IowaPolitics.com / Flickr Trump executive Michael Cohen 015...
IowaPolitics.com / Flickr

Michael Cohen’s legal fees are being paid by contributors to Donald Trump.

The Trump campaign has spent nearly $228,000 to cover some of the legal expenses for President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, sources familiar with the payments tell ABC News, raising questions about whether the Trump campaign may have violated campaign finance laws.

This does three things. First, everyone contributing to Donald Trump’s campaign gets the honor of knowing that part of their contribution is paying Michael Cohen back for bribing adult entertainers to shut up about their affairs with Trump. So they, too, are protecting Trump from porn stars. Making them American heroes one and all.

Second, it helps guarantee that Cohen will keep his trap shut. After all, it’s harder to flip on someone when you are still on that someone’s payroll.

Third, it puts the Trump campaign in legal twilight:

Cohen has said that he did not have a formal role in the Trump campaign, and it is illegal to spend campaign funds for personal use – defined by the FEC as payments for expenses “that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s campaign or responsibilities as a federal officeholder.”

But since Donald Trump has already demonstrated that breaking the law on self-dealing is no big deal, why not do it again?

Donald Trump spent more than a quarter-million dollars from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits that involved the billionaire’s for-profit businesses, according to interviews and a review of legal documents.

Trump dissolved his “charitable” foundation after the election and after the foundation had been shown to violate the law against self-dealing on multiple occasions. But paying for legal fees was one of the roles that defunct organization once handled for Trump using money he grifted from other people and funneled through his tax-free foundation.

It’s clear that Trump no longer needs his foundation, because the campaign has taken its place.

“They’re on shaky legal ground,” said Stephen Spaulding, chief of strategy at the nonprofit watchdog group Common Cause. “It sounds like they are really pushing the envelope … If the campaign were to say they are campaign-related payments, then maybe it’s okay to use campaign funds. But he can’t have it both ways.”

Trump hasn’t managed to keep his story straight on either Cohen or Stormy Daniels from one tweet to the next, but the payments from this campaign leave him exposed either way. He admits that the payments from Cohen before the 2016 election were campaign related, and faces a violation there. Or says that the payments to Cohen from his campaign now are personal, and faces a different charge. Or he can be charged for both. Because Trump has actually broken the law coming and, hopefully, going.

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