BREAKING NEWS Vehicle crashes through Rochester apartment wall Full Story
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Source: Trump attended 2015 hush money meeting

Donald Trump attended an August 2015 meeting that federal prosecutors believe was central to a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws to help Trump win the presidency, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Posted: Dec 14, 2018 7:58 PM
Updated: Dec 14, 2018 8:18 PM

Michael Cohen. Paul Manafort. David Pecker. Michael Flynn. President Donald Trump's enablers are falling one by one, and his dream world is becoming a hellscape. Trump, a famous self-promoter who has bragged about his wealth, intelligence, physical prowess and winning ways, faces the prospect of humiliation on a scale that would be genuinely world class. And his story is becoming a modern parable about the dangers of hubris and limits of fakery.

The President's former personal attorney Michael Cohen is the latest Trump associate to be sentenced to prison, after he pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, among other charges. According to prosecutors, Cohen admitted he "acted in coordination with and at the direction of" Trump when he made or helped arrange hush money payments to a Playboy model and an adult film actress in order to silence claims they each had affairs with Trump before he was President.

Trump, who has denied the affairs, appeared in a Fox News interview on Thursday to dismiss accusations of campaign finance violations, calling it a "civil matter" instead. He also went on to say, "I never directed [Cohen] to do anything wrong. Whatever he did, he did on his own."

At his sentencing the day before, Cohen offered an apology and told the court he had ignored his own "inner voice" and "moral compass" in order to serve his boss. It's hard to believe anyone with a working moral compass would have ever found himself in Cohen's position in the first place. Yes, it's possible a straight-shooter could have accepted an executive position in the Trump Organization, but anyone with an interest in honesty and fair-dealing would not have stuck around for as long as Cohen did. The lies Trump has told as President were foreshadowed by the manipulation he practiced as a private citizen.

David Pecker, CEO of American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer, was one of the most important guardians of Trump's media image. In the run-up to the 2016 presidential elections, AMI used the pages of its publications to gild the Trump image and attack his rivals, publishing one wild falsehood after another in an attempt to persuade readers that Hillary Clinton was either headed to jail or on the brink of death.

On Wednesday, federal prosecutors announced it had reached a nonprosecution deal with AMI. As part of the deal, AMI admitted it worked with Trump's campaign to pay Karen McDougal $150,000 in order to "catch and kill" claims she had a sexual affair with Trump.

Pecker is also said to have reached an immunity deal. Given that he agreed to suppress damaging claims about Trump in August 2015, it's possible there are other stories that have yet to see the light of day.

What would have motivated Pecker to buy the exclusive rights to stories about Trump, only to bury them? Perhaps he thought Trump would offer exclusive interviews in return, which might allow him to rake in more money through tabloid sales. But Pecker was already wealthy without Trump. He may have also appreciated Trump's power and influence, or simply enjoyed the time he spent in Trump's world.

Parties at Mar-a-Lago and Trump's other properties could be glittering affairs. The guest list for Trump's wedding to Melania Knauss, after all, included Bill and Hillary Clinton as well as Tony Bennett. The Trump image may have been built on false premises, but the tinsel was certainly real.

Others who became Trump allies may not have had better opportunities to gain the relevance they craved. The criminally convicted Paul Manafort, who flipped on the President only to be accused of lying to investigators, was a man without a candidate before he joined the Trump campaign in 2016 and steered it to the nomination. Having previously worked for Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Manafort must have seen that Trump was not fit for the role.

Although Manafort backtracked in his cooperation with prosecutors, he may have already given them a look behind the Trump façade. Certainly Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, is providing essential details on the truth about Trump.

The threats to the Trump image, and whatever substance lies behind his claim to extraordinary competence and vast wealth, go well beyond the information that may be provided by known cooperators. Trump's longtime adviser Roger Stone has said he expects to be indicted, and several of his associates have been contacted for interviews or called to testify before a grand jury.

Letitia James, New York's incoming attorney general, is also promising to investigate Trump's businesses and his charitable activities. If she discovers wrongdoing under state law, Trump's presidential pardon power will be useless because it applies only to federal offenses. To top it off, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives will be able to conduct hearings and produce testimony that is likely to contradict many of Trump's claims about himself.

Altogether, the investigations, hearings and prosecutions are dissolving the shiny veneer that Trump created to make himself look bigger, better, richer and more talented. The price paid by those who willingly aided in the mythmaking is high, as these disgraced figures and their loved one would attest. But no one who entered Trump's orbit and stayed there for a significant amount of time should have failed to see that Trump's main product was illusion.

