It is not persuasive to claim that all of Clifford’s story should be rejected because some of it is suspect and because she is less than a paragon of virtue. What is truly suspect is to theorize that she was paid $130,000 to keep silent about something that didn’t happen, and that candidate Trump had no connection to a payment made by his lawyer in the crucial weeks right before the election.
To repeat, the point here is not about the lurid details. The point is that the concealment effort may involve criminal violations of campaign-finance laws. That is, a prosecutor could rationally commence an investigation based on suspicion that the $130,000 payment to Clifford was (a) potentially an in-kind campaign contribution that was astronomically above the legal donation limit for individuals, (b) from a potentially illegal source (depending on how Cohen’s LLC, Essential Consultants, was structured), and (c) not disclosed as required by federal election law.
On this score, it does not matter that one may not be a fan of the campaign-finance laws — they are the law, and as we’ve seen, they can be enforced by criminal prosecution.