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Author Topic: The Trump thread: All things Donald  (Read 95440 times)
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« Reply #4575 on: November 03, 2018, 01:10:59 AM »

Judge denies Trump’s request for stay in emoluments case

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“Their ultimate argument was that this the president of the United States, he’s too busy.”

But Messitte had rejected that argument earlier, and in this opinion he noted, wryly, that — instead of avoiding legal battles — Trump seems to seek them out while in the White House.

Messitte noted Trump’s threats to sue author Michael Wolff and former adviser Stephen K. Bannon, and Trump’s taunting of former CIA director William Brennan in August. After Trump revoked Brennan’s security clearance, Trump wrote on Twitter: “I hope John Brennan, the worst CIA Director in our country’s history, brings a lawsuit.”

“It bears noting that the President himself seems to have had little reluctance to pursue personal litigation despite the supposed distractions it imposes on his office,” Messitte wrote.

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« Reply #4576 on: November 05, 2018, 03:01:40 AM »

‘Full Trumpism’: The president’s apocalyptic attacks reach a new level of falsity

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — President Trump is painting an astonishingly apocalyptic vision of America under Democratic control in the campaign’s final days, unleashing a torrent of falsehoods and portraying his political opponents as desiring crime, squalor and poverty.

As voters prepare to render their first verdict on his presidency in Tuesday’s midterm elections, Trump is claiming that Democrats want to erase the nation’s borders and provide sanctuary to drug dealers, human traffickers and MS-13 killers. He is warning that they would destroy the economy, obliterate Medicare and unleash a wave of violent crime that endangers families everywhere. And he is alleging that they would transform the United States into Venezuela with socialism run amok.

Trump has never been hemmed in by fact, fairness or even logic. The 45th president proudly refuses to apologize and routinely violates the norms of decorum that guided his predecessors. But at one mega-rally after another in the run-up to Tuesday’s midterm elections, Trump has taken his no-boundaries political ethos to a new level — demagoguing the Democrats in a whirl of distortion and using the power of the federal government to amplify his fantastical arguments.

In Columbia, Mo., the president suggested that Democrats “run around like antifa” demonstrators in black uniforms and black helmets, but underneath, they have “this weak little face” and “go back home into mommy’s basement.”

In Huntington, W.Va., Trump called predatory immigrants “the worst scum in the world” but alleged that Democrats welcome them by saying, “Fly right in, folks. Come on in. We don’t care who the hell you are, come on in!”

And in Macon, Ga., he charged that if Democrat Stacey Abrams is elected governor, she would take away the Second Amendment right to bear arms — though as a state official, she would not have the power to change the Constitution.

Unmoored from reality, Trump has at times become a false prophet, too. He has been promising a 10 percent tax cut for the middle class, though no such legislation exists. And he has sounded alarms over an imminent “invasion” of dangerous “illegal aliens,” referring to a caravan of Central American migrants that includes many women and children, is traveling by foot and is not expected to reach the U.S.-Mexico border for several weeks, if at all.

With his breathtaking cascade of orations, tweets, media appearances and presidential actions, Trump has dictated the terms of the political debate in the final week of the campaign even though he is not up for reelection for two years.

“He goes out and says crazy, horrible things, blows race whistles and sits back and watches his topic of craziness dominate cable TV for the next 24 hours,” said Republican strategist Mike Murphy, a Trump critic. “Everybody repeats his charge, and then there’s a lot of pearl-clutching and tsk-tsking, and then repeating it again.”

Trump’s omnipresence has frustrated Democrats, who are attempting to stay focused on their campaign messages of health care and other pocketbook issues.

It’s really important not to take the bait from the president, with his scare-a-thon and his this-and-that,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in an interview this weekend. “That diverts people from what is really important in their lives and how this election will make a difference.”

Trump has had only one formative political experience: His 2016 race for president, which he won against odds by galvanizing his conservative base around nativist themes. Two years later, he is returning to the same playbook.

“This freneticism at the end . . . him ratcheting up to a new level of histrionics and fear, the question is, ‘Is there a point of diminishing returns?’ ” asked David Axelrod, who was former president Barack Obama’s chief strategist. “Do these tactics at once offend some people but also appear so fundamentally contrived that even some who are inclined to vote for Republicans say, you lost me here?”

“His gamble is that this will work,” Axelrod added. “Certainly the veracity doesn’t bother him, and the optics don’t bother him. The only thing that would bother him is losing.”

Trump is campaigning as if his presidency were on the line — and in a way, it is. Should Democrats win the House majority, as public polling suggests, they probably would use their subpoena power to launch investigations into the president and his behavior and, perhaps, begin impeachment proceedings.

