‘Simple Private Transaction’: Trump Claims Cohen Payment NOT Illegal, Then Throws Him Under The Bus…

On Monday, President Trump said the payment made by his former attorney Michael Cohen to former porn actress Stormy Daniels was a “simple private transaction,” not a violation of campaign finance law.

In a pair of tweets, Trump said Democrats are wrong to call the payment was a “campaign contribution” and compared his current situation to that of former President Obama. During Obama’s candidacy, he was fined $375,000 by the Federal Election Commission for violating campaign finance law. This is “one of the largest fees ever levied against a presidential campaign,” Politico reported in 2013.

“There was NO COLLUSION,” Trump tweeted. “So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution, which it was not (but even if it was, it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama’s – but it was done correctly by a lawyer and there would not even be a fine. Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me).”

If Special Counsel Robert Mueller can prove Cohen made the payment knowingly and willfully in violation of campaign finance law, then it would be a felony. The prosecution would then have to assess whether Trump similarly acted against the law, directly instructing Cohen to violate it.

Here’s more, from Politico:

Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, pleaded guilty in August to paying off women, including an adult film actress and a Playboy model, who alleged affairs with Trump in return for silence, testifying that he did so at Trump’s behest in an attempt to influence the campaign. Trump and his allies have argued that the payments should have been considered a business expense rather than a campaign contribution. But even if the payments were ruled to be an illegal campaign contribution, many legal experts have said Trump would not necessarily share equally in Cohen’s guilt.

Even as Trump claimed the payments have been misconstrued, on Monday he sought to equate Cohen’s charges with campaign finance violations by former President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign that included missing filing deadlines for certain contributions and that resulted in a massive fine.

Cohen’s payments were by the book, the president argued, but if they were not, it’s the “lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me.”

“Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced,” Trump added in the pair of tweets. “WITCH HUNT!”

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As Reuters reports, Cohen is set “to be sentenced next week for campaign finance violations, financial crimes and lying to Congress about Trump’s business dealings in Russia.”

Prosecuting attorneys for the special counsel are pushing for a lengthy prison sentence.

Over the weekend, Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani swiped Cohen in a tweet on Saturday, where he said prosecutors are looking for the substantial sentence “because as we have said he’s still lying.”

“Fake News coverage can’t change the reality that Mueller’s late Friday dump demonstrates yet again no evidence connected to President,” Giuliani tweeted on Saturday. “It also indicates SDNY is asking that Cohen receive a 4 year prison sentence, longest so far, because as we have said he’s still lying.”

“The President is not implicated in campaign finance violations because based on Edwards case and others the payments are not campaign contributions,” the former New York City Mayor added. “No responsible prosecutor would premise a criminal case on a questionable interpretation of the law.”

“No collusion, no obstruction now campaign finance but payments to settle lawsuits are not clearly a proper campaign contribution or expenditure,” Giuliani continued on Sunday. “No responsible lawyer would charge a debatable campaign finance violation as a crime…well maybe those suffering from TDD [Trump Derangement Disease].”