While most of the focus has been on former President Donald Trump’s hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, Manhattan prosecutors also took an interest in a $150,000 payment to a former Playboy model who also alleges she carried out an affair with Trump.
Most of the attention on District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation of Trump has revolved around his payments to Daniels.
After reporting from CNN suggested Trump will face more than 30 counts related to business fraud, many of his supporters and critics wondered how so many counts could be wrung from one payment.
A report from the Wall Street Journal shed some light on Thursday evening.
People familiar with the grand jury proceedings said Bragg’s prosecutors have also questioned witnesses about a previous payment involving Karen McDougal, Playboy’s Playmate of the Year in 1998.
She alleges she began a 10-month affair with Trump in 2006. She signed an exclusive contract with the National Enquirer’s publisher in 2016 to sell the story, but the publisher is a longtime ally of Trump and bought the story to bury it, a legal practice known as “catch and kill” in the industry.
Bragg’s interest in the payment to McDougal has not been covered much as the case against Trump advanced.
What We Know About the Indictment
The exact details of the indictment are unclear as it was filed under seal. Full details will emerge on or before Tuesday, when Trump is expected to appear in court for his arraignment.
Trump has reportedly reached out to GOP leaders following the news to let them know he intends to fight the charges.
Senator Lindsay Graham called the indictment “legal voodoo”.
“This is literally legal voodoo, this is political persecution, this is a combination of political hatred and selective prosecution on steroids,” he said.
Former Vice President Mike Pence told CNN, “I really do believe that this decision today is a great disservice to the country and the idea that for the first time in American history a former president would be indicted on a campaign finance issue to me, it just smacks of political prosecution, and I think the overwhelming majority of the American people will see it that way.”
“The weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda turns the rule of law on its head,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said. He later said Florida would not cooperate with any potential extradition of Trump from the state.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tweeted, “Alvin Bragg has irreparably damaged our country in an attempt to interfere in our Presidential election. As he routinely frees violent criminals to terrorize the public, he weaponized our sacred system of justice against President Donald Trump. The American people will not tolerate this injustice, and the House of Representatives will hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account.”