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Westlake Legal Group > Clifford, Stephanie (1979- )

New Charges in Stormy Daniels Hush Money Inquiry Are Unlikely, Prosecutors Signal

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Federal prosecutors signaled in a court document released on Thursday that it was unlikely they would file additional charges in the hush-money investigation that ensnared members of Donald J. Trump’s inner circle and threatened to derail his presidency.

In the document, the prosecutors said they had “effectively concluded” their inquiry, which centered on payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to buy the silence of two women who said they had had affairs with Mr. Trump.

The outcome appeared to be a legal victory for Mr. Trump, whom prosecutors implicated last year in directing the payments. Mr. Trump had denied the affairs and any wrongdoing, but his aides considered the inquiry a greater threat than even the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the election.

At the same time, other documents released on Thursday offered the government’s most detailed account yet of Mr. Trump’s involvement in the hush-money payments, showing he was in close touch with Michael D. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer, while the payments were being arranged. The day before paying $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress, in October 2016, Mr. Cohen spoke on the phone with Mr. Trump twice. Less than 30 minutes later, Mr. Cohen took steps to open a bank account to pay the woman, the documents showed.

Read About Trump’s Involvement in the Hush Money Investigation

An F.B.I. document details the president’s close contact with Michael Cohen.

Westlake Legal Group thumbnail New Charges in Stormy Daniels Hush Money Inquiry Are Unlikely, Prosecutors Signal United States Trump, Donald J Politics and Government McDougal, Karen (1971- ) Manhattan (NYC) Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- ) Campaign Finance   269 pages, 4.44 MB

Mr. Cohen also spoke with President Trump the day after wiring the money to the woman’s lawyer, the documents said. Although it is not known what was said during the phone calls, the new disclosures seem to contradict repeated statements by Mr. Trump, and those close to him, that they were unaware that Mr. Cohen had arranged the payments.

The documents did not address what led the prosecutors with the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan to conclude their inquiry, but people briefed on the matter said that earlier this year investigators had encountered obstacles to filing additional charges.

With Mr. Trump, the prosecutors were limited by more than just a Justice Department policy that bars charging a sitting president with a federal crime, one of the people said. Prosecutors also grappled with whether they had enough evidence to show that Mr. Trump had understood campaign finance laws and had intentionally violated them.

The investigators also struggled to gain access to at least one encrypted electronic device that may have contained additional evidence, the people said. It is unclear who the device belonged to and whether the investigators ultimately reviewed its contents.

On Thursday, the prosecutors revealed for the first time that they had expanded their investigation from campaign finance violations to include whether “certain individuals” lied to investigators or tried to obstruct the inquiry.

A brief report filed by prosecutors did not identify the subjects of those investigations, although it contained redactions of what appeared to be at least one name. That investigation has also ended, prosecutors said, although they did not explicitly say that charges would not be filed.

As recently as this spring, prosecutors were still considering whether one Trump Organization executive was untruthful when testifying before the grand jury, according to people briefed on the matter.

The Trump Organization reimbursed Mr. Cohen for the hush money he paid to Ms. Daniels. Mr. Cohen also urged American Media Inc., which publishes The National Enquirer, to buy the rights to a former Playboy model’s story of an affair with Mr. Trump. Both deals effectively silenced the women in the run-up to the 2016 election.

A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment. Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, said simply, “Case closed.”

Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty in the case. He has said he helped arrange the hush money at the direction of Mr. Trump, and prosecutors have since repeated the accusation in court papers. Mr. Cohen is serving a three-year prison sentence.

In a statement from a federal prison in Otisville, N.Y., Mr. Cohen criticized the decision to end the inquiry.

How Michael Cohen Turned Against President Trump

April 21, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 00trumpcohen-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v4 New Charges in Stormy Daniels Hush Money Inquiry Are Unlikely, Prosecutors Signal United States Trump, Donald J Politics and Government McDougal, Karen (1971- ) Manhattan (NYC) Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- ) Campaign Finance

“The conclusion of the investigation exonerating the Trump Organization’s role should be of great concern to the American people and investigated by Congress and the Department of Justice,” Mr. Cohen said.

The president’s critics in Congress, citing the new disclosures about Mr. Trump’s contact with Mr. Cohen around the time of the payments, argued that there was sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against Mr. Trump but for the Justice Department policy.

“The inescapable conclusion from all of the public materials available now is that there was ample evidence to charge Donald Trump with the same criminal election law violations for which Michael Cohen pled guilty,” Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.

The documents released on Thursday were related to a 2018 raid on Mr. Cohen’s home and office. The prosecutors initially had released the documents in March, with nearly every detail of the campaign finance evidence redacted.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Manhattan, William H. Pauley III, had ordered prosecutors to release the records without redactions.

