The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Donald Trump attorney/fixer Michael Cohen received access to $774,000 of funding during the height of the president’s 2016 campaign. Cohen had previously said that he used $130,000 of his own money to pay off porn star Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about her sexual relationship with Trump.
According to the Journal, they analyzed real estate records in New York City and found that:
- Cohen increased his borrowing ability by $245,000 through a bank credit line tied to his Manhattan apartment, and
- Cohen and his wife co-signed a mortgage on a condominium in Trump World Tower in New York giving him potential access to an additional $529,000.
The Journal was not able to determine how much of these credit lines were spent, or how they were spent. There is speculation, however, that Cohen needed access to funds in order to pay money to other individuals in addition to Stormy Daniels. (This possibility was even mentioned by Rudy Giuliani during his interview with Sean Hannity on Wednesday night.)
The FBI and federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating Cohen’s financial dealings as part of a broad criminal inquiry into his past dealings with the president and the Trump Organization.
According to the Journal, federal authorities “are examining whether Mr. Cohen violated any laws in his efforts to raise cash and conceal negative information about Mr. Trump, according to people familiar with the matter. Those include transactions tied to his credit line and his ownership of real estate and taxi medallions, the people said.”
President Trump and his attorneys Cohen and Giuliani have made conflicting public statements about the $130,000 hush money payment made to Daniels shortly before the 2016 presidential election. Although Cohen initially denied there was such a payment, he later admitted making it, and said he paid it out of personal funds obtained through a home equity loan, and the president knew nothing about it.
During the Hannity interview Giuliani said the president did in fact know about it and had reimbursed Cohen by paying $35,000 a month “funneled through a law firm.”
Giuliani’s comments have captured the attention of federal investigators who presumably have a paper trail documenting all of the details of payments made by Cohen on Trump’s behalf, as well as payments made by Trump to reimburse his attorney for these expenses.
The FBI and federal prosecutors are investigating many different possible crimes, such as wire fraud, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations. The slush funds uncovered by the Journal are just one more piece of the puzzle that investigators are trying to put together to determine if laws have been broken and indictments need to be issued.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.