Stormy Daniels Demands Treasury Info on ‘Suspicious’ Hush Payment

This image released by CBS News shows Stormy Daniels, left, during an interview with Anderson Cooper which aired on Sunday, March 25, 2018, on “60 Minutes.” (CBS News/60 Minutes via AP)

(CN) – The lawyer representing adult film star Stormy Daniels asked the U.S Treasury Department Tuesday to share its suspicious activity report regarding an “illicit and shadowy” payment made to Daniels as part of a nondisclosure agreement over her alleged affair with President Donald Trump.

In a letter addressed to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, attorney Michael Avenatti requested a Treasury report on Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s $130,000 payment to Daniels, which Avenatti said is “at the center” of her federal lawsuit.

First Republic Bank, which Cohen used to make the payment, filed a suspicious activity report with the Treasury Department last month, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The report can only stem from suspicion following a “thorough internal investigation” by the bank, Avenatti said.

Avenatti cited a number of cases that determined fraud detection is not only a normal part of banking business, but also a critical part of criminal investigations and therefore “not shielded by SAR privilege” of confidentiality.

Cohen said he made the payment to Daniels using his own money and that Trump had no idea about it. He said he was never repaid by Trump or the Trump organization.

Avenatti says the payment “constituted an ‘in-kind’ campaign contribution to Trump. Fair elections group Common Cause calls the payment a violation of federal election law.

Cohen’s agreement with Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, was “made for the purpose of circumventing federal election law and thus ‘void,’” Avenatti wrote to Mnuchin.

The attorney also tweeted, “This [SAR] may show the money trail and disprove the claims of Mr. Cohen.”

Cohen used First Republic Bank to make the payment to Daniels and wired it through Essential Consultants LLC, a company he established to facilitate the deal.

Avenatti asked Mnuchin to release “any and all underlying facts, transactions, and documents upon which the SAR is based” by April 11.

In the letter, Avenatti said the “source of the funds” used to pay Daniels is of “critical importance” to her federal lawsuit. He said Mnuchin has the authority to release the report in order for “the public to learn critical information” regarding the payment Cohen sent.

Avenatti said “there should be no objection to the prompt release of the SAR” if Cohen made the payment “as innocently” as he suggests

Last Sunday, Daniels told “60 Minutes” she had consensual unprotected sex with Trump in 2006 as part of an affair that stretched into 2007.

She sought to share her account of the affair publicly, but Cohen had prepared a nondisclosure agreement which she signed just 11 days before the 2016 election.

But this past month Daniels sued Trump, Cohen and Essentials Consultants in LA County court, asking the court to find the agreement “void, invalid or unenforceable” since Trump never signed it.

After Trump had the case removed to federal court on grounds Daniels owes him $20 million – $1 million for each of the 20 times he says she’s violated the nondisclosure agreement – Daniels amended her federal complaint to add Cohen as a defendant. She also slapped him with a defamation claim, saying Cohen acted with “malice, oppression, or fraud” in his efforts to defame her.

This pas week, Avenatti asked a federal judge for permission to depose the president and his private attorney Michael Cohen for a period “of no greater than two hours” each. U.S. District Judge James Otero denied the request the following day.

If the deposition request had been granted, Trump could have been asked to testify under oath how much he knew about the $130,000 Cohen paid Daniels.

On Monday, attorneys with Essential Consulting moved to compel arbitration, with Trump joining the motion.

On Twitter, Avenatti said he and Clifford would “vigorously oppose” the motion to have the case play out “in a private [conference] room, hidden from the American public.”

He said in a “democracy” the case should play out “in an open court of law owned by the people.”

Avenatti has asked the Trump Organization to preserve all documents connected to Cohen and Daniels since Cohen used his Trump Organization email to make the payment arrangements.

Both Trump and the White House have denied the affairs.

Neither Avenatti nor Cohen responded to requests for comment by press time.

A hearing in the case is set for April 30.

 

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