Who are the key players in Donald Trump's Manhattan hush money trial?

Jury selection in the trial began Monday, April 15.

April 17, 2024, 11:29 AM

Jury selection began Monday in former President Donald Trump's first criminal trial over allegations that he falsified business records to conceal criminal conduct. Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels are among the witnesses expected to testify in the weeks-long Manhattan trial.

Trump is accused of allegedly engaging in a scheme with his then-attorney Michael Cohen and others to influence the 2016 election by suppressing negative information about Trump's alleged sexual encounter with adult actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. He has denied the affair and all wrongdoing in the matter.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg impaneled a grand jury to hear the hush money case in 2023, which eventually voted to indict Trump.

Former President Donald Trump arrives for a press conference at Manhattan criminal court, March 25, 2024, in New York.
Yuki Iwamura/AP

Trump is facing 34 counts of falsifying business records. The New York trial is expected to run for six to eight weeks.

Here are the key players in the trial:

Michael Cohen

Trump's former attorney allegedly coordinated the catch-and-kill scheme and directly sent a $130,000 hush-money payment to Daniels in the days ahead of the 2016 election.

Cohen was reimbursed $420,000 in 2017 -- through 12 $35,000 payments -- for that hush-money payment and other costs, and the records to falsely characterize those payments as legal expenses form the underlying 34 criminal counts in the New York case.

In this Oct. 25, 2023, file photo, Michael Cohen arrives at New York Supreme Court, in New York.
Yuki Iwamura/AP, FILE

Cohen worked as an executive vice president at the Trump Organization and personal counsel to Donald Trump, describing himself as Trump's "fixer."

A lawyer in New York private practice who lived in one of Trump's buildings, Cohen joined the Trump Organization after helping the former president with a real estate dispute and other favors.

In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to tax evasion, lying to Congress and violations of campaign finance law -- when he made payments to Clifford. Cohen spent more than a year in federal prison before finishing his sentence in home confinement.

Cohen's congressional testimony prompted the New York Attorney General to open its investigation into the Trump Organization's finances. Cohen testified as a key witness in Trump's civil fraud trial, where he alleged that Trump directed him and then Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg to fraudulently inflate his net worth.

Judge Arthur Engoron in February ordered Trump and his company to pay more than $450 million in the civil lawsuit and banned the former president and his sons from running companies in New York for three years. Trump denied all wrongdoing and said he will appeal.

Stephanie Clifford a.k.a. Stormy Daniels

Daniels is an adult film actress who allegedly had a sexual encounter with Trump at a golf tournament in 2006. Trump has denied the allegations of an affair. In the days following the release of the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape in 2016, Cohen negotiated a deal to secure Daniels' silence for $130,000, according to prosecutors.

Daniels has given multiple media interviews, written a book and featured in a documentary in the years after the story became public in 2018.

In this Oct. 11, 2018, file photo, adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives at an event in Berlin.
Markus Schreiber/AP, FILE

Daniels claims that she never wanted the incident itself to become public and that her sexual relationship with the former president was consensual. 
In March, Daniels told ABC's "The View" that she is "absolutely ready" to testify at Trump's criminal trial. 
"I'm absolutely ready. I've been ready. I'm hoping with all of my heart that they call me," Daniels said. "I relish the day that I get to face him and speak my truth."

Daniels unsuccessfully sued the former president for defamation in 2018 after Trump suggested her allegations about being threatened to keep quiet about her encounter with Trump was a "total con job." A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, determined that Trump's statement fell within the "'rhetorical hyperbole' normally associated with politics and public discourse," and ordered Daniels to pay Trump's legal fees.

Rhona Graff

Graff worked as Donald Trump's longtime executive assistant at the Trump Organization, serving as the gatekeeper to the former president after she joined the company in 1987.

Trump described Graff as his "very loyal secretary" in the 1997 book "The Art of the Comeback."

In this Dec. 8, 2005, file photo, Rhona Graff, executive assistant to Donald Trump attends an event in New York.
Katy Winn/Getty Images, FILE

Serving as a senior vice president at the Trump Organization, Graff did not join the 
White House but remained a point of contact for anyone seeking Trump's attention.

Graff was subpoenaed to answer questions by the New York Attorney General about the Trump Organization's finances, including the company's document retention policy and Trump's oversight of his financial statements.

Hope Hicks

Hope Hicks served as Trump's 2016 campaign press secretary, coordinating with Trump in the weeks ahead of the election as his aides and advisors attempted to silence long-denied allegations of his affair with Daniels, according to court records from a federal investigation.

