Donald Trump immediately asked for a silent payment to a Playboy model claiming to have an affair and then thanked the National Enquirer's boss for paying her federal prosecutors, which was reported on Friday.
The Wall Street Journal said that prosecutors had evidence that Trump had intervened directly to alleged sexual encounters several times & # 39; to suppress.
Trump asked David Pecker, the CEO of the National Enquirer parent company AMI, how he could help his campaign in August 2015, and Pecker told him that he could buy the silence of women claiming sexual encounters with the then candidate.
The prosecutors with the evidence come from the southern district of New York, acting separately from Robert Mueller's special advisory investigation.
The Friday report casts doubts on two years of denial by Trump and his legal team that he knew of hush money payments to Playboy model Karen McDougal and porn star Stormy Daniels.
It says that Trump directed the deals during meetings and phone calls with Michael Cohen, his old lawyer and repairman.
Among the payments made by AMI were $ 150,000 to McDougal. The payment was made by a direct request from Trump to Pecker.
The now-president later thanked Pecker, the newspaper reported. It quoted interviews with more than 30 people, as well as legal and company documents.
Long time friends: Donald Trump and David Pecker have a long relationship. They were shown together in 2004 when Trump Pecker presented with a leading alumnus prize from Pace University in New York, who graduated from the AMI publisher in 1972.
The magazine reported that Trump was involved in the hush payments at almost every step of the agreements & # 39; and & # 39; directed deals & # 39;
It said evidence has been collected by federal prosecutors in the southern district of New York – the same district that has secured Cohen's guilty plea for which he can expect to send time in prison.
The public prosecutor filed an 80-page charge against Cohen in August stating the role of Trump and he was described as a "& # 39; campaign member & # 39 ;.
When Cohen agreed to a deal with a shorter load document of 22 pages, it said that the lawyer was coordinated with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, the nature and timing of payments. & # 39;
That was a reference to Trump, the newspaper said. The development led to an appeal by Michael Avenatti, the lawyer of Stormy Daniels, for the immediate indictment against the president.
The newspaper said that Cohen had told prosecutors that Trump was directly involved in Daniels' payment and that Pecker refused to give AMI money to her because he did not want the parent company of the National Enquirer to pay a porn star.
The development was published shortly after a tweeting by Trump on the recount of senate and gubernatorial election results in Broward County, Florida.
And the new messages come after the revelations in August that Pecker reached an immunity agreement with prosecutors.
It followed for a long time the guilty plea of Donald Trump lawyer Cohen to eight counts – including violations of campaign funding for payments to two women claiming to have business with Trump.
The scope of the terms of the immunity agreement is unknown. The Associated Press reported that Pecker kept a safe with documents about hush-money payments and other harmful stories it had killed in the context of his relationship with Donald Trump in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. & # 39;
Trump referred to Pecker in a recording made by Cohen of discussions about a payment of $ 150,000 by AMI to the former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
Prosecutors have included important information about the payment in the invoicing document against Michael Cohen.
But the story of the AP about the vault notes that Pecker and chief content officer, Dylan Howard – who also received immunity – removed the documents from the vault in the weeks before the election, citing a person who & # 39; directly trusted & # 39; was with events.
The documents contain information about hush payments and potentially harmful stories.
They feared that according to the report the documents could be used against the company.
Now, the story notes, it is unclear & # 39; whether the documents were destroyed or simply moved to a location known to fewer people. & # 39;
"Sacred s ***, I thought Pecker would be the last one to turn & # 39 ;," said a friend from Trump to Vanity Fair.
Trump can be heard about the talks with Pecker in a September 2016 call that was obtained by CNN.
I need to open a business for the transfer of all that information regarding our friend David, you know, so I'm going to do that right away. I've really come forward and I've spoken, "Cohen tells Trump.
& # 39; And I spoke to Allen Weisselberg about setting up the whole, & # 39; adds Cohen, stating the CFO of the Trump organization.
& # 39; What do we have to pay for this? Fifty, "Trump replied.
