The former chief White House ethics lawyer during the George W. Bush administration explained how it appears long-time Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen broke the law with the notorious hush money payment to a former porn star.
“The White House is pushing back against the president’s alleged relationship with a porn star and the $130,000 payment made to her,” MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi noted. “Stormy Daniels claims she can now talk about her intimate relationship with President Trump because he never signed their hush agreement.”
“The president’s lawyer also says he was not reimbursed for that $130,000 payment,” the host noted. “The White House spokesperson said she’s unaware of whether Cohen ever discussed the payment with the president and Trump’s lawyer says the president vehemently denies there was a sexual encounter with Daniels.”
Velshi introduced former White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter, currently a law professor at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and vice-chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
“Of course there is the broader ethical issue, that he’s been married three times and has apparently cheated on all three of his wives,” Painter noted. “And he takes his oath of office to uphold the constitution about as seriously as he has taken his marriage vows.”
“That is not a question that the special prosecutor or Congress is going to look into. What is legally relevant here is that this LLC that held this $130,000 should have been on his Form 278 financial disclosure form,” he explained. “If the lawyer had paid this money out of his own funds, without expectation of reimbursement, then that is a campaign contribution and that should have been disclosed to the federal election commission.”
“So either way, this was covered up, probably covered up illegally, and that itself can be a crime,” Painter concluded. “So we need to get to the bottom of this, but it shows the president should not be trusted by his wives or the American people.”