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Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Negotiated $1.6 Million Settlement for Top Republican Fundraiser


Michael Cohen leaving a hotel in New York in April.
Michael Cohen leaving a hotel in New York in April.
Photo:

brendan mcdermid/Reuters

President

Donald Trump’s

personal lawyer negotiated a deal in late 2017 to pay $1.6 million to a former Playboy model who said she was impregnated by a top Republican fundraiser, according to people familiar with the matter.

Michael Cohen,

whose office, home and hotel room were raided by federal agents this week, arranged the payments to the woman on behalf of

Elliott Broidy,

a deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee with ties to Mr. Trump, the people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Broidy, a Los Angeles-based venture capitalist, works on the Republican committee with Mr. Cohen, who is also a national deputy finance chairman.

The deal, which hasn’t previously been reported, prohibits the Los Angeles woman from disclosing her alleged relationship with Mr. Broidy in exchange for $1.6 million to be paid to her over two years in quarterly installments, these people said. The first payment was due Dec. 1, according to one of the people.

“I acknowledge I had a consensual relationship with a Playboy Playmate,” Mr. Broidy said in a statement provided by a spokesman. “At the end of our relationship, this woman shared with me that she was pregnant. She alone decided that she did not want to continue with the pregnancy and I offered to help her financially during this difficult period.”

Elliott Broidy, a GOP donor, right, and his wife, Robin Rosenzweig, at a 2014 benefit in Los Angeles.
Elliott Broidy, a GOP donor, right, and his wife, Robin Rosenzweig, at a 2014 benefit in Los Angeles.
Photo:

Billy Bennight/UPPA/ZUMA PRESS

Mr. Cohen didn’t respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for the woman’s lawyer,

Keith Davidson,

said he couldn’t confirm or deny the existence of the agreement.

The disclosure of the agreement puts additional attention on Mr. Cohen, 51 years old, a longtime lawyer and self-described fixer for Mr. Trump. Federal prosecutors are combing through documents they seized during the raids, looking for evidence of bank fraud, among other things, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Investigators are seeking records related to payments to two women who say they had sexual relationships with Mr. Trump, as well as files connected to Mr. Cohen’s taxi business, people familiar with the matter have said.

Mr. Cohen’s lawyer,

Stephen Ryan,

this week called the use of search warrants “completely inappropriate and unnecessary.” President Trump called the raids a “disgrace” and a “witch hunt.”

Mr. Broidy, 60, and Mr. Cohen were appointed to the posts of RNC national deputy finance chairman in April 2017. Mr. Broidy was a vice chairman for the Trump campaign’s joint fund with the Republican Party during the 2016 presidential campaign, helping it raise more than $108 million. He gave more than $160,000 last year to the Republican National Committee, the Journal previously reported.

Since Mr. Trump’s inauguration, Mr. Broidy has often met with the president at the White House and at Mr. Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, according to people familiar with the matter. He helped organize a fundraiser in Los Angeles last month that Mr. Trump attended, the people said.

The nondisclosure agreement involving Mr. Broidy resembles an October 2016 pact in which Mr. Cohen agreed to pay $130,000 to former adult-film actress

Stephanie Clifford

to prevent her from publicly discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump in 2006, one of the people familiar with the matter said. The White House and Mr. Cohen have denied any encounter took place.

US President Donald Trump arrives to speak about tax cuts during an event with American workers in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, April 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEBSAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images Published Credit: saul loeb/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump arrives to speak about tax cuts during an event with American workers in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, April 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEBSAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images Published Credit: saul loeb/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Photo:

saul loeb/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Ms. Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels, is engaged in a legal battle with Messrs. Cohen and Trump over the validity of that contract.

The Broidy agreement uses the same pseudonyms for Mr. Broidy and the woman with whom he was allegedly involved—David Dennison and Peggy Peterson—as the earlier agreement used for Mr. Trump and Ms. Clifford, respectively, the person familiar with the matter said. Both agreements had separate side letters that listed the real names of the parties, this person said.

