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Former FEC Chairman Says Cohen and Trump Didn’t Break Campaign Finance Law

A former chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) — the agency tasked with enforcing campaign finance law — poured cold water on the claim that President Donald Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen violated the law by giving hush money to two women just before the 2016 election.

Former chairman Bradley A. Smith, who served on the commission for five years under former President George W. Bush, argued that Cohen pled guilty to a crime that he didn’t actually commit.

“Michael Cohen is pleading guilty to something that isn’t a crime,” Smith wrote in National Review.

“Of course, people will do that when a zealous prosecutor is threatening them with decades in prison,” he added. “But his admissions are not binding on President Trump, and Trump should fight these charges ferociously.”

Smith’s comments came just after Cohen received a three-year sentence for allegedly violating campaign finance law. Cohen has said that he has substantial information to back up his claims.

Watch below:

But according to Smith, it was an “intuitively obvious fact” that the hush money payments were not campaign contributions.

“The events that give rise to the claim against him are unrelated to the campaign for office,” he said. Smith argued that Trump had “valid, non-electoral reasons” for trying to prevent his alleged former mistresses from going public.

As IJR previously reported, Fox News host Tucker Carlson made some similar arguments earlier this week. Former FEC Commissioner Hans A. von Spakovsky also argued that Cohen didn’t violate campaign finance law.

Watch Smith discuss the topic below:

Former FEC Chairman Says Cohen and Trump Didn’t Break Campaign Finance Law

Smith asserted that the prosecution ignored a critical distinction in the law:

Finally, by ignoring these other parts of the statute and its implementing regulations (which carry the force of law), the prosecutors attempt to make the “for the purpose of influencing any election” language a subjective test that would, but for the plea bargain, be decided by a jury. But that is incorrect. The test is intended as an objective test of campaign-related expenditures. Renting campaign office space, printing bumper stickers and yard signs, hiring campaign staff, paying for polling, and buying broadcast ads are all obligations that exist for the purpose of influencing an election. Paying hush money to silence allegations of decade-old affairs is not.

Trump has also vehemently denied wrongdoing, tweeting on Thursday that he “never directed Michael Cohen to break the law.”

“Cohen was guilty on many charges unrelated to me, but he plead to two campaign charges which were not criminal,” Trump said.

He said in another tweet that “those charges were just agreed to by him in order to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence, which he did-including the fact that his family was temporarily let off the hook.”

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