Report: Donald Trump Could Be Criminally Indicted For Paying Stormy Daniels Hush Money

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The 2016 presidential election represented many historical firsts. This was the first time that a major party chose a woman as a nominee. It was the first time a nominee boasted that he could shoot someone on a main road and not lose votes. It was the first time a candidate for office asked a foreign enemy to hack his opponent’s email account. And, of course, it was the first time someone running for president paid his lawyer for a six-figure porn star to defend an alleged lawsuit. cover

Obviously, that last item refers to one Donald Trump and one Stormy Daniels– who Trump has denied having anything to do with – and a payment that, like so many things, the former president has never had to do with consequences. And maybe not, although his chances of avoiding the consequences became much worse.

The New York Times reports that the Manhattan District Attorney’s office was to begin “presenting evidence to a grand jury” about Trump’s role in the 2016 hush money scheme on Monday, “setting the stage for possible criminal charges against to face the former president in the coming months, according to people familiar with the matter.” According to the paper, the jury was recently selected and witness testimony will begin soon, “a clear indication that the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, is nearing a decision on whether to prosecute Mr. Trump.”

It is reported that one of these witnesses David Pecker, who was the publisher of the National Requester. His testimony could be specifically, like the Times pounds, thanks to an agreement he struck in 2016 to look out for potentially damaging stories about Trump and make sure they never saw the light of day. For example, in August of that year, American Media, Inc., publisher of the National Requester and the company Pecker, who was CEO at the time, paid $150,000 to secure the rights to the previous story. Playboy model Karen MacDougall— who also said she had an affair with the then-Republican nominee — and didn’t disclose anything. (Trump has denied having an affair with McDougal.) Two months later, Daniels was in discussions about the possibility of selling for her rights to the tabloid, but this time things were different.

As the Times notes:

Mr. Pecker… refused to pay Ms. Daniels too. He and the editor of the record, [Dylan] Howard, agreed to that [Trump attorney Michael] Cohen they would have to deal directly with Ms. Daniels’ team. When Mr. Cohen was slow to pay, Mr. Howard pressured him to fulfill the agreement, lest Ms. Daniels go public with their discussions about deleting her story. “We need to coordinate something,” Mr. Howard texted Mr. Cohen in late October 2016, “or it could look really bad for everybody.”

Two days later, Mr. Cohen transferred the $130,000 to an account held by Ms. Daniels’ lawyer.

According to the times, prosecutors have tried to interview Howard and Trump Organization employees Jeffrey McConney and Deborah Tarasoff before the grand jury, noting that while McConney and Tarasoff “were not the main players, they helped arrange for the Trump Organization to reimburse Mr. Cohen for the $130,000 he paid for Ms. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Meanwhile, Michael Cohen — who pleaded guilty in 2018 to orchestrating financial violations, bank fraud, and tax evasion, and who said he arranged the payments at Trump’s direction — appears has been happy to tell the investigators what he knows about the hush money case. (According to the times, Cohen was at the district attorney’s office earlier this month meeting with prosecutors, and “is expected to return for at least one more interview with prosecutors in February.”

As for what would have to happen to impeach Trump:

… at the heart of any potential case is how the Trump Organization reimbursed Mr. Cohen for the $130,000 he paid Ms. Daniels and how the company recorded the payment. that on the inside. According to court papers in Mr. Cohen’s federal case, the company falsely identified the reimbursements as legal fees.

The district attorney’s office now appears to be focusing on whether misclassifying the payments to Mr. Cohen as legal fees violated a New York law that prohibits evasion. business records. Violations of that law can be charged as a misdemeanor. To make it a felony, Mr. Bragg’s prosecutors would have to show that Mr. Trump disclosed the records to help commit or conceal a second crime — in this case, violating a state election law. New York, according to a person familiar with the matter. That second side has been largely unproven, so it would make for a dangerous legal case against any defendant, let alone the former president.

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