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Donald Trump found guilty of hush money plot to influence 2016 election | Donald Trump trial

Donald Trump found guilty of hush money plot to influence 2016 election |  Donald Trump trial

 


Donald Trump was convicted on all 34 counts of falsifying business records as part of a criminal scheme to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

The verdict came after a jury deliberated for less than 12 hours in the unprecedented first criminal trial against a current or former U.S. president. It's a perilous political moment for Trump, the presumptive nominee for the Republican nomination, whose poll numbers have remained unchanged throughout the trial but could fall at any time.

Trump was convicted by a jury of 12 New Yorkers of falsifying business records, which makes it a crime to make or cause false entries in records with the intent to commit a second felony. He will be sentenced on July 11 at 10 a.m. ET.

This was a rigged trial led by a corrupt and conflicted judge, Trump said at the courthouse after the verdict was read. It was a rigged trial, a shame.

Joe Biden's campaign hit back in an email sent shortly after the verdict.

Today in New York, we saw that no one is above the law. Donald Trump always mistakenly believed that he would never face consequences if he broke the law for his own personal gain, communications director Michael Tyler wrote.

But today's verdict does not change the fact that the American people are facing a simple reality. There is still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: through the ballot box. Convicted criminal or not, Trump will be the Republican nominee for president.

In the Trump case, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office alleged that Trump falsely recorded reimbursements he made to his former lawyer Michael Cohen, who paid $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels for her silence about her affair with Trump, as legal fees.

The prosecution alleged that the falsifications were made to cover up Trump's violation of New York state election law, which makes it a crime to promote the election of any person to office by illegal means .

Prosecutors argued in part that those illegal means were the $130,000 payment to Daniels, which actually constituted an illegal campaign contribution because it was made solely to benefit his 2016 campaign and exceeded the cap individual contribution of $2,700.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office called 20 witnesses who, over four weeks, testified about how Trump conspired with tabloid mogul David Pecker and Cohen to bury stories of affairs with Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.

The witnesses, some friends of Trump, some openly hostile, said Trump's concern about Daniels' story intensified after the October 2016 release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump was caught on hot mic bragging about sexual assault.

The recording showed Trump bragging about being able to grab women by the pussy without their consent because he was famous. Trial witnesses said the Trump campaign feared its efforts to dismiss the recording as locker room speech would fail if more crude behavior was revealed.

When Daniels' story threatened to become widely known weeks before the 2016 election, Cohen took action and paid Daniels $130,000 to purchase the exclusive rights to her story in order to suppress its publication .

After the 2016 election, prosecutors say, Cohen hatched an illicit repayment plan in which he would receive $420,000, an inflated sum that increased, for tax reasons, the $130,000 and other items charged by Cohen.

The trial saw prosecutors take testimony from Cohen, Daniels and a parade of Trump confidants and employees as they sought to establish that Trump covered up the alleged payment scheme in an effort to ensure that he would not lose the support of female voters.

Cohen proved to be perhaps the prosecution's most legally significant witness, as he recounted how he used a home equity loan to raise the $130,000 that he then wired to the attorney of Daniel through a shell company. Cohen did so in the belief that Trump would pay him back, he testified.

In January 2017, Cohen said, he discussed with Trump and former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg about paying back the $130,000, a late payment and other expenses he incurred. for work that benefited the Trump 2016 campaign.

Cohen produced 11 invoices requesting payment pursuant to a legal mandate that Cohen claimed did not exist, leading to 11 checks being sent to Cohen and the Trump Organization recording 12 legal fee entries in its ledger , totaling 34 cases of alleged falsification.

Cohen, who was the final prosecution witness, said Trump was furious when he learned Daniels was about to go public, particularly because Cohen had previously worked with Daniels' lawyer, Keith Davidson, in 2011, to remove the affair story from a gossip site.

Take care of it, Cohen recalled Trump saying. It was a disaster, a fucking disaster. Women will hate me.

Would you have made this payment to Stormy Daniels without obtaining Mr. Trump's approval? » prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Cohen.

No, because everything required Mr. Trump’s approval. And on top of that, I wanted the money back, Cohen said.

Cohen said he filed false invoices for legal services to conceal reimbursements, and has repeatedly said Trump was the force behind the Daniels conspiracy. He made the payment to ensure the story would not get out and affect Mr Trump's chances of becoming US president.

In a pivotal moment, Cohen told jurors that these repayments began shortly after a Feb. 8, 2017, meeting with Trump in the Oval Office, where they talked about money. Cohen received nothing for this award.

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So I was sitting with President Trump and he asked me if I was OK, he asked me if I needed money and I said, No, I'm fine, Cohen told the jurors. He said: All right, just make sure you take care of Allen.

Allen referred to Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization's chief financial officer at the time, who was recently incarcerated for lying during Trump's recent civil fraud trial. Weisselberg had previously pleaded guilty to tax crimes, for which he was also imprisoned.

Cohen submitted invoices for $35,000 for each month, listing the invoice as for legal services. He said it was actually to reimburse me for the silence fee as well as [another expense] and the bonus.

Hoffinger reviewed each invoice and payment document and asked Cohen if they were for legal services or if they were fake. Cohen has repeatedly said that descriptions of invoices and payments in emails and business documents were in fact false.

What I was doing was at the direction and for the benefit of Mr. Trump, Cohen said at one point, among the many times he directly implicated Trump. Everything required Mr. Trump’s approval.

Daniels provided stunning testimony that undermined Trump's denials that they had sex following a celebrity golf event in Lake Tahoe nearly two decades ago. After rejecting Trump's dinner invitation, Daniels decided to follow the advice of a colleague, who said, “It'll make a great story.”

Daniels said she went to Trump's hotel room and they decided to talk before getting something to eat. He kept asking her about her work as an adult film actress, repeatedly asking her questions like: What about the tests? Are you worried about STDs? Had she been tested?

Yes, of course, and I offered it too, Daniels said. He asked me: oh, well, have you ever had a bad test? I said: No, I can show you my entire file.

Trump began showing Daniels photos at one point, including one of Melania, about which she said his wife was very beautiful, but reportedly added that she shouldn't worry about Melania because we don't even sleep in the same room.

They talked about Trump's show, The Apprentice, and Daniels pointed out that there would be no chance of her succeeding on television given her job.

“You remind me of my daughter, she's smart and blonde and beautiful and people underestimate her too,” Daniels recalled Trump saying.

Daniels excused herself to go to the bathroom, which was in a bedroom. When she came out, Trump was on the bed, in his underwear and a T-shirt.

At first I was just surprised, like I had a jump scare, Daniels said. I just thought: oh my God, what did I read wrong to get here? The intention is pretty clear if someone strips down to their underwear and onto the bed.

Daniels tried to leave but he stood between her and the door, but not in a threatening manner, she said.

He said, I thought we were going somewhere. I thought you were serious about what you wanted, if you want to get out of this trailer park, Daniels testified. I was offended because I have never lived in a trailer park. Daniels said they had sex.

The description of the hotel room encounter made for uncomfortable and cringe-inducing testimony, one of the prosecutors suggested in his closing arguments. But that's precisely why Trump was so desperate to suppress this story and cover up that he did it.

This scheme, concocted by these men, now may very well be what got Trump elected, said prosecutor Joshua Steinglass.

Sources

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2/ https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/article/2024/may/30/trump-trial-hush-money-verdict

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