New WSJ Report Indicates Trump Has Been Implicated In Felonies
If this report is true, the evidence corroborates Michael Cohen’s guilty plea and confirms Trump is an unindicted co-conspirator in federal crimes.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) just published the most incriminating piece of journalism about Donald Trump in the entirety of his presidency. U.S. Attorneys in the Manhattan Office have discovered evidence that appears to confirm the President is implicated in the crimes Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen has already pleaded guilty to.
In an article built on a foundation of 36 sources, court papers, and corporate records, the WSJ reveals in meticulous detail the story of how Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, and David Pecker of American Media, Inc. silenced the stories of multiple women who had damaging info on the 2016 presidential candidate.
Like many incriminating stories about this president, the saga starts in a Trump Tower meeting. In the 2015 meeting, Donald Trump asked David Pecker how he could help him with his presidential campaign. Pecker reportedly offered to buy women’s silence if they tried to go public with allegations of sexual encounters with Trump. In 2016, Trump acted on that offer.
The WSJ report outlines how, upon Trump’s request, the National Enquirer paid former Playboy Model Karen McDougal $150,000 to purchase and suppress the story about her 2006 affair with Donald Trump. The payment was made in August 2016. The WSJ broke the story of the original payment on November 4, 2016. When then-Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks was reached out to for comment, she said they had no knowledge of this payment and denied the affair. That was clearly a lie.
There was a series of meetings and developments that led up to the payment, and Cohen reportedly kept Trump in the loop every step of the way. Trump’s fixer Michael Cohen recorded a tape in Septemeber 2016 where Donald Trump discussed purchasing the rights to McDougal’s story from the National Enquirer and “all the stuff,” which appeared to signal there were other stories to purchase. It was released by CNN.
And when it came to Stormy Daniels, David Pecker reportedly refused Cohen’s request because “he didn’t want his company to pay a porn star.” After Cohen’s failed attempt to get Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg to make it a payment from the company, Cohen made the $130,000 hush money payment to Stormy himself. The WSJ goes on to detail the reimbursement plan:
Had he just paid the ex-adult film star himself, Mr. Trump would have been out of pocket $130,000. Instead, Mr. Weisselberg authorized a reimbursement of twice that much, characterized in Mr. Trump’s records as legal fees, to cover the income tax hit Mr. Cohen would take. He also added a $60,000 bonus. Mr. Cohen received the money in monthly installments of $35,000.
This story was pieced together by federal prosecutors after Michael Cohen entered into a guilty plea as part of the criminal investigation being conducted by federal investigators in the Southern District of New York (SDNY). Cohen was being probed for over $20 million in bank fraud and violating election law by trying to suppress damaging information about then-candidate Donald Trump. The investigation into Cohen came after Special Counsel Robert Mueller referred evidence of wrongdoing he discovered to the SDNY.
The guilty plea admitted to 8 counts that include bank fraud, tax fraud, and campaign finance violations. Long story short, 2 of those counts on campaign violations involved Trump, according to Cohen’s plea. In a nutshell, Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to criminal conduct that took place in coordination with Donald Trump and in an effort to influence the results of the 2016 election.
After the plea agreement, reports revealed both Pecker and Weisselberg were granted immunity by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. And as we see in the WSJ report, they appeared to have given up the goods and corroborated Cohen’s guilty plea.
That being said, his knowledge of the payments itself, and effort to influence the election with in-kind campaign contributions, doesn’t necessarily make the case airtight as the WSJ goes on to detail:
Mr. Trump’s involvement in the payments, by itself, wouldn’t mean he is guilty of federal crimes, according to Richard Hasen, a law professor at University of California, Irvine, who specializes in election law. A criminal conviction would require proof Mr. Trump willfully skirted legal prohibitions on contributions from companies or from individuals in excess of $2,700, he said.
But, as Former Obama Administration Ethics Czar points out, the piece goes on to details an additional criminal aspect.
An important aspect of the excellent new investigative piece by the Wall St J is about to be overlooked. This part establishes that Trump committed a felony when he knowingly omitted his debt to Michael Cohen from his June 2017 financial disclosure report.https://t.co/AudW4F2HLF pic.twitter.com/F579ZNxOI3
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) November 9, 2018
It’s unclear exactly what the Manhattan Office will do next but given the newfound threats to his probe, the brilliance of Mueller’s move to pass the Cohen investigation to U.S. Attorneys in New York continues to bear fruit. Needless to say, the incoming Democratically controlled House of Representatives will take a keen interest in this.