Trump engaged in ‘catch and kill’ scheme, Manhattan DA Bragg says

(Bloomberg) –Here are the key takeaways from Donald Trump’s arraignment in New York and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s news conference on the charges against the former US president:

The former US president appeared in Manhattan criminal court where he pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts related to an alleged hush-money scheme. A payment by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to porn star Stormy Daniels is at the heart of the indictment. Prosecutors allege that Trump approved the $130,000 payment to Daniels.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg alleged that Trump engaged in a two-year scheme to boost his 2016 presidential campaign by suppressing negative information and falsifying business records of his company to cover his tracks.

Trump approved of a scheme to disguise reimbursements to Cohen as legitimate legal expenses, according to the court filings. In fact, the DA said, Trump knew that checks to Cohen he signed throughout 2017 were falsely documented in his company’s records.

Beyond Daniels, the scheme allegedly included a $150,000 payment to Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal through American Media Inc., which published the National Enquirer. AMI later admitted that it paid for McDougal’s story with no intention of publishing it.

Prosecutors said the scheme also included a pressure campaign by Trump to silence Cohen before his eventual decision to plead guilty to campaign finance violations and other charges in federal court in 2018.

Reaction to the charges fell along predictable partisan lines, with Republicans accusing the DA of “weaponizing” the law to interfere with Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign. Democrats said Trump must be held accountable before the law like any other American.
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–With assistance from David Voreacos.

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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