President Donald Trump has sent tweets this morning defending the payment to former porn actress Stormy Daniels and attacking his former lawyer Michael Cohen. The tweets may land Trump in greater trouble, as they contradict what he has already said.
“‘Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after James Comey’s testimony. No Smocking Gun…No Collusion.'” Trump tweeted, quoting a report on Fox News. “That’s because there was NO COLLUSION.”
“So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution, which it was not (but even if it was, it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama’s – but it was done correctly by a lawyer and there would not even be a fine. Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me),” the President tweeted. “Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!”
Trump is essentially admitting that he knew about the payment, which is a major campaign finance violation. Previously, Trump claimed that he did not know anything about the payment. By claiming that the payment was a private transaction, Trump is both acknowledging that he knew about it and contradicting the facts in Cohen’s sentencing memo.
Trump has changed his defense and the decision could have serious repercussions. Trump has been identified with Individual-1 who instructed Cohen to commit a crime in order to advance his path to the presidency. Trump is essentially accused of violating campaign finance laws to make his election more likely, a very serious charge.
Trump’s claim that this violation is the same as Obama’s is not correct. The Obama campaign failed to report a contribution within the 48 hour deadline and received a large fine. That was a largely clerical matter and very different from paying hush money with the direct intention of influencing an election.
Speculation is mounting about Robert Mueller’s final report and the possibility of indicting or impeaching Trump. Both are currently unlikely, but Trump’s changing story and ineffective attempts to defend his actions aren’t helping his case.