New evidence emerged Thursday related to the campaign finance crime that helped put former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen in prison. A judge unsealed court documents in the case, indicating that the investigation has concluded and revealing extensive communications between Cohen, then-candidate Donald Trump, and campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks.
According to House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, the new materials show that were Trump not the president, “he would be criminally charged as Cohen’s co-conspirator.”
“The documents unsealed in the SDNY case against Michael Cohen demonstrate that Donald Trump was intimately involved in devising and executing a corrupt scheme to prevent his affair with Stormy Daniels from being revealed in the final weeks of the 2016 election,” Schiff said. “They show that contrary to his public statements for months afterwards seeking to distance himself from the payments that were made to Daniels, and another woman, Karen McDougal, he authorized the illegal payment of hush money, and coordinated doing so with his attorney, Cohen, and his Press Secretary, Hope Hicks.”
He added: “The inescapable conclusion from all of the public materials available now is that there was ample evidence to charge Donald Trump with the same criminal election law violations for which Michael Cohen pled guilty and is now serving time in prison.”
Schiff noted that Attorney General Bill Barr’s ties to the investigation conducted out of the Southern District of New York should be scrutinized. Barr, Schiff pointed out, has already testified publicly that he believes it is acceptable for the president to shut down an investigation of himself if he thinks it’s “unfair.”
“Barr has demonstrated there are no lengths to which he will not go to protect the President, and I believe it is of paramount importance to determine if he had any involvement in the SDNY’s investigation or sought to bring it to a close,” Schiff said.
Trump has denied having affairs with McDougal and Daniels. He also denied knowing about the hush money, but the evidence strongly suggests — and Cohen has testified — that that is false.
Cohen is serving three years in prison in part for his participation in the hush money payments. Because the payments were intended to help Trump’s chances in the election and were therefore campaign contributions, campaign finance law requires that they should have been formally reported. Instead, Cohen has admitted, they were illegally concealed.