Trump indictment, statement of facts: Key takeaways and excerpts from the charges
Former President Donald Trump has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on charges related to a “hush money” payment made just before the 2016 election to an adult film star, Stormy Daniels. At his arraignment Tuesday, he pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree.
Trump’s then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, has said he paid Daniels for her silence about an affair she claimed to have had with Trump, and he says he was subsequently reimbursed by the Trump Organization in a series of payments identified as retainer fees. Prosecutors investigated the falsification of business records related to the reimbursements made to Cohen. Trump denies having had sexual relations with Daniels and any wrongdoing.
Here are some of the highlights from the indictment and statement of facts released by the Manhattan D.A.
Basis for the indictment
Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree 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. Falsifying business records is a misdemeanor under New York penal law. But the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office charged Trump with felonies on the grounds that the conduct was intended to aid another crime — violating election laws.
According to the statement of facts, “The defendant DONALD J. TRUMP repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election.”
“Catch and kill” timeline
The statement of facts contains a timeline during which the former president is alleged to have engaged in a practice known as “catch and kill,” which involved buying negative stories in an effort to keep them from being published. From August 2015 through December 2017, the statement of facts says Mr. Trump “orchestrated a scheme with others to influence the 2016 presidential election by identifying and purchasing negative information about him to suppress its publication and benefit the Defendant’s electoral prospects.”
Story about child born out of wedlock suppressed
According to the statement of facts, in October or November of 2015, then-CEO of American Media Inc. David Pecker — who 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 that Trump had allegedly fathered out of wedlock, according to the statement of facts. AMI negotiated with and paid the doorman $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 the story wasn’t true, the CEO wanted to release the doorman from the agreement. But Cohen instructed the CEO not to release the doorman from the contract until after the 2016 presidential election.
Trump’s thank you to David Pecker
Trump invited Pecker to his inauguration and later invited him to the White House for dinner “to thank him for his help during the campaign” in suppressing stories from the doorman and Karen McDougal, who was paid $150,000 to stay quiet about an alleged sexual relationship with Trump, according to the statement of facts.
This is a developing story.