Michael Avenatti, the media-friendly attorney for Stormy Daniels in her multiple lawsuits against Donald Trump, said on Thursday night that he has evidence proving that Trump’s “fixer” Michael Cohen made the $130,000 “hush money” payoff to Daniels in October 2016 to help Trump in the presidential election — which took place less than two weeks after the payment was made.
Several hours after Avenatti made his statements, a longtime acquaintance of Cohen said on Friday morning that Cohen himself disputes the account of the payment given to the media by Trump’s newest lawyer and media spokesperson Rudy Giuliani.
While Avenatti, in an interview with MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell, did not reveal his specific evidence, he strongly hinted that, in his role as Daniels’ “subsequent counsel” he had obtained documentation from previous lawyer Keith Davidson, who represented Daniels in the “hush agreement” negotiations, showing that Davidson and Cohen in their negotiations made clear that the payoff “had everything to do with the election.”
Avenatti’s claimed evidence would directly contradict the narrative presented by Giuliani, who claimed Thursday that the payment was made for “personal” reasons, because Cohen was attempting to protect Trump’s wife Melania from the pain of facing allegations that her husband cheated on her.
Any potential impact on the outcome of the election played no role in Cohen’s decision to make the payment to Daniels on October 27, 2016, according to Giuliani.
“This is for personal reasons,” he said during a Thursday morning appearance on the Fox News program Fox and Friends. “The president had been hurt personally, not politically, personally so much — and the First Lady — by some of the false allegations. ... I think (Cohen) was trying to help the family.”
But in his MSNBC interview on Thursday, Avenatti said that he can prove Giuliani is not telling the truth. In fact, he said, Cohen and Davidson were emphatic that the deal with Daniels and the hush money payment had to be made in well advance of the November 8 election.
“There were extensive communications between Michael Cohen and Keith Davidson in October of 2016 relating to the timing of this payment and the need for the payment to be made prior to the election,” Avenatti said on the MSNBC program The Last Word. “Extensive communications relating to the need for the payment to be made, when it was made, and as it related to potential influence on the election. Period.”
Cohen’s office, home and hotel room were raided by federal investigators in New York on April 9, and the investigators seized documents relating to the Daniels payoff deal, according to media reports. But Avenatti said that his evidence did not “necessarily” come from those raids.
“I have undertaken efforts to obtain all communications and documents relating to Mr. Davidson’s prior representation of my client,” Avenatti told O’Donnell. “We haven’t received everything yet, but we’ve received a lot of information. And I’ve also had communications with various individuals relating to that representation. So when I make these statements this isn’t just me out there hanging it out. “
The lawyer went on to say that he was not “pulling a Giuliani. I’m pulling an Avenatti, and when you pull an Avenatti, you actually have facts and evidence to back up what you state as opposed to some nonsense that you go out on Fox and try to peddle to the American people.”
On Friday morning, appearing on the MSNBC Morning Joe program, media personality Donny Deutsch, a longtime friend of both Cohen and Trump, said that Cohen himself dismisses Giuliani’s account of circumstances surrounding the Daniels payoff.
"I spoke with Michael Cohen yesterday and his quote about Giuliani was that he doesn't always know what he's talking about," Deutsch said. “He said, ‘Look there's two people that know exactly what happened, myself and the President. And you'll be hearing my side of the story.’ And he was obviously very frustrated with what had come out yesterday."
Photos by Gary / Wikimedia Commons / MSNBC Screen Capture