FEC filings just revealed a scandalous Trump-Cohen money trail that has legal experts abuzz

Michael Cohen’s hurricane of legal headaches worsened today as news broke that the Trump campaign has paid $228,000 in legal expenses to the president’s longtime friend and personal attorney. ABC News reported on the story, and pointed out that the payments could possibly constitute a serious campaign finance violation depending on how the details shake out.

FEC records reveal that between 2017 and 2018 three payments were made to McDermott Will and Emery, the law firm which represents Michael Cohen and where Cohen’s own lawyer is a partner. Cohen maintains that he wasn’t an official member of the Trump campaign, which could prove problematic for him given the fact that using campaign funds for personal use is against the law.

“They’re on shaky legal ground. It sounds like they are really pushing the envelope … If the campaign were to say they are campaign-related payments, then maybe it’s okay to use campaign funds. But he can’t have it both ways,” Chief of Strategy for watchdog organization Common Cause told ABC.

The Trump campaign shelled out a total of $830,000 for legal consulting to Cohen’s firm and others in the first three months of 2018, a sum which constituted 20% of its total campaign spending and a clear sign that our game show president is buckling under the weight of his myriad legal controversies.

That said, some legal experts indicate that if it turns out the payments were instead part of services rendered for the Russia investigation they would not constitute campaign finance violations. However, if it turns out they were actually part of the Stormy Daniels scandal, it would be a very different situation. It’s still unclear what the money was for, although some sources claimed that it didn’t relate to Trump’s affair, according to ABC.

Today’s revelations stack atop an ever-increasing pile of problems for Cohen, most notably the FBI raid of his office in Trump tower three weeks ago. It’s also possible that the $130,000 in hush money that Cohen paid to Stormy Daniels to cover up her alleged affair with Trump was a campaign finance violation.

The more we learn about his behavior the more likely it seems that he will end up indicted for something, although given his long career of working with Trump and similarly criminally-minded individuals it’s still anyone’s guess which crime will bring him down.

Natalie Dickinson

Natalie is a staff writer for the Washington Press. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been freelance blogging and writing for progressive outlets ever since.