05/22/2024 - $1200 Per Hour Expert Fees in Hush Money Case & Update

As Donald Trump's criminal hush-money trial approaches its conclusion, his defense team intends to call at least one witness: Bradley Smith, a former commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, who charges $1,200 an hour. Smith, a Republican expert in campaign finance law who served on the FEC from 2000 to 2005, including roles as commissioner, vice chairman, and chairman, is set to testify on Monday in Trump’s Manhattan trial.

Due to Merchan's order, Smith, appointed to the FEC by former President Bill Clinton, is limited to explaining the basics of the FEC to the jury, including what the FEC is, its functions, and standard definitions of terms like "campaign expenditure" and "campaign contribution."

In both instances, the judges concluded that the defense's request for Smith to interpret campaign finance law for the jury was improper. In the other case, United States v. Suarez, Smith was also prohibited from testifying. In that case, he would have stated that "people often misunderstand the campaign laws" and that "it is reasonable for individuals to believe that the law allows 'straw man' donations," according to court documents filed earlier this year by prosecutors in Trump's case.

Trump and his Save America PAC spent over $2 million on expert testimony for last year's Manhattan civil fraud trial, including $1,350 an hour for New York University professor Eli Bartov. Bartov testified he worked 650 hours and earned at least $877,500.

State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron wrote in December that Bartov "lost all credibility" on the stand, adding, "All that his testimony proves is that for a million or so dollars, some experts will say whatever you want them to say."

Prosecutors allege that Trump illegally falsified invoices, checks, and other records throughout 2017 to disguise a year's worth of monthly reimbursement checks to his then-attorney, Michael Cohen. Falsifying business records is a misdemeanor, but it becomes a felony—punishable by up to four years in prison—if the records were falsified with the intent to commit or conceal another crime.

Daniels claimed that in 2015, after Trump began his presidential campaign, her then-publicist Gina Rodriguez attempted to sell her story. There was little interest until the “Access Hollywood” tape of Trump was released in October 2016, leading to discussions with AMI and eventually Michael Cohen, who paid Daniels $130,000 to keep her story private.

Under that agreement, Daniels said she refrained from commenting on news stories about the AMI deals or any affairs, feeling bound by the nondisclosure agreement she signed with Cohen.