President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, said on Tuesday that he paid $130,000 out of his own pocket to Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress who once claimed to have an affair with Trump.
In an explanation to The New York Times about the 2016 payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, Cohen said he was not reimbursed by Trump or his campaign for the payment.
"Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly,” Mr. Cohen said in a statement to The New York Times. “The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.”
Keith Davidson, a lawyer for Clifford, told CNN that Cohen's claim that he paid her out of his own pocket was "in complete harmony with what he informed me of at the time of the transaction."
The Wall Street Journal reported in January that Cohen created a private LLC to pay Daniels just weeks before the 2016 election, following an alleged July 2006 encounter with Trump, an encounter Trump "vehemently denies."
Cohen said his statement to The New York Times echoes a statement he gave to the Federal Election Commission in response to a complaint by Common Cause, a government watchdog group.
When asked why he made the payment, Cohen told CNN: "Just because something isn't true doesn't mean that it can't cause you harm or damage. I will always protect Mr. Trump."
A week after the Wall Street Journal's January report, In Touch magazine published a 2011 interview with Daniels in which she claimed she and Trump had a sexual relationship after meeting at a golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. The alleged encounter took place a year after Trump's marriage to his third wife, Melania.
That first encounter allegedly took place less than four months after Melania gave birth to Barron, their now-11-year-old son. Afterwards, the two of them reportedly had a few more encounters of a sexual nature.
At the end of January, Daniels said in a statement that the alleged affair never occurred. But later that same day in a TV appearance, she appeared to disown the statement, telling late-night host Jimmy Kimmel that she didn't know where it came from and that the signature didn't look like hers.
When Kimmel asked if she had any idea where the statement came from, Daniels said, "It came from the internet."
"I'm also an FBI agent and I'm a man, according to the internet today," she said, dismissing the statement, which featured a signature of hers that she said does not match with a past version of her signature.