DAILY FAIL: New Trump hush money defense arrives stillborn in tabloid

DAILY FAIL: New Trump hush money defense arrives stillborn in tabloid

A top British tabloid just presented an obsolete lawyer letter as a “bombshell” in the Manhattan DA’s impending criminal case against Donald Trump. (letter embedded below)

Donald Trump faces a criminal indictment by the Manhattan DA for felony falsification of business records when he recorded hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels as legal expenses, skirting reporting requirements under the Federal Elections Campaign Act.

While most people have wondered why Trump hasn’t faced charges for the crime his former lawyer Michael Cohen pled guilty to committing at his direction, the Daily Mail tabloid editors are busy promoting an alternative reality.

“EXCLUSIVE: Is this the smoking gun?” reads the Mail‘s headline. The subhead says, “Bombshell document, exclusively obtained by DailyMail.com, could cripple prosecutors’ pursuit of criminal charges against Trump.”

Yet, this allegedly important document isn’t really new at all.

When the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) General Counsel presented a lengthy official report recommending that Donald Trump be personally charged with a civil campaign finance violation, they cited the same exact lawyer letter. Here’s how they characterized the communique:

“Cohen filed responses denying the allegations in the complaints but subsequently reversed his position and pleaded guilty to an eight-count criminal information, in which Cohen admitted, among other things, to making an excessive contribution in violation of the Act by making the Clifford payment.”

The FEC’s counsel also noted the former Trump fixer’s later sworn testimony as part of his federal court plea deal and testimony to Congress as carrying more weight.

“Prior to Cohen’s plea, the Trump Committee filed responses in these matters, denying the allegations,” wrote the FEC’s General Counsel with the ironic conclusion that “Trump has publicly denied the allegations but has not filed a response with the Commission.” (author’s emphasis)

So much for the Daily Mail’s smoking gun bombshell exclusive letter, a document so damaging that lawyers for the federal government pretty much disregarded it over two years ago.

None of that is stopping Donald Trump’s son and the MAGA base from presenting a long-known letter from Michael Cohen’s lawyer as somehow exonerating the hush-money-paying twice-impeached ex-President.

“Seems relevant!” tweeted Don Jr. in defense of his dad. “Is the key witness is [sic] lying to the Grand Jury and imploding their case?” (Tweet below)

Legal experts are NOT impressed.

When asked if, in his personal opinion, a jury would be swayed by this letter, top DC lawyer Bradley Moss answered:

“Nope, especially because Cohen has provided them with other testimony that no doubt addresses and rebuts what that lawyer wrote for him.”

The fact that the tabloid’s “bombshell” letter isn’t a personal communication by Cohen is a major point.

Any case that relies upon cooperating witnesses who pled guilty to the same crime is going to have flaws.

“If I had to prosecute a case against Trump with Michael Cohen alone, or based on Stormy Daniels alone, I wouldn’t bring that case,” said Florida lawyer Ron Filipkowski who is both a former federal prosecutor and former Republican. “But I think you’ve got enough corroboration between all the players and the money to back them up. So you’re not relying solely on their credibility.”

Filipkowski pointed out that the shifting sands of Trump’s very public statements about his hush money payoff to Stormy Daniels could prove to be a legal minefield for the man expected to make history as the first former president to get criminally indicted.

Less than three months ago, Stormy Daniels publicly skewered Trump for finally admitting to their affair as happening a “long time ago.”

In fact, Trump just recently claimed to have never had an affair with Stormy Daniels.

“Donald Trump has changed his story recently,” explained the Florida attorney. “Back in 2018, he was focused on if it was a federal crime. He thought he was in the clear with the state. His story back then was that he reimbursed Cohen with his own money. He said it on Fox News.”

It’s true!

While he was the sitting president, Trump confessed everything to Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earnhardt in an interview just outside the West Wing of the White House. (embedded below)

“Did they come out of the campaign? They didn’t come out of the campaign; they came from me,” he told Fox. “I tweeted about it.”

“There’s a tweet for everything” is an axiom of the Trump era, and it holds true during the Biden era.

“Now, his story is that he never reimbursed everything at all,” says Filipkowski. “That’s a story that seems to address the state charges. So he changed his defense now.”

“It’s kind of a trap for him.”

The ultimate irony of Trump’s present criminal liability for his 2016 hush money payment is that multiple campaign finance experts agree on one thing: If he’d followed the law, paid off Daniels with campaign money, and then reported it as required, he would not be facing criminal charges for today’s porn star hush money deal.

But Trump’s lifelong tabloid exploits convinced him that the only way to handle the situation was a furtive agreement in which he dubbed himself David Dennison to enter into a second agreement for non-disclosure with Stormy Daniels.

It wasn’t even his only tabloid-driven hush money deal that led to criminal charges. American Media Inc. pled guilty to campaign finance violations for their “catch and kill.” payment to a Playboy model in exchange for a deferred prosecution agreement.

Now, nothing Trump can say or do will change the fact that he personally paid off Stormy Daniels in a manner that skirted campaign finance laws, and his former personal lawyer already pled guilty to doing so at his direction.

We literally have the receipts!

Too bad none of this made it to the Daily Mail’s editorial staff with their “bombshell” report of a document that wouldn’t have even made news when it was new in 2018.

Watch Donald Trump confess to a felony on national television: 

Read Don Jr.’s desperate defense of his daddy here: 

Grant Stern

Editor at Large

is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also a mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, an unpaid senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition, and a Director of Sunshine Agenda Inc. a government transparency nonprofit organization.