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Why buying a porn star's silence could lead to an indictment of Donald Trump

2023-03-18T17:13:55.170Z


The ex-president announced that he would be "arrested" on Tuesday for possible indictment in a case dating back to 2016, when he was a candidate for the White House.


How could a payment to buy a porn star's silence in the home stretch of the 2016 U.S. presidential election lead next week to a possible criminal indictment of Donald Trump in state court? of New York, a first in the history of the United States for a former president?

Why porn actress Stormy Daniels received $130,000?

At the heart of the 2016 presidential campaign, negotiations are being played out behind the scenes to prevent embarrassing outbursts targeting the Republican candidate.

In August, a tabloid whose boss is close to Donald Trump,

The National Enquirer

, bought for 150,000 dollars from a model, Karen McDougal, the rights to her story about a relationship she claims to have had with the billionaire.

Purpose of the operation: to cover up the affair, a technique known as "

catch and kill

" in the United States, where confidentiality clauses are common.

A pornographic film actress, Stephanie Clifford, alias Stormy Daniels, also wants to monetize her supposed affair with Donald Trump, in 2006, when he was married to his wife Melania.

The tabloid put her in touch with Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

This faithful of the faithful, nicknamed the “

pitbull

”, will pay at the end of October 2016, a few days before the presidential election, 130,000 dollars against a confidentiality agreement from the actress.

The payment will be revealed by the

Wall Street Journal

in January 2018. Michael Cohen and Trump deny any immediate payment, and the 45th President of the United States (2017-2021) has always denied having a relationship with the actress.

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Why is American justice seized?

Already in the sights of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, Michael Cohen sees the judicial noose tightening.

He ended up collaborating with the justice system and pleaded guilty in August 2018 in Manhattan federal court to tax and banking fraud, but also to violation of campaign finance laws.

Michael "

Cohen made these payments

" to buy the silence of the actress "

in order to influence the presidential election of 2016

," said the federal prosecutor's office.

However, he obtained reimbursement of the sums by the Trump Organization and the American justice considers that it is a hidden donation to the president's campaign, in violation of the laws of electoral financing.

In December 2018, Michael Cohen, who turned against Donald Trump and said he acted on his orders, was sentenced to three years in prison.

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What is Donald Trump accused of?

There is nothing criminal in the payment itself.

What is illegal is to falsify the commercial documents of a company

, ”explains to AFP John Coffee, professor of law at Columbia University, specializing in financial crime.

The Trump Organization is a business

” and the reimbursements paid to Michael Cohen were “

declared to be intended to cover legal fees

”, he continues.

False declarations, according to American justice.

If this single offense is held against Donald Trump by the local justice of the State of New York, “

it is a misdemeanor

”.

But it becomes a felony, which can be punished by up to four years in prison, if prosecutors can convince a jury that the tampering took place in order to hide another crime,” such as an illegal donation to the campaign of

the candidate of 2016, explains John Coffee.

"

It's not easy and it will be debated

," warns the law professor.

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How is Donald Trump defending himself?

Donald Trump assured on his social network Truth Social on Saturday that he was going to be "

arrested

" on Tuesday and called for demonstrations against his possible indictment by a grand jury under the aegis of the New York State Attorney's Office for Manhattan, Alvin Bragg, an elected Democrat.

In each of the cases that target him, Trump denounces

a political "witch hunt

" by Democratic magistrates, in particular the Attorney General of the State of New York (local Justice Minister, Editor's note) Letitia James.

In the Stormy Daniels case, Donald Trump's lawyers also present him as the victim of "extortion

"

from the actress.

Another angle of attack, the reliability and reputation of Michael Cohen, a key prosecution witness and sworn enemy of Donald Trump.

The former lawyer – disbarred from the bar – had also been sentenced for having lied to Congress, in the Russian investigation.

What consequences for the presidential campaign?

A possible conviction in New York justice would not legally prevent Donald Trump from maintaining his candidacy for the presidency of the United States for 2024, according to John Coffee.

It would have a stigmatizing effect.

At what point?

I don't know

, ”said the professor, for whom the former president will do everything to delay a trial, when his opponents in the Republican primary would like to see him condemned before.

Source: lefigaro

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