Part of Just Security’s work on accountability and election law. Originally published on March 29, 2023; updated version published on May 24, 2023.

On April 4, 2023, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced the first criminal indictment of a former U.S. president in history. The historic indictment and statement of facts foregrounded the alleged effort to suppress information from reaching voters during the 2016 presidential election. At the center of the case is a catch and kill and “hush money” arrangement that former president Donald Trump, the head of the National Enquirer David Pecker, and the two men’s associates allegedly set up in the course of the presidential campaign to bury stories about Trump’s allegedly having had extramarital affairs (Manhattan DA Indictment Press Release). The DA claims that in making these hush money payments, Trump violated New York state’s law prohibiting the falsification of business records and did so in furtherance of other crimes, including federal campaign finance law, state election law, and tax laws.

The commencement of the trial is currently set for March 25, 2024. As the case continues to unfold, we have updated our original chronology of events to reflect the new information released by the DA’s office, Trump’s attorneys, and related congressional actions. 

We rely upon court filings, contemporaneous media reports, and extracts from a Pulitzer Prize-winning team’s account of the events, The Fixers. Key individuals include Trump’s former lawyer and personal “fixer,” Michael Cohen; the former Chairman and CEO of American Media Inc., David Pecker; the two women paid to remain silent, Stephanie Clifford (aka “Stormy Daniels”) and Karen McDougal. Many of the individuals involved have reportedly appeared before Bragg’s grand jury this year, as noted in the latter portion of the chronology. 

We will continue monitoring the Manhattan investigation as it unfolds and update this chronology accordingly.


Beginning around 2004: Former American Media Inc. (“AMI”) employees claim that the company and its publications routinely turned away stories and tips that could paint Donald Trump in a bad light. AMI CEO David Pecker had a strong friendship with Trump throughout this period, attending Trump’s wedding to Melania in 2005 (AP; The Wall Street Journal; The New Yorker; see also Michael Cohen congressional testimony, “these catch and kill scenarios existed between David Pecker and Mr. Trump long before I started  working for him in 2007”).  

2005: While in conversation with Billy Bush, an anchor at the time for Access Hollywood, Trump identified a “young woman through a bus window” and began making lewd, sexually aggressive remarks. Bush recorded Trump’s comments on a hot mic: “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful women — I just start kissing them, it’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab ’em by the pussy” (NBC News). 

June 2006: Karen McDougal met Trump while The Celebrity Apprentice was being filmed at the Playboy mansion. McDougal had been hired to work as an extra at a pool party scene. At the end of the night, Trump reportedly asked McDougal for her phone number. They talked “right away on the phone… for about a week before [Trump’s] next visit to [Los Angeles]” (CNN; The New Yorker).  

June 12, 2006: According to McDougal, she and Trump went on their first “date” at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. McDougal claims that Trump’s bodyguard brought her to a bungalow in the back of the hotel, where she and Trump were “intimate.” Trump reportedly tried to pay McDougal afterward. By McDougal’s account, she and Trump then began an extended affair, meeting up in Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe, and even his New York apartment in Trump Tower (NPR; POLITICO). 

July 2006: Stephanie Clifford (aka “Stormy Daniels”) met Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. Clifford claims that the two had sex in Trump’s hotel room. At dinner, Trump reportedly told Clifford that he could “make [her appearing on The Apprentice] happen” (CBS; The Fixers, p. 72).  

  • McDougal claims that she also attended the Lake Tahoe golf tournament and had sex with Trump (The New Yorker). 

2007: Michael Cohen entered into employment as “an attorney and employee of a Manhattan-based real estate company,” the Trump Organization, under the titles “Executive Vice President” and “Special Counsel” to Trump (Cohen Criminal Information, p. 1). 

January 2007: According to McDougal, she attended a launch party for Trump Vodka in Los Angeles and sat at a table with “Kim Kardashian, Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Trump, Jr.’s wife, Vanessa, who was pregnant.” At another point (no date specified in source), McDougal claims she worked as a costumed Playboy bunny at a party hosted by Trump and took pictures together with him and his family (The New Yorker). 

April 2007: After nine months, McDougal reportedly ended her relationship with Trump. A friend of McDougal’s later claimed that “the breakup was prompted in part by McDougal’s feelings of guilt” (The New Yorker). 

Throughout 2007: According to a lawsuit Clifford filed against Trump in March 2018, their “intimate relationship” lasted “well into the year 2007” and “‘included, among other things, at least one ‘meeting’ with Mr. Trump’ at the Beverly Hills Hotel” (The Washington Post). 

July 2007: Trump asked Clifford to meet with him “privately at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles.” Clifford later claimed that “they did not have sex, but he wanted to” (PBS). 

August 2007: Trump reportedly called Clifford to tell her that he “[was not] able to get her a spot” on The Apprentice. According to Clifford, they did not meet again (PBS). 

2009 or 2010: Clifford and Trump had their last conversation, by Clifford’s account. According to Clifford, Trump called her after she appeared on television “and was like, ‘Hey, I just saw you on CNN’ or Fox or something… ‘You looked great. I love how you give it to ‘em’” (The Washington Post). 

May 2011: Clifford “agreed to tell her story to a sister publication of In Touch magazine [Life & Style] for $15,000.” At the magazine’s request, she and other witnesses reportedly took and passed polygraph exams about her alleged affair with Trump. Two employees of the magazine at the time later claimed that “the story never ran because after the magazine called Mr. Trump seeking comment, his attorney Michael Cohen threatened to sue.” Clifford has also claimed that she was never paid (60 Minutes; The Fixers, p. 121). 

May 2011: Weeks after the In Touch story was squashed, Clifford alleges she “was threatened by a man who approached her in Las Vegas.” Clifford claims that the man came up to her and said, “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story,” before looking at her daughter and saying, “That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom” (60 Minutes; CBS).  

October 2011:, a gossip site, published rumors about an extramarital affair between Clifford and Trump in July 2006 (Cohen Warrant, p. 39).

October 11, 2011: Clifford’s attorney, Keith Davidson, “sent a cease and desist letter to” and demanded that the site remove the article about Trump and Clifford (Cohen Warrant, p. 39).

October 12, 2011: Cohen denied the rumors about Trump and Clifford’s affair. He stated to E! News that, “[t]he totally untrue and ridiculous story… emanated from a sleazy and disgusting website… The Trump Organization and Donald J. Trump will be bringing a lawsuit… Trump and the Trump Organization would like to thank and commend Stormy Daniels and her attorneys for their honest and swift actions” (Cohen Warrant, p. 39).

March 18, 2015: Trump announced plans to form a presidential exploratory committee in advance of the 2016 election (POLITICO). 

June 16, 2015: Trump announced his bid for the presidency at his New York tower. At this time, Cohen “continued to work at the Company [the Trump Organization] and did not have a formal title with the campaign.” However, Cohen still “had a campaign email address and, at various times, advised the campaign, including on matters of interest to the press, and made televised and media appearances on behalf of the campaign” (The Guardian; Cohen Criminal Information, pp. 11-12).

In August 2015:  In a meeting reportedly arranged by Cohen, Trump met with Pecker and Cohen at Trump Tower in Manhattan (Trump has been identified in previous federal court filings as “at least one other member of the campaign” and as “Individual-1”). Pecker offered to “help with [Trump’s] campaign, saying that he would act as the ‘eyes and ears’ for the campaign by looking out for negative stories about [Trump] and alerting [Cohen] before the stories were published.” This early warning system was designed to “[assist] the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided.” During the meeting, Pecker also committed “to publish negative stories about [Trump’s] competitors for the election.” (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, p. 3; AMI Non-Prosecution Agreement, p. 4; Cohen Criminal Information, p. 12; Cohen Sentencing Memo, p. 12; The Fixers, pp. ix-xi, 317; The Wall Street Journal; CNN). The Enquirer ultimately published, during the primary season alone, “more than sixty stories attacking [Trump’s] opponents, the Clintons most of all, followed by Cruz” (The Fixers, p. 161). National Enquirer executives also allegedly shared pre-publication copies of articles and cover images related to Trump and his political opponents with Cohen throughout the campaign (The Washington Post).

