The criminal charges made against Donald Trump are the first time that any former president has been charged with crimes in the United States.
During the 2016 presidential election, only weeks before the vote, Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen tried to force hush money payments on two women who said they’d had sexual encounters with the married Republican candidate.
Stormy Daniels was paid $130,000, and Karen McDougal was paid $150,000. Cohen got $420,000 for arranging the matter.
There’s nothing inherently illegal about hush money. A payout for a signed non-disclosure agreement is a standard practice in many fields. But the paths that the money took were likely criminal, according to District Attorney Allen Bragg.
The money that Cohen paid to Stormy Daniels went through a shell company set up by Cohen. He was then repaid by Donald Trump, he testifies, whose company The Trump Organization falsely logged the reimbursement as legal expenses.
According to federal prosecutors, the payments amounted to unreported, illegal assistance to Trump’s presidential campaign.
According to Cohen, and recordings he made of himself speaking to Trump, the then-candidate personally told him how to arrange things.
Trump has been calling the criminal charges a witch hunt, and bragging that even if he is guilty, the statute of limitations has “long ago expired.” And he could be right, because the statute of limitations in Florida is five years for felonies and two for misdemeanors like illegal campaign contributions. But in New York, the statute clock stops if the defendant is regularly outside the state, and Donald Trump has barely been back to New York since 2016.
Other charges Trump may be facing include election interference in Georgia, where he was recorded telling the governor to ‘find’ more votes for him after the count was concluded, and the improper storage of illegal documents in his Florida home.
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