Cohen mentions the financing and then adds: & # 39; & # 39; Eh, and that's all. & # 39;
Coverage: How the National Enquirer put Trump on the cover in January 2016 and again in December 2016 – after winning the election
Trump then answers: & # 39; Yes, I thought about that, & # 39; without clarifying what he is referring to. & # 39; All things. Because – here you never know where that business is – you never know what it is, "explains Cohen, which prompts Trump to observe: & # 39; Maybe he's being hit by a truck. & # 39;
Trump's remark seems to be about what would happen to the & # 39; things & # 39; where Pecker was no longer around, such as whether he left the company.
The New Yorker published in April a detailed account of AMI's actions to buy stories that were potentially harmful to Trump. Pecker was so close to the depraved Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who also worked to kill harmful stories, that he was known as a & # 39; F.O.P. & # 39; or "Friend of Pecker's & # 39 ;," reported the New York Times in 2017.
Cohen pleaded guilty of two campaign financing violations – one of which was to cause an illegal corporate contribution & # 39; to a campaign.
Charging documents provide detailed details of an agreement whereby former Playboy model Karen McDougal received a $ 150,000 payment from American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, and leads Pecker.
The documents showed what was known as 'catching and killing'. – an arrangement to prevent the story from being published elsewhere.
It identifies & # 39; Corporation-1 & # 39 ;, that & # 39; makes a payment of $ 150,000 to Woman-1 & # 39; would forward with the promise of repayment & # 39 ;, to ensure that Woman-1 did not announce any harmful accusations before the 2016 presidential election and thus influenced those presidential elections. election. & # 39;
The Wall Street Journal reported the granting of immunity to Pecker – and also to Dylan Howard, editor-in-chief of AMI.
Trump and Cohen are told about the deal in a September 2016 audio tape released by Cohen and confiscated by the authorities during an April FBI raid.
& # 39; So what are we going to pay, & # 39; says Trump.
& # 39; Yes, uh, and that's all, & # 39; Cohen replies. • All things, everything because you never know where that business is – you never know where it will be. & # 39;
Trump then asks what if he [Pecker] is hit by a truck? – which means he was no longer the boss.
& # 39; Correct. So I'm all over, "Cohen replied.
Trump smoked about prosecution tactics in an interview with & # 39; Fox and Friends & # 39; that was broadcast on Thursday.
& # 39; People invent stories. This whole thing about flipping, they call it, I know everything about flipping. For 30, 40 years I have been looking at flippers. Everything is great and then they get 10 years in prison and they – they turn on who is the next highest, or as high as you can go, "he said.
& # 39; It should almost be forbidden. It's not fair. Because if someone is going to give – spend five years, like Michael Cohen or 10 years or 15 years in prison because of a taxi industry, because he cheated a bank – the last two were the little ones.
& # 39; You know, campaign violations are honestly not considered a bit.
& # 39; But if someone deceived a bank and he gets 10 years in prison or 20 years in prison, but if you can say something bad about Donald Trump and you go back to two years or three years, what is the deal he has made ? , & # 39; said the president.
The Journal reported in June Pecker and AMI & # 39; s chief content officer Dylan Howard had received subpoenas from prosecutors.
Back then, the company said: & # 39; American Media Inc. has complied with all requests that do not endanger or violate protected resources or materials in accordance with our First Amendment rights and will continue to do so. & # 39;
Pecker visited the White House in July 2017 and met Trump at the Oval Office. Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner was there too.
He brought in guest-French businessman Kacy Grine, who advises the richest man in Saudi Arabia, the New York Times reported in March.
AMI CEO David Pecker – seen (in the middle) with his wife Karen and Jason Binn from DuJour Media – received immunity from prosecutors who secured details of a deal that resulted in a $ 150,000 payment to a former Playboy model that claims to have slept with Donald Trump
The details of & # 39; catch and kill & # 39; are set out in documents of the federal court that have been released after Cohen's appearance before a judge in Manhattan.
Trump itself was called obliquely but unmistakably as & # 39; Individual 1 & # 39; – a man who saw prosecutors in formular but wry words, his office offer began & # 39; on or around June 16, 2015. & # 39;
Only two months later, when Trump astonished the political world with its rise, the chairman of a tabloid media company offered the campaign some help, the documents said. That company had no name, but is AMI.
