Timeline: Manhattan DA's Stormy Daniels hush money case against Donald Trump
Trump is facing 34 counts of falsifying business documents in New York.
Former President Donald Trump is facing 34 felony counts of falsifying business records after being indicted by a Manhattan grand jury.
In court documents unsealed April 4, prosecutors alleged Trump engaged in a "scheme" to boost his chances during the 2016 presidential election through a series of hush money payments made by others and the falsification of New York business records to cover up that alleged criminal conduct.
In a statement of facts accompanying the indictment, Manhattan prosecutors allege Trump made payments to his lawyer to reimburse him for a payment the lawyer made to one woman.
Trump, who has denied all wrongdoing, pleaded not guilty to all 34 counts.
Here is a timeline of the case, dating back to Trump's initial declaration as a candidate for president:
June 16, 2015
Trump announces he is running for president.
Trump meets with David Pecker, then-chairman and CEO of American Media Inc. -- which owns the National Enquirer -- at Trump Tower in New York. Pecker agrees to help with Trump's campaign by looking out for negative stories about him to "catch and kill," according to prosecutors' statement of facts. He also agrees to publish negative stories about Trump's competitors in the election, according to the statement of facts filed by the Manhattan DA.
Pecker learns that a former Trump Tower doorman was trying to sell information that Trump allegedly fathered a child out of wedlock, according to the statement of facts. At the CEO's direction, AMI negotiates and signs an agreement to pay the doorman $30,000 in exchange for acquiring exclusive rights to the story. AMI allegedly falsely characterized this payment in its general ledger, according to the statement of facts.
AMI purchases the story without fully investigating the doorman's claims, at the direction of Pecker, per his alleged arrangement with Trump, according to the statement of facts. AMI later determines the story was not true and wanted to release the doorman from the agreement, but Lawyer A -- a Trump Organization lawyer believed to be Michael Cohen -- allegedly instructs him not to do so until after the presidential election, according to the statement of facts.
The National Enquirer's editor-in-chief and chief content officer contacted Cohen (Lawyer A) about a woman -- who is believed to be Playboy model Karen McDougal -- who alleged she had had a sexual relationship with Trump while he was married, according to the statement of facts. Cohen (Lawyer A) is updated by the National Enquirer about this regularly over text and by phone, according to the statement of facts. Trump allegedly did not want this information to become public because he was concerned what impact it may have on his campaign for president, according to the statement of facts.
AMI ultimately pays the woman $150,000 in exchange for her not speaking out on the alleged sexual relationship. She would also get two magazine cover features and a series of articles published under her byline, according to the statement of facts.
Prosecutors allege that this deal was made based on the understanding that Trump or the Trump Organization would reimburse AMI for the payment, according to the statement of facts.
Trump has denied having the affair.
An audio recording allegedly captures a conversation between Trump and Cohen (Lawyer A) as they discuss how to obtain the rights to the woman's story from AMI and reimburse it for the payment, according to the statement of facts.
Cohen (Lawyer A) allegedly tells Trump he will open a company for the transfer of the woman's account and said he had spoken to Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg about setting it up, according to the statement of facts.
A shell company -- called Resolution Consultants, LLC -- is allegedly set up on about Sept. 30, 2016. On or about that date, Pecker signs an agreement transferring the rights of the woman's account to the shell company owned by Cohen (Lawyer A) for $125,000, according to court documents. But, before the reimbursement was made, Pecker consulted AMI's general counsel and then told Cohen (Lawyer A) that the deal was off.
Oct. 7, 2016
News breaks that Trump was caught on tape in 2015 telling the host of the entertainment show "Access Hollywood," "I just start kissing them [women]. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. ... Grab 'em by the [genitals]. You can do anything."
According to prosecutors, evidence shows that both Trump and his campaign staff were concerned the tape would harm his viability as a candidate and reduce his standing with female voters in particular.
In a statement Trump released after the recording was leaked, he apologized and called his remarks "locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago."
Oct. 10, 2016
AMI's editor-in-chief contacts Pecker about a second woman -- believed to be adult film actress Stormy Daniels -- who alleged she had a sexual encounter with Trump while he was married, according to the statement of facts. Pecker tells the editor-in-chief to notify Cohen (Lawyer A).
