Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, admitted Tuesday night that he made a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels weeks before the election. In a statement, Cohen claimed he used his “personal funds” to “facilitate” the payment and was not reimbursed by the Trump campaign or the Trump Organization. Cohen refused to say if he was reimbursed by Trump personally or answer any other questions about the payment.
Written statement last night by Pres Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen about 2016 payment to porn actress “Stormy Daniels.” pic.twitter.com/yvQwP0GezI
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) February 14, 2018
Prior to the payment, Daniels was reportedly negotiating with several media outlets to go public with her story about an affair with Trump. She gave a detailed account of the affair to In Touch in 2011, which published a transcript of the interview in January of this year.
Cohen’s statement came after the advocacy group Common Cause filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, asking for an investigation into whether the payment to Daniels violated election law. The payment would be illegal if its purpose was to benefit the campaign. Cohen’s statement that he would “always protect Mr. Trump” seemed to bolster that theory.
Our full statement on the need for the @FEC & @TheJusticeDept to investigate after @realDonaldTrump‘s attorney Michael Cohen admitted he paid $130,000 in hush money to #StormyDaniels before the 2016 election following our legal complaint:https://t.co/U2CrhNgCwg pic.twitter.com/9W8ae4MVKo
— Common Cause (@CommonCause) February 14, 2018
The New York Times, which broke the news of Cohen’s admission, apparently doesn’t consider this big news. The story did not make the front page of the paper on Wednesday, crowded out by a story about the eating habits of figure skaters and the rediscovery of a lost strain of rice.
The Wall Street Journal, which first broke the news of the $130,000 payment to Daniels, included a short blurb on the front page but published the story on Cohen’s admission on A4. The Wall Street Journal did find space on its front page for a story on people who give poultry as a Valentine’s Day gift.
USA Today’s front page includes news about the Falcon Heavy rocket and John Oliver’s return to TV, but nothing on Cohen or Stormy Daniels.
The Washington Post published a story on Cohen’s admission but it was apparently too late to make the printed paper.
Even if the money originated from Trump himself, Cohen’s admission could be describing a serious legal violation. Although candidates are allowed to make unlimited contributions to their own campaign, they are not permitted to funnel money off the books to benefit their campaign and then not report it.
Former senator and presidential candidate John Edwards was prosecuted in federal court for allegedly misusing campaign funds to cover up an affair. The case included allegations that a third party wrote a $200,000 check that was used to cover up his affair with Rielle Hunter. His case ended in a mistrial when the jury was unable to agree on a verdict on five of the six charges.
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Author: Judd Legum