Cohen attorney letter to FEC appears to undercut DA Bragg's Trump case

Former President Donald Trump shared the letter on Truth Social, declaring it to be "totally exculpatory."

Published: March 22, 2023 7:03pm

Updated: March 22, 2023 9:10pm

A letter from an attorney representing former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen attests that the disgraced ex-lawyer acted alone in making a payment to Stormy Daniels in 2016, potentially undercutting a key component of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's case against the former president.

In the 2018 letter, Cohen attorney Stephen Ryan writes to the Federal Election Commission asserting that Trump was not involved in making the hush payment to Daniels and that the then-presidential candidate did not reimburse Cohen. Just the News has reached out to Ryan to confirm the authenticity of the email.

"In a private transaction in 2016, before the U.S. presidential election, Mr. Cohen used his own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms. Stephanie Clifford [Stormy Daniels]," the letter reads. "Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed Mr. Cohen for the payment directly or indirectly."

Former President Donald Trump shared the letter on Truth Social, declaring it to be "totally exculpatory."

"Wow, look what was just found—A Letter from Cohen’s Lawyer to the Federal Election Commission," he wrote. "This is totally exculpatory, and must end the Manhattan District Attorney’s Witch Hunt, immediately."

"Cohen admits that he did it himself. The D.A. should get on with prosecuting violent criminals, so people can walk down the sidewalks of New York without being murdered!" he continued.

If authentic, the document could indeed be exculpatory for Trump. A potential charge legal experts have floated hinges on Trump falsifying his business records to hide a potential campaign finance violation.

Trump's alleged falsification stems from his listing of a payment to Cohen as a legal fee, which some have suggested was a reimbursement for Cohen's payment to Daniels. Trump's lawyer, Joe Tacopina, denies the record's inaccuracy and has contended that "[t]he payments were made to a lawyer, not to Stormy Daniels. The payments were made to Donald Trump's lawyer, which would be considered legal fees."

The letter from Ryan appears to lend some credence to Tacopina's interpretation.

Cohen's prominence in the case has presented a complication for the DA, given his argument may largely rest on testimony from the former lawyer, whose credibility has already come under scrutiny given his legal record. 

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.

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