Fox News and MSNBC had different theories on why Trump's lawyer copped to paying off a porn star

Fox News and MSNBC talk about Michael Cohen
(Image credit: Screenshot/YouTube/Fox News-MSNBC)

On Tuesday night, Michael Cohen, a longtime personal lawyer for President Trump, made the startling admission that he had, after all, paid $130,000 to adult film actress Stephanie "Stormy Daniels" Clifford right before the 2016 election. The Wall Street Journal reported in January that Cohen had paid Daniels $130,000, through a company set up for that purpose, to stay quiet about an extramarital affair she was telling reporters she had with Trump in 2006.

"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 said, not ruling out that Trump himself had reimbursed him. On Tuesday night, Fox News national correspondent Ed Henry tackled the big question: "This might raise more questions about possible hush money, since the president and the porn star have insisted nothing happened, so why pay her? Well Cohen just told me in a phone call, 'Even if something is untrue, it can be damaging.' His goal all along was to protect the president."

On MSNBC, Brian Williams asked legal analyst Jill Wine-Banks why this would "be important and germane enough to re-inject the porn star story back into the news cycle?" Using campaign money "would have been an improper use of campaign funding," Wine-Banks said. "But, first of all, all of Michael Cohen's money comes from the Trump Organization, so it's basically Trump money no matter what. And the admission that they're paying a porn star says something: Why would they pay her? It's because she could have possibly blackmailed the president." Blackmail from a former paramour or Russians would be "a serious problem," she added.

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Even if Cohen used his own money, campaign finance experts tell the Journal, he "likely violated election rules because it wasn't reported to the Federal Election Commission." And Cohen's admission that he made the payment to protect Trump suggests he was aiding the Trump campaign.

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