The company agreed to mark Cohen and the campaign for unflattering, unpublished stories about Trump's relationship with women so that they could be bought and their publication avoided, "said prosecutors.
In the end, the company did exactly that, allowing Cohen to arrange the entire campaign to ensure that stories were bought and suppressed with the express purpose & # 39; influencing the election & # 39;
The timing and amount of the payments are similar to those of porn stars Stormy Daniels and Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal to buy their silence in the weeks and months prior to the election.
Although the plan was introduced almost a year earlier, the first settlement began in June 2016, weeks after Trump had settled the Republican nomination.
McDougal, prosecutors claim, began in 2006 and 2007 to sell a story about a sexual relationship with Trump.
The timing and amount of payments Cohen pleaded guilty to come in line with those paid to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal
As promised, it was not long before Cohen was informed – and to take action, with the promise to compensate his gossip friends for the purchase of her story. In August, prosecutors claim that AMI has signed a deal of $ 150,000 with McDougal to buy her story, place her on two magazine covers, and publish more than 100 magazine articles she has written.
& # 39; Despite the cover and article characteristics of the agreement, its main purpose, as understood by those involved, including Michael Cohen, the suspect, was to suppress Woman-1's story to prevent it from affecting the election. , & # 39; wrote prosecutors.
The pattern repeated that in October, this time with Daniels, who had her own story about a sexual relationship with Trump that she wanted to tell.
In that case, Cohen and a lawyer for Daniels, whose real name was Stephanie Clifford, negotiated a $ 130,000 payment to buy her silence.
According to the government, the deal broke up almost weeks later than the elections.
Cohen was slow at completing the payment and was warned that Daniels would almost complete a separate deal with another store to make her story public. An unidentified editor called Cohen to say that it could look terribly bad for everyone & # 39; if no deal was made.
Cohen received an encrypted phone call from someone corresponding to the description of Pecker and another top editor at the publication before agreeing to pay the payment and Daniels' lawyer to finalize the arrangement, according to prosecutors.
On October 26, 2016, just a few weeks before the election, Cohen collected $ 131,000 from a home equity credit line he had acquired by lying about his debt and cash flow.
He hired money at a lawyer for Daniels, falsely saying that it is a retainer & # 39; and a week before the election he received copies of a signed confidential agreement with the actress.
Prosecutors claim that Trump's executives have ultimately reimbursed Cohen for both paying $ 130,000 to Daniels and another $ 50,000 for & # 39; technical services & # 39; that Cohen has requested on behalf of the campaign.
Public prosecutors quoted an e-mail in which a non-named Trump organization executor said to another that he had to pay Cohen $ 420,000 out of trust & # 39 ;, where the money was disguised as payment to the lawyer under a statutory provision.
& # 39; In truth and in fact there was no such agreement with the retainer, & # 39; wrote prosecutors.
For federal prosecutors who spent months examining the president's lawyer, the timing of the payments was no coincidence.
They do not specifically say that Trump forced Cohen to make the payments, an allegation that Cohen made to court, but the documents mention that Cohen & # 39; is coordinated with one or more members of the campaign & # 39 ;.
According to the government, the money was intended to influence the 2016 presidential election.
The intention is essential for the case. Companies can not contribute to campaigns and money intended to influence an election must be reported as a contribution. The money for Daniels and McDougal was not.
All in all, Cohen pleaded guilty of eight crimes, including campaign financing violations, tax evasion and false statements to a bank. He could get about four to five years in prison when sentencing December 12.
As far as Trump is concerned, personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said that there is no accusation of any offense against the president in the government's charge against Mr. Cohen. & # 39;
The disclosure of the catch-and-kill scheme and immunity for Pecker and Howard came when people who were familiar with the parent company of the National Enquirer, American Media Inc., told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they had non-disclosure agreements signed, it had a vault full of stories that had been captured & killed & # 39 ;.
They said that the safe was a great source of power for Pecker, the company's CEO.
The Trump records were stored alongside similar documents relating to the catch-and-kill deals of other celebrities, where exclusive rights to people's stories were bought without publishing the intention to keep them out of the news.
