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The selling of Elliott Broidy

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There’s nothing to whipping a fool.

Hell, fools were made to be whipped.

But to take another pro, even your partner,

Who knows you, and his eyes on you,

That’s a score.

The Grifters

On April 13th, 2018, the Wall Street Journal published a story reporting that Elliott Broidy, a venture capitalist and major Republican party fundraiser, who at the time was deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, had agreed to pay former Playboy Playmate of the Month Shera Bechard $1.6 million.  The money was to buy Bechard’s silence about her affair with Broidy, which resulted in Bechard becoming pregnant and having an abortion.

The deal had been negotiated in the late fall of 2017 by Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, who represented Broidy in the negotiation.

Shortly after Cohen’s office was raided by law enforcement officials on April 9th, the existence of this non-disclosure agreement (NDA) was leaked to the Journal, as well as to the New York Times and CNN. When the Journal’s reporters contacted Broidy, he immediately released a statement that appeared to confirm the story. It read in part:

I acknowledge I had a consensual relationship with a Playboy Playmate. 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. 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.

Keith Davidson had also represented Karen McDougal, another Playboy Playmate, when she sold her story of a long-running affair with Donald Trump to the National Enquirer for $150,000, in what turned out to be a “catch and kill” deal.  (In other words, David Pecker, the Enquirer’s publisher and close friend of Donald Trump’s, had bought the story in order to bury it).

It turned out another of Davidson’s clients was adult film star Stormy Daniels, who entered into an NDA with Donald Trump in October of 2016. This NDA, like the one between Broidy and Bechard, was negotiated by Cohen: it arranged for Daniels to be paid $130,000 to remain silent about a sexual encounter between herself and the man who would be elected president just four weeks after the agreement was signed.  (Subsequently, Daniels, McDougal, and Bechard all fired Davidson, after they each began to suspect that Davidson was working in concert with Cohen, rather than zealously representing their interests, as he was legally required to do).

Several aspects of the Broidy-Bechard story were, to say the least, quite odd on their face.  As I outlined in a series of articles in New York Magazine, a great deal of circumstantial evidence suggested that Broidy’s agreement with Bechard might well have a very different explanation.  That circumstances included:

*Donald Trump’s documented history of having unprotected sex with women in the adult entertainment industry, and then paying subsequently for their silence about these dangerous liaisons.  Trump also had long-standing friendship with Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, who was Bechard’s boyfriend for a time after her appearance in the magazine as Miss November 2010.

*Elliott Broidy’s documented past practice of bribing public officials. Indeed as part of a plea deal he worked out in 2009, after he was caught paying more than one million dollars in bribes to New York state officials, Broidy admitted he had paid $90,000 to the girlfriend of one of those officials, along with five thousand dollars per month to one of the woman’s relatives.

*Broidy’s remarkably brazen influence-peddling in the wake of Trump’s election, which by March of 2018 had become so extreme that it inspired several exposes in the national media.

*Broidy’s strange decision to engage Michael Cohen, of all people, to hush up his purported affair with Bechard.  In the fall of 2017, Cohen was known to be a target of Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential administration malfeasance, and the fact that he was under intense legal scrutiny was being reported on the front pages of the nation’s leading newspapers.  Cohen was also largely a lawyer in name only: his only other client, when Broidy engaged him, was Donald Trump. (Cohen claimed in court that he had a third client, Sean Hannity, but Hannity says he has never paid Cohen for legal services).

Broidy, by contrast, was the very definition of a sophisticated client, who regularly engaged some of the nation’s top lawyers and law firms to manage his – to put it delicately – complex legal affairs.   It’s no exaggeration to say that, if you were a wealthy, legally savvy man, paying a huge sum of money in the fall of 2017 to try to ensure that your adulterous adventures never saw the light of day, Michael Cohen would have been just about the last lawyer in America you would have hired to handle the deal.

