Republican financier quits over reported mistress payout via Trump lawyer Michael Cohen

Michael Cohen walks from his hotel to his apartment in New York, April 12, 2018.
Michael Cohen walks from his hotel to his apartment in New York, April 12, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (AFP, BLOOMBERG) - A Republican finance chief linked to Donald Trump resigned on Friday (April 13) after a newspaper reported that the president’s personal lawyer arranged a US$1.6 million (S$2 million) payment to a former Playboy model who claimed the fundraiser had gotten her pregnant.

Elliott Broidy, who helped raise millions of dollars for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, stepped down from his position as deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee, the RNC said.

The move followed a Wall Street Journal report that Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen negotiated and arranged the payout as hush money to the model, who has not been named.

Cohen has been under the spotlight over a US$130,000 payment he made shortly before the 2016 election to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford – who goes by the name Stormy Daniels – aimed at preventing her from publicly discussing an affair she claims to have had with Trump.

The White House denies Trump had any sexual encounter with Clifford.

The Broidy agreement uses the same pseudonyms for Broidy and the former Playboy model as the earlier agreement used for Trump and Clifford, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Earlier this week, Cohen’s offices were raided by FBI agents who seized files relating to Cohen’s work, prompting Trump to blast the action as a “witch hunt."

 

Broidy, a Los Angeles-based venture capitalist, had served as the deputy finance chair of the RNC, the organisation in charge of fund-raising and developing the Republican Party platform.

“I acknowledge I had a consensual relationship with a Playboy Playmate,” Broidy said in a statement to the Journal.

“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.” 

"I would like to sincerely apologise to my wife and family for the hurt that I have caused," Broidy said.

"It is unfortunate that this personal matter between two consenting adults is the subject of national discussion just because of Michael Cohen's involvement. 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."

Davidson didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Broidy would be at least the second senior committee figure this year to step down. Former RNC finance chairman Steve Wynn resigned in January amid employees’ allegations of sexual misconduct.

RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said she spoke by telephone with Broidy, and “he tendered his resignation”. 

“He doesn’t want to be a distraction to helping us elect Republicans and keeping the president’s agenda moving forward,” McDaniel told CNN.