In his guilty plea, Michael Cohen said Donald Trump ordered him to pay a couple of women during the 2016 presidential race to keep their mouths closed about their past sexual relationships with Trump. He has continuously denied having any type of inappropriate relationships with either of the women, but days before the election Cohen paid $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels. Then Playmate Karen McDougal was paid $150,000 by American Media Inc., the parent company of the tabloid National Enquirer. David Pecker, a friend of Trump’s is the chairman and CEO of American Media and publisher of National Enquirer.
Both payments can be construed as an in-kind campaign contribution well in excess of the $2,700 limit in federal law. But legal experts agreed that campaign finance violations are difficult to prove.
Prosecutors couldn’t convict Edwards, who is a two-time Democratic presidential candidate and Kendall Coffey says the unsuccessful prosecution of Edwards is relevant to the Cohen-Trump situation. “The John Edwards case was widely criticized at the time by legal analysts, and it was a humbling defeat for the Justice Department on a discredited theory,” Coffey said.
Campaign money being used for private purposes is a violation of the law. But from Cohen’s perspective, his plea deal was more about limiting his prison exposure, not on sound legal theory.