Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer during his presidential campaign, was sentenced to three years in prison yesterday after pleading guilty to myriad different charges, including tax evasion, campaign finance violations, and false financial statements.
Following his trial, court documents show that the criminal information document Cohen signed off on when he pleaded guilty indicate that “at least one other member of the campaign” was present at a meeting with the National Enquirer publisher David Pecker in 2015 when Cohen offered the tabloid $150,000 to kill any story that could make the president look bad with regards to his treatment of women.
According to NBC News, that person has been identified as President Donald Trump.
“Pecker offered to help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate’s relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided,” per the document.
Daniel Goldman, an NBC News analyst and former assistant U.S. attorney, has stated that the documents don’t specify what Trump said or did in the meeting.
“But if Trump is now in the room, as early as August of 2015 and in combination with the recording where Trump clearly knows what Cohen is talking about with regarding to David Pecker, you now squarely place Trump in the middle of a conspiracy to commit campaign finance fraud.”
It is believed the Wall Street Journal was the first to identify the president as the third person in the meeting.
Karen McDougal was one of the two women — the other being adult film star Stormy Daniels — who was paid off by the National Enquirer during Trump’s presidential campaign. According to the former Playboy Playmate, the tabloid paid her $150,000 in August of 2016 in an effort to stop her from speaking publicly about her encounter with the presidential candidate.
In August of this year, when Cohen pleaded guilty, he claimed that he had arranged the payments “at the direction” of an unnamed candidate in order to prevent allegations from the women from tainting the campaign. This is in direct contrast with Trump’s response to Cohen’s sentencing on Wednesday, after which he tweeted that he had never told Cohen to do anything illegal.
Rudy Giuliani, another of Trump’s lawyers, has explained away the hush money as a way to save the president’s family from embarrassment. At his sentencing hearing, Cohen stated that “time and time again, I felt it was my duty to cover up [Trump’s] dirty deeds.”
The White House has not responded to allegations that Trump was the third man in the meeting.
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