After admitting in his required financial disclosure form this week that he did, in fact, pay back his personal “fixer,” Michael Cohen, for a $130,000 payoff to adult film star Stormy Daniels, Donald Trump may soon be facing other allegations of hush money payments to women that he has failed to disclose — according to lawyer Michael Avenatti, who made the revelation in an MSNBC interview on Thursday morning.
Avenatti represents Daniels in her lawsuit against Trump and Cohen, seeking to release her from the non-disclosure agreement she signed in exchange for that $130,000 payoff. Avenatti credited Daniels’ “bravery” for encouraging other women to come forward with their stories about Trump.
“We should all thank Stormy Daniels for her sacrifice and strength. The full extent of her courage will come into focus in the coming weeks,” Avenatti wrote on his Twitter account, following his interview on the MSNBC Morning Joe program. “The impetus for both women coming forward was the bravery of my client, our dedication to exposing the truth through the media, and our competence in dealing with the press. Imagine that.”
The 47-year-old, Southern California-based attorney — who has previously sued Trump in 2005 claiming that the idea for Trump’s reality show, The Apprentice, was stolen from another TV producer — told the Morning Joe hosts that while several women have approached him with claims of payoffs by Trump, “at least two are on solid ground.”
“As the evidence rolls out in the coming months, disclosures are going to be made that my client was not alone as it relates to these payments,” Avenatti told interviewer Mika Brzezinski. “Michael Cohen was not a 24-hour, seven day a week fixer for the sole purpose of taking care of Stormy Daniels.”
Asked whether the non-disclosure agreements claimed by the two women have been “documented,” Avenatti said that they “appear to be. But we have not verified the documentation yet.”
Watch Avenatti’s interview with Morning Joe in the video below, courtesy of MSNBC.
Avenatti did not specify when the two women received the alleged payoffs, or whether there is evidence that the “hush money” came directly from, or was reimbursed by Trump. If the payments were made anytime in the last two years, they would likely have been required to be revealed on Trump’s annual financial disclosure form, the form made public on Wednesday by the United States Office of Government Ethics.
On that form, Trump included a footnote revealing — in indirect terms — that he reimbursed Cohen for the payment to Daniels.
“In the interest of transparency, while not required to be disclosed as ‘reportable liabilities’ on Part 8, in 2016 expenses were incurred by one of Donald J. Trump’s attorneys, Michael Cohen. Mr. Cohen sought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Mr. Cohen in 2017. The category of the value would be $100,001-$250,000 and the interest rate would be zero,” the note read.
But the note was not enough for OGE Acting Director David Apol, who said that disclosing the payment was indeed a requirement on the form Trump submitted last year. For that reason, Apol referred the disclosure to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, telling him that the information “may be relevant to any inquiry you may be pursuing.”
Rosenstein oversees Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation into Trump’s possible collusion with Russia in the 2016 presidential election. Avenatti’s 2005 lawsuit against Trump over The Apprentice was settled out of court.