FEC could take a year to decide if Stormy Daniels payment was in-kind contribution to Trump: report

Current and former officials at the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) say it could take more than a year to determine whether a $130,000 payment made by President TrumpDonald John TrumpOver 100 lawmakers consistently voted against chemical safeguards: study CNN's Anderson Cooper unloads on Trump Jr. for spreading 'idiotic' conspiracy theories about him Cohn: Jamie Dimon would be 'phenomenal' president MORE's lawyer to adult film star Stormy Daniels constituted an unreported donation to the Trump campaign.

NBC News reports that the investigation into whether Trump's top lawyer violated campaign finance laws with the payment could last months due to understaffing at America's election watchdog agency.

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“I think it is almost impossible for FEC to finish by the end of year,” former FEC Chairman Trevor Potter told the news outlet.

Former Democratic FEC commissioner Ann Ravel agreed with Potter's assessment, saying the FEC's enforcement division was particularly hard-hit by staffing issues.

“The FEC is understaffed primarily in the enforcement division. So it does have an impact on the ability to aggressively enforce matters and bring them up before the commission in a timely fashion,” she told NBC News.

Another issue that could be facing the agency is partisan gridlock. According to Potter, politicization at the commission has forced commissioners to punt on major issues over the last decade.

“The commission has deadlocked, split between Democrats and Republicans, on almost every issue in the last eight years. I don’t think the FEC will resolve this. There’s a possibility that the [Department of Justice] DOJ could step in if they thought this was worth directly investigating,” Potter said.

Cohen has admitted to making the payment to Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006, shortly after his marriage to first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report — East coast braces for Florence | Trump, Pence mark 9/11 anniversary Trump praises 'brave patriots' of Flight 93 during 9/11 anniversary ceremony Flight 93 passengers represent all of us, says victim's brother MORE. Cohen has claimed that Trump knew nothing of his payment to Daniels, and the White House has repeatedly denied Daniels's claims.

"The president strongly, clearly and consistently has denied these underlying claims. The only one who has been inconsistent is the one making the claims," White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said Monday.

"The president doesn't believe that any of the claims Ms. Daniels made in the interview are accurate."