This affidavit could prove Trump knew full well that his election-year hush payments to women were a crime
By now, it is well established that President Donald Trump's election-year hush payments to porn star Stormy Daniels through his former attorney Michael Cohen, and to former Playboy model Karen MacDougal through David Pecker of the National Enquirer, constituted serious campaign finance crimes. Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court. And the evidence is that Trump himself directed the payments, which would open him up to legal liability himself.
There is no current indication that federal prosecutors plan to charge President Donald Trump for his role in the scheme. But some of his allies seem to want to head off the mere possibility he could be. And one of their main arguments is that Trump lacked intent because he was ignorant of how campaign finance works. "Honestly, I don't think his knowledge goes that deep because mine didn't until I researched it," said Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani in an interview on Wednesday.
But as it turns out, 18 years ago, faced with another investigation for campaign finance violations, Trump submitted an affidavit to federal officials which showed an extensive working knowledge of election law.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
In 2000, the Federal Election Commission investigated allegations that Trump Hotels & Casinos violated the law related to a fundraising event for a Senate candidate. Mr. Trump’s sworn affidavit "indicates that Trump had a very thorough understanding of federal campaign finance law, especially regarding what he could and could not legally do when raising money for a federal candidate," said Brett Kappel, an election-law lawyer at Akerman LLP.
In the four-page affidavit that Mr. Trump signed, he stressed he had a particular familiarity with laws governing corporate contributions to candidates. Mr. Trump said he was acting in his "individual," not corporate, capacity when he hosted the event; that he had paid for the reception costs "from my personal funds"; that he "took no action, of any nature, kind or description, to compel or pressure" any employee to donate to the campaign ahead of the event; and that he wasn't reimbursed for any of the costs.
This matters, because if prosecutors do decide to charge Trump, establishing his knowledge of the campaign finance system would be an easy way of proving that he "willfully" flouted the law. University of California, Irvine law professor Rick Hasen said that a document showing "his sophistication in matters of campaign finance would be valuable and probative evidence" in such a case.
Trump has vehemently denied there was anything illegal about buying off women he slept with to prevent politically damaging stories from reaching the press in an election year, describing it as "a simple private transaction."