In or about October or November 2015: Pecker “learned that a former Trump Tower doorman [Dino Sajudin]…was trying to sell information regarding a child that [Trump] had allegedly fathered out of wedlock.” Pecker subsequently directed AMI to negotiate and sign “an agreement to pay [Sajudin] $30,000 to acquire exclusive rights to the story” (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, pp. 3-4; The Fixers, pp. xi, 145). 

November 15, 2015: AMI reportedly “entered into a source agreement with Sajudin” whereby, as Pecker directed, Sajudin “would get paid $30,000 if the Enquirer published a story based on his information” (The Fixers, p. 146).

November 30, 2015: In a memo to Pecker, Dylan Howard, then the chief content officer at AMI, reportedly detailed his team’s efforts to confirm Sajudin’s story, which included having Sajudin take a polygraph examination. Two former AMI employees told The New Yorker that “they believed that Cohen was in close contact with A.M.I. executives while the company’s reporters were looking into Sajudin’s story, as Cohen had been during other investigations related to Trump. ‘Cohen was kept up to date on a regular basis,’ one source said” (The Fixers, p. 146; The New Yorker). 

Early December 2015: Sajudin reportedly completed the lie detector test that AMI had arranged for him. During the lie detector test, “Sajudin said that he’d heard Trump had fathered the child from other employees and from residents of Trump World Tower.” The private investigator who had conducted the test reported to the Enquirer that Sajudin was “being truthful.” Sajudin reportedly requested payment from the Enquirer immediately thereafter and stated that he would take his story elsewhere if they did not comply (The Fixers, pp. 146-7; The New Yorker).

Early December 2015: The Enquirer reportedly still saw credibility issues with Sajudin even after he passed the lie detector tests, so one of the paper’s reporters contacted Trump’s assistant to corroborate the story. Sometime following the call between the reporter and Trump’s assistant, Cohen found out about the story. He then contacted Howard and urged him not to move forward with publishing Sajudin’s account. Howard reportedly stated that “He is furious” to one of the other editors following his call with Cohen (The Fixers, pp. 146-7).

Early December 2015: AMI bought Sajudin’s story “without fully investigating his claims, but [Pecker] directed that the deal take place because of his agreement with[Trump and Cohen].” Specifically, an editor with the Enquirer, Barry Levine, instructed the company’s general counsel, Cameron Stracher, to draft a new source agreement whereby the Enquirer was to pay Sajudin $30,000 in full before publication. “In return for the $30,000, Sajudin agreed that he wouldn’t disclose his story or his agreement with [AMI] to any third parties. ‘In the event Source breaches this provision, Source shall be liable to AMI and shall pay to AMI…the sum of $1,000,000,’ the contract said.” (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, pp. 3-4; The Fixers, p. 148). 

Sometime after AMI paid Sajudin: Pecker “ordered the A.M.I. reporters to stop investigating” the veracity of Sajudin’s story. “[T]he story died” (The New Yorker; The Fixers, pp. 148).

Sometime after AMI paid Sajudin: “AMI falsely characterized this payment in AMI’s books and records, including in its general ledger…When AMI later concluded that the story was not true, [Pecker] wanted to release the Doorman from the agreement. However,[Cohen] instructed [Pecker] not to release the Doorman until after the presidential election, and [Pecker] complied with that instruction because of his agreement with [Trump and Cohen]” (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, pp. 3-4; The Fixers, p. xi).

February 1, 2016: Trump finished second in the Iowa caucuses, losing the first Republican state nominating contest to Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) (Reuters). 

March 1, 2016: Trump won seven of the eleven “Super Tuesday” states in the Republican primary (Reuters). 

April 2016: Clifford and her agent, Gina Rodriguez, attempted to sell Clifford’s story to media outlets for the second time. On April 7, after receiving rejections from other publications, Rodriguez reached out to Howard at AMI. Howard reportedly rejected the story for the same reason the others had: Clifford had previously publicly denied her involvement with Trump, calling affair rumors “bullshit” after the story surfaced in 2011 (The Fixers, pp. 123, 163).  

May 7, 2016: Carrie Stevens (a fellow former Playboy model and former friend of McDougal) tweeted, “I usually don’t get involved in politics but why Bill Clinton can’t [sic] get an extramarital BJ but @RealDonaldTrump can?” Soon after, Stevens sent another tweet with the hashtag “donaldlovesplaymates” and McDougal’s Twitter handle. At that point, McDougal reportedly realized that the story of her affair would likely become public as Trump’s presidential campaign continued and decided to meet with an attorney. She met with Keith Davidson, who was also (separately) representing Clifford at the time, in the hopes of asserting “control of the narrative.” According to their retainer agreement, Davidson was contracted to assist McDougal with selling her story about her “interactions with Donald Trump” and any “confidentiality agreements” arising out of it (The Fixers, pp. 162–163; Cohen Criminal Information, pp. 12-13). 

June 15, 2016: Davidson contacted Howard and attempted to sell McDougal’s story to The National Enquirer, an AMI publication. In accordance with their August 2015 agreement, Pecker and Howard called Cohen and alerted him to the story’s existence. Howard then “began negotiating for the purchase of the story” at “Cohen’s urging and subject to Cohen’s promise that AMI would be reimbursed” (AMI Non-Prosecution Agreement, p. 4; Cohen Criminal Information, pp. 12-13; The Fixers, p. 164). 

In or about June 2016:  After initially notifying Cohen about the story, Howard continued to regularly text and call Cohen with further updates. Trump “did not want this information to become public because he was concerned about the effect it could have on his candidacy.” Over multiple discussions, Trump and Cohen negotiated with Pecker about who would purchase McDougal’s story (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, p. 4).

June 20, 2016: Howard reportedly arranged a meeting in Los Angeles with McDougal, Davidson, and two of McDougal’s contacts, John Crawford and Jay Grdina. Howard interviewed McDougal about the alleged affair with Trump, but he “sensed her reluctance to come forward.” At one point, McDougal reportedly said, “I don’t want to be the next Monica Lewinsky.” McDougal had brought notes with dates and phone numbers related to the alleged affair, but Howard reportedly claimed that the story needed additional documentation to be worth more than $15,000. McDougal then “suggested that she might have some corroborating materials in a storage locker. She promised to look for them” (AMI Non-Prosecution Agreement, p. 4; The Fixers, p. 164).

June 20, 2016: Following the interview, Howard reportedly told Davidson he would update him on whether AMI intended to buy McDougal’s story by the end of the day. Davidson agreed to refrain from “shopping McDougal’s information to another outlet” in the meantime. After he left Davidson’s office, Howard joined “a three-way call with Pecker and Cohen.” The group reportedly agreed that AMI would not offer McDougal a deal yet (The Fixers, pp. 164–165).

Sometime between June 20 and June 27, 2016: Cohen reportedly informed Trump of McDougal’s meeting with Howard (The Fixers, p. 165). 

June 27, 2016: Trump reportedly called Pecker to ask whether he could bury McDougal’s story (The Fixers, p. 166). 

July 7, 2016: The lead investigative producer for ABC News, Rhonda Schwartz, reportedly met with McDougal, Davidson, and Grdina at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel for an all-day interview (The Fixers, p. 166).

Over several weeks following July 7, 2016: McDougal and Schwartz reportedly continued to meet. During this time, “ABC News entered into a confidentiality agreement with Davidson that barred the outlet from publicizing any of the information McDougal provided, unless or until she agreed to do the interview” (The Fixers, p. 166). 

Sometime after July 7, 2016: Davidson, likely hoping to secure a better deal for McDougal than the unpaid arrangement with ABC News, reportedly alerted Howard to a (phony) ABC News plan to air an interview with McDougal on primetime television. Sources claim that Howard passed the information along to Pecker, who alerted Cohen, who informed Trump (The Fixers, pp. 167–168).  

July 19, 2016: Trump won the official GOP presidential nomination with 1,237 delegates (NBC News). 

In or around June 2016:  After discussing AMI’s purchase of McDougal’s story with Trump and Cohen, Pecker signed off on the deal. He did so on the condition that “the Trump Organization would reimburse AMI” (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, p. 4).

July 29, 2016: Howard reportedly extended a loose offer to Davidson for McDougal’s story (The Fixers, p. 168). 