“All his bad characteristics get amplified when he’s in a crunch,” Murphy said. “He doesn’t have any allegiance to the truth or reality to begin with, so he’s drunk on crowds, in a corner and under great political pressure.”

Trump’s campaign maneuvers — which Vice President Pence and many Republican candidates are reinforcing and defending — are not only rhetorical.

The president last week deployed thousands of U.S. troops to the border, ostensibly to protect the United States from the coming caravan, and has gloated on the stump about the “beautiful barbed wire” they have installed there. Several prominent former military leaders have denounced the deployment as a political stunt.

Trump has been fueling the baseless conspiracy theory that the caravan is being funded by George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist and Democratic mega-donor who was the target of a mail bomb last month. The same conspiracy theory allegedly motivated the suspect in the mass slaughter at a Pittsburgh synagogue eight days ago.

“They want to invite caravan after caravan, and it is a little suspicious how those caravans are starting, isn’t it?” Trump asked at a Saturday night rally in Pensacola, Fla. “Isn’t it a little? And I think it’s a good thing maybe that they did it. Did they energize our base or what?”

Trump also has floated the idea of signing an executive order to end birthright citizenship. Many legal experts argue he does not have that power because the 14th Amendment to the Constitution protects the right to citizenship for any child born in the United States.

“These ideas are mostly stunts that serve to act as a semaphore,” said Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law and a former chief speechwriter in the Clinton White House. “The executive order is flatly unconstitutional. The tax cut that is going to be passed by Election Day is nonexistent. And the generated panic over the caravan and sending up to 15,000 troops to the border is expensive political theater and not much more.”

Trump’s focus on immigration and nationalist appeals is part of a strategy to counter high voter enthusiasm on the left by mobilizing all of his 2016 supporters to turn out for other Republicans. As Pence says in his stump speech, “That blue wave is going to hit a red wall.”

“Their calculus is that every voter that surged for Trump is a Trump person first and foremost and not a DeSantis person or Scott person, so they’re leaning in on full Trumpism,” Steven Schale, a Florida-based Democratic operative, referring to the state’s GOP candidates for governor and Senate, respectively.

At his Saturday rally in Belgrade, Mont., Trump told a cheering crowd, without a hint of irony, “I’m the only one that tells you the facts.”

But Trump’s flood of misinformation has swelled to epic proportions in recent weeks, according to an analysis by The Washington Post’s Fact Checker. In the seven weeks leading up to the election, the president made 1,419 false or misleading claims, an average of 30 a day. That compares with 1,318 false or misleading claims during the first nine months of his presidency, an average of five a day.

Each of Trump’s rallies usually yields 35 to 45 suspect claims, which he has repeated in media appearances, according to The Fact Checker analysis.

Trump’s supporters say they don’t much care about the falsehood meter. At his rally Wednesday in Estero, Fla., one Trump fan after another explained away the president’s disregard for the truth.

Hope Heisler, an emergency room doctor: “I’m not a fact-checker. All of the candidates, whether they be Republican or Democrat, don’t say things completely accurately all the time. But I trust in President Trump.”

Linda Sears, a housewife: “Presidents should tell the truth, but sometimes they make mistakes. . . . At least Trump tells it like it is. Trump is a truth teller.”

Pat Banker, a retired registered nurse: “I don’t think he lies. He gets excited when he’s talking, and he likes to exaggerate a little bit. But that’s just his way.”

Trump has never had much of an appetite for nuance, and he has been framing the choice before voters on Tuesday in terms of black and white, right and wrong.

“This election is a choice between Republican results and radical resistance,” Trump told a rally crowd Thursday in Columbia, Mo. “It’s a choice between greatness and gridlock. It’s a choice between jobs and mobs. And it’s a choice between an economy that is going strong and the Democrats who are going crazy.”

When it comes to assailing Democrats, Trump — who for years was a registered Democrat — has adopted a kitchen-sink strategy. On Friday night in Indianapolis, he told thousands of red-capped supporters, “If Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and the legendary Maxine Waters, if they take power, they will try to erase our gains and eradicate our progress.

“The Democrats want to raise your taxes. They want to restore job-killing regulations. They want to shut down your steel mills. And that will happen.”

He kept going.

“They want to take away your real health care and use socialism to turn America into Venezuela,” Trump continued. “Lovely place, lovely place. And Democrats want to totally open borders.”

The crowd reacted, just on cue, with loud boos.

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« Reply #4577 on: November 06, 2018, 02:55:02 AM »

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Angry White Male:  Will no longer be a Democrat after tomorrow. Democrats used to stand for something but if  Obama and Hillary are examples of what a good Democrat is I will no longer be a member of that party. How can anyone vote for those two is a mystery to me.

Toe:  They are not on the ballot.  No one is voting for them tomorrow.

