Somewhat recently, allegations surfaced that Donald Trump had an affair with adult actress Stormy Daniels in 2006. According to reports as well as the lawyer himself, shortly before the election, Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen paid her $130,000 in hush money.
Now, while that is incredibly hypocritical coming from the de facto leader of the Republican Party, supposedly the party of “family values,” a consensual affair doesn’t seem like a big deal in the grand context of all things Trump. You have to have a (D) after your name to be impeached for moral transgressions. After all, this is a man who has admitted to sexually assaulting multiple women with his “grab them by the pussy” comments, which were immediately verified by multiple women stating that Donald Trump had assaulted them in the manner he described.
Except, it wasn’t just hush money. It was hush money paid out to benefit the Trump campaign—making it a kind of campaign donation. That type of donation is illegal. The amount itself is also illegal. And on top of that, it’s hardly likely that the donation was reported to the Federal Election Commission—also illegal.
BREAKING NEWS: I'm investigating whether Trump's $130K payment to Stormy Daniels violated the Federal Election Campaign Act. If the payments were made by The Trump Organization, then Trump criminally violated the ban on corporate support for candidates & $$ caps on contributions.
— J Whitfield Larrabee (@jwlarrabee) January 18, 2018
‘Trump’s $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, made in October of 2016, was probably a crime under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). Under FECA, corporations are flatly prohibited from making contributions of any sort, including in-kind contributions, to candidates and candidate committees. The payment to Daniels likely came from The Trump Organization, a privately held corporation, as it was reportedly arranged by Michael Cohen, a lawyer and Executive Vice President of Trump Organization. Because the payment came near the end of Trump campaign, and was made to aid the campaign by purchasing the silence of Daniels, it amounted to an in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign. According to the Federal Elections Commission, “when a person pays for services on the committee’s behalf, the payment is an in-kind contribution. An expenditure made by any person in cooperation, consultation or concert with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate’s campaign is also considered an in-kind contribution to the candidate.” By paying off Daniels for the Trump campaign, Trump, The Trump Organization and Cohen likely committed federal crimes.
‘The payoff to Daniels also likely violated FECA’s contribution limits. Under FECA, contributions to candidates and their committees are subject to the limit of $2,700 per election. $130,000 is about 48 times $2,700. The value of Cohen’s legal services, as a fixer, also undoubtedly exceeded $2,700.
‘Since the payoff was illegal and done in secret, we can safely assume that it was not reported by Trump in required public disclosures to the Federal Election Commission. Failing to the comply with the disclosure requirements under these circumstances is also a federal crime.’
This is bad news for the Trump administration, because there is now cause for an investigation into whether or not Donald Trump broke the law. If the payment exists (and all indications say that it does), investigators could probably find it. If that happens, Donald Trump is in for a world of hurt. What’s more is that there’s a hint that this is not the only woman Trump paid off. Here’s an interesting excerpt from Michael Wolff’s “Fire & Fury”:
Federal crimes and abuse of campaign finance laws is only going to add to the long list of reasons he could already be impeached, or criminally tried once out of office. Donald Trump’s lies are catching up to him.
It looks like Russia is only the beginning of his troubles.
Featured image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images