As Special Counsel Robert Mueller closes in on obstruction of justice charges against Donald Trump, we’ve seen Trump and his allies take increasingly desperate swings and misses in recent weeks, in the hope of fending off the inevitable. Now Trump’s lawyer is trying what can only be described as a desperate last ditch gambit, and it’s difficult to see how this is going to work out well for either of them.
Trump’s affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels was a crime against his wife Melania, but not part of the Trump-Russia criminal probe. However, Trump’s $130,000 payoff to keep Daniels quiet about it is a legal matter. It’s been established that Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen created a phony company in Delaware in order to keep Trump’s name off the transaction. That’s still not necessarily illegal, but the trouble is that the money appears to have come from Trump’s campaign finances, which would be a violation of federal law.
So now Cohen, in an utterly bizarre move, is claiming that he personally paid the $130,000 to Stormy Daniels out of his own pocket, and that he never had Trump reimburse him for it, according to a New York Times report (link). That’s ridiculous on its face. Why on earth would Cohen give up six figures of his own money to keep his boss’s affair quiet?
If Michael Cohen is telling the truth, it would mean that Donald Trump didn’t violate campaign finance laws with his payoff to Daniels after all. But no one is going to believe Cohen on this. Instead this is only going to prompt a deeper investigation of the money trail. If Trump funneled this money back to Cohen under the table, investigators will find it. And if Trump took that money from campaign funds, we can add even more criminal charges against him.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report