Five days after a lawyer for Donald Trump’s lawyer paid $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels allegedly in exchange for her silence about a year-long affair with Trump, the company owned by Donald Trump billed his campaign a series of transactions that added up to exactly $129,999.72 — just 28 cents short of the payment made to Daniels.
The anomaly has gone viral online and raised questions about whether Trump’ s campaign received an illegal campaign contribution related to the alleged payment to Daniels. Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, has since admitted to making the payment to Daniels, but said it came from his own money and had no connection to Donald Trump’s campaign, ABC News reported.
But there are now growing concerns that the payment to Stormy Daniels amounts to an illegal campaign contribution to Donald Trump. The nonpartisan watchdog group Common Cause made a complaint to the Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission claiming that the payment amounted to an in-kind donation to Donald Trump’s campaign, but was not reported.
And the White House this week appeared to inadvertently confirm that Trump was involved in a legal matter with Stormy Daniels, a sharp break from the denials that he was involved with the adult film star in any way. In a session with reporters, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders bragged that Trump had already won arbitration against Daniels.
As ThinkProgress noted, that statement accidentally confirmed what the White House had previously been denying.
“If Trump in fact won some sort of arbitration procedure against Daniels, that indicates there is some sort of agreement between Trump and Daniels, because if Trump was never involved with her, there’d be nothing to arbitrate,” the report noted.
Either Trump didn’t know and didn’t sign the agreement so it is invalid, or he knew and potentially violated campaign finance laws (and morals of which he has none). This one ain’t on Sanders. https://t.co/LZkVNsyPHv
— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) March 8, 2018
The unanswered questions about Trump’s involvement with the payment to Stormy Daniels has brought new attention to a series of payments from the campaign to Trump’s company just after the hush money was allegedly paid. A Twitter user pointed out that just after the date in which the $130,000 payment was allegedly made to Daniels, there was an immediate series of payments within five days that added up almost exactly to that amount.
Wait. Trump shorted his lawyer 28 cents? The guy is out there trying to make your pornstar problem go away and you can't tip the guy a quarter or two on $130,000? https://t.co/STHoxih1A9
— David Simon (@AoDespair) March 8, 2018
The finding is far from ironclad proof that Donald Trump was involved in paying off Stormy Daniels. For one, there were other payments made during that same time frame, though it was these exact five payments, all made from Trump’s campaign to his Trump-owned properties, that added up to $129,999.72. There is still no clear path of how that money may have been involved with the hush money payout, and Michael Cohen had said publicly that he paid out of his own pocket, with no reimbursement from Trump.
But the coincidence has been picked up by many of Trump’s critics, who have shared the information online and called for an answer as to how it could have added up to almost exactly the same amount that Trump has denied paying to Stormy Daniels. And questions about Trump’s involvement continue to grow as well, with a pair of Democratic congress members referring the case to the FBI to investigate whether the payment constituted an illegal campaign contribution.