Trump Campaign Hid Settlements With Women, New Complaint Says

by Jessica
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A sex discrimination lawsuit against Donald Trump’s campaign has triggered new accusations that Trump’s lawyers have intentionally covered up settlement payments to women, in violation of federal law.

On Friday, watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, demanding an investigation into the alleged cover-up.

The complaint cites new allegations from 2016 Trump campaign aide A.J. Delgado, which she lodged in a sworn court declaration earlier this week as part of her ongoing discrimination suit against Trump’s political operation.

Delgado’s filing presented evidence of top Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz openly admitting that the campaign wanted to use a law firm to cover up a potential settlement payout in 2017.

The arrangement, as Delgado described it, appears specifically designed to evade the consequences of federal disclosure laws that require campaigns to publicly report the identities of payment recipients.

“In other words, the payment would be routed through a middleman, to hide the fact that the Campaign had settled, from the public and the FEC,” Delgado stated. “I thus have direct, personal experience with the Defendant-Campaign hiding settlement payments to women, routing them through a ‘middleman law firm,’ which to the public would only appear as payments ‘for legal services.’”

Delgado also claimed to have “information and reason to believe” that other campaign payments have hidden settlements with women “who raised complaints of gender discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, and sexual harassment.”

Those payments, she said, are related to the $4.1 million that flowed to Kasowitz’s law firm over a two-month period immediately following the November 2020 election, as well as millions in mysterious legal reimbursements to the campaign’s compliance firm, Red Curve Solutions, which The Daily Beast first reported earlier this month, prompting a federal complaint.

The declaration is particularly significant in that it captures a direct admission of the campaign’s actual intentions behind this middleman arrangement—to keep the existence of a settlement from the public, and, by doing so, from the FEC itself.

In a statement to The Daily Beast, CREW president Noah Bookbinder demanded an investigation, saying that Delgado’s allegations raise serious concerns about a potentially illegal cover-up.

“The allegations made in AJ Delgado’s declaration paint a deeply troubling picture of potentially illegal activity carried out by Donald Trump’s campaign. The FEC must conduct an investigation to determine the validity of these claims and establish the degree to which any wrongdoing occurred,” Bookbinder said.

The statement added that the public has the right to know how political money is spent, and “schemes to hide that information undercut Americans’ faith in our political system.”

“Donald Trump’s admission of using pass-through payments to hide their purpose and protect his political prospects makes it even more important that the FEC investigate. No candidate or campaign is above the law, not even Trump,” the statement continued.

The Daily Beast sent comment requests to the Trump campaign and Delgado, but did not receive a reply. In a statement, a Kasowitz Benson Torres spokesperson wrote: “Ms. Delgado’s accusations that there were FEC violations or that the firm acted as a ‘middleman’ to ‘hid[e] settlement payments to women’ from the Campaign are pure fantasy and false.”

Delgado’s statements come as she pursues a sex discrimination lawsuit against the 2016 campaign, where she served as a senior adviser but was back-seated when she revealed that she had become pregnant. (The father was Delgado’s then-supervisor and top Trump 2024 adviser Jason Miller, whom Delgado has also accused of raping her—a claim Miller denies.)

Delgado, a Harvard Law grad who is representing herself in the case, claims the campaign sidelined her specifically because she was pregnant, and is seeking damages for unlawful discrimination.

The Daily Beast reported last week that Trump’s previous lawyers in the Delgado case have bailed on him. The firm—LaRocca, Hornik, Greenberg, Kittredge, Carlin & McPartland—has defended Trump in other high-profile cases against women, including E. Jean Carroll, but the attorneys told the court last week that they were withdrawing, citing “an irreparable breakdown” in their relationship with the Trump campaign.

According to Delgado’s declaration, during her brief 2017 settlement negotiations with the campaign—which, according to Delgado, the campaign ultimately reneged—Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz expressed to her that “Trump and the Campaign would need to keep this confidential” because Trump “is known for ‘not settling.’”

That proposal caught the attention of Delgado’s own lawyers, who raised the issue of federal disclosure laws. “My attorneys expressed this would not be possible because disbursements by a Campaign are public record,” the declaration said.

Kasowitz, however, “dismissed the concerns easily,” Delgado said, telling her that disclosure was “not a problem at all,” and, “what we would do is the campaign pays me and then I cut a check to you guys.” Now, Delgado is alleging that Kasowitz has funneled Trump campaign money to other women making discrimination claims.

In all, Kasowitz’s firm has received about $4.5 million from the Trump campaign, almost all of it coming in the two months after the 2020 election. In that time, FEC records show, the campaign issued three massive payments to Kasowitz in flat dollar amounts—$600,000 on Nov. 11, $1 million on Dec. 18, and $2.5 million on Jan. 13, 2021.

Delgado now claims that those payments are related to complaints of gender discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, and sexual harassment. (At the time, Kasowitz served as Trump’s counsel in the opening stages of E. Jean Carroll’s first sexual assault lawsuit.)

Delgado also says that some of the mysterious legal reimbursements to Trump’s campaign finance compliance firm, Red Curve, appear related to discrimination complaints. (Red Curve does not provide any actual legal services.) The Daily Beast uncovered those payments this month, prompting nonprofit watchdog Campaign Legal Center to file an FEC complaint alleging that the Trump team was obscuring the nature of those payments.

As The Daily Beast previously reported, Trump has a history of shielding payouts behind law firms, including his 2016 campaign. That practice has continued through this year, with his Save America leadership PAC reporting a $392,638 “legal consulting” expense to Trump attorney Alina Habba on Valentine’s Day—the exact dollar amount that Trump was ordered to pay to The New York Times after losing his defamation case the month prior.

The CREW complaint also notes that Delgado’s claims overlap with recent events—the 2016 hush-money payments currently at the center of Trump’s criminal trial in Manhattan.

“The use of pass-throughs to hide the true purpose of payments is not unfamiliar to Mr. Trump and his businesses,” the complaint states. “For example, Mr. Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen, his former lawyer, for payments made to ‘catch and kill’ a story concerning Mr. Trump’s alleged extramarital relations.”

CREW also notes that Trump himself made recent public remarks about that case, confirming his belief that “payments routed through attorneys could be marked ‘legal expenses’ even if they were reimbursements for expenses paid to third parties.”

“Regardless of what Mr. Trump may have experienced in the business world, federal law does not permit a political committee to report any expense routed through an attorney or any other intermediary as a payment to the intermediary for ‘legal expenses’ or otherwise,” the complaint states.

“Rather, federal law requires political committees provide detailed and truthful information about who they are paying and why they are paying them, even if doing so would reveal facts embarrassing to the campaign such as the settlement of legal claims,” the complaint states.

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