First week in August 2016: Davidson and AMI reportedly negotiated an agreement to purchase McDougal’s story (The Fixers, p. 168). 

On or around August 5, 2016: AMI entered into an agreement to acquire the “limited life rights” to the story of McDougal’s alleged affair with Trump for $150,000. AMI also committed to feature McDougal on “two magazine covers and publish over one hundred magazine articles authored by her. Despite the cover and article features to the agreement, its principal purpose, as understood by those involved, including [Cohen], was to suppress [McDougal’s] story so as to prevent it from influencing the election” (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, p. 4; Cohen Criminal Information, p. 13; AMI Non-Prosecution Agreement, p. 4; The Fixers, pp. 168, 192). 

On or around August 10, 2016: AMI sent $150,000 to Davidson “in cooperation, consultation, and concert with, and at the request and suggestion of one or more members or agents of a candidate’s 2016 presidential campaign, to ensure that a woman did not publicize damaging allegations about that candidate before the 2016 presidential election and thereby influence that election.” As court filings later revealed, “AMI falsely characterized this payment in AMI’s books and records, including in its general ledger. The AMI CEO agreed to the deal after discussing it with both [Trump] and [Cohen], and on the understanding from [Cohen] that [Trump] or the Trump Organization would reimburse AMI.” (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, p. 4; AMI Non-Prosecution Agreement, p. 4). 

August – October 2016: Clifford reportedly participated in talks with multiple outlets including Good Morning America and Slate for her account of the alleged Trump affair. Jacob Weisberg, editor of Slate, claimed to have spoken with Clifford several times during this period. Clifford reportedly told Weisberg that, using lawyers as intermediaries, “Trump had negotiated to buy her silence.” Weisberg claimed that Clifford also sent him photos of  “an unfinished draft contract in which pseudonyms had been used.” However, Clifford then reportedly “cut Weisberg off,” and he did not pursue the story ​​(The Fixers, p. 238; Slate; The New York Times; Cohen Warrant, p. 40). 

August 2016 – September 2016: Pecker agreed to assign the rights to the non-disclosure portion of AMI’s agreement with McDougal to Cohen in exchange for a $125,000 payment. During this period, Cohen also “incorporated a shell entity called ‘Resolution Consultants LLC’ for use in the transaction.” (Cohen Criminal information, pp. 13-14; AMI Non-Prosecution Agreement, p. 4).

September 2016:  In a recorded conversation (transcript), Trump and Cohen discussed reimbursing AMI for its purchase of McDougal’s story and obtaining the rights to the story from AMI. Cohen told Trump that he planned to open a company to facilitate this transfer and that he had discussed the matter with the Trump Organization CFO, Allen Weisselberg. In response to Cohen’s overview of the plan, Trump asked, “So what do we got to pay for this? One fifty?” Trump initially proposed paying AMI in cash, but after Cohen disagreed with that approach he mentioned paying by check (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, p. 5).

September 30, 2016: Following his discussions with Cohen, Pecker signed an assignment agreement “in which AMI agreed to transfer its rights to [McDougal’s] account to [Cohen’s] shell company for $125,000.” Pecker delivered the agreement to Cohen “along with an invoice from a shell corporation incorporated by the consultant [separate from Cohen’s shell entity] for the payment of $125,000, which falsely stated the payment was for an ‘agreed upon ‘flat fee’ for advisory services’” (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, p. 5; AMI Non-Prosecution Agreement, p. 5; Cohen Criminal information, pp. 13-14).

September 30, 2016: Resolution Consultants LLC was created in Delaware. Cohen reportedly used his own name for the corporate formation documents (The Fixers, p. 237). 

Early October 2016: Before Cohen had paid the$125,000 reimbursement, Pecker “consulted with AMI’s general counsel and then told [Cohen] that the deal to transfer the rights to [Cohen’s] shell company was off.” During the conversation with Cohen, Pecker told Cohen that he “should tear up the assignment agreement. [Cohen] did not tear up the agreement, which was later found during a judicially authorized search of his office” (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, p. 5; Cohen Criminal Information, pp. 13-14; see also AMI Non-Prosecution Agreement, p. 5). 

  • Additional detail from Cohen’s defense sentencing memo: “Michael himself did not make the payment to Woman-1 [McDougal] called for by the agreement reached between Corporation-1 [AMI] and Woman-1, but participated in planning discussions with Client-1 [Trump] and the Chairman and CEO of Corporation-1 relating to the payment made by Corporation-1, including obtaining the commitment of Client-1 to repay Corporation-1. As the matter unfolded, the contract was profitable for Corporation-1, and Client-1’s failure to reimburse Corporation-1 was ultimately not contested by Corporation-1” (Cohen Defense Sentencing Memo, pp. 18-19) (emphasis added)

October 7, 2016: The 2005 Access Hollywood tape of Trump saying “Grab ’em by the pussy” became public (The Washington Post).

October 8, 2016*: The very next day, Rodriguez, Davidson, and Howard reportedly began discussions about AMI purchasing Clifford’s story. They appear to have believed it was “more marketable [then] than it had been when Rodriguez first pitched Howard in April, before the Access Hollywood tape placed Trump’s treatment of women in the national spotlight” (The Fixers, p. 174).

*The timeline of events on October 8 is supplied primarily from two sources: The Fixers and Cohen’s search warrant. Each source provides information about the conversations that occurred between Trump, Cohen, Hicks, Pecker, Howard, Davidson, and Rodriguez. However, where The Fixers provides precise details about the contents of the conversations, it fails to include the precise times of those conversations. Cohen’s search warrant, conversely, provides precise details about the times of calls, but not their contents. In order not to mangle the timeline, we present the information below as it appears in the original sources. Where we were able to confirm facts in both sources, we have indicated so with an additional in-text citation.

October 8, 2016, Sourced from The Fixers (facts shown in the order they appeared)

  • Afternoon: Davidson texted Howard that “‘Trump is fucked.’” Howard responded, “‘Wave the white flag. It’s over people!’” (The Fixers, p. 174).
  • A few hours later in the afternoon: Davidson emailed Rodriguez, asking if she had “‘heard from [Clifford] lately?’” (The Fixers, p. 174).
  • Around 30 minutes later: Howard texted Rodriguez to follow up on her client, asking her “to send him a pitch so he could elevate it to his boss, [Pecker].” He added that  Pecker would “likely pay.” Rodriguez then emailed Howard the pitch, which included “a brief description of her client’s [Clifford’s] claims” (The Fixers, p. 174).
  • After 7:20 pm ET: “Cohen had a conference call with Hicks and Trump, followed by a call with Hicks alone. Hicks had heard from another campaign aide” that there was another tape, “this one of Trump cavorting with prostitutes in Moscow during a trip there for the Miss Universe pageant in 2013. Hicks had been told that TMZ might have access to the tape, and she knew that Cohen was very close to Harvey Levin, the gossip outlet’s founder. Hicks asked Cohen to let her know if he heard anything from Levin. She also impressed on him … that the campaign’s messaging was that Trump’s remarks on the Access Hollywood were merely ‘locker room talk’” (The Fixers, p. 175; see also Cohen Warrant, p. 41).
  • After Cohen’s call with Hicks: “Cohen, Pecker, and Howard exchanged a series of calls after Cohen got off the phone with Hicks. Cohen lobbied Pecker to buy Daniels’s [Clifford’s] story.” During these calls, Cohen sought to convince Pecker to purchase and not publish the story, as he had done with McDougal’s account in a practice known as “catch-and-kill” (The Fixers, p. 175).
  • Less than an hour after Rodriguez sent her pitch of Clifford’s story to Howard: Howard texted Rodriguez: “‘How much for [Clifford]?’” She replied “‘250k,’” and they negotiated it down to “‘120.’” Howard then told Rodriguez that “he’d be back in touch by the following morning” (The Fixers, pp. 175–176). 
  • “Minutes after signing off with Rodriguez”: Howard texted Pecker: “Woman wants 120k” and Pecker replied “‘We can’t pay 120k.’” Howard then said “‘Ok. They’d need to handle. Perhaps I call Michael and advise him and he can take it from there, and handle.’” Pecker responded, “‘Yes good idea’” (The Fixers, p. 176).
  • After AMI decided not to purchase Clifford’s story: Howard and Davidson communicated. Howard agreed “to contact Cohen (again) to vouch for Davidson.” This was because Davidson was anxious about negotiating with Cohen after a previously tense interaction in September. Howard and Cohen communicated again. Howard told Cohen, “‘Be nice’” to Davidson. Howard then texted Pecker “to let him know that Cohen had agreed to handle the story and leave American Media out of it.” He continued: “‘Spoke to MC. All sorted. Now removed. No fingerprints. I’ll recap with you face to face.’” Pecker replied “‘Great work Thx’” (The Fixers, p. 177).
  • 9:13 pm GMT: Howard texted Cohen “‘Keith will do it. Let’s reconvene tomorrow’”  (The Fixers, p. 177; see also Cohen Warrant, p. 42).
  • “Past 2 [am]” GMT: Cohen texted Howard, “Thank you.” A few minutes later he sent another text to Howard with “the name of his shell company, Resolution Consultants” (The Fixers, p. 177).

