By Fredreka Schouten
If Trump knew about Cohen’s payment to Daniels but didn’t disclose it on his campaign’s filings with the Federal Election Commission, that could amount to a “knowing and willful” violation of election law and a criminal statute that prohibits making false statements to the government, said Paul Ryan, a top lawyer with Common Cause, which has sought federal investigations into the payoff…
Trevor Potter, president of the Campaign Legal Center watchdog group and a former Federal Election Commission chairman, said reports of the reimbursement might not let Cohen off the hook, either.
The lawyer still likely violated election law by “fronting” $130,000 to the Trump campaign – which would have amounted to an excessive, illegal campaign contribution at the time, Potter said…
But Bradley Smith, who also served as a Federal Election Commission chairman, said regulators have set a high standard for proving potential campaign violations, and the facts aren’t that clear-cut.
Smith, a Republican who favors fewer campaign-finance regulations, said just because an action benefits a campaign doesn’t automatically make it a campaign expense that requires documentation.
To find a violation of federal election laws, he said, the commissioners need strong evidence that keeping the Daniels’ story from voters “was the motivation” for the payment, “not a motivation.”