The New Yorker:

Manhattan prosecutors have argued that the Stormy Daniels case—the first criminal trial of a former President in American history—is about much more than hush money. And legal experts believe that a conviction is likely.

By Eric Lach

In 2006, at a celebrity golf tournament on the shore of Lake Tahoe, Donald Trump met the adult-film star Stormy Daniels. According to Daniels, things got intimate. (“The sex was nothing crazy,” she would go on to say.) A decade later, Trump was running for President, as a kind of Republican uber-family man, drawing crucial support from conservative, evangelical voters. Daniels decided to go public: her encounter with Trump had taken place while he was already married to his third wife, Melania. Searching for an outlet that would handle the story with the delicacy it required, Daniels’s agent reached out to the National Enquirer.

A day earlier, the Washington Post had posted the “Access Hollywood” tape on its Web site. Trump could be heard talking about grabbing women by the genitals. The Republican Party was freaking out. Paul Ryan, then the House Speaker, told his colleagues that it was O.K. to “abandon” Trump, to save their own electoral skins in November. There was talk of replacing him on the Presidential ticket. In the midst of this frenzy, the National Enquirer’s editor got in touch with Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, who negotiated a hundred-and-thirty-thousand-dollar fee to buy Daniels’s silence, avoiding further scandal. Cohen paid the fee himself, and was reimbursed by the Trump Organization in installments identified on company records as “retainer” payments for “services rendered.”

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