Trump's past testimony indicates knowledge of campaign finance law: report

President TrumpDonald TrumpMan sentenced to nearly four years for running scam Trump, Biden PACs Meadows says Trump's blood oxygen level was dangerously low when he had COVID-19 Trump endorses David Perdue in Georgia's governor race MORE gave sworn statements years ago that indicate he has an extensive knowledge of campaign finance laws, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, a key factor in whether or not prosecutors could successfully pursue a case against him over certain payments during the 2016 election.

The Journal cited two separate instances where Trump gave testimony about his experience with campaign donations. The first came in 1988 when he testified for a government integrity commission.

In that testimony, he reportedly discussed the dollar limit on contributions.


“I have gone through federal campaigns, and frankly it’s the best thing that ever happened to me because you’re limited to a thousand-dollar contribution,” Trump said, according to the Journal.

But Trump lamented that the cap may indirectly hurt the political system because some lawmakers "spend their entire tenure trying to raise money, with a thousand dollar limit."

In 2000, Trump came under Federal Election Commission (FEC) scrutiny amid allegations that Trump Hotels & Casinos violated campaign finance laws when it hosted a fundraising event for a Senate candidate.

Trump argued at the time that he did not commit any wrongdoing, and showed a familiarity with campaign laws, the Journal reported. He told the committee that he had acted at the time in his personal capacity, not his corporate capacity, and the FEC took no further action.

The sworn affidavit from 2000 "indicates that Trump had a very thorough understanding of federal campaign finance law," Brett Kappel, an election-law lawyer, told the Journal in part.

The FEC set its sights on Trump again in 2011 when he allegedly accepted in-kind contributions from the Trump Organization toward an exploratory presidential bid.

Trump has again run into trouble with campaign finance laws, as his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to paying two women during the 2016 campaign to keep quiet about alleged affairs with the now-president.

Federal prosecutors said in a court filing earlier this month that Cohen made the payments at the direction of "Individual-1," whose description matches that of Trump.

Trump has denied directing Cohen to break the law. He has further insisted that the nondisclosure payments did not qualify as campaign finance law violations, but that if they did, Cohen would bear the liability.

Cohen, who was sentenced earlier this month to three years in prison stemming from the campaign finance law violations,  as well as bank fraud and tax fraud charges, told ABC News that "of course" Trump knew the payments were wrong when they were made. 

Trump's knowledge of campaign finance laws would be key in any future criminal proceedings against him, as prosecutors would have to prove that Trump knowingly violated the law to obtain a conviction.

Rudy Giuliani, who serves as Trump's personal attorney, told The Wall Street Journal that "whether or not the president had detailed knowledge" of the law, the payments were not a violation.

In an unsolicited text to The Hill on Wednesday, Giuliani further asserted that the payments would not violate campaign finance laws as long as "there is a strong personal component to a payment — like protecting your wife, children and family from scandal.”