- President Donald Trump has denied that cash from his 2016 campaign was used to pay off a porn star who says they had an affair years ago.
- In an interview on Fox News on Wednesday, Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani said Trump knew about and later reimbursed a $US130,000 payment from his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen to Stormy Daniels to ensure her silence about the alleged affair.
- One legal expert said that if Trump knew about the payment and used campaign cash to pay back Cohen, he could be “on the hook for criminal violation of campaign finance laws.”
- But others argue that if Trump or his associates paid Clifford for a reason unrelated to the election or used Trump’s own money, there may have been no laws broken.
President Donald Trump on Thursday denied that campaign cash was used to pay off a porn star who says they had an affair years ago.
In an interview on Fox News on Wednesday, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani seemed to contradict what has been said about the $US130,000 payment to the porn star, Stormy Daniels, from Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, in October 2016 to ensure her silence about the alleged affair.
Cohen has said he used his own money to pay Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. But Giuliani said Trump had been aware of the payment and later reimbursed Cohen.
In a series of tweets on Thursday, Trump argued that he had acted properly.
“Mr. Cohen, an attorney, received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA,” Trump tweeted.
Adding that NDAs were “very common” among wealthy people, Trump accused Clifford of violating the agreement and said he would seek damages from her in arbitration.
“Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll in this transaction,” Trump tweeted.
Paul Seamus Ryan, the vice president of litigation and policy for the watchdog organisation Common Cause, argued that Giuliani’s statement “puts Trump on the hook for criminal violation of campaign finance laws.”
But Jeffrey Cramer, a longtime former federal prosecutor who spent 12 years at the Justice Department, told Business Insider’s Sonam Sheth that Trump may not have broken the law.
“If Trump himself paid Cohen back, he could make the argument that he was doing it to hide the affair from Melania,” Cramer said.
He added: “That wouldn’t constitute a political contribution, and it gives Trump some cover, because the fact that he’s had affairs is hardly a revelation, and it’s certainly not criminal.”
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