Friday, April 27, 2018

Did Trump pay to hide an abortion?

On April 13, I wrote a post about the $1.6 million payment by Republican fundraiser Elliot Broidy to a Playboy model with whom he had an affair. The woman subsequently had an abortion.

Until recently, everyone -- other than myself -- writing about the incident presumed that Broidy was the father of the aborted fetus. I apologize if my language seems a bit brutal, but it isn't easy to find terminology acceptable to people on both sides of the abortion debate.

Take another look at Broidy's carefully-worded statement, which does not include an actual admission of paternity:

He does not explicitly say that he made the woman pregnant. He simply says that he helped her financially. Although this is not quite the same thing as saying "I paid for the abortion," in practical terms, he did just that; money is fungible.

By the way: I've never understood why he wrote "It is unfortunate that this personal matter between two consenting adults is the subject of national discussion just because of Michael Cohen's involvement." Before April 13, there was no such "national discussion." That discussion arose largely as a result of Broidy's statement.

In that earlier post, I argued that Trump, not Broidy, might be the actual father of the child (or fetus). My argument stems from the fact that the same "David Dennison" pseudonym appears in both the Broidy NDA and the NDA involving Stormy Daniels.
Remember the "paternity" clause in the Stormy Daniels NDA? If both contracts mention "David Dennison" then it's a good bet that both contracts mention the word "paternity."
When the Stormy Daniels NDA first became public, many wondered why the contract contained language about "paternity." If Cohen simply used the same NDA contract in both cases, that mystery is resolved. I think it fair to ask if the name "Dennison" was used in both cases because the same man was involved in both cases.

Shortly after I published that earlier post, the name of the Playboy model became known. Her name is Shera Bechard, and she appeared in the November 2010 and November 2011 issues of Playboy. She is, as one might have guessed, very lovely.

The first things I noticed were her eyes, which probably says something about my age. The second thing I noticed is that she looks a good deal like Ivanka.

We know that Trump privately told both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal that they reminded him of his daughter. Upon learning this news, the nation responded with a collective "Eww!"

I would go so far as to say that Bechard resembles Ivanka more closely than does any other woman in this saga (except for Ivanka herself).

According to the above-linked report, Bechard and Broidy had an "exclusive" relationship lasting one-to-two years. The source of that claim is a WSJ story unavailable to me in full, although we will soon offer a quotation. (See below.) At present, we cannot know how long the relationship lasted or how the WSJ learned this information. We do know that Bechard dated Hugh Hefner in 2011.

I draw your attention to this 2012 National Post story about Bechard...
Shera Bechard, the Canadian-born former girlfriend of Playboy Enterprises founder Hugh Hefner, would not be an obvious candidate for the special visas that the U.S. government reserves for “individuals with extraordinary ability.”

Playboy magazine named Bechard Miss November in 2010, and she also started an online photo-sharing craze called “Frisky Friday.” Neither seems quite on the level of an “internationally recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize,” which the government cites as a possible qualification.

But Los Angeles immigration lawyer Chris Wright argued that Bechard’s accomplishments earned her a slot. The government ultimately agreed.

That kind of success has put Wright on the map as the go-to visa fixer for both Hollywood and Silicon Valley. It also highlights the use of so-called genius visas known as O-1s and EB-1s, which have largely escaped political controversy and are now the immigration solution of choice for many entrepreneurs.
The "genius visa" is the same mechanism which provided Melania Trump with citizenship. (Her parents entered the U.S. via the process which Donald Trump derisively calls "chain migration.")

This NYT story on the Melania Trump controversy quotes lawyer Chris Wright and references Bechard...
“The notion that you somehow have to be a genius or Einstein is utter fiction,” said Chris Wright, a lawyer based in Los Angeles. “We have succeeded with models no more accomplished than Melania Trump.”

While the majority of applicants and recipients have titles like “space scientist,” “cancer researcher” and “software engineer,” many have less scholarly pursuits. In 2012, Mr. Wright represented Shera Béchard, a Canadian model and Playboy Playmate who successfully petitioned for an EB-1. In her petition, Mr. Wright included scantily clad photographs of Ms. Béchard.
Ever the hypocrite, Trump has tried to tighten the H-1B process -- and Wright has complained about Trump's approach to immigration reform. Despite that complaint, I consider it possible that Wright was hired to work on behalf of Melania.

