Trump defends hush money payments as ‘simple private transaction’
President Trump on Monday claimed his former attorney Michael Cohen’s hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal were a “simple private transaction,” not a campaign contribution.
“‘Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after James Comey’s testimony. No Smocking Gun…No Collusion.’ @FoxNews,” Trump said in a tweet that apparently referred to comments by a “Fox & Friends” host and included misspellings of “smoking.”
“That’s because there was NO COLLUSION. So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution, 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,” he continued.
“Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me). Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!”
The feds are alleging that the president ordered Cohen, Trump’s longtime lawyer and “fixer,” to make two campaign finance law violations, which are felonies, in a bid to influence the 2016 election.
Manhattan prosecutors also said in their sentencing filing that Cohen committed campaign-finance crimes “in coordination with and at the direction of Individual 1,” whose description matches Trump.
Cohen has pleaded guilty to financial crimes in a federal court in New York and to lying to Congress in a case brought by special counsel Robert Mueller.
The president tweeted shortly after federal prosecutors filed documents in Manhattan on Friday that it “totally clears the president.”
In August 2016, McDougal reached an agreement with American Media Inc. — publishers of the National Enquirer — that ensured she would not share her story about a liaison with Trump.
Two months later, Daniels received $130,000 to keep mum about a relationship she said had occurred a decade earlier.
Prosecutors argue that because Cohen was an agent of Team Trump, the payments to the two women were campaign contributions that exceeded federal limits and not unrelated expenditures.
“With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election,” according to Friday’s filing.
“Cohen coordinated his actions with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments.”
In arguing that the payments should be a civil matter, not a criminal case, Trump pointed to a civil fine paid by President Obama’s campaign in 2013.
In April 2012, the Federal Election Commission released an audit of Obama’s 2008 campaign that found that his committee did not disclose the identities of 1,312 donors responsible for almost $2 million in contributions in the final weeks of the campaign.
Under federal election law, campaigns must file special notices to the FEC of last-minute contributions of $1,000 or more that are received in the final weeks before Election Day.
Eight months after the audit, Obama’s campaign agreed to pay a $375,000 fine.
With Post Wires
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