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Inside the 3 so-called 'catch and kill' payments in Trump's indictment

Inside the 3 so-called 'catch and kill' payments in Trump's indictment According to the charging documents presented on Tuesday, Donald Trump held a meeting in his Manhattan skyscraper in August 2015, soon after announcing his candidacy for the presidency, with the objective of developing a strategy to prevent unfavorable news stories that could potentially undermine his campaign.

As per the prosecutors, Donald Trump's close confidants, his lawyer Michael Cohen and tabloid executive David Pecker participated in the Trump Tower meeting. The three of them came to an understanding that Pecker would monitor any critical news stories about the campaign and secure their rights exclusively to avoid publishing them. Prosecutors allege that Trump and Cohen promised to compensate Pecker's company, American Media Inc. (AMI), for their efforts.

Inside the 3 so-called 'catch and kill' payments in Trump's indictment

According to prosecutors, during the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, and David Pecker collaborated at least three times on the "catch and kill" scheme to silence three individuals - a former doorman at a Trump-owned property, a former Playboy model, and Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress.

After winning the presidency, Trump invited Pecker to Trump Tower, where he expressed his gratitude towards him for handling the stories, as stated in the charging documents. Trump also invited Pecker to his inauguration in Washington as a gesture of appreciation and hosted him for dinner at the White House in 2017 to thank him for his support during the campaign.


Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's 34-count indictment of the former president centers on the three "catch and kill" accusations as the pattern of behavior. Bragg alleges that to execute the hush payments to Stormy Daniels, Trump forged numerous business records.

Inside the 3 so-called 'catch and kill' payments in Trump's indictment

The following are the three "catch and kill" claims explained:

The Doorman: The initial "catch and kill" accusation described by prosecutors involved a former doorman, Dino Sajudin, at Trump World Tower, a residential building situated 14 blocks away from Trump Tower. Pecker discovered in late 2015 that Sajudin was trying to sell information, which was subsequently proven to be false, claiming that Trump had fathered a child out of wedlock. Trump has consistently denied the allegation.


According to prosecutors, Pecker brokered a $30,000 deal with Sajudin without investigating the matter, guaranteeing the National Enquirer exclusive rights to his story.

After Pecker determined that Sajudin's allegation was baseless, he intended to terminate the arrangement. However, prosecutors claim that Cohen instructed Pecker to delay canceling the deal until after the presidential election, and Pecker complied.

Inside the 3 so-called 'catch and kill' payments in Trump's indictment


During a February 2018 interview with ABC News, Sajudin informed George Stephanopoulos that he initially anticipated the National Enquirer to publish his story after purchasing it from him. "The Enquirer prints stories, so I figured they wanted to report the story," Sajudin said. "But now, as I look back on things ... they were just pretty much trying to quiet me down."

The Former Playmate: As per prosecutors, as Election Day drew near, National Enquirer executives became aware of another potential story that could jeopardize Trump's campaign if it were to be publicized. Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, alleged that she had an affair with Trump in 2006, while he was still married.


According to prosecutors, Pecker got in touch with Cohen and the two had "a series of discussions" regarding how to ensure McDougal's silence. AMI then agreed to pay McDougal $150,000 for "two magazine cover features ... and a series of articles that would be published under her byline." This deal was made with the condition that McDougal would not publicly speak out about the alleged sexual relationship she had with Trump.

Inside the 3 so-called 'catch and kill' payments in Trump's indictment

According to court documents filed on Tuesday, Cohen claimed to have recorded a conversation with Trump in which they discussed how to reimburse AMI for the payment to McDougal. The recording captured Trump asking Cohen if they needed to pay "One fifty?" and discussed whether to use cash or check.

Although Trump has denied having an affair with McDougal and claimed he was unaware of any payment made to AMI to secure the agreement, the audio recording contradicts this. The third hush money payment was made to Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who alleged having a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006 and is the most well-known of the three payments.

According to prosecutors, Pecker became aware of Daniels' allegation less than a month before the 2016 Election Day and informed Cohen. Cohen quickly negotiated a $130,000 deal with Daniels' lawyer to prevent her from speaking about the alleged sexual encounter with Trump. However, before making the payment, Trump instructed Cohen to postpone the transaction "as long as possible." Prosecutors claimed that Trump advised Cohen that they could avoid making the payment altogether if they delayed until after the election since it would not matter if the story went public at that point. In the end, Cohen arranged to wire the $130,000 to Daniels' lawyer using a shell company just 12 days before voters cast their ballots.

Inside the 3 so-called 'catch and kill' payments in Trump's indictment

Trump initially denied any knowledge of the payment made to Daniels, stating in April 2018 that reporters should ask Michael Cohen about the payment's origin. However, later that same month, Trump tweeted that the payment was part of a nondisclosure agreement aimed at preventing false allegations. Trump has continuously denied any sexual encounter with Daniels.

Cohen admitted to several federal charges in August 2018 for his involvement in arranging payments to both AMI and Daniels. In the period leading up to his indictment, both Daniels and Trump met with prosecutors looking into the issue. All 34 charges against Trump in the Manhattan district attorney's indictment were related to payments that Cohen allegedly made to Daniels on Trump's behalf.

Following the indictment, Trump's legal team condemned the charges against the former president as a weak case with no factual basis. Trump's attorney Joe Tacopina argued that no one is above the law, but that if Trump were not a public figure, there would be no reason for the case.

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