Paying off mistresses with donor money is not what the doctor ordered:
To begin with, it is the John Edwards prosecution which itself strengthens the case against Trump. Everyone knew that Edwards was on trial for having donors make payments to his mistress to help fund his campaign. This put Trump and everyone else on fair notice that federal prosecutors were treating such payments as reportable campaign expenditures in certain circumstances. Trump even tweeted about the case at the time. At the very least, the Edwards precedent should have caused Trump to seek advice of counsel on whether payments made to hush up mistresses timed specifically to help his election campaign were illegal.
Not only is the legal theory against Trump stronger because of the Edwards precedent; the facts of the Trump case appear much stronger than the Edwards case as well. Here there appears to be both testimony of Cohen and people from AMI (the National Enquirer parent company) who have said that they coordinated with Trump to make the payments in order to help Trump’s election chances.
Bolding mine, because while I respect the hell out of Rick Hasen, he apparently hasn't yet grasped this fact about Trump: There is no precedent that applies to him, because he considers himself extraordinary. Things that are important to other people simply don't apply to him. When he said he could "stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody" and not lose voter support, he wasn't joking. He really believes that. That's why his Twitter feed from 3-5-7 years ago is littered with criticisms of people for doing things he now proudly does himself, because his ego has raised him above the rest of humanity. I also don't (completely) agree with Rick about this:
And yet…there is an element of truth in Brad saying that some people are latching onto the campaign finance violations as a way of trying to bring down a President they otherwise don’t like. I’ve said in numerous interviews that I have a hard time believing anyone in the House will want to impeach the President if all there is against Trump are these violations. Indeed, in a long thread on Twitter, Marty Lederman makes the case that the campaign finance issue is a distraction from the potentially more serious allegations against the President and the campaign finance charges are unlikely to bring him down. Indeed, even though I think the Edwards precedent put everyone on fair notice that paying hush money can be a campaign expenditure and using excessive or corporate contributions to fund it a campaign finance crime, one can easily imagine the five conservatives on the Supreme Court (who generally dislike campaign regulation) viewing the campaign finance statute much more narrowly should it come down to it.
So the bottom line is that the Edwards precedent gives the prosecutors ample ground to have gone after Cohen and AMI, and at least in theory to go after Trump as well. And the evidence that Trump caused these payments to be made to help his election chances is strong.
But what I wrote in 2012 about fears of the criminalization of politics still holds true. Caution is in order, and it likely will and should take more than this to bring down a President.
You forgot another (huge) precedent: Congress impeached President Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. And that perjury charge could not have happened if he hadn't been subpoenaed to testify in front of a Grand Jury. And he was subpoenaed because of an extra-marital affair he conducted. There was no actual crime committed prior to that testimony, but in the case of Trump, crimes were committed to cover up sexual scandal.
By nearly every measure, Trump has far surpassed the activities and evidence that brought Clinton into Impeachment hearings. And the longer Congress allows him to break the laws with impunity, the more he believes that he is above those laws. And that is dangerous, to put it mildly.