October 8, 2016, Sourced from Cohen Warrant

  • 7:20 pm: “At approximately 7:20 p.m., Cohen received a call from [Hope] Hicks. Sixteen seconds into the call, Trump joined the call, and the call continued for over four minutes.” Based on toll records, “this was the first call Cohen had received or made to Hicks in at least multiple weeks” (Cohen Warrant, p. 41; see also The Fixers, p. 175).
  • About 7:34 pm: “Approximately ten minutes after the [7:20 pm ET] call ended, Hicks and Cohen spoke again for about two minutes” (Cohen Warrant, p. 42; see also The Fixers, p. 175).
    • At some point during the 7:20 pm and 7:34 pm calls (no distinction is made between them in The Fixers), Hicks and Cohen communicated about a rumor that “Hicks had heard from another campaign aid” that there was another tape, “this one of Trump cavorting with prostitutes in Moscow during a trip there for the Miss Universe pageant in 2013. Hicks had been told that TMZ might have access to the tape, and she knew that Cohen was very close to Harvey Levin, the outlet’s founder. Hicks asked Cohen to let her know if he heard anything from Levin. She also impressed on him… that the campaign’s messaging was that Trump’s remarks on the Access Hollywood tape were merely ‘locker room talk’” (The Fixers, p. 175).)
  • At 7:39 pm (immediately after the Hicks-Cohen call ends): Cohen called Pecker for 30 seconds (Cohen Warrant, p. 42).
  • Approximately 4 minutes later (about 7:43 pm): Cohen called Pecker again, and they spoke “for more than a minute” (Cohen Warrant, p. 42).
  • 3 minutes after the Cohen-Pecker call ends (about 7:47 pm): Howard called Cohen. They spoke “for approximately a minute” (Cohen Warrant, p. 42).
  • 7:56 pm: Cohen called Hicks for 2 minutes (Cohen Warrant, p. 42).
  • 7:57 pm: Pecker called Cohen for 2 minutes (Cohen Warrant, p. 42).*
  • 8:03 pm: Cohen called Trump for nearly 8 minutes (Cohen Warrant, p. 42).
  • 8:39 pm: Howard called Cohen for 4 minutes (Cohen Warrant, p. 42).
  • 8:57 pm: Howard called Cohen for 6 minutes (Cohen Warrant, p. 42).
  • 9:13 pm: Howard texted Cohen “‘Keith will do it. Let’s reconvene tomorrow’” (Cohen Warrant, p. 42; see also The Fixers, p. 177).

*The search warrant states: “At 7:56 p.m., approximately eight minutes after his call with Howard ended, Cohen called Hicks and they connected for two minutes. At approximately the same time this call ended, Cohen received a call from Pecker, and they spoke for two minutes. At 8:03 p.m., about three minutes after ending his call with Pecker, Cohen called Trump, and they spoke for nearly eight minutes.” The call records show the Pecker phone call began at 7:57 p.m.

October 9, 2016

  • At some point this day: Rodriguez reportedly told “Howard that she had another offer for [Clifford’s] story, this one for $200,000, a lie meant to prod the deal along” (The Fixers, p. 177). 
  • 3:31 am: Cohen texted Howard: “‘Thank you’” (Cohen Warrant, p. 43). 
  • 3:39 am: Howard texted Cohen and Davidson: “‘Resolution Consultants LLC. is the name of the entity I formed a week ago. Whenever you wake, please call my cell’” (Cohen Warrant, p. 43). 

October 10, 2016: “[Cohen] negotiated a deal with [Davidson] to secure [Clifford’s] silence and prevent disclosure of the damaging information in the final weeks before the presidential election. Under the deal that [Davidson] negotiated, [Clifford] would be paid $130,000 for the rights to her account” (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, p. 6).

  • 10:58 am: Howard texted Cohen and Davidson: “Keith/Michael: connecting you both in regards to that business opportunity. Spoke to the client this AM and they’re confirmed to proceed with the opportunity. Thanks. Dylan. Over to you two” (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, p. 6; Cohen Warrant, p. 43). 
    • Howard also reportedly “checked in with Rodriguez” (The Fixers, p. 177).
  • 12:25 pm: Davidson texted Cohen: “Michael – if we are ever going to close this deal – In my opinion, it needs to be today. Keith” (Cohen Warrant, p. 43).
  • Immediately after: Cohen and Davidson spoke on the phone for 3 minutes (Cohen Warrant, p. 43).
    • During this call, Cohen and Davidson reportedly negotiated the price point for the story: “Cohen wanted to buy the story, but he balked at [Clifford’s] six-figure demand… Davidson said $130,000 was as low as Rodriguez and [Clifford] were willing to go.” Davidson cited a competing offer, which didn’t actually exist (The Fixers, pp. 177-178). 
  • On or about October 10, 2016: Davidson and Clifford signed a “side letter agreement” to a “confidential settlement agreement and mutual release” signed under two pseudonyms: “Peggy Peterson” and “David Dennison.” The side letter agreement provided the “true name and identity” of the signatories, but only Peterson was identified in the document (as Clifford); the Dennison identifier and associated signature lines were left blank. A federal investigator later hypothesized that “Davidson sent Cohen this partially-signed ‘side letter’ in order to facilitate the closing of a deal between Davidson’s client and Cohen or Cohen’s client” (Cohen Warrant, pp. 43-44). 

Between October 10 and October 28, 2016: During a meeting in Trump’s office, Trump allegedly told Cohen “that he had spoken to a couple of friends, and it is 130,000, it is not a lot of money, and we should just do it, so go ahead and do it.” Trump then reportedly directed Cohen and Weisselberg (who Cohen later testified was also present in the meeting) to “go back to Mr. Weisselberg’s office and figure this all out” (Cohen Testimony, p. 38; see also Cohen Testimony, p. 26). 

At some point between October 10, 2016 and October 27, 2016: “[Trump] directed [Cohen] to delay making a payment to [Clifford] as long as possible. He instructed [Cohen] that if they could delay the payment until after the election, they could avoid paying altogether, because at that point it would not matter if the story became public. As reflected in emails and text messages between and among [Cohen], [Davidson], and [Howard], [Cohen] attempted to delay making payment as long as possible” (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, p. 6).

October 13, 2016: Cohen began taking “steps to complete a transaction with Davidson, including attempting to open an account from which Cohen could transfer funds to Davidson” (Cohen Warrant, p. 44). 

  • 8:54 a.m.: Cohen texted Pecker “I need to talk to you.” (Cohen Warrant, p. 44). 
  • 9:06 a.m.: Pecker texted Cohen: “I called please call me back.” After this message, Pecker and Cohen appear to have moved their communications onto Signal (Cohen Warrant, p. 44). 
  • 9:23 am: Cohen emailed a set of documents “from the Secretary of State of Delaware indicating that Cohen had formed a limited liability company called ‘Resolution Consultants LLC’ on September 30, 2016” to a First Republic Bank employee. The body of the email asked the employee to “call me” (Cohen Warrant, p. 45). 
  • 10:44 am: Cohen called the First Republic employee and told him “that he needed an account in the name of ‘Resolution Consultants’ opened immediately.” The account was never opened, however, because Cohen failed to complete the requisite paperwork (Cohen Warrant, p. 45). 