The search warrant documents shed light on the breadth of evidence the prosecutors amassed against Mr. Cohen even before searching his property and interviewing a number of witnesses. The prosecutors had access to many of his text messages with American Media executives and a lawyer for the two women as well as records of his calls with Mr. Trump.

The documents detail the lengths Mr. Cohen and Trump campaign aides went — in the final stretch of the campaign — to prevent the public from learning about Ms. Daniels and Karen McDougal, the Playboy model.

Hope Hicks, who was Mr. Trump’s campaign spokeswoman and a trusted aide, had a more substantial role in discussions about the hush money payments than had been previously known.

Westlake Legal Group trump-presidents-investigations-promo-1557500573411-articleLarge-v4 New Charges in Stormy Daniels Hush Money Inquiry Are Unlikely, Prosecutors Signal United States Trump, Donald J Politics and Government McDougal, Karen (1971- ) Manhattan (NYC) Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- ) Campaign Finance

Tracking 29 Investigations Related to Trump

Federal, state and congressional authorities are investigating Donald J. Trump’s businesses, campaign, inauguration and presidency.

In October 2016, in the days leading up to the payments to Ms. Daniels, Ms. Hicks took part in a series of telephone calls, text messages and email messages. They were with Mr. Cohen, Mr. Trump, Ms. Daniel’s lawyer and two American Media executives — including the head of the company, David J. Pecker, Mr. Trump’s longtime friend.

“Based on the timing of these calls, and the content of the text messages and emails, I believe that at least some of these communications concerned the need to prevent Clifford from going public,” an F.B.I. agent wrote in one of the documents, using Ms. Daniels’s real name, Stephanie Clifford.

A lawyer for Ms. Hicks declined to comment.

The day after Mr. Cohen sent the $130,000 payment to the lawyer for Ms. Daniels, he spoke to Mr. Trump for about five minutes. That evening, the lawyer, Keith Davidson, texted Mr. Cohen that “all is AOK,” assuring him that Ms. Daniels would sign a nondisclosure agreement soon.

“I hope we are good,” Mr. Cohen wrote to Mr. Davidson, who responded: “I assure you. We are very good.”

In early November 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported on American Media’s arrangement with Ms. McDougal, who received $150,000 from the tabloid company. The next day, Mr. Cohen texted Ms. Hicks that the story was “Getting little to no traction.” Ms. Hicks responded, “Keep praying!! It’s working!”

Later that day, Mr. Trump spoke with Mr. Pecker, according to one of the documents. Mr. Pecker cooperated with prosecutors, earning American Media a nonprosecution agreement.

Mr. Trump won the election three days later.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

New Charges in Trump Campaign Finance Inquiry Are Unlikely, Prosecutors Signal

Federal prosecutors signaled in a court document released on Thursday that it was unlikely they would file additional charges in the hush-money investigation that ensnared members of Donald J. Trump’s inner circle and threatened to derail his presidency.

In the document, the prosecutors said they had “effectively concluded” their inquiry, which centered on payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to buy the silence of two women who said they had had affairs with Mr. Trump.

At the same time, other newly released documents from the investigation showed that Mr. Trump was in close touch with Michael D. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer, when he was arranging the payments.

The day before paying one of the women $130,000, Mr. Cohen spoke twice on the phone with Mr. Trump, according to the documents, which said that “less than thirty minutes after speaking to Trump,” Mr. Cohen took steps to open a bank account to pay the woman.

He also spoke with President Trump the day after wiring the money to the woman’s lawyer, the documents said. It is not known what was said during the phone calls.

For the first time, the prosecutors with the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan also revealed in one document that they had expanded their investigation from campaign finance violations to include whether “certain individuals” lied to investigators or tried to obstruct the inquiry.

The brief report did not identify the subjects of those investigations, although it contained redactions of what appeared to be at least one name. That investigation has also ended, prosecutors said.

As recently as this spring, prosecutors were still considering whether one Trump Organization executive was untruthful when testifying before the grand jury, according to people briefed on the matter.

The Trump Organization reimbursed Mr. Cohen for the hush money he paid to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress. Mr. Cohen also urged American Media Inc., which publishes The National Enquirer, to buy the rights to a former Playboy model’s story of an affair with Mr. Trump. Both deals effectively silenced the women in the run-up to the 2016 election.

A lawyer for the Trump Organization could not immediately be reached for comment.

Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty in the case. He has said he helped arrange the hush money at the direction of Mr. Trump, and prosecutors have since repeated the accusation in court papers. Mr. Cohen is serving a three-year prison sentence.

In a statement from a federal prison in Otisville, N.Y., Mr. Cohen criticized the decision to end the inquiry.

“The conclusion of the investigation exonerating the Trump Organization’s role should be of great concern to the American people and investigated by Congress and the Department of Justice,” Mr. Cohen said.