Angry White Male:  My Son has been doing that for 18 years. Will retire from the Army in 2 years. He has defended this country on 5 deployments. The Deno party condemns him for doing what they don't have the backbone to do. Hillary would have let him make the ultimate sacrifice and she would not lift a finger to send help.

Toe: AWM, please give an example of any Democrat “condemning” anyone in the military for their service.  I think you are confused.  Trump got four draft deferments for “bone spurs”, mocked a Gold Star family, and said John McCain was “not a hero” because he was captured and spent 5.5 years as a POW.  Facts.
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« Reply #4578 on: November 06, 2018, 07:11:30 PM »


I saw a sign on an overpass on I-75 yesterday that said "I cheated on my..." but the wind had the sign folded over so I couldn't read it.    I saw another one today but it was again folded over.  So I googled it.


First sign reads: "I cheated on my first wife."
Further down the road, the next sign reads: "I cheated on my second wife"
and so on
The last sign reads: “I’m cheating on you" and is accompanied by a pic of Trump


https://www.reddit.com/r/Detroit/comments/9ud16e/cheating_banners/


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« Reply #4579 on: November 08, 2018, 04:14:28 PM »

The White House Is Spreading Actual Fake News To Make the Press Look Violent

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeting out a video multiple reporters identified as a misleading edit by InfoWars. The video sped up an exchange between Acosta and a White House staffer—she was trying to take the mic away from Acosta, who didn’t let go—to make the incident appear violent.

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« Reply #4580 on: November 08, 2018, 07:23:39 PM »

They doctored the video to make it seem like Jim Acosta’s hand chopped down on the girl’s arm by speeding it up, when in fact the girl’s motion merely brushed past his hand.  I just watched the original and doctored videos side-by-side.

What scum these people are, and I’m talking to you Sarah Sanders.
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« Reply #4581 on: November 08, 2018, 08:21:36 PM »

Just ask Joan why she supports fascist and she will say she doesn’t. But she supports the Trump Administration, which by definition of their actions, is facist.

Congratulations, Joan, we are one step closer to being under Big Brother.
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« Reply #4582 on: November 08, 2018, 09:32:47 PM »

Just ask Joan why she supports fascist and she will say she doesn’t. But she supports the Trump Administration, which by definition of their actions, is facist.

Okay, well there are some Fascistesque policies (Nationalism, a list of Undesirables, mass Deportations, domination of the Media to support a Cult of Personality...) in the administration, that's not the same as them being Definitively Fascist.  Dancing around Godwins here, but at the same time, Joan seems to be using that definition of Fascist:

The "I don't have any other arguments, so falling back on calling anyone who is debating me a Fascist" fascist.

To me, the crucial difference is that all the Fascist regimes from History (Franco, Mussolini, the H word) were COMPETENT, to a fault.  They also took over by force, the Spanish Civil War, the March on Rome, and the Reichstag, once the political avenues like becoming Prime Minister/Chancellor were enough power to take more, but not enough (All the power, über alles) to satisfy their megalomania.  

So, I'm going to put Goldfinger down for Attempted Fascism, partially because of his opposition to, and complete ignorance of Socialism.  Another primary trait of Fascism, that kinda makes it difficult to Define them as without.  It is intrinsically Socialist, especially with regards to controling the Means of production, through the Workers, and Labor (Not Trade) Unions.

He's unfortunately just a dimwitted spoiled oligarch, Playing at dictator, without a cintilla of a clue how to actually go about it.  (Taking credit for the old school entrenched profiteers that have been controlling it for decades.)  

Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.  We'll all find out, just about the time he declares Martial Law.
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« Reply #4583 on: November 09, 2018, 12:02:38 AM »

Trump meets 12 if the 13 points of facism.
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« Reply #4584 on: November 09, 2018, 12:05:49 AM »

Trump meets 12 if the 13 points of facism.

I would sincerely love to read those 12 points from you.  It would be a great read, if you're willing to write it.
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« Reply #4585 on: November 09, 2018, 12:20:54 AM »

Sorry, it’s 14 points.

Quote
In his 1995 essay "Eternal Fascism", cultural theorist Umberto Eco lists fourteen general properties of fascist ideology.[20] He argues that it is not possible to organise these into a coherent system, but that "it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it". He uses the term "Ur-fascism" as a generic description of different historical forms of fascism. The fourteen properties are as follows:

1. "The Cult of Tradition", characterized by cultural syncretism, even at the risk of internal contradiction. When all truth has already been revealed by Tradition, no new learning can occur, only further interpretation and refinement.

2. "The Rejection of modernism", which views the rationalistic development of Western culture since the Enlightenment as a descent into depravity. Eco distinguishes this from a rejection of superficial technological advancement, as many fascist regimes cite their industrial potency as proof of the vitality of their system.

