A lawyer who once represented Stephanie Clifford, better known by her adult film alias name of Stormy Daniels, said that a hush money payment to his former client absolutely constituted a political payment — a revelation which, if true, could land President Donald Trump in deep legal troubles.
The payment came in the waning weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign, MSN previously reported. A representative of Daniels had reached out to the National Enquirer, whose parent company is American Media Inc., with the story of how Daniels had once had an affair with Trump nearly a decade earlier. Daniels was reportedly paid $130,000 to stay silent about the story, a payment that was facilitated by AMI through the help of Trump’s former fixer-lawyer Michael Cohen.
Cohen last year pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme, which he said in court filings was done to benefit Trump’s presidential campaign, one that his client had directed him to do, per reporting from Politico. Trump, meanwhile, has maintained that the payment was not related to his election strategy.
But according to the Washington Post, former Daniels lawyer Keith Davidson said the payment absolutely was a campaign-related disbursement.
Keith Davidson, the ex-lawyer of Stormy Daniels, says the hush money payments were "for political reasons" and that the Access Hollywood tape motivated Trump to speed up payments, so another embarrassing story wouldn't come out before the election.https://t.co/JmY6x3FVvw
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 11, 2019
Davidson noted the timing of his client approaching AMI with the story. Representatives for Daniels alerted them to her story of an affair with Trump the day after the notorious “Access Hollywood” tape was released, which itself revealed Trump admitting in audio from 2005 to sexually molesting women and getting away with it due to his celebrity status.
“The Access Hollywood tape was the motivating factor in this case actually resolving,” Davidson explained, per reporting from the Washington Post.
“It defeats the argument that this was done for purely personal reasons, and that this was in fact done for political reasons,” Davidson added. “Because after the Access Hollywood tape that something like this could be the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
The distinction between a personal payment — one that may have been done simply to hide the fact he had an affair from the public or from his family — and a political payment is important. If Trump told his lawyer to make this payment happen in order to benefit his campaign, such spending would have to be reported to the FEC.
Failure to report such spending can have dire consequences for everyone involved, including punishment of up to five years in prison, rendering it a felony crime. If evidence surfaced that proves Trump did make the payments for political purposes, it could, for example, have the potential to become a justification for impeaching him in the future.