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Fox News held story before election on Trump relationship with adult-film star: report

Fox News did not publish a story the network had on an alleged sexual relationship between President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Guardian slams Trump over comments about assault on reporter Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Watchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US MORE and adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford during the 2016 presidential election, according to a new report.

CNN reports that Fox News reporter Diana Falzone wrote a story a month before voters went to the polls in 2016 on the alleged relationship between Trump and Clifford, whose stage name is “Stormy Daniels."

People familiar with the story told CNN that Falzone had seen emails about a settlement between Trump and Clifford and had a statement from Clifford’s manager affirming that Clifford did engage in a sexual relationship with Trump.

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But CNN reports that Fox News ultimately did not publish the story, with one person familiar with the story telling the network that Falzone "had the story and Fox killed it.”

Noah Kotch, Fox News’s digital editor-in-chief and vice president, told CNN in a statement that the network was “unable to verify all of the facts and publish a story."

"Like many other outlets, we were working to report the story of Stephanie Clifford's account in October 2016 about then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump and a possible payment by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen,” Kotch told CNN. “In doing our due diligence, we were unable to verify all of the facts and publish a story."

CNN’s report follows a Wall Street Journal report that Michael Cohen, an attorney for the Trump Organization in 2006 and now Trump’s personal lawyer, arranged for Clifford to receive $130,000 as part of a nondisclosure agreement one month before the 2016 presidential election.

Clifford had previously told sources interviewed by the newspaper that she had a consensual sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, a year after he and Melania TrumpMelania TrumpTrump submits 2017 federal income tax returns Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma — Trump officials ratchet up fight over drug pricing | McConnell says Republicans could try again on ObamaCare repeal | Dems go on offense against GOP lawsuit Melania Trump meets with families affected by opioid withdrawal in newborns MORE were married.

Cohen told the Journal in a statement that Trump “once again vehemently denies” the encounter, but did not comment on the alleged $130,000 payment.

“This is now the second time that you are raising outlandish allegations against my client,” Cohen told the newspaper. “You have attempted to perpetuate this false narrative for over a year; a narrative that has been consistently denied by all parties since at least 2011.” 

Cohen also sent the paper a statement signed by “Stormy Daniels” denying the sexual encounter with Trump and saying that the rumors are “completely false.”

Clifford sent the same statement denying a sexual relationship with Trump to CNN this week.

The White House declined to comment to the Journal about the alleged payment, but said that the allegations of the interaction between Trump and Clifford were “old, recycled reports, which were published and strongly denied prior to the election.”