By keeping the embarrassing secrets of the celebrities, the company could get involved and ask for favors in return.
But after The Wall Street Journal published the first details of the catch-and-kill game of Playboy model Karen McDougal just before the 2016 elections, those assets became an obligation.
Fearing that the documents could be used against American Media, Pecker and Howard's chief content officer removed them from the safe in the weeks prior to Trump's inauguration, according to a person directly familiar with the events.
The AP can not say whether the documents have been destroyed or simply moved to a location known to fewer people.
American Media did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Former Enquirer employees who spoke with the AP said that negative stories about Trump were dead on arrival that dated more than a decade when he played on NBC's reality show. The Apprentice.
In 2010, at the urging of Cohen, the National Enquirer began promoting a potential presidential candidacy from Trump by referring readers to a pro-Trump website that helped Cohen create.
With Cohen's involvement, the publication began questioning the birthplace of President Barack Obama and US citizenship in pressure, an effort that Trump promoted for years, former staff members said.
The Enquirer endorsed Trump as president in 2016, the first time it ever officially supported a candidate. On the news page, Trump's news was so favorable that the New Yorker magazine said that the Enquirer had him & # 39; sycophantic fervor & # 39; hugged.
Positive headlines for Trump, a republican, were matched by negative stories about his opponents, including Hillary Clinton, a Democrat: a questioner's front page from 2015 said Hillary: 6 Months to Live & # 39; and accompanied the head with a picture of a non-smiling Clinton with bags under her eyes.
ROBERT MUELLER & # 39; SONDE UNTIL: EIGHT CONVICTIONS – INCLUDING THREE TOPTRUPS AIDES, A CARED LAWYERS AND 25 SUSPICIOUS RUSSIANS
GUILTY: MICHAEL FLYNN
Called for making false statements in December 2017. Pending the sentence
Flynn was President's former National Security Advisor and the oldest scalp of Robert Mueller so far. He served earlier when he was a three star general as President Obama's director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, but was fired.
He admitted to lying to special board investigators about his talks with a Russian ambassador in December 2016. He agreed to cooperate with the special council investigation.
DEBT: MICHAEL COHEN
Pleaded guilty of eight counts including fraud and two violations of campaign funding in August 2018. Pending the penalty
Cohen was the personal lawyer of Trump, who started working for him and the Trump Organization in 2007. He is the longest member of Trumbs inner circle to be involved by Mueller. Cohen claimed unwavering dedication to Trump – and organized payments to keep two women claiming to have sex with the then-candidate silent: porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. He admitted that payments to both women were felony campaign financing violations – and admitted that he acted in the & # 39; direction & # 39; from & # 39; Candidate-1 & # 39 ;: Donald Trump.
He also confessed tax fraud by lying about his income from loans he had made, money from taxi medallions he owned and other sources of income, at a cost to the Treasury of $ 1.3 million.
GUILTY: PAUL MANAFORT
Guilty of eight charges of bank and tax fraud in August 2018. Pleaded guilty of two charges pending sentence and second lawsuit
Manafort worked for Trump's campaign from March 2016 and led it from June to August 2016, overseeing Trump as a Republican candidate at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He is the main officer of the campaign who is involved with Mueller. Manafort was one of the longest-running and most influential lobbyists in Washington DC, but his money disappeared in 2015 and the next year he turned to his aid to help. He offered to be his campaign chairman for free – hoping to earn more money afterwards. But Mueller unwrapped his previous finances and discovered years of tax and bank fraud when he made cash from pro-Russian political parties and oligarchs in Ukraine.
Manafort did not plead guilty to 18 charges for tax and bank fraud, but was sentenced for eight counts. The jury was stuck on the other 10 charges. A second trial against charges for non-registration as a foreign agent is due in September.
GUILTY: RICK GATES
Pleaded guilty of conspiracy against the United States and making false statements in February 2018. Awaiting the sentence
Gates was former deputy of Manafort at DMP International. He admitted smuggling together to deceive the US government about financial activities and lying to readers about a meeting that Manafort had with a member of the Congress in 2013. As a result of his guilty plea and promise of cooperation, prosecutors opened charges against Gates on bank fraud, conspiracy with bank fraud, non-provision of foreign bank accounts, filing of false tax returns, helping to prepare false tax returns and wrongly changing tax returns.
