Donald Trump 'played a central role' in payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Donald Trump was directly involved in payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal that violated campaign regulations.
The Wall Street Journal found that Mr. Trump was involved in or briefed on nearly every step of the agreements. He directed deals in phone calls and meetings with his self-described fixer, Michael Cohen, and others. The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan has gathered evidence of Mr. Trump’s participation in the transactions.
The Journal notes that this is counter to “a two-year pattern of denials by Mr. Trump, his legal team and his advisers.”
Evidence of Trump’s involvement was turned up by federal prosecutors in Manhattan pursing the case against Michael Cohen. Cohen initially denied that Trump had any involvement in paying hush money to either Daniels or McDougal.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan came to believe otherwise. In August, they outlined Mr. Trump’s role—without specifically naming him—in a roughly 80-page draft federal indictment they had been preparing to file against Mr. Cohen.
When Cohen reached his plea deal later in August, part of that agreement said that Cohen “coordinated with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments.” One of those “one or more” was Trump. Prosecutors had apparently collected the information to demonstrate this before Cohen became a cooperating witness.
It’s not clear that the revelations will lead to an indictment of Trump for breaking election rules, even if SDNY prosecutors believe they are allowed to issue such an indictment. That’s because Trump can always try the same path of earlier politicians—he can claim he wasn’t trying to hide the payments from the FEC. He was trying to hide them from Melania.