Files ‘show Trump knew about payoffs to porn star’
‘Publicise sexual encounters’
DONALD Trump sat in on meetings where hush money payments to former lovers were agreed, it was claimed last night.
The US President has repeatedly denied any involvement in the alleged pay-offs.
Sums of $130,000 and $150,000 went to adult film star Stormy Daniels and ex-playboy star Karen McDougal. Both agreements were discussed in some detail with Mr Trump before he won power, according to The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper said it had documents and dozens of interviews to prove he had been at meetings and on calls where the fees were sanctioned.
The US Attorney’s office has also gathered a dossier showing he was involved, the WSJ reported, claiming this may have been an illegal breach of campaign financing laws. The Democrats are likely to leap on the allegations and use them as ammunition to try to impeach Mr Trump.
The deals are said to have been struck through David Pecker, head of American Media, which owns the National Enquirer magazine. Before he was elected, Mr Trump is said to have gone to his longstanding friend Mr Pecker, and asked how he could help him to win his bid for the White House. Mr Pecker reportedly agreed to help by silencing those who came forward to publicise sexual encounters, according to court documents sourced by the WSJ.
It was allegedly agreed that the media outlet would tip off Mr Trump when anyone with claims came forward and a plan on how to deal with the allegations was agreed.
When Miss McDougal offered a story about Mr Trump to the magazine, the Enquirer agreed to pay her the $150,000 (£116,000).
It is understood the magazine did not intend to publish the claims and the agreement meant Miss McDougal could not speak to anyone else.
A journalist interviewed Miss McDougal with all of the details later allegedly relayed to the President.
There was no concrete proof of the affair, Mr Trump was reportedly told. He allegedly thanked Mr Pecker for his help. The WSJ claims a repayment plan, from Mr Trump, was later agreed so the media outlet would not be out of pocket. But this was allegedly later torn up following legal concerns.
The WSJ said it spoke to more than 30 people with direct knowledge of the events and has also seen court records and corporate records that prove Mr Trump personally knew about the payments.
It said it had details about every element of the alleged negotiations. It says Mr Trump was involved or briefed on ‘nearly every step’ – a revelation which means he may have violated campaign finance laws. For two years, the President has denied he was involved in pay-offs.
When asked about the hush money by the WSJ last month, Mr Trump would not say whether he had dis- cussed payments with his fixer and former lawyer Michael Cohen.
Mr Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws in court this summer after details of payments he had agreed were made public. He claimed the payments had been made to ensure Mr Trump got into the White House.
‘Nobody cares about that,’ Mr Trump said, claiming Mr Cohen was a ‘public-relations person’ who ‘represented me on very small things’.
Mr Cohen told prosecutors he had spoken to Mr Trump in the weeks before the election about paying Stephanie Clifford, the former adult-film star known under the stage name Stormy Daniels, to keep her quiet. The White House was contacted for comment.
Paid off: Trump with Daniels