3. "The Cult of Action for Action's Sake", which dictates that action is of value in itself, and should be taken without intellectual reflection. This, says Eco, is connected with anti-intellectualism and irrationalism, and often manifests in attacks on modern culture and science.
4. “Disagreement Is Treason" – Fascism devalues intellectual discourse and critical reasoning as barriers to action, as well as out of fear that such analysis will expose the contradictions embodied in a syncretistic faith.

5. "Fear of Difference", which fascism seeks to exploit and exacerbate, often in the form of racism or an appeal against foreigners and immigrants.

6. "Appeal to a Frustrated Middle Class", fearing economic pressure from the demands and aspirations of lower social groups.

7. "Obsession with a Plot" and the hyping-up of an enemy threat. This often combines an appeal to xenophobia with a fear of disloyalty and sabotage from marginalized groups living within the society (such as the German elite's 'fear' of the 1930s Jewish populace's businesses and well-doings; see also anti-Semitism). Eco also cites Pat Robertson's book The New World Order as a prominent example of a plot obsession.

8. Fascist societies rhetorically cast their enemies as "at the same time too strong and too weak." On the one hand, fascists play up the power of certain disfavored elites to encourage in their followers a sense of grievance and humiliation. On the other hand, fascist leaders point to the decadence of those elites as proof of their ultimate feebleness in the face of an overwhelming popular will.

9. "Pacifism is Trafficking with the Enemy" because "Life is Permanent Warfare" – there must always be an enemy to fight. Both fascist Germany under Hitler and Italy under Mussolini worked first to organize and clean up their respective countries and then build the war machines that they later intended to and did use, despite Germany being under restrictions of the Versailles treaty to NOT build a military force. This principle leads to a fundamental contradiction within fascism: the incompatibility of ultimate triumph with perpetual war.

10. "Contempt for the Weak", which is uncomfortably married to a chauvinistic popular elitism, in which every member of society is superior to outsiders by virtue of belonging to the in-group. Eco sees in these attitudes the root of a deep tension in the fundamentally hierarchical structure of fascist polities, as they encourage leaders to despise their underlings, up to the ultimate Leader who holds the whole country in contempt for having allowed him to overtake it by force.

11. "Everybody is Educated to Become a Hero", which leads to the embrace of a cult of death. As Eco observes, "[t]he Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death."

12. "Machismo", which sublimates the difficult work of permanent war and heroism into the sexual sphere. Fascists thus hold "both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality."

13. "Selective Populism" – The People, conceived monolithically, have a Common Will, distinct from and superior to the viewpoint of any individual. As no mass of people can ever be truly unanimous, the Leader holds himself out as the interpreter of the popular will (though truly he dictates it). Fascists use this concept to delegitimize democratic institutions they accuse of "no longer represent[ing] the Voice of the People."

14. "Newspeak" – Fascism employs and promotes an impoverished vocabulary in order to limit critical reasoning
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« Reply #4586 on: November 09, 2018, 04:44:28 PM »

My gf just lost her healthcare coverage.

Thanks Donny!
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« Reply #4587 on: November 09, 2018, 04:54:40 PM »

House Democrats have oversight investigation plans far beyond Russia probe

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White Supremacy: Early in the Trump administration, officials froze $10 million in funding granted to several groups dedicated to combating white supremacist and neo-Nazi movements. A Feb. 22, 2017 letter signed by over 150 Democrats and Republicans urged the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to address “threats to Jewish organizations” after bomb threats had been telephoned in to Jewish community centers across the nation. Days before the 2018 midterms, a gunman opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing 11 and wounding six, in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.

Immigration: In April, a bipartisan group of 32 House members sent a letter to then DHS-secretary John Kelly requesting information on how immigrant victims of crimes such as human trafficking would be protected in light of Trump’s executive orders pertaining to interior and border enforcement. On Oct. 26, another letter from Democrats on the subcommittee on immigration to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine C. Duke expressed concern regarding the detention of a 10-year old with cerebral palsy immediately after being released from surgery.

Other letters pertained to the termination of programs providing "critical legal assistance" to detained immigrants. One year after the initial letter, and following Trump’s creation of numerous detention centers at the border, the DHS responded in a four-page letter, the report notes, while listing a host of additional pending inquiries about detention centers that have become controversial.

Healthcare: In a letter dated June 2018, Democrats raised "serious concerns" about the administration’s decision not to defend key protections of the Affordable Care Act from a legal challenge filed in Texas by a coalition of Republican-led states. The letter insisted that the administration is obligated to "defend" the nation’s health care law from the attempt to invalidate it. The Trump administration has decided not to defend several important provisions including those that would gut protections for those with preexisting conditions.

