While Donald Trump continues to deny he had a relationship with Stormy Daniels, there is growing evidence that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is looking into a $130,000 payment made by the president’s attorney to the porn star just before the 2016 election to keep her quiet to see how it connects to the Trump campaign.
If Mueller can prove it was an illegal campaign contribution, as the group Common Cause is claiming in a lawsuit, that could give the Special Counsel grounds for legal charges that would provide leverage to go after Trump and his lawyer on many other issues.
The link to Mueller, according to the Wall Street Journal, which has broken a series of stories about the president and the porn star, may explain why a bank reported the payment to the U.S. Treasury Department as suspicious a year after it took place.
Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen made the payment to Daniel’s lawyer on Oct. 27, 2016, out of is own pocket after attempts to contact Trump about it was unsuccessful.
Cohen said when the payment first came to light that the money was not reimbursed by the Trump campaign or The Trump Organization, but he would not say that it was not repaid by Trump himself.
The latest reports say Cohen was unhappy the president did not reimburse him promptly which is being taken as a link to Trump being behind the whole affair.
Cohen created a corporate shell called Essential Consultants LLC as a vehicle for the payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.
It was 12 days before the 2016 presidential election that Cohen finally wired the money to an attorney for Daniels from an account at First Republic Bank. The bank reported it as suspicious, although it is unclear when that happened.
The money was received at the City National Bank in Los Angeles in an account for Daniel’s lawyer, Keith Davidson.
“City National Bank launches an internal inquiry of its own about the payment a year after Mr. Davidson received the funds in his client-trust account there,” the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.
“City National sought information about the source of the funds, it was first reported by The Washington Post.
“The one-year lag between payment by Mr. Cohen and the bank inquiry is unusual,” reported the Wall St. Journal. “It suggests the City National received new information that prompted it to take a fresh look at the transaction, said Charles Intriago, a former federal prosecutor, and money laundering expert.”
“That could include a subpoena for the client’s records or a visit by a regulator,” Intriago, told the Wall St. Journal, which notes that could have been from Mueller.
Mueller has sought information about Cohen before, including a proposal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow in 2015 or early 2016.
Common Cause complained about the payments to Daniels to the Justice Department and Federal Election Commission (FEC) arguing that the $130,000 payment violated federal campaign finance laws as “an unreported in-kind donation to Trump’s campaign, reported USA Today on January 23.
The campaign contribution limit is $2,700 for the general election.
Common Cause has also written to the House and Senate Judiciary committees asking them to look into the matter as well.
Whether Mueller is looking to indict Cohen or even Trump on campaign finance violations – and then use that to go after them for bigger crimes – or if he is looking for ways to link Cohen to questionable dealings with Russia, the porn star connection continues to hang over the president’s head no matter how many times he denies even knowing Daniels.
While Trump is surrounded by chaos, Mueller is methodical and careful in how he handles each move forward, and this part of his case is still developing, which should be keeping Trump and his lawyers on edge for many weeks to come.
The post Special Prosecutor Mueller just opened an investigation into Trump’s payments to porn star mistress appeared first on Washington Press.