Donald Trump Claims Hush Money Payments Don’t Amount To Campaign Finance Violations

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a signing ceremony for an executive order at the White House on the “National Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End Veteran Suicide” March 5, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee / Getty Images

On Thursday, Donald Trump issued a tweet claiming that the hush money payments made to two women during the 2016 campaign didn’t amount to campaign finance violations. Trump, who is under investigation for payments made to his alleged ex-mistresses, has previously denied knowing anything about the payments, but now appears to be claiming that they were on the up-and-up.

“It was not a campaign contribution, and there were no violations of the campaign finance laws by me. Fake News,” Trump wrote.

The New York Times reported this week that Trump signed checks reimbursing his lawyer Michael Cohen while he was serving as president. While the president initially claimed that he had no knowledge of the payments at all, he later changed his story after Cohen pleaded guilty, saying that the payments didn’t come from his campaign funds. He said that he never “directed Michael Cohen to break the law.”

Cohen pleaded guilty last year to breaking campaign finance laws, tax evasion, and lying to Congress, and claims that he was directed by Trump to make payments to Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress, in order to keep her from speaking out during the 2016 election. Prosecutors say that this is a violation of campaign finance laws because it could have influenced the outcome of the election.

During his testimony last week to the House Oversight Committee, Cohen produced checks signed by Trump as evidence of his claim. Trump authorized the checks, each for $35,000, in October 2017. Cohen says he was reimbursed a total of $135,000.

Trump denies the affair with Daniels and has previously claimed that Cohen is lying in order to reduce his prison sentence, though Trump didn’t address Cohen directly in his most recent tweet. While the checks themselves don’t prove any campaign finance violation took place, they could amount to an unreported and illegal campaign contribution. Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani says that the hush payments were a personal expense and had nothing to do with the campaign.

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After addressing campaign contributions, Trump switched to addressing immigration.

“We are on track to APPREHEND more than one million people coming across the Southern Border this year,” the president tweeted. “Great job by Border Patrol (and others) who are working in a Broken System. Can be fixed by Congress so easily and quickly if only the Democrats would get on board!”

The tweet comes days after Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said that the U.S. is on track to arrest over 900,000 immigrants this fiscal year.