Speed Reads

Not So Fast

It could take the government more than a year to rule whether Stormy Daniels payment was illegal

It could take more than a year for the Federal Election Commission to determine whether a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels violated federal election laws, current and former FEC officials told NBC News.

The payment, transferred to Daniels by President Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen, has been criticized as a possible unreported donation to the Trump campaign, if it was intended to benefit Trump's run for office. Cohen paid Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, less than two weeks before the 2016 election to facilitate a nondisclosure agreement that barred the actress from speaking out about an alleged affair she had with Trump. Daniels claims that she slept with Trump in 2006, and that the payment was hush money. Trump has denied that the tryst took place.

But the FEC, which enforces federal campaign laws, might not be able to consider the case for a while, due to vacancies and ongoing cases keeping the six-member staff busy, NBC News reports. Political gridlock among the FEC members also means slow decision-making, the former FEC chairman said, as partisan views grind investigations to a halt. If the commission determines that Cohen's payment to Daniels aided Trump's campaign, it would exceed the maximum allowed for campaign contributions and be considered illegal reports NBC News.