By Gary Bai
Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday revealed a letter that he says is “totally exculpatory” evidence proving his innocence in the Stormy Daniels hush money case.
It is the latest development in the case recently dominating national headlines involving Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s reported pursuit of a Trump indictment. Bragg is investigating Trump’s involvement in a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Daniels to stop her from going public about an alleged affair she claims she had with Trump. Trump has denied the affair, saying he’s a victim of extortion.
As a part of the investigation, a Manhattan grand jury has heard testimony from former Trump associates, which included former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, a star witness who pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign finance laws in August 2018 for arranging that payment to Daniels and another woman claiming to have had an affair with Trump.
Cohen initially told press outlets in February 2018 that he paid this money out of his own pocket, but reversed his account in his guilty plea, claiming to have done so at Trump’s direction and that he was reimbursed by the Trump Organization through routine legal expenses.
Trump has previously called the payment part of a monthly retainer given to Cohen, through which the lawyer “entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties.” He has denied any wrongdoing in the matter.
The letter that Trump disclosed in a Truth Social post on Wednesday was sent by Cohen’s lawyer Stephen Ryan to the Federal Election Commission on Feb. 8, 2018, in response to a complaint filed by government watchdog Common Cause.
“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,” Ryan stated in the letter.
“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,” Ryan continued, referring to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.
The statement in the letter mirrors Cohen’s statement to media outlets in February 2018.
Joseph Tacopina, Trump’s lawyer on the case, confirmed with The Epoch Times the letter’s authenticity.
Trump said the letter constitutes “exculpatory” evidence and called for an immediate end to Bragg’s case.
“Wow, look what was just found—A Letter from Cohen’s Lawyer to the Federal Election Commission. This is totally exculpatory, and must end the Manhattan District Attorney’s Witch Hunt, immediately,” Trump wrote in the post.
“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!”
Though the exact charges pursued by Bragg’s office are unclear, it is widely speculated that Bragg is pursuing a felony charge of falsifying business records, which requires the falsifying of business records to be done in connection with another crime—in this case, the violation of federal campaign finance laws. This complicated legal strategy that combines state and federal laws, however, is seen by some legal experts as high risk.