Trump Attorney Appears to Have Made Illegal Contribution to Trump Campaign With Hush Money Payment to Stormy Daniels

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  • David Vance
Statement of Paul S. Ryan, Common Cause Vice President for Litigation and Policy

The admission by Donald Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen that he made the $130,000 payment of apparent hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election does not make the Trump campaign’s legal problems go away despite Cohen’s assertions.

As Trump’s personal attorney, Cohen was an agent of then-candidate Trump. The timing and circumstances of the $130,000 payment to Daniels make it appear that the hush money was paid to Daniels in an effort to influence the election. Any payment by a person such as Cohen on behalf of or in consultation with a candidate to influence an election is an in-kind “contribution” to the candidate under campaign finance law subject to a $2,700 limit and disclosure requirements.

At the very least this latest admission by Cohen and the circumstances behind it requires a full investigation by the FEC and the Department of Justice as we requested last month. Cohen has now admitted to being the “John Doe” named in our complaints who paid off Daniels, apparently to buy her silence, at a time when she was reportedly negotiating with major media outlets to discuss the potentially damaging details of a relationship she carried on with Trump. Questions about the payment and the circumstances behind it must be answered, and they must be answered under oath.

To read Common Cause’s original DOJ and FEC complaints related to this payment, click here and here