A top GOP fundraiser and prominent backer of President Donald Trump stepped down from his Republican National Committee post Friday after revelations that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen arranged a $1.6 million settlement with a former Playboy model whom the donor had impregnated.
Los Angeles-based investor Elliott Broidy, who has been a top fundraiser for Trump and the party, issued a statement Friday acknowledging that he “had a consensual relationship” with the woman, who got pregnant. He said he retained Cohen after the Trump lawyer told Broidy he had been contacted by the woman’s attorney.
“It is unfortunate that this personal matter between two consenting adults is the subject of national discussion just because of Michael Cohen’s involvement,” Broidy said in the statement.
In the wake of the revelation of the deal Friday afternoon, Broidy stepped down from his post as RNC deputy national finance chairman, according to two people familiar with the situation who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity. RNC officials did not immediately return calls for comment.
Federal prosecutors are investigating Cohen for possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations in connection to his efforts to tamp down damaging stories about Trump during the 2016 campaign, according to people familiar with the case.
Neither Cohen nor his lawyer immediately responded to requests for comment on the settlement, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Under terms of the deal negotiated by Cohen for Broidy, who is married, the woman with whom he had an affair is prohibited from talking about the relationship in exchange for payments to be made over a two-year period, according to a person familiar with the details. The deal also allowed the woman to keep the baby, determine paternity and seek child support if she chose to do so.
Cohen’s work on the Broidy settlement, struck in late 2017, came after he negotiated a deal in October 2016, agreeing to pay $130,000 to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who alleged that she had a sexual encounter with Trump a decade earlier.
Keith Davidson, the lawyer who represented Daniels at the time, also represented the Playboy model with whom Broidy had an affair.
Davidson declined to comment on the settlement. “I can’t confirm or deny the existence of such matters,” he said. “But I’ve always acted in my clients’ best interests and appropriately in all situations.”
“Mr. Cohen reached out to me after being contacted by this woman’s attorney, Keith Davidson,” Broidy said in his statement. “Although I had not previously hired Mr. Cohen, I retained Mr. Cohen after he informed me about his prior relationship with Mr. Davidson.”
Friday’s revelation focuses more attention on Cohen, a longtime Trump confidant whose residences and office were raided by the FBI earlier this week.
Cohen and Broidy met during the 2016 campaign, when Broidy, a California native and major GOP donor, emerged as a key financial backer of the RNC. Until Friday, they both served as deputy national finance chairmen there. Last month, Broidy co-hosted a fundraiser for Trump’s re-election campaign in Los Angeles.
So far this cycle, Broidy and his wife have contributed $614,000 to Republican campaign committees and the RNC, records show.
In the first year of the Trump administration, Broidy was an outspoken advocate at the White House and on Capitol Hill on Middle East issues, particularly the need for action against Qatar, a rival power of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Broidy worked with George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman and power broker in the region who has been working directly in recent years for the UAE, according to people familiar with their relationship.
Nader has been cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.
In his statement, Broidy said he would “like to sincerely apologize to my wife and family for the hurt that I have caused.”
“I acknowledge I had a consensual relationship with a Playboy Playmate,” he said. “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. We have not spoken since that time.”
The Broidy deal reveals new details about the relationship between Davidson, a celebrity lawyer in Los Angeles, and Cohen, Trump’s hard-charging fixer in New York.
In October 2016, Davidson negotiated with Cohen the confidentiality agreement for Daniels. Cohen, Daniels and Davidson signed the agreement.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has sued to break the agreement, arguing that it is invalid because Trump failed to sign it. Cohen and Trump are seeking to force the matter out of court and into private arbitration, where proceedings are confidential.