Just days after federal agents raided his home and business in April, Donald Trump's personal lawyer and "fixer" Michael Cohen was forced by a court to reveal that one of his clients was a fat-cat Republican fundraiser named Elliot Broidy. What sort of work had Cohen performed for the 62-year-old billionaire, who served as deputy finance chair for the Republican National Committee despite pleading guilty to bribing public officials in 2009?
Cohen had arranged a $1.6 million "hush money" payment from Broidy to a former Playboy Magazine centerfold model, Shera Bechard, who was the November 2011 "Playmate of the Month" as well as one of the late Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's live-in girlfriends at his Los Angeles Playboy Mansion.
Contacted by reporters when his name surfaced, Broidy did not even bother denying the allegation, quickly admitting his alleged affair with Bechard — and that he impregnated her and arranged to pay for her abortion.
But was Broidy telling the truth? Given that he confessed without hesitation, why would Broidy have paid Bechard $1.6 million? According to an article published Tuesday by New York Magazine, Broidy may simply have been spinning a cover story for someone else — someone who really had the affair with Bechard and got her pregnant.
That someone, according to the New York Magazine analysis by law professor Paul Campos, was Donald Trump.Broidy immediately resigned from the RNC after acknowledging what he said was his affair with Bechard — so why would he take the fall for Trump? What was in it for Broidy?
According to Campos, recent news reports indicate that Broidy, whose earlier conviction shows that he has a history of bribery, had a lot to gain from currying favor with Trump. In fact, according to an Associated Press investigative report this week, Broidy met with Trump on December 2 of 2017, to discuss his payoff for a year-long, off-the-books lobbying effort on behalf of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to turn United States policy against their Middle Eastern rival country, Qatar.
That meeting came just two days after Broidy wired the first $200,000 installment of the $1.6 million hush money payoff to a bank account controlled by a California company. Three days after the meeting, the money was transferred from that company to Keith Davidson, who was then Bechard's attorney.
That was the same Keith Davidson who arranged hush money payoffs to pornographic film star Stormy Daniels and to another former Playboy centerfold model, Karen McDougal — both of whom say they had sexual relationships with Trump. Davidson also coordinated with Cohen on the Daniels and McDougal payoffs.
In the non-disclosure agreement signed by Bechard to prevent her from speaking about the ill-fated affair, Broidy used the alias "David Dennison." In the NDA signed by Stormy Daniels, Trump used the same alias, "David Dennison."
Also shortly after the December 2 meeting with Trump, Broidy's private security firm received a $600 million defense contract from the UAE government. The company also took in a nearly $4 million U.S. Defense Department contract — after never receiving more than $7,501 in U.S. defense contracts prior to Trump taking office in 2017.
But is there any evidence that Broidy was lying about his supposed affair with Bechard, who has not commented publicly on the allegations involving either Broidy or Trump? Campos points to Trump's known fascination with Playboy models, and that Trump was a frequent visitor to Hefner's Playboy Mansion. But Broidy has no such known history.
Campos, and other analysts, also ask why Broidy would trust Cohen — with whom he had never previously done business — to handle such a delicate matter, as well as why Davidson, who was attorney for with two other women who were paid hush money to keep quiet about alleged affairs with Trump, plays a key role in the Broidy case as well.
The whopping size of the payoff, coming from the previously obscure Broidy, also raises red flags, Campos and other journalists looking at the case say.
"To put it bluntly, $1.6 million is 'Keep this out of the papers because it'll be a huge story' money, not 'Don't tell my wife' money," wrote Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman on Monday.