The nation heard this week accusations that Donald Trump was personally involved in the decision to offer two women money shortly before the 2016 election to keep them from sharing stories of alleged affairs. Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, admitted under oath to having been instructed by Trump to work with David Pecker, chairman and chief executive of American Media Inc., to arrange a payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal. He also admitted to having been instructed by Trump to pay off adult-film actress Stormy Daniels. Both payments involved felony violations of campaign finance law.
That revelation is remarkable in its own right. But it is also worth remembering it becomes the third allegation of an effort to surreptitiously aid Trump’s 2016 campaign that violated the law.
The hush money. According to the government’s delineation of how the campaign finance violations occurred (an account Cohen attested was accurate and has been bolstered by reports that Pecker is cooperating with authorities), AMI and Pecker’s commitment to aid Trump in burying unfavorable stories began in August 2015. The first occasion on which that effort was realized (and is publicly known) was the payment to McDougal, which was made in early August 2016. The payment was made with a commitment by Cohen to repay the money, the subject of the recorded conversation between Trump and Cohen that was released last month. In early October, Pecker called that deal off. [Continue reading…]