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Behind the Scenes: Did Donald Trump’s Lawyer Really Try to Stop Stormy Daniels From Seeking Competent Counsel?

Amid all the chaos in the White House — as if Donald Trump doesn’t have enough bad press — comes the Stormy Daniels scandal. And there’s more to come. Now rumors are flying that Michael Cohen, President Trump’s lawyer in the case, tried to stop Daniels from seeking good legal help. Keep reading to get the 411 and decide for yourself what you believe.

1. Michael Cohen was concerned

Trump's Personal Attorney Michael Cohen Meets With House Intelligence Cmte

He did not want her getting a new lawyer. | Mark Wilson/Getty Images

According to Newsweek, Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, on tweeted a screenshot of an email that Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, sent. Cohen sent the email to Keith Davidson, Daniels’ attorney before Avenatti. The email expressed concerns over the fact that Daniels — legally known as Stephanie Clifford — was seeking additional legal help in her case against the president.

Next: Here’s what Cohen said.

2. Cohen’s email

Michael Avenatti email screenshot

The email was sent to her former lawyer. | Michael Avenatti via Twitter

Dated Feb. 22, 2018, Cohen’s email to Davidson said: “It is my understanding that Ms. Clifford has or is seeking the advice of additional counsel regarding the above matter.” The “above matter” refers to the email’s subject line, “PP -vs-DD NDA,” which is the non-disclosure agreement over which Daniels is suing Trump. “Under no circumstances should you forward this document or the exhibits to anyone without my express written consent,” wrote Cohen to Davidson, according to Newsweek.

Next: Avenatti’s interpretation

3. This is how Avenatti took the email

Michael Avenatti, attorney for Stephanie Clifford, also known as adult film actress Stormy Daniels

He believed Cohen was trying to slow her efforts. | Mario Tama/Getty Images

Avenatti had his own interpretation of Cohen’s email to Daniels’ former attorney, according to Newsweek. He asserted it showed Cohen did not want Daniels to retain “competent counsel” like himself.

“Knowing what we know now, no wonder Mr. Cohen was doing everything he could to interfere with Ms. Daniels’ efforts to get new counsel,” tweeted Avenatti. “He was desperate to avoid the cover-up from surfacing and was afraid that competent counsel would expose him and Mr. Trump. #MoreToCome #Basta.”

Next: Avenatti’s subsequent tweets

4. Avenatti addressed Cohen’s email subject line

Michael Avenatti email subject

They used pseudonyms in the document. | Michael Avenatti via Twitter

Avenatti also tweeted about the subject line of Cohen’s email, according to Newsweek.

“He has claimed in the case that DD was never a party to the NDA. But he specifically described it as the “PP vs DD NDA” in this email (his words),” tweeted Avenatti. Backstory: Daniels claims the agreement is invalid because Trump didn’t sign it — and it uses the pseudonyms “Peggy Peterson” and “David Dennison” for Daniels and Trump, respectively.

Next: Avenatti’s after Cohen

5. Avenatti on Cohen

Michael Avenatti, attorney for Stormy Daniels

There is a lot of disturbing connections coming out. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Avenatti has repeatedly criticized Cohen, who is under investigation for the nondisclosure agreement he got Daniels to sign for $130,000. According to Yahoo, he suggested that special counsel Robert Mueller, who is heading the Russia probe, check into the Washington law firm Squire Patton Boggs, which he says Cohen met with.

“Shortly after the election, Michael Cohen forms a relationship with a very well-known law firm in Washington, D.C., by the name of Patton Boggs. And Patton Boggs has a long history of lobbying and being involved between companies and the U.S. government, that’s a very unusual relationship to have been formed right after the election,” said Avenatti.

Next: What does Avenatti know?   

6. Could Avenatti be right?

Lawyer Michael Avenatti with Stormy Daniels

Avenatti is making some serious allegations. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Avenatti is quite vocal about the Patton Boggs issues, according to Yahoo. “What did Michael Cohen sell to Patton Boggs as it related to the idea that they were going to allow Michael Cohen come to the law firm? It’s clear to me what he sold them,” said Avenatti. “What he sold them was a book of clients, a book of corporations or individuals that had already retained him for access to the U.S. president.”

“That needs to be the next inquiry, what did Patton Boggs know, and when did they know it? Did they know that Michael Cohen was lobbying? Did they not know it?”, said Avenatti.

Next: A stern warning     

7. Avenatti cautions Cohen cohorts

Michel Avenatti warning

He is not pulling any punches. | AM Joy w/Joy Reid via Twitter

Michael Avenatti really seems to have it in for Cohen — perhaps beyond his defending his client, Stormy Daniels. He issues a warning via Twitter to anyone who has been involved with lawyer Michael Cohen.

“If you’re out there and you have stuff related to your relationships with #MichaelCohen that you’re concerned are going to come out you should be concerned because they are going to come out… that’s a stern warning this #SaturdayMorning #AMJoy,” tweeted Avenatti.

Next: A look back at the scandal.

8. A year-long affair

Stormy Daniels isn’t staying quiet about the affair. | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The alleged affair between President Trump and Stormy Daniels began in 2006. According to Daniels, the duo met in July of 2006 at a charity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. In an explosive 2011 interview given to In Touch Weekly that wasn’t published until January 2018, Daniels recalled, “He was all sprawled out on the couch, watching television or something. He was wearing pajama pants.”

According to Daniels, the duo ended their affair in 2007, but continued speaking for years afterward.

