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WASHINGTON — Fresh documents released Thursday paint a detailed new portrait of how President Donald Trump’s former attorney and “fixer,” Michael Cohen, swung into action to protect his boss from a brewing sex scandal on the eve of the 2016 election.
The documents reveal a campaign in full-on crisis mode, in close communication with Cohen as he attempted to tamp down news reports of Trump’s sexual affairs.
In the final days of the 2016 campaign, Cohen held repeated phone calls with Trump and his campaign staff, including close confidantes Kellyanne Conway and Hope Hicks, according to newly-unredacted search warrant application materials.
One cause for his anxiety: A forthcoming Wall Street Journal article alleging that the National Enquirer had “shielded” Trump from a Playboy model Karen McDougal’s allegation of an affair.
“He’s pissed,” Cohen texted Dylan Howard, chief content officer for the National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media, in an apparent reference to Trump.
At the same time reporters were digging into that story, Cohen rushed to complete hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who also claims to have slept with Trump.
After the WSJ story broke, Cohen and Hicks initially congratulated each other in the belief that the report wasn’t gaining any traction.
“So far I see only 6 stories," Cohen texted Hicks on November 5, 2016. Hicks wrote back: “Keep praying!! It's working!”
But that story would eventually help land Cohen in jail.
Cohen is now serving a three-year sentence in Otisville, New York for his role in paying off both women on behalf of “Individual-1,” whom Cohen has identified as Trump. He pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations related to those hush-money payments, along with other financial crimes and lying to Congress under oath.
The new materials were released Thursday following an order by U.S. District Judge William Pauley in the Southern District of New York, who called the public airing of their contents a “matter of national importance.”
“Now that the government's investigation into those violations has concluded, it is time that every American has an opportunity to scrutinize the materials,” Judge Pauley wrote.
Read the details for yourself here.
Cover: Michael Cohen, former attorney to President Donald Trump, leaves his apartment building before beginning his prison term Monday, May 6, 2019, in New York.AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)