media? And take such care to try to keep it from ever being known? What made this situation any different than all of the other false allegations made by women against Trump.
Right. I thought so.
Think of it in another context. Let's say Barack Obama's personal lawyer made the exact same payout to a woman alleging an affair in the lead-up to the 2008 election. And his response was the same: This allegation is false and/but the President never knew about my decision to spend my own money on ensuring that it didn't come out in the course of the campaign.
Would that explanation make sense to you? Would it quiet any follow-up questions you might have?
OF COURSE IT WOULDN'T.
Sometimes you have to rely on your gut. Your BS detector. And none of Cohen's story passes that smell test. Not even close.