WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – The message isn’t new but the timing is.READ MORE: Postal Worker Shot At In Florida City; Suspect In Custody
Just after 1 a.m. Thursday, President Donald Trump tweeted another attack on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
NO COLLUSION – RIGGED WITCH HUNT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2018
As the swirl of legal questions continues to mount, neither the President nor his aides have been able to quell the fallout.
On Wednesday, the White House insisted that President Trump did not commit a crime when he paid off two women in the run-up to the 2016 election.
In a friendly taped interview with Fox News, which was conducted on Wednesday but aired a day later, Trump sought to put distance between himself and his former lawyer Michael Cohen, who admitted to campaign finance crimes in federal court on Tuesday and implicated the President by saying he’d directed the action.
Trump incorrectly told Fox News the payments weren’t actual crimes.READ MORE: Double Shooting Investigated In NW Miami
“My first question when I heard about it was did they come out of the campaign because that could be a little dicey. And they didn’t come out of the campaign and that’s big. But it’s not even a campaign violation,” he said.
Campaign law requires the disclosure of campaign donations and limits their size.
In that Fox News interview, Trump also accused Cohen of lying to prosecutors to cut a better deal.
“If you can say something bad about Donald Trump and you will go down to two years or three years, which is the deal he made, in all fairness to him, most people are going to do that,” Trump said of Cohen, who he described as only a “part-time” lawyer. “And I have seen it many times. I have had many friends involved in this stuff. It’s called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal.”
While the President was aware for weeks of the possible damage Cohen could do in his dealings with federal prosecutors, Trump did not know until Tuesday afternoon that he would be so explicitly implicated in the campaign finance charges.
Violations of campaign finance laws can be handled as a civil matter with the Federal Election Commission or as a criminal matter by the Justice Department. The violations become a criminal matter when those laws are broken in a “knowing and willful” manner, said Larry Noble, the former general counsel of the FEC who is now senior director at the Campaign Legal Center.
Trump has argued that President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign also had campaign finance violations.MORE NEWS: Here's How Royal Caribbean Will Deal With Vaccinated, Unvaccinated Passengers
Obama’s campaign was fined $375,000 by the FEC — one of the largest fines levied against a presidential campaign — for missing reporting deadlines on $1.8 million in contributions. The violation did not rise to the level of a criminal violation because there was no indication the misreporting was willful and the fine was assessed as part of a conciliation agreement with the FEC.