Trump says Cohen Represented Him in "Crazy Stormy Daniels Deal"
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UPDATE - April 26, 2018: President Donald Trump acknowledged on Thursday that his long-time personal attorney Michael Cohen "represents me with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal."
The president has previously claimed ignorance about a 2016 payment Cohen made to pornographic-film star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, in the run-up to the 2016 election.
But during an interview with Fox & Friends, the president admitted Cohen represented him with Daniels, and added, "From what I see, he did absolutely nothing wrong. There were no campaign funds going in."
On Wednesday, Cohen filed court papers indicating he would assert his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination regarding his involvement in the hush-money payment to Daniels.
Cohen is currently under federal criminal investigation in New York for his personal business dealings.
Countable's original story appears below.
Stormy Daniels: When is an Affair Illegal?
What’s the story?
President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen acknowledged he paid $130,000 of his own money to pornographic-film star Stormy Daniels in the run-up to the 2016 election. Daniels – whose real name is Stephanie Clifford - has claimed she had an affair with Trump in 2006.
"Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly," Cohen said in a statement to The New York Times. “The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.”
Cohen’s statement was in response to a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission by Common Cause. The non-partisan watchdog group questioned whether the payment represented an illegal in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign or if the campaign reimbursed Cohen for the expense—if so, it would violate the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA).
Regardless of the source, any money paid to the actress might have violated FECA reporting requirements:
"If Trump had paid Daniels directly, then it would likely be only a reporting violation, for the campaign failing to report such an ‘expenditure’ or ‘contribution’ on its finance disclosures to the FEC," NBC explained.
"But if Cohen paid the $130,000 out of his pocket – which is what he seems to be hoping people take from his statement – then that would mean he may have made an illegal in-kind contribution to the campaign," the Washington Post wrote.
Campaign finance irregularities involving extramarital affairs aren’t new. In 2008, presidential candidate John Edwards was indicted on six criminal charges related to campaign finance fraud for "secretly obtaining and using" contributions to conceal his mistress and their baby.
What do you think?
Did paying Stormy Daniels violate the Federal Election Campaign Act? Should the FEC investigate? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.
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