MSNBC's The Beat with Ari Melber examined the political implications of Friday's Wall Street Journal bombshell report that longtime Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen paid an adult film star $130,000 shortly before the 2016 election.
Melber asked former Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-MA) to explain how today's revelations could impact special counsel Robert Mueller's investigations.
"I want to pick up on a point you raised earlier in the hour, congresswoman, the potential influence of this story in the wider probe by Bob Mueller, because one of the unverified accounts, which the president has denied and brought up, was the notion that the Russian government might have some sort of blackmail material on him, that related to his sort-of private contacts, I'll put it that way," Melber explained.
"And here's a report that his private history would somehow be something that he had to keep secret," Melber noted.
"Right, this agreement with Stormy Daniels was negotiated in October of 2016, a month prior to the election," Edwards noted. "And what is not really clear to me, is one, whether there might be others that were negotiated in that same time frame. We may not have known about them, but the Russians might have known."
"This particular allegation as described in the Wall Street Journal is consensual, but is allegedly something they paid well over $100,000 they paid to keep secret," Melber noted.
Since The Wall Street Journal report, a second adult actress has come forward to corroborate Stormy Daniels' account.
Alana Evans told The Daily Beast, “Stormy calls me four or five times, by the last two phone calls she’s with Donald [Trump] and I can hear him, and he’s talking through the phone to me saying, ‘Oh come on Alana, let’s have some fun! Let’s have some fun! Come to the party, we’re waiting for you.'"
"Howard, let me compare this in light of another individual who faced questions about his private conduct, but is held in much higher regard than Donald Trump. That is David Petraeus, a widely respected general, who many people felt served his country honorably and served at the CIA and there were not complaints about his professional management of the CIA, but ultimately he was not only removed but charged, because in the national security context, even consensual activity could form basis of a national security blackmail risk," Melber reminded.
"Your analysis?" Melber asked NBC News contributor Howard Fineman.
"In my view, this underscores the fact the real threat, perhaps, to Donald Trump is not so much Vladimir Putin, but Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's long-time personal attorney," Fineman answered.
"Who knows what deals Michael Cohen did, to keep things quiet on Donald Trump's behalf, in the decade that he worked directly for Donald Trump, was his closest adviser really and closest legal confidante," Fineman observed.
"Was this the only deal he did to keep someone quiet? What other deals were there?" Fineman asked.
"What did Michael Cohen know and when did he know it?" Fineman wondered.