In the Broidy agreement, Mr. Cohen, who represented Mr. Broidy, is referred to as Dennis Donohue; Mr. Davidson, the Los Angeles lawyer who represented the woman alleged to have had a sexual relationship with Mr. Broidy, is referred to as Paul Patterson, according to the person familiar with the matter.

Playmate Karen McDougal attends the Playboy's Super Saturday Night Party during Super Bowl Weekend on February 2, 2008 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Playmate Karen McDougal attends the Playboy’s Super Saturday Night Party during Super Bowl Weekend on February 2, 2008 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Photo:

 Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Mr. Davidson also represented Ms. Clifford in her deal with Mr. Cohen less than two weeks before the 2016 election. He negotiated a $150,000 payment in August 2016 for

Karen McDougal,

another former Playboy model, from American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, for the rights to her story of an affair with Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen discussed that deal with American Media as the company negotiated with Ms. McDougal, according to people familiar with the matter.

American Media, run by Trump friend David Pecker, declined to run the story, the Journal reported in November 2016, a practice known in the tabloid world as “catch and kill.” American Media said it paid Ms. McDougal for fitness columns and magazine covers and has denied it paid people to kill damaging stories about Mr. Trump.

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 27: Adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels attends the 2018 Adult Video News Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 27, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
LAS VEGAS, NV – JANUARY 27: Adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels attends the 2018 Adult Video News Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 27, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo:

Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

Ms. McDougal and Ms. Clifford have hired new lawyers as they wage legal battles to nullify those agreements. The White House has denied Mr. Trump had any relationship with Ms. McDougal.

As part of the contract, the woman alleging a sexual relationship with Mr. Broidy agreed not to pursue what she said were potential legal claims against Mr. Broidy, according the person familiar with the matter.

In the contract, Mr. Broidy denied the allegations and agreed not to make any legal claims against the woman in return for her signing the contract, the person said.

The woman claimed that she became pregnant and that Mr. Broidy was the father, but the contract states that matters relating to the alleged pregnancy and paternity of the alleged child are excluded from the claims resolved in the agreement, the person familiar with the matter said. The woman declined to provide proof that she was pregnant with Mr. Broidy’s child, the contract says, according to the person familiar with the matter.

The contract said the woman reserved the right to seek child support in the future, but she has told Mr. Broidy’s camp that she had an abortion, the people familiar with the matter said.

Related Video

On Monday President Trump called the raids at the office of his lawyer, Michael Cohen, a “disgrace” and a “witch hunt” and discussed the possibility of firing special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo: Getty.

The woman alleged that Mr. Broidy had paid her for an exclusive sexual relationship of one to two years, one of the people said.

In his statement, Mr. Broidy apologized to his family. “It is unfortunate that this personal matter between two consenting adults is the subject of national discussion just because of Michael Cohen’s involvement,” his statement said. “Mr. Cohen reached out to me after being contacted by this woman’s attorney, Keith Davidson. Although I had not previously hired Mr. Cohen, I retained Mr. Cohen after he informed me about his prior relationship with Mr. Davidson.”

Mr. Broidy has been a big supporter of the Trump campaign. In May 2016, as Mr. Trump moved to claim the Republican nomination, Mr. Broidy was named as vice chairman of the Trump Victory Fund, a joint fundraising effort of Mr. Trump’s campaign and state and national Republican committees.

There have been other recent troubles for RNC leadership. Former RNC finance chairman

Steve Wynn

resigned from that post in January following a Wall Street Journal report in which employees recounted what would amount to a decadeslong pattern of sexual misconduct by him. Mr. Wynn has denied the accusations, saying, “The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous.”

Write to Joe Palazzolo at joe.palazzolo@wsj.com and Michael Rothfeld at michael.rothfeld@wsj.com

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