October 17, 2016: Cohen reportedly dissolved Resolution Consultants and set up a new company, Essential Consultants L.L.C., two minutes later. It appears that Cohen used the same registered agent in Delaware for both companies (The New York Times; The Fixers, p. 237). 

  • That afternoon, The Wall Street Journal editor Ashby Jones reportedly shared a tip he had received on the hush money payments. Per Jones, a “Los Angeles lawyer with the initials K.D.—the source didn’t want to volunteer more—was traversing the country, paying hush money to women who’d been romantically involved with Donald Trump” (The Fixers, p. 188). 
  • At some point on this day: “Davidson emailed Cohen and threatened to cancel the… ‘settlement agreement’ by the end of the day if Cohen did not complete the transaction.” Davidson followed that up with “a second email later in the day that stated in part, ‘Please be advised that my client deems her settlement agreement canceled and void’” (Cohen Warrant, p. 45-46).
  • 4:00 p.m.: Cohen called Davidson. They “spoke for over five minutes” (Cohen Warrant, p. 46).
  • 4:43 p.m.: Howard texted Cohen: “‘I’m told they’re going with DailyMail. Are you aware?’ One minute later, Cohen responded: ‘Call me.’” (Cohen Warrant, p. 46).

October 18, 2016: A “thinly sourced article” posted on The Smoking Gun website reported the alleged affair between Clifford and Trump. The story received scant attention from mainstream media; Clifford did not respond publicly (The Washington Post). 

October 25, 2016: Cohen, Davidson, Howard, and Pecker had several text exchanges and calls “apparently concerning a transaction involving Clifford”  (Cohen Warrant, p. 47)  

  • 6:09 p.m.: “Howard sent Cohen a text message stating: ‘Keith calling you urgently. We have to coordinate something on the matter he’s calling you about or its [sic] could look awfully bad for everyone.’ One minute later, Davidson sent Cohen a text message stating ‘Call me.’ Cohen and Davidson called each other several times over the next half hour but appear not to have connected” (Cohen Warrant, p. 47) 
  • 6:42 p.m.: “Cohen and Davidson spoke for about eight minutes”  (Cohen Warrant, p. 47). 
  • 7:11 p.m. Cohen and Davidson “spoke for another two minutes” (Cohen Warrant, p. 47; see also Cohen Criminal Information, pp. 14-15).

At some point before October 26, 2016: “Ultimately, with pressure mounting and the election approaching, [Trump] agreed to the payoff and directed [Cohen] to proceed. [Cohen] discussed the deal with [Trump and Weisselberg]. [Trump] did not want to make the $130,000 payment himself, and asked [Cohen] and [Weisselberg] to find a way to make the payment. After discussing various payment options with [Weisselberg], [Cohen] agreed he would make the payment. Before making the payment, [Cohen] confirmed with [Trump] that [Trump] would pay him back” (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, p. 6).

October 26, 2016: “[S]hortly after speaking with [Trump] on the phone, [Cohen] opened a bank account in Manhattan in the name of Essential Consultants LLC, a new shell company he had created to effectuate the payment. He then transferred $131,000 from his personal home equity line of credit (‘HELOC’) into that account” (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, p. 7).

  • 8:26 a.m.: “Cohen called Trump and spoke to him for approximately three minutes” (Cohen Warrant, p. 47)
  • 8:34 a.m.: “Cohen called Trump again and connected for a minute and a half” (Cohen Warrant, p. 47)
  • 9:04 a.m.: Cohen “emailed an incorporating service to obtain the corporate formation documents” for Essential Consultants LLC (Cohen Warrant, p. 47-48; Cohen Criminal Information, p. 15). 
  • Between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.: Cohen opened an account for Essential Consultants LLC at the First Republic Bank in Manhattan. After opening the account, Cohen “drew down $131,000 from the fraudulently obtained HELOC [home equity line of credit, also held by Cohen at First Republic Bank],” and requested that it be deposited into the Essential Consultants account he had just opened (Cohen Warrant, p. 48; Cohen Criminal Information, p. 15). 
  • 4:15 p.m.: A First Republic Bank employee confirmed that “the funds had been deposited into the Essential Consultants account” (Cohen Warrant, p. 49).

October 27, 2016: At around 10:01 a.m., Cohen “completed paperwork to wire $130,000 from the Essential Consultants account” to Davidson’s attorney-client trust account at City National Bank in Los Angeles. On the paperwork, Cohen “falsely indicated that the ‘purpose of wire being sent’ was ‘retainer.’” This payment amounted to a contribution to the Trump campaign “in excess of the limits of the Election Act, which aggregated $25,000 and more in calendar year 2016” since it was made “in cooperation, consultation, and concert with, and at the request and suggestion of one or more members of the campaign…to ensure that she [Clifford] did not publicize damaging allegations before the 2016 presidential election and thereby influence that election” (Cohen Warrant, p. 50; The New York Times; Cohen Criminal Information, p. 15, p. 19).

October 28, 2016: Cohen reportedly called Trump and updated him on the situation. The same day, Cohen and Clifford reportedly signed “a contract that effectively promise[d] Ms. Clifford money in exchange for not talking about the alleged affair with Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump’s name [did] not technically appear on the document.” (The Fixers, p. 183; The New York Times). 

November 1, 2016: Davidson sent Cohen “copies of the final, signed confidential settlement agreement and side letter agreement.” After he confirmed delivery of the paperwork, Davidson reportedly “wired the money to [Clifford’s] account” (Cohen Criminal Information, p. 15; The Fixers, p. 183). 

  • 7:05 p.m.: Cohen called Trump but “it appears they did not connect. Cohen then called a telephone number belonging to Kellyanne Conway, who at the time was Trump’s campaign manager. They did not connect.” (Cohen Warrant, p. 52).
  • 7:44pm: Conway returned Cohen’s call. They spoke for “approximately six minutes” (Cohen Warrant, p. 52).

November 4, 2016: Four days before the general election, The Wall Street Journal published an article about the $150,000 hush money deal between McDougal and AMI. The article referenced Clifford only briefly, “reporting that she was considering sharing her story with ABC News but abruptly disappeared on the network before doing so” (The New York Times; The Wall Street Journal). 

  • Between 4:30 and 8:00 p.m.: “Cohen communicated several times with Howard, Pecker, and Davidson” (Cohen Warrant, p. 53).
  • 8:51 p.m.: “Cohen sent Howard a message, stating: ‘She’s [McDougal] being really difficult with giving Keith a statement. Basically went into hiding and unreachable.’ One minute later, Howard responded: ‘I’ll ask him again. We just need her to disappear.’ Cohen responded, ‘She definitely disappeared but refused to give a statement and Keith cannot push her.’ ” (Cohen Warrant, p. 53).
  • 8:55 p.m.: “Howard responded to Cohen’s text: ‘Let’s let the dust settle. We don’t want to push her over the edge. She’s on side [sic] at present and we have a solid position and a plausible position that she is rightfully employed as a columnist’” (Cohen Warrant, p. 53). 

November 8, 2016: Trump and Pence were elected president and vice president of the United States (NBC News). 

December 2016: Pecker met with Trump “privately in Trump Tower in Manhattan.” During their conversation, Trump “thanked [Pecker] for handling the stories of [Sajudin] and [McDougal], and invited [Pecker] to the Inauguration.” Before the meeting, Cohen reportedly asked Pecker “to urge Trump to pay Cohen more money,” especially given that Trump “hadn’t yet repaid his fixer for the Stormy Daniels deal.” Pecker apparently so urged Trump, but “Trump was unmoved. ‘You don’t know how much money he’s got,’ Trump said” (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, pp. 7; The Fixers, p. 197). 

January 20, 2017: Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, pp. 7-8).