Not long ago on MSNBC, Mika Brzezinski offered a segment which hinted that the $1.6 million "hush money" payout (which some report as $1.5 million) to Bechard may not have been offered on behalf of Elliott Broidy.
Brzezinski said the attorney had specifically referenced a $1.5 million payout to a former Playboy model, which has also been reported as $1.6 million, and said statements in open court cast doubt on claims the payment was facilitated by Cohen on behalf of Broidy.
This story on a gossip site bears a cute headline: "Just Spit It Out, Michael Avenatti!"
Appearing on Morning Joe to discuss Cohen (Trump’s personal lawyer who’s currently being investigated for bank fraud and campaign finance violations), Avenatti asked co-host Mika Brzezinski to name Cohen’s three clients. She responded with the widely-reported names of Donald Trump, Fox News’ Sean Hannity, and Republican donor Elliot Broidy. But, per my steely-eyed paramour, that is incorrect.

“No, no, no,” he said to a skeptical panel. “Mr. Trump, the Trump organization, and Sean Hannity. Mr. Broidy was not disclosed in open court as one of Michael Cohen’s clients.”

Ooooh. But also...huh?

What does this mean? What is he implying?
Avenatti clarified -- slightly:
I think at some point we are going to find out, if in fact, the client in connection with the [$1.6 million] settlement was, in fact, Mr. Broidy. I’m going to leave it at that.
Just minutes ago, Paste Magazine published a story which took the matter even further. Paste offers this quotation from the aforementioned WSJ piece, which is otherwise hidden behind a paywall:
As part of the contract, Ms. Bechard agreed not to pursue what she said were potential legal claims against Mr. Broidy, according to the person familiar with the matter.

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

Ms. Bechard 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. Ms. Bechard declined to provide proof that she was pregnant with Mr. Broidy’s child, the contract says, according to the person familiar with the matter.
Who the hell is this "person familiar with the matter"? Right now, the presumption of Broidy's paternity rests entirely on the word of this unnamed personage. If the "person familiar with the matter" is Cohen or some other member of Team Trump, we may fairly doubt the veracity of these claims. Team Trump does not exactly have an unblemished reputation for candor.

Paste writer Jacob Weindling goes on to make the following points:
So Shera Bechard and Stormy Daniels both had agreements with Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer. Stormy Daniels received $130,000 just prior to the 2016 election from Michael Cohen. Shera Bechard received $1.6 million in the final months of 2017 over an agreement which included a claim that she became pregnant with a prominent RNC/Trump donor’s child, had an abortion, but did not provide proof that she was pregnant with the RNC/Trump donor’s child.
Michael Avenatti has already proven that he knows more than we do about Michael Cohen’s legal problems, and now he’s insinuating that this $1.6 million payment made through Trump’s lawyer may not be on behalf of the man that all available reporting points towards. This could just be a lawyer running his mouth—so therefore I am serving as a useful idiot—and if that is the case, I sincerely apologize, but #pleasedenyit and the subsequent denial, then legal roto rooter shoved up Michael Cohen’s colon has me shook. Donald Trump is a self-described sexual assaulter whose business admitted to committing multiple anti-money laundering violations at Trump Taj Mahal. Would it really be that crazy to envision Trump laundering multiple settlements through his fixer? That’s why people like Trump have “fixers,” right?
I'll add this: We've seen that the Christian right is willing to forgive any number of sexual indiscretions -- and even sexual assault -- as long as the accused perpetrator has an "R" next to his name.

(No forgiveness for Dems, of course. About anything. If you have a "D" next to your name, you're damned to Hell if you buy the wrong size laces for your Doc Martens.)

But there is a line that the even the most Trump-addicted evangelicals will not cross. A sin they will not forgive.

That sin is abortion.

(Nota Bene: Before my few remaining feminist readers blast their predictable blasts, please understand that abortion is a sin in the eyes of the Christian right. I'm not talking about the way you view abortion, and I'm not talking about my own view.)
Cohen hasn't done much lawyerin' from reports, could cookie cutter NRAs just be intellectual laziness on his part?
He seems the type not to be too concerned about the jots and tiddles of contract writing.
Great analysis, but I have to say I think you are wrong about the evangelicals if this turns out to be true. It's a longer discussion, but abortion is not a deal breaker for them. It's just a way to keep women in their place. It obviously won't be good for Trump, but they'll forgive him just like they do for everything else.
I don't get this attention democrats give to the the stormy story. It's not going to affect anything. Democrats better use the time and efforts to defend their party and democracy from trumpers and burners. JOY REID always.
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