Statement of Paul S. Ryan, Common Cause Vice President for Policy and Litigation
Rudy Giuliani tonight put President Trump in legal peril for “knowing and willful” violations of campaign finance law related to hush money payments to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford (a.k.a., Stormy Daniels). Giuliani, as a member of President Trump’s legal team, told Fox News tonight that President Trump repaid his lawyer Michael Cohen the $130,000 that Cohen had paid Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet just prior to the 2016 presidential general election.
Giuliani seemingly thought he was doing President Trump a favor—but instead made Trump’s legal problems much, much worse. In January, Common Cause filed complaints with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Election Commission alleging that the Trump campaign violated campaign finance law disclosure requirements by failing to disclose Cohen’s payment to Daniels as an expenditure. Americans have a right to know who’s spending money to influence their votes on Election Day. Team Trump’s failure to disclosure this payment violated this right and the law.
President Trump has repeatedly denied any knowledge of Cohen’s payment and criminal prosecution can only be brought for “knowing and willful” violations of campaign finance laws. Giuliani’s admission that Trump reimbursed Cohen amounts to an admission that Trump actually knew about the payment. In other words, Trump’s own lawyer has now handed the DOJ evidence that President Trump committed criminal violations of federal law.
Giuliani’s statement tonight also makes clear how thoroughly and unflinchingly President Trump and his team have lied to the American people about just the Stormy Daniels case. These repeated denials call into question everything the President and his staff have said about his ties to Russia and his ongoing efforts to obstruct justice by attacking Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller and former FBI Director James Comey.