Payment to Daniels Looking More Like a Campaign Expense

President's Campaign Is Covering Fees for a Lawyer Representing Trump In Fight with Stormy Daniels

President Trump’s political donors are picking up the tab for at least part of the legal fees charged by Charles Harder, a Beverly Hills lawyer whose work for Trump includes litigation growing out of his alleged sexual encounter with adult film actress Stormy Daniels, USA Today reports this morning.

The acknowledgement, contained in campaign finance report filed by the Trump campaign, could bolster Common Cause’s claim that a $130,000 “hush money” payment from another Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen, to Daniels 11 days before the 2016 election should be considered an illegal, in-kind campaign contribution. Cohen says he “facilitated” the payment with his personal funds but that it was made on Trump’s behalf.

Paul Seamus Ryan, Common Cause’s vice president for policy and litigation, told USA Today that if the campaign paid Harder for work related to Daniels, it could be considered a “concession” by Trump that president’s battle with Daniels over the payment “is a political— NOT personal expense.”

Federal law bars candidates from accepting more than $2,700 from a single donor in a campaign.

The newspaper said its review of campaign finance reports indicates the Trump campaign has paid Harder $93,000 since January, part of $834,000 in legal expenses the campaign has racked up in that period.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is seeking a court ruling that a non-disclosure agreement she signed with Cohen is void. Trump was identified in the agreement under the pseudonym  David Dennison, but never signed it.

Common Cause has filed complaints against the Trump campaign with the Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission, seeking investigations of whether the payment to Daniels/Clifford and a separate payment of $150,000 to a former Playboy Playmate, Karen McDougal, who says she had a long-running affair with Trump, should be treated as illegal campaign contributions.

A third set of Common Cause complaints seeks investigations of a payment to a bellman at Trump Tower in New York to secure his silence about a rumored affair between Trump and a housekeeper who is said to have become pregnant and borne a child.