|WOMENS WEAR DAILY / REX / SHUTTERSTOCK|
What do a fat-cat Republican donor, a Playboy model and the 45th president of the United States have in common? Maybe not much if you choose to ignore the fascinating ties that bind them. But when you make those connections, refuse to succumb to what may seem to be mere coincidences and stir in a healthy dose of speculation, you're looking at what may be the Mother of All Sex Scandals.
The Republican donor is billionaire venture capitalist and defense security contractor Elliott Broidy, who is a former Republican National Committee co-chair. The model is Shera Béchard, Playboy's Miss November 2010 centerfold. The other guy is, of course, Donald Trump.
According to the "authorized" story as it has dribbled out in reports first in the Wall Street Journal and then The New York Times, CNN and The Associated Press, Béchard was Broidy's mistress until he got her pregnant and she had an abortion.
Béchard then hired Keith Davidson, who happened to be the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, both of whom said they had flings with Trump.
Broidy just happened to go to Michael Cohen, Trump's longtime personal attorney and fixer, and together Davidson and Cohen hammered out a nondisclosure agreement in late 2017 under which Béchard (identified as Peggy Peterson in the NDA) would not reveal the affair or that she had become impregnated in return for $1.6 million over two years from Broidy (identified as David Dennison in the NDA).
That is the "authorized" story, such as it is.
But what if this story is yet another whopping TrumpWorld lie and the impregnator was Trump himself and not Broidy? That alternative explanation, laid out in convincing detail by law professor Paul Campos in New York magazine, holds water because it fits so well with what we know about the various players.
ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE KNOW SO WELL about one of the various players is that Broidy has a long history of bribery, and at its heart the $1.6 million Béchard hush agreement arguably is a cover-up concealing a bribe.
Besides which, Broidy has had multiple reasons for helping out his old friend in the White House.
He has repeatedly negotiated outcomes with the White House and Defense and State departments favorable to his foreign clients, principally Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and his security firm, Circinus LLC, since Trump became president. Circinus already has netted at least $800 million in contracts since Trump took office.
Several of Broidy's mega-buck deals have hinged on whether he could convince Trump, son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and other Trump administration bigs to take various actions, most notably including breaking off diplomatic relations with longtime U.S. ally Qatar, whose arch enemies are (you guessed it) Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
It seems more than a coincidence that when Cohen's lawyer (even lawyers have lawyers in this twisted saga) first waved the attorney-client hankie in court after FBI agents raided Cohen's office, home and hotel suite on April 7 looking for evidence that Trump's longtime personal lawyer and fixer had committed bank and wire fraud and campaign finance violations in trying to suppress damaging stories about Trump just before the election, the lawyer said Cohen had too many clients to name.
When a federal judge ordered him to name them, there turned out to be but three: Trump, Fox News scold Sean Hannity . . . and Broidy.
Broidy always has fought hammer and tong any and all allegations and aspersions cast against him. But curiously, he immediately "confessed" to knocking up a Playboy model (Béchard's name had not yet been made public) in a ho-hum statement in which he perfunctorily apologized to his wife and said of the model, "She alone decided that she did not want to continue with the pregnancy, and I offered to help her financially during this difficult period."
Timing being everything -- and noting that an extramarital affair involving an off-the-radar Republican fat cat would not be that big a deal while an affair with Trump would be yuge -- Broidy's mea culpa was at the height of his campaign to demonize Qatar. Hanging in the balance were a $1 billion deal with Saudi Arabia and a $600 million deal with the UAE.
The first installment of Broidy $1.6 million payment to Béchard was made on December 1, 2017 — one day before an Oval Office meeting with Trump where he passed on flattering words from Saudi Arabia and the UAE about a Middle East peace plan being pushed by Kushner and one day after he wrote a $189,000 check to the RNC.
That was far more than he had ever given the party and may be the result of a big payoff to him from George Nader, a lobbyist for Saudi Arabia and the UAE who was dying to have his picture taken with Trump to prove his Washington lobbying clout.
|THE WHITE HOUSE|
ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE KNOW SO WELL about one of the various players is that Trump has a well-documented history of having unprotected sex with women in the adult-entertainment industry. That, say Daniels and McDougal, was the case with them. And Béchard, of course, became pregnant.
How's this for the real story?
