The Federal Election Commission (FEC) announced on May 6 it would not seek any campaign violation enforcement action regarding Donald Trump’s payment to Stormy Daniels AKA Stephanie Clifford made by the now-disgraced felon and former Trump-attorney Michael Cohen just days before the 2016 election. Trump paid Daniels to prevent her from disclosing an alleged 2006 sexual relationship with him. The commission’s decision cannot be appealed.
DISPOSITION: The Commission Closed the File
By law, no more than three commissioners can represent the same political party on the six-person panel, and at least four votes are required for any official FEC action.
Two Republican commissioners said they exercised their prosecutorial discretion not to advance the complaint. Their principal reason for dropping the matter was Cohen’s criminal prosecution, because the lawyer was named as a party to the complaint along with Trump.
The Democrats did not agree. Commissioners Shana Broussard and Ellen L. Weintraub wrote:
“To conclude that a payment, made 13 days before Election Day to hush up a suddenly newsworthy 10- year-old story, was not campaign-related, without so much as conducting an investigation, defies reality.”
Trump had every legal right to engage in a contract with Daniels to pay her money to keep quiet about their dalliance, depending on his motivation. If he were motivated by a desire to keep the revelation of the story from his wife, for instance, that is legally permissible. It could have been illegal if its purpose was to influence the election.
From the Desk Of …
[bookpromo align=”left”] Trump released a statement thanking the commissioners for their work and said, “It was a case built on lies from Michael Cohen, a corrupt and convicted lawyer, a lawyer in fact who was so corrupt he was sentenced to three years in jail for lying to Congress and many other things having nothing to do with me.”
Anyone can file an FEC complaint against a candidate for federal office. Per the commission’s website, “Potential violations may be brought to the Commission’s attention through the complaint process. This process enables anyone to file a sworn complaint alleging violations and explaining the basis for the allegations.”
In Trump’s case, the named complainers were Paul S. Ryan and David Brock. Ryan is in charge of litigation at Common Cause, a “nonpartisan” group allied with the Democratic Party and “dedicated to building a strong democracy & holding power accountable.” Brock, of course, is the former right-wing darling from his work at The American Spectator magazine. Gone are the days when he laid the groundwork for unmasking Bill Clinton as a sexual harasser and rapist; Brock is now often described as the left’s “attack dog.” He filed this complaint against Trump through his Democrat political action committee specializing in opposition research, American Bridge 21st Century.
Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.