The President’s attorney, Michael Cohen, gained access to $774,000 in cash and credit during the height of the presidential campaign in 2016, records reveal. Speculation is high that the funds were part of an effort to head off any negative publicity that might affect the campaign of then-candidate Donald Trump.
On February 24, 2016, according to The Wall Street Journal, Cohen opened a home-equity line of credit for $500,000 at Frist Republic Bank. The line was tied to a condo at Trump Park Avenue, a building owned by President Trump. The apartment is owned by Cohen and his wife Laura through trusts, and the loan documents were signed by Laura as trustee for the trusts in their names that own the apartment.
A few weeks later, the couple closed out an old home-equity line of credit for $255,000 with TD Bank. The net gain was $245,000 in credit for the couple, that they could borrow against the home.
Three months before that, in November 2015, the Cohens cosigned a $2 million mortgage on a condo owned by Mrs. Cohen’s parents, Fima and Ania Shusterman. The Shustermans had bought the condo in 2004. The borrowers took out $529,000 in cash, as well as refinanced existing debt on the condo.
The Cohen’s had not signed any prior mortgages on that property.
The total of the transactions meant Cohen had access to $774,000 as Donald Trump was solidifying his place as the Republican nominee for president in 2016.
Mr. Trump lost the Iowa primary on Feb. 1, but won the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9 and the South Carolina primary on Feb. 20. On Feb. 23, the day before the Cohen’s secured the line of credit from First Republic, Mr. Trump won the Nevada caucuses.
It is unclear how or whether any of the funds were spent, but federal investigators are looking into several payments Cohen made to women President Trump allegedly had affairs with in order to keep their stories from becoming public in the waning weeks and months of the presidential election.
Mr. Cohen’s offices and homes were raided by FBI investigators last month. Agents reportedly seized tax documents, business records and correspondence between Cohen and his clients, including the President. It has since been revealed that investigators are looking into any and all communications between Cohen and the 2016 Trump campaign about suppressing “potential sources of negative publicity” for the President.
Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, now serving on President Trump’s legal team, said during an interview that President Trump paid Cohen a retainer of $35,000 to cover “expenses” for him. “I said, ‘That’s how he’s repaying it, with a little profit and a little margin for paying taxes,'” Giuliani said in reference to the hush money paid to the women.
Giuliani contends that the President was unaware of any specifics of any non-disclosure agreements created between Cohen and the accusers.
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