How much legal trouble is President Trump in? We ask a law professor

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy
Stetson University College of Law professor Ciara Torres-Spelliscy. By Seán Kinane / WMNF News (25 July 2016).

President Donald Trump may be in legal trouble; last week his long-time attorney was sentenced to three years in prison, in part for campaign finance violations. They include coordinating with Trump to pay two women for their silence over alleged affairs with Trump.

Cohen allegedly paid $130,000 to porn actor and director Stormy Daniels; $150,000 was paid to model Karen McDougal by the parent company of the National Enquirer, American Media, and its CEO David Pecker. He admitted to the payments to “suppress the woman’s story” & “prevent it from influencing the election.” The company won’t be prosecuted.

On WMNF’s MidPoint Monday we spoke with a law professor who specializes in campaign finance law.

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy is a professor of law at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport and is a Brennan Center Fellow. She’s the author of the book Corporate Citizen? An Argument for the Separation of Corporation and State.

Listen to the full show here.

Cohen signed a plea deal but Trump tweeted that he “never directed Michael Cohen to break the law.” And even if Trump did violate campaign finance law – he’s a sitting president, which makes it unlikely he could be arrested, indicted or charged. At least not yet.

Trump’s current lawyer, Rudy Guiliani, said yesterday on Fox News Sunday that the payments to the women were not crimes. He based that on the case of former VP candidate John Edwards, who was not found guilty. In addition, Giuliani said Cohen didn’t plead guilty to a conspiracy to violate campaign finance law. Giuliani’s position is essentially that Cohen alone broke the law and that “Individual 1” (President Trump) was not involved.

In the second half of the show we heard comments left by listeners about our last show – our guest was from Environment Florida and we talked about several topics including the Trump administration’s plan to allow seismic airgun blasting to search for oil and gas reserves under the Atlantic Ocean and St. Petersburg’s push to ban some single-use plastics.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.


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