*Speaking of money, the sum Broidy agreed to pay — $1.6 million – was extremely suspicious.  This, after all, was more than ten times the amounts Davidson secured for Daniels and McDougal, to remain silent about their sexual histories with one of the most famous men in the country, who at the time also happened to be the Republican nominee for the presidency.

Broidy by comparison was practically anonymous.  Who, other than his immediate family, would care about his liaison with Bechard?  And if the explanation for the enormous size of the payoff was that Broidy was terrified of being exposed to them, why did he immediately admit, when approached by the Journal, that “David Dennison” – the pseudonym used in the NDA with Bechard – was actually him? (“David Dennison” was also the pseudonym used for Trump in the NDA Cohen crafted to pay off Stormy Daniels).  Broidy could have denied the story, or simply refused to comment, while instructing his lawyers to go to court to fight against any publication of his name in connection with the NDA. Instead, inexplicably, he instantly threw away the anonymity he claims to have paid $1.6 million to buy.

In sum, I suggested an alternate theory: Donald Trump, not Elliott Broidy, got Bechard pregnant, and the White House turned to Broidy for the funds to pay her off.  In exchange, Broidy got an Oval Office meeting with the president, at which he could lobby for the interests of one of his clients, the United Arab Emirates.

Broidy made the first of the eight $200,000 payments required by the agreement on November 30, 217. Two days later Broidy got his Oval Office meeting with the president. A few days after that, Broidy’s defense contractor firm Circinus received a $600 million contract from the U.A.E. – by far the largest contract the firm had ever signed.

 

II

On May 23, 2018, Shera Bechard left a voicemail message with someone who had been asking her questions about, among other things, my New York Magazine stories.  In the message, Bechard said that she knew that “in the general public’s mind” she was “just some fucking bimbo whore,” but that this didn’t “faze” her.

People think, Bechard said in the message, “that I’m going to, like, reveal this freaking bombshell of a story, and it’s like, I’m not.  I wish I could, but I can’t, and obviously if that fat ass Elliott didn’t, um, if I wasn’t stuck with this agreement, then I could you know, but especially [given] what I had to do in order to get it, like come on.  Like that if you ask me, it wasn’t enough like I’m giving birth a month from now exactly to this day yesterday.  Yesterday was the day that in a month exactly from then I would have had a baby.”

On June 22nd, 2018 – the very day Bechard said her baby would have been born – a professional skip-tracer named Chris Bradbury texted Broidy, pretending to be a friend of a friend.  Note that this exchange took place more than two months after the Wall Street Journal Story, and a few weeks after my first two stories hypothesizing that Trump, not Broidy, had impregnated Bechard, and that Broidy’s payments to her were functionally bribes to Trump. Here is the beginning of the text string (MC is Michael Cohen, LC is Cohen’s wife, and T is Trump):

Bradbury: Just giving you a heads up that I think they’re going to break open the Shera story today.  Somebody got the inside intel from MC.

Broidy:  Thanks for the heads up.  Sorry.  Who is this?  I’m on a plane.

Bradbury: No offense.  I’d rather not say. Friend of a friend. Thought you might want to know.  My wife is friendly with Laura C[ohen].

Broidy: Thank you. Of course I want to know. Who is launching the news story?

Bradbury: I don’t know and I’m not even 100% positive, but Gwen heard it from LC who also said M is bouncing off the walls.  I’ll be home in another hour.  If I can find out anything in detail I’ll let you know ASAP.

Broidy: Thank you again.

Bradbury then waits forty minutes before texting again.

Bradbury: I just asked my wife if the news story broke and what news outlet published it. She didn’t know and she wasn’t sure what outlet it was.  I asked her to send a message to LC to see if she can find that out.  I’ll get back to you if any result.

Broidy: Very kind of you. Thx.

At this point Bradbury decides to become more overt, and it appears this gambit reminds Broidy he doesn’t actually have any idea who he is talking to:

Bradbury:  N[o]P[roblem]. I have to ask: I totally understand why, but if you had to do it again would you? If you don’t want to answer I totally get it.  Not trying to be nosy. Just interested.

