Bloomberg: Trump’s Best Defense in Cohen Case May Point to More Hush Money (In the News)

Bloomberg: Trump’s Best Defense in Cohen Case May Point to More Hush Money

By Bill Allison

If prosecutors want to explore criminal charges against Trump for accepting illegal campaign contributions in the payoff of two women who say they had sexual encounters with him, he may be able to fend them off by saying he has a history of making hush-money payments…

The president could argue — if true — that his associates made the same kind of payments when he wasn’t a candidate as a way to protect his image, said Larry Noble, a former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission, who has been a critic of Trump. “If they can show three or four instances over the past five years that follow the same pattern, then I think they have an argument,” Noble said…

Bradley Smith, a former Republican FEC commissioner, says the agency has adopted narrow criteria for determining if campaign funds should be used for making a payment. “The more objective approach that the FEC has adopted is, does this expense exist solely because of the election, like renting office space for the campaign or buying TV ads,” he said. But prosecutors have taken a broader view of the law in at least one case.

In 2011, John Edwards was indicted on election law charges stemming from the 2008 presidential race similar to those that Cohen faced. . . The Justice Department dropped charges in 2012 after a jury deadlocked on most of the charges.

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