In the past two years, we have learned many things about our 45th president. However, recent allegations against President Donald Trump regarding an affair with adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, otherwise known as Stormy Daniels, raise the question of the Trump campaign’s integrity during the 2016 election. Those who have worked to silence the allegations made by Daniels, like Trump’s own personal lawyer Michael Cohen, are playing against campaign finance laws and the democratic process that we need for fair elections.
The alleged affair, which has been repeatedly denied by Trump, is reported to have happened in 2006, which ultimately does not have anything to do with the 2016 election. The allegations should be a private discussion between Trump and the First Lady, as they were said to have taken place shortly after she gave birth to their son, Barron. However, what should be of concern to American citizens is in regard to the behavior the Trump team showed behind closed doors during the election.
In October 2016, in the heat of elections, Cohen reportedly paid Daniels $130,000 of hush money to ensure the public did not hear a peep about any affair. Cohen denies that any of the money came from the Trump administration, but rather from his own funds. However, if this money was used to influence the public view of then Republican candidate Trump, this money had to be reported to the Federal Election Commission, none of which was reported.
As members of a democracy, we should be asking ourselves this: Is it OK for a presidential candidate to privately pay someone off to conceal information from voters?
Those who are brushing this issue aside and simply excusing it as none of our business should consider that perhaps they were even further deceived during the already controversial election. Are there other payoffs we don’t know about? If Trump had not secretly paid off Daniels, would it have changed the outcome of who our president is today?
This is an issue that involves the American people. While what the president did or did not do in 2006 behind his wife’s back is not currently our problem, what him and his campaign team may have done during the 2016 election is most definitely of our concern. It is in violation of public policy for any public official to use legal contracts to silence information that is possibly detrimental to their chance of being in office.
The courts will determine if the hush money paid by Cohen is constitutional or not. However, those who are brushing this aside need to understand what this all could mean. Daniels needs to be heard.
Samantha Moffett is a sophomore majoring in mass communication.