The AMI editor-in-chief connects Cohen (Lawyer A) with the woman's lawyer. The two then negotiate a deal to secure the woman's silence. The woman would be paid $130,000 for the rights to her story, according to the statement of facts.
Trump allegedly tells Cohen (Lawyer A) to delay making a payment to the second woman for as long as possible, according to prosecutors. If he is able to delay making the payment until after the election, they could avoid paying altogether, Trump allegedly says, per prosecutors. Prosectors claim emails and text messages between both lawyers and the AMI editor-in-chief show they attempted to delay making the payment for as long as possible, according to the statement of facts.
Ultimately, Trump agrees to the payoff and directs Cohen (Lawyer A) to proceed, prosecutors allege. Trump allegedly does not want to make the payment himself and asked Cohen (Lawyer A) and Weisselberg to find a way to make the payment, according to the statement of facts. Cohen (Lawyer A) makes the payment after confirming that Trump would pay him back.
Oct. 26, 2016
Shortly after speaking with Trump over the phone, Cohen (Lawyer A) opens a bank account in Manhattan in the name of a shell company he had created to effectuate the payment, according to the statement of facts.
Cohen (Lawyer A) then transfers $131,000 from his personal home equity line of credit into the account, according to court documents.
Oct. 27, 2016
Cohen (Lawyer A) transfers $130,000 to a lawyer representing the second woman accusing Trump of having a sexual encounter with her while he was married to suppress her story, according to court documents.
Nov. 8, 2016
Trump wins the presidential election.
AMI then releases the doorman and the first accuser of their nondisclosure agreements, according to court documents.
By Jan. 20, 2017
Prosecutors allege that between Election Day and Inauguration Day, Trump meets privately with Pecker in Trump Tower in Manhattan, thanking him for handling the stories of the doorman and the first woman, according to the statement of facts.
Trump invites Pecker to the inauguration, according to the statement of facts.
Trump arranges to reimburse Cohen (Lawyer A) for the payoff he made on his behalf shortly after being elected president, according to the statement of facts.
Cohen (Lawyer A) meets with Weisselberg to discus how he would be reimbursed, with Weisselberg asking Cohen to bring a copy of a bank statement for the shell company account showing the $130,000 payment, according to the statement of facts.
Weisselberg and Cohen (Lawyer A) agree to a total repayment amount of $420,000. That figure reflected double the $130,000 payment and $50,000 reimbursement for another expense in addition to a $60,000 year-end bonus -- so Cohen (Lawyer A) could characterize the payment as income on his tax returns instead of a reimbursement -- according to the statement of facts.
Trump, Weisselberg and Cohen (Lawyer A) agree the lawyer would be paid the $420,000 through 12 monthly payments of $35,000 over the course of 2017, according to court documents. Cohen (Lawyer A) was to send an invoice to the Trump Org each month falsely requesting a payment of $35,000 for legal services rendered. Cohen (Lawyer A) does not have a retainer agreement with Trump or the Trump Organization, according to prosecutors.
Cohen (Lawyer A) meets with Trump in the Oval Office to confirm the repayment arrangement in February 2017, according to the statement of facts.
Feb. 14, 2017
Cohen (Lawyer A) emails the Trump Organization the first monthly invoice requesting two $35,000 payments for January and February, which were allegedly approved by Weisselberg, according to the statement of facts.
Cohen (Lawyer A) submits 10 similar invoices for the remaining months in 2017, but is not on retainer, according to prosecutors. Prosecutors allege the Trump Organization falsely recorded each payment as a "legal expense," according to the statement of facts.
According to prosecutors, the first check was paid from Trump's trust and signed by Weisselberg and Trump's son, as trustees. It was falsely recorded as payments for January and February 2017 legal services, according to the statement of facts.
A second check, for March 2017, was also paid from the trust and signed by two trustees, according to the statement of facts.
The remaining nine checks, for April through December 2017, were paid by Trump personally, according to the statement of facts. Trump allegedly signed each of the checks personally and had them sent to the Trump Organization in New York. They were then scanned and maintained in its data system before being detached and mailed to Cohen (Lawyer A), according to the statement of facts.
