Former President Donald Trump on Friday praised the Federal Election Commission for dropping a complaint alleging that he broke the law with a hush payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, accepted $130,000 just before the 2016 election after she alleged a 2006 tryst with Trump. The deal was brokered by then-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.
“I thank the Commission for their decision, ending this chapter of Fake News,” Trump said in an emailed statement.
“The Federal Election Commission in Washington, D.C., has totally dropped the phony case against me concerning payments to women relative to the 2016 Presidential Election,” Trump said.
“It was a case built on lies from Michael Cohen, a corrupt and convicted lawyer, a lawyer in fact who was so corrupt he was sentenced to three years in jail for lying to Congress and many other things having nothing to do with me.”
Trump added: “Between two sleazebag lawyers, Michael Avenatti and Michael Cohen, we were all able to witness law and justice in our Country at its lowest!”
Avenatti, Daniels’ former lawyer, was a TV fixture during Trump’s presidency and flirted with running for president. He is scheduled to be sentenced June 30 for attempting to extort Nike and he faces trial this year on charges of stealing from his clients.
Legal experts speculated that Trump may have broken the law with the 2016 hush payment, either by not disclosing it as a campaign contribution from Cohen or by allowing a contribution to exceed the legal limit.
The commission didn’t move forward with the complaint from the group Common Cause because Republican and Democratic commissioners were divided on what to do. Four out of six members must vote to advance a matter.
Trump confirmed in a series of 2018 tweets that he reimbursed Cohen for the hush payment, but called the allegation of an affair “false and extortionist.” Cohen provided copies of checks from Trump to a House committee.
A different woman, former Playmate of the Year Karen McDougal, received $150,000 for her story from the publisher of the National Enquirer, which never published her claims, inviting associated legal questions.
Cohen, once Trump’s notoriously lawyer fixer, was sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 for tax evasion and lying to Congress. After turning against Trump, he pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law by brokering the hush deal for Daniels and the “catch and kill” deal for McDougal. Trump argued Cohen pleaded guilty to a non-crime.