Broidy:  Of course I would not do this again. I made a terrible mistake and I am doing all I can to repair the damage done to my wife and family.

This exchange took place near the end of June.  In the first few days of July, the Broidy-Bechard story saw a number of significant developments.

On the first of the month, Broidy leaked to the same Wall Street Journal reporters who published the April 13th story about the NDA the news that he was stopping payment on the agreement (the third installment was due on that day).

In a story full of strange twists, this was a particularly strange one.  Broidy has claimed all along that he paid Bechard so much money because he was so invested (literally) in keeping his affair with her out of the papers, so as to spare his family embarrassment.   Yet he announced to the nation’s largest circulation newspaper that he was pulling out of the agreement, thereby putting his affair with Bechard back on the front page?

Even more inexplicably, if Broidy’s legal team believed it has some arguable basis for nullifying the agreement, it made no sense whatsoever to announce to the world that Broidy was unilaterally backing out of the deal.  Normally in such circumstances, Broidy’s lawyers would approach Bechard’s counsel, present their arguments, and try to negotiate a settlement.  Simply announcing that Broidy wasn’t going to pay any more guaranteed a lawsuit from Bechard, which in turn guaranteed even more publicity for the story, along with much higher legal costs for both parties.

Sure enough, five days later Bechard’s lawyer Peter Stris filed suit in California state court against Broidy, Keith Davidson, and, surprisingly, Michael Avenatti, the lawyer Stormy Daniels hired after firing Davidson.  The complaint in the suit was filed under seal, meaning it was not a public document.  Avenatti immediately sued to get it unsealed, while the Daily Beast reported that the complaint included “troublesome claims that Broidy wouldn’t want to become public.”  (As of this writing the litigation to unseal the suit is ongoing).

On July 10, a piece in the Huffington Post by Yashar Ali revealed that two anonymous sources had told Ali that, according to the sources, Shera Bechard had never met or spoken to Donald Trump.

Three days later, David Corn revealed in Mother Jones that he had spoken with a private investigator who had spent several months looking into Broidy’s financial affairs in 2016, on behalf of someone who had lent Broidy money and hadn’t gotten repaid. The PI told Corn that his investigation determined that Broidy was a homebody who seemed to spend much of his time either at his house or office, with one notable exception: Broidy had visited an apartment building in Beverly Hills several times, “where he seemed to have a girlfriend.”  The PI never confirmed who Broidy was visiting or why, but he did give Corn the building’s address.  Corn found a list of the building’s tenants, and one of them was Shera Bechard.

Then, on the last day of the month, the court released a heavily redacted version of Bechard’s complaint in her suit against Broidy, Davidson, and Avenatti.   The complaint stated that Bechard had an affair with Broidy, became pregnant by him around the middle of September, 2017, and aborted the pregnancy on December 6th, six days after she signed an agreement to be paid $1.6 million for her silence.  The complaint also stated that Davidson did not permit her to read the agreement before she signed it, and that it contained a clause prohibiting her from having a copy, and that Davidson lied to her about the agreement’s contents.

Another notable revelation from the redacted copy of the complaint was that Bechard did not accede to the agreement until December 1st, when Davidson met with her over lunch to discuss its contents.  Interestingly, per financial documents released by Avenatti, Broidy made the first of the proposed agreement’s eight $200,000 payments on the day before.   (It is to say the least highly unusual for a party to a settlement negotiation to pay a significant part of a proposed settlement before any agreement with the other side has actually been reached). The day afterward, December 2nd, Broidy met with Trump in the Oval Office.

 

III

What are we to make of all this? Note that Bechard apparently believes she became pregnant around September 22nd, 2017.  An online pregnancy calculator, if Bechard had used one, would suggest a conception date around September 29th, but such a comparatively late date is inconsistent with Bechard’s statement to Davidson on October 31st that she was about “seven weeks” pregnant at that point.  The most plausible explanation for Bechard’s projected due date is that she believes she got pregnant during her trip to New York, and she assumed a due date exactly nine months later, that is, June 22nd, 2018.