The Béchard nondisclosure agreement was not just uncannily similar to the $130,000 hush agreement that Cohen had gotten Daniels to sign two weeks before the 2016 election in return for keeping quiet about a year-long affair with Trump that commenced in 2006 when The Big White Hat (who had not been seen in public since May 10 until she appeared at an event on Monday) was caring for four-month-old baby Barron.
Daniels and Trump were identified by the same Peggy Patterson and David Dennison monikers as in the Béchard-Broidy hush agreement, and the $1.6 million was funneled through Essential Consultants LLC, a Delaware-based shell company Cohen had first set up to facilitate Daniels-Trump payments.
Trump also has a well-documented history of being obsessed with Playboy models like McDougal and Béchard, had a long-standing close friendship with Hugh Hefner, and often visited the Playboy mansion, to which he brought contestants from his television show, The Apprentice.
Béchard actually was Hefner's girlfriend at one time, while Trump's and Hefner's friendship suddenly and mysteriously came to an end sometime in 2016.
Broidy's reputation as a briber also is well known, and in one instance he paid over $90,000 to the girlfriend of a high-ranking official in the office of the New York State comptroller.
The payments were made from April 2004 through October 2005 and were used to cover the girlfriend's living expenses, rent and hospital bills. Broidy also agreed to pay $5,500 a month to a relative of the girlfriend about the same time for a total of $44,000, and both sets of payments were concealed through a sham loan agreement.
The upshot of that bribe was a 2009 felony guilty plea. The charges eventually were knocked down to a misdemeanor because of Broidy’s supposed cooperation with prosecutors.
Meanwhile, the Journal reported earlier this year that the influence-peddling Broidy was going to make tens of millions of dollars by getting the Justice Department to drop an investigation into a multibillion-dollar bribery scandal involving 1MDB, the Malaysian state investment fund. A possibly hacked email -- and the FBI reportedly is investigating a slew of hacks targeting Broidy -- revealed a plan to pay Broidy and his wife $75 million if they could successfully lobby the Justice to drop the probe.
ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE KNOW SO WELL about one of the players is that from appearances his . . . er, lifestyle could not be more different than Broidy's.
Broidy's home life seems to have been a model of stability. He is 60, has been married for over 25 years to a woman of about his own age, and there has been no indication he consorted with a Playboy model or any other woman before the Béchard hush agreement story broke. Trump, on the other hand, is a thrice-married serial adulterer with an established record of sleeping with Playboy models and porn stars. And how about this: Béchard and Daniels look so much alike that they could be sisters, exemplars of Playboy's wholesome but sexy girl-next-door masturbatory fantasy.
How did Broidy know to go to Cohen? And why was the $1.6 million payment over 10 times more than Daniels got?
Broidy knew "to go to" Cohen because Cohen had hot wired the deal in the first place. The $1.6 million was a reflection of the fact Trump had knocked up Béchard at the height of the presidential campaign or possibly shortly thereafter, whereas Trump's affairs with Daniels and McDougal were 12 years ago when he was a mere celebrity pussy grabber.
So how will we ever know what was really going on?
Campos believes that when FBI agents raided Cohen's office on April 7, they found documentation of what was actually a fabricated affair concocted by Cohen and Davidson to create a justification for funneling Broidy's money to Béchard while creating a paper record designed to protect Trump from further exposure.
Michael Avenatti hints that may be the case.
Avenatti, whom Daniels hired after dismissing Davidson, has given Cohen and Trump fits in his media-savvy push back against them.
"I think at some point we are going to find out, if in fact the client in connection with the [$1.6 million] settlement was, in fact, Mr. Broidy," Avenatti has said. "I'm going to leave it at that."
When contacted by Campos, he added, "There are considerable and serious questions as to this alleged settlement. Many things about it simply do not appear to add up or pass the smell test."
Finally, there is a most interesting retweet from Béchard.
While Béchard was paid big bucks to remain silent and shut down her Twitter account, she reactivated it late last month to retweet a tweet from New Yorker reporter Ronan Farrow, who had just broken the story of a Treasury Department whistleblower who leaked Cohen's financial records to Avenatti. This was because, in Farrow's words, "records of bigger, potentially more sensitive, swaths of suspicious transactions appeared to be missing from a government database."
Perhaps records that would tell the true story of who Shera Béchard's baby daddy is?