Conflicts of Interest: Several letters hint at the kind of conflicts-of-interest inquiries Democrats will initiate against the Trump family.

On May 3, 2017 in a letter to the Ivanka Trump Collection, Judiciary Democrats asked that Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and a White House senior adviser, recuse herself from any "particular matters affecting her financial interests" given her role as an adviser to the president. Before and after Ms. Trump accepted her position, she participated in meeting with officials from countries like Japan and China in which she "has significant financial interests — including pending licensing deals and trademark applications," the letter states. Also that month, they inquired about Trump’s financial ties to China following his advocacy for Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE.

A day before Tuesday’s midterm election, the left-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington reported Ivanka Trump’s fashion brand received first approval for 16 new trademarks from the Chinese government in October.

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« Reply #4588 on: November 09, 2018, 05:27:46 PM »

It's a sad state of affairs when investigating anti-semitism is a Partisan issue.  I mean that they had to overturn the House just to push for this Investigation, of domestic Terrorism, because they're White Supremacists. 
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« Reply #4589 on: November 09, 2018, 07:14:43 PM »

Donald Trump Played Central Role in Hush Payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal

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As a presidential candidate in August 2015, Donald Trump huddled with a longtime friend, media executive David Pecker, in his cluttered 26th floor Trump Tower office and made a request.

What can you do to help my campaign? he asked, according to people familiar with the meeting.

Mr. Pecker, chief executive of American Media Inc., offered to use his National Enquirer tabloid to buy the silence of women if they tried to publicize alleged sexual encounters with Mr. Trump.

Less than a year later, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Pecker to quash the story of a former Playboy model who said they’d had an affair. Mr. Pecker’s company soon paid $150,000 to the model, Karen McDougal, to keep her from speaking publicly about it. Mr. Trump later thanked Mr. Pecker for the assistance.

The Trump Tower meeting and its aftermath are among several previously unreported instances in which Mr. Trump intervened directly to suppress stories about his alleged sexual encounters with women, according to interviews with three dozen people who have direct knowledge of the events or who have been briefed on them, as well as court papers, corporate records and other documents.

Taken together, the accounts refute a two-year pattern of denials by Mr. Trump, his legal team and his advisers that he was involved in payoffs to Ms. McDougal and a former adult-film star. They also raise the possibility that the president of the United States violated federal campaign-finance laws.

The Wall Street Journal found that Mr. Trump was involved in or briefed on nearly every step of the agreements. He directed deals in phone calls and meetings with his self-described fixer, Michael Cohen, and others. The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan has gathered evidence of Mr. Trump’s participation in the transactions.

On Thursday, the White House referred questions about Mr. Trump’s involvement in the hush deals to the president’s outside counsel Jay Sekulow, who declined to comment.

In an Oct. 23 interview with the Journal, Mr. Trump declined to address whether he had ever discussed the payments with Mr. Cohen during the campaign.

“Nobody cares about that,” he said. He described Mr. Cohen as a “public-relations person” who “represented me on very small things.”

Mr. Cohen, who left the Trump Organization to serve as the president’s personal attorney in early 2017, and other aides denied Mr. Trump played any role in the two hush-money deals when they were first reported in the Journal.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan came to believe otherwise. In August, they outlined Mr. Trump’s role—without specifically naming him—in a roughly 80-page draft federal indictment they had been preparing to file against Mr. Cohen.

When Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty that month to campaign-finance violations, prosecutors filed a 22-page charging document asserting that Mr. Cohen “coordinated with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments.”

The unnamed campaign member or members referred to Mr. Trump, according to people familiar with the document.

The revelations about Mr. Trump’s involvement in the hush-money deals come as Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues his probe into Russian electoral interference, and as a newly elected Democratic majority in the House of Representatives has signaled its intention to investigate the Trump administration when it takes power. Manhattan federal prosecutors who investigated Mr. Cohen are now examining business dealings by the Trump Organization.

Mr. Cohen, who implicated the president in his crimes when he pleaded guilty in August, has met with investigators for Mr. Mueller and with federal prosecutors in New York, seeking to provide information that could mitigate his sentence, which is scheduled for Dec. 12.

He told federal prosecutors he conferred with Mr. Trump in the weeks before the 2016 election about paying Stephanie Clifford, the former adult-film star known professionally as Stormy Daniels, to keep quiet about her allegations of a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump. He told them that Mr. Trump urged him to “get it done.”

Mr. Cohen has also described to prosecutors his discussions with Mr. Trump and a Trump Organization executive about how to pay Ms. Clifford without leaving the candidate’s fingerprints on the deal.

