Karen McDougal hush money a component that kills Trump's defense: legal expert
Karen McDougal (Instagram)

For those watching the New York grand jury dealing with the hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, the revelations that more hush money payments are being explored in the case isn't new information.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump allegedly got his close friend David Pecker at the National Enquirer to run a scheme to buy Playboy model Karen McDougal's story and hire her to write fitness articles. Neither that story nor any fitness articles were ever published, and the payment was supposedly a "catch and kill" agreement to bury the matter.

Former FBI general counsel and NYU law professor Andrew Weissmann claims Pecker was being brought in to the grand jury to reveal the second piece of the Daniels story.

NBC's Vaughn Hilliard explained that the Southern District of New York had already laid out the details in the Pecker case. In fact, they laid out the argument not only in the 2018 sentencing memo for Michael Cohen, but also in describing what Pecker and his company already admitted to.

"There is a litany of statements that are important," said Hilliard. "One of those here: 'In or about Aug. 2015, David Pecker, the chairman is CEO of AMI, met with Michael Cohen, an attorney for a presidential candidate and at least one other member of the campaign that is Donald Trump's campaign. At the meeting, Pecker offered to help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate's relationships with women, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided.'"

The Manhattan DA has brought in two former Trump campaign staffers, Kellyanne Conway and Hope Hicks.

Hilliard explained that these details are important because it's a court document with Pecker's company admitting the purpose of paying McDougal was to suppress her story and prevent such stories from influencing the election.

"If prosecutors in Manhattan District Attorney's office are trying to get to the point of making the case of an election law violation here, the parent company of the National Enquirer, which bought Karen McDougal's story at the behest of Michael Cohen, and as federal prosecutors have alleged, Donald Trump's directive, then, therefore, this particular company has already admitted they did it for the purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential election," he explained.

Weissmann explained all of these facts were recorded and confirmed by the SDNY that Trump was not only a witness to the negotiations for McDougal and Daniels but it was at the behest of Trump.

"The reason, as Vaughn laid out, this is important is for two reasons: one, because you have David Pecker saying that Donald Trump was in on the scheme to do a catch and kill and that there were direct conversations with David Pecker, Michael Cohen, and the former president," Weissmann said. "So that's one incredibly important piece of evidence, and the other is the defense that Donald Trump may have, which is, 'I did this because I was concerned about Melania, my wife, finding out' — the so-called John Edwards defense."

"'I wasn't doing this related to the campaign,' is also something that is directly refuted by David Pecker, assuming he's going to repeat what he said to the southern district of New York, and it is laid out directly," Weissmann continued. So, those two things are really important pieces that the Manhattan District Attorney could be not just pursuing but really have in the pocket to present a strong case to the grand jury and then, of course, ultimately if there's an indictment, to a trial jury."

See the full discussion below or at the link here.

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