Trump's lawyer may have committed "a colossal screw up" by speaking about Stormy Daniels

Trump's lawyer may have created a legal quandary for the Trump campaign through his admission earlier this week

By Matthew Rozsa

Published February 16, 2018 12:08PM (EST)

Michael Cohen (AP/Andrew Harnik)
Michael Cohen (AP/Andrew Harnik)

Donald Trump's lawyer may have made the president's legal predicament a whole lot worse by discussing a payment sent to porn star Stephanie "Stormy Daniels" Clifford during the 2016 presidential election.

On Friday, during a Yahoo News podcast called "Skulduggery," a former general counsel for the Federal Elections Commission described how Trump lawyer Michael Cohen may have made a significant strategic error by admitting to "facilitate" a payment to Stormy Daniels.

"If she [Stormy Daniels] comes out and says, 'They came to me and they said look, the election is in a couple of weeks, and we need you to be quiet before the election, and we don’t want this coming out,' then I think the Trump campaign has a real problem. I think they have to be very nervous about that," Lawrence Noble, who is now chief counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, told Yahoo News.

Noble also pointed out that Cohen's decision to go public about his role in the payment to Stormy Daniels was, at the very least, difficult to rationally explain.

"Why he went public I don’t know. If I was his lawyer, I would have told him, ‘Don’t do this," Noble told Yahoo News.

He later added, "This may have been a colossal screw up on his part."

When Cohen admitted to having helped pay Stormy Daniels — presumably to keep quiet about an alleged affair between herself and Trump, although that has not been confirmed — he did so in language that was incredibly cautious about the exact nature of his activities.

"I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms. Stephanie Clifford [Daniels' legal name]," Cohen said in his statement. "Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly. The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Donald Trump Fec Michael Cohen Stormy Daniels