President Donald Trump is once again insisting that his campaign finance felonies are not a big deal because former President Barack Obama committed the same crimes. But that’s just not true.
Ever since his former fixer Michael Cohen took a plea deal and admitted to paying off two women in coordination with and at the direction of Trump to hide his extramarital affairs with them from the public in the middle of the 2016 Election, Trump has been trying to equate what he did with campaign finance violations made by Obama’s 2008 campaign.
Despite the comparison being consistently and repeatedly debunked, Trump continued telling the lie on Saturday in order to excuse his own crimes:
Many people currently a part of my opposition, including President Obama & the Dems, have had campaign violations, in some cases for very large sums of money. These are civil cases. They paid a fine & settled. While no big deal, I did not commit a campaign violation!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2019
Again, Trump is lying. Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe explained the difference on Twitter after a similar outburst in August:
Here Trump equates (A) inadvertent clerical errors and easily corrected goofups (civil fine only), with (B) criminal conspiracies to hide from voters the candidate’s deliberate actions to hush up scandals that he fears could flip the outcome (serious jail time). Who’s he fooling? https://t.co/OHYt1tTniv
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) August 23, 2018
NBC News also debunked Trump’s claims:
Election law experts said that more minor violations are treated as regulatory or civil matters, while egregious and willful campaign finance violations are treated as criminal acts — no matter who the attorney general is.
“What Michael Cohen has admitted to doing is absolutely a crime,” said Mitchell Epner, a former federal prosecutor who is now of counsel at Rottenberg Lipman Rich P.C.
Trump willfully violated campaign finance laws and has been trying to cover up his crimes ever since.
As for Obama’s campaign finance violations, they amounted to “a small, technical paperwork error that people who were trying to get it right might make,” Epner said. “$375,000 for the FEC is a meaningful fine, but compared to the amounts that were involved it’s tiny.”
The Obama campaign paid a fine, corrected or updated the paperwork and returned the donations. The violations did not warrant felony charges like Trump’s do.
“It turns on the question of criminal intent,” Epner said. “When somebody does something with the intent to defraud the government, if it’s on purpose, you’ve got the potential for criminal liability.”
And because of Cohen, we know that Trump knew what he was doing all along.
Former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance observed on Twitter that Trump appears to be worried about a hammer dropping:
He sounds worried. https://t.co/2szqGxW7rG
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) January 5, 2019
He should be worried because he’s an unindicted co-conspirator who could be indicted or impeached before his term runs out. And even if he’s not charged during his presidency, he could end up arrested and prosecuted in 2021 if he is not re-elected.
Trump must be seriously desperate if he is pathetically resorting to repeating the same lies about Obama to save his own skin.
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