Monday, May 20, 2024

Covering the trial: How Trump was indicted, brought to court for Stormy Daniels hush money

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Twelve jurors have been sworn in for the New York criminal trial of former President Donald Trump on charges he falsified business records to conceal $130,000 in hush money paid to a porn star to help his 2016 presidential campaign.

One alternate juror was also chosen. Justice Juan Merchan, the presiding judge, said he expects the remaining alternates will be chosen Friday, clearing the way for the trial to start at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to hide reimbursement payments to former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen for the money paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

Daniels claimed she and Trump had sex in 2006, not long after Melania Trump gave birth to their son Barron. Trump denies the claim.

Learn more: Criminal trial of former President Donald Trump.

The 34 counts are felonies because prosecutors say the falsification was done to conceal the crime of violating federal campaign finance contribution limits. They also say it was meant to conceal a plan to violate New York tax and election laws.

Trump was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on March 30, 2023. The indictment makes Trump the first former U.S. president ever to be criminally charged. The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks.

Here’s a summary of what’s happened in the courtroom so far – and how we got to this point:

2024 | The trial

Day 1: April 15

  • Jury selection begins. Twelve jurors and six alternates will be chosen.
  • Justice Juan Merchan, the presiding judge, rejects a motion by Trump’s lawyers to recuse himself.
  • Merchan rules that an “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump was recorded bragging about grabbing women could not be played in court.
  • Merchan allows Trump’s words from the tape to be entered into court records.
  • Trump appears to briefly fall asleep during the proceeding, according to media reports, which could not be independently verified.
  • Number of jurors chosen: 0

Day 2: April 16

  • Jury selection continues.
  • Merchan allows a potential juror to remain despite Trump’s lawyers objecting to a social media post it uncovered from the juror’s husband. 
  • Another potential juror is dismissed over a social media post in which the juror said “lock him up” in reference to Trump.
  • Merchan hears Trump making comments as a potential juror is questioned. The judge tells a Trump lawyer, “I will not have any jurors intimidated in this courtroom” and instructs the lawyer to speak to Trump.
  • Jury selection will resume on Thursday.
  • Number of jurors chosen: 7

Day 3: April 18

  • Jury selection is nearly complete, with seven new jurors chosen for a total of 12. One alternate was also chosen, leaving five still needed.
  • Two of the seven jurors who were chosen on Tuesday are dismissed. One says she does not believe she can be impartial after the disclosure of some of her personal information. Another is dismissed after prosecutors question his credibility.
  • Merchan tells reporters to refrain from using jurors’ physical descriptions, report on where they work, or the size of their employers.
  • Number of jurors chosen: 7, for a total of 12 jurors, in addition to one alternate.

Trump has repeatedly denied an affair with Daniels. How the conflict evolved:

2006 | Daniels meets Trump


Stormy Daniels, an actress and director in adult films, meets Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. The actress, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, later says in interviews that she and Trump had sex in his hotel room. Daniels tells this to:

At the time, Daniels is 27 and Trump, star of NBC’s “The Apprentice,” is 60. Trump’s wife, Melania, gave birth to their son Barron in March 2006.

2007 | ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ doesn’t happen


Daniels says she met with Trump for four hours at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles to discuss getting her to appear on “Celebrity Apprentice,” a spinoff of “The Apprentice.”

Daniels says Trump called her in August to say an appearance wasn’t possible.

2011 | Daniels begins to tell her story


Daniels is interviewed by In Touch magazine, but the story isn’t published after legal threats by Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, “60 Minutes” reports in 2018.

In 2018, In Touch publishes the Daniels interview, just weeks before the “60 Minutes” report airs.

Daniels also says she is threatened by a man in a Las Vegas parking lot who tells her: “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.

2015 | Trump runs for president

June 19

Trump officially declares his candidacy for president.

2016 | $130,000 for Daniels’ silence

July 19

Trump becomes the Republican presidential nominee.


Daniels and her attorney Keith Davidson tell the National Enquirer she is willing to go on record about the alleged affair with Trump.