The last $35,000 payment made was for December 2017, according to the statement of facts.
Trump invites Pecker to the White House for dinner to thank him for his help during the campaign, according to the statement of facts.
April 9, 2018
The FBI executes a search warrant on Cohen's residences and office, according to a statement of facts. Prosecutors allege that in the months that followed, Trump and others engaged in a public and private pressure campaign to try to ensure that Cohen did not cooperate with law enforcement in the federal investigation.
Cohen (Lawyer A) speaks with Trump on the day of the FBI searches, according to prosecutors. Trump allegedly told him to "stay strong," according to the statement of facts.
April 21, 2018
Trump publicly encourages Cohen not to "flip" in a series of tweets saying, "Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don't see Michael doing that."
Cohen (Lawyer A) is approached by an attorney -- Lawyer C -- who offers to represent him in the interest of maintaining a "back channel of communication" to Trump, according to the statement of facts.
On April 21, 2018, Lawyer C allegedly emails Cohen (Lawyer A) stating that he has a close relationship with Trump's personal attorney, named as Lawyer D, according to the statement of facts.
June 14, 2018
Lawyer C emails Cohen (Lawyer A) a news clip discussing the possibility of him cooperating with law enforcement, encouraging him not to, according to the statement of facts.
"The whole objective of this exercise by the [federal prosecutors] is to drain you, emotionally and financially, until you reach a point that you see them as your only means to salvation," Lawyer C wrote in the email, according to the statement of facts.
In the same email, Lawyer C wrote, "You are making a very big mistake if you believe the stories these 'journalists' are writing about you. They want you to cave. They want you to fail. They do not want you to persevere and succeed," according to the statement of facts.
July 2, 2018
In an in-depth interview that airs on "Good Morning America," his first since the FBI raided his office and homes in April, Cohen strongly signals his willingness to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York -- even if that puts Trump in jeopardy.
"My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will," Cohen tells ABC News' George Stephanopoulos. "I put family and country first."
Aug. 21, 2018
Cohen pleads guilty in the federal investigation admitting to his role in AMI's payoff to McDougal (Woman 1) to influence the election, according to the indictment, and saying in his plea that he had done so at Trump's direction.
Cohen also pleads guilty in connection with his payoff of Daniels to secure her silence, claiming it was done at Trump's direction, according to the statement of facts.
Trump comments on Twitter saying, "If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don't retain the services of Michael Cohen!"
Cohen and AMI admit guilt in connection with the payoffs made to the two women claiming Trump had extramarital relations with them, according to the statement of facts.
AMI entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York in connection to the payoff made to Woman 1, admitting it did not intend to publish a story at any time during the negotiation or acquisition of her story, the practice known as "catch and kill," according to the statement of facts.
Nov. 3, 2020
After a bitter campaign for reelection, Trump goes head to head with Joe Biden on Election Day. Four days later, it's clear Trump has lost after ABC News projects Pennsylvania for Biden.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announces he will not seek reelection after 12 years in office, with the investigation into Trump still ongoing. His office had begun to look into hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels in 2018.
Nov. 2, 2021
Alvin Bragg is elected district attorney in Manhattan. Once in office, he picks up the investigation into Trump.
Bragg had led the investigation into the Trump Foundation in 2017 under then-Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for "extensive unlawful political conduct" with the charity's money and using it for personal matters. The foundation was dissolved and Trump was forced to pay $2 million as part of a settlement in 2019.
Nov. 4, 2021
Vance convenes a new grand jury for six months to hear evidence against Trump, paving the way for it to last until after he leaves office in January.
The grand jury that was already convened was set to expire. It had voted to bring charges against the Trump Organization and its CFO, Weisselberg, on unrelated matters.
Jan. 1, 2022
Bragg takes office as Manhattan's new district attorney. Before leaving office, Vance does not bring charges against Trump.
Feb. 22, 2022
The two prosecutors leading the Trump probe -- Assistant District Attorneys Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz -- resign from the district attorney's office.
Pomerantz later reveals that he disagreed with Bragg's decision to not bring charges against Trump in Bragg's early days as DA. Pomerantz was formerly a special prosecutor with the Southern District of New York.
