The Washington Post: Opinion - Trump’s lawyer just made the Stormy Daniels affair much more interesting



Cohen issued a statement implying that the $130,000 was his own money. Here’s the key part: "In a private transaction in 2016, I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms. Stephanie Clifford. Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly. The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone."


“Reading between the lines,” Noti said, Cohen’s statement “strongly suggests that he fronted the money for the payment and was reimbursed by some entity or person that was not the Trump Organization or the Trump campaign.” But here’s where it gets interesting. If Cohen made the payment and Trump reimbursed him, they might have had to report that payment, like all payments candidates make to their campaigns. Trump might try to claim that it had nothing to do with the campaign and was a private matter, but that might not pass the smell test, given that it happened just weeks before the election.


“Every single campaign finance lawyer I’ve talked to about this today,” said Noti, “we are all scratching our heads as to why he would put out this statement at all, for exactly that reason. It seems to create exposure, completely gratuitously." But you shouldn’t anticipate Cohen going to jail, at least not for this. “The FEC’s enforcement activity for the last eight to 10 years has been weak to nonexistent,” Noti says. Among other things, the commission needs four out of six commissioners to authorize action, and right now they only have four commissioners. While the Justice Department could pursue a criminal case, that isn’t all that likely.

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