Experts Suggest Trump's Payments To Cohen Could Violate Election Law

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“That money was not campaign money,” Rudy Giuliani said. “Funneled it through the law firm, and the President repaid him.”

Rudy Giuliani

UPDATE:

Rudy Giuliani’s revelation that President Donald Trump was aware of a payment made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels may have huge consequences for the commander-in-chief — including possible felony charges or even impeachment.

Giuliani (who is now Trump's legal counsel) made the revelation during a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity. Trump “did know about the general arrangement” made between his personal lawyer Michael Cohen and Daniels, Giuliani said, adding that he believed it didn’t violate campaign law because Trump “funneled it through a law firm” in order to pay Cohen back.

Trump had previously denied knowledge of the payment made by Cohen to Daniels. It appears his denial was a lie.

Despite Giuliani (and later, Trump himself) stating that the payments made to Cohen were not campaign expenditures, ethics experts were quick to weigh in that the payment by Cohen to Daniels constituted a loan to Trump, which under elections law is required to be disclosed. Trump made no such disclosure on his Federal Elections Commission financial disclosure paperwork in 2017 as he was making payments to Cohen during that time, according to Giuliani.

Responding to Giuliani's comments and Trump's tweets made on Thursday morning, former director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub pointed out that, “[i]n trying to talk his way out of a campaign finance violation, Trump has admitted to filing a false financial disclosure in 2017” by not including the Cohen loan on the document. That loan was for $35,000 per month, or about $460,000 in total, according to Giuliani’s statements.

Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California further observed that the payments to Cohen, greater than $25,000, constituted a felony if their omission was purposeful — meaning Trump could face serious consequences, including possible impeachment, for knowingly falsifying the financial disclosure document.

Common Cause, an accountability group based out of Washington, was also skeptical of Trump's statements denying the payments violated laws on the books. The organization's president, Paul Seamus Ryan, explained that the payment, while not necessarily a direct contribution to a political cause, still constituted an electoral transaction.

"This payment was to influence the election," Ryan explained.

This will not be the final chapter of the story of Trump’s relationship with the adult actress. But it’s blatantly apparent now that the controversy extends beyond the salaciousness of the alleged affair with Daniels itself, and has serious implications for Trump in a legal sense as well.

Trump lied to the American people, and he lied on a financial disclosure form. Both could end up costing him the presidency.


President Donald Trump’s new lawyer and old pal, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, appears to have made things worse for the former reality TV star.

Remember when the commander-in-chief finally broke his silence on the allegations that his longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid $130,000 in hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels who claimed she had an affair with the commander-in-chief shortly after he married his third wife and current first lady, Melania Trump.

At the time, the president claim he knew nothing about it.

“You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. You’ll have to ask Michael,” he had told the reporters aboard Air Force One.

 

Well, Giuliani pretty much contradicted his new boss during an off-the-rails interview with another Trump crony, Sean Hannity, on Fox News.

In his TV appearance since taking the job in Trump’s legal time, Giuliani attempted to deny there were any campaign funds violations by saying the president repaid Cohen for the $130,000 payment he reportedly made to Daniels.

“That money was not campaign money, sorry,” Giuliani told Hannity, inadvertently digging a deeper whole for the real estate mogul. “I'm giving you a fact now that you don't know. It's not campaign money. No campaign finance violation.”

When the host, who also reportedly happens to be one of Cohen’s three clients, asked if the money was “funneled” through “the law firm,” Giuliani replied: “Funneled it through the law firm, and the President repaid him.”

 

Just to recap the whole situation here, Cohen reportedly established a shell company to buy the adult actress’ silence about the alleged affair. He later claimed he had Daniels out of his own pocket by securing a loan and said he no one – neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump election campaign – had reimbursed him for it, playing it off as a matter that had nothing to do with the president. Then, Trump himself went on-the-record claiming he knew nothing about the alleged transaction.

Of course, this was all before Daniels – real name Stephanie Clifford – filed a lawsuit against Trump and Cohen, claiming a non-disclosure she signed was void because the commander-in-chief never signed it.

Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti soon took to Twitter to highlight what Giuliani’s statement actually meant.

 

 

Unsurprisingly, social media users also had a lot to say about Giuliani’s unexpected revelation as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, some mysteries just solve themselves, don’t they?

Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson & REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

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