Bechard flew from Los Angeles to New York City on September 20th, and flew back on September 23rd.  (On the 23rd she revealed in postings on Instagram and Twitter that she was suffering from “travel sickness.”  Many women experience nausea immediately after conceiving).

Elliott Broidy was in Washington, DC, from at least September 19th through September 21st.  Broidy’s DC trip was part of his frenetic influence peddling in the fall of last year: On the 19th he met with the Romanian defense minister, and the 21st he attended an event with several Romanian officials.  (Broidy’s defense contractor firm Circinus opened a Romanian office in May of 2017).

Here is Donald Trump’s schedule for September 21st and September 22nd 2017:

The 21st:

8:45 AM Depart Trump Tower en route to the Lotte New York Palace Hotel

8:50 AM Arrive at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel

  • 9:15 AM Participate in meetings with the President of Afghanistan – Hubbard 1 Lotte New York Palace Hotel
  • 10:30 AM Participates in an expanded meeting with the President of Ukraine – Hubbard 1 Lotte New York Palace Hotel
  • 11:30 AM Participate in an expanded meeting with the President of the Republic of Korea – Hubbard 1 Lotte New York Palace Hotel
  • 12:15 PM Attend a working lunch with the Prime Minister of Japan and the President of the Republic of Korea – Spellman Room Lotte New York Palace Hotel
  • 1:30 PM Participate in an expanded meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan – Hubbard 1 Lotte New York Palace Hotel
  • 3:00 PM Participate in an expanded meeting with the President of Turkey – Hubbard 1 Lotte New York Palace Hotel
  • 3:35 PM Depart the Lotte New York Palace Hotel en route to the Wall Street Landing Zone
  • 3:50 PM Arrive at the Wall Street Landing Zone
  • 4:00 PM Depart New York en route to Bedminster, NJ – Wall Street LZ
  • 4:20 PM THE PRESIDENT arrives at Trump National Golf Club – Bedminster, NJ

Trump spent all of Friday the 22nd at his golf club in Bedminster, 45 miles from New York City, until 5 PM, when he flew down to Alabama for a campaign rally. He returned to the club a little before midnight.  In other words, Trump had no scheduled obligations during the precise 24 hours – from the afternoon of the 21st to the afternoon of the 22nd – during which Bechard seems to believe she conceived a child. The next day, Bechard flew back from New York to Los Angeles.

Obviously all of this evidence taken together is not dispositive in regard to the question of what actually happened between Bechard, Broidy, and any potential third party, but it suggests a host of questions.

What is the “bombshell of a story” that Bechard said on May 23rd that she wanted to reveal, but could not because she was “stuck with this agreement” with Broidy?  It’s difficult to imagine that she could be referring to an affair with Broidy, given that this purported affair had been made public weeks earlier.

Why did Bechard travel to New York for a three-day trip in the third week of September, 2017?  A cross-country flight and a three-night stay in a luxury hotel is an expensive proposition, especially for someone who has no apparent source of income.

In regard to that issue, what exactly were Bechard’s sources of income before Elliott Broidy started sending her $200,000 payments in December of 2017?  Stris’s complaint describes her as a “model,” but I found no evidence that Bechard has been paid to model in recent years.  And Bechard appears to maintain an expensive lifestyle.  Since May of 2016, she has been renting a nearly $5,000 per month apartment in Beverly Hills.  Before then, she rented a comparably expensive apartment in Manhattan.

If Bechard traveled to New York for a paid date – if she was, to use the current parlance, “sugaring” to supplement her otherwise invisible income stream– why would she do so to meet Elliott Broidy? Broidy, after all, lives just a short distance from her in Los Angeles, and he had a busy schedule in Washington DC that week, taken up by his increasingly elaborate influence peddling efforts.

The only two days in all of 2017 when Bechard and Donald Trump were in the same city on the same date include the precise day on which Bechard believes she became pregnant.  Is this just another remarkable coincidence, in a story full of such coincidences?

