Trump and Hope Hicks were directly involved in talks that led to hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels, FBI documents reveal
The Daniels scandal, which broke out in January last year, alleged that Trump's then-personal attorney Michael Cohen paid Daniels a sum of money to remain silent about her and Trump's alleged affair.
President Donald Trump was closely involved in adult-film star Stormy Daniels' hush-money scandal, according to unsealed Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) documents. The Daniels scandal, which broke out in January last year, alleged that Trump's then-personal attorney Michael Cohen paid Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, a sum of money to remain silent about her alleged affair with Trump's alleged. The president, however, has denied any involvement.
The federal documents, released on Thursday, state that a "series of calls, text messages, and emails" were exchanged between Cohen, Trump, Trump campaign aide Hope Hicks, Daniels' attorney Keith Davidson, and an executive of the firm that published the National Enquirer, David Pecker.
An FBI agent probing the scandal wrote in the released documents: "I have learned that in the days following the Access Hollywood video, Cohen exchanged a series of calls, text messages and emails with Keith Davidson, who was then Clifford’s attorney, David Pecker and Dylan Howard of American Media Inc. (“AMI”), the publisher of the National Enquirer, Trump, and Hope Hicks, who was then press secretary for Trump’s presidential campaign," NBC reported.
"Based on the timing of these calls, and the content of the text messages and emails, I believe that at least some of these communications concerned the need to prevent Clifford from going public, particularly in the wake of the Access Hollywood story," the agent wrote in the papers.
The documents, which were unsealed on Thursday, state that Hicks called Cohen at 7:20 pm on October 8, 2016 and then Trump joined the call seconds later. Their conversation lasted for four minutes. The document added that Hicks and Cohen spoke privately after Trump left the call and then Cohen later called Pecker. Shortly after the conversation between them ended, Cohen received a call from Dylan Howard, the chief content officer of American Media. Cohen, after that call, phoned Hicks back, ended that call and received another call from Pecher. Cohen then called Trump at 8:03 pm, and the pair spoke for eight minutes.
Cohen and Trump later, on October 26, spoke again a day after his personal attorney wired $130,000 to an escrow account meant to be sent to Daniel's attorney as payment for the agreement to ensure her silence on their alleged affair. Cohen initially called Trump at 8:26 am for three minutes and then again at 8:34 am. The last phone between Trump and Cohen took place on October 28 at 11:48 am and lasted nearly five minutes. Later that day, both Cohen and Daniels' attorneys confirmed that the paperwork for the hush-money and the NDA had been completed.
The FBI agent, in the documents, wrote that the information about the calls came from reviewing Cohen's phone records and under warrants to obtain the lawyer's emails. The FBI, in addition, also questioned Hicks about her involvement in the scandal.
In the wake of the document disclosure, Cohen released a statement from prison, saying: "As I stated in my open testimony, I and members of the Trump Organization were directed by Mr. Trump to handle the Stormy Daniel' matter, including making the hush-money payment. The conclusion of the investigation exonerating the Trump Organization's role should be of great concern to the American people and investigated by Congress and the Department of Justice."
Cohen is currently serving a three-year sentence for tax fraud, and violating campaign finance laws for facilitating hush-money payments to Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal to silence their allegations of past affairs with Trump.