Donald Trump Could’ve Paid Off Stormy Daniels Legally If Michael Cohen Were a Better Lawyer

The Intercept

Trump is angry at Michael Cohen, of course, because Cohen just pleaded guilty to (among other things) making an illegal contribution to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign by paying hush money to Stormy Daniels just before the election. Moreover, Cohen told the judge in the case that he did so “in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump. Cohen’s actions were illegal because individuals may only contribute a limited amount of money or in-kind services to political campaigns. During the 2016 election, the maximum was $5,400. Cohen fraudulently obtained a home equity loan and then wired $130,000 of it to the lawyer representing Daniels on October 27, 2016.

What Trump certainly doesn’t understand, and what makes his tweet extra-wonderful, is that the problem with Cohen isn’t just that he (in Trump’s mind) betrayed Trump. It’s that Cohen is genuinely a terrible lawyer. If Trump had gotten good legal advice from Cohen and taken the route made possible by Buckley, the only remaining issue would be how to disclose the payoff on his FEC disclosure form. Brendan Fischer of the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington nonprofit which advocates for campaign finance reform, suggests the campaign could have called it “‘purchase of legal rights’ … or maybe they even could have gotten away with calling it ‘legal expenses.’

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