Did President Trump or someone close to him make an indirect and likely illegal contribution to his 2016 campaign to buy the silence of an “adult” film star with whom he’d had an extramarital affair.
A report today from The Wall Street Journal, a reliable Trump ally on its editorial pages, raises that possibility. The newspaper says it has uncovered a $130,000 payment arranged by Trump’s lawyer to Stephanie Clifford, a.k.a. Stormy Daniels, a porn star, just three weeks before the 2016 election.
To disguise the payment, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen funneled it through a shell corporation, which transferred the money to a trust account at Clifford/Daniels’s lawyer’s law firm, the Journal reported.
The newspaper said the transfer was part of a non-disclosure agreement between Cohen and Clifford/Daniels’s lawyer; it came at a time when the actress was telling people privately that she and Trump had a sexual encounter in 2006, shortly after the birth of Trump’s son, Barron. She had spoken extensively to a reporter for the online magazine Slate but stopped returning the journalist's calls shortly before the election and before he could verify her claims sufficiently to publish a story; she now denies an affair with Trump.
The payment came as Trump’s campaign for president was imperiled by multiple allegations of infidelity and mistreatment of women, including his caught-on-tape claim that his celebrity gave him free rein to grab women by their genitals.
If it was made to protect Trump and his campaign against disclosures from Daniels, and thus to increase his chance of winning the election, the payment may be viewed as an in-kind campaign contribution. Trump’s failure to report it could then trigger action by the Federal Election Commission, though the FEC’s notorious dysfunction makes that uncertain at best.
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: Money in Politics