How's this for awkward: President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, apologized to Melania Trump for his role in the Stormy Daniels scandal, according to a new report from the New York Times. Although he initially denied it, Cohen admits to having made a hush money payment to the adult film star in exchange for her silence about an alleged affair she'd had with Trump roughly a decade before he ran for president. According to the Times, Trump's supporters are now concerned that Cohen's loyalty to the president may not be as unwavering as he's claimed it is now that he's come under federal investigation.
In the past, Cohen has described himself as being Trump's most loyal ally. Last year he told Fox News he'd "do anything to protect Mr. Trump" and claimed he was "the guy who would take a bullet for the president" in an interview with Vanity Fair. No matter how you look at it, $130,000 is undoubtedly a lot of money, making Cohen's "hush money" payment one of lawyer's most loyal acts yet.
But just how far does Cohen loyalty actually go? According to the Times, Cohen even attempted to smooth things over with the first lady by apologizing to her "for the pain he caused her" with the payment to Daniels. Cohen reportedly approached the first lady at a Republican fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago earlier this year. Bustle has reached out to the first lady's communications director, Stephanie Grisham, for comment.
Cohen said in February that he'd paid Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, $130,000 to stay mum about an affair she claims she had with Trump back in 2006. But while Cohen copped to the payment, he claimed he'd done it with his own money — and without Trump's knowledge or consent. "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 in a statement to the Times.
Cohen has been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent days, following a raid of his office by federal authorities last week. The Department of Justice subsequently revealed that Cohen has been under criminal investigation relating to his business dealings for months.
The report regarding Cohen's apology to the first lady did not note whether she had any response. She has not spoken publicly about any of the recent allegations of her husband's extramarital affairs; Trump has been accused in recent weeks of having had affairs with Daniels, and with a former model named Karen McDougal. White House Pres Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said that Trump denies the affairs took place.
As Newsweek notes, the first lady's silence on the allegations comes in start contrast to how former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had addressed reports of her husband's affair while she was first lady of the United States. She spoke out in former president Bill Clinton's defense in a matter of days, while the current first lady has remained silent on the multiple allegations about her husband.
It's not yet clear what will happen to Cohen, or whether he will ultimately be charged with a crime. He's currently being sued for defamation by Daniels, in addition to facing an ongoing investigation by federal authorities. On Thursday, he officially dropped his own libel lawsuits against Fusion GPS and BuzzFeed relating to the publishing of the explosive Steele dossier in January of 2017. Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for Daniels, also stated on Thursday that he and his client are considering directly suing the president for defamation, as well.
Chris Tognotti contributed to this report.