Yesterday, in New York:
District Attorney Bragg Announces 34-Count Felony Indictment of Former President Donald J. Trump
APRIL 4, 2023
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr. today announced the indictment of DONALD J. TRUMP, 76, for falsifying New York business records in order to conceal damaging information and unlawful activity from American voters before and after the 2016 election. During the election, TRUMP and others employed a “catch and kill” scheme to identify, purchase, and bury negative information about him and boost his electoral prospects. TRUMP then went to great lengths to hide this conduct, causing dozens of false entries in business records to conceal criminal activity, including attempts to violate state and federal election laws.
TRUMP is charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with 34 counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree.
“The People of the State of New York allege that Donald J. Trump repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal crimes that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election,” said District Attorney Bragg. “Manhattan is home to the country’s most significant business market. We cannot allow New York businesses to manipulate their records to cover up criminal conduct. As the Statement of Facts describes, the trail of money and lies exposes a pattern that, the People allege, violates one of New York’s basic and fundamental business laws. As this office has done time and time again, we today uphold our solemn responsibility to ensure that everyone stands equal before the law.”
According to court documents and statements made on the record in court, from August 2015 to December 2017, TRUMP orchestrated his “catch and kill” scheme through a series of payments that he then concealed through months of false business entries.
In one instance, American Media Inc. (“AMI”), paid $30,000 to a former Trump Tower doorman, who claimed to have a story about a child TRUMP had out of wedlock.
In a second instance, AMI paid $150,000 to a woman who alleged she had a sexual relationship with TRUMP. When TRUMP explicitly directed a lawyer who then worked for the Trump Organization as TRUMP’s Special Counsel (“Special Counsel”) to reimburse AMI in cash, the Special Counsel indicated to TRUMP that the payment should be made via a shell company and not by cash. AMI ultimately declined to accept reimbursement after consulting their counsel. AMI, which later admitted its conduct was unlawful in an agreement with federal prosecutors, made false entries in its business records concerning the true purpose of the $150,000 payment.
In a third instance – 12 days before the presidential general election – the Special Counsel wired $130,000 to an attorney for an adult film actress. The Special Counsel, who has since pleaded guilty and served time in prison for making the illegal campaign contribution, made the payment through a shell corporation funded through a bank in Manhattan.
After winning the election, TRUMP reimbursed the Special Counsel through a series of monthly checks, first from the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust – created in New York to hold the Trump Organization’s assets during TRUMP’s presidency – and later from TRUMP’s bank account. In total, 11 checks were issued for a phony purpose. Nine of those checks were signed by TRUMP. Each check was processed by the Trump Organization and illegally disguised as a payment for legal services rendered pursuant to a non-existent retainer agreement. In total, 34 false entries were made in New York business records to conceal the initial covert $130,000 payment. Further, participants in the scheme took steps that mischaracterized, for tax purposes, the true nature of the reimbursements.
Assistant D.A.s Catherine McCaw (Counsel to the Investigation Division), Katherine Ellis (Major Economic Crimes Bureau), Rebecca Mangold (Major Economic Crimes Bureau), Christopher Conroy (Senior Advisor to the Investigation Division), Susan Hoffinger (Chief of the Investigation Division), and Matthew Colangelo (Senior Counsel to the District Attorney) are handling the prosecution of this case with the assistance of Peter Pope (Executive Assistant D.A.), Steven Wu (Executive Assistant D.A. and Chief of the Appeals Division), and Alan Gadlin (Deputy Chief of the Appeals Division).
DONALD J. TRUMP
Palm Beach, FL
Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class E felony, 34 counts
From the Statement of Facts [pdf]:
1. The defendant DONALD J. TRUMP repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election.
2. From August 2015 to December 2017, the Defendant orchestrated a scheme with others to influence the 2016 presidential election by identifying and purchasing negative information about him to suppress its publication and benefit the Defendant’s electoral prospects. In order to execute the unlawful scheme, the participants violated election laws and made and caused false entries in the business records of various entities in New York. The participants
also took steps that mischaracterized, for tax purposes, the true nature of the payments made in furtherance of the scheme.
19. The Defendant directed Lawyer A to delay making a payment to Woman 2 as long as possible. He instructed Lawyer A that if they could delay the payment until after the election, they could avoid paying altogether, because at that point it would not matter if the story became public. As reflected in emails and text messages between and among Lawyer A, Lawyer B, and the AMI Editor-in-Chief, Lawyer A attempted to delay making payment as long as possible.
20. Ultimately, with pressure mounting and the election approaching, the Defendant agreed to the payoff and directed Lawyer A to proceed. Lawyer A discussed the deal with the Defendant and the TO CFO. The Defendant did not want to make the $130,000 payment himself, and asked Lawyer A and the TO CFO to find a way to make the payment. After discussing various payment options with the TO CFO, Lawyer A agreed he would make the payment. Before making the payment, Lawyer A confirmed with the Defendant that Defendant would pay him back.
“… He instructed Lawyer A that if they could delay the payment until after the election, they could avoid paying altogether, because at that point it would not matter if the story became public….”
And that is the epitaph for 21st Century America.
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