The investigation continues after their resignations but doubt is cast on whether charges will be brought against Trump.
Aug. 18, 2022
Weisselberg pleads guilty to tax evasion, admitting he avoided taxes on nearly $2 million in income in a yearslong scheme. He agrees to a plea bargain for five months in prison and to testify against the Trump Organization at the upcoming trial in October. But, the plea agreement does not require him to testify against Trump himself.
Dec. 5, 2022
Bragg announces he has hired Matthew Colangelo as senior counsel. He was a previous Department of Justice official and prior to that worked at the New York Attorney General's Office where he was part of the team that investigated the Trump Foundation.
Dec. 6, 2022
A jury finds the Trump Organization guilty on all counts of tax fraud brought by the Manhattan district attorney's office.
Charges included scheme to defraud, conspiracy, criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records.
Beginning of 2023
A grand jury has been hearing testimony about the hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, sources tell ABC News, including testimony from Pecker, the longtime Trump confidant. The DA's office also has the cooperation of Cohen.
Jan. 18, 2023
In a letter to book publisher Simon & Schuster, Bragg says he is concerned an upcoming book about Trump written by Pomerantz could harm the district attorney's office's investigation. Bragg asks the publisher to delay its release by asking for 60 days to review its manuscript.
Pomerantz's publisher says the book will be published in February as planned.
Jan. 30, 2023
Pecker becomes one of the first people to testify in front of the reconvened grand jury as it investigates hush money payments to Daniels.
Feb. 7, 2023
Simon & Schuster releases Pomerantz's book, "People vs. Donald Trump: An Inside Account," in which he criticizes Bragg, saying Bragg made a mistake by not bringing a case against Trump at the beginning of his tenure. Pomerantz had been assigned to the case by Vance.
Bragg responds to the criticism, saying the case against Trump wasn't ready.
Feb. 8, 2023
Cohen meets with prosecutors investigating Trump in what is his 15th time meeting with the district attorney's office, but his first since the grand jury was convened.
March 13, 2023
Cohen again testifies before the grand jury investigating the hush money payments.
March 20, 2023
Bob Costello, an attorney who says he previously advised Cohen, tells reporters his former client has a "lie, cheat, steal" mindset after Costello testifies for the defense before the Manhattan grand jury investigating Trump's role in the hush payment to Daniels.
Costello, a longtime Trump ally, appears before the grand jury as an exculpatory witness after Trump's legal team asked the DA to allow him to testify, according to a letter to prosecutors obtained by ABC News.
"I'm trying to tell the truth to the grand jury," Costello tells reporters after testifying. "If they want to go after Donald Trump and they have solid evidence, then so be it. Michael Cohen is not solid evidence."
March 27, 2023
Pecker speaks to the grand jury again for about an hour, according to sources familiar with the matter. The district attorney's office may have called Pecker to bolster Cohen's earlier testimony about the purpose of the payment.
March 30, 2023
The Manhattan grand jury hands down an indictment against Trump, making him the first former or current president to be indicted. The indictment remains under seal so it's not immediately clear what Trump will be charged with, but he negotiates his surrender, saying he will travel to New York the following week.
April 3, 2023
Trump travels to New York City from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida home, one day ahead of surrendering to the court. He spends the night at his apartment in Trump Tower.
April 4, 2023
Trump travels to the Manhattan courthouse from midtown Manhattan to be processed by authorities before heading to court for his arraignment and the unsealing of the indictment.
The former president pleads not guilty to 34 felony charges of falsifying business records stemming from his hush payment to Daniels. Prosecutors allege that he engaged in a "scheme" to boost his election chances during the 2016 presidential race through a series of hush money payments made by others to help his campaign, and then "repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records" to conceal that criminal conduct.
Trump immediately returns to Mar-a-Lago where he gives a speech to supporters the same night criticizing Bragg for bringing charges and adding, "We are a nation in decline, and now these radical left lunatics want to interfere in elections by using law enforcement. We can't let that happen."
April 12, 2023
A threatening letter containing white powder is sent to Bragg, the second since Trump started posting on social media about his impending indictment. There are no reports of injuries or illness.
