The Donald Trump trial was explained

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Former President Donald Trump is set to go on trial this month in Manhattan for his alleged role in a hush money scheme to silence his alleged mistresses before the 2016 election.
Even though it features the former president, who denies all wrongdoing, it may or may not be the trial of the century.
Here’s what to know to get up to speed on this first criminal trial: What’s the general outline of the hush money case?
Two women who said they had affairs with Trump years before he ran for president were paid six-figure sums in the months before the 2016 election.
After the election, Trump’s company paid Cohen back for the payment to Daniels.
But things did not really blow up until January 2018, when the Journal reported on the payments Cohen made to Daniels.
The judge overseeing the hush money case, Juan Merchan, expanded a gag order on Trump after the former president attacked Merchan’s daughter on social media.
And the witness list for this hush money case includes former Trump aides such as Hope Hicks.


This month, in Manhattan, former President Donald Trump is scheduled to stand trial for his alleged involvement in a hush money plot to quiet his alleged mistresses prior to the 2016 election.

Since no former US president has ever been prosecuted for a crime, it will be historic.

The alleged mistresses are a Playboy model and a former adult film actress, so it will be scandalous.

It could be the trial of a lifetime, but it does feature the former president, who vigorously denies any wrongdoing. For the arguably more serious offenses of election meddling, conspiracy, and improper handling of classified documents after leaving the White House, Trump is still facing three additional criminal trials in federal court and in Georgia.

When you combine the four criminal cases with Trump’s civil liability for defamation, sexual misconduct, and business fraud, all of these trials and the characters involved result in a convoluted legal maze.

In order to catch up on this first criminal trial, here is what you should know:.

How does the hush money case generally work?

Six-figure payments were made in the months leading up to the 2016 election to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump years before he entered the race for president.

The proprietor of the National Enquirer, American Media Inc., paid the first woman, a Playboy model named Karen McDougal, $150,000. for the ownership of her story’s rights. With the story, AMI took no immediate action. This procedure is referred to as “catch and kill.”. “.

The claim made by a former doorman at Trump Tower that Trump had an unacknowledged child was also paid for by AMI to be discovered and eliminated; however, no reporting has ever supported this claim. The payments were approved by Trump’s friend David Pecker, who was AMI’s CEO at the time.

The second woman, Stephanie Clifford by birth, became well-known in the adult film industry as Stormy Daniels. Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer, paid her $130,000 to sign a nondisclosure agreement containing details of her interactions with the president. In order to make the payment shortly before the election, Cohen took out a home equity line.

As the “Access Hollywood” tape, which featured Trump discussing grabbing women by the genitalia, was widely covered in the final days of the 2016 election, the Trump campaign was especially concerned about claims of sexual impropriety.

Cohen was reimbursed by Trump’s company for the money he had given Daniels after the election.

How were the supposed affairs and these payments discovered?

Daniels was in talks to share her story just days before the 2016 election, according to a Wall Street Journal report on the AMI catch-and-kill scheme. Daniels and McDougal both had the same attorney.

However, it wasn’t until January 2018 that things truly got out of hand, following a Journal article about Cohen’s payments to Daniels.

Did these hush money transfers violate any laws?

Sure. AMI and Cohen have both acknowledged breaking the law.

In August 2018, Cohen entered a guilty plea to two charges related to campaign finance: making an illicit campaign contribution for his role in arranging the payment to McDougal from AMI and causing an excessive campaign contribution for the payment to Daniels.

Federal authorities did not bring criminal charges against AMI, now known as a360media, although the company did acknowledge paying McDougal. For contributing to a campaign in violation of the law, the company was fined $187,500 by the Federal Election Commission.

What was known by Trump regarding these payments?

At least one conversation between Cohen and Trump appears to be about the payment to Daniels; during that conversation, they discuss whether to make the payment in cash or not.

Cohen also provided testimony to the Trump indicting grand jury. In 2018, Trump first claimed not to be aware of the payments, but he later acknowledged making them to Cohen in a well-crafted tweet. Trump maintained that they were unrelated to the campaign.

Which law does Trump allegedly violate?

The former president is accused of “falsifying New York business records in order to conceal damaging information and unlawful activity from American voters before and after the 2016 election,” according to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who announced the grand jury’s indictment of Trump in April 2023. “.

In legal terms, Trump faces 34 counts of fabricating business records, which is a Class E felony. Prosecutors accused Trump of forging business records with the intention of committing or hiding a different crime related to his 2016 campaign, which led to the filing of statutory charges against him.

Since this is the least serious kind of felony in New York, the judge could sentence Trump to probation or, in the event of a conviction, a maximum of four years in state prison for each count.

This goes much deeper than that.

What is included in this refresher barely scratches the surface of this lengthy and scandalous story.

Whether the alleged affairs actually happened is an issue that is almost unrelated to the payments. These are denied by Trump. However, according to their remarkably similar accounts, both women claim to have had sex with Trump in 2006. At a Lake Tahoe golf tournament, they both caught sight of him. Both claim to have had a visitation with him in the Beverly Hills Hotel’s bungalow.

The construction of this case took a very long time. The federal agents who pursued Cohen did not charge Trump. Years passed before the Manhattan District Attorney brought the case before a grand jury. Given that Trump is attempting to win back the White House in November, this may end up being the only one of the four criminal cases against him to go to trial.

Drama in the courtroom is guaranteed. After the former president insulted Juan Merchan’s daughter on social media, the judge presiding over the hush money case, Merchan, extended a gag order against Trump. Trump will probably still manage to campaign outside of the courtroom, disparaging Bragg and other New York officials.

It’s a drama by Shakespeare. Cohen is now Trump’s enemy after serving as his fixer. Former TV star Michael Avenatti, Daniels’ lawyer, is currently serving a federal prison sentence for embezzling money from clients. In addition, former Trump assistants like Hope Hicks are on the witness list in this hush money case.

Although McDougal has largely avoided the spotlight, Daniels is the sole subject of a documentary.

When Trump was still the rebellious reality TV contender and the Republican Party had not yet been completely transformed into his own populist vision, this case feels a lot like a flashback to a previous era in US politics. In contrast to the federal and Fulton County, Georgia, cases, which charge him with attempting to rig the 2020 election rather than conceal some negative, private allegations made prior to the 2016 election, it feels far more manageable.

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