Trump’s Lawyer Under Fire As The Wall Street Journal Details Use Of Pseudonyms and Shell Companies To Pay Porn Star

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© Glenn Francis, www.PacificProDigital.com

President Trump‘s personal lawyer Michael Cohen is under fire this week after The Wall Street Journal reported that Cohen used what appear to be shell companies and fake names to pay a porn star called Stormy Daniels $130,000 as part of a nondisclosure agreement.  Daniels states in a prior but unpublished interview that she had an affair with Trump that began shortly after Trump married Melania Trump and had their son Baron.  She said that the affair lasted roughly a year and the money was paid during the campaign around the time of the release of the disturbing Access Hollywood tape.  Cohen has previously denied any affair and insisted that both Daniels (whose real name is Stephanie Clifford) and Trump deny any sexual relationship.  The new information has led some to question Cohen’s veracity and the role of an attorney in maintaining such a denial if the representation is untrue.  I am less confident that a clear ethical line was crossed by Cohen simply because he used such companies or has maintained the denial of any relationship.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Cohen used a company named Essential Consultants LLC to send the money to Stormy Daniels’ as part of the nondisclosure agreement Both Cohen and Daniels’s lawyers used pseudonyms in executing the deal in  October 2016. That was just weeks before the election.

The role of counsel in such a matter is not as clear as some critics have maintained. A lawyer is allowed to advance the position of his client and Cohen repeatedly asserted, including recently, that Trump “once again vehemently denies” such an affair.  Cohen added that these are “outlandish allegations against my client” and that the newspaper has  “attempted to perpetuate this false narrative for over a year; a narrative that has been consistently denied by all parties since at least 2011.”

Reporters however have said that there are witnesses to elements of the story and that Daniels was given and passed a lie detector when she went into great details about the affair, including rather seedy elements.

For our purposes, the most interesting element is the role of the lawyer. If (for the sake of argument) Cohen believed that there was an affair, would he be ethically barred from making these public comments?  The answer is probably not.  His client is reportedly telling him that there was no affair and, regardless of what Daniels told In Touch magazine (in an interview that will now reportedly run), she signed a statement denying any such affair.

The use of shell companies and fake names is also not clearly an ethical violation.  Sometimes lawyers use such companies to protect their clients, such as when a company is buying land but does not want that fact to be known publicly.  Moreover, an agreement of this kind is clearly designed to avoid a public scandal (true or not).  Cohen worked to execute the agreement without defeating its purpose with a public disclosure.

Could there be ethical issues arising for Cohen?  Yes.  This is a precarious role to play for an attorney.  This is not just some divorce case or strike suit.  The agreement concerned a matter of great public concern over the integrity, morality, and veracity of a candidate for the presidency of the United States.  Moreover, there is always a concern of where such funds came from in securing the silence of someone like Daniels.

If Trump has lied publicly, he would be in the same position as Bill Clinton on an affair with one major difference. Clinton was not impeached for having an affair. He was impeached for lying about the affair under oath.  That was a distinction that I testified on as one of the constitutional law experts at the Clinton impeachment hearings in Congress.  It is no trivial distinction.  Until a president crosses that line into criminality, this remains a political question.  On that front, Trump may not suffer any more than Clinton did.  Both men are widely viewed as having affairs and their supporters do not appear to care.
The question for Trump and Cohen is the means used to quiet the aptly named Stormy Daniels.

95 thoughts on “Trump’s Lawyer Under Fire As The Wall Street Journal Details Use Of Pseudonyms and Shell Companies To Pay Porn Star”

  1. Trump has had a perfectly good relationship with Melania. And thought the media likes to ignore it, Trump has had an excellent relationship with Kim Jong-Un as well, as these old newsclips show:

    1. After Bill and Monica, I don’t think it matters whether Trump got busy with Stormy Daniels. I mean, I can understand how Bill would be jealous since he can’t pull what Trump can but that’s another topic for another Turley item.

        1. Ken, do you believe associations are the same as actions? If you do, think of all the times you have visited a farm.

        2. Within a span of two short years, records indicate that your hero, Bill Cinton, flew on Epstein’s private plane–dubbed, the Lolita Express–on his way to visit one or more of Epstein’s properties, at least 26 times. Yes. 26 times. Properties, where numerous individuals have testified that Epstein frequently procured underage age girls as sex slaves for his guests. His properties. Epstein’s properties. No wonder Billy Boy couldn’t get there enough. He could escape to where someone else was calling the shots. Escape to where someone else would be convicted of procuring underage girls. Escape to where he could dodge the consequences of his actions because the young girls were threatened by Epstein with harm or death if they spoke out and revealed the truth. Now, you are offended that he simply visited Trump’s home? Had dinner at his home? Probably the only time that Epstein wasn’t calling the shots and rounding up underage girls for his guests. Probably the only time that he wasn’t involved in some sordid events. He was at someone else’s home. Trump’s rules, not his rules. Hey, I read that Katie Couric was also a close, long-time friend of Epstein’s. According to you, by association, America’s sweetheat, with the gummy smile, is a pedophile, as well.

          1. Just curious, what is your “source” of info regarding President William Jefferson Clinton’s flight practices?

  2. Way to go Turley. There’s a memo that outlines the way in which the FBI used fake intel to invoke a FISA warrant to set up a coup attempt against the Trump administration and you are worried about this bull****.

  3. The hypocrisy in this blog is beyond madness, The tribal willfully blind culpable people that are giving this pathological liar a pass on everything from being well over his head to Russian dirty money, to paying off porn stars for sex is madness. Well then, investigate HRC and Obama if it’s not been already done to death, but reporting any of the slime that is Trump, well that’s too far….”Fake News” I’m ready to let the chips fall as they may with HRC and Obama, are you going to accept the chips fall as they may with Trump?

  4. Dear Mr. Turley,

    I really enjoy reading your posts. Very happy I signed up for them.

    Thanks,

    Barbara Dowtin Midlothian, VA

    On Fri, Jan 19, 2018 at 7:18 AM, JONATHAN TURLEY wrote:

    > jonathanturley posted: ” President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen > is under fire this week after The Wall Street Journal reported that Cohen > used what appear to be shell companies and fake names to pay a porn star > called Stormy Daniels $130,000 as part of a nondisclosur” >

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