January 2017: Cohen and Weisselberg “met to discuss how [Cohen] would be reimbursed for the money he paid to ensure [Clifford’s] silence,” which later court filings characterized as “seeking reimbursement for election-related expenses.” Weisselberg asked Cohen to come to the meeting with “a copy of a bank statement for the Essential Consultants account showing the $130,000 payment.” Accordingly, Cohen presented Weisselberg with said statement reflecting the $130,000 payment made to keep Clifford “silent in advance of the election, plus a $35 wire fee.” In handwriting, Cohen added another $50,000 onto the statement as a “claimed payment for ‘tech services,’…related to work [he] had solicited from a technology company during and in connection with the campaign.” Weisselberg “grossed up” that initial $180,035 reimbursement request to $360,000 “so that [Cohen] could characterize the payment as income on his tax returns, instead of a reimbursement.” Cohen “would be left with $180,000 after paying approximately 50% in income taxes.” On top of the now $360,000 payment, Weisselberg “added an additional $60,000 as a supplemental year-end bonus,” bringing the total payment to $420,000. Weisselberg “memorialized these calculations in handwritten notes on the copy of the bank statement that [Cohen] had provided.” After finalizing the payment amount, Trump, Weisselberg, and Cohen “then agreed that [Cohen] would be paid the $420,000 through twelve monthly payments of $35,000 over the course of 2017. Each month, [Cohen] was to send an invoice to [Trump] through Trump Organization employees, falsely requesting payment of $35,000 for legal services rendered in a given month of 2017 pursuant to a retainer agreement. At no point did [Cohen] have a retainer agreement with [Trump] or the Trump Organization” (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, pp. 7-8; Cohen Criminal Information, pp. 16-17; PBS and USA Today).

  • In Cohen’s book (which is not otherwise cited in this chronology), he states:

“When we sat down, [Weisselberg] he started to explain how Trump was going to make me “whole” on the Daniels payment. First, the $130,000 would be doubled, grossed up as he described it, to make up for the taxes I would have to pay on that money, meaning the starting sum would be $260,000.” (Cohen Memoir p. 298) 

“‘So that’s two-sixty, plus the hundred, and the Boss wants to do another sixty, to make the total four-twenty,’ Allen said.” (Cohen Memoir p. 299)

“’So here’s what we’ll do,’ [Trump] he said. ‘We’ll use the number Allen came up with. What’s the number again?’ 

‘Four hundred and twenty thousand,’ I said. 

‘Wow, that’s a lot,’ he said. ‘We can use this as a retainer for the work you will be doing for me privately. Allen, you can pay Michael $35,000 for each month of the year. Michael, you will send Allen an invoice each month. This is okay with you, right?’

‘Sure, Boss,’ I said. ‘I’m really honored.’” (Cohen

Memoir p. 301)

“He’d get the tax deduction for legal fees, almost certainly a criminal offense if any mortal lied on their tax returns about a business expense of nearly half a million dollars, a reality that I would come to understand in time.” (Cohen Memoir p. 302)

“As I thought about the arrangement, Trump was actually making money on the deal, by way of his tax cheat, and he had my legal services free for the year.” (Cohen Memoir p. 302)

January 2017: Cohen left the Trump Organization and “began holding himself out” as Trump’s personal attorney (Cohen Criminal Information, p. 1). 

January 2017: During another visit to Trump Tower, Trump allegedly thanked Pecker for “buying [McDougal’s] story and burying it” (The Fixers, p. 197). 

Early February 2017: Trump and Cohen “met in the Oval Office at the White House and confirmed this repayment arrangement” (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, p. 8).

February 14, 2017: Cohen “emailed the Controller of the Trump Organization [Jeffrey McConney] the first monthly invoice, which stated: ‘Pursuant to the retainer agreement, kindly remit payment for services rendered for the months of January and February, 2017.’ The invoice requested payment in the amount of $35,000 for each of those two months. [Weisselberg] approved the payment, and, in turn, [McConney] sent the invoice to the Trump Organization Accounts Payable Supervisor [Deborah Tarasoff] with the following instructions: ‘Please pay from the Trust. Post to legal expenses. Put ‘retainer for the months of January and February 2017’ in the description.’ Accordingly, the Supervisor “printed out [the] invoice and marked it with an accounts payable stamp and the general ledger code ‘51505’ for legal expenses. The Trump Organization maintained [the invoice] as records of expenses paid.” The Supervisor then “recorded [the] payment in the Trump Organization’s electronic accounting system, falsely describing it as a ‘legal expense’ pursuant to a retainer agreement for a month of 2017.” Later court filings note that “[i]n truth and fact, there was no such retainer agreement” and Cohen’s invoices “were not in connection with any legal services he had provided in 2017.” The Trump Organization “maintained a digital entry for [the] expense, called a ‘voucher,’” which “like vouchers for other expenses, became part of the Trump Organization’s general ledgers.” Having taken these steps, the Supervisor then prepared a check with an attached check stub “for approval and signature.” The first check to Cohen for $70,000 was reportedly signed the same day by Weisselberg and Donald Trump Jr. “as trustees. The check stub falsely recorded the payment as ‘Retainer for 1/1-1/31/17’ and ‘Retainer for 2/1-2/28/17.’ (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, pp. 8-9; Cohen Criminal Information, p. 17; The Fixers, pp. 209–210; POLITICO; The New York Times; CNN; ABC News). 

March – December, 2017: Cohen “submitted ten similar monthly invoices by email to the Trump Organization for the remaining months in 2017. Each invoice falsely stated that it was being submitted ‘[p]ursuant to the retainer agreement,’ and falsely requested ‘payment for services rendered’ for a month of 2017.” As was the case for the January – February 2017 invoice, there “was no such retainer agreement and [Cohen] was not being paid for services rendered in any month of 2017.” Upon receipt of each invoice, McConney forwarded them to the Trump Organization Accounts Payable Supervisor, who followed the same process outlined in the entry above to record and pay the expenses (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, pp. 8-9). 

March 17, 2017: Donald Trump Jr. and Weisselberg signed a $35,000 check to Cohen that “was also paid from the Trust.” As for the prior month’s payment, “The check stub falsely recorded the payment as ‘Retainer for 3/1-3/31/17’” (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, p. 9; The New York Times). 

April 2017:  “The remaining nine checks, corresponding to the months of April through December of 2017, were paid by [Trump] personally. Each of the checks was cut from [Trump’s] bank account and sent, along with the corresponding invoices from [Cohen], from the Trump Organization in New York County to [Trump] in Washington, D.C. The checks and stubs bearing the false statements were stapled to the invoices also bearing false statements. [Trump] signed each of the checks personally and had them sent back to the Trump Organization in New York County. There, the checks, the stubs, and the invoices were scanned and maintained in the Trump Organization’s data system before the checks themselves were detached and mailed to [Cohen] for payment” (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, pp. 9-10).

May 23, 2017: Trump himself signed a $35,000 dollar check to Cohen from his personal account. Trump ultimately signed six of the publicly available checks to Cohen, though later court filings revealed that he signed nine checks in total (The New York Times; Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, pp. 9-10). 

Summer 2017: Trump “invited [Pecker] to White House for a dinner to thank him for his help during the campaign” (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, pp. 7).

June 2017: Trump personally paid and signed a check to Cohen (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, pp. 9-10)

July 2017: Trump personally paid and signed a check to Cohen (Manhattan DA Statement of Facts, pp. 9-10)

August 1, 2017: Trump personally paid and signed a $35,000 dollar check to Cohen, which later became public (The New York Times). 

September 12, 2017: Trump personally paid and signed a $35,000 dollar check to Cohen, which later became public (The New York Times). 

October 18, 2017: Trump personally paid and signed a $35,000 dollar check to Cohen, which later became public (The New York Times).

October 20, 2017: The DOJ granted special counsel Robert Mueller “authorization to investigate Cohen, among others, and to follow leads related to his creation and use of Essential Consultants” as Mueller deepened his investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia (The Fixers, p. 221).  

Circa Late October 2017: Davidson claims to have received “an unusual inquiry” from a client manager at his bank in Los Angeles asking about the source and purpose of the wire transfer he had made to Clifford the previous year. In response, Davidson reportedly “told the bank that the payment had originated with Essential Consultants, and that it was for a legal settlement.” He then reportedly called Cohen to report the conversation. Cohen was reportedly “concerned that someone pretending to be a bank employee had tried to get Davidson to divulge the nondisclosure agreement” but “didn’t seem to grasp the potential peril” that the Mueller investigation was behind the inquiry. Cohen allegedly “did, however, secretly record their phone call” (The Fixers, p. 221).  

