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Trump Organization possible criminal charges over hush-money payments

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Donald Trump Ivanka Eric Jr.
(L-R)
Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump
attend the ground breaking of the Trump International Hotel at
the Old Post Office Building in Washington July 23,
2014.

REUTERS/Gary
Cameron


  • Prosecutors in Manhattan, New York, are weighing
    possible criminal charges against the Trump Organization and
    two unnamed senior officials at the company, The New York Times
    reported on Thursday night.
  • According to the report, the Manhattan District
    Attorney is looking at what role the organization may have had
    in the arrangement of payments Michael Cohen made to women who
    claimed to have had sexual relationships with Donald
    Trump.
  • The investigation would seek to determine how the Trump
    Organization accounted for the reimbursement it paid Cohen, the
    report said, noting that the company labeled the reimbursement
    as payment for legal fees.
  • Cohen is Trump’s former personal attorney. He pleaded
    guilty to campaign-finance violations and other charges on
    Tuesday.
  • As part of the deal, he testified under oath that he
    made the payments to bury damaging stories about Trump and
    preserve his candidacy in the 2016 election.

New York state prosecutors are said to be weighing possible
criminal charges against the Trump Organization and two unnamed
senior officials at the company,
The New York Times reported
Thursday night.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office is trying to determine
what role the organization may have had in the arrangement of a
payment Michael Cohen made to Stormy
Daniels
, the adult-film actress who said she had a sexual
relationship with Donald Trump.

According to The Times report, the DA’s investigation would try
to determine how the Trump Organization accounted for the
reimbursement it paid Cohen, who was Trump’s personal lawyer at
the time he facilitated the $130,000 payment to Daniels in 2016.

The identities of the two senior officials reportedly being
targeted in the Manhattan DA’s inquiry were not immediately
clear. As
Business Insider’s senior politics reporter Allan Smith wrote

this week, observers pointed to Allen Weisselberg, the Trump
Organization’s chief financial officer, as likely to be one of
the two.

The Times report notes that the Manhattan DA’s inquiry is still
in its early stages, and prosecutors have not yet decided whether
they will proceed.


Cohen pleaded guilty
to campaign-finance violations and other
charges on Tuesday. As part of the deal, he testified under oath
that he made the hush-money payment to keep Daniels quiet about
her alleged affair with Trump in order to preserve his candidacy
in the 2016 election.


Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen.
Brendan
McDermid/Reuters


Court documents related to Cohen’s plea deal said the Trump
Organization reimbursed Cohen $420,000 for the payment to Daniels
and labeled it as legal fees. The money covered the $130,000
payment to Daniels plus costs and fees, a bonus for Cohen, and
money to cover his tax liability.

The Trump Organization paid Cohen in $35,000 installments through
2017, and submitted false invoices for the payments which it said
were part of a monthly retainer.

“In truth and in fact, there was no such retainer agreement, and
the monthly invoices Cohen submitted were not in connection with
any legal services he had provided in 2017,” prosecutors in
Cohen’s case said.

A New York state case against the Trump Organization could add to
the president’s worries because his pardon power does not apply
to businesses or individuals convicted of state crimes.

Trump has already issued several pardons in his first 18 months
in office. People in his orbit have publicly discussed a possible
pardon for his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who this
week was
convicted on multiple counts of tax and bank fraud
.

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