Election Watchdog Closes Trump Case on 2016 Payment to Porn Star


The Federal Election Commission deadlocked on continuing the inquiry into the payoff of an adult film star who claimed to have had a sexual relationship with Donald Trump, meaning that the former president and his campaign won’t face any penalties in the case.

Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to violating campaign finance laws among other charges in connection with a $130,000 payment he made in October 2016 to secure a nondisclosure agreement from Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels, an actress in adult films. Clifford said she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006 and was seeking to publicize her story.

Michael Cohen on July 24, 2020.

Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg

Cohen, who was later reimbursed by Trump, said in his guilty plea that the payment was made to influence the outcome of the presidential election in 2016. Several organizations, including campaign finance watch dogs and Democratic groups opposed to Trump, filed complaints to the FEC, arguing that the payment, which was not disclosed by Trump’s campaign, represented an illegal contribution – well above the $2,700 limit in force at the time for individuals – from Cohen. They also charged that the campaign should have reported the expenditure.



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