WASHINGTON (AP) — A top fundraiser for President Donald Trump resigned from the Republican National Committee on Friday after it was revealed that he paid $1.6 million to a Playboy Playmate with whom he had an extramarital affair. The Playmate became pregnant and elected to have an abortion.
Elliott Broidy called RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Friday afternoon to say that he was resigning immediately.
“Elliott and I spoke today, we both had a long conversation and we both agreed that that was the right thing to do,” McDaniel said on MSNBC. “We don’t want to distract from our purpose, which is to elect Republicans.”
Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, helped negotiate the $1.6 million nondisclosure agreement between Broidy and the Playboy model last year, according to two people familiar with the agreement. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The Wall Street Journal first reported on the payout Friday.
Broidy apologized to his wife and family for the affair with the Playmate, who discovered she was pregnant and chose to get an abortion.
“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,” Broidy said in a statement provided to the AP.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders deflected questions about Cohen and the Broidy payout Friday, saying she was “not sure” if Cohen was still Trump’s personal attorney and trying to turn the focus back to critiques of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
News of the payout knit together two of the biggest stories brewing over the past few weeks. Cohen’s lawyers were in court Friday arguing that federal agents violated attorney-client privilege when they raided Cohen’s office, home and hotel room Monday. The agents were seeking evidence that Cohen paid porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playmate Karen McDougal hush money after they allegedly slept with Trump more than a decade ago. Trump’s lawyer formerly intervened in the New York case, arguing for confidentiality.
Trump has denied the women’s allegations.
The lawyer for the Playboy model involved with Broidy said his client had no statement and clarified that she isn’t McDougal.
An attorney for Cohen did not return requests for comment Friday.
Broidy was a deputy finance chairman for the RNC until Friday. Cohen is still serving as a deputy finance chairman for the party. Asked if she was considering firing Cohen from the RNC over revelations of his payouts, McDaniel told MSNBC she wanted to talk to him first before making a decision.
Broidy, meanwhile, has been embroiled in controversy stemming from his work with George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman who was confronted by agents working for Mueller in January and has since been cooperating with the Russia probe. The AP reported last month that Nader wired Broidy $2.5 million through a Canadian company to pay for a pair of Washington conferences blasting Qatar as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Broidy has blamed the government of Qatar and lobbyists working for Qatar for the hacking and leaking of his emails, but a federal judge in California wrote last week that he was unsure if Broidy could successfully sue the Middle East nation.
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.