The Federal Election Commission said Thursday that it passed a case investigating whether former President Donald J. Trump had violated the electoral law with a payment of $ 130,000 just before the 2016 election to become a porn actress had officially dropped his attorney at the time. Michael D. Cohen.
The payment was never reported in Mr Trump’s campaign submissions. Mr. Cohen would go on to say that Mr. Trump had instructed him Arrange payments to two women during the 2016 race, and would apologize for his involvement in a hush money scandal. Mr. Cohen was sentenced to prison for violating campaign finance laws, tax evasion and lying by Congress.
“It was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light,” said Mr. Cohen in 2018 in court about Mr. Trump.
While Mr. Cohen was in jail, Mr. Trump had no legal ramifications for the payment.
“The hush money was paid on instructions and in favor of Donald J. Trump,” Cohen said in a statement to the New York Times. “Like me, Trump should have been found guilty. How the FEC committee could decide otherwise is confusing. “
In December 2020, the FEC issued a internal report The office said it had “reason to believe” that the Trump campaign was “knowingly and willfully” violating campaign finance law.
However, the electoral commission, which was split evenly between three Republicans and three Democrat-minded commissioners, declined to attend a closed session in February. Two Republican commissioners voted to reject the case, while two Democratic commissioners voted to move forward. There was an absence and a republican rejection.
This decision was announced on Thursday.
Two of the FEC’s Democratic commissioners, Shana Broussard, the current chair, and Ellen Weintraub, declined not to pursue the case after agency staff recommended further investigation.
“To conclude that a payment made 13 days prior to election day to cover up a suddenly newsworthy 10-year story was not campaign related without even conducting an investigation is contrary to reality,” they wrote in a letter.
Republican Commissioners Trey Trainor and Sean Cooksey, who voted not to investigate, said the prosecution of the case was “not the best use of the agency’s resources”, that “the public record is already complete” and that Mr Cohen Have already done so was punished.
“We voted to reject these matters as an exercise of our prosecution discretion,” said Cooksey and Trainor wrote.
A spokesman for Mr Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Cohen case caught public attention in 2018 after the FBI searched his office, apartment and hotel room and picked up boxes of documents, cell phones and computers. Months later, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign funding violations, among other things.
He said in court that he arranged payments – including $ 130,000 to film actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford – “primarily for the purpose of influencing the election.”
The payment was well above the legal limit for individual presidential contributions, which was then $ 2,700.
Mr. Cohen went on to say he arranged a payment of $ 150,000 through American Media Inc. to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy playmate, in early 2016.
Mr Cohen later turned on Mr Trump and wrote his own book about how he acted as a businessman as the ex-president’s enforcer. The book was called “Disloyal: A Memoir”.