FEC Defends Donald Trump From Campaign Violation Report

Former President Donald Trump is facing 34 felony charges of falsifying business records in relation to hush money payments he made to former adult film star Stormy Daniels leading up to the 2016 presidential election. 

Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney who’s leading the case for the government, made a claim that Trump violated campaign finance laws with his actions. But, this week, one of the key members of the Federal Election Commission rejected those views.

James E. Trainor, a commissioner for the FEC, said that Trump’s actions definitely weren’t a violation of those laws. As he said:

“It’s not a campaign finance violation. It’s not a reporting violation of any kind.”

He added that Bragg attempting to stretch the reach of the law to make it look as if Trump violated campaign finance laws is him “really trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole.”

As part of the Trump indictment, Bragg said that the payment of $130,000 that Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, made to Daniels violated a few different campaign finance laws, which then splashed to Trump himself. 

Trainor, though, said that both the Department of Justice and FEC considered that case in the past, and both tossed it out. He added that it would be challenging for the judge or any jury to come to a different conclusion, since ultimately the DOJ and FEC are the agencies who would prosecute any violations of campaign finance laws.

As part of a tweet he sent Tuesday, Trainor posted a picture of a hearing room for the FEC, writing:

“This is where campaign finance violations are tried.”

Trump appointed Trainor – who’s an election lawyer based in Texas – to his post at the FEC. He explained this week that there were several reasons that the FEC back in 2018 decided they wouldn’t consider the case of hush money payments that were made to Daniels.

A statement that Trainor released showed that he and fellow FEC Commissioner Sean Cooksey gave reasons back in April of 2021 why the FEC ultimately voted to dismiss that case. 

He said one of the main reasons was that, as part of a plea deal of his own, Cohen took full blame for the payments. Trainor commented on Cohen:

“At the end of the day, there’s the person who committed the crime, and there’s the person who is behind bars because of it.”

The paperwork violation that Bragg is claiming Trump made happened well after the 2016 presidential election. As such, the move could not have been conjured up to help Trump’s presidential election hopes.

Finally, Trainor said the violation must meet the “objective standard” of law, which in this case would mean providing that the reason the payment was made was to influence the 2016 election. As he said:

“It has to be something that anybody on the street can look at and say the only reason you did that was to influence the campaign.”