New evidence the Stormy Daniels payment may have violated election law

NBC News on Friday reported that Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime ally and attorney, had used a Trump Organization email address as he worked to secure the payment to Daniels.

..Trumporg.com redirects to Trump.com. The domain is registered to the Trump Organization. It is, in other words, an email address that belongs to the Trump Organization — an asset of the company.

.. That means that federal election law was almost certainly violated.

.. Daniels’s lawsuit asserts Trump learned she was talking to media outlets shortly after a number of women had come forward to rebut Trump’s denial during the Oct. 10, 2016, presidential debate that he had groped women as he had implied in the famous “Access Hollywood” tape. Hearing that she might tell her story, too, Trump “sought to silence” her, “thus helping to ensure he won the Presidential Election.”

.. The email from the bank to Cohen does not prove that company funds were used to pay Daniels, which Noble told us last month would itself be illegal. Just using that email address is its own problem.

.. even if what happened with Daniels was the sort of thing that was very common for Cohen as part of his duties, the Daniels scenario could still be a contribution if Cohen understood it would aid Trump’s electoral effort.

.. he used his Trump Organization email for any number things.

“I sent emails from the Trump Org email address to my family, friends as well as Trump business emails,” he told the network. “I basically used it for everything. I am certain most people can relate.

.. Cohen told the network that the funds used to pay Daniels “were taken from my home equity line.” The money, that is, came directly from Cohen. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that Cohen told others that he had not been repaid for his investment immediately — meaning that he had, in effect, made a loan to the campaign of some duration by covering this cost.

.. The only way in which Cohen could have paid the $130,000 without having violated campaign finance laws is if he were totally independent of the campaign and, as a private individual, decided to give Daniels the money to buy her silence.

.. To assume that no campaign finance laws were broken means assuming either that:

  1. The payment had nothing to do with the campaign, or
  2. Cohen had nothing to do with the campaign.

Neither seems at all likely.

“Pretty safe bet”: Former national security adviser warns Kushner compromised by foreign intel

NSA officials say Jared Kushner’s use of personal email likely made him a target of foreign intelligence services.

The National Security Agency warned top Trump administration officials in a series of classified briefings that using their personal cell phones and emails could make them vulnerable to espionage by America’s adversaries, according to a new report.

The briefings, which took place shortly after Donald Trump’s January 2016 inauguration, specifically named Jared Kushner as a top target for foreign intelligence services.

“Jared is probably one of the top five or 10 targets in the U.S. government because of his access to the president and because of the portfolios he’s been given,” Richard Clarke, a former top cybersecurity adviser to three presidents, told Politico.

.. Despite the warnings, Kushner, along with other top White House aides, continued to use their personal devices and email accounts for official government communication.

Kushner’s unique role as the president’s “point-man” on foreign policy in places like China, Syria, Afghanistan and the Middle East, as well as on a range of domestic issues, makes him particularly vulnerable to foreign espionage, said Clarke.

“It’s a pretty safe bet that his personal devices have been compromised by foreign intelligence services,” Clarke said. “And, therefore, there is some risk that meetings he attends are compromised, too.”

.. According to Politico, Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump created a private family email domain before Trump took office in January. Kushner reportedly communicated with key White House officials using the account from January through August of this year.

Kushner used private email to conduct White House business

The senior adviser set up the account after the election. Other West Wing officials have also used private email accounts for official business.

Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, set up their private family domain late last year before moving to Washington from New York, according to people with knowledge of events as well as publicly available internet registration records. At the time, Kushner — who served as a senior campaign adviser — was expected to be named to a White House role, while Ivanka Trump was publicly saying she didn’t plan to work in her father’s administration.

.. People familiar with the account say it was primarily set up for Kushner’s personal communications, but he has used it to communicate with acquaintances outside the White House about matters relating to Trump and the administration, according to people who have received messages, as well as with his White House colleagues.
.. Private email traffic among White House aides — some of it sent between personal email accounts rather than to or from government addresses — could skirt the requirements of the Presidential Records Act, which requires all documents related to the president’s personal and political activities to be archived.
.. Other White House officials have also sometimes used personal accounts to correspond with Kushner and with each other, according to emails seen by POLITICO and people familiar with Kushner’s correspondence. They have also used encrypted apps like Signal and Confide that automatically delete messages, prompting former press secretary Sean Spicer in February to issue a warning to communications staffers that using such apps could violate the Presidential Records Act.
.. The use of personal email accounts in the Trump White House has been somewhat common, even though the president has been a harsh critic of Clinton’s private email habits, frequently leading “lock her up” chants as he traveled across the country on the campaign trail.
.. If emails related to Trump aren’t saved, it could be difficult for historians, according to Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University. Zelizer said that historians can provide a richer history of how administrations work — and historians have feared for years that the proliferation of email will lead some people to do their business in ways in which the records can’t be archived. Zelizer said it could also make the job more difficult for investigators seeking to understand parts of the White House.