Hush Money: Private or Political Debate?


Recent allegations over the reported hush-money payment from former United States president Donald J. Trump to porn star Stormy Daniels have raised a major question: Is paying hush money a crime? While the use of nondisclosure agreements to keep embarrassing information private has long been accepted by companies and private individuals to avoid litigation, when it comes to political campaigns, the murky issue can hinge on how the payment is interpreted.

Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin L. Bragg is expected to reveal an answer on Tuesday, when his office’s indictment of Mr. Trump is to be unsealed. It is alleged that payments made by the former president’s former fixer, Michael D. Cohen, exceeded the legal federal limit and were done to influence his 2016 presidential campaign, rather than to protect his wife, Melania, and youngest son, Barron, from the revelation of Daniels’ story.

The case is most similar to that of former United States senator, John Edwards of North Carolina, who was prosecuted with federal campaign finance violations for payments to help a mistress amid his 2008 presidential run. The case ended without a conviction however, as his lawyers managed to prove that the payments were not related to the election.

The charges against Mr. Trump are expected to include falsifying business records, which could be charged as a felony if it is done to conceal another crime, such as a state or federal campaign-finance violation. To support its argument that the payment to Daniels was not a campaign contribution, Trump’s team has pointed to the failed prosecution of Edwards.

Overall, determining the accuracy of the charges will depend on whether the hush-money payment was made to influence the election on Mr. Trump’s behalf or for personal reasons. To add to the confusion, there is the precedent of Mr. Cohen, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance charges in 2018 involving payments to Daniels and another woman, yet no conviction was achieved as there was no trial.

In conclusion, the accusation of hush money being used to aid a political campaign is a serious one, and it will be interesting how it is addressed in Mr. Trump’s upcoming indictment and trial.

The company mentioned in this article is The National Enquirer, which is a supermarket tabloid published in the United States. It is known for publishing sensationalized stories and for its fawning coverage of Donald Trump during his presidential campaign. The Enquirer was renowned for its “catch and kill” tactics of purchasing exclusive rights to stories with the purpose of burying them and preventing them from being made public.

The person mentioned in this article is former United States Senator John Edwards who was running for president in 2008. He was charged with federal campaign finance violations for payments to help a mistress amid his own presidential run. Edwards’ lawyers won an acquittal on one count and a mistrial on five other charges, which prosecutors then dismissed, by successfully arguing that the payments were not related to the election. His lawyers showed that one of the donors continued making payments to help Edwards’ mistress after he suspended his campaign in January 2008, and he had another convincing motive to keep her and her child a secret: His wife was dying of cancer.