Westlake Legal Group trump-presidents-investigations-promo-1557500573411-articleLarge-v4 New Charges in Trump Campaign Finance Inquiry Are Unlikely, Prosecutors Signal United States Trump, Donald J Politics and Government McDougal, Karen (1971- ) Manhattan (NYC) Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- ) Campaign Finance

Tracking 29 Investigations Related to Trump

Federal, state and congressional authorities are investigating Donald J. Trump’s businesses, campaign, inauguration and presidency.

Mr. Trump has denied the affairs and any campaign finance violations.

The documents were related to a 2018 raid on Mr. Cohen’s home and office. The prosecutors initially had released the documents in March, with nearly every detail of the campaign finance evidence redacted.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Manhattan, William H. Pauley III, had ordered prosecutors to release the records without redactions.

The search warrant documents shed light on the breadth of evidence the prosecutors amassed against Mr. Cohen even before searching his property and interviewing a number of witnesses.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

New Charges in Trump Campaign Finance Inquiry Are Unlikely, Prosecutors Signal

Federal prosecutors signaled in a court document released on Thursday that it was unlikely they would file additional charges in the hush-money investigation that ensnared members of Donald J. Trump’s inner circle and threatened to derail his presidency.

In the document, the prosecutors said they had “effectively concluded” their inquiry, which centered on payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to buy the silence of two women who said they had had affairs with Mr. Trump.

At the same time, other newly released documents from the investigation showed that Mr. Trump was in close touch with Michael D. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer, when he was arranging the payments.

The day before paying one of the women $130,000, Mr. Cohen spoke twice on the phone with Mr. Trump, according to the documents, which said that “less than thirty minutes after speaking to Trump,” Mr. Cohen took steps to open a bank account to pay the woman.

He also spoke with President Trump the day after wiring the money to the woman’s lawyer, the documents said. It is not known what was said during the phone calls.

For the first time, the prosecutors with the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan also revealed in one document that they had expanded their investigation from campaign finance violations to include whether “certain individuals” lied to investigators or tried to obstruct the inquiry.

The brief report did not identify the subjects of those investigations, although it contained redactions of what appeared to be at least one name. That investigation has also ended, prosecutors said.

As recently as this spring, prosecutors were still considering whether one Trump Organization executive was untruthful when testifying before the grand jury, according to people briefed on the matter.

The Trump Organization reimbursed Mr. Cohen for the hush money he paid to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress. Mr. Cohen also urged American Media Inc., which publishes The National Enquirer, to buy the rights to a former Playboy model’s story of an affair with Mr. Trump. Both deals effectively silenced the women in the run-up to the 2016 election.

A lawyer for the Trump Organization could not immediately be reached for comment.

Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty in the case. He has said he helped arrange the hush money at the direction of Mr. Trump, and prosecutors have since repeated the accusation in court papers. Mr. Cohen is serving a three-year prison sentence.

In a statement from a federal prison in Otisville, N.Y., Mr. Cohen criticized the decision to end the inquiry.

“The conclusion of the investigation exonerating the Trump Organization’s role should be of great concern to the American people and investigated by Congress and the Department of Justice,” Mr. Cohen said.

Westlake Legal Group trump-presidents-investigations-promo-1557500573411-articleLarge-v4 New Charges in Trump Campaign Finance Inquiry Are Unlikely, Prosecutors Signal United States Trump, Donald J Politics and Government McDougal, Karen (1971- ) Manhattan (NYC) Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- ) Campaign Finance

Tracking 29 Investigations Related to Trump

Federal, state and congressional authorities are investigating Donald J. Trump’s businesses, campaign, inauguration and presidency.

Mr. Trump has denied the affairs and any campaign finance violations.

The documents were related to a 2018 raid on Mr. Cohen’s home and office. The prosecutors initially had released the documents in March, with nearly every detail of the campaign finance evidence redacted.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Manhattan, William H. Pauley III, had ordered prosecutors to release the records without redactions.

The search warrant documents shed light on the breadth of evidence the prosecutors amassed against Mr. Cohen even before searching his property and interviewing a number of witnesses.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Why It Matters That Trump and Michael Cohen Had a Falling Out

Westlake Legal Group 21trumpcohentakeaways-alt-facebookJumbo Why It Matters That Trump and Michael Cohen Had a Falling Out United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump Organization Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Mueller, Robert S III Justice Department Federal Taxes (US) Federal Bureau of Investigation Cummings, Elijah E Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- ) Campaign Finance Adultery

Fixer. The title wasn’t a formal one, but Michael D. Cohen wholeheartedly embraced the role as a lawyer at the Trump Organization. It amounted to serving as chief problem solver for Donald J. Trump, offering Mr. Cohen an unusually up-close view of his boss’s personal and professional lives.

