Former President Donald Trump has been charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree related to hush money payments made to conceal alleged affairs with three women, according to an unsealed indictment. The Manhattan District Attorney's Office alleges that Trump used "catch and kill" schemes to bury allegations of the affairs and then "went to great lengths to hide this conduct, causing dozens of false entries in business records to conceal criminal activity." The charges amount to "attempts to violate state and federal election laws," the DA's office alleged, aimed at hiding "damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election." While the indictment contains limited details about each of the three alleged hush-money deals, the press release cited payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels weeks before the election to prevent her from talking about a 2006 affair she says she had with Trump. The DA's office also alleged that Trump orchestrated a $30,000 payment to a former Trump Tower doorman in exchange for his silence about a child the doorman claimed Trump had out of wedlock. In the third instance, prosecutors claimed the Trump Organization attempted to reimburse American Media Inc. (which owned the National Enquirer, whose former publisher was a long-time friend of Trump's) for a $150,000 payment it made to former Playboy model Karen McDougal in exchange for the rights to her story about her alleged affair with Trump, which the tabloid never published. Each Class E felony charge carries a maximum sentence of up to four years in prison, though it's unlikely Trump gets prison time if he's found guilty. Trump pleaded not guilty to the charges during his arraignment before Manhattan criminal court Judge Juan Merchan.
Criminal charges faced by Trump in indictment