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Unsealed FBI document puts Trump and Cohen in contact during Stormy payment talks

A newly unsealed FBI warrant application reveals a series of phone calls between Michael Cohen and Donald Trump – as well as key figures in the talks that led to a $130,000 ‘hush’ payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

The calls are revealed in a blow-by-blow account spelled out by an FBI agent, and put Trump and his longtime lawyer in phone contact as Daniels first reemerged to potentially sell her story, as Cohen set up a new LLC to process a payment he made to her, and negotiated a non-disclosure agreement to keep the claim of a claimed affair Daniels says she had with Trump under wraps. 

Cohen is now serving a three-year jail sentence, and neither Trump nor any other Trump Organization figure was ever charged with a crime. 

Among the new revelations in the affidavit unsealed by a judge Thursday is that  Trump joined a four-minute 2016 phone conversation as his longtime lawyer Cohen tried to manage the impending release of explosive allegations Trump had an affair with a porn star.

It is among several instances where Trump was in contact with Cohen during a compressed period where he was hurriedly negotiating a hush payment and non-disclosure deal with porn star Stormy Daniels. 

The call, which took place Oct. 8, 2016, occurred when Cohen dialed Trump campaign press aide Hope Hicks, kicking off frantic negotiations and back-and-forth between parties. Around the same time, Daniels was preparing to peddle her story of an alleged affair with Trump.

DIAL-IN: Then-candidate Donald Trump joined a phone call between Michael Cohen and Hope Hicks as Stormy Daniels prepared to go forward with her claim of an affair with Trump

It also came on the release of the infamous ‘Access Hollywood’ tape where Trump was caught on tape bragging about grabbing women by the ‘p****’ – a moment that put his presidential campaign in peril. 

Sixteen seconds after Cohen dialed Hicks at 7:20 pm, Trump joined the call, according to an FBI agent’s sworn affidavit released Thursday.

Cohen had been exchanging a series of calls and texts with Daniels lawyer Keith Davidson, along with American Media Inc. execs Dylan Howard and David Pecker.

The call ‘continued over four minutes,’ according to the agent. 

Based on information, ‘I believe that this is the first call Cohen had made or received to Hicks in at least multiple weeks,’ according to the agent, whose name was redacted. 

When it was over, Cohen and Hicks spoke for about two minutes. In further evidence a deal was in the works, Cohen then called David Pecker, the powerful publisher of the National Enquirer. AMI exec Dylan Howard then dialed Cohen.

The frantic back-and-forth occurred as Stormy Daniels prepared to possibly reveal her claim of an affair

The frantic back-and-forth occurred as Stormy Daniels prepared to possibly reveal her claim of an affair

The FBI affidavit describes a phone call from Michael Cohen to Trump press aide Hope Hicks that was joined by Trump

The FBI affidavit describes a phone call from Michael Cohen to Trump press aide Hope Hicks that was joined by Trump

AMI was also involved in a deal that led to a $150,000 payment to Playboy model Karen McDougal, who also claims she had an affair with Trump

AMI was also involved in a deal that led to a $150,000 payment to Playboy model Karen McDougal, who also claims she had an affair with Trump

At 9:13 pm, two hours after the Trump call, Howard called Cohen and followed up with a text. ‘Keith will do it. Let’s reconvene tomorrow,’ he wrote – a likely indication that Daniels’ lawyer was in on the deal.

Despite the call, Hicks told another FBI agent she didn’t learn about Daniels’ claimed affair until early November 2016, according to the affidavit. But the agent hadn’t asked specifically about the three-way call. 

That deal would ultimately result in Daniels getting a $130,000 payment from Cohen, who set up an LLC in Delaware called Essential Consultants as a vehicle for the payments to pass through. It accompanied a non-disclosure agreement using pseudonyms that obscured the parties involved – Trump and Daniels.

It resulted in Daniels agreeing not to discuss her claimed affair with Trump, as the then-candidate went on to score an electoral victory and capture the White House. 

The section is described under a heading: ‘The Illegal Campaign Contribution Scheme.’ The information came to light as prosecutors indicated they were unlikely to file further charges in the investigation.

The negotiations with Clifford kicked into high gear following release of the infamous 'p**** tape'

The negotiations with Clifford kicked into high gear following release of the infamous ‘p**** tape’

Trump joined a four-minute phone call with Michael Cohen and Hope Hicks as negotiations kicked off

Trump joined a four-minute phone call with Michael Cohen and Hope Hicks as negotiations kicked off

After Cohen spoke with Trump, he called David Pecker of American Media, Inc.

After Cohen spoke with Trump, he called David Pecker of American Media, Inc.

