The Washington Post: There Are Now Multiple Legal Questions Surrounding Attempts to Hide Alleged Trump Relationships


If the Daniels payment was intended to prevent her from telling a story that would harm the campaign, we were told by the Campaign Legal Center’s Lawrence Noble, Cohen was, at best, making an illegal campaign contribution. That Cohen used assets from the Trump Organization (his email address; his office) to secure the deal was probably a violation of a prohibition against using corporate resources to make contributions to a candidate. This all hinges on whether the payment to Daniels was meant to affect the election, which, barring physical evidence or an admission, is trickier to prove than it may seem.


First, the agreement wasn’t directly with Trump but, instead, with AMI. In a phone call with The Washington Post, Noble explained that the publisher is covered under a media exemption that allows reporting and editorials to escape regulation as campaign activity.

“But the question has always existed about how far that exemption goes,” Noble said. A past ruling dealing with Reader’s Digest set a general boundary. The New York Times could write an editorial saying “Vote for Smith,” but it couldn’t buy a billboard with the same message.


“If they talked to Trump about it, or the campaign about it, and they gave her that contract for the purpose of keeping her quiet,” Noble said, “then it could very well be a campaign finance contribution. If they did it without discussing with anyone on the campaign and without any direction from the campaign, it would not be a campaign finance violation.”


“The connection to the campaign is what would make it a contribution to the campaign,” Noble said. “If it’s told or if AMI called the campaign and said, ‘Look, do you want me to do this?’ and they said, ‘Sure, go ahead and do it,’ any sort of coordination like that — or if they discussed how to do it, that would be illegal.”

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