The key figures in the impeachment of Donald Trump

As Donald Trump battled his way to victory in the 2016 presidential campaign, key allies tried to smooth his bumpy road by paying off two women who had been thinking of going public with allegations of extramarital encounters with the Republican.

The bribes, and the way Trump’s company accounted for one of them, are believed to be at the center of a grand jury investigation that led to a criminal indictment and could result in the first criminal prosecution of a former US president. USA

Here’s a look at the key figures in the case:

-Stormy Daniels

A porn actress who has also had bit parts in mainstream films like 40-year-old Virgin and Pregnant, Ms. Daniels was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about what she says was an awkward and unexpected sexual encounter with Mr. Trump in a celebrity. golf at Lake Tahoe in 2006. Trump denies having sex with Daniels.

Ms Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was paid the money in the final weeks of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign after her representative said she was willing to make official statements to the National Enquirer or on television to confirm a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump.

Ms. Daniels tried to capitalize on her newfound notoriety after news of the payment broke, embarking on a national strip club tour in 2018.

Trump Legal Troubles Key Players
Stormy Daniels (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

During a stop in Columbus, Ohio, Ms. Daniels was arrested on suspicion of inappropriately touching an undercover officer, but the charges were dropped hours later.

Her former lawyer, Michael Avenatti, is serving 11 years in prison for racketeering and fraud, including a conviction for stealing $297,000 in proceeds from Ms. Daniels’ 2018 book Full Disclosure.

-Karen McDougal

A former Playboy model who said she had a 10-month affair with Trump in the mid-2000s, the parent company of the National Enquirer paid McDougal $150,000 in 2016 for the rights to her story about the alleged relationship. Trump denies any affair.

The story was never published. The company suppressed Ms. McDougal’s story until after the election, a dubious journalistic practice known as “catch and kill.”

American Media Inc has acknowledged that its payments to Ms. McDougal were made specifically to assist Mr. Trump’s election bid and were made “in concert” with his campaign.

Ms McDougal has said that Mr Trump tried to pay her off after their first sexual date in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2006. Ms McDougal said she continued the relationship with Mr Trump for about 10 months and he broke it in April 2007 because he felt guilty.

-Michael Cohen

A lawyer by training, Cohen worked for the Trump Organization from 2006 to 2017, serving as Trump’s fixer. He once proudly proclaimed that he would “take a bullet” for his boss.

Trump's legal troubles Key people
(Mary Altaffer/AP, File)

Cohen took the initiative in arranging the payment to Ms. Daniels, passing it through a corporation he set up for the purpose. He says he was later reimbursed by Trump, whose company recorded the payment and related bonuses as “legal expenses.”

A few months earlier, Cohen had also arranged for the publisher of the National Enquirer to make a similar payment of $150,000 to McDougal for the rights to his story about an alleged affair with Trump.

Cohen recorded a conversation in which he and Trump discussed the arrangement to pay McDougal through the tabloid. At one point, Trump said: “What do we have to pay for this? One fifty?” Trump denies the affair.

After Trump became president, Cohen pitched himself as someone who could potentially advise corporate clients on the new administration, raking in hefty fees from companies seeking influence in the new White House.

In 2018, federal prosecutors charged Cohen with evading taxes related to his investments in the taxi industry, lying to Congress and campaign finance violations related to hush money payments.

Cohen, who blamed Trump for his legal problems, pleaded guilty and served nearly a year in prison before being released to home confinement due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He pleaded guilty and served time in federal prison and is now a key prosecution witness in the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation.

-Allen Weisselberg

The Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer, Mr. Weisselberg, made key decisions about how the company kept its books, but he did not appear to be cooperating with the secret money investigation.

During his congressional testimony in 2019, Cohen said it was Weisselberg who decided how to structure his refund for the payment to Stormy Daniels. Cohen said Weisselberg paid the money over 12 months “to make it look like a down payment.”

Federal prosecutors granted Weisselberg limited immunity from prosecution in exchange for his grand jury testimony in their investigation of the payments.

But the Manhattan district attorney’s office eventually brought unrelated charges against Weisselberg for evading income taxes on job benefits he got from Trump’s company, including a free apartment and a luxury car.

He pleaded guilty and is serving a short prison term that will expire in April.

-David Pecker

A former editor for the National Enquirer and a longtime friend of Trump, Pecker testified twice before the grand jury about the tabloid’s involvement in suppressing negative stories about Trump.

Trump's legal troubles Key people
David Pecker (Marion Curtis via AP, File)

Pecker met with Cohen during the 2016 Trump campaign and said the Enquirer’s parent company would help buy and bury potentially damaging stories about Trump’s relationship with women.

