The Manhattan District Attorney's Office filed a summons with the Trump Organization and American Media Inc. (AMI) on Thursday as part of an investigation into payments of sums paid to two women who reported business with President Donald Trump during the 2016 electoral cycle, more news was reported.
The Trump Organization citation seeks communications between the company and representatives of adult film actress Stormy Daniels and the former Playboy model Karen McDougal, the people who claimed to have had dealings with Trump more than a decade ago, CNN reported, citing a person who is familiar with imports. AMI also received a citation, according to the point of sale.
Reportedly, prosecutors are investigating whether the president's family business has violated the law by managing his payment records. They are specifically examining whether the Trump Organization has erroneously listed the reimbursement of payments to Michael Cohen, the president's former personal and "repairer" lawyer, as legal fees. Such action would represent a state crime.
Cohen is currently serving a three-year prison sentence in part for payments of sums paid to Daniels and McDougal, which prosecutors say is a violation of campaign finances. He had previously stated that the payments had been made "in coordination and in the direction of" Trump in an attempt to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The New York Times noted Thursday that it is unclear whether the new investigation will examine Trump's conduct.
Marc L. Mukasey, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, called the investigation a "successful political work".
"They are just harassment of the president, his family and his business – using quotations as weapons," he told the Times Thursday. "We will respond as appropriate."
The prosecutors' court summonses were issued a few weeks after a judge announced that federal prosecutors had concluded their investigation into violations of campaign funding related to the case of silence.
They also mark the second time that Vance has started an investigation that revolves around the president after federal prosecutors have completed their investigation.
In May, Vance accused the former president of Trump's campaign, Paul Manafort, with 16 crimes. The prosecution's news came just one hour after Manafort was convicted of multiple financial and lobbying charges in two cases brought by former special adviser Robert Mueller.
The prosecution arose from an investigation that began in 2017, when New York prosecutors began to examine the loans received by Manafort from two banks. The loans were also investigated by Mueller and formed the basis of some allegations in the federal prosecution that led to the conviction of Manafort last year in Virginia.
In the case of the hush-money, Cohen pleaded guilty to charges for the election campaign in August 2018 and admitted he had arranged a payment of $ 130,000 to Daniels and a payment of $ 150,000 to McDougal in order to silence them on their alleged affairs with Trump. Payments are considered by the government an illegal donation to the Trump campaign, as they were intended to improve Trump's electoral chances. The legal limit for individual contributions in a general election is $ 2,700.
Court documents disclosed in July detail as Cohen; Press secretary of Trump's election campaign, Hope Hicks; two directors of the AMI, Dylan Howard and David Pecker; and Trump himself was closely involved in a plan to hide payments made to Daniels and McDougal.
The documents, which include calls, text messages and e-mails exchanged between the group in October 2016, describe how Cohen worked to reach an agreement with Davidson and AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer. Cohen's plan was to buy AMI and bury Daniels' story – a practice known as "catch and kill" – and he would then reimburse the media company for his expenses.
The documents stated that Cohen had made a payment of $ 130,000 to Davidson on October 27th – with funds destined for Daniels – "in order to guarantee her continuous silence with respect to the accusations of having an extramarital affair with Trump".
In addition to paying Daniels, Cohen arranged for AMI to pay McDougal for his story about a relationship with Trump. McDougal has contracted with the AMI "the exclusive ownership of its account of any romantic, personal or physical relationship I have ever had with a" married man "," the New Yorker reported last year.
The company never published the story after purchasing its rights.
As part of a non-prosecution agreement, AMI admitted that it was involved in the effort to "capture and kill" stories that could harm Trump at the end of last year. He admitted to making a payment of $ 150,000 in collaboration with some members of Trump's campaign in an effort to ensure that McDougal's claims about a relationship did not become public.