Why did Elliott Broidy react as he did to Bradbury’s June 22nd catfishing attempt?  Notice that he manifests no surprise or confusion when told that “the Shera story” is about to “break open” because “someone got the inside intel” from Michael Cohen.  Again, this is more than two months after the Shera story, or rather what is purportedly the Shera story, was published on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.  Yet Broidy asks for no details regarding what Bradbury implies is a bombshell revelation, and instead repeatedly asks when and where the story is going to appear.

If Broidy’s main goal in paying Bechard was to bury the story, what explains what looks like a bizarre decision on his part to both stop paying her, and to announce this move to the media?  It is difficult to imagine what legal ground Broidy’s lawyers think they have for this maneuver, as there is no allegation that Bechard herself has done anything to violate the agreement.

Broidy’s lawyer Chris Clark justified the decision when he announced it by claiming that Keith Davidson violated the agreement, by discussing it with Michael Avenatti.  But this allegation, even if we accept it as true for the purposes of argument, would appear to provide no basis whatsoever for refusing to continue to pay Bechard: it would provide at most a basis for Broidy to sue Davidson. Broidy has not even alleged that Bechard knew about, let alone approved, Davidson’s alleged revelations to Avenatti. (If the legal theory on which they are basing their claim is that Bechard inadvertently violated the argument through her agent Davidson, because Davidson allegedly told Michael Avenatti about the agreement, Avenatti does not seem to have learned anything about the agreement until after the raid of Michael Cohen’s office, by which point Bechard had already fired Davidson and hired Peter Stris).

What are the “troublesome claims” about Broidy, that are made in Stris’s complaint?  The version now available to the public has been heavily redacted. Almost all the details of the relationship between Bechard and Broidy have been removed, particularly the nine consecutive paragraphs making up all of Sections 20-22, which apparently describe “the facts of her relationship with Mr. Broidy,” as described by Bechard to Davidson.  A particularly interesting sentence appears in Section 19, immediately beforehand.  It reads, “He [that is, Davidson] also reviewed [several redacted words], between Ms. Bechard and Mr. Broidy.” Could this be a reference to some sort of agreement?

Given that Broidy has not merely admitted, but actually continues to publicize by his actions, the supposed facts that he had a long-running affair with Bechard, got her pregnant, and agreed to pay her $1.6 million to silence her, what does Bechard know about Broidy that he is so eager to keep out of the public eye?

Has Shera Bechard never met Donald Trump, as two anonymous sources claimed to Yashar Ali?  I have learned that at least one of those sources came from within Bechard’s legal team, so it seems that Bechard herself has told her lawyers this.

In regard to this claim, I’ve spoken with a source who says they had an extensive conversation with Bechard, during the time she was living at the Playboy Mansion in 2011-12 (The conversation didn’t take place at the Mansion, but at an event which I’ve confirmed both Bechard and the source attended).  According to this person, Bechard spoke at length about how miserable she was at the Mansion, where she lived in a tiny basement room with one small window.  (She even showed my source photos of her room).

Bechard also mentioned meeting several famous people, including “Mr. Trump” — this conversation took place during the time when Bechard was dating Trump’s close friend Hugh Hefner – and she said she had used the same lawyer Melania Trump had used to get the same type of so-called “genius visa” that Melania had acquired (Bechard is Canadian).

Now Bechard did not in fact employ the same lawyer Melania Trump employed for immigration law purposes.  Bechard’s immigration lawyer was Chris Wright, a Los Angeles-based attorney, who assured me that he has never represented Melania Trump.  It is possible Bechard was mistaken on this score, or perhaps she invented this detail.

Of course, it’s also possible that Bechard invented her supposed acquaintance with Donald Trump altogether, or that my source fabricated the entire story I was told (Those details regarding the source’s story that could be fact checked turned out to be true).

 

IV

As I say, all the evidence in this matter is to this point merely suggestive, rather than dispositive.  Consider David Corn’s story about the private investigator who gave him the address of the building where the PI assumed Broidy had a girlfriend.

