Statement of Common Cause V.P. for Policy & Litigation Paul S. Ryan
The evidence released today by the Department of Justice (DOJ) by order of a judge strongly suggests that Donald Trump violated campaign finance laws in the closing weeks of his presidential run in 2016. Previously we had only Michael Cohen’s word that Trump had committed felony campaign finance violations through his direct involvement in hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, but now we have extensive evidence from the DOJ to back it up. We also learned for the first time that 2016 Trump campaign press secretary Hope Hicks was also aware and involved in $130,000 payment to Daniels to keep her from revealing an affair she allegedly had with the Trump—implicating her in campaign finance crimes.
What we did not learn was why DOJ closed the case without leveling charges against Trump, Hicks or other individuals involved. DOJ offered no explanation whatsoever, but we must assume that the Department was following its policy of not charging a sitting president with a crime. Americans deserve an explanation from the DOJ regarding its decision to close the case despite damning evidence of crimes committed by President Trump.
It is important to note that the statute of limitations will not have expired by the time President Trump’s first term ends in January 2021. We certainly hope that DOJ will level criminal charges against Trump based on the evidence if he is no longer in office.
The information released today is only the tip of the iceberg though as it is confined to the evidence presented to obtain search warrants for Michael Cohen’s home and offices. We have yet to learn what additional evidence was obtained in the execution of those warrants beyond what came to light in Cohen’s plea deal. We hope that information will ultimately be released as well and that charges will be leveled if other violations were uncovered.