President Trump is fighting back against claims that hush money payments to his alleged mistresses before the 2016 election amounted to campaign contributions, arguing they’re a “simple private transaction.”
In October 2016, porn star Stormy Daniels received $130,000 to deny she had an affair with Trump in 2006. Trump’s legal team paid Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal $150,000 for signing a non-disclosure agreement around the same time. (Fox News)
“So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution,” Trump tweeted.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, recently admitted in a plea deal to violating federal campaign finance laws by arranging payments to Daniels and McDougal on Trump’s behalf, according to the plea. Prosecutors on Friday released a sentencing memo calling for Cohen to a “substantial term of imprisonment” for the president’s former fixer.
Trump further attacked his besieged former lawyer, saying that Cohen, and only Cohen, were liable if he made a mistake.
….which it was not (but even if it was, it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama’s – but it was done correctly by a lawyer and there would not even be a fine. Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me). Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2018
High-profile legal experts remain unimpressed with prosecutors’ charges of campaign finance violations as outlined in Cohen’s sentencing memo.
Dan Backer, a lawyer from Alexandria, Virginia, told Forbes there’s no evidence linking Trump to any impropriety.
Backer, a veteran campaign counsel, said it is common practice for high-profile individuals and companies to take part in these kinds of payment arrangements. He said Trump is a brand, he has carried out similar payments for years and these so-called “hush-buys” will likely continue.
“Brand protection is not a campaign contribution,” he told the magazine.
The Justice Department memo does not explicitly name Trump but refers to an “Individual-1,” who became president in 2017.