This, too, is a very odd tale on its face.  If the PI is telling the truth, he spent several months — and presumably billed his client a lot of money — tracking Elliott Broidy’s movements, while trying to acquire leverage to get Broidy to pay back a personal loan to the PI’s client.

According to the story he told Corn, the one piece of potentially valuable information the PI found was that Broidy seemed to have a girlfriend on the side.  But the PI – who again claimed to work this case for several months – didn’t even bother to determine the woman’s name, let alone that she was actually Broidy’s mistress, as opposed to his daughter, etc.  The apartment building whose address the PI gave to Corn has only 20 units.  Anyone with a Nexis account can find the names of all the tenants in a matter of minutes – even assuming the PI didn’t visually determine precisely which apartment Broidy was visiting, which again would seem like inexplicable behavior for a PI.

It seems safe to say that someone who was paying money to gather information on Broidy would want to know that Broidy was apparently having an affair with Miss November 2010. Yet the PI, according to the story he told Corn, never figured this out himself: he just gave Corn an address, which allowed Corn to discover Shera Bechard’s presence in the building.

Bechard’s neighbor across the hall – who used to rent the very apartment now occupied by Bechard, and who describes her as a friendly, but very quiet and private person – has never seen anyone matching Broidy’s description visit Bechard.  And it’s worth noting that the PI who gave Corn his scoop did so at almost exactly the same time that Ali’s sources contacted him with the information that Bechard had never met Trump.

These various sources reached out to Ali and Corn the same week that Broidy announced that he wasn’t going to make any more payments under the agreement, so it is possible that these sources were participants in some sort of disinformation campaign.

But other possibilities remain. For one, perhaps Broidy and Bechard did know each other, before Michael Cohen and Keith Davidson brought them together for contractual purposes.

In May of 2016, i.e., at the precise time Donald Trump wrapped up the Republican nomination, Shera Bechard moved from a very expensive apartment building in New York City’s financial district, to a comparably expensive unit in Beverly Hills, not far from Elliott Broidy’s residence. How was she paying for all this?

Could Broidy and Bechard have had an ongoing business relationship with each other, based on something other than, or in addition to, Broidy paying Bechard to be his mistress?  Broidy, after all, was convicted of a serious crime because, among other things, he paid a public official’s girlfriend $90,000 – and a relative of the girlfriend tens of thousands more – as part of an elaborate bribery scheme.

“Influence peddling” is Elliott Broidy’s main line of business, and influence peddling is to bribery as “sugaring” is to prostitution.  What better way to ingratiate oneself with powerful politicians around the globe than to be able to offer them the favors of a genuine Playboy Playmate? Indeed, a truly far-sighted influence peddler would have realized, no later than May of 2016, that one particular politician could soon be the best possible target for such blandishments, given that man’s long-standing obsession with Hugh Hefner’s main line of business.

Consider this hypothesis: By September of 2017, all of Elliott Broidy’s efforts to get back to the top of the influence peddling game are about to bear fruit.  Broidy is now everywhere: pitching his increasingly tight connections to the Trump administration to politicians in Malaysia, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, as he attempts to drum up business for the defense contracting firm he purchased two years earlier. Imagine what a bounty could be gathered by offering up to the most powerful politician in the world the one thing this person seems to love almost more than publicity itself?

In our hypothetical scenario, the intrepid Bechard proves to be every bit as entrepreneurial as the two men in this especially swampy triangle. She flies to New York for her assignation with the intent of stabbing Broidy and Trump in their metaphorical backs.  When she succeeds, she contacts Keith Davidson, and he, too, decides it’s time for his ultimate pay day, so he hits Broidy and Michael Cohen with an initial demand of more than five million dollars (the sum the Wall Street Journal reports Davidson initially demanded) to make their sudden shared problem go away.

