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Trump lawyer arranged hush money payment to porn star - report

Last Updated Jan 12, 2018 10:52 PM EST

Michael Cohen, President Trump's longtime personal attorney, arranged a $130,000 payment to a leading porn star in return for her silence about an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, say that Cohen arranged the payment in October 2016 to Stephanie Clifford, who goes by the stage name Stormy Daniels. Clifford was one of the most popular adult actresses in the country when she met Mr. Trump in 2006 at a golf championship in Nevada. She was 27 years old at the time, and Mr. Trump would have just turned 60.

"These are old, recycled reports, which were published and strongly denied prior to the election," a White House official said in response. Cohen didn't comment on the alleged pay-off, although he did tell the paper that "President Trump once again vehemently denies any such occurrence as has Ms. Daniels."

"This is now the second time that you are raising outlandish allegations against my client," Cohen added. "You have attempted to perpetuate this false narrative for over a year; a narrative that has been consistently denied by all parties since at least 2011."

Cohen also released a statement signed by "Stormy Daniels" denying that she has a "sexual and/or romantic affair" with Mr. Trump, who married his wife Melania in 2005. "When I met Donald Trump, he was gracious, professional and a complete GENTLEMAN to me and everyone in my presence," the statement says. 

Clifford had been in talks to discuss Mr. Trump with ABC's "Good Morning America" in the weeks leading up to the election when Cohen arranged the payment to her, according to the Journal.

The payment, the Journal reports, was made through Clifford's attorney, Keith Davidson. Davidson declined to comment on the story, citing "attorney-client privilege."

On Friday night, the website The Daily Beast reported they had planned to publish the story about Clifford and Mr. Trump before the election, but Clifford backed out of an interview. A friend of Daniels told The Daily Beast that Clifford told her she and Mr. Trump were "more than just friends."

"Stormy said she met Donald Trump and then tells me about the golf tournament and how she's supposed to hang out with him later that night, and she invited me," said fellow porn star Alana Evans. "Stormy said Donald knew exactly who she was and wanted to meet her."  

Evans told The Daily Beast Clifford told her "'All I'm going to say is: I ended up with Donald in his hotel room' ...  I was like, 'Oh I really didn't need to hear that!' Then she said he offered her keys to his condos in Florida, and I was like, 'Wow guess you had a good night,' and that was the last we ever spoke of it."

After the golf outing in Nevada in which he met Clifford, Mr. Trump was accused by adult-film actress Jessica Drake of kissing her against her will. Drake told the paper she did "not receive any money for coming forward" and was not subject to a non-disclosure agreement. The White House dismisses Drake's claim as "totally false and ridiculous."

Clifford reportedly entertained the idea of challenging then-Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, in 2010. At the time, she said she was a Republican.