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22/04/24 | 3:59 pm | Donald Trump

Trump’s $130,000 hush money payment and the path to his criminal trial

Opening statements are set to take place on Monday in Donald Trump‘s hush money case, the first-ever criminal trial of a former U.S. president. The charges are tied to a $130,000 payment made to buy a porn star’s silence before the 2016 election about a sexual relationship she says she had with him.

Trump, who is again running for president, has pleaded not guilty to falsifying business records to cover up the payment. Below is a timeline of events leading up to the trial:


The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump arranged the payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in October 2016 to prevent her from discussing the alleged 2006 sexual liaison. Trump married his third wife, Melania Trump, in 2005.

Trump has repeatedly denied having sex with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.


Michael Cohen, a former private lawyer and fixer for Trumpsays he paid Daniels using his own money and was not directed by Trump‘s company or campaign to make the payment. He said Trump never reimbursed him for the payment.

Cohen would later contradict both statements under oath, stating that Trump did, in fact, direct him to make the payment and reimbursed him.


The New Yorker magazine reports that Trump had an affair with Playboy model Karen McDougal from 2006 to 2007. The magazine said American Media Inc, publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid, paid McDougal $150,000 for exclusive rights to her story shortly after Trump became the Republican nominee for president in 2016.

The National Enquirer never published the story.

APRIL 2018

Trump, asked by reporters if he knew about the payment to Daniels, responds, “No.” Asked why Cohen made the payment, Trump said, “You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen.”

MAY 2018

In an ethics disclosure, Trump acknowledges reimbursing Cohen for the $130,000 paid to Daniels.

JULY 2018

Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump‘s personal lawyers at the time, says Cohen recorded a conversation with Trump two months before the 2016 election in which the two discussed a potential payment to McDougal. Trump denies wrongdoing and calls Cohen’s tape “perhaps illegal.”


Cohen pleads guilty to criminal charges in federal court in Manhattan, including campaign finance violations over the hush money payments to Daniels and McDougal. He testifies that Trump directed him to make the payments “for the principal purpose of influencing the election.”

In their indictment of Cohen, prosecutors say a candidate for federal office referred to as “Individual-1, whom they later confirmed was Trump, arranged the payments. Federal prosecutors did not charge Trump with a crime.


Trump calls the hush money payments a “simple private transaction.” In an interview with Reuters, he says the payment to Daniels “wasn’t a campaign contribution” and “there was no violation based on what we did.”

JULY 2021

Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan district attorney at the time, charges Trump‘s New York-based family real estate company, the Trump Organization, and its top financial executive with tax fraud. Trump himself is not charged, and the indictment contains no references to hush money payments.


The Trump Organization is found guilty of tax fraud after a trial in New York state court in Manhattan.


Vance’s successor as Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, begins presenting evidence about Trump‘s alleged role in the 2016 hush money payments to a grand jury.

MARCH 2023

Bragg’s office says Trump has been indicted. The specific charges remain under seal.

APRIL 2023

The indictment is unsealed. It charges Trump with falsely claiming in records held by the Trump Organization that his 2017 reimbursements to Cohen for the Daniels payment were legal expenses.

Prosecutors say the fabricated records were designed to conceal the payment, which they characterized as part of a scheme to corrupt the 2016 election. Trump won the presidency that year, defeating Hillary Clinton, a Democrat.

Trump pleads not guilty to the charges and later tells supporters gathered outside his home in Florida that he was the victim of “election interference,” without providing evidence.

APRIL 15, 2024

Jury selection begins for Trump‘s trial, which is expected to last between six and eight weeks.

APRIL 19, 2024

Lawyers for both sides finish choosing 12 jurors and six alternates to hear the case.

APRIL 22, 2024

Opening statements are expected to take place, and the first witness is expected to be called.


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