In the era of President Donald Trump, fake news can be difficult to parse and satire tricky to spot, because reality itself has become scarcely believable at times.
Fitting right into this scenario is a theory put together by New York Magazine that in any other time would seem far-fetched.
But this is not like any other time.
The theory involves Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy’s $1.6 million scheme to keep Playboy model Shera Bechard quiet about their illicit affair and her alleged abortion.
According to New York Magazine, it might not be Broidy who enjoyed the company of Miss October 2010 – it might have been Trump.
The facts as they’re currently told:
> According to this newly revealed NDA, Dennison agreed to pay Peterson $1.6 million, in exchange for Peterson’s promise not to reveal the affair or her claim that Dennison had impregnated her. This NDA, like the Trump-Daniels document, was negotiated by attorneys Keith Davidson, on behalf of Peterson, and Michael Cohen, on behalf of Dennison. Payments were also delivered through Essential Consultants LLC, the same LLC created by Cohen to facilitate payments in the Stormy Daniels deal.
> Whatever source revealed the existence of this NDA to the Journal also disclosed that, according to another document in Cohen’s office, the Dennison in this agreement was not Donald Trump but rather Elliott Broidy, a top Republican fundraiser, while Peterson was Shera Bechard, Playboy’s Miss November 2010. Apparently, Bechard had been Broidy’s mistress until he got her pregnant, at which point she hired Davidson, who contacted Cohen to demand the payment of hush money.
> By a stroke of good fortune, Cohen already had a sex-scandal-with-an-adult-entertainer-hush-money-NDA template in his hard drive, since he had recently drafted at least one for Donald Trump. Indeed, Cohen didn’t even bother to change the pseudonyms. (That economical use of attorney resources explained away what otherwise could have been a very awkward detail in the narrative.)
The alternate theory:
> Let me offer an alternative explanation of the affair and the payoff. It is still just a hypothesis, but, I would argue, it fits more comfortably with what we know about the various players than the reported version of events: Donald Trump, not Elliott Broidy, had an affair with Shera Bechard. Bechard hired Keith Davidson, who had negotiated both Playboy playmate Karen McDougal’s deal with the National Enquirer and Stormy Daniels’s NDA with Trump. Davidson called Cohen, and the two of them negotiated a $1.6 million payment to Bechard.
> At this point Cohen needed to find a funding source. Cohen asserts he took out a home equity loan to come up with a mere $130,000 to pay off Stormy Daniels, so it seems clear he couldn’t have fronted the $1.6 million for the Bechard deal himself. So Cohen reached out to Elliott Broidy, a very rich Republican fundraiser with several pending and highly lucrative business deals with foreign governments: deals that hinged on whether Broidy could convince the U.S. government to take various actions. By stepping up to take responsibility for the affair and to fund the seven-figure settlement, Broidy was ensuring that he could continue to peddle his influence with Trump to governments around the world.
> Which is to say, it was a cover-up concealing a bribe. Indeed, it turns out that Broidy not only has a history of bribing public officials, but of bribing them in an uncannily similar fashion to the method which I hypothesize he employed in this case.
> So, according to this hypothesis, when Cohen’s office was raided by federal prosecutors, 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 Bechard, while creating a paper record designed to protect Trump from further exposure.
This brief explanation is followed by all that lends credence to its primary contention: that each party to the agreement is more in character in the theory than they are within the currently accepted set of facts – i.e. Trump has a history of pursuing younger women, and Broidy does not; Broidy has previously bribed public officials in order to boost his business; and Trump, not Broidy, wields the social status one would expect to warrant such a large sum of hush money.