GUILTY AND WILL BE CAUGHT: GEORGE PAPADOPOLOUS
Pleaded for making false statements in October 2017. Sentenced to 14 days in September 2018, to be served at a later time
Papadopoulos was a member of the campaign of Donald Trump's foreign advisory committee. He allowed himself to lie to special board investigators about his contacts with the London professor Josef Mifsud and Ivan Timofeev, the director of a think tank funded by the Russian government.
He has agreed to cooperate with the research with special advisers.
GUILTY AND WRONG: RICHARD PINEDO
Pleaded guilty of identity fraud in February 2018. Sentenced up to a year in prison
Pinedo is a 28-year-old computer specialist from Santa Paula, California. He admitted that he sold bank account numbers to Russian citizens on the internet that he had obtained using stolen identities.
He has agreed to cooperate with the research with special advisers.
GUILTY AND MISTAKED: ALEX VAN DER ZWAAN
Called for false statements in February 2018. Earlier this year, he served a prison sentence of 30 days and was deported to the Netherlands when he was released.
Van der Zwaan is a Dutch lawyer for Skadden Arps, who worked on a Ukrainian political analysis report for Paul Manafort in 2012.
He admitted that he had lied to special board investigators about when he had last spoken to Rick Gates and Konstantin Kilimnik.
GUILTY: W. SAMUEL PATTEN
Pleaded guilty in August 2018 not to register as a lobbyist while working for a Ukrainian political party. Awaiting the sentence.
Patten, a long-time lobbyist at D.C., was a business partner of Paul Manafort. He pleaded guilty to admitting to arrange an illicit donation of $ 50,000 to Trump's inauguration.
He arranged for an American & # 39; strodonor & # 39; $ 50,000 would pay to the inaugural commission, knowing that it was actually a Ukrainian businessman.
Neither the American nor the Ukrainian is mentioned.
RESOLVED: KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK
Sued for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to impede justice.
Kilimnik is a former employee of the political consultancy firm of Manafort and helped him with lobbying in Ukraine. He is accused of tampering with witnesses after allegedly contacting people who had worked with Manafort to remind them that Manafort was only lobbying for them outside the US.
He has been associated with Russian intelligence and is currently expected to be in Russia, which is in fact out of reach of extradition by the Mueller team.
INDICTED: THE RUSSIANS
Twenty-five Russian citizens and three Russian entities have been charged with conspiring to deceive the United States.
Two of these Russian nationals were also charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 11 were charged with conspiring to launder money. Fifteen of them were also charged with identity fraud.
Vladimir Putin has ridiculed the accusations. Russia effectively blocks the extradition of its subjects. The only prospect that Mueller has to propose to an American jury is if Interpol has its name on an international stop list – which has not been made public – and put it ashore in an area that is being surrendered to the US.
ANALYSIS: LAWS IN THE FIELD OF CAMPAIGN FINANCES, INJURY AND TRUMP – WHY A CASE CAN BE SELF, BUT THE PRESIDENT MUST NOT FEEL ANYTHING FEELED
Michael Cohen's guilty plea for two violations of the law on campaign funding has driven Donald Trump into the center of what his enemies were looking for: a possible crime.
His critics have seized on what Cohen pleaded guilty: an illegal campaign contribution in the form of organizing payments to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels & # 39; to influence the 2016 presidential election & # 39; – and then what he said under penalty of perjury, that he did it & # 39; in the direction of & # 39; Trump.
Cohen, according to the court documents, the payment to Stormy Daniels was reimbursed by the Trump organization and received a bonus on top.
That seemed to be a simple matter for Trump to create, as stated by Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis, that if Cohen commits a crime, which obviously also Trump did, by sending him to do it.
What has Trump said so far in his defense?
