President Trump is almost certainly never going to be caught committing the types of crimes that initially prompted the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller. That was never the goal of the investigation. It was a cover story concocted to give Mueller unimpeded access to the President and his staff.
As I’ve said on multiple occasions, the Russian collusion angle was simply an excuse to justify digging into the affairs of the President, his campaign staff, and everyone associated with them. They knew the chances of finding true collusion were slim, but they needed a reason to try to uncover potentially impeachable offenses. Now, Democrats and mainstream media think they’ve found them in the form of hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy bunny Karen McDougal.
The sentencing recommendation documents for Michael Cohen, the President’s former attorney, revealed the investigation is now focused on proving that “Individual-1” ordered the hush money be paid to cover up affairs the President had with the two women. Many experts, including Trump supporters like Chris Christy and Andrew McCarthy, believe there’s a case that can be made against President Trump for campaign finance violations.
There are two questions that must be answered. Did candidate Trump order Michael Cohen to pay hush money? If he did, was it a violation of campaign finance laws?
The answer to the first one is almost certainly yes. It’s hard to imagine Cohen acting on his own. In fact, it’s ludicrous to think that Trump, who is known for micromanaging his affairs, would not be made aware of any threats or perceived threats of these women at the height of the campaign.
The second question has a murkier answer. Arguments can be made in both directions. Was it an effort to stifle potentially damaging revelations that could hurt the campaign? Yes. Was it a personal matter, in which case paying off people for their silence is not against the law? Yes.
The timing of the payoffs may be the best argument the prosecution will be able to make to demonstrate these were campaign finance violations. Because these would be considered damaging to the campaign, one can easily make the connection that they were intended to influence the outcome of the election. On the other hand, the argument can also be made that the threats came out because of the election, but the decision to pay hush money was a personal one. This could be easily corroborated if past payments were revealed.
By showing past payoffs to women, the President can go with the story that he didn’t want to damage his marriage or business dealings. This play might hurt his reputation, but it would likely quash attempts to indict him.
This is all assuming there were past payoffs. If there weren’t, then it would be difficult for his defense to claim the two payoffs in question were not politically motivated.
It may not be the most elegant solution for the President, but if the investigation continues to build a case that he committed campaign finance violations, he may have no choice but to reveal past payoffs that show he’s immoral, but not a criminal.
If President Trump never paid hush money to women before announcing his candidacy, then he’s truly in a pickle. It’s hard to argue this was a personal issue devoid of political motivations because his past is checkered with scandals that mirror or even supersede such claims. Most damaging is the fact that he’s bragged about affairs in books he’s published.
The President’s opponents were willing to take him down regardless of the cost. That’s why they concocted the Russia collusion investigation in the first place. This whole mess stinks and will be a stain on our political system for years to come.