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Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump directed or was personally involved in multiple payments of hush money to women claiming to have had sexual encounters with him — potentially breaking campaign finance laws, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: We’re now starting to get a picture of what Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, tabloid exec David Pecker and former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg have been telling federal prosecutors, Axios' Jonathan Swan says.

What to know: New York City federal prosecutors wrote up an 80-page draft indictment in August to be used against Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, which outlined Cohen's coordination with undisclosed Trump campaign members via phone calls and meetings about the payments to women claiming sexual relationships. Sources familiar with the document told the Wall Street Journal that the unnamed campaign member was Trump himself.

How he did it:

  • In 2015, Trump asked American Media CEO Pecker to help him with his campaign. Pecker offered to use the National Enquirer to silence women who claim to have had sexual relationships with Trump, according to WSJ. He eventually paid $150,000 to model Karen McDougal, who claimed to have had an affair with Trump years before.
  • Cohen has also reportedly told prosecutors that he discussed with Trump the payments to former porn star Stormy Daniels in the weeks leading up to it, and how to ensure it could not be traced back to the then-presidential candidate.

The bottom line: In order to be guilty of federal campaign finance crimes, Trump would have had to used more than $2,700 worth of campaign contributions from companies or individuals in these payments, Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, told WSJ.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

How Biden might tackle the Iran deal

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Four more years of President Trump would almost certainly kill the Iran nuclear deal — but the election of Joe Biden wouldn’t necessarily save it.

The big picture: Rescuing the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is near the top of Biden's foreign policy priority list. He says he'd re-enter the deal once Iran returns to compliance, and use it as the basis on which to negotiate a broader and longer-lasting deal with Iran.

Kamala Harris, the new left's insider

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images     

Progressive leaders see Sen. Kamala Harris, if she's elected vice president, as their conduit to a post-Biden Democratic Party where the power will be in younger, more diverse and more liberal hands.

  • Why it matters: The party's rising left sees Harris as the best hope for penetrating Joe Biden's older, largely white inner circle.

If Biden wins, Harris will become the first woman, first Black American and first Indian American to serve as a U.S. vice president — and would instantly be seen as the first in line for the presidency should Biden decide against seeking a second term.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

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