On Monday in Jerusalem, Vice President Mike Pence was asked about porn star Stormy Daniels and her alleged relationship with President Donald Trump.
He told The Associated Press that he was "not going to comment on the latest baseless allegations against the President."
Which is an interesting way to answer that question.
Pence is saying that the allegation that Daniels and Trump engaged in a sexual affair in the 2000s are spurious and beneath comment. Which, I get. If Pence said anything other than that, it would be a massive news story.
Here's the problem for Pence (and Trump): If there's no there there, then why did Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, set up a company in Delaware -- a state notorious for its lack of corporate transparency -- and make a $130,000 payment to Daniels right before the 2016 election? (That is all according to The Wall Street Journal; CNN has not independently confirmed those details.)
Cohen's only comment about all of this is that the rumors regarding Trump's relationship with Daniels have been around for a very long time and that the President "once again vehemently denies any such occurrence." In a statement provided by Cohen from Daniels, she also calls the article "absolutely false."
Since Cohen did not deny making the payment, we can only assume that he did. What Cohen is denying is the existence of the relationship. What he does not appear to be denying is the Journal's reporting of the $130,000 payoff from a company seemingly created for that express purpose.
So, if as Pence and Cohen insist, there was no relationship between Trump and Daniels, then why the payout?
Presumably, Donald Trump didn't get rich by randomly doling out six-figure sums for no reason, right? If the money was given out for a purpose, what was that purpose?
This is the President of the United States we are talking about. And, while Trump's weathering of his lewd comments on an "Access Hollywood" tape and his surviving a series of sexual harassment allegations during the 2016 campaign tend to de-sensitize people to stories like this, they shouldn't.
Whether you are a Republican, Democrat or some other party (or no party at all!), ask yourself this: Why did the personal lawyer to the President of the United States pay a porn star, who alleges a sexual relationship with Trump, $130,000 just before the 2016 election?
Under any circumstances, that would be somewhat fishy. Given the timing and proximity to the 2016 election, it's a whole lot more than somewhat fishy.
The question Pence answered on Monday isn't the question that needs to be asked (and answered). It's not whether Trump had a sexual relationship with Daniels. It's: If Trump didn't have a sexual relationship with Daniels then why did Cohen set up a private company to send a six-figure payment to Daniels during the heat of the election?
As far as I can tell, no one -- not Cohen, not Pence and certainly not Trump -- have answered that most important question. We need to keep asking until they do.
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