With the release of Donald Trump’s indictment on Tuesday confirmed the news that the 34 felony counts against the former president involved hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, the adult film star. But prosecutors also tried to connect that scheme to other extramarital affairs, including Trump’s alleged relationship with former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
As the Wall Street Journal first reported in 2016, the parent company of the National Enquirer, which endorsed Trump’s first presidential bid, agreed to pay McDougal $150,000 for her story about an alleged affair with Trump beginning in 2006. But the tabloid ultimately did not publish McDougal’s account, effectively quashing the story in an industry tactic known as “catch and kill”.
In her first televised appearance in 2018 McDougal detailed her relationship with Trump, saying that he would take her to his Manhattan home in Trump Tower through the back entrance and point out Melania’s room. She also said the affair took place in several locations, including Lake Tahoe, Trump’s private golf club in New Jersey and the Beverly Hills Hotel.
The incident bears key similarities to the handling of Daniels’ story about her alleged sexual encounters with Trump beginning in 2006. Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, gave Daniels $130,000 for her story in 2016, and that transaction was not publicly reported until 2018. Cohen has said that Trump reimbursed him for the payment, but the former president denies wrongdoing in the hush money scheme, and he has dismissed the allegations of affairs with Daniels or McDougal.
The grand jury voted to indict Trump last week and the charges were unsealed on Tuesday as the former president surrendered to the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, in New York and appeared in court, pleading not guilty to 34 felony charges of falsifying business records.
Bragg said the alleged fiddling of records over the hush money payments was done to cover up other crimes, breaking state election campaign finance laws.
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