Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Many observers have noted that the Trump team's handling of the Rob Porter scandal is terrible -- a more competent administration would have been out in front of the story and would have contained it quickly, not allowing it to stay in the headlines for a week. Now a Trump lawyer has taken another scandal, one that was slipping down the memory hole, and has brought it back to the front pages. Why?
Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, said on Tuesday that he had paid $130,000 out of his own pocket to a pornographic-film actress who had once claimed to have had an affair with Mr. Trump.

In the most detailed explanation of the 2016 payment made to the actress, Stephanie Clifford, Mr. Cohen, who worked as a counsel to the Trump Organization for more than a decade, said he was not reimbursed 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.”
Do we really believe Cohen would do that out of the goodness of his own heart? And if Cohen says he wasn't reimbursed by the Trump Organization or Trump campaign, does that rule out reimbursment by Trump himself?

Also, as Orin Kerr points out, Cohen didn't exactly say that he personally paid all the money, despite how news reports are characterizing his statement:
Yesterday Cohen made this statement admitting the bulk of the story. "In a private transaction in 2016," Cohen said, "I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to [Daniels]. Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with [Daniels], and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly."

... Does Cohen actually say he paid the $130,000 out of his own pocket? ... All Cohen says is that he used his personal funds to "facilitate a payment of $130,000."

... if it took Cohen a few hundred dollars to set up an entity to pay Daniels, and to wire someone else's $130,000 to her, then he would have been using his own personal funds to faciltate that payment.
Why did a Trump loyalist want to get America talking about Stormy Daniels again? Why did he do this with a statement that raises more questions than it answers? It's another example of incompetent crisis management in Trump World -- unless Trump World believes that this sort of chaos is actually helping Trump. Hey, his poll numbers are up since the Stormy Daniels story broke, aren't they? Do the Trumpers think the president needs more scandals, because more scandals equal more mainstream-media outrage, and MSM outrage builds loyalty among Republican voters?

Or maybe incompetence is the simpler explanation. I can't figure it out.

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