The defense of the Trump was less than clear. He has suggested that Cohen & # 39; Lies & # 39; told in his guilty plea, and said Thursday to Fox & Friends: "People invent stories & # 39 ;, he said. & # 39; It is called flipping. & # 39;
He also suggested that the campaign finances violations that Cohen says he has committed on the basis of Trump's crimes, because they're not even campaign related & # 39; and that Cohen only said that she & # 39; because he makes a better deal when he uses me, just like everyone else. & # 39;
And he also said that he personally made the payments and that they were not out of campaigning, although he did not know them at the time they were made.
All of this presents a complex set of questions for either a Democratic House of Representatives to lodge an indictment or public prosecutors who file an indictment (which presupposes that it is possible to sue a current president).
Which crime can be prosecuted or arrested for deposition?
According to the campaign finance law, all contributions to a campaign must be indicated.
Cohen says that payments to Stormy Daniels – by him – and Karen McDougal – by American Media Inc – affect the outcome of the election & # 39 ;.
They were never explained as contributions from the Trump campaign. The
Daniel's payment of $ 130,000 also exceeded the personal limit on Cohen's contributions of $ 5400.
Trump zou dus kunnen worden beschuldigd van het niet-verklaren van een bijdrage aan zijn campagne door zijn eigen bedrijf, de ultieme betaalmeester van Cohen, en van het willens en wetens accepteren van een illegale donatie – één boven de $ 2.700-limiet.
En hij zou kunnen worden beschuldigd van samenzwering om een illegale bijdrage te leveren door Cohen te sturen om de betalingen te regelen.
De verdedigingsopties van Trump: hij wist niet dat het een misdaad was
Federale wetgeving legt een hoge bewijslast op voor vervolging van vervolgde campagnefinanciering. Het ministerie van Justitie zegt aanklagers dat het financieren van schendingen van een campagne 'potentiële misdaden worden wanneer ze willens en wetens worden gepleegd, dat wil zeggen door een overtreder die wist wat de wet verbood en geweld aandeed ondanks die kennis'.
Aanklagers moeten 'redelijkerwijs twijfelachtig' zijn gemoedstoestand bewijzen.
De eerste verdedigingslinie van Trump kan dus eenvoudigweg zijn om te zeggen dat hij geen idee had dat het een misdaad was – wat het ministerie van Justitie zou tegenhouden.
Campagnefinanciering is ingewikkeld en hij is geen advocaat die hij zou kunnen betogen – Cohen wist dat hij een misdaad beging, maar Trump had geen idee.
Leden van het Congres hebben geen richtlijnen, dus ze zouden de les kunnen richten op die betaling als een 'hoge misdaad of misdrijf' zonder de gemoedstoestand van Trump te bewijzen, of zelfs als bleek dat hij niet wist dat het een misdaad was – maar als ze dat wel deden, zouden ze af te schrikken voor een overtreding in omstandigheden die het ministerie van Justitie nooit zou kunnen veroordelen voor de rechtbank.
De verdediging van Trump zou worden geholpen door het feit dat Cohen niet zei dat Trump wist dat het illegaal was toen hij het 'regisseerde'.
'Ik heb geen betalingen gedaan – ik heb ze later goedgekeurd'
Trump en Cohen hebben verschillende versies van de geschiedenis – hoewel Cohen zijn straf op meineed gaf.
Cohen zegt dat Trump vooraf op de hoogte was van de betalingen en hen 'regisseerde', Trump zegt dat hij 'later' wist – d.w.z. nadat ze waren betaald.
Trump heeft zijn tijdlijn verlegd op het moment dat hij het wist, maar in een clash van geloofwaardigheid met Cohen zou het een president tegen een misdadiger zijn – met zijn advocaten die alles in het werk stellen om zijn voormalige fixer aan te vallen.
'Ik was een zondaar die mijn huwelijk redde, geen verkiezing zwaaide'
De andere voor de hand liggende verdediging van Trump kan een zijn die door John Edwards werd gebruikt in de enige vervolging van presidentskandidaten voor het overtreden van campagnefinancieringswetten door geheime betalingen om de stilte van een vrouw te kopen: dat het geen gift was voor de campagne, dus het was geen misdrijf.
