After the release earlier this week of an audio recording on which Donald Trump is heard instructing his personal lawyer Michael Cohen to pay off a former Playboy Playmate “with cash” during the 2016 presidential election campaign, as the Inquisitr reported, more trouble for Donald Trump arose on Thursday when lawyer Michael Avenatti announced that he is representing three more women who allegedly received Trump-connected payoffs.
One of those women, Avenatti said, said she was pregnant at the time of the hush money payoff, which, like the other two claimed by Avenatti, would have occurred during the run-up to the 2016 vote. Avenatti represents Stormy Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, an adult video performer who, as the Inquisitr has extensively covered, is suing Trump to get out of a hush money deal of her own. Daniels was paid $130,000 in a deal arranged by Cohen, to keep quiet about a 2006 sexual encounter with Trump.
Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal also said she was paid off in 2016 — by the National Enquirer, owned by close Trump associate David Pecker — to stay silent about a year-long, sexually intimate affair with Trump, while as the Inquisitr has also reported, a doorman at a Trump property reported receiving a $30,000 payment from the Enquirer in 2016 to stop him from revealing that Trump had fathered a child out of wedlock with a woman who worked in the building.
Speaking at an event in West Hollywood, California, on Thursday evening, Avenatti said that three more women also received payoffs from Trump associates during the 2016 campaign, and that he has taken the three women on as clients, according to a report by Los Angeles TV station KABC.
“There are three additional female clients of mine that have not been disclosed that were paid hush money prior to the 2016 election, whether it be from Michael Cohen on behalf of the president, an entity that Michael Cohen formed, or AMI,” Avenatti told the audience. AMI, or American Media Inc, is the company that owns the National Enquirer, and of which Pecker owns a controlling interest.
Though Avenatti did not give further details on the three women — except to say that one claimed to be pregnant in 2016 — and did not confirm that they were paid off to keep quiet about sexual relations with Trump, he strongly implied that Trump was behind the payments.
“Last time I checked, they weren’t just handing out checks to anyone whether they had a relationship or not,” Avenatti told the crowd at the event.
The Daniels lawsuit has been put on hold by a federal judge in Los Angeles, due to the criminal investigation of Cohen being carried out by federal prosecutors in New York, according to the New York Times. But on Friday, Avenatti appeared in the California Central District court to fight a request by Cohen for the judge to slap him with a gag order. Avenatti claimed that the First Amendment gives him the right to speak publicly about the case.
Cohen and his lawyer in the Daniels case, Brent Blakely, told Judge S. James Otero that Avenatti’s public statements have jeopardized Cohen’s right to a fair trial, and they compared Avenatti to “a small-town carnival magician (who) attempts to somehow justify his conduct by pulling the First Amendment out of his tiny bag of tricks,” according to Courthouse News reporter Nathan Solis, on his Twitter feed.
But Otero scolded Cohen’s lawyer, saying that First Amendment issues were not a “trick” but “serious business,” according to an account by the Los Angeles Times. The judge, however, did not rule Friday on whether or not to grant the gag order.