Trump was 'pissed' by a Wall Street Journal report on the scheme, according to what Cohen said as quoted in an FBI affidavit

Trump was ‘pissed’ by a Wall Street Journal report on the scheme, according to what Cohen said as quoted in an FBI affidavit

The hush payment talks went along with a non-disclosure agreement between Trump and Stormy Daniels, who used pseudonyms

The hush payment talks went along with a non-disclosure agreement between Trump and Stormy Daniels, who used pseudonyms

A preferred banker came to Cohen's office at Trump Tower to answer questions about the account he was setting up for the transaction

A preferred banker came to Cohen’s office at Trump Tower to answer questions about the account he was setting up for the transaction

Cohen is currently serving a three-year sentence in part due to pleading guilty to a campaign finance violation involving the scheme.

Trump has denied an affair with Daniels.

American Media was later revealed to have reached a separate agreement that resulted in a $150,000 payment to Playboy model Karen McDougal, who also claims she had an affair with Trump. Company execs ultimately cooperated with federal investigators. Trump also denied an affair with McDougal.

U.S. District Judge William Pauley ordered the release of the documents, following statements by prosecutors that they had ended their investigation into the scheme – having not filed charges against any Trump Organization officials.

Cohen was still working at 3:31 am October 9, when he emailed Howard a ‘Thank you’ response. Eight minutes later, Cohen sent the name of an LLC he had set up. 

The following day, Howard wrote Cohen and Davison, Daniels’ lawyer, about a ‘business opportunity,’ saying he spoke to ‘the client’ and ‘they’re confirmed to proceed with the opportunity.’

The document details frantic conversations between Michael Cohen, Daniels' lawyer, and media executives

The document details frantic conversations between Michael Cohen, Daniels’ lawyer, and media executives

David Pecker of AMI

Dylan Howard

Cohen toggled between calls to David Pecker and Dylan Howard of American Media, Inc., chats with Trump, and conversations with a former lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels

The agent also mentions a ‘side letter agreement’ that used the pseudonyms ‘David Dennison’ and ‘Peggy Peterson’ for a mutual release and non-disclosure deal.    

However, as things dragged on, Davidson and Daniels ‘threatened to go with Clifford’s allegations just days before the presidential election.’ Daniels’ real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Davidson wrote threatening to cancel the settlement by the end of the day, according to an October 17 email printed in the Washington Post and cited in the document. He then turned up the heat, saying his client ‘deems her settlement agreement cancelled and void.’

After some other exchanges, Howard then wrote Cohen and told him: ‘I’m told they’re going with DailyMail. Are you aware?’ Cohen wrote back a minute later, saying: ‘Call me.’

Cohen tried to call Trump, but the exchange lasted only eight seconds.

The affidavit then details a series of further exchanges. 

On October 25, Howard wrote Cohen: ‘Keith calling you urgently. We have to coordinate something on the matter he’s calling you about or its [sic] could look awfully bad for everyone.’

The following morning, at 8:34 AM Cohen and Trump spoke for about three minutes, followed by another minute-and-a-half call.

The agent notes: ‘At approximately 9:04 a.m. – less than thirty minutes after speaking with Trump – Cohen sent two emails to the person who had incorporated Resolution Consultants and Essential Consultants for him, and stated ‘can you send me asap the filing receipt,’ in reference to two Delaware LLCs Cohen had established.

A ‘preferred banker’ from First Republic, then came to Cohen’s Trump Tower office, which as the agent noted was ‘on the same floor as the Trump Organization.’ On a form the employee filled out, Cohen spoke about opening Essential Consultants as a real estate consulting company. 

On October 26, Cohen transferred $131,000 he obtained by taking out a loan on his home to the account. The next day, Cohen payed Howard $130,000, with the funds intended for Daniels. 

Cohen then spoke to Trump for 5 minutes on the 28th, the same day of the ‘David Dennison’ non-disclosure deal. 

Said Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow in a statement: ”We are pleased that the investigation surrounding these ridiculous campaign finance allegations is now closed. We have maintained from the outset that the President never engaged in any campaign finance violation.’ 

Cohen, who is serving his prison sentence, fired back in a statement from his lawyer Lanny Davis. ‘I challenge Jay Sekulow who issued a misleading and false statement to answer the following two questions: Is it not a fact that SDNY prosecutors found President Trump to have ‘directed and coordinated’ the commission of a felony involving campaign finance federal laws?’ Davis said.  And, is it not also a fact that upon his loss of purported immunity as President of the United States, Mr. Trump is subject to arrest, incarceration and a trial for this alleged crime?’ 

Trump explicitly denied knowing about the Stormy Daniels payoff in April of 2018. 

He was asked directly: ‘Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?’ 

‘No. No. What else?’ Trump responded. ‘Then why did Michael Cohen make those if there was no truth to her allegations?’ the reporter followed up. 

‘Well, you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. And you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen,’ Trump responded.

Hicks was asked about the Daniels payoff in House Judiciary Committee testimony this year. ‘Were you ever present when Trump and Cohen discussed Stormy Daniels?’ asked Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas. ‘No, ma’am,’ Hicks replied. ‘You were never present when they discussed Stormy Daniels,’ the lawmaker reiterated. ‘No,’ said Hicks. 

