A second hush-money scheme, known as a “catch and kill” deal aimed at covering up an alleged affair between former President Donald Trump and a former playboy model before the 2016 presidential election, emerged during grand jury proceedings on Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing two people familiar with the case.
Prosecutors have asked at least one witness questions about a $150,000 payment the publisher of the National Enquirer made to the model, Karen McDougal, to buy her story about the alleged affair with Trump, the people said.
The grand jury has been investigating Trump’s alleged role in a $130,000 hush-money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
The witness also was asked about other stories bought by American Media Inc. – which publishes the Enquirer – and later killed. Trump had a history, with his long-time friend and former chairman of AMI, David Pecker, of buying negative stories and planting positive ones, the people said, according to The Wall Street Journal. Pecker testified Monday before the Manhattan grand jury for the second time.
It isn’t clear whether prosecutors are considering the payment as part of its current investigation or using it as a pattern to establish a pattern of entering into such deals.
But WSJ confirmed that the DA’s office has brought up the hush money deal for McDougal.
“Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office has been presenting a grand jury with evidence of Mr. Trump’s involvement in a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels since January,” the report states. “In those proceedings, the people said, Mr. Bragg’s prosecutors also have questioned grand-jury witnesses extensively about an earlier deal involving Karen McDougal, Playboy Magazine’s Playmate of the Year in 1998, who has said she began a 10-month relationship with Mr. Trump beginning in 2006.”
Trump has denied both affairs and his involvement in the hush-money schemes, saying Thursday that he “did nothing wrong with respect to campaign finance laws.”
Read more at The Wall Street Journal.