USA Today: Trump could face more legal trouble after confirming he repaid Michael Cohen, watchdogs say (In the News)

May 4, 2018   •  By IFS Staff
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USA Today: Trump could face more legal trouble after confirming he repaid Michael Cohen, watchdogs say

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.”

IFS Staff

IFS Staff