Trump’s first priority about Stormy Daniels story was his campaign – not Melania, Cohen testifies

Former president’s wife has not appeared in Manhattan criminal court for his New York hush money trial

Ariana Baio
Monday 13 May 2024 22:26
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Donald Trump’s former lawyer and one-time fixer, Michael Cohen, testified that the former president expressed greater concern about the impact the Stormy Daniels affair story would have on his 2016 presidential campaign than how it would affect his wife.

On the first day of his highly anticipated testimony in the New York criminal case, Cohen recounted how Mr Trump reacted when hearing the adult film star was preparing to come forward with allegations of an extramarital affair.

“He wasn’t thinking about Melania, this was all about the campaign,” Cohen told the jury on Monday.

The former lawyer said Mr Trump was angry because he was polling “very poorly with women” after the leaked Access Hollywood tape heard Mr Trump making sexist remarks about women. Cohen said Mr Trump feared that Ms Daniel’s revelation would be disastrous for his campaign.

Cohen testified that when he asked Mr Trump how the story could affect his relationship with Melania Trump, the former president said, “Don’t worry”.

Micheal Cohen is questioned by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger on 13 May (REUTERS)

At the time, Cohen, Mr Trump and David Pecker, a former tabloid publisher, were engaged in a catch-and-kill scheme which Manhattan prosecutors say was part of a greater effort to influence the 2016 campaign.

The three had managed to kill a rumor from a Trump doorman and allegations of an affair with a Playboy model.

But the release of the Access Hollywood tape hurt Mr Trump’s campaign. Cohen said the former president told him that Ms Trump came up with the idea to brush his comments off as “locker room talk”.

Once Cohen found out Ms Daniels was going to come forward with allegations, it made the former president angry with him. Cohen said Mr Trump instructed him to “just take care of it”.

Former first lady Melania Trump (AFP via Getty Images)

The former lawyer added that Ms Trump texted him the day after he left Mr Trump a voicemail informing him Ms Daniels was preparing to go to The Daily Mail with her story. Ms Trump asked Cohen to “call DT on his cell.”

Ultimately, Cohen testified, that Mr Trump’s request led him to pay Ms Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her silence. Manhattan prosecutors allege that Mr Trump later reimbursed Cohen for the money but misrepresented it as payment part of his legal retainer. Those misrepresented payments are at the center of the criminal case.

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