Federal prosecutors in New York City will not bring additional charges as part of their investigation into payments orchestrated by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 presidential election, according to the Associated Press.
Cohen pleaded guilty last year to violating campaign finance law by arranging payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal after they claimed they had affairs with President Trump. The president denies the allegations. In May, Cohen began a three-year stint in federal prison.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan revealed Thursday that its investigation into Cohen’s campaign finance violations included an inquiry into whether other people gave false statements or obstructed justice — a broader scope than the office had previously acknowledged.
“We are pleased that the investigation surrounding these ridiculous campaign finance allegations is now closed,” Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said on Wednesday. “We have maintained from the outset that the President never engaged in any campaign finance violation.”
Critics of President Trump long predicted the investigation would lead to charges and ultimately the downfall of the president. “Donald Trump is either going to resign. He’s going to be removed from office by impeachment, or I’m going to beat him in 2020,” Michael Avenatti, who served as Daniels’ lawyer at the time, said in an interview with NPR in August. The Trump-hating lawyer now faces federal charges in New York and California.
Conversely, esteemed lawyer Alan Dershowitz repeatedly argued there was never actually a case against President Trump. “The president doesn’t break the law if, as a candidate, he contributes to his own campaign. So if he gave $1 million to two women as hush money, there would be in crime. If he directed his lawyer to do it, and he would compensate the lawyer, he’s committed no crime,” he explained to MSNBC last year. “The only crime is if a third-party, namely, Cohen, on his own, contributed to a campaign, that would be a campaign contribution. So it is a catch-22 for the prosecution. iI they claim that the president authorized him to do it or directed him to do it, it is not a crime for anybody. If Cohen did it on his own, then it is a crime for Cohen but not the president.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.