November 21, 2017: Trump personally paid and signed a $35,000 dollar check to Cohen, which later became public(The New York Times). 

December 5, 2017: Trump personally paid and signed the final $35,000 dollar check to Cohen, which later became public (The New York Times). 

January 12, 2018: News broke that Cohen had allegedly arranged a deal to pay Clifford $130,000 to keep her silent during the 2016 campaign. In response, Cohen released a statement addressed to The Wall Street Journal claiming, “These rumors have circulated time and again since 2011. President Trump once again vehemently denies any such occurrence as has Ms. Daniels.” Cohen also forwarded The Journal a two-paragraph statement signed by “Stormy Daniels”  denying the affair. A White House official separately stated, “These are old, recycled reports, which were published and strongly denied before the election” (The Wall Street Journal; The New York Times; see also The New York Times). 

January 17, 2018: In Touch published the transcript of its previously-quashed 2011 interview with Clifford (The Washington Post). 

January 18, 2018: The Wall Street Journal reported that Cohen had used “a private Delaware company,” Essential Consultants LLC, to make the $130,000 payment to Clifford (The Wall Street Journal).   

January 22, 2018: Government watchdog organization Common Cause filed an FEC complaint alleging that Cohen’s payment to Clifford had violated campaign finance laws. (Cohen Warrant, p. 55). 

January 30, 2018: During an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Clifford neither confirmed nor denied her alleged affair with Trump and “strongly hint[ed] that she is subject to an NDA.”  Hours before Clifford’s interview, Davidson reportedly drafted a second denial statement at the behest of “Cohen and company.” The statement reportedly asserted that Clifford was not denying the affair “because [she] was paid ‘hush money,’” but because “it never happened.” Clifford allegedly signed the document “without complaint,” but changed her handwriting “as if in subtle protest.” When Kimmel questioned whether Clifford had actually signed the denial, she responded, “‘I don’t know, did I? That doesn’t look like my signature, does it?’” (The Washington Post; The Fixers, p. 242-243). 

February 8, 2018: In response to an inquiry from the FEC, one of Cohen’s attorneys sent a letter stating, “In a private transaction in 2016, before the U.S. presidential election, Mr. Cohen used his own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms. Stephanie Clifford. Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed Mr. Cohen for the payment directly or indirectly.” (Letter to the FEC Office of Complaints Examination).

February 13, 2018: In a statement to The New York Times, Cohen claimed that “Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford. The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or campaign expenditure by anyone” (Cohen Warrant, p. 56). 

On or about February 14, 2018: The New York Times asked Cohen “whether Trump had reimbursed him, whether he and Trump had made any arrangements at the time of the payment, or whether he had made payments to other women. Cohen stated in response, ‘I can’t get into any of that’” (Cohen Warrant, p. 56).  

February 15, 2018: Likely believing that Cohen’s comments to The New York Times had nullified her NDA, Clifford’s agent told AP News that “Everything is off now, and Stormy is going to tell her story” (AP News).

February 16, 2018: The New Yorker published a story featuring details of McDougal’s alleged affair with Trump based on “an eight-page, handwritten document” created by McDougal and provided to the magazine by Crawford. McDougal granted an interview for the piece but “expressed surprise” that the magazine had obtained her notes. During her interview, McDougal “declined to discuss her relationship with Trump for fear of violating the agreement she had reached with [AMI].” In an email to AMI’s general counsel soon after the article dropped, McDougal’s lawyer reportedly asserted that while “McDougal was not contractually required to keep quiet,” her client would “consider entering into a fresh nondisclosure agreement if [AMI] was willing to pay her more money. If not, she’d grant more interviews” (The New Yorker; The Fixers, pp. 248–250).  

February 22, 2018: Cohen reportedly initiated secret arbitration proceedings following Clifford’s media engagements (The Fixers, p. 251). 

February 27, 2018: An arbitrator reportedly “found that Ms. Clifford had violated the [NDA] agreement” and issued a restraining order against Clifford (The New York Times). 

March 6, 2018: Clifford filed a lawsuit “asserting that the nondisclosure agreement that accompanied the $130,000 was void because Mr. Trump never signed it.” The complaint revealed the arbitration proceedings Cohen had initiated in an effort to silence Clifford, as well as the terms of the contract Clifford had signed on October 28, 2016 (The New York Times).

March 7, 2018: Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, asserted that “there was no knowledge of any payments from the president” and “he has denied all these allegations.” The same day, Clifford’s attorney, Michael Avenatti (who had replaced Davidson at this point), publicly and explicitly asserted “that [Clifford] had a sexual relationship with Trump” (The New York Times; The Washington Post). 

March 9, 2018: Avanetti provided ABC News with a set of emails that he claimed contained communications between Cohen and First Republic Bank surrounding the 2016 payment to Davidson, who was still Clifford’s attorney at the time. NBC News separately broke the news that Cohen had used his Trump Organization email for the exchange. Cohen responded by downplaying the emails as “corroborat[ing] all my previous statements.” He went on to describe how the payment was made, stating, “The funds were taken from my home equity line and transferred internally to my L.L.C. account in the same bank.” Cohen also brushed aside the revelation that he had used his Trump Organization email to coordinate the transaction, stating “I sent emails from the Trump Org email address to my family, friends as well as Trump business emails. I basically used it for everything. I am certain most people can relate.” (ABC News; NBC).  

March 14, 2018: The Wall Street Journal published a story highlighting the role that Jill Martin, the Trump Organization’s assistant general counsel, played in the arbitration at the request of Eric Trump. Per the Journal’s article, Avenatti supplied the outlet with documents Martin had signed, “for the first time [tying] President Donald Trump’s flagship holding company to the continuing effort to silence [Clifford]” (The Fixers, pp. 263–265; The Wall Street Journal). 

March 16, 2018: Trump sought “$20 million in damages from [Clifford] for allegedly [breaking the] nondisclosure agreement 20 times. A lawyer for Cohen’s limited liability company, Essential Consultants, made the claim in papers filed in federal court” (The Washington Post).  

Mid-March 2018: Two weeks after Clifford sued Trump and Essential Consultants, McDougal reportedly brought “a case against [AMI] in the same Los Angeles court” (The Fixers, p. 268). 

March 25, 2018: Clifford was interviewed on 60 Minutes (60 Minutes).  

March 26, 2018: Clifford amended her lawsuit against both Trump and Cohen to sue Cohen for defamation, which she claimed had occurred when Cohen put out his February 2018 statement about the $130,000 payment. The lawsuit argued that Cohen’s statement had caused Clifford “hatred, contempt, ridicule, and shame, and discouraged others from associating or dealing with her” and that she “ha[d] suffered damages in an amount to be proven at trial according to proof, including but not limited to, harm to her reputation, emotional harm, exposure to contempt, ridicule, and shame, and physical threats of violence to her person and life” (NPR).  

April 5, 2018: Trump delivered his first public remarks about the alleged Clifford affair and ensuing hush money payment. When asked by a reporter if he knew about the payment to  Clifford, Trump responded “No.” In response to another question asking why Cohen had made the payment, Trump answered “You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney.” Trump also claimed that he did not know the source of the money for the payment (The New York Times). 

April 9, 2018: As part of a probe by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, the FBI raided Cohen’s Rockefeller Center office, Park Avenue hotel room, and home. Federal investigators reportedly seized eight boxes of documents and millions of electronic files including business records, emails, and bank records related to a payment to Clifford from Cohen’s office, among other matters. Cohen called Trump that day to inform him of the raid. “In a return call, Trump told [Cohen] to ‘stay strong’” (Manhattan DA’s Statement of Facts, p. 10; The New York Times; The Fixers, p. 286).  

April 15, 2018: Reports became public that the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan was investigating possible bank fraud in connection with Cohen’s payment to Clifford, which he had made using his home-equity credit line (The Wall Street Journal)

Mid-April 2018: Robert “Bob” Costello offered to represent Cohen after Costello’s law partner, Jeffrey Citron, connected Costello with Cohen. Citron and Cohen reportedly knew each other through their children, who attended the same school (The Fixers, p. 289; Manhattan DA’s Statement of Facts, p. 10).

