CNN legal analyst Paul Callan referred to President Donald Trump’s general counsel Michael Cohen as “minister of disgruntled mistresses” on Friday morning, suggesting that Cohen may have been given broad authority to simply “handle” things in order to set up a sort of pre-emptive defense for Trump.
Callan was responding to the president’s claim that he was unaware of any payment that Cohen may have made to adult film star Stormy Daniels, suggesting that it may be true. “[Trump is] setting up the defense that Cohen was sort of his minister of disgruntled mistresses. In other words, he had his lawyer acting as an agent to go out and negotiate settlements with people who might cause problems for him, and he might have given him that general authority.”
Trump, aboard Air Force One on Thursday, broke his silence on the Stormy Daniels affair with just one word. When asked whether he knew about any payment to Daniels, he simply said, “no.” Reporters pressed harder, asking why Cohen had made a payment, and Trump responded, “You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. You’ll have to ask Michael.”
Reporters also asked where Cohen had gotten the money to pay Daniels, but the president gave no further response.
If Callan’s assessment is correct, Cohen would likely have had the blanket authorization to make a payment to Daniels without getting the specifics approved by Trump. In that case, the president would not necessarily have been aware that the payment had been made — and Cohen may have had his own budget from which to draw the funds.