In a blockbuster investigative article, The Wall Street Journal reports that on two previously undisclosed occasions in 2015 and 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump met with David Pecker, chief executive of the firm that owns The National Enquirer, to plot out strategies for hush money payments to women that Trump had allegedly had extra-marital affairs with. These meetings led to the dispersal of money from The National Enquirer to the model Karen McDougal. If accurate, The Wall Street Journal’s account contradicts Trump’s frequent denials of involvement in the payouts. They also underscore the possibility the president is vulnerable to possible charges of violating federal campaign-finance laws.
The Journal report also indicates further evidence of a parallel arrangement, made by the president’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, with the actress Stormy Daniels. According to the newspaper, “Trump was involved in or briefed on nearly every step of the agreements. He directed deals in phone calls and meetings with his self-described fixer, Michael Cohen, and others. The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan has gathered evidence of Mr. Trump’s participation in the transactions.” Further, Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, is reported to have been involved in the deals with both McDougal and Daniels.
Given The Wall Street Journal’s reporting, there is a high probability that the president will be facing legal trouble growing out of these deals, possibly including criminal charges.