Trump defends payouts in response to hype: ‘Simple private transaction, not campaign contributions … no smoking gun’

President Donald Trump laid out a defense early Monday on Twitter in response to former personal attorney Michael Cohen admitting in a plea deal he violated federal campaign finance laws by arranging payments to two women on Trump’s behalf.

With the media hard at work to tighten the noose around Trump’s neck ahead of Robert Mueller’s final report, the president has made it clear that he intends to fight back hard and that he will do so publicly.

In a pair of tweets, Trump claimed a payment by Cohen to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal to keep them quiet about alleged affairs was not a campaign contribution, as alleged, but a “simple transaction.”

He tweeted: “Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after James Comey’s testimony. No Smocking Gun…No Collusion.” @FoxNews That’s because there was NO COLLUSION. So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution,…”

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1072095127894667265

A simple transaction “done correctly,” Trump asserted in a second tweet, saying the liability for any mistake would be on Cohen, who was “just trying to get his sentence reduced.”

He also reiterated his claim that the Muller probe is a “witch hunt.”

“….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). Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!” the president tweeted.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1072098604599394305

An expert campaign finance lawyer discounted the evidence from the Department of Justice linking Trump to campaign finance violations following the recent release of Cohen’s sentencing memo.

More from Fox News:

Dan Backer, the lawyer, told Forbes that there appears to be no evidence to corroborate the DOJ’s apparent assertion of any illegality on Trump’s part.

Backer, a veteran campaign counsel, said it is common practice for high-profile individuals and companies to take part in these kinds of payment arrangements. He said Trump is a brand, he has carried out similar payments for years and these so-called “hush-buys” will likely continue.

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Tom Tillison

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