Former President Donald Trump released a statement after the Federal Election Commission dropped its investigation Thursday regarding whether he violated election law in relation to a $130,000 payment made by his former attorney Michael Cohen to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election.
“The Federal Election Commission in Washington, D.C., has totally dropped the phony case against me concerning payments to women relative to the 2016 Presidential Election,” the former president wrote Friday.
“It was a case built on lies from Michael Cohen, a corrupt and convicted lawyer, a lawyer in fact who was so corrupt he was sentenced to three years in jail for lying to Congress and many other things having nothing to do with me.
“I thank the Commission for their decision, ending this chapter of Fake News. Between two sleazebag lawyers, Michael Avenatti and Michael Cohen, we were all able to witness law and justice in our Country at its lowest!”
The 2-2 vote effectively closed the investigation, according to The New York Times.
Cohen was convicted in 2018 of tax evasion, lying to Congress and other charges relating to the payments, including to Daniels, an adult film star whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. He was sentenced to three years in prison, according to Politico, but released early last year.
Two Democrats, FEC Chair Shana M. Broussard and Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub, opposed closing the case.
They released a statement saying, “There is ample evidence in the record to support the finding that Trump and the Committee knew of, and nonetheless accepted, the illegal contributions at issue here.
“Indeed, Cohen provided testimony under penalty of perjury that Trump not only knew about the payment but himself directed Cohen to orchestrate the scheme.”
They added, “To conclude that a payment, made 13 days before Election Day to hush up a suddenly newsworthy 10-year-old story, was not campaign-related, without so much as conducting an investigation, defies reality.
“But putting that aside, Cohen testified under oath that he made the payment for the principal purpose of influencing the election. This more than satisfies the Commission’s ‘reason to believe’ standard to authorize an investigation.”
Republicans argued in their own statement “that pursuing these matters further was not the best use of agency resources.”
They added, “The Commission regularly dismisses matters where other government agencies have already adequately enforced and vindicated the Commission’s interests.”
Cohen, meanwhile, blamed Trump via Twitter on Thursday, accusing him of guilt in the matter.
“The facts are well known to all. The hush money payment was done at the direction of and for the benefit of Donald J. Trump. Like me, #Trump should have been found guilty. How the FEC committee could rule any other way is confounding.” @nytimes https://t.co/DxvgcDFyVQ
— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) May 6, 2021
Despite Cohen’s accusations and Democratic attacks, Trump has continued to deny any wrongdoing.
“I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law,” Trump tweeted in 2018, according to USA Today. “He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law.”