President Trump is understandably “trump-eting" a story in The Daily Signal by former Federal Election Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky.  It’s headlined “Trump’s Ex-Lawyer Didn’t Violate Campaign Finance Laws, and Neither Did the President” and makes the case that Trump is in the clear, saying that “the Cohen guilty pleas are likely irrelevant to the fate of President Trump.”

Here’s the Readers Digest version of why the payments weren’t violations:  “FECA (the Federal Election Campaign Act) specifically says that campaign-related expenses do not include any expenditures ‘used to fulfill any commitment, obligation, or expense of a person that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s election campaign...Given Trump’s celebrity status, the potential liability to these women existed ‘irrespective of the candidate’s election campaign’...Just as important...How can Cohen or anyone else involved in these payments be charged with a ‘knowing and willful’ violation of the law by facilitating these payments when numerous campaign finance lawyers, federal election commissioners, and the Federal Election Commission itself have all publicly opined that such payments do not violate the law in the first place?  It seems pretty clear that the Federal Election Campaign Act wasn’t meant to cover what Cohen pleaded guilty to, which is why the [John] Edwards prosecution failed.”

If you’d like to get into the weeds on this, I recommend the original article in the Daily Signal.  Von Spakovsky echoes what FOX legal analyst Gregg Jarrett has been saying all along:  that Cohen was induced to plead guilty to non-crimes.  The assumption in Cohen’s case that these were crimes is not in any way binding on President Trump.  In von Spakovsky’s words, even if Trump told Cohen to make the payments, “it would be impossible for Trump to have violated campaign finance law by directing Cohen to take a perfectly legal action.”

https://www.dailysignal.com/2018/12/11/cohen-didnt-violate-campaign-finance-laws-and-neither-did-trump/

On the other hand, Judge Andrew Napolitano, offering his opinion on FOX News with Bret Beier, said it still appears campaign laws were willfully broken, noting that the “sophisticated, deceptive subterfuge” employed by Cohen to hide what he was doing shows that he didn’t just make an honest mistake.  Napolitano said the judge in the case seems to think the payments were made by Cohen to help the campaign and were not reported.  Now, I’m not a lawyer, but what Napolitano said doesn’t necessarily mean that Trump was thinking of the payments that way.  Even if Cohen says he was, I would think that Cohen, after being induced by prosecutors to implicate Trump to save his own skin, and after having been revealed as thoroughly unethical and dishonest, is not by any stretch of the imagination a trustworthy witness.  (Not sure what’s going on with Napolitano these days, but whatever it is has made him a weirdly welcome afternoon guest for Shepard Smith.)

Since making payments as part of non-disclosure agreements is not criminal (even if it happens to be taking place during a campaign), it seems to me that if Cohen was trying to hide the nature of these payments from the FEC, he was simply acting by reflex but doing something unnecessary.  It seems likely that, at least regarding these payments, the one thing Cohen is really guilty of is “acting guilty.”

I would add one other thing that absolutely puts the final nail in the coffin of Cohen’s trustworthiness as a witness:  He’s now facing a three-year sentence, with the understanding that IF HE CONTINUES TO COOPERATE, that sentence may be reduced.  So prosecutors are not through with Cohen.  Once he actually reports to prison in March and finds out what it’s like in there, it will be very much in his own interest now to “sing” --- or to “compose.”  In fact, he recently said that he’s going to tell “everything he knows” about Trump. (He showed long ago that he had no ethics when it came to attorney-client privilege.)  What could be more convenient for witch-hunters?

Eli Lake of Bloomberg Opinion, who, like me, admits that he is not a lawyer, pointed out that this process is primarily a political one, and that “this is not going to be something that you can impeach him for.”  This is not collusion with Russia, and the political case can only be made with “hard-core partisans.”  Agreed, but that doesn’t mean the hard-core partisans won’t do whatever they have to do to make it happen.  Democrats can impeach him for anything they want; it will be the political equivalent of a frivolous lawsuit.  And when the Senate gets it, they can essentially treat it just like one of those.

Tom Bevan, political analyst and executive editor of Real Clear Politics, called the campaign finance kerfluffle the same thing I do:  “a pretext for impeachment.”  Anything will do.  This is just going to be “an exercise in poltics,” he said, because the Senate, without a reason for “mass defections,” will not vote to convict.  Gosh, he sounds like me.

Napolitano observed that it’s the New York prosecutors who seem especially aggressive towards Trump.  It’s hardly surprising that they are.  Trump’s from New York himself and has a long history of doing business there.  In fact, on Wednesday, Letitia James, the new attorney general for New York State stood on the courthouse steps and proclaimed to eager reporters that her office plans to launch “sweeping investigations” into President Trump, his family and “anyone” in his circle who may have violated the law.  “We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions, and those of his family as well."  To do this, she says she’s enlisting the help of prosecutorial heavy-hitters like...Loretta Lynch.