 On November 1, 2016, the day Daniels received $96,000 that was transferred by her lawyer, Cohen called and then received a six-minute phone call from a phone number belonging to former Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway. 

The unsealed affidavits were used to justify raids on Cohen’s home and office that led to a trove of information. There had been talk that Trump, identified as ‘Individual-1’ in court documents, might be subject to charges as the person identified as having provided direction for the scheme involving Cohen and Daniels.

That did not happen.  Internal Justice Department guidelines state that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime. 

Key moments in FBI agent’s tick-tock of Stormy Daniels payoff 

October 8, 2016

7:20 pm. Hope Hicks calls Michael Cohen. Trump joins after 16 seconds. Call lasts approximately four minutes. Trump and Cohen usually spoke about once a month.

About 7:34 pm. Hicks and Cohen speak for two minutes.

7:39 pm. Cohen calls American Media Inc. exec David Pecker for thirty seconds. Calls back 4 minutes later.

About 7:43 pm. AMI exec Dylan Howard calls Cohen.

7:56 pm. Cohn calls Hicks. They speak for two minutes. Then Pecker calls Cohen.

8:03 pm. Cohen calls Trump. Call lasts eight minutes.

8:39 pm and 8:57 pm. Cohen calls Howard.

9:13 pm. Howard texts Cohen: ‘Keith will do it.’ Likely refers to Stormy Daniels lawyer Keith Davidson.

3:31 am. Cohen texts Howard: ‘Thank you.’

October 10, 2016.

10:58 Howard texts Davidson and Cohen that ‘client’ is ‘confirmed to proceed with the opportunity.’

12:25 pm. Davidson texts Cohen that deal needs to be closed ‘today.’

Same day: Daniels and Davidson sign ‘side-letter’ non-disclosure deal that lists pseudonyms Peggy Peterson and David Dennison for her and Trump.

October 13, 2016

8:54 am. Cohen texts Pecker.

9:06 am. Pecker texts Cohen.

9:23 am. Cohen emails First Republican bank employee with attachment to set up LLC.

10:44 am. Cohen emails another bank employee he needs to open account ‘immediately.’

October 17, 2016

Essential Consultants LLC is incorporated in Delaware

Davidson emails Cohen threatening to walk away from settlement agreement.

4:00 pm. Cohen calls Davidson.

5:03 pm. Cohen tries to call Trump.

October 25, 2016

6:09 pm. Howard texts Cohen.

6:10 pm. Davidson texts Cohen.

October 26, 2016

8:26 am. Cohen calls Trump. They speak for three minutes.

8:34 am. Cohen calls Trump again.

9:04 am. Cohen emails the person who incorporated two LLCs for him seeking ‘filing receipt.’ 9:27 am. Person transmits certificate of formation of company.

11:00 am. First Republic employee calls Cohen, and around that time goes to his Trump Tower office, which is located across the street from bank branch.

1:47 pm. Cohen calls Davidson.

1:49 pm. Davidson emails Cohen wiring instructions for funds.

Cohen transfers $131,000.

6:37 pm. Cohen texts Pecker.

Afterward Cohen calls and texts Howard and Pecker.

8:23 pm. Howard emails Cohen and Davidson ‘Confirmation.’

October 27, 2016.

Cohen pays Davidson $130,000 with funds intended for Daniels.

October 28, 2016.

11:48 am. Cohen speaks to Trump for five minutes.

1:21 pm. Cohen attempts calls with Howard, Pecker, and Davidson.

7:01 pm. Davidson texts Cohen that ‘all is AOK.’

10:30 pm. Cohen speaks to Hicks.

EC LLC and/or David Dennison reaches confidential settlement with ‘Peggy Peterson’ – Daniels – in exchange for $130,000.

Nov. 1, 2016.

Davidson transfers $96,645 to Daniels’ account.

6:14 pm. Davidson emails Cohen audio statement from Stormy Daniels undercutting another porn actress’ claim she had an affair with Trump.

7:05 pm. Cohen calls Trump. Cohen calls Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.

7:44 pm. Conway calls Cohen. Call lasts six minutes.

Nov. 4, 2016

7:33 pm. Using two cell phones simultaneously, Cohen calls Hicks and Davidson simultaneously.

8:51 pm. Cohen texts Howard: ‘She’s being really difficult with giving Keith a statement.’ Agent stipulates that ‘she’ refers to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who also claims affair with Trump.

8:58 pm. Howard reassures Cohen about forthcoming Wall Street Journal that everything will ‘be ok pal.’

Cohen responds: ‘He’s pissed.’

9:03 pm. Hicks calls Cohen.

9:11 pm. Cohen calls Hicks.

9:15 pm. Hicks calls Cohen.

9:32 pm. Cohen texts Pecker: ‘The boss just tried calling you.’

9:50 pm. Journal publishes story about McDougal hush payment.

November 5, 2106.

Cohen texts Hicks story is ‘getting little to no traction.’ Hicks writes back: ‘Keep praying!!’

November 8.

Trump elected president.

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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