President Donald Trump gave a long and winding interview on Fox & Friends Thursday morning, covering topics ranging from Kim Jong-un to Kanye West. In the middle of it, however, he did drop a pretty interesting detail regarding his attorney Michael Cohen.
The Fox News hosts asked Trump about Cohen, who is under criminal investigation by federal authorities. Trump, as one of Cohen’s clients, was pushing for the defense to review Cohen’s files to weed out privileged communications before investigators got their hands on them. Still, he said Thursday that only “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work was done by Cohen, whom he described as “really a businessman.”
One matter where Trump says he has used Cohen’s services?
“He represents me like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal,” the president said.
This, of course, appears to be a direct contradiction of Cohen’s claim that he did not represent Trump when he negotiated the hush agreement to keep Daniels from speaking about an affair she claims she had with Trump. Cohen has said that he represented Essential Consultants LLC (the entity that made the payment to Daniels) in the deal, but not Trump himself.
One might argue that because Trump spoke in the present tense, saying Cohen “represents” him, that would mean that Cohen currently handles Trump’s Stormy-related issues and was not necessarily acting as his lawyer at the time the deal was made, but court records say otherwise.
According to federal court records, Trump is currently represented by Charles Harder, Ryan Stonerock, and Brent Blakely in the current lawsuit brought by Daniels. That seems to indicate that when Trump refers to Cohen representing him “with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal,” he means when the deal itself was made.
This goes against Cohen’s claim that Trump himself had no knowledge of the deal or payment at the time. If Cohen had been representing Trump and didn’t discuss the deal with him beforehand, it would raise legal ethics issues. If Trump did know about it, he could be found guilty of a campaign finance violation if the payment to Daniels is deemed an in-kind campaign contribution that went unreported and exceeded the cap on donations.
Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti noticed this, and tweeted about it after the interview aired.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen previously represented to the American people that Mr. Cohen acted on his own and Mr. Trump knew nothing about the agreement with my client, the $130k payment, etc. As I predicted, that has now been shown to be completely false. #basta
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) April 26, 2018
As far as Cohen’s work that is under investigation, Trump said, “I have nothing to do with his business.”
[Image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images]