Stormy Daniels’ much-anticipated 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper has just aired, despite President Donald Trump’s many attempts to make sure it never saw the light of day.
While Daniels dropped several intimate bombshells about her affair with Trump just shortly after First Lady Melania Trump had given birth to their son Barron, that’s hardly the worst of it. One of the most puzzling and damaging parts of the interview was the revelations about the $130,000 in “hush money” that Daniels received from Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and how it’s going to screw Trump over no matter how he tries to twist the story.
During the interview, Daniels stated that the president and Cohen wanted her to sign a non-disclosure agreement to make sure the affair never got out. In return for her silence, Cohen was to pay her $130K through a Delaware-based limited liability corporation. Daniels had initially denied this payment after the Wall Street Journal published a story about the NDA 15 months later, as she’d been pressured by Trump and Cohen. Daniels said she had been threatened into lying and told, “They can make your life hell in many different ways” if she didn’t continue to cover up the affair.
Cohen has gotten himself in quite a mess by defending Trump. He may be able to deny threatening Daniels for now, but the payment he made to her is now a major issue as it is being looked at as a possible illegal campaign contribution by the Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission. Because this payment came just 11 days before the presidential election, there is a risk that Cohen violated campaign finance laws. While Cohen has tried to protect the president by saying it was not a campaign contribution but his own money that he used, not everyone sees it that way.
Trevor Potter, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, was also on 60 Minutes to weigh in, and stated that Cohen’s defense is ridiculous and guilty no matter what. Potter said:
The payment of the money just creates an enormous legal mess for I think Trump, for Cohen and anyone else who was involved in this in the campaign. It’s a $130,000 in-kind contribution by Cohen to the Trump campaign, which is about $126,500 above what he’s allowed to give. And if he does this on behalf of his client, the candidate, that is a coordinated, illegal, in-kind contribution by Cohen for the purpose of influencing the election, of benefiting the candidate by keeping this secret.”
Cooper followed up and asked, “If the president paid Michael Cohen back, is that an in-kind campaign contribution that the president should’ve then reported?”
It is. If he was then reimbursed by the president, that doesn’t remove the fact that the initial payment violated Cohen’s contribution limits. I guess it mitigates it if he’s paid back by the candidate because the candidate could have paid for it without limit.”
Even if Trump never reimbursed Cohen, Potter said he’s screwed because “he is still out on the line, having made an illegal in-kind contribution to the campaign.”
Basically, no matter how Trump and Cohen try to spin this, they are screwed — and this shady campaign activity will feed right into Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump campaign.
You can watch the 60 Minutes interview below:
Trump is probably freaking out right now as his presidency falls apart and Mueller has more clues than ever to work with. Daniels has been creating insane amounts of stress for the president for weeks, and her 60 Minutes interview has been a major source of it. Just last night, Trump was so nervous and panicky that he arranged a private meeting with Cohen, likely to discuss what they would do before Daniels’ interview aired.
The next few days are going to be very interesting.
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