Congressman Jared Huffman

Representing the 2nd District of California

Rep. Huffman to DOJ: Investigate Trump’s “Hush Money” to “Stormy Daniels”

Feb 14, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C.- Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) today led a group of lawmakers in calling for the Department of Justice to investigate the “hush money” paid to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, better known as “Stormy Daniels,” by Donald Trump’s personal attorney in October 2016. This kickback payment was reportedly exchanged for Daniels’ silence under a nondisclosure agreement covering her private encounters with Donald Trump.

The letter urges Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to investigate these apparent violations of federal law, as well as whether this payment was part of a pattern of deliberate attempts by the Trump campaign to evade disclosure requirements of federal campaign law.

“It appears clear that the payment from Essential Consultants LLC to Ms. Clifford was made for the purpose of influencing the 2016 Presidential election. In the fall of 2016, Ms. Clifford had reportedly been in talks with ABC’s “Good Morning America” to discuss her relationship with Mr. Trump. This payment from an unknown source, made by Donald Trump’s lawyer through a private LLC, bought her silence, ensuring that she would not conduct this interview or others that could damage Donald Trump’s candidacy. Therefore, it is subject to FECA’s reporting requirements both as an expenditure coordinated by Donald Trump or his agents, and as an in-kind contribution to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc made by the Trump Organization, Donald Trump himself, or by another unknown party...” wrote the lawmakers in the letter.

“As Attorney General Sessions has recused himself from investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign, it falls to you to immediately and fully investigate this contribution and expenditure, as well as whether this payment was part of a pattern of deliberate attempts by the Trump campaign to evade the fundamental disclosure requirements of federal campaign law,” continued the members of Congress.

The admission earlier this week by Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen that he used his personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Daniels only reinforces the fact that the circumstances of this “hush money” need to be investigated by the Department of Justice. Any payment made or “facilitated by” Michael Cohen in this context would be subject to campaign finance disclosure requirements and laws.

In addition to Rep. Huffman, the letter was signed by: Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Hank Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), and Jerry McNerney (D-CA).

The full text of the letter can be found below.

 

Dear Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein:

We write to request that you exercise your authority under the Federal Election Campaign Act to immediately and fully investigate what may have been a deliberate violation in reporting requirements under 52 U.S.C. § 30104 by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. during the 2016 Presidential election period.

According to reporting by the Wall Street Journal, in October 2016, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen arranged a payment in the amount of $130,000 to the adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, known professionally as “Stormy Daniels,” in return for her agreeing to a nondisclosure agreement covering her private encounters with Donald Trump. Mr. Cohen also established a private firm, Essential Consultants LLC, to send payment to the client-trust account of a lawyer representing Ms. Clifford. Although the alleged encounters between Mr. Trump and Ms. Clifford began in July 2006, the payment from Essential Consultants LLC was not organized until October 2016, one month before the Presidential election.

The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) requires that the principal campaign committee of a candidate for the office of the President file regular and consistent reports on the total amount of all contributions and expenditures for the reporting period. The terms contributions and expenditures are both defined in statue as including “anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office.” Additionally, expenditures that are made in coordination, consultation, or at the request or suggestion of a candidate or its campaign committee must be reported by that candidate’s authorized committee.

It appears clear that the payment from Essential Consultants LLC to Ms. Clifford was made for the purpose of influencing the 2016 Presidential election. In the fall of 2016, Ms. Clifford had reportedly been in talks with ABC’s “Good Morning America” to discuss her relationship with Mr. Trump. This payment from an unknown source, made by Donald Trump’s lawyer through a private LLC, bought her silence, ensuring that she would not conduct this interview or others that could damage Donald Trump’s candidacy. Therefore, it is subject to FECA’s reporting requirements both as an expenditure coordinated by Donald Trump or his agents, and as an in-kind contribution to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc made by the Trump Organization, Donald Trump himself, or by another unknown party. Subsequent reporting has indicated that this might not have been the only undisclosed “hush money” arrangement made on behalf of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. in the final weeks of the 2016 federal election. The failure by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc to report these exchanges is in violation of FECA’s reporting requirements under 52 U.S.C. § 30104, designed to ensure that campaigns are transparent about whose money they are receiving, and how that money is spent.

Under the authorities of 28 U.S.C §§ 509, 510 and 515, the Department of Justice has the power to initiate legal proceedings in investigation of these apparent violations of federal law. As Attorney General Sessions has recused himself from investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign, it falls to you to immediately and fully investigate this contribution and expenditure, as well as whether this payment was part of a pattern of deliberate attempts by the Trump campaign to evade the fundamental disclosure requirements of federal campaign law.

Thank you for your attention to this important request.

Sincerely,

 

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