Trump charged in silent money indictment for conspiracy and false records


Former President Donald Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business documents in a scheme that directed silent money payments to two women before the 2016 presidential election.

The 16-page indictment against Trump was released on Tuesday as he became the first former US president to be arraigned on criminal charges.

“Not guilty,” Trump said from his seat before Judge Juan Merchan during the Manhattan Supreme Court hearing.

The indictment says the payments were part of a larger plan to suppress allegations by women, porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, that they had sex with Trump, in an effort to prevent their stories from affecting Trump’s chances against Democrat Hillary Clinton. in the 2016 elections.

Follow CNBC.comthe former live coverage Surrender and indictment of President Donald Trump at the Manhattan Courthouse.

Prosecutors also said a pro-Trump publishing company, American Media Inc., paid $30,000 to a former Trump Tower doorman who claimed to have a story about Trump fathering a child out of wedlock.

The three payments were part of an alleged “capture and kill” effort by Trump and others, including then-AMI chief David Pecker, from August 2015 to December 2017 “to identify, buy and bury negative information about him and boost his election campaign”. outlook,” prosecutors said.

Read the indictment against Trump

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg told a press conference that each of the false claims in the business records, which related to the payment to Daniels, were made to cover up other crimes related to the 2016 election. .

Those crimes included violations of New York state election law and misrepresentation to tax authorities, he said. Falsification of business documents can be considered a misdemeanor, but it can also be considered a felony if done to conceal another crime.

Merchan has scheduled the next hearing in the case for December 4. The criminal case may not be resolved until the 2024 presidential election, where Trump seeks the Republican nomination.

Bragg said in a statement: “The people of New York State allege that Donald J. Trump repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York City business records to cover up crimes that concealed harmful information from voters during the election. 2016 presidential election.

“Manhattan is home to the nation’s largest commercial market. We cannot allow New York businesses to manipulate their records to conceal criminal behavior,” Bragg said.

A prosecutor told the judge that the district attorney’s office was concerned about Trump’s social media comments that could threaten the district attorney’s office and the city.

It included a message depicting Trump wielding a bat above District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s head.

The judge said he took Trump’s harsh rhetoric about the case very seriously.

One of Trump’s lawyers, Todd Blanche, told Merchan that Trump spoke forcefully, but was within his rights to do so.

Prior to the impeachment, Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., posted on Trump’s Truth Social site a photo of Merchan’s daughter, who, according to a Breitbart news article, worked on the Trump election campaign. President Joe Biden.

“Seems relevant,” the younger Trump wrote. “BS never ends people.”

Silent payments

Daniels received $130,000 from Michael Cohen, then Trump’s lawyer and fixer, under Trump’s direction 12 days before the 2016 election. Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, says he had sex with Trump a once in 2006, several months after his wife Melania Trump gave birth to their son Barron.

Trump then repaid Cohen with a series of monthly checks, 11 in total. The checks were first issued by the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, while the later ones came from Trump’s bank account, prosecutors said.

Nine of the checks were signed by Trump, and “each check was processed by the Trump Organization and unlawfully disguised as payment for legal services rendered under a non-existent agency agreement” with Cohen.

Former US President Donald Trump appears in court with his attorney Joe Tacopina for arraignment on charges stemming from his indictment by a Manhattan grand jury following an investigation into hidden money paid to the star of porn Stormy Daniels, in New York, United States, on April 4. 2023.

andrew kelly | Reuters

McDougal received $150,000 from AMI, the publisher of The National Enquirer, the Trump-allied supermarket tabloid. McDougal said she had a long-term affair with Trump that began in 2006.

Trump denies having sex with Daniels or McDougal.

Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal crimes, two of which were campaign finance violations for facilitating payments to Daniels and McDougal.

The grand jury indicted Trump on Thursday. The charging document had remained sealed ever since.

The grand jury began hearing testimony in the case in late January.

News of the proceedings came as a surprise, as a former prosecutor with the District Attorney’s Office last year suggested the Trump investigation was nearly dead after Bragg declined to seek an indictment against Trump in connection with allegedly false financial statements involving real estate assets. .

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Trump separately is under criminal investigation by the Justice Department and a state attorney in Georgia for trying to overturn his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden.

The DOJ is also investigating Trump for keeping government records after leaving the White House and for possible obstruction of justice.

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