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What's lurking inside the Michael Cohen probe

The news that the National Enquirer ...

Posted: Apr 13, 2018 1:26 PM
Updated: Apr 13, 2018 1:26 PM

The news that the National Enquirer allegedly paid a doorman to keep quiet about unverified rumors of a "love child" fathered by Donald Trump is just one more in a long string of bombshells directly or indirectly related to Stormy Daniels.

I've written and spoken on CNN about the interesting and unexpected ways in which the Stormy Daniels story has intersected with the seemingly unrelated Russia investigation -- specifically by providing Robert Mueller and his team leverage to get Michael Cohen, Trump's personal attorney and "fixer," to provide information pertinent to their investigation.

According to news reports Thursday, Cohen was known to tape conversations with associates. If the feds obtained relevant recordings as part of their search and seizure of evidence from Michael Cohen's home, office and hotel room, it could potentially make that leverage greater than ever.

What's now slowly coming to light as we gather more pieces of the puzzle is a coordinated pattern and practice by Trump associates to silence those with potentially embarrassing information about Trump in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election.

First there was Karen McDougal, who -- in a tearful and heartfelt interview with CNN last month -- detailed the monthslong love affair she said she had with Trump in 2006. She was allegedly paid $150,000 by the National Enquirer's parent company, American Media, for the rights to her story, which was then killed.

Then there was Stephanie Clifford -- aka Stormy -- who was paid $130,000 by Michael Cohen to sign a nondisclosure agreement, the messy details of which are currently being hashed out in federal court in California.

Now we have the most recent deal -- $30,000 to a former doorman, Dino Sajudin, allegedly paid by American Media in late 2015 -- for a story that was never published.

As I recently noted on CNN, there is nothing necessarily illegal about the so-called "catch and kill" practice employed by publishers. What could be illegal is if the catch-and-kill practice was an illicit effort to help the Trump presidential campaign, which was formally launched on June 16, 2015 .

A catch-and-kill payment of that sort could be considered an in-kind campaign contribution, well above the legal limit set by the Federal Election Commission. (The parallels between this case and 2008 presidential candidate John Edwards' payments to videographer Rielle Hunter, with whom he had a child, are hard to miss.)

The refrain out of American Media is that the reason they did not publish the "love child" story is because they did not find it credible.

Maybe. But maybe there was another obvious reason they didn't publish the story, one that could well have had a lot to do with Trump's election campaign.

Furthermore, as I've noted, Michael Avenatti, Stephanie Clifford's unrelenting attorney, said on CNN that he could "guarantee" that there will be more FBI raids associated with the Southern District of New York's inquiry into Michael Cohen (and we also know that the "Access Hollywood" tape is a topic of inquiry for the Southern District team).

So while some have rightly noted that the upshot of a violation of federal election laws could result in nothing more than a fine by the Federal Election Committee, it's entirely possible, based on the reporting available, that the Southern District of New York likely has far more damning information regarding possible corrupt practices on the part of Michael Cohen than just election law violations.

Avenatti has been extraordinarily prescient in his predictions over the course of the past several weeks -- what he says usually pans out. It sounds like he knows there is more to come regarding the SDNY's Michael Cohen investigation, and now it's becoming clear why.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 27900

Reported Deaths: 1082
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds215239
DeSoto137316
Madison122234
Jones106949
Neshoba96069
Lauderdale88278
Rankin84112
Forrest81442
Scott75015
Harrison7448
Copiah56615
Leake54819
Jackson53316
Holmes52741
Wayne52112
Washington4969
Lee49316
Oktibbeha48624
Yazoo4736
Leflore47249
Lowndes45311
Warren44317
Lincoln43534
Lamar4197
Grenada3805
Monroe36729
Pike36712
Attala35223
Lafayette3524
Newton3289
Sunflower3066
Covington3025
Bolivar27713
Panola2706
Adams26718
Chickasaw25918
Tate2577
Jasper2506
Marion24811
Pontotoc2476
Noxubee2458
Pearl River24432
Winston2435
Clay24210
Claiborne23610
Simpson2303
Smith20611
Clarke20124
Marshall2013
Coahoma1866
Kemper17614
Union1759
Walthall1724
Yalobusha1617
Carroll16011
Lawrence1591
Itawamba1278
Calhoun1244
Humphreys1239
Tippah12311
Webster12310
Montgomery1222
Hancock12013
Jefferson Davis1064
Tallahatchie1043
Prentiss983
Greene927
Jefferson923
Wilkinson919
Tunica893
Amite822
George743
Choctaw714
Quitman680
Tishomingo681
Perry614
Alcorn561
Stone521
Franklin382
Benton270
Sharkey240
Issaquena71
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 38442

Reported Deaths: 947
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4387142
Montgomery383999
Mobile3697134
Tuscaloosa204938
Marshall153710
Lee118937
Shelby108223
Madison10577
Morgan9813
Walker86723
Franklin85213
Dallas8198
Elmore81314
Baldwin6869
Etowah62513
Butler60427
DeKalb6025
Chambers58127
Tallapoosa56369
Autauga54511
Unassigned52025
Russell4840
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4446
Houston4344
Limestone4090
Cullman4003
Pike3995
Colbert3685
Bullock3629
Coffee3532
Barbour3231
Covington3087
St. Clair3042
Hale29321
Marengo28611
Wilcox2808
Sumter27612
Calhoun2705
Talladega2677
Clarke2665
Escambia2636
Dale2440
Jackson2382
Winston2333
Blount2141
Chilton2112
Pickens2116
Marion20312
Monroe1972
Choctaw19212
Conecuh1804
Bibb1711
Macon1708
Randolph1709
Greene1667
Perry1451
Henry1303
Crenshaw1233
Lawrence1010
Washington1007
Cherokee747
Lamar711
Fayette671
Geneva670
Clay582
Coosa551
Cleburne291
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