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George Conway rips Trump's defense of Daniels, McDougal payments

George Conway, a lawyer who's married to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, attacked President Trump in an op-ed Friday over explanations from Trump's attorneys concerning how much the president knew about illegal payments made to women threatening to accuse him of having affairs.

In an opinion piece published by The Washington Post, Conway, former Federal Election Commission chairman Trevor Potter (R) and former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal attacked what they called "weak" and "dangerous" excuses by Trump's allies for the payments, which the president's former attorney Michael Cohen said were made at Trump's direction.

"The president could face criminal charges for conspiring with Cohen to make the payments because the evidence shows the payments were made, at least in part, for campaign purposes. As for what the jury concluded in the Edwards case, there's good reason to believe that the evidence in a criminal case against Trump would be much stronger," the three co-authors wrote, referring to the 2011 case against former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) that established a payment in an extramarital affair could be considered a campaign contribution.

Cohen has admitted in court filings that the payments, made to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, were made "at the direction" of the person identified as "individual-1" in the filings, a reference to Trump.

The timing of Trump's payments to the women -- years after the affairs allegedly occurred but just weeks before Election Day and immediately after the "Access Hollywood" tape scandal -- points to the payments being campaign-related, Conway and his co-authors argued.

"Trump's payments to his former sexual partners were made many years after the actual affairs," they wrote. "The payments to Daniels, whose given name is Stephanie Clifford, were made in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign, immediately after the "Access Hollywood" scandal broke, when Daniels was in negotiation with national media outlets to go public with her story. This timing strongly suggests that the payments were campaign-related."

The investigation into the payments took a turn this week with the sentencing of Cohen to three years in prison for illegal campaign contributions and other crimes to which he pleaded guilty earlier this year.

Conway's frequent criticism of the president has garnered attention on social media in recent months due to his wife's role as one of Trump's top advisers in the White House.