White House

Trump Defends Hush Money Payments as a ‘Simple Private Transaction’

President Trump speaks about the “First Step Act” in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., November 14, 2018. (Leah Millis/Reuters )

President Trump on Monday responded to allegations that hush-money payments made on his behalf by his former attorney Michael Cohen constituted an illegal campaign contribution, arguing instead that the payments were part of a “simple private transaction.”

“There was NO COLLUSION,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “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.).”

The payments, which were made to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal in exchange for their silence regarding their alleged affairs with Trump, may qualify as illegal campaign contributions, as Cohen admitted in August he made them at Trump’s direction in order to influence the campaign.

While Trump and his allies have maintained the payments were a business expense rather than an illegal campaign contribution, Trump seemed to suggest Monday that, even if the payments did violate campaign-finance law, they should be treated as civil violations in much the same way that president Obama’s campaign contribution reporting violations were not prosecuted criminally.

Following the release of sentencing memos on Friday pertaining to Cohen and Paul Manafort, a number of prominent Democrats have come forward to suggest that Trump could be impeached for directing Cohen to make the hush payments.

“They would be impeachable offenses. Whether they’re important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question,” Representative Jerry Nadler said on CNN Sunday. “Certainly, they’re impeachable offenses, because, even though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office.”

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