Mr. Trump’s involvement in the payments, by itself, wouldn’t mean he is guilty of federal crimes, according to Richard Hasen, a law professor at University of California, Irvine, who specializes in election law. A criminal conviction would require proof Mr. Trump willfully skirted legal prohibitions on contributions from companies or from individuals in excess of $2,700, he said.

When the Justice Department accused John Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina, of using illegal campaign contributions to conceal an affair during his 2008 presidential run, he argued the money was meant to hide his mistress from his wife, not to influence the election. A jury acquitted him of one charge and deadlocked on the rest.

Managing bad press
Mr. Trump was leading in most polls for the Republican presidential nomination in the summer of 2015 after announcing his candidacy for president. His past behavior with women—flings with models and divorces that played out in the New York tabloids—caused concern among his advisers.

Mr. Pecker could help manage bad press. The men’s relationship dated to the 1990s, when Mr. Pecker’s former employer, Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, put out “Trump Style,” a quarterly magazine for guests at Trump properties.

When Mr. Pecker took over as chief executive of American Media in the late 1990s, he imposed a moratorium on negative stories about Mr. Trump, who was known among Enquirer staff as an “F.O.P.,” or Friend of Pecker.

In May 2016, Ms. McDougal, the 1998 Playmate of the year, began to consider telling her story of a nearly yearlong affair with Mr. Trump. She believed the story would come out regardless, after another former Playboy model posted a tweet alluding to a relationship between the two.

Ms. McDougal retained Keith Davidson, a Los Angeles lawyer specializing in representing women who’d had affairs with celebrities. Mr. Davidson reached out to Dylan Howard, American Media’s New York-based chief content officer, to gauge the company’s interest in buying Ms. McDougal’s story.

Messrs. Pecker and Howard alerted Mr. Cohen, who in turn warned Mr. Trump, by then the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who in turn phoned Mr. Pecker for help.

On June 20, 2016, Mr. Howard flew to Los Angeles to meet Ms. McDougal at her lawyer’s office.

Mr. Howard spent hours interviewing Ms. McDougal, pressing her for every detail of the alleged affair. Ms. McDougal seemed reluctant to go public with her story.

“I don’t want to be the next Monica Lewinsky,” Ms. McDougal said, referring to the young White House intern who was vilified after her affair with President Bill Clinton became public. Mr. Howard told her that without documents corroborating her story, it wouldn’t be worth more than $15,000.

When Mr. Howard finished interviewing Ms. McDougal that day, he and Mr. Pecker got on a three-way call with Mr. Cohen to discuss what she had said. They noted she had produced no proof of an affair with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Howard told Mr. Davidson that Ms. McDougal should get back in touch if she found any evidence of the alleged affair.

After the meeting, Messrs. Pecker and Howard learned Ms. McDougal had also been meeting with investigative reporters at ABC News about sharing her story in a televised interview.

Mr. Cohen updated Mr. Trump on developments throughout. The ABC talks prompted American Media to offer to buy Ms. McDougal’s story for $150,000 in early August.

The contract gave the publisher the exclusive rights to her story, and guaranteed Ms. McDougal and American Media two magazine covers on which she would appear as a model. As part of the deal, American Media had the option of publishing health and fitness columns under Ms. McDougal’s name.

In a Skype call, Mr. Howard told Ms. McDougal the covers and columns would help resuscitate her modeling career.

Mr. Pecker researched campaign-finance laws before entering into the McDougal deal. The question was: Would American Media’s payment amount to an illegal campaign contribution to Mr. Trump? Corporations are barred under federal law from giving directly to candidates, either in cash or in-kind contributions.

After speaking with an election-law specialist, Mr. Pecker concluded the company’s payment to Ms. McDougal wouldn’t violate the law, because the magazine covers and health columns gave him a business justification for the deal.

The contract had an effective date of Aug. 5, 2016. Ms. McDougal signed it the following day.

Mr. Cohen assured Mr. Pecker that Mr. Trump would reimburse the publisher, and they began to devise a repayment plan at the end of that month.

‘All the stuff’
Concerned Mr. Pecker might leave American Media, Mr. Cohen wanted to buy other materials the company had gathered on Mr. Trump over the years, including source files and tips. In a meeting at the Trump Organization offices in early September, Mr. Cohen told Mr. Trump of his plan.

Mr. Cohen, who complained to associates about Mr. Trump’s frugality, was also worried his boss would balk at reimbursing Mr. Pecker. He secretly recorded Mr. Trump discussing the deal.

“Um, I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend, David, you know, so that—I’m going to do that right away,” said Mr. Cohen, according to a copy of the audio file.

As Mr. Cohen explained his plans, Mr. Trump spoke over him: “So, what are we gonna pay…One-fifty?” Mr. Trump asked. Mr. Cohen paused and replied, “Yes.”