As the Trump edifice crumbles, the President is not the only one in danger. Everyone who joined his businesses and his campaign, including his own children and top political operatives, likely faced moments when they needed to consult a moral compass. One wonders how many followed Cohen into the hellscape.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 88721

Reported Deaths: 2015
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin25628921
Ramsey10410318
Dakota7048125
Anoka5664132
Stearns371523
Washington352655
Scott238633
Olmsted226327
Nobles192616
Blue Earth15786
Wright15087
Carver13307
St. Louis131733
Rice12978
Mower12744
Clay123240
Sherburne107814
Kandiyohi9182
Winona84318
Lyon6384
Steele5162
Freeborn5113
Benton5003
Watonwan4984
Nicollet49616
Todd4732
Le Sueur4434
McLeod4402
Chisago4331
Waseca4258
Crow Wing41918
Otter Tail3794
Beltrami3714
Goodhue3249
Martin3049
Itasca27113
Polk2704
Isanti2440
Becker2422
Pine2390
Douglas2361
Carlton2351
Cottonwood2160
Pipestone2099
Morrison1951
Dodge1900
Chippewa1891
Unassigned18752
Sibley1763
Meeker1712
Wabasha1700
Brown1682
Murray1522
Yellow Medicine1482
Rock1460
Mille Lacs1413
Faribault1300
Redwood1290
Jackson1281
Renville1256
Cass1233
Swift1111
Roseau1100
Pennington1081
Houston1070
Fillmore1050
Kanabec1038
Koochiching1033
Lincoln1010
Stevens911
Pope860
Hubbard760
Aitkin701
Big Stone660
Wadena620
Grant574
Wilkin553
Lake530
Norman510
Marshall481
Mahnomen451
Lac qui Parle430
Red Lake370
Traverse290
Clearwater250
Lake of the Woods201
Kittson120
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 79506

Reported Deaths: 1256
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk15227256
Johnson498527
Woodbury494461
Black Hawk433686
Linn3762106
Story327917
Scott276527
Dubuque276040
Dallas267538
Pottawattamie197637
Buena Vista194112
Marshall175934
Sioux13203
Wapello125757
Webster118914
Clinton106218
Muscatine106052
Plymouth103420
Crawford9944
Cerro Gordo99321
Warren9276
Jasper75632
Des Moines7377
Marion7074
Tama68731
Carroll6305
Henry6034
Lee5947
Wright5621
Dickinson4836
Bremer4637
Boone4627
Washington43011
Louisa42515
Mahaska33619
Franklin33517
Delaware3293
Hamilton3143
Floyd2963
Jackson2963
Winneshiek2935
Clay2883
Benton2811
Hardin2761
Winnebago26611
Butler2582
Clarke2553
Emmet25210
Jones2433
Poweshiek2438
Allamakee2425
Shelby2421
Lyon2413
Buchanan2351
Clayton2303
Cedar2191
Guthrie2175
Kossuth2170
Sac2090
Chickasaw2070
Grundy2012
Madison2012
Fayette1871
Cherokee1852
Howard1825
Iowa1821
Mitchell1810
Harrison1772
Hancock1722
Humboldt1713
Calhoun1692
Mills1651
Palo Alto1590
Pocahontas1512
Monroe14610
Page1410
Lucas1386
Jefferson1331
Monona1321
Cass1292
Osceola1250
Appanoose1203
Union1203
Taylor1191
Davis1134
Van Buren1091
Worth1020
Ida960
Keokuk901
Montgomery865
Greene840
Fremont820
Wayne812
Adair641
Audubon591
Decatur580
Ringgold412
Adams280
Unassigned230
Rochester
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 56°
Mason City
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 54°
Albert Lea
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 57°
Austin
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 55°
Charles City
Broken Clouds
50° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 50°
Warmer Weather Ahead
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

KEONA FOOTE'S MEMORIAL

Image

Sunday weather

Image

MORE STUDENTS NOT RETURNING TO COLLEGE

Image

MED CITY ARTS FESTIVAL

Image

ROCHESTER GINSBURG DEATH REACTION

Image

Saturday Weather

Image

What are the benefits of bringing football back to Minnesota this fall?

Image

Candlelight vigil for Prisoners of War

Image

MC Masters National Championship Regatta

Image

Early voting begins in Minnesota

Community Events