Can you say “witch hunt”?  Trump may be prone to exaggeration, but in this case he isn’t exaggerating at all.

https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2018/12/12/new-york-ag-announces-plans-to-weaponize-office-to-target-political-opposition/#more-157686

 

 

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Comments 1-25 of 28

  • Roy White Jr

    04/19/2019 08:16 AM

    Mr. Huckabee: I am not a liberal elitist lawyer but I know hatchet job when I see one. The Democrats don't like Donald Trump because he's for the people not the execrable called elitist. This Democrats do not take responsibility for there own mistakes. For example, Hillary sent a envoy to a war zone in Libya without proper security. She put e-mails on a personal server, which was hacked and used it for personal activity during campaign. If you want more information put "Democratic mistakes" into internet browser of your choice.

  • Milagros gonzalez

    02/15/2019 11:16 AM

    When will Brennan, comey, strokz , Clinton, be srrested?

  • Beth Garrison

    01/04/2019 08:38 PM

    Since when do Attorney Generals LOOK for crimes? Sounds like she wants to be a prosecutor for a Aoecial Council that doesn’t exist.

  • Linda Sakuma

    12/20/2018 04:06 AM

    It really meant a lot to me to see my president visiting Arlington cemetery with no fanfare. I was a 6 month old baby when Pearl harbor was attacked. My father was a young soldier who got thrown into all the terror of seeing so much killing and destruction. He was in the thick of the war, and later, the Korean war. I never knew about him until I was 69, my aunt told me before she died. After much searching, even writing to senator Inouye and dr phil, my very caring cousins didnt give up until they found him. The good news is I received some pictures of him, the bad news is that he is one of those veterans we read about who had killed himself years earlier. He is buried at Arlington . I'm in poor health and likely will never get to visit his grave, so I am so thankful that president trump went for me. And I appreciate that he is the first president who has fought for our veterans so that they won't feel deserted by our country .
    And God bless all the many volunteers who accomplished the monumental task of love in putting the wreaths on so many graves. It means so much, not just for the memory of our best, but to the families who miss them.
    I'm sorry that some congressmen hate our president more than they love our country. When he was elected, I wondered what God had in mind , but He knew that Donald Trump is the only person tough enough to not give a rip about what they think. But I bet even he was surprised to see what a strong person our First Lady is!

  • Linda Sakuma

    12/20/2018 04:06 AM

    It really meant a lot to me to see my president visiting Arlington cemetery with no fanfare. I was a 6 month old baby when Pearl harbor was attacked. My father was a young soldier who got thrown into all the terror of seeing so much killing and destruction. He was in the thick of the war, and later, the Korean war. I never knew about him until I was 69, my aunt told me before she died. After much searching, even writing to senator Inouye and dr phil, my very caring cousins didnt give up until they found him. The good news is I received some pictures of him, the bad news is that he is one of those veterans we read about who had killed himself years earlier. He is buried at Arlington . I'm in poor health and likely will never get to visit his grave, so I am so thankful that president trump went for me. And I appreciate that he is the first president who has fought for our veterans so that they won't feel deserted by our country .
    And God bless all the many volunteers who accomplished the monumental task of love in putting the wreaths on so many graves. It means so much, not just for the memory of our best, but to the families who miss them.
    I'm sorry that some congressmen hate our president more than they love our country. When he was elected, I wondered what God had in mind , but He knew that Donald Trump is the only person tough enough to not give a rip about what they think. But I bet even he was surprised to see what a strong person our First Lady is!

  • rodney burke

    12/17/2018 07:46 PM

    Past time to put the witch in jail maybe in Argentina? This smelled from day one. and we know Mueller is not only incompetent, but up to his eyeballs in all this mess from WAY back!

  • Laurie Giesler

    12/17/2018 09:56 AM

    The Dems are trying to get Teump before he gets them for all of their crimes! The NY AG can’t just sweep citizens for crimes without prior evidence! We need the DOJ to get their act together and stop this lawlessness!!