In this Feb. 27, 2018, file photo, White House Communications Director and presidential adviser Hope Hicks arrives at the Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, D.C.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, FILE

Hicks held multiple senior level roles in the Trump White House. She no longer works for Trump.

Madeleine Westerhout

Westerhout served as Trump's executive assistant for the first two-and-a-half years of his presidency, describing herself as Trump's "primary gatekeeper."

Westerhout also served as the director of Oval Office operations for eight months but left her role in August 2019 after she shared details of her work -- including reportedly making comments about Tiffany Trump -- at an off-the-record event with reporters.

In this Nov. 30, 2016, file photo, President-elect Donald Trump's transition liaison Madeline Westerhout talks on the phone in the lobby of Trump Tower, in New York.
Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

"While Madeleine Westerhout has a fully enforceable confidentiality agreement, she is a very good person and I don't think there would ever be reason to use it. She called me yesterday to apologize, had a bad night. I fully understood and forgave her! I love Tiffany, doing great!" Trump wrote on X (then Twitter) on August 31, 2019.

Jeffrey McConney

The Trump Organization's longtime controller, McConney received the fraudulent invoices from Cohen and began processing them, according to prosecutors.

McConney prominently testified as witness for both the state and defense at Trump's civil fraud trial last year, where he broke down to tears on the witness stand when questioned about his departure from the Trump Organization.

In this Oct. 6, 2023, file photo, Jeffrey McConney, controller for the Trump Organization, leaves New York State Supreme Court in New York.
Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images. FILE

"To be hit over the head every time with a negative comment over something is just really frustrating, and I gave up," McConney testified.

Karen McDougal

McDougal is a former Playboy model who alleged that she had a 10-month affair with Trump in 2006 and 2007. Trump denied having a sexual relationship with McDougal.

In this Feb. 2, 2008, file photo, Karen McDougal is shown in Phoenix.
FilmMagic/Getty Images, FILE

Executives at the National Enquirer contacted McDougal in June 2016 with an offer to tell her story, with the intention to kill it, according to prosecutors. American Media Inc. eventually paid McDougal $150,000 for her story with the understanding that the Trump Organization would reimburse AMI for the payment, according to prosecutors.

David Pecker

David Pecker served as the longtime chief executive of American Media Inc., which published the National Enquirer.

Shortly after Trump announced his presidential campaign, Pecker met with Trump and agreed to act as the "eyes and ears" of the campaign by looking out for and killing negative stories about Trump, according to the Manhattan DA.

In this Jan. 31, 2014, file photo, David Pecker speaks at an event in New York.
Marion Curtis/Starpix via Shutterstock, FILE

Pecker allegedly directed a 2015 deal to pay $30,000 to a former Trump Tower doorman -- regarding the false allegation that Trump allegedly fathered a child out of wedlock -- to take place because of his prior agreement with Cohen and Trump. Cohen allegedly insisted that the deal stay in place even after AMI discovered it was false. AMI paid the doorman, according to the Manhattan DA.

Dylan Howard

Dylan Howard worked as the editor-in-chief of the National Enquirer between 2014 and 2020.

Howard allegedly communicated with Cohen to buy McDougal's story and to coordinate Daniel's hush-money payment, according to prosecutors.

In this May 5, 2014, file photo, Editor-In-Chief of Radar Online, Dylan Howard speaks during an event in New York.
Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images, FILE

Trump and Cohen agreed to reimburse AMI for the payment and AMI signed an agreement in September 2016 to transfer then rights to the story to the Trump Organization for $125,000, but the deal fell through before the reimbursement took place, according to prosecutors.

Deborah Tarasoff

Tarasoff worked in the Trump Organization's accounting department and allegedly helped arrange for Cohen to be reimbursed for Daniel's hush money payment.

Witness Deborah Tarasoff is questioned by Assistant Manhattan District Attorney Joshua Steinglass during the Trump Organization's criminal tax trial in Manhattan Criminal Court, in New York, on Nov. 15, 2022, in this courtroom sketch.
Jane Rosenberg/Reuters, FILE

Keith Davidson

Davidson is an attorney who negotiated the payments for Daniels and McDougal. He is the "Lawyer B" mentioned in the indictment.

Keith Davidson, the former attorney for adult-film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy Playmate Karen McDougle told ABC News about negotiating the hush-money deals to keep both women quiet about alleged affairs with Trump.
ABC News

In a 2019 interview with ABC News, Davidson described how the release of the Access Hollywood tape served as the "catalyst" for the hush money payment to Daniels.

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