Mr. Cohen said he would be getting “all the stuff,” meaning the other files on Mr. Trump he had been seeking. They discussed the uncertainty about what might become of the files if Mr. Pecker no longer ran American Media. “Yeah, I was thinking about that,” Mr. Trump said. “Maybe he gets hit by a truck.”

Messrs. Pecker and Cohen signed a contract for the transfer of the McDougal story in late September. Mr. Cohen set up a shell company in Delaware for the transaction on Sept. 30.

The publisher would assign the rights to Ms. McDougal’s story to Mr. Cohen for $125,000—the value they put on Ms. McDougal’s agreement with American Media minus the magazine covers and fitness columns, the rights to which the publisher would retain.

Mr. Pecker called off the Trump-reimbursement deal in October 2016 on the advice of his lawyer. Accepting reimbursement from Mr. Trump, the executive worried, could undermine any argument that the McDougal payment was made for editorial and business reasons, rather than as an in-kind campaign contribution.

Mr. Pecker told Mr. Cohen to tear up the reimbursement agreement, but Mr. Cohen kept a copy. Federal agents found it in a search of Mr. Cohen’s office earlier this year.

Stormy surfaces
As the McDougal deal came together, another woman was shopping her story of an alleged tryst with Mr. Trump.

Earlier in 2016, an agent for Ms. Clifford, the adult-film actress, had approached Mr. Howard about selling her story of a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump. The agent, Gina Rodriguez, was seeking upward of $200,000 for the story, but Mr. Howard passed.

Ms. Clifford’s story—she said she had sex with Mr. Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe a decade earlier—had already been told in 2011 on a gossip blog, The Dirty. Mr. Howard reminded Ms. Rodriguez that Ms. Clifford had called the report “bulls—” when contacted five years earlier by entertainment channel E!.

Ms. Clifford gained more leverage on Oct. 7, when The Washington Post published previously unaired footage from a 2005 appearance by Mr. Trump on NBC’s “Access Hollywood.” Mr. Trump could be heard on the video chatting with host Billy Bush about groping women.

After the tape surfaced, nearly upending Mr. Trump’s campaign, Ms. Rodriguez reached out to Mr. Howard and told him Ms. Clifford was prepared to go public. Ms. Clifford, through her agent, was in preliminary talks with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Mr. Howard alerted Mr. Pecker, and they separately spoke to Mr. Cohen about Ms. Clifford. The Trump camp at the time was scrambling to contain fallout from the tape, as women came forward with stories of sexual misconduct by the candidate, all of which he denied.

Ms. Clifford had taken a polygraph test in 2011, when another celebrity publication, Life & Style, was vetting her claims of a sexual encounter. When asked whether she had unprotected sex with Mr. Trump, she answered “yes,” and the examiner found no signs of deception.

Mr. Cohen had been able to kill that earlier story with a legal threat. Ms. Clifford and Ms. Rodriguez wouldn’t be intimidated this time.

Mr. Cohen asked American Media to buy Ms. Clifford’s story. Mr. Pecker refused on the grounds that he didn’t want his company to pay a porn star.

Messrs. Cohen and Trump would have to handle the payment themselves. Mr. Cohen told federal prosecutors he relayed the news to Mr. Trump in his Trump Tower office in the second week of October 2016.

That is when Mr. Trump, smarting from the “Access Hollywood” tape, told Mr. Cohen to “get it done,” according to Mr. Cohen’s account to prosecutors.

Within days, Mr. Cohen and Mr. Davidson had negotiated a nondisclosure agreement for Ms. Clifford.

The money was slow in coming because Mr. Trump, Mr. Cohen and the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, couldn’t settle on a plan for getting it to Mr. Davidson without anyone being able to trace it back to Mr. Trump, according to Mr. Cohen’s account to prosecutors. Among the options they considered: routing the payment through a Trump-owned property, Mr. Cohen told prosecutors.

Mr. Cohen offered a suggestion: Why not have Mr. Weisselberg make the payment? “You’re the CFO,” he told the longtime Trump aide, according to Mr. Cohen’s account to prosecutors. “You pay this.” Mr. Weisselberg said he couldn’t come up with the money.

Mr. Cohen had told Mr. Davidson to expect a $130,000 wire transfer by Oct. 14, but missed the deadline, as well as an extension, prompting Ms. Clifford to walk away.

While Mr. Cohen considered a path forward, he offered excuses to Ms. Clifford’s camp. He told Mr. Davidson banks were closed for the Jewish holidays and he couldn’t reach Mr. Trump on the campaign trail. “My guy is in five states today,” Mr. Cohen said.

