An ethics in government organization released a scathing report on Monday morning claiming that President Donald Trump violated at least eight federal campaign-related lawsduring the 2016 election and during his time in office.
“These potential offenses highlight a concerted effort by the President and those around him to deprive the American people of information relevant to making informed election decisions, severely eroding public trust,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said, according to the organization’s press release.
BREAKING: In a new report, CREW finds that there is compelling evidence that President Trump may have personally committed up to eight criminal campaign finance and related offenses while running for president and during his first year in office https://t.co/LrSyzh9vya
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) February 25, 2019
The report from CREW bases their findings on public court filings and admissions by two of his former alleged co-conspirators. CREW accuses the president of the following:
- Making unlawful contributions to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, through coordinated payment facillitated by American Media Inc./the National Enquirer, and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen;
- Two unlawful payments made by Cohen, one to Stormy Daniels and another to help influence online polling data during the 2016 election;
- Two instances of failing to disclose the payments mentioned above to the Federal Elections Commission;
- Purposely causing his campaign to file false reports to the FEC;
- Making false statements by failing to disclose his reimbursement to Cohen for the payment to Daniels;
- And conspiracy to defraud the U.S. “by undermining the lawful function of the FEC and/or violating federal campaign finance law related to “hush money” payments, false statements, and cover-ups of reimbursement payments to Cohen made by the Trump Organization.”
Federal elections law requires any candidate for office to report expenditures that may influence the campaign they’re running in, according to previous reporting from the New York Times. Trump’s payments to McDougal and Daniels, CREW alleged, violated those campaign statutes because they were payments from Trump, whose goals were to hide information from the American public.
In short, trying to conceal information about yourself during a campaign isn’t itself an illegal action, but failing to disclose expenditures while doing so, particularly hundreds of thousands of dollars in said payments, is against the law, although Trump may try to say that he made the payments for personal reasons rather than political ones.
CREW pointed out in its press release that these charges would be serious for a sitting president to face. While some activities of this nature could warrant a simple fine for their violation, the highest penalty for some of the allegations carries with it a sentence of five years in prison for whoever is found guilty.
According to Attorneys.com, any federal crime that has a prison sentence of more than a year is generally considered a felony. Such crimes could be seen as impeachable offenses for the president, being that they would constitute the threshold of “high crimes and misdemeanors” set forth in the U.S. Constitution.