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Trump lawyer's $130K payment to Stormy Daniels was flagged to the feds

Banks are required to report transactions that seem illegal or out of the ordinary to Treasury

by Alexa Liautaud and Chelsey B. Coombs
Mar 5 2018, 5:30pm

There was something about that $130,000 wire transfer in October 2016 that seemed suspicious to Michael Cohen's bank.

Donald Trump's lawyer's one-time transfer to porn actress Stephanie Clifford — aka Stormy Daniels — raised a red flag at the bank, and they reported it to the Treasury Department, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Cohen left a really extensive — and dumb — paper trail when he created a shell company in Delaware called Essential Consultants LLC on Oct. 17, 2016, using his own name on the incorporating documents. He apparently took the money from an account with First Republic Bank, which Clifford’s lawyer received in a client-trust account at City National Bank on Oct. 27, 2016, just 12 days before the presidential election. The payment was supposedly hush money to keep Daniels quiet about her alleged sexual relationship with Donald Trump in 2006, the year Melania gave birth to Trump’s son Barron.

First Republic reported the transaction to the Treasury Department as suspicious, but it’s not clear what date that was. By law, banks are required to report transactions that seem illegal or out of the ordinary to Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. City National Bank also began its own inquiry into the hefty payment a year after it was completed.

When asked to comment on news about First Republic’s Treasury Department report, Cohen wrote just “Fake News” in an email to the Wall Street Journal, though a few weeks ago he did admit he’d made the payment. He disclosed that he paid $130,000 of his own money and had not been reimbursed by the Trump campaign. In that way, it didn’t violate any laws.

But his statement got Clifford’s manager’s attention: Because Cohen spoke openly about the payment, the manager said, the nondisclosure agreement Clifford previously signed was void and she could speak about the relationship freely.

“Everything is off now, and Stormy is going to tell her story,” Gina Rodriguez told the Associated Press.