The bottom line remains this: Trump did not violate federal campaign finance laws. Why? Because the payments to Daniels and McDougal amounted to a “private transaction,” as the president himself acknowledged, for a purpose he believed to be unrelated to politics.
The president is correct that the payments had nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with brand management.
The “Trump” name is a brand, and that brand is big business. Protecting that brand’s reputation is critical to the business that uses it – just as it is for brands like Pepsi-Cola or United Airlines.
The fact that the man whose name is Trump happened to be a political candidate did not magically transform brand management into a campaign contribution.