Trump Hails FEC Decision to Drop Inquiry Into Stormy Daniels Payments In this Jan. 11, 2017 photo, Trey Trainor, an Austin attorney specializing in election law, poses with a Trump campaign sticker at the Akerman Law Firm in Austin, Texas. The White House announced on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2017, that President Donald Trump has appointed Trainor to the Federal Election Commission. (Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
By Theodore Bunker | Friday, 07 May 2021 12:39 PM
Former President Donald Trump on Friday hailed the Federal Election Commission for closing what he calls "the phony" investigation into payments made to an adult film star during the 2016 campaign.
"The Federal Election Commission in Washington, D.C., has totally dropped the phony case against me concerning payments to women relative to the 2016 Presidential Election," Trump said in a statement on his website.
Trump also accused his former personal attorney Michael Cohen of lying after he pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws in 2018 over a $130,000 payment made to Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, in October 2016. Cohen was later reimbursed by Trump, and said in his guilty plea that the payment was made to influence the direction of the 2016 presidential election.
Trump claimed: "It was a case built on lies from Michael Cohen, a corrupt and convicted lawyer, a lawyer in fact who was so corrupt he was sentenced to three years in jail for lying to Congress and many other things having nothing to do with me. I thank the Commission for their decision, ending this chapter of Fake News. Between two sleazebag lawyers, Michael Avenatti and Michael Cohen, we were all able to witness law and justice in our Country at its lowest!?"
Two of the Republicans on the FEC, Sean Cooksey and Trey Trainor, voted against allowing additional investigations of Trump and his campaign committee, noting the five-year statute of limitations and a backlog of other cases. The Democrats on the commission, Ellen Weintraub and Shana Broussard, who is also the chair of the FEC, voted to continue investigating. One Republican and one independent did not vote on the matter.
Cooksey and Trainor wrote in a statement: "We concluded that pursuing these matters further was not the best use of agency resources. The Commission regularly dismisses matters where other government agencies have already adequately enforced and vindicated the Commission’s interests. Furthermore, by the time OGC’s recommendations came before us, the Commission was facing an extensive enforcement docket backlog resulting from a prolonged lack of a quorum, and these matters were already statute-of-limitations imperiled."
"There is ample evidence in the record to support the finding that Trump and the committee knew of, and nonetheless accepted, the illegal contributions at issue here," Broussard and Weintraub wrote on Thursday.
An agency filing shows that the FEC’s general counsel, following a preliminary review of the case, recommended that there be an inquiry "to determine the extent to which Trump coordinated with, or otherwise directed, Cohen to make the Clifford payment to help his presidential campaign."
Paul S. Ryan, Common Cause’s vice president for policy and litigation, said in a statement that "Continued pursuit of the matter required at least four votes. Republican Commissioners Cooksey and Trainor overrode the career attorneys and Democratic commissioners and killed the investigation."