Former President Donald Trumpby a Manhattan grand jury on charges relating to a “silent” payment made just before the 2016 election to adult film star Stormy Daniels. At his arraignment on Tuesday, he pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of first degree falsifying business records.
Trump’s lawyer at the time, Michael Cohen, saidabout an affair she claims to have had with Trump, and he says he was later reimbursed by the Trump Organization in a series of payments identified as retainer fees. Prosecutors investigated the falsification of business records related to refunds made to Cohen. Trump denies having sex with Daniels and any wrongdoing.
The indictment lists dates with brief boilerplate descriptions of the crimes corresponding to the alleged false business records, while the accompanying statement of facts gives more detailed information about reimbursement payments to Cohen and about how Trump and his associates allegedly tried to conceal the reason for Cohen’s payments. and the damaging allegations about Trump during the 2016 campaign.
Here are some of the highlights from the indictment and statement of facts published by the Manhattan DA
Basis of the indictment
Trump is charged with 34 counts of first-degree falsifying business records in a 16-page indictment that was unsealed Tuesday as Trump appeared in a Manhattan courtroom for his arraignment.
The basis of the indictment is the falsification of business records when Trump reimbursed Cohen for payments made to Daniels. Falsification of business records is a misdemeanor under New York criminal law. But the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office charged Trump with crimes on the basis that the conduct was intended to aid another crime – violating election laws.
CBS News legal associate Jessica Levinson pointed out to CBS News that the 34 counts in the indictment represent 11 different payments of “silent money” in three parts: the invoice, the ledger and the check. For one of the payments, she noted, there are apparently two ledger entries.
According to the statement of facts, “Defendant DONALD J. TRUMP repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York City business records to conceal criminal conduct that concealed information detrimental to voters during the 2016 presidential election.”
“Catch and Kill” Timeline
The statement of facts contains a timeline during which the former president allegedly engaged in a practice known as “catch and kill,” which involved buying negative stories in an attempt to prevent them from being published. From August 2015 to December 2017, the statement of facts states that Mr. Trump “orchestrated a scheme with others to influence the 2016 presidential election by identifying and buying negative information about him to suppress his publication. and benefit the defendant’s electoral prospects”.
Story of a child born out of wedlock deleted
According to the statement of facts, in October or November 2015, David Pecker, then CEO of American Media Inc. – which had an agreement with Trump to act as his “eyes and ears” and publish negative stories about his rivals – learned that a former Trump Tower doorman was trying to sell information about a child Trump allegedly fathered out of wedlock, according to the statement of facts. AMI negotiated with the gatekeeper and paid him $30,000 to acquire the exclusive rights to the story. AMI then falsely characterized the payment in the company’s records.
When AMI later concluded that the story was not true, the CEO wanted to release the gatekeeper from the deal. But Cohen asked the CEO not to release the doorman from the contract until after the 2016 presidential election.
Trump’s thanks to David Pecker
Trump invited Pecker to his inauguration and then invited him to the White House for dinner ‘to thank him for his help during the campaign’ in suppressing the stories of the doorman and Karen McDougal, who was paid $150,000 to remain silent about an alleged sexual relationship with Trump, according to the statement of facts.
Payments to Michael Cohen and potential violation of tax law
The narrative also outlines the planning that went into reimbursing Cohen for the wire transfer to Daniels. In January 2017, Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg and Cohen met to discuss how the attorney would be reimbursed for the payment to Daniels. The two agreed that Cohen would be reimbursed $180,000 for the silent payment of $130,000, plus a separate payment of $50,000 which Cohen claimed as a separate reimbursement. Weisselberg then doubled the payment so that Cohen “could characterize the payment as income on his tax returns, instead of a refund.” Weisselberg also paid Cohen an additional $60,000 as an additional year-end bonus.
Cohen sent invoices to Trump through the Trump Organization, claiming to have a retainer agreement when “there was no such retainer agreement” and Cohen “wasn’t paid for services rendered during his tenure.” ‘a month of 2017,’ reads the statement of facts. Trump and Cohen met in the Oval Office in early February 2017 “and confirmed this repayment agreement.”
Payments ceased after December 2017.
Pressure campaign on Cohen
After the FBI executed a search warrant at Cohen’s residences and office in April 2018, Trump and others “engaged in a campaign of public and private pressure to ensure that Attorney A [Cohen] did not cooperate with law enforcement in the federal investigation.”
On Twitter, Trump encouraged Cohen not to “go back,” and another attorney approached Cohen and “offered to represent him in the interest of maintaining a ‘secondary channel of communication'” with Trump. In the months that followed, the anonymous attorney continued to encourage Cohen not to cooperate with the investigation.
“The whole objective of this exercise by the [federal prosecutors] is to wear you down, emotionally and financially, until you reach a point where you consider them your only means of salvation,” the attorney wrote to Cohen.
After Cohen pleaded guilty in August 2018, Trump slammed him on Twitter.
This is a developing story.