Bragg himself has received "multiple" death threats since Trump's indictment, police sources tell ABC News.
April 17, 2023
Prosecutors say the judge overseeing the criminal case against Trump should ask one of his attorneys for additional information about a potential conflict of interest.
Trump’s defense team includes Joe Tacopina, an attorney Daniels once considered hiring to represent her, and the Manhattan district attorney’s office says Tacopina’s representations so far are insufficient. Trump affirmed at his arraignment he wanted to move forward with Tacopina on his legal team, but Susan Hoffinger, the executive assistant district attorney, said a full hearing would be needed.
The potential conflict was raised by Daniels’ current attorney, Clark Brewster, who said in a letter to the Manhattan district attorney’s office Daniels had a 2018 conversation with Tacopina and lawyers at his firm.
Tacopina has said he never spoke to Daniels and he told the judge his firm refused to represent her.
May 8, 2023
Judge Juan Merchan, the New York City judge overseeing Trump's criminal case, imposes a protective order against Trump that is meant to ensure evidence shared by the DA's office doesn't wind up on the internet.
Prosecutors had sought the protective order because of what they called Trump's "extensive history" of making inflammatory remarks about witnesses, prosecutors and others associated with legal matters pending against him, assistant district attorney Catherine McCaw said when seeking the order.
May 24, 2023
Judge Merchan sets a trial date of March 25, 2024, for Trump's criminal trial on charges of falsifying business records. He had previously indicated that no one associated with the case is allowed to schedule anything that would conflict with the trial.
The judge also reviews for Trump the terms of the protective order that prohibits him from sharing on social media any evidence turned over by the Manhattan district attorney during discovery.
June 2, 2023
Attorneys for Trump ask Judge Merchan to step aside, citing the judge's daughter's ties to a Democratic organization.
The defense says the judge can't be impartial because his daughter is an executive at Authentic Campaigns, a Democratic consulting firm that worked on President Joe Biden's 2020 campaign.
Merchan himself will decide whether he is impartial.
June 16, 2023
Trump tries in a new court filing to get his criminal prosecution in New York moved to federal court, arguing the alleged crimes "took place while the president was in office."
Trump's attorneys accuse the Manhattan district attorney's office of "deceptively mischaracterizing and ignoring the applicable facts and body of law" by seeking to keep the case in state court.
June 27, 2023
A federal judge seems disinclined allow Trump to move his criminal prosecution in New York into federal court.
"The act for which the president has been indicted does not relate to anything under the color of his office," says Judge Alvin Hellerstein, adding that he intends to issue a decision in the coming weeks.
July 19, 2023
Federal judge Alvin Hellerstein rejects Trump's request to move his hush-money criminal case into federal court.
"Trump has failed to show that the conduct charged by the Indictment is for or relating to any act performed by or for the President under color of the official acts of a President," Hellerstein writes in his ruling.
August 28, 2023
The judge overseeing Trump's federal election interference case orders the trial in that case to begin on March 4, 2024, after speaking with Bragg to advise him of the likely overlap between the two cases, both of which are slated to start that month.
Sept. 12, 2023
Judge Merchan signals he is open to moving the date of the trial, currently scheduled for March 4, due to "the many recent developments involving Mr. Trump."
Sept. 18, 2023
Judge Merchan rules that attorney Joe Tacopina has no conflict representing Trump in the case despite prior dealings with Stormy Daniels. Tacopina had been contacted about representing Daniels prior to her choosing since-disgraced attorney Michael Avenatti.
Oct. 5, 2023
Trump asks a New York judge to dismiss all charges in his hush money case.
"President Trump cannot be said to have falsified business records of the Trump Organization by paying his personal attorney using his personal bank accounts," defense attorney Todd Blanche says in the motion, which calls the case a "discombobulated package of politically motivated charges."
Nov. 14, 2023
Trump drops his effort to move his criminal hush money prosecution from Manhattan court into federal court.
Nov. 16, 2023
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, in a court filing, opposes Trump's attempt to dismiss his criminal indictment, saying the former president is seeking "special treatment" that he does not deserve.
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