An attorney for Hope Hicks, a former top aide to President Trump, said Friday that Hicks did not take part in discussions to pay adult-film star Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged affair with Trump.
The statement by attorney Robert Trout came a day after newly unsealed court records showed that Hicks was in close communication with Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen in October 2016 as he was negotiating the payment to Daniels.
Trout said reports that Hicks was involved with conversations about “hush money” or knew payments were being discussed “are simply wrong.”
“Ms. Hicks stands by her truthful testimony that she first became aware of this issue in early November 2016, as the result of press inquiries,” Trout said.
On Thursday, a federal judge in New York unsealed FBI documents from spring 2018, shortly before agents raided Cohen’s home, office and hotel room.
In the documents, FBI agents laid out evidence they had gathered indicating that Cohen had made an illegal campaign contribution when he arranged a $130,000 payment to Daniels.
In an affidavit, an FBI agent wrote that Cohen exchanged calls, text messages and emails with an attorney for Daniels — who is also known as Stephanie Clifford — as well as executives for the National Enquirer, Trump and members of Trump’s inner circle, as he negotiated the payment in October 2016.
“Based on the timing of these calls, and the content of the text messages, I believe that at least some of these communications concerned the need to prevent Clifford from going public,” the agent wrote.
Some of the communications occurred in the immediate wake of an Oct. 7, 2016, report published by The Washington Post about a recording in which Trump could be heard referring to women in vulgar terms, which became a moment of crisis for the campaign.
According to the affidavit, phone records show that Hicks called Cohen the following evening; 16 seconds into the call, records show that Trump joined the call, which continued for an additional four minutes.
The Cohen-Trump-Hicks call was followed by calls that evening among Cohen, National Enquirer executives and Hicks.
When Hicks testified before the House Judiciary Committee last month, she said she was “never present” at a time when Cohen and Trump discussed Daniels. She also said she “had no knowledge of Stormy Daniels” during the campaign other than that she had heard her name mentioned as possibly “shopping stories around.”
In a letter to Hicks late Thursday, the committee’s chairman, Rep. Jerrold R. Nadler (D-N.Y.), wrote that Hicks’s testimony “appears to be inconsistent” with the newly released evidence. He asked that Hicks voluntarily “clarify” her testimony and suggested the committee would subpoena her if she did not comply.
In his statement, Trout did not describe Hicks’s recollections of her Oct. 8 phone calls with Cohen or their subsequent contacts described in the newly unsealed records. But he said she would be responding to Nadler’s letter, as requested.
Cohen pleaded guilty last year to arranging hush-money payments, which he said were made at Trump’s direction. He is serving a three-year sentence in a prison north of New York City.
In a letter to U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III, prosecutors said the government has “effectively concluded” its investigations of whether anyone other than Cohen was criminally liable for payments to Daniels and model Karen McDougal, who also said she had an affair with Trump, as well as whether anyone gave false statements in the case.
From prison, Cohen issued a statement Thursday repeating that he had been directed by Trump to make the payments and saying that it should be “of great concern” to the American people that the investigation has concluded without charges for others at the Trump Organization.