This scenario is admittedly speculative.  But it is worth emphasizing that it fits the known facts much more neatly than the story that the media have decided to treat as the unproblematic truth.   Shera Bechard and Donald Trump were in the same city on the weekend that Bechard believes she got pregnant.  There is no evidence that Elliott Broidy was, and a good deal of evidence that he wasn’t.

Still, a host of possibilities fit the available evidence. Perhaps Broidy flew up to New York on the evening of September 21st, and the apparent implausibility of his claim that he got his purported long time mistress pregnant, and then agreed to pay her $1.6 million, is merely the product of a long string of coincidences that will turn out to be nothing more than that. Or perhaps Bechard flew to New York to meet someone else in Donald Trump’s inner circle rather than the president himself.  And it’s of course possible that Bechard was mistaken or lying when she told her correspondent that she got pregnant nine months prior to June 22, 2018, i.e., during her trip to New York.

 

V

We may never know the truth regarding what exactly transpired between Donald Trump, Elliott Broidy, and Shera Bechard.  (The best prospects for some sort of resolution hinge on Michael Cohen becoming a cooperating witness in the legal proceedings swirling around the Trump administration.)  Because this is a complicated narrative, here is a short summary of the central questions that together suggest the real story regarding this matter remains to be told:

What is Shera Bechard’s “freaking bombshell?”

Why is so much information about Bechard’s and Broidy’s relationship redacted from Bechard’s complaint, and what was the nature of that relationship?

What explains Keith Davidson’s initial demand for the staggering sum of more than five million dollars from Broidy, as well as the final agreed-upon amount of $1.6 million?

Why did Broidy stop payment on the agreement, and why did he announce this decision to the world instead of quietly negotiating with Bechard’s lawyers?

Why did Broidy hire Michael Cohen? Did he hire Cohen because he was hiding something from his usual lawyers, and if so, what?

Who impregnated Shera Bechard in September of 2017?

I will end this chapter of the affair by making a few observations about why I believe it’s appropriate and indeed imperative for journalists to continue to investigate and write about matters such as this one, even in the absence of definitive proof regarding whatever the real story may be.

Donald Trump is an extreme moral degenerate, surrounded by similarly degenerate enablers.  These are people who lie about everything as a matter of course – and yet most of the media seem incapable of coming to terms with the current political and social situation.  Trump routinely treats women like pieces of meat, then pays them off to shut them up.  Lawyers like Cohen and Davidson are co-conspirators in his predations, fattening their own bank accounts with their cut of the hush money that is raised, one way or another, to keep Trump’s compulsive whoring from full public view.

Men like Elliott Broidy enrich themselves by trading in brazen quid pro quos, selling their access to politicians, to women, and to who knows what else to clients who are eager to join such men in an increasingly open corruption of public life.  In this world, high-end sex workers operate in a deeply exploitative shadow economy, and keep their silence via a kind of informal code of omerta, along with the incentives provided by the occasional hush money deal.

The Bechard-Broidy affair is not some tawdry Hollywood on the Potomac tale of who was sleeping with who.  It is a story about the almost literally unbelievable sleaziness of Donald Trump’s world: a world in which the word of the president and those closest to him should be treated as worth less than nothing, by anyone who tries to uncover what is actually going on inside the most powerful political office in the world. (A critical point that shouldn’t be overlooked in all this is that, if Elliott Broidy didn’t promise to pay Shera Bechard $1.6 million to hush up their affair, that money would actually constitute a bribe to the president of the United States, intended to get him to alter the nation’s Middle East policy in regard to the Gulf States).

Nineteen months into his presidency, Donald Trump is insisting with increasing fervor that the media are his enemy, which of course also makes them, according to the authoritarian logic of the South American caudillos whose ideology he has imported north of the border, the enemy of “the people.”

Trump is right about one thing: the media – at least those of its members who retain any independence from his regime – are his enemies, and indeed must be, for the simple reason that anyone who pursues the truth must always be the enemy of authoritarian demagogues.

Part of coming to terms with that realization is to treat the stories we are fed by the administration and its hangers-on with the contempt those stories deserve.

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