Next: A bundle of hush money

9. A worrisome payment

trump with a frowning face

Did Donald Trump’s lawyer make this deal?| Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images

As we’ve stated before, news of Trump’s alleged affair with an adult-film actress came as a shock to no one, even though the affair began just four months after his youngest child Barron Trump was born.

However, his connection with Daniels is back in the news now is because in January 2018, The Wall Street Jornal published an article claiming that Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, made a $130,000 payment to Daniels in October 2016; one month before the election, to stay silent.

Next: Lies and fairytales 

10. Deny, deny, deny

Us President Donald Trump walks from Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House as he returns from his weekend trip to Mar-a-Lago, on February 12, 2017, in Washington, DC.

He’s denying everything. | Molly Riley/AFP/Getty Images

As the report of the hush payment dropped in the WSJ, The White House immediately denied the claims stating, “These are old, recycled reports, which were published and strongly denied prior to the election.”

Meanwhile, Cohen called the payment reports “outlandish,” claiming wholeheartedly that it never occurred.

Next: A very telling paper trail 

11. Changing their tune

sarah huckabee sanders at the press briefing room in white

Sarah Huckabee Sanders addressed the affair rumors. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Unfortunately for Cohen and Trump, you can’t erase a paper trail. By February 2018, Cohen changed his tune and told The New York Times that he had in fact paid Daniels the hush money. However, he claimed the money was from his own pocket, and neither Trump nor his administration knew anything about it.

He claimed, “The payment to Ms. Daniels was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.”  This seems ludicrous because lawyers cannot ethically pay third-party settlements with their own funds. Cohen could be putting his career on the line big-time if he did this.

Apparently, Cohen and the White House never got their stories straight. While Trump has continued to deny his affair, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a White House Press briefing in March 2018, “This case has already been won in arbitration and anything beyond that, I would refer you to the president’s outside counsel.”

In doing so, she acknowledged the affair for the first time, and Trump is reportedly not too pleased about it.

In May 2018, Trump’s new lawyer, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, confirmed the allegations by admitting to Sean Hannity on live TV on that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the payment.

Next: Getting the FBI involved  

12. A problem on their hands

Donald Trump at lunch

He may have some explaining to do. | Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images

If attorney Cohen did, in fact, pay Daniels the hush money using his Trump administration email while also failing to follow up and get the president’s signature, Daniels’ gag order is pretty much null in void. Additionally, Congressmen are now asking the FBI to investigate the payment.

California Rep Red Lieu tweeted, “If this article is true, it shows Cohen coordinated with @realDonaldTrump or his campaign. That makes the $130k payment to Stormy Daniels a felony in violation of federal election law. Last week @RepKathleenRice & I asked @FBI to investigate this suspicious payment.

Next: How Fox News stars are reacting to the Cohen scandals. 

13. Shepard Smith called the story the ‘elephant in the room’

Shepard Smith smiling while on a red carpet.

Shepard Smith | Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

In recent months, Cohen’s legal problems have only grown. In April 2018, it was revealed that Michael Cohen was also representing Fox News personality Sean Hannity. Hannity had Cohen on his TV show numerous times to defend Trump without disclosing that he and the president both used his services.

The first Fox News anchor to address the Hannity scandal was Shepard Smith. He did so not long after the story broke by calling it the “elephant in the room.”

Smith went on to paraphrase Hannity’s statement saying that Cohen did some legal work for him. He promised to follow up later in the show, and he did, saying, “We spoke with his publicist here at Fox News who says that he says they have been friends a long time. He never denied he was his lawyer. That he did some legal work for him along the way, and that’s the extent of that.”

Both times Smith addressed this story, he only talked about it for about 30 seconds, whereas CNN and MSNBC spent much of their afternoon discussing it non-stop.

Next: Fox News’ official statement.

14. Fox News puts out a statement defending Hannity

Sean Hannity on Hannity

Sean Hannity on Hannity | Fox News

After the scandal first broke, there was some speculation that Fox News might reprimand Hannity. However, the network did the complete opposite, putting a statement defending him.

On April 17th, one day after the scandal broke, Fox News said the following:

While Fox News was unaware of Sean Hannity’s informal relationship with Michael Cohen and was surprised by the announcement in court yesterday, we have reviewed the matter and spoken to Sean and he continues to have our full support.

Next: Why Cohen’s troubles make things harder for Trump.

15. The chaos surrounding Trump doesn’t appeal to most lawyers

Trump signs tax reform bill

Olsen wants nothing to do with the turmoil in the White House. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

After famed Washington lawyer Ted Olson turned down the opportunity to represent Trump, the HuffPost reported that the “turmoil” and “chaos” in the White House were his deciding factors. In addition, Olson implied other attorneys aren’t chomping at the bit to work for the president.

“I think everybody would agree this is turmoil, it’s chaos, it’s confusion, it’s not good for anything,” said Olson. “We always believe that there should be an orderly process, and of course, government is not clean or orderly ever. But this seems to be beyond normal.”

Next: Trump saves face.

16. Here’s what Trump had to say

Trump is hard at work.

Trump feels confident that he can wrap up his legal troubles. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

When Trump said that “many lawyers and law firms want to represent me” for “fame and fortune,” he must not have meant Ted Olson. When Twitter followers heard about Olson turning Trump down, Trump urged them not to believe “fake news.” Trump’s story? He said he decided not to hire new lawyers to represent him, specifically against Robert Mueller’s investigation, because they would need time “get up to speed.” In addition, Trump declared he was “happy” with his present team.

Read more: Donald Trump On ‘Fox and Friends’: Most Important Things Donald Trump Revealed in His Fox News Interview About Stormy Daniels

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