Trump lawyer negotiated $1.6 million settlement for GOP donor with Playboy model

Friday , April 13, 2018 - 1:30 PM

Tom Hamburger, Ellen Nakashima, Beth Reinhard and Emma Brown

(c) 2018, The Washington Post.

President Donald Trump’s embattled personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, negotiated a $1.6 million deal in late 2017 with a former Playboy model on behalf of a prominent Republican fundraiser who had impregnated her, according to people familiar with the deal.

Los Angeles investor Elliott Broidy, who has been a major financial supporter of the president, issued a statement Friday acknowledging that he “had a consensual relationship with a Playboy Playmate” who got pregnant. He said he retained Cohen after the Trump lawyer told Broidy he had been contacted by the woman’s attorney.

“It is unfortunate that this personal matter between two consenting adults is the subject of national discussion just because of Michael Cohen’s involvement,” Broidy said in the statement.

Federal prosecutors are investigating Cohen for possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations in connection to his efforts to tamp down damaging stories about Trump during the 2016 campaign, according to people familiar with the case.

Neither Cohen nor his lawyer immediately responded to requests for comment on the settlement, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Under terms of the deal negotiated by Cohen for Broidy, who is married, the woman with whom he had an affair is prohibited from talking about the relationship in exchange for payments to be made over a two-year period, according to a person familiar with the details. The deal also allowed the woman to keep the baby, determine paternity and seek child support if she chose to do so.

Cohen’s work on the Broidy settlement came after he negotiated a deal in October 2016, agreeing to pay $130,000 to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who alleged that she had a sexual encounter with Trump a decade earlier.

Keith Davidson, the lawyer who represented Daniels at the time, also represented the Playboy model with whom Broidy had an affair.

Davidson declined to comment.

“Mr. Cohen reached out to me after being contacted by this woman’s attorney, Keith Davidson,” Broidy said in his statement. “Although I had not previously hired Mr. Cohen, I retained Mr. Cohen after he informed me about his prior relationship with Mr. Davidson.”

Friday’s revelation focuses more attention on Cohen, a longtime Trump confidant whose residences and office were raided by the FBI earlier this week.

Cohen and Broidy met during the 2016 campaign, when Broidy, a California native and major GOP donor, emerged as a key financial backer of Trump.

They both currently serve as deputy national finance chairmen for the Republican National Committee. Last month, Broidy co-hosted a fundraiser for Trump’s re-election campaign in Los Angeles.

In the first year of the Trump administration, Broidy was an outspoken advocate at the White House and on Capitol Hill on Middle East issues, particularly the need for action against Qatar, a rival power of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Broidy worked with George Nader, a Lebanese American businessman and power broker in the region who has been working directly in recent years for the United Arab Emirates, according to people familiar with their relationship.

Nader has been cooperating with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.

In his statement, Broidy said he would “like to sincerely apologize to my wife and family for the hurt that I have caused.”

“I acknowledge I had a consensual relationship with a Playboy Playmate,” he said. “At the end of our relationship, this woman shared with me that she was pregnant. She alone decided that she did not want to continue with the pregnancy and I offered to help her financially during this difficult period. We have not spoken since that time.”

The Broidy deal reveals new details about the relationship between Davidson, a celebrity lawyer in Los Angeles, and Cohen, Trump’s hard-charging fixer in New York.

In October 2016, Davidson negotiated with Cohen a confidentiality agreement for Daniels, who alleges that she had a 2006 affair with Trump. Cohen, Daniels and Davidson signed the agreement, for which Daniels received $130,000.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has sued to break the agreement, arguing that it is invalid because Trump failed to sign it. Cohen and Trump are seeking to force the matter out of court and into private arbitration, where proceedings are confidential.

Davidson and Cohen were also in communication about a third agreement involving former Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal.

McDougal, who says she had a 10-month affair with Trump in 2006 and 2007, sold the rights to her story to the parent company of the National Enquirer for $150,000 in August 2016. She has said she understood that American Media Inc. was buying her story not to publish it, but to bury it, in what has been called a “catch and kill” arrangement.

The day before she signed the contract, Davidson emailed Cohen and told him by phone that the deal was finalized, according to a person familiar with the conversation.

McDougal has sued to break free of her contract so she can speak freely, arguing that her story about Trump is “core political speech entitled to the highest protection under the law.” AMI has asked the judge to dismiss the case, arguing that the deal is protected under the First Amendment.

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