From his assertion that marital rape is legal to his insistence that a $130,000 preelection payment to Stormy Daniels doesn’t violate campaign finance laws because he paid it himself (which might actually be a bigger campaign finance violation), President Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen has offered up ample evidence that he’s not the sharpest legal mind. That makes sense, as Cohen was hired years ago to be Trump’s ultraloyal “fixer,” not an expert in litigation involving the president.
However, that doesn’t explain why Cohen’s attorney and spokesperson, David Schwartz, is doing such a poor job defending his client in the media — unless he was hired to be Trump’s fixer’s fixer, not someone with a good grasp on the law.
Fresh off a TV appearance on Monday that devolved into Schwartz and Daniels’s lawyer Michael Avenatti shouting “thug” at each other, Schwartz sat down with CNN’s Erin Burnett on Wednesday night to clear up some confusing statements Cohen has made about the payment to the porn star, who claims she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. In her civil suit against the president, Daniels asserts that she should be freed from the nondisclosure agreement because, among other things, Trump never signed the contract, making it invalid. Cohen has claimed that he was acting independently when he created an LLC and paid Daniels, though he used several Trump Organization addresses.
Cohen has been vague about Trump’s knowledge of the negotiations, which took place in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign. But Schwartz stated very clearly Cohen drew up the agreement without informing Trump, and that’s why his signature isn’t on the document.
“The president was not aware of the agreement. At least, Michael Cohen never told him about the agreement,” Schwartz said. “Michael Cohen left the option open. That’s why he left that signature line, the option open to go to him. He chose not to. He chose to bind the LLC, EC LLC and Stormy Daniels into the contract.”
Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti said this admission supports Daniels’s claim that the agreement is void, as it says in the document that only Trump, not Cohen’s LLC, can enter into an agreement with her.
Other attorneys were similarly appalled.
But that’s not all. Later in the interview Schwartz suggested Cohen regularly set up these sorts of agreements without telling his client — which seems to back up reports that Trump’s attorneys “took care” of dozens of women during the campaign.
“Michael was the fixer. It could be anything. There were a ton of matters that took place that Michael fixed and Donald Trump wasn’t involved in every single matter,” Schwartz said. He then walked that back, saying he meant business problems in general, and suggesting that business leaders commonly have a fixer authorized to pay people off without their knowledge.
Cohen’s lawyer’s lawyer has a lot of explaining to do.