The Jury Talks Back


Trump Campaign Finance Case Starting to Look Worse for Trump

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 8:17 am

With the official cooperation of AMI (the owner of the National Enquirer) with federal prosecutors, the potential campaign finance violations case against Donald Trump is looking stronger and stronger all the time. Stronger, in fact, than the John Edwards case.

There are many details that go into that conclusion, but let’s review two. Yesterday an agreement was made public between the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and AMI. The agreement contains this passage:

In or about August 2015, David Pecker, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AMI, met with Michael Cohen, an attorney for a presidential candidate, and at least one other member of the campaign. At the meeting, Pecker offered to help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate’s relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided. Pecker agreed to keep Cohen apprised of any such negative stories.

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because the Wall Street Journal reported it on November 9 (credit to Justin Miller for catching this):

As a presidential candidate in August 2015, Donald Trump huddled with a longtime friend, media executive David Pecker, in his cluttered 26th floor Trump Tower office and made a request.

What can you do to help my campaign? he asked, according to people familiar with the meeting.

Mr. Pecker, chief executive of American Media Inc., offered to use his National Enquirer tabloid to buy the silence of women if they tried to publicize alleged sexual encounters with Mr. Trump.

Now, most of the details of that WSJ story have been corroborated by federal prosecutors in their agreement with AMI. The one key detail federal prosecutors did not yet say explicitly is who the “other member of the campaign” was. If the WSJ is correct, that member was Donald Trump.

Following the age-old wisdom of keeping your mouth shut when under the scrutiny of law enforcement, Trump took to Twitter this morning. He blames the lawyer:

The charges were indeed crimes, Trump’s whinging notwithstanding. And the above evidence (as well as the timing, as I have discussed before) shows it was done for the benefit of his campaign, rather to protect his marriage — which was John Edwards’s argument.

Now, Trump has a potential defense: I didn’t know it was illegal to secretly pay money to cover up a story about a mistress for the benefit of my campaign. His ignorance and stupidity would be a bonus here. What’s the problem with that defense? And that brings me to the second piece of evidence I want to mention. You know how they say “there’s a Trump tweet for everything”? Yeah.

Trump tweeted about the John Edwards case.

He knew making this payment was for the benefit of his campaign, and he knew it was illegal. He directed his lawyer to make the payment, and now his lawyer is going to prison for it.

Increasingly, it looks like Donald Trump belongs in prison as well.


  1. My assessment as well. I’ve always thought that the Stormy/McDougal payments were a bigger deal than “collusion” (which seems rather over-hyped by Trump as well as his foes). There certainly appears to be clear evidence of criminal wrongdoing with Trump’s knowledge, something that can’t be said of anything yet — if at all — in the Mueller investigation.

    Right now, the pushback seems to be that these violations are akin to the campaign violations that others have made (including Obama) that involved clerical errors and missed deadlines. That strikes me as bad PR as well as an unsustainable legal defense.

    Comment by Kman — 12/13/2018 @ 9:22 am

  2. Patrick, assuming Trump’s payments to Ms. Daniels and Ms. MacDougal were campaign contributions, can Trump defend himself by claiming there are no limits on donations made by the candidate himself?

    Comment by Stu707 — 12/13/2018 @ 12:17 pm

  3. Stu707 — A couple of problems there

    (1) The payments were not paid by Trump personally.

    Daniels was paid by Essential Consultants, LLC, a shell company set up by Cohen. Cohen fed the money to the shell company out of his own pocket, and (probably) billed Trump for it.

    In the case of MacDougal, AMI (the company that owns the National Enquirer) paid her. Whether Trump paid it AMI back is an open question, but either way..

    (2) Regardless of the money source for the payments, contributions and expenditures have to be reported. Even if AMI paid MacDougal out of the goodness of its heart, that still was a contribution to the campaign. And none payments to Daniels and MacDougal were reported as contributions OR expenditures.

    This is why Trump is taking the defense that they were not campaign contributions at all. Because whatever they were, the Trump campaign had to report them.

    Comment by Kman — 12/13/2018 @ 12:37 pm

  4. Thanks, Kman.

    Assuming that any reimbursement of Cohen and AMI from Trump’s personal funds do not bring Trump within the personal contribution exception, he would also face charges of failing to report the contribution.

    Comment by Stu707 — 12/13/2018 @ 1:49 pm

  5. And the Russian collusion is…. where? Sorry, but after seeing how the Hillary case was handled I don’t see Trump going to jail. And unless they can tie Trump directly to Cohen’s payments this is going to be nothing more than a giant circus without end.

    Comment by Sean — 12/13/2018 @ 4:35 pm

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