'Wall Street Journal' reporter discusses story Of Trump's alleged affair with adult film star

'Wall Street Journal' reporter discusses story Of Trump's alleged affair with adult film star
Sat Jan 20, 2018 13:19:35

(npr) -- The Wall Street Journal is out with new details on money reportedly paid by the president's lawyer to a private company in Delaware, money that was then channeled to an adult film actress. The actress is Stephanie Clifford. She acts under the name Stormy Daniels. The payment was for $130,000. And according to The Journal, it was hush money to stop Clifford from talking about an alleged affair with Trump before he was president. Michael Rothfeld is one of the reporters who broke this story, and he joins me now from The Wall Street Journal newsroom. Hi, Michael.

MICHAEL ROTHFELD: Hi, how are you?

KELLY: Hi. I want to establish a couple points up first. One - both Daniel's and the White House deny there ever was a relationship, and we will return to that. But the second thing, just to get out upfront, is the timing here. The alleged affair occurred in 2006. The payment, according to your reporting, was in October 2016 - so in other words, right before the election, correct?

ROTHFELD: That's right.

KELLY: And what details have you learned about how that payment was made?

ROTHFELD: Well, what we've learned is that the president's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, created a Delaware limited liability company and that he opened a bank account for that company and put funds in there and then sent those funds to the bank account in Los Angeles of Stormy Daniels or - her real name is Stephanie Clifford - her attorney and he then transferred money to her.

KELLY: Is it unusual to establish an LLC in a situation like this?

ROTHFELD: It's not unusual. It's not really necessary unless you perhaps want to distance yourself from the legal settlement. It's something that people do to maintain privacy or secrecy and because, you know, the bank account is not in the name of the person who is sending the money, so the bank will not know the identity of who's sending the money. And anyone else who has records of the transaction isn't going to know that. The only way that we found out is by pulling the papers for that LLC, so we could see Michael Cohen's name on it.

KELLY: Does Michael Cohen deny the payment or does the White House more generally?

ROTHFELD: Neither of them have denied or confirmed that there was a settlement payment. They have both denied the affair, as you mentioned.

KELLY: Which presents an unusual situation for you as a reporter reporting on an alleged affair that, as we mentioned, both parties to this alleged affair have denied. How sure are you that it happened?

ROTHFELD: Well, we're quite sure that there was a settlement payment. However, as far as what happened between Stephanie Clifford and Donald Trump, only the two of them know. However, despite her denial, she has told several people that we've spoken to that there was such an affair. And since we reported this last week, four or five media outlets have said that she approached them in 2016 when there was a lot of news about women coming forward and making allegations about inappropriate sexual behavior by Donald Trump. And she wanted to tell her story then at the same time she was negotiating with Trump's lawyer for this nondisclosure agreement.

KELLY: This affair, if it occurred, was, A, between two consenting adults and, B, took place a decade before Donald Trump was elected president and took public office. Why is it newsworthy?

ROTHFELD: Well, what we're interested in isn't so much the affair, if it took place. What we're interested in is the hush money. Basically, the idea that there was information about Trump that might have come out before the election at a time when it was revealed that he had made remarks on tape to "Access Hollywood" that were never aired but were later revealed about groping women and that there was this additional information about his relationship and extramarital relationship allegedly with a porn star and that someone very close to him paid to keep that from the public just weeks before the election - that to us is - it's not the, you know, the issue itself. It's the cover-up basically.

KELLY: Michael Rothfeld, thank you.

ROTHFELD: Thank you.

(File photo: cbsnews3)

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