The move shows that prosecutors are closely scrutinizing payments to women before Trump’s election as president
Bob Van Voris, Bloomberg News
NEW YORK — The former attorney for two women who claim they were paid to keep quiet about having sex with Donald Trump before he was elected president is cooperating with a criminal investigation of Trump’s lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen.
Keith Davidson, who represented porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, has provided evidence to U.S. investigators in Manhattan, according to a spokesman. The move shows that prosecutors are closely scrutinizing payments to women before Trump’s election as president in 2016.
“Mr. Davidson was asked to provide certain limited electronic information,” his spokesman, Dave Wedge, said in an email. “He has done so and will continue to cooperate to the fullest extent possible under the law.” Davidson’s cooperation was reported earlier by the New York Times and the Washington Post.
Investigators with search warrants on April 9 seized documents, computers, phones and a safe-deposit box from Cohen’s home, office and hotel room. Prosecutors told a Manhattan judge that Cohen is under investigation for his business and financial dealings. Some of the evidence in the government’s hands concerns episodes in Trump’s private life that posed a potential threat to his candidacy and that may now endanger his presidency.
Trump, in a series of Twitter messages Saturday, said he is confident Cohen won’t “flip.”
“Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!” Trump wrote.
Cohen negotiated a $130,000 payment to Daniels, who was represented by Davidson, before the 2016 election. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims she had sex with Trump in 2006. Cohen has said he drew on a home-equity loan to make the payment without Trump’s knowledge and that he wasn’t reimbursed.
Davidson represented McDougal in negotiating a $150,000 payment from American Media Inc., owner of the National Enquirer, in exchange for rights to her claim that she had an affair with Trump that started in 2006. McDougal later sued, claiming that Davidson colluded with Cohen in the deal, against her interests. She claimed that the AMI payment was tied to a “catch and kill” agreement, intended to keep the story from becoming public — because AMI owner David Pecker is a friend of Trump.
McDougal settled her lawsuit Wednesday on terms that free her from restrictions on telling her story.
Davidson also represented another former Playboy model who was paid $1.6 million by former Republican National Committee official Elliott Broidy. Broidy said he made the payment with Cohen’s legal help, after he impregnated the woman, who had an abortion.
Davidson has denied any wrongdoing in connection with his representation of Daniels and McDougal.