New Report on Hush Payments Could Be Bad News for Trump

'WSJ' says he was directly involved at 'nearly every step' in arranging payments to women
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2018 1:50 PM CST
President Trump gestures at the media during a campaign rally Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, in Estero, Fla.   (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

(Newser) – The Wall Street Journal is out with an investigative report on President Trump asserting that he played a direct role in arranging hush-money payments to women alleging affairs with him, despite two years of denials. Trump "was involved in or briefed on nearly every step of the agreements," says the story, which is based on interviews with three dozen people, along with court documents and other records. It alleges that he "directed deals in phone calls and meetings with his self-described fixer, Michael Cohen," and that the US attorney’s office in Manhattan is gathering evidence about his role. According to the Journal, Trump met with friend David Pecker—a media executive who owns the National Enquirer—in Trump Tower in 2015, and asked Pecker what he could do to help the Trump campaign.

Pecker responded that he would essentially bury any scandalous stories that might emerge by buying them through the Enquirer. Within a year, Pecker had paid former Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000. The deal with Stormy Daniels followed. The Journal says the allegations "raise the possibility" that Trump violated campaign-finance laws, though a law professor clarifies that prosecutors would have to prove that Trump "willfully skirted legal prohibitions on contributions from companies or from individuals in excess of $2,700," per the Journal. Read the story in full here. (Pecker reportedly kept all the damning Trump stories in a safe.)

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