Mr. Cohen was often at Mr. Trump’s side in the decade before he became president, including helping him sort out difficulties leading up to the 2016 election. Most famously, he helped arrange hush money payments to two women — including the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels — who claimed to have had affairs with Mr. Trump.

His unflinching loyalty to his boss often went unreciprocated. And it was this imbalance that left the two men on perilous ground last April, after the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided Mr. Cohen’s home, office and hotel room. The searches were part of an inquiry, in the office of the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, that grew out of Robert S. Mueller III’s examination of Russian election meddling.

Mr. Cohen would ultimately plead guilty to multiple crimes, and is scheduled to begin serving a three-year prison term on May 6. After months of indecision, he turned on Mr. Trump last summer and has since spoken to the Southern District prosecutors about the Trump family business and more, as well as providing information to the office of the special counsel, Mr. Mueller.

A review by The New York Times of confidential emails, text messages and other communications suggest the men’s falling out may have been avoidable. Either way, its consequences have cast a shadow on the Trump presidency.

Here are five reasons the undoing of their relationship matters.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan effectively characterized Mr. Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator in the hush money payments, which violated campaign finance laws because they were made to influence the outcome of the election.

At his plea hearing, Mr. Cohen said he had made the payments at Mr. Trump’s direction, which was consistent with other evidence prosecutors had gathered.

Under current Justice Department policy, a president cannot be charged with a crime. But when a president is no longer in office, prosecutors are free to bring charges — a possibility cited in the Mueller report released on Thursday.

Mr. Cohen did not enter into a formal cooperation agreement with the Southern District prosecutors, but voluntarily met with them about his knowledge of Mr. Trump’s family, business and inner circle.

If the prosecutors determine that he provided them with useful information, it is possible his three-year sentence could be reduced, under federal sentencing rules. As such, Mr. Trump and others have dismissed his cooperation as a desperate play for leniency.

So far his information has helped several investigations, including one examining aspects of Mr. Trump’s inaugural festivities.

Since turning on his former boss, Mr. Cohen has become one of Mr. Trump’s fiercest critics, offering fodder for the president’s detractors.

Mr. Cohen laid into the president in testimony before Congress in late February, exposing what he described as the dark underside of the president’s business and political life. “He is a racist. He is a con man. And he is a cheat,” Mr. Cohen testified.

During the hearing, Trump defenders repeatedly questioned the veracity of Mr. Cohen’s statements, especially because he had pleaded guilty last year to lying to Congress during an earlier appearance about Mr. Trump’s dealings in Moscow.

But Mr. Cohen said he was coming clean.

“I have fixed things, but I am no longer your ‘fixer,’ Mr. Trump,” Mr. Cohen said.

Mr. Cohen’s testimony has also provided something of a road map for congressional investigators looking into Mr. Trump’s finances. Last week, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform subpoenaed records from Mazars USA, an accounting firm that had for many years prepared Mr. Trumps taxes.

The committee chairman, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, a Democrat, said he was seeking the records because of Mr. Cohen’s testimony that Mr. Trump had overstated his assets before he was elected.

Mr. Cohen had provided the panel with copies of financial statements that indicated Mr. Trump’s net worth skyrocketed to $8.66 billion in 2013 from $4.55 billion the previous year as a result of a line item identified as “brand value.”

But the committee’s ranking Republican, Jim Jordan of Ohio, said no valid legislative purpose was served by the subpoena, suggesting it was meant to embarrass the president.

The status of several of criminal investigations that grew out of Mr. Cohen’s interviews with federal prosecutors remains unclear. But as recently as February, a judge disclosed that the hush money inquiry focused on Trump Organization officials remained open.

In New York, several inquiries undertaken by state authorities in response to Mr. Cohen’s congressional testimony are still active. They include one by the attorney general into Mr. Trump’s real estate projects, and another by state regulators into his insurance practices.

And as Mr. Cohen’s May 6 surrender date nears, his lawyers appear to be making a last-ditch effort to keep him out of prison. They wrote earlier this month to Democratic members of Congress, asking them to endorse a campaign to reduce his sentence or postpone his surrender. But the effort does not appear to have borne fruit.

Mr. Cohen’s three-year prison term is the longest yet from any case that grew out of the special counsel’s inquiry, after that of Paul J. Manafort, who was sentenced to over seven years in prison.

Nonetheless, the redacted version of the Mueller report indicates that federal authorities were debriefing Mr. Cohen as recently as last month.

The full range of topics discussed is not known. But footnotes point to an F.B.I. document, dated March 19, based on an interview with Mr. Cohen. The document is cited in connection with statements he made about his conversations with the president after the F.B.I. raid and about a Trump Tower project in Russia, as well as discussions with the president’s lawyer about a possible pardon.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com