Edwards, een Democratische mededinger uit 2008, werd beschuldigd van het voeren van een illegaal donatieschema door twee rijke donateurs zijn maîtresse Rielle Hunter, de moeder van hun geheime dochter Quinn, honderdduizenden dollars te laten betalen om hun affaire te verbergen – en dat deed hij om 'de uitkomst van de verkiezingen te beïnvloeden'.
Ter verdediging: John Edwards zei dat betalingen aan Rielle Hunter, de moeder van hun geheime dochter Quinn, het bewijs waren van zijn zonde, niet van campagnecriminaliteit
De advocaten van Edwards vorderden een eenvoudige verdediging: dat hij een zondaar was die geprobeerd had de waarheid over zijn minnares te bewaren en het kind liefhad van zijn wanhopig zieke vrouw, en dat het geld niet over de campagne ging, maar zijn huwelijk redde.
Twee voormalige voorzitters van de federale verkiezingscommissie zeiden dat ze de betalingen niet als inbreuken op de code zouden hebben geclassificeerd, wat burgerlijk recht is, laat staan misdaden.
De vervolging mislukte toen de rechtszaak eindigde met een vastgelopen jury en aanklagers besloten tegen een nieuw proces.
Trump zou kunnen proberen hetzelfde basispunt te gebruiken om een verdediging vorm te geven: hij zou kunnen zeggen dat hij Melania beschermde tegen vrouwen die beweerden seks met hem te hebben – en niet probeerden de uitkomst van de verkiezing te veranderen.
Edwards speelde de nederigheidskaart tijdens zijn verdediging, met zijn advocaten die zeiden dat hij een zondaar was, geen misdadiger. While Trump has hardly adopted the same tone, he could do so – or his attorneys could do it for him.
Why admitting trying to stop a kiss-and-tell is a risk for Trump
Other aspects of the Edwards case present challenges to a strategy of admitting to sin but not crime.
Firstly, Hunter was not trying to sell her story when she was paid and prosecutors never suggested that she was in any way interested in doing so – whereas Cohen organized hush money for McDougal and Daniels to stop them going public.
What would be best? Trump might admit to cracks in his marriage to defend himself – at the risk of hurting Melania publicly
Secondly, Rudy Giuliani has already linked paying Stormy Daniels for silence to the election, saying: 'Imagine if that came out on October 15th 2016 in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton.'
Thirdly, the payments Edwards was prosecuted over were made at the time his mistress was pregnant, and in the long run-up to the primary election – whereas McDougal and Daniels were paid a decade after their alleged affairs and in the heat of the election campaign proper.
And prosecutors in the Edwards case never put the two people whose cash went to his mistress on the stand: one, Fred Baron, was dead in 2008, four years before the failed prosecution; the other, Bunny Mellon was 101 in 2012. The jury never heard their version of why they sent money to Edwards' mistress.
In contrast prosecutors or Democratic congress members have Cohen, and possibly AMI's CEO David Pecker, to put on the stand and testify about what happened – with Cohen already saying the intent was to 'change the outcome of the election'.
Finally it is politically tricky – Trump has never admitted to cracks in his marriage to Melania. Her reaction to it is uncertain, and so too would be the reaction of evangelical Christians who form part of his base.
'I made the payments myself – there's no limit on what I can do'
Trump's other approach could be one he has hinted at already when he said that he paid the money himself, even though he did not know about the payments until after they were made.
Trump was the one person with no limit on how much cash he gave to his campaign – the $5,400 limit did not apply to him or to Hillary Clinton helping out her campaign from her estimated $200 million family fortune.
But Cohen's court case shows that he was reimbursed for the Stormy Daniel payment via the Trump Organization, in a payment authorized by one of its executives.
Trump faces a critical difficulty with this: corporations are forbidden from making direct campaign contributions – his included.
Even though the Trump Organization, the umbrella for hundreds of companies, is essentially his property, he could not use it as a piggy bank for his run for the presidency.
This is why it was reimbursed large amounts of money from the campaign for the rental of hotel rooms, office space and equipment and even Trump Force Once.
But convincing a jury – or two-thirds of the senate – that this point of campaign finance law was knowingly broken by a man who has been essentially his own company for all his adult life is a high bar for prosecutors, and one Trump's attorneys could profitably exploit.