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Trump was involved in "nearly every step" of paying off Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, WSJ says

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan has gathered evidence about Trump’s activities in the matter, according to the Journal.

by Greg Walters
Nov 9 2018, 7:50pm

Donald Trump played a key part in facilitating hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Trump was involved in “nearly every step” of the scheme to pay off the two women who claimed to have had sexual affairs with him before he became president, the paper reported.

Citing documents and interviews with more than 30 people, the Journal’s account contradicts repeated denials by Trump and his team over the last two years, and raises “the possibility that the president of the United States violated federal campaign-finance laws.”

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan has gathered evidence about Trump’s activities in the matter, according to the Journal.

Trump’s former self-described “fixer,” Michael Cohen testified in August that he coordinated with Trump when arranging the payments to both Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford) and Karen McDougal. Cohen has pled guilty to two counts of breaking campaign finance law.

At the time, Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis accused Trump of directing his client to “to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election.” Cohen has done a lot of things “he’s not proud of” for Trump, Davis told VICE News in August.

Read: Michael Cohen’s lawyer says he’s willing to dig into Trump’s past “as far back as anyone wants”

“GET IT DONE”

Cohen, a central player throughout the entire saga, has held a string of meetings with New York State prosecutors as well as investigators from the office of special counsel Robert Mueller in recent weeks.

Cohen’s cooperation with federal and state authorities has put him on a collision course with his former boss. Trump’s repeatedly attacked Cohen, recently describing him as a “PR person who did small legal work.” But Trump wasn’t always so sour on the embattled lawyer. In April, Trump called his former personal lawyer a “fine person with a wonderful family,” and predicted he’d never (cooperate with investigators) “despite the horrible Witch Hunt.”

The Journal presents a lengthy, blow-by-blow description of how Trump and Cohen worked with David Pecker, a media executive and longtime friend of Trump’s, to cover up the women’s stories during the campaign.

Cohen has reportedly told federal prosecutors that he was in close touch with Trump about attempts to silence Stormy Daniels, and that Trump instructed him to “get it done.”

The paper identified Trump as the “one or more members of the campaign” mentioned in the 22-page charging document who coordinated with Cohen, “including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments.”

Pecker, the CEO of American Media Inc., offered to use his company’s National Enquirer tabloid to buy the silence of women who might come forward with stories about having sex with Trump during a meeting in Trump’s office on the 26th floor of in Trump Tower in August 2015.

But with both McDougal and Daniels, the negotiations over the payments were drawn out and took weeks to arrange.

Read: Taxi mogul who borrowed millions from Michael Cohen swears it wasn't for his weed business

Campaign finance law bars corporations from giving directly to candidates, either in cash payments or in-kind contributions. But after speaking with a campaign finance lawyer, Pecker decided his company could agree to pay $150,000 for McDougal’s story and the promise that she appear on the cover and publish content in his company’s magazines. Those details gave the expense a business rationale beyond the contribution, according to the Journal.

Read: Michael Cohen has already spent hours talking to Mueller’s team, report says

Cohen, a central player throughout the entire saga, has held a string of meetings with New York State prosecutors as well as investigators from the office of special counsel Robert Mueller in recent weeks.

Cohen’s cooperation with federal and state authorities has put him on a collision course with his former boss. Trump’s repeatedly attacked Cohen, recently describing him as a “PR person who did small legal work.” But Trump wasn’t always so sour on the embattled lawyer. In April, Trump called Cohen a “fine person with a wonderful family,” and predicted he’d never cooperate with investigators “despite the horrible Witch Hunt.”

Cover image: President Donald Trump talks with reporters before departing for France on the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)