Attorney Michael Avenatti suspects a Republican donor paid to cover up the abortion of a Playboy model after an affair with President Donald Trump.
The attorney for porn actress Stormy Daniels appeared Wednesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" to discuss payments he revealed by Russian oligarchs, corporations and GOP donor Elliott Broidy into an LLC set up by Trump's lawyer.
"I don't know yet whether this particular account connects to other women, but what I will say is that this is an enormous amount of money flowing into this account," said Avenatti, who is suing to undo a hush agreement between Daniels and the president. " "Beginning in October, November, December time period of 2016, you've got millions of dollars that are being deposited into this account. Michael Cohen appears to be selling access to the president of the United States."
He said it's not clear what services Cohen, who has a background in real estate and personal injury law, provided to corporations that paid into the Essential Consultants LLC he set up to facilitate the Daniels payment.
"We now have multiple different things supposedly that Michael Cohen was doing for all these companies," Avenatti said. "Now we hear from Novartis that he was hired on health care matters -- evidently he's a doctor. One company mentioned they hired him for real estate matters -- he's a real estate agent. Another company stated that they hired him for accounting advice -- evidently he's an accountant. So he's a lawyer, doctor, accountant and real estate. I'm just a lawyer -- I'm not that bright, I guess."
"He's the da Vinci of our time," he added.
He's particularly curious about payments by Broidy, who resigned as deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee over reports that he paid $1.6 million to a Playmate to cover up her abortion, into the LLC set up by Cohen.
The attorney has previously suggested that courtroom statements suggest Trump, and not Broidy, was the client for whom Cohen directed the $1.6 million hush payment to the former Playboy model.
"It's very unusual to have a defendant pay his or her attorney a flat rate for negotiating a settlement," he continued. "Normally you'll pay an attorney on an hourly basis -- a defendant, a potential defendant. It's not like a plaintiff who is doing it on a contingency basis."
He said the evidence just doesn't add up.
"Here it appears that Michael Cohen was paid at least $187,500 or more for his work on behalf of, supposedly, Mr. Broidy negotiating this settlement," he added. "That's a lot of money. He spent maybe 10, 20, 50 hours of work -- I doubt it was 50 hours negotiating this potential settlement. I don't understand why he was paid this round figure by Mr. Broidy or why these why these payments were made. It doesn't make a lot of sense, and it's very suspicious to me."