  • Jerry Korba

    12/17/2018 08:41 AM

    As a member of the 70 year old club I have a few questions> Do we have enough conservatives values to beat down the idea of a socialist or Communist ideology. The struggle is great, for 30 years our Education System has been at work teaching these ideas to the then young people who now are adults with voting rights. I hear about educated suburban white women who want open borders, higher taxes, abolish the 2nd Amendment, more abortion rights, reduce law enforcement, they would want more crime for their children, more access to drugs, and possible human trafficking to go along with just being a good human being. Suburban White Women believe me you do not want that; I just want them to know that everything is not free. They are on the side of the Democratic agenda along with other groups that are not so highly educated. Everything free appeals to the highly and not so highly educated voters only time can really educate these people the proof is in the paycheck I wish the parents of these voters could teach the kids living in their basements and the young voters who are working 40 hours a week what the benefit will bring them. Just maybe if they new the difference between a high income tax, high federal tax, high FICA tax, high property tax. high sales tax and a LOWER tax is: maybe just maybe some would come to idea that keeping more of what you earn is a good thing sending money to Washington is not that solid of an investment,these highly educated and not so highly educated voters would know for real, when they cash the check only then will they know the difference. Would the media high light any of these thoughts in their daily opinions? The media will do this when hell freezes over. The media wants you under government control and your money in its pocket, voters would you like to spend your money or let the government spend it for you? If those options do not appeal to you just mail your money to me. Think about it dummies!!!!!!!!

  • William Douglas

    12/16/2018 10:00 PM

    Mueller wants to "chat" with Trump. Just like the Flynn FBI "chat".

  • Jay F Lucas

    12/16/2018 09:09 PM

    Mr. Huckabee, I think your analysis regarding the "Witch Hunt" by prosecutors is very plausible. I do not believe that President Trump is guilty of doing anything wrong, except perhaps choosing the wrong personal attorney in the first place.

  • Dr. Glenn W. Briggs

    12/16/2018 09:08 PM

    Mike, you have said a couple things on the air that I found to be more than profound, and one in particular I surprised even myself by agreeing with. First, you stated that this anti-Trump monstrosity that is being conducted by Mueller is not only a “witch hunt” - but is focusing on the wrong witch.” Amen, Brother; we all know who the “real one” is. Second, and this is the one that surprised me; you said that the action taken by the Federal Judge to rule that part of the Affordable Health Care Act - one of the greatest oxymorons in political history - is unconstitutional. I am about as anti-Obama as it gets, but I agree with you that no matter what the case may be, it is inherently dangerous to the Republic for one person to have the power to overturn an Congressional Act, even this abomination. Good for you, for despite my zeal, you brought me back to my senses.

  • Brenda Carpenter

    12/16/2018 09:02 PM

    Just want to say a big THANKS to you for giving me the words to use when addressing a liberal about what is going on in the Swamp. I confess I don’t always attribute the words to you because “some people” are adverse to your name. But , because of your insights, I am better able to (hopefully) point out the frightening truths that threaten our Republic.

  • Steve Ecklund

    12/16/2018 08:16 PM

    Has anybody brought up that President Trump didn’t not waive attorney client privilege? Anything Mr. Cohen tells them or leads to information or evidence is fruit of the poisonous tree if I understand this correctly! Plus wasn’t Cohen his attorney? If it was illegal shouldn’t Cohen have provided such an opinion to his client!! And if he had it should be on those recordings Cohen has of the conversations!!! Not a sermon just a few thoughts!

  • Mike Peckham

    12/16/2018 06:12 PM

    Mike....my understanding is that the Congress for years has a “slush” fund paid for by the taxpayers that was used to confidentially “settle” sexual harassment allegations made against members of the House and the Senate. If the Cohen payoffs were violations of campaign finance laws then why wouldn’t members of Congress be as guilty? I guess its because its all documented and reported......but not shared with the Public. In keeping it all private the adverse affects of sexual harassment allegations are prevented.....something Trump was apparently trying to accomplish but with his own money. If his acts are in fact illegal then its true that many are above the law...apparently all elected politicians.

  • Mike Peckham

    12/16/2018 06:12 PM

    Mike....my understanding is that the Congress for years has a “slush” fund paid for by the taxpayers that was used to confidentially “settle” sexual harassment allegations made against members of the House and the Senate. If the Cohen payoffs were violations of campaign finance laws then why wouldn’t members of Congress be as guilty? I guess its because its all documented and reported......but not shared with the Public. In keeping it all private the adverse affects of sexual harassment allegations are prevented.....something Trump was apparently trying to accomplish but with his own money. If his acts are in fact illegal then its true that many are above the law...apparently all elected politicians.

  • Deborah Rice

    12/16/2018 02:44 PM

    The New York prosecutors are happy to do a investigation on a sitting President. What reason can they use? All sat by and let Hillary Clinton get away with truly breaking the law. If they are itching to convict someone investigate her. Investigate the Clinton Foundation. We pray protection for our President and his family. We pray for our nation. I know you are very familiar with the book of Ester. They are building high gallows. They may be the ones found on them. Keep up the good work Mike.

  • Carol Popp

    12/16/2018 07:32 AM

    You are right. This has been an irrational witch hunt from the beginning because democrats lost an election even though they tampered with it in a big way with major voter fraud. Now they will do ANYTHING to take down Trump and they don't care if it is legal or not... Stop the witch hunt and drain the swamp now.