The Enquirer’s CEO and editor contact Cohen, who offers Daniels $130,000 for story rights and for her to sign a nondisclosure agreement, a legally enforceable document written to make sure her story will not be made public.

Oct. 17

Cohen establishes Essential Consultants LLC in Delaware as a corporate entity to transfer the payment to Daniels, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Oct. 26 

Cohen makes a wire transfer of $130,000 to Daniels’ attorney. First Republic Bank, which handled the transaction, reports it to the Treasury Department as suspicious.

Nov. 8

Trump is elected president.

2017 | Cohen seeks reimbursement


After Trump’s election, Cohen seeks $180,000 in reimbursement from the Trump Organization. He submits false invoices and later receives checks signed by Trump after he took office, NBC reports, citing Mark Pomerantz, a former New York prosecutor. 

Jan. 20

Trump is sworn in as president.

2018 | Daniels’ story becomes public

Jan 12

The Wall Street Journal publishes a story that says Cohen arranged a $130,000 payoff to Daniels that included a nondisclosure agreement.

Feb. 13

Cohen acknowledges he paid Daniels $130,000 but does not implicate Trump’s campaign.

April 5

Trump, speaking publicly on the question for the first time, says he is unaware of a $130,000 payment to Daniels. 

May 2

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani tells Fox News that Trump paid back Cohen the $130,000 used to pay Daniels.

Aug. 21

Cohen pleads guilty to eight charges related to tax fraud, excessive campaign contributions, unlawful corporate contributions and making false statements to a financial institution. The plea is made in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.

Cohen admits making payments to two women on behalf of a political candidate. The payments were made to influence an election outcome, Cohen said.

One of the women is Daniels. The other is former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who says she had a 10-month relationship with Trump in 2006 and 2007.

Dec. 12

Cohen is sentenced to three years in federal prison.

2019 | Cohen sent to prison

May 6

Cohen begins his prison sentence.

Aug. 1

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office subpoenas the Trump Organization for records on payments to Daniels and McDougal.

Sept. 17

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office subpoenas Trump’s tax returns back to 2011.

Sept. 19

Trump sues to block subpoenas, claiming he has immunity. The suits are later rejected.

2020 | Trump forced to release tax records

July 9

Supreme Court rules 7-2 that Trump must comply with the subpoena and turn over his tax records.

Aug. 22

California court orders Trump to pay $44,100 for Daniels’ legal fees.

2021 | Trump companies indicted

Feb. 22

Supreme Court rejects Trump’s appeal to keep tax documents private.

Feb. 25

Manhattan District Attorney’s Office receives Trump’s tax records.

Nov. 2

Alvin Bragg is elected Manhattan district attorney, replacing retiring Cyrus Vance Jr., who did not run for office again.

Nov. 22

Cohen is released from federal custody after being on house arrest.

2022 | Trump announces third presidential run

Nov. 15

Trump announces he’ll run for president in 2024.

2023 | Indictment looms for Trump

March 9

Manhattan District Attorney’s office invites Trump to testify before the grand jury investigating hush money allegedly paid to Daniels and McDougal.

March 13

Trump’s attorneys say the former president won’t testify before the grand jury. Cohen testifies before the grand jury for the first time.

March 15

Cohen testifies before the grand jury again, for three hours.

March 18

Trump says on social media that he may be arrested. He calls for supporters to protest.

March 19

Police in New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles put up barricades in anticipation of protests by Trump supporters.

March 30

The grand jury in Manhattan issues a sealed indictment against Trump.

April 4

The 34-felony count is unsealed in Manhattan. Trump pleads not guilty.

Feb. 15, 2024

Juan Merchan, the presiding judge in the New York trial, denies Trump’s motion to dismiss the case.

Contributing: Aysha Bagchi, Bart Jansen, Kinsey Crowley, Eduardo Cuevas and Anna Kaufman; SOURCE USA TODAY Network reporting and research; Reuters

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