Michael Cohen deeply implicated Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg in an illegal scheme to pay off a porn actress shortly before the 2016 election.
The former Trump Organization attorney explained Weisselberg’s alleged role in the campaign finance violation, just days ahead of the start of Cohen’s three-year prison term for orchestrating the payments, reported The New Yorker.
“The amount of money that they were going to pay back was created by him,” Cohen told the magazine. “How they were going to pay me the money back was created by him, and then the two of us went, as we did throughout the entire process, to Trump’s office, and he approved it.”
Cohen took $130,000 from his own home-equity credit line and placed the money into a shell company he set up, and porn actress Stormy Daniels signed an agreement a week before Election Day agreeing not to talk about her affair with then-GOP nominee Donald Trump.
“He was involved right from the very beginning,” Cohen said. “I wanted Allen to pay the money — I didn’t want to take it from my account. He wanted me to find somebody who wanted to become a member of a golf club or was going to have a party at one of the functions and they could take the ($130,000) off of the bill that way and then they could pay me — I mean, he came up with a hundred different ideas.”
Cohen also helped orchestrate a hush money payment to Playboy model Karen McDougal ahead of the election, urging David Pecker — a longtime Trump friend and CEO of American Media, Inc. — to pay for her story of a Trump affair and then sitting on it.
The former Trump attorney told The New Yorker that he worked on the plan with Weisselberg, and Cohen’s account is backed up by an audio recording of his conversation with Trump.
“I’ve spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up,” Cohen says on the recording.
“So, what do we got to pay for this,” Trump interrupts, “one-fifty?”
Cohen acknowledges that’s what the cost would be, and he and AMI worked out a deal where Trump would pay only $125,000 to keep McDougal’s story under wraps — although he says the president never paid back the National Enquirer‘s parent company.
Pecker never pursued Trump for the money, although he sometimes complained to Cohen about it.