Mr. Davidson told Mr. Howard on Oct. 25, 2016, that Ms. Clifford would soon speak publicly. Mr. Howard texted Mr. Cohen that they needed to coordinate “or it could look awfully bad for everyone.”

In a tense three-way call on an encrypted app, Messrs. Pecker and Howard urged Mr. Cohen to complete the deal before Ms. Clifford disclosed the hush-money negotiations.

Out of options and time, Mr. Cohen decided to cover the payment himself. “F— it, I’m just going to do it,” he told Mr. Davidson in a phone call.

He drew down his home-equity line and transferred $130,000 to Mr. Davidson on Oct. 27. Ms. Clifford signed a fresh nondisclosure agreement the next day.

That month, a news site called “The Smoking Gun” published an account of Ms. Clifford’s alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump. Then-Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus and Trump campaign chief Steve Bannon confronted the candidate. Mr. Trump told them the encounter never happened.

Four days before the 2016 election, The Wall Street Journal revealed the $150,000 payment to Ms. McDougal by American Media. The company said at the time Ms. McDougal had been paid for magazine covers and fitness columns and denied buying her story to protect Mr. Trump.

The Trump campaign professed ignorance. “We have no knowledge of any of this,” Hope Hicks, Mr. Trump’s spokeswoman, said of the McDougal deal. Ms. Hicks, who discussed the matter with Mr. Trump before issuing the comment, was relaying what she had been told, according to people familiar with the conversation. She also denied Mr. Trump had sex with Ms. McDougal.

As Mr. Trump headed to victory on Nov. 8, Mr. Howard joined Mr. Cohen at the candidate’s election night celebration at the New York Hilton.

Repaying Cohen
Later that month, after Mr. Trump’s election win, Mr. Cohen met with Mr. Weisselberg to discuss reimbursement for the payment to Ms. Clifford, Mr. Cohen has told federal prosecutors.

While Mr. Cohen waited, he asked Mr. Pecker to lobby Mr. Trump to pay him more money.

Mr. Pecker visited Trump Tower twice during the presidential transition. When he raised Mr. Cohen’s request during a meeting in the first week of December 2016, Mr. Trump demurred, saying Mr. Cohen had plenty of money. During Mr. Pecker’s second visit, in January 2017, Mr. Trump thanked him for suppressing the McDougal story.

Mr. Weisselberg soon completed the reimbursement plan.

It would turn out to be a costly deal for Mr. Trump.

Had he just paid the ex-adult film star himself, Mr. Trump would have been out of pocket $130,000. Instead, Mr. Weisselberg authorized a reimbursement of twice that much, characterized in Mr. Trump’s records as legal fees, to cover the income tax hit Mr. Cohen would take. He also added a $60,000 bonus. Mr. Cohen received the money in monthly installments of $35,000.

In the first year of Mr. Trump’s presidency, American Media continued to feature him on the Enquirer cover. In July 2017, Mr. Trump hosted Messrs. Pecker and Howard at the White House for dinner, an Oval Office visit and a private tour of the Lincoln Bedroom led by the president.

After the Journal reported on the payment to Ms. Clifford in January 2018, the relationships between Messrs. Trump, Cohen and Pecker began to fracture.

Ms. Clifford, initially willing to keep quiet, began to seek more exposure and threatened to break the agreement after Mr. Cohen acknowledged paying her in a February statement to the news media. Mr. Trump instructed Mr. Cohen to coordinate with his son Eric Trump to silence Ms. Clifford in arbitration. It didn’t work; Ms. Clifford ignored the arbitrator’s restraining order.

Mr. Cohen continued to insist he had done the deal with Ms. Clifford on his own, while Mr. Trump said he knew nothing about it when talking to reporters on Air Force One on April 5.

“You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen,” the president said. “Michael is my attorney.”

Days later, on April 9, the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided Mr. Cohen’s office, apartment and hotel room. Agents approached Messrs. Pecker and Howard. Federal prosecutors subpoenaed American Media and the Trump Organization, among others.

As Mr. Trump continued to distance himself from Mr. Cohen and the payment, American Media turned on Mr. Cohen, with a National Enquirer cover featuring the headline, “Trump Fixer’s Secrets & Lies.” Mr. Cohen learned he had been let go as Mr. Trump’s personal attorney when he saw it on television.

Both Messrs. Cohen and Pecker began seeking to minimize their exposure. Mr. Pecker, granted immunity for his grand jury testimony, told investigators about Mr. Trump’s involvement in the McDougal deal.

Three years after Mr. Pecker promised to work with Mr. Cohen to help Mr. Trump, the deals they made have unraveled. Ms. McDougal and Ms. Clifford have both been let out of their hush agreements after filing lawsuits.

The three men no longer speak to one another.

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