Donald Trump helped illegally reimburse his former lawyer Michael Cohen for hush money payments made ahead of the 2016 election, then confirmed their arrangement in a conversation in the Oval Office in 2017, according to new documents released by prosecutors to lay out the alleged scheme.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg Jr. revealed the allegations on Tuesday in a statement of facts his office released as the 34-count indictment against Trump was unsealed following the former president’s historic arraignment. The document provides a play-by-play of how Trump allegedly hid three payments of hush money one to adult film star Stormy Daniels, another to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, and a third to a Trump Tower door attendant with falsified invoices, general ledger entries, and checks.
According to prosecutors, these payments were orchestrated after “identifying and purchasing” negative information about Trump in order to suppress its publication and benefit his 2016 electoral prospects. In doing so, those involved in the scheme violated election laws, falsified business records, and mischaracterized for tax purposes the true nature of the payments, the indictment states.
Prosecutors say that in August 2015, Trump and Cohen met with David Pecker, then-CEO of American Media, which that owns several tabloids, including the National Enquirer, to head off potential negative news stories during the presidential campaign. The practice, called “catch and kill,” isn’t uncommon, but according to the New Yorker, American Media was especially keen to do it because Pecker was personal friends with Trump.