By Jon Greenberg
The law says that something is personal if it’s “any commitment, obligation, or expense of a person that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s election campaign.”
By that standard, said Emory School of Law professor Michael Kang, “the circumstances and context here are suspicious,” but it’s no slam-dunk that the payment was an expenditure on behalf of the campaign.
“Cohen may have been sufficiently involved in Trump’s personal dealings, perhaps with other similar transactions in the past, that they can credibly argue the hush payment would’ve been handled in similar fashion even if Trump were not a candidate,” Kang said.
Former FEC chair Bradley Smith told us he sees evidence from Daniels that places this outside the realm of the campaign.
“Daniels herself has said that years before Trump declared for president, she was threatened about not disclosing any affair, suggesting, if she’s telling the truth, that her silence was desired long before Trump became a candidate,” Smith said…
Stephen Hoersting, a lawyer with the Gober Group, a law firm that has done high-level work for the Republican Party, said Washington officials steer clear of apportioning the reasons for an expenditure.
“The FEC does not ask, ‘Would it help a candidate to buy the silence of an old girlfriend?’ ” Hoersting said. “Rather it asks, ‘Would there be any other reason, other than the campaign, for this person to buy the silence an old girlfriend?’ The answer here is yes, there are many reasons a man like Trump would want to buy the silence of old girlfriend.”