Rain Coming Down on Donald Trump for Stormy Daniels Affair: Adult entertainment star Stormy Daniels is back in the news for the hush money payout that former President Donald Trump gave to her. The $130,000 payment Stormy Daniels received was not for her keeping quiet to protect Trump in the 2016 election, but it was instead about hushing up the affair to keep his wife, Melania, in the dark. At least, that might be the defense that Trump’s legal team wants him to pursue.
Here We Go Again
Trump has so far resisted that gambit, likely because it reminds his wife that he was unfaithful. Meanwhile, the Manhattan’s District Attorney’s office is prepping a case against Trump. District Attorney Alvin Bragg may be pursuing a felony charge against Trump for covering up an illegal campaign contribution with the aid of his fixer – Michael Cohen.
He Was Trying to Keep His Wife in the Dark
One way Trump could fight this allegation is for him to cast his entire conduct based on his efforts to save his marriage and bury the extramarital affair with Daniels from his wife’s discovery. This defense, Trump’s lawyers believe, could remove any criminal wrongdoing.
Donald Trump Would Finally Have to Admit the Affair
The legal strategy would put Trump in a bind, though. For years, Trump has denied the affair ever took place. Would he now be willing to admit it to avoid what could be a felony charge against him? After all, Melania was pregnant at the time when the alleged liaison took place in 2006.
Is a Grand Jury Being Impaneled?
Bragg is said to be putting together a grand jury to examine the evidence in the case. They would then hear testimony from Trump campaign workers, Trump organization employees, and some writers from the tabloid National Enquirer.
Fixer Michael Cohen Paid Daniels
Michael Cohen, playing the bag man for Donald Trump, delivered the payment to Daniels in October 2016. The idea was to keep Daniels from talking that would damage Trump’s election chances. Alternatively, Cohen wrote in his book that Trump did not want the affair to become public to keep Melania from finding out. Cohen believed that it was all an effort to avoid a divorce.
Campaign Finance Laws Broken
Originally news of the payment did come out in the Wall Street Journal in 2018. Cohen later pleaded guilty to paying the hush money as an illegal payment that violated campaign finance laws. There was an initial effort to investigate Donald Trump, but that federal case was stopped in 2019. Cohen had been creative with the payment by setting up a shell company to hide Trump’s “finger prints” and his involvement in the matter. After Trump was elected, he paid back Cohen.
This Was Because Donald Trump Was in Election Mode
The Cohen and Trump conspiracy could be seen as an effort to win an election. The silence of Daniels would stymie bad press coverage that would give Trump a political headache and encourage a string of negative ads against him. So that’s how illegal campaign finance accusations were made against Trump and Cohen.
Why Is This Brouhaha In the News Again?
The question now is – why has this affair come into play again in 2023?
It is not clear what the Manhattan district attorney is pursuing now. One reason could be that Bragg was criticized for not being zealous enough in pursuit of other Trump wrongdoing. So, the prosecutor wants to leave no stone unturned regarding the Daniel’s hush money case. He may be in possession of other incriminating evidence against Trump for additional campaign finance charges and a cover up.
The affair is coming back to haunt Donald Trump. It is embarrassing but it does not rise to the seriousness of other legal woes such as allegedly over-turning the 2020 election results in Georgia or for the investigation in to his actions leading up to the January 6 insurrection in 2021. Trump is likely to ride out the Stormy Daniels case and his immediate danger may be the ire of his wife and damage to his marriage.
Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.