Pecker, who was the Enquirer’s president and CEO at the time, agreed to keep Cohen informed of such stories. In June 2016, he alerted Cohen that McDougal’s lawyer had approached the publication to sell his story about an alleged affair with Trump.

The Enquirer’s owner at the time, American Media Inc, agreed to pay Ms. McDougal for “limited living rights” to the story of her relationship with “any man married at the time”.

The publisher said it would feature her on two magazine covers and print more than 100 of her articles in exchange for $150,000.

Cohen signed an agreement to buy out the nondisclosure portion of McDougal’s contract for $125,000 through a company he formed, but Pecker later called off the deal, telling Cohen to break the deal.

Federal prosecutors agreed in 2018 not to prosecute American Media in exchange for its cooperation in the campaign finance investigation that led to Cohen’s guilty plea and prison sentence. The Federal Election Commission fined the company $187,500, calling McDougal’s treatment a “prohibited corporate in-kind contribution.”

Pecker stepped down as CEO of the publisher in 2020.

-Alvin Bragg

Bragg, Manhattan’s first black district attorney, could become the first prosecutor anywhere to bring a criminal case against a former president of the United States. The Democrat inherited an investigation from Trump when he took office in January 2022.

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Alvin Bragg (Seth Wenig/AP, File)

Bragg grew up in Harlem during the crack epidemic of the 1980s, where he says police held him at gunpoint six times, three times. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he previously worked as a federal prosecutor, assistant state attorney general, civil rights attorney, and law school professor.

Bragg campaigned for office as a progressive reformer. He was elected with 83% of the vote in deep blue Manhattan.

After taking office, Bragg halted an investigation into Trump’s business dealings that was seen as building momentum toward possible impeachment.

But after his prosecutors won a trial last year in which Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, was convicted of tax fraud, Bragg convened a new grand jury to examine the hush money payments.

-Jose Tacopina

Tacopina, a Brooklyn-born lawyer known for his sharp suits and celebrity clientele, is the public face of Trump’s defense team.

Trump is just the latest big name to turn to Tacopina, whose previous clients include rappers Meek Mill, Jay-Z and ASAP Rocky and baseball great Alex Rodriguez.

Trump's legal troubles Key people
Joseph Tacopina (Hans Pennink/AP, File)

In recent weeks, Tacopina has been featuring the former president’s case on television news shows, questioning Bragg’s investigation and motives, challenging Cohen’s credibility as a star witness and suggesting Trump was blackmailed.

It wasn’t always like this. In a 2018 television appearance, long before Tacopina began representing Trump, she told CNN that the payment to Daniels appeared to be “illegal” and a “potential campaign finance problem.” He told the network that he claims Trump was unaware of the payment “doesn’t pass the straight face test.”

Trump hired Tacopina in January, initially to defend him against a civil lawsuit filed by E magazine columnist Jean Carroll, who says Trump raped her in the mid-1990s. That case is scheduled to go to trial next month. .

-Susan Necheles

Necheles is a New York City defense attorney who represented Trump’s company in his tax fraud trial last year and has been working behind the scenes on the former president’s criminal defense, meeting with prosecutors in an attempt to head off possible charges.

In the past, she served as the attorney for the late Genovese crime family underboss Venero Mangano, known as Benny Eggs, and defended John Gotti’s attorney, Bruce Cutler, in a contempt of court case in the early 1990s. 1990. In recent years, the Yale Law School graduate has represented liquor heiress Clare Bronfman in the NXIVM cult case.

Like Tacopina, Necheles was a Brooklyn prosecutor.

Trump's legal troubles Key people
Susan Necheles (John Minchillo/AP, File)

During the Trump Organization trial, he referred to Trump as “President Trump.”

“This is not a political statement,” he explained to the jurors.

“My parents were immigrants and migrants,” he continued. “And in my house we referred to all former presidents as presidents out of respect for the office, whether we supported him or disagreed with him.”

-Matthew Colangelo

Bragg hired Colangelo in December to lead the investigation. They previously worked together on Trump-related issues as senior officials in the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James.

During his tenure in the attorney general’s office, Colangelo worked on a lawsuit that resulted in the closure of Trump’s charitable foundation for embezzlement. He, too, was part of a wave of state litigation against Trump administration policies, resulting in dozens of lawsuits challenging everything from watered-down environmental standards to changes to the US mail service ahead of the 2020 election. 2020.

After President Joe Biden took office, Colangelo joined the US Department of Justice and was temporarily the third in command.

He then became a senior deputy to Associate United States Attorney General Vanita Gupta. Previously, Colangelo served as a deputy assistant to former President Barack Obama, was deputy director of the National Economic Council and chief of staff to the US Secretary of Labor.


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