The Stormy Daniels-Donald Trump story just keeps taking new turns. The latest is that the president's personal attorney now says he paid the adult-film star $130,000 out of his own pocket just before the 2016 election, reports the New York Times. Michael Cohen paid the sum as Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, was making noise about going public with allegations that she had an affair with Trump back in 2006. A watchdog group has complained to the FEC that the payment violates campaign finance laws in part because it amounts to an unreported expense, but Cohen's statement refutes that. "Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly." Cohen says his own attorney has responded to the FEC to that effect.
The Washington Post notes that Cohen has previously referred to speculation about any such settlement as "rumors." But in acknowledging it for the first time, Cohen also made clear that he wasn't confirming Daniels' reported allegations of a sexual encounter and subsequent relationship. "Just because something isn't true doesn't mean that it can't cause you harm or damage," he said, adding, "I will always protect Mr. Trump." Among the questions he left unanswered: whether Trump personally reimbursed him for the payment or even knew about it. Daniels has been making the rounds of TV talk shows but has used careful wording when discussing whether she received a settlement or signed a statement denying an affair. She acknowledged to Jimmy Kimmel that the signature on the latter statement didn't seem to look like hers. (Read more Stormy Daniels stories.)