Taxes could present 'significant problem' for Trump, says ex-federal prosecutor

Former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi on Monday said that taxes could present significant legal hurdles for President TrumpDonald John TrumpFacebook releases audit on conservative bias claims Harry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Recessions happen when presidents overlook key problems MORE after federal prosecutors in New York said Trump directed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to make two illegal payments during the 2016 election.

"The tax charges are probably going to be a significant problem for the president," Rossi, counsel at Carlton Fields, told Hill.TV's Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on "Rising."

"Here's how taxes are involved. Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels got payments through various methods. Either David Pecker's organization or through Michael Cohen's shell in Delaware. Those payments, one prong of the conspiracy, that the president directed and was the leader of, one prong was we're going to violate the campaign finance laws," he continued. 

"Corporate contributions, personal limits, and disclosure. That's the important part," he said. "The corporation, National Enquirer AMI, is deducting that contribution as a legitimate business expense. It wasn't a legitimate business expense. It's going to help the president of the United States kill a story." 

Rossi, who has frequently been critical of Trump in the Russia probe, is a Democrat and was defeated in the party's primary for Virginia's lieutenant governor in 2017. 

His comments come after prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York say Cohen "acted in coordination with and at the direction of" Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign in arranging payments to silence Daniels and McDougal, who both claim to have had affairs with Trump. The president has denied having the affairs.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that federal prosecutors are continuing to investigate potential links between Trump Organization executives and the two hush-money payments that Cohen says then-candidate Trump helped set up.

"[Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen] Weisselberg is cutting a $35,000 check to Michael Cohen over a year to reimburse him for that payment to female two, who we all know is Stormy Daniels," Rossi said. "That is tax evasion too because the Trump Organization is taking that as a legal fee. So taxes are very integral to the charges against Michael Cohen, and also the president of the United States." 

— Julia Manchester