  • Lawrence E. Foster

    12/15/2018 08:05 PM

    Trump needs to name a new AG, get the confirmation process over quickly (let the left whine and puhl - they will regardless), and then start to end l'il Bobby Mueller's witch Hunt. And at the same time, start looking into Adam (the Lying sack of) Schiff and others connections with George Tsoros and the caravans from Central America, as well as their campaign finances. Once Schiff realizes two can play the witch hunt game, I bet he and the other democ-rat doofusses back down and get to doing their job. I hate to see Trump play that way, but it may be the only way to stop the fools whbo have misappropriated the name of the democrat party.

  • Rose-Marie Castillo-Favio

    12/15/2018 07:51 PM

    We about fell off our chair watch the Judge yacking that jargen!, I think he is swaying more and more to the left, No DisRespect to the Judge.
    There seems to be no end to all this corruption that seems to keep spilling out, but my goodness look at everyhing we are finding out!.
    Thanks to President Trump, He is stirring the Nest and the Left despises it and him and they want him out and will stop at nothing to Rid him.
    Where do we end up? I am praying for SO many things my head is spinning. We need answers to so many things and so little time before the Dems take over..
    Cohen, well he is a Mess just like Grand Standing Comey.

  • Harold Levi

    12/15/2018 06:41 PM

    President needs to fight back with something that is constitutionally based. Barrack Obama was an unconstitutional president. He was/is NOT a Natural Born Citizen. The definition known to the Founding Fathers is that to be Natural Born both of your parents MUST be citizens of the country at the time you were born. Obama does not meet this requirement and should NEVER have been president.

  • Daniel L

    12/15/2018 05:37 PM

    Hi Mike,
    President Trump, and us, represent an existential threat to all the open borders, globalist, socialists, and their anti-Constitution plans to undermine the USA. They want to subjugate us to their power and the UN.
    We must stand forever with our President, it is either us or them, and we need to win this fight for America, not just for us, but for our children, and their children. If we allow them to undermine the USA, does any other country every have a chance of becoming a free people in a Constitutional Republic? NO!
    Mike, Im also asking you to please come out in public support of the Convention of States Project. It is the only way we take the country back from a federal government bureaucracy which has vastly over-reached its Constitutional Limits. I'd like to ask you and your readers to please view the short 2 minute video at www.facebook.com/conventionofstates/ to understand quickly how Article 5 of the Constitution provides the solution to our out of control government. We must grow the grass roots base in every state. You have a strong voice and we need your support to help build this movement so we can eventually call the convention and put forth amendments the country sorely needs like term limits and a balanced budget. Then all you need do is sign the Convention of States petition to become part of the solution we desperately need.

  • Gregory Weinman

    12/15/2018 05:32 PM

    The argument made in the Daily Signal article is flawed. It makes a case in the negative regarding (b) Prohibited use. A far better argument is the first sentence of the statute, 52 U.S.C. §30114. It says "A contribution accepted by a candidate,...". That is (a) Permitted uses
    Atty Cohen paid blackmail to extortionists. He did not contribute to the campaign. The campaign did not arrange payment nor did it reimburse atty Cohen. In other words campaign funds were never used.
    Atty Cohen paid the blackmail October just before the election. January just before inauguration the WSJ broke the report. After nearly a year neither the OSC nor any other prosecutor saw fit to file charges. Now with the give-me-a-lighter-sentence plea from atty Cohen pundits and the Southern District of NY think a case exists.
    I'll bet this lives for a month or so and then fades to black.

  • Danny Meyer

    12/15/2018 05:26 PM

    What about the seventeen million I tax payer dollars paid to various folks as settlement money on behalf of our members of Congress for misbehavior. Does all that not constitute criminal activity???

  • MICHAEL LONG

    12/15/2018 04:14 PM

    WITCH HUNT, SET UP OUT TO GET TRUMP,, SANDBAG HIM,, IMPEACH ON AND ON. IT HAS BEEN YEARS AND THE TALKING HEADS ARE STILL TALKING AN TALKING AND MAKING MONEY TALKING AND CONGRESS HAS HEARING AND MORE HEARINGS DOJ AND FBI DO NOTHING HILLARY SLICK WILLIE AND ASSOCIATES HAVE NOT BEEN ARRESTED THE MEMBERS OF DOJ AND FBI WHO HAVE COMITTED CRIMES HAVE NOT BEEN ARRESTED APPARENTLY PRES TRUMP IS NOT GOING TO DO ANYTHING SO PLEASE TALKING HEADS STOP TALKING

  • Melana MacLeod

    12/15/2018 04:06 PM

    There is a very good reason for Napolitano to use the statement "welcome to my chambers" (as he stands on a sidewalk in NYC) when he give his opinion on various topics involving President Trump on TV. It's the only place he is qualified to work.....