For some time, it’s been apparent that there was a rank odor surrounding the $130,000 Donald Trump’s lawyer paid porn star Stormy Daniels in order to keep Daniels quiet about an affair she’d had with Trump shortly after Trump’s wife, Melania, gave birth to their son Barron.
For one thing, according to The Wall Street Journal, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen paid Daniels via a private LLC created just weeks earlier. Watch The Journal’s Michael Rothfeld discuss this bizarre tidbit here.
These and other questions prompted Media Matters and American Bridge founder David Brock to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission about the payment. He suspects that the manner in which the payoff was structured violated campaign finance law.
In an op-ed piece for Think, the opinion vertical at NBC News, Brock argues that the payment raises a welter of questions. For instance, he wonders if Daniels knows something about Trump that we don’t know.
“We deserve to know what, exactly, Stormy Daniels was paid to keep quiet. When Trump paid her off, the American public already knew quite a bit about Trump’s alleged history of sexual assault and misconduct and his past as a sexual libertine. Would he really pay out $130,000 just to conceal an affair — or does Daniels know something that has yet to be revealed?”
Additionally, Brock believes the American people deserve to know if the Daniels saga is yet another Trumpian attempt to con the American people. Vice President Mike Pence has dismissed reports about an affair between Trump and Daniels as “baseless.” Never mind that Daniels has discussed the affair numerous times over the years, according to published reports. And never mind that the religious right apparently found the account credible enough that it felt the need to give Trump a “mulligan.”
For Brock, though, the first two considerations pale in comparison to the “serious risk to the integrity of the presidency and our country” that this payment represents. Brock fears that Trump may not have any qualms about doing anything and everything to keep his personal foibles out of the spotlight–even if he has to “sell out American interests” to do so. He also suspects that Trump may have done something to make matters even worse for him.
Brock likens this saga to the discovery that John Edwards tried to cover up his affair with Rielle Hunter. He was ultimately tried in 2012 on charges that he used $1 million donated by two megadonors to cover up the affair. The jury acquitted him on one charge and deadlocked on five others, and the government opted not to seek a new trial.
Jurors later said that while they believed Edwards was guilty, there simply wasn’t enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to prove that he knew the donations were intended for the cover-up. The trial did, however, expose him as a self-absorbed liar who cheated on a wife he knew was dying from cancer, and ended any realistic chance of him resurrecting his political career. That should be a cautionary reminder to Trump diehards who yell, “But there’s no proof he did anything illegal!” There’s a reason why the standard for fitness for office is set much higher than the bar below which you go to jail.
Brock believes that as was the case with Edwards, the American people have a right to know whether Trump “broke laws or ethical standards” to cover up his affair with Daniels. Hopefully this complaint will be the first step in getting those answers.
(featured image courtesy ASACP-RTA, available under a Creative Commons-BY license)