Fox News reporter Diana Falzone appeared to have obtained specific details about the alleged 2006 affair between Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 election, according to a former attorney for the adult-film actress.
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Keith Davidson, who negotiated the hush-money deal in which Daniels received $130,000 in exchange for her silence on the subject, told ABC News that Fox News reporter Diana Falzone called him shortly after the release of the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape seeking comment on what Davidson called “factually specific” details of the alleged affair.
“I can tell you that Diana Falzone, who is a New York-based Fox reporter, had the story,” Davidson said. “And Diana Falzone had the story, at a minimum, in between when Stormy Daniels' first contract was cancelled. I don't know how she got it, but I do know that I received a comment call from Diana Falzone that was factually specific after we cancelled the contract but before that second contract was signed, which occurred, you know, the day or two after ‘Access Hollywood.’”
Davidson said he declined to comment to Falzone, but for reasons unknown to Davidson, the network never published the story.
The episode, which was first reported by CNN, recently resurfaced in the March 19 issue of The New Yorker featuring Jane Mayer’s investigation of the conservative network’s ties to the Trump administration.
According to Mayer, Falzone “had obtained proof that Trump had engaged in a sexual relationship in 2006” with Daniels and had even “amassed e-mails between Daniels’s attorney and Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, detailing a proposed cash settlement, accompanied by a nondisclosure agreement.”
“But Falzone’s story didn’t run—it kept being passed off from one editor to the next,” Mayer reported. “After getting one noncommittal answer after another from her editors, Falzone at last heard from [Ken] LaCorte, who was then the head of FoxNews.com. Falzone told colleagues that LaCorte said to her, ‘Good reporting, kiddo. But Rupert wants Donald Trump to win. So just let it go.’ LaCorte denies telling Falzone this, but one of Falzone’s colleagues confirms having heard her account at the time.”
President Trump has repeatedly denied Daniels’ claims, but The Wall Street Journal would break the story the following year, while Falzone was ultimately demoted, leading her to sue the network. The parties reached a settlement that included a non-disclosure agreement, Mayer reported, but Falzone is now asking to be released from the terms of her agreement so that she can speak about her work there.
LaCorte defended his decision not to publish the story in a recent Mediaite op-ed that also appeared in the New York Post, claiming it lacked the proper sourcing and, contrary to the way the story was described in The New Yorker, “wasn’t close to being publishable.”
“Daniels and her associates were playing a bizarre cat-and-mouse game with Fox News and other outlets, trying to get their story out without fingerprints and, ultimately, without enough proof to publish,” LaCorte wrote. “We and others practiced solid journalism. Now, that’s being spun in an effort to prove the opposite."
Nancy Erika Smith, an attorney for Falzone, disputed LaCorte’s account in a statement to ABC News.
“This is an important piece of information, and the American people deserve the truth,” said Smith. “Fox should relieve Diana Falzone from a portion of her NDA that would cover the payment by Trump of hush money to Stormy Daniels right before the election. They’re a news organization so to prevent access to news then and now is wrong.”
LaCorte, who left the network shortly after the 2016 election, told ABC News that he is “100 percent supportive of Falzone being able to tell her side of the story” but reiterated that his “reasons for [not publishing the story] were 100 percent for journalism, not to protect any candidate.”
“Let’s not forget that this was days before the election, when a lot of nutty stories bubble up,” LaCorte said. “A number of outlets were getting similar information and coming to similar conclusions.”
In response to questions from ABC News, a Fox News spokesperson referred to previous statements by LaCorte.
In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Davidson provided new details about his discussions with Trump's longtime personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen in the months preceding the 2016 election that led to agreements in which Daniels and Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal received hefty payments in exchange for their silence.
According to Davidson, Cohen initially missed the deadline to make a payment to Daniels, effectively cancelling their contract, but after The Washington Post published behind-the-scenes video from the reality show in which Trump can be heard bragging about groping women, the deal took on new urgency.
"It defeats the argument that this was done purely for personal reasons," Davidson said. "It was done for political reasons. The natural conclusion is that after the 'Access Hollywood' tape, that something like this could be the straw that broke the camel's back."
Last year, Cohen pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance violations, telling the court that he made the arrangements for those hush-money deals "in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office," referring to then-candidate Trump, "for the principal purpose of influencing the election."
Although Trump has insisted "there were no violations of the campaign finance laws by me," Davidson told ABC News the motivation was clearly political.
"You cannot talk about Stormy Daniels and the settlement without talking about 'Access Hollywood,'" Davidson said. "They come hand in hand. It was clear to me that the 'Access Hollywood' tape was the motivating factor in this case resolving."