Attorney Michael Avenatti just made an announcement with some bombshell allegations that don't look great for the Trump administration. At a Thursday panel discussion in L.A., Avenatti claimed Trump's team paid more women "hush money" — three more women, to be exact — and that he's representing them.
According to The Hill, Avenatti claimed the women were paid off before the 2016 election on behalf of President Donald Trump, either by Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen or by the company American Media, Inc. The White House has not responded to a request for comment from Bustle.
Although during the panel, Avenatti didn’t initially say why the women were paid, he told The Associated Press that he had evidence that the three women — who he said contacted him months ago — had relationships with the president. However, he said he couldn’t disclose that evidence or give specifics.
Trump's lawyer didn't respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press, but Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, did. Although he didn't want to comment directly, he offered a cautionary message about Avenatti:
Mr. Avenatti is an aggressive attorney doing his job in the middle of litigation. I have been there, done that. An attorney in litigation is just that, and until the litigation is over, I’m not going to comment on the words used.
Avenatti demanded that Trump and Cohen come forward and release information about the payments to the American people. “They should release the information to the American people now,” Avenatti told The Associated Press. “Enough with the games.”
News channel ABC 7 reported that Avenatti also told the panel on Thursday that one of the women claimed to be pregnant at the time of the payment. He said he was looking into getting an OK from his clients to share more details.
“We’re in the process of getting clearance from those clients to release details relating to those payments and the efforts to silence those women by AMI, Donald Trump, and Michael Cohen,” Avenatti said at the panel. “And I will tell you that at least one of those women claimed to be pregnant at the time.”
Michael Avenatti is best known for representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who alleges that she had an affair with Trump while he was married. Trump has repeatedly denied that claim. However, a report in January from The Wall Street Journal showed that Cohen arranged to pay $130,000 to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. She’s said the money was given to her so she’d keep quiet about the alleged tryst with Trump. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani announced in May that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the Daniels payment. As The Hill reported, this contradicted the president’s previous statements that he didn’t know the payment was even made.
Avenatti tweeted late last night and again demanded transparency from the president and his team.
“Three additional women,” Avenatti wrote. “All paid hush money through various means. Time for Michael Cohen and Donald Trump to come 100 percent clean with the American people. All the documents, all the tapes, NOW. No more lies or lip service.”
News broke last week that Cohen secretly recorded Trump talking about a payment to a former Playboy model who also claimed she’d had an affair with Trump, Karen McDougal. Trump has denied the affair and knowing about the payments before they were made.
AMI — headed up by CEO David Pecker, who is an old friend of Trump’s — apparently bought the rights to McDougal’s story, but never published it. AMI owns the National Inquirer.
And if there was ever a time for journalists to invoke the phrase “follow the money,” popularized in the movie All The President’s Men, it’s now.