April 17, 2018: Clifford and her attorney released a composite sketch of the man she claimed had threatened her in a Las Vegas parking lot. Clifford’s attorney offered a $100,000 reward for information that would lead to the man’s apprehension (The Washington Post). 

April 18, 2018: AMI reached a settlement agreement with McDougal, freeing McDougal to publicly discuss her alleged affair with Trump. McDougal’s original suit claimed that she had been misled into signing the contract that sold AMI the rights to her story about Trump; the suit also alleged that Cohen had been secretly involved in the negotiations between AMI and McDougal’s lawyer. The settlement agreement foreclosed the possibility of pretrial discovery, which could have revealed emails and other evidence beyond what was found in the FBI’s April 9 raid (The New York Times). 

April 21, 2018: Early in the morning, Costello sent the following email to Cohen summarizing a phone call Costello had with Giuliani: “I just spoke to Rudy Giuliani and told him I was on your team. Rudy was thrilled and said this could not be a better situation for the President or you. He asked me if it was ok to call the President and Jay Sekelow [sic] and I said fine. We discussed the facts, Jay Goldberg’s stupid remarks etc. he said I can’t tell you how pleased I am that I can work with someone I know and trust. He asked me to tell you that he knows how tough this is on you and your family and he will make sue [sic] to tell the President. He said thank you for opening this back channel of communication and asked me to keep in touch. I told him I would after speaking to you further.” Later that day, Costello emailed Cohen again: “I spoke with Rudy. Very Very Positive. You are ‘loved’…Rudy said this communication channel must be maintained…Sleep well tonight, you have friends in high places” (The Fixers, p. 295-6; Manhattan DA’s Statement of Facts, pp. 10-11). 

April 21, 2018: As some speculated whether Cohen would “flip“ and begin cooperating with government investigators against Trump, the president tweeted that “most people will flip if the government lets them out of trouble, even if it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that.” He described Cohen as a “fine person with a wonderful family” (Manhattan DA’s Statement of Facts, pp. 10; Twitter). 

April 26, 2018: Trump admitted that Cohen had represented him in dealing with Clifford in an interview on Fox & Friends, stating, “He represents me, like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me” (The New York Times). 

April 30, 2018: Clifford filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump in Manhattan federal court. The suit focused on a tweet Trump had sent on April 18, 2018 related to the sketch of the man who allegedly threatened Clifford in 2011 (The Wall Street Journal). 

May 2, 2018: During a Fox News interview, Rudolph Giuliani (Trump’s new lawyer) acknowledged and described Trump’s repayments to Cohen for the hush money. Giuliani stated that “they funneled it [the $130,000 payment to Clifford] through a law firm, and the president repaid it” (The New York Times). 

May 3, 2018: Trump tweeted that he did pay Cohen a monthly retainer, but reiterated that the payments had “nothing to do with the campaign” (The New York Times). 

On or about June 14, 2018: “[Costello] emailed [Cohen] a news clip discussing the possibility of [Cohen] cooperating, and continued to urge him not to cooperate with law enforcement, writing, ‘The whole objective of this exercise by the [federal prosecutors] is to drain you, emotionally and financially, until you reach a point that you see them as your only means to salvation.’ In the same email, [Costello], wrote, ‘You are making a very big mistake if you believe these ‘journalists’ are writing about you. They want you to cave. They want you to fail. They do not want you to persevere and succeed’” (Manhattan DA’s Statement of Facts, p. 11). 

July 2, 2018: “My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will,” Cohen told ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos. “I put family and country first” (ABC News). Stephanopoulos wrote that “Cohen strongly signaled his willingness to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York — even if that puts President Trump in jeopardy.”

July 24, 2018: CNN released an audio tape of Trump and Cohen discussing what appears to be the plan to buy the rights to McDougal’s story. In the recording, Cohen explicitly mentions what appears to be the plan to set up a shell company to execute the payment, stating “I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David” (CNN; The Washington Post). 

July 25, 2018: Trump tweeted a response to the tape and suggested it was doctored by Cohen: “What kind of a lawyer would tape a client? So sad! Is this a first, never heard of it before? Why was the tape so abruptly terminated (cut) while I was presumably saying positive things?” (POLITICO). 

July 26, 2018: Press reports continued to circulate  that Cohen might be “flipping” on Trump and could cooperate with the investigation. (CNN)  

August 21, 2018: Cohen pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to charges including campaign finance violations and criminal tax evasion. Cohen told the judge that Trump had directed him to arrange the hush money payments, which he claimed were intended to prevent Clifford and McDougal from speaking publicly about their alleged affairs with Trump (Manhattan DA’s Statement of Facts, p. 12; The New York Times; Cohen Plea Press Release).  

August 22, 2018: At 8:44 am ET, Trump tweeted: “If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!” At 9:21 am ET, he tweeted again: “I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. ‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case among other things applied tremendous pressure on him unlike Michael Cohen he refused to ‘break’ – make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for brave man!” (Twitter; Manhattan DA’s Statement of Facts, p. 11). 

August 22, 2018: Trump claimed that the payments to Clifford and McDougal were legal because they “came from me” rather than his campaign. “They weren’t taken out of campaign finance, that’s the big thing,” he told Fox & Friends (USA Today). 

September 20, 2018: AMI privately signed a non-prosecution agreement protecting the company from criminal charges out of the SDNY U.S. Attorney’s Office. In exchange, AMI agreed to “cooperate fully” with investigators and fully disclose all information related to the hush money payments. In the agreement, AMI admitted “‘[a]t no time during the negotiation or acquisition of [McDougal’s] story did AMI intend to publish the story or disseminate information about it publicly.’ Rather, AMI admitted that it made the payment to ensure that [McDougal] ‘did not publicize damaging allegations’ about [Trump] ‘before the 2016 presidential election and thereby influence that election’” (Manhattan DA’s Statement of Facts, p. 11; AMI Non-Prosecution Agreement). 

December 7, 2018: Federal prosecutors released Cohen’s sentencing memo. In its summary of Cohen’s crimes, the memo endorsed Cohen’s claims that Cohen had carried out both hush money payments “in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump (Cohen Sentencing Memo, pp. 2-4, 13-15).  

December 12, 2018: Prosecutors released the details of the non-prosecution agreement with AMI, revealing the extent of AMI’s involvement in the hush money payments and corroborating many aspects of Cohen’s story.  Among the key revelations was that “AMI’s principal purpose in entering into the agreement was to suppress the model’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election”–indicating that the payments were likely campaign-related. 

 (The New York Times; AMI Non-Prosecution Agreement). 

December 12, 2018: Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for a litany of financial crimes committed while he was in Trump’s employ. Cohen was also sentenced the same day in a separate case for making false statements to Congress (The Washington Post; DOJ Press Release).  

January 10, 2019: Congressional Democrats announced that Cohen had agreed to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on February 7 (The Washington Post).

January 11, 2019: Avenatti announced that he and Clifford would attend the Cohen hearing on February 7 (POLITICO). 

January 23, 2019: Cohen postponed his February 7 appearance before Congress after reportedly receiving “threats against his family” from Trump and Giuliani. (USA Today).  

February 5, 2019: Clifford dropped her defamation claim against Cohen. Avenatti stated “We asked that the minor defamation claim be dismissed and it was because the court sided with us and against Cohen” (The Washington Post). 

February 27, 2019: Cohen testified publicly against Trump before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. (Cohen’s testimony can be found here.) When asked if Trump’s organization had made other hush money payments during the campaign, Cohen claimed that Pecker had sent money to other individuals under similar circumstances—and that “not all of them had to do with women” (The New York Times; POLITICO). 

March 7, 2019: Cohen sued the Trump Organization for breach of contract and sought reimbursement for $1.9 million in legal fees incurred after Cohen began cooperating with federal prosecutors. The complaint also claimed that the Trump Organization was responsible for paying the nearly $2 million penalty imposed after Cohen pleaded guilty (The New York Times). 

July 18, 2019: Court documents were unsealed that publicly revealed the communications among Trump, Hicks, Cohen, and several AMI executives in the days following the Access Hollywood tape release in 2016. The documents also appeared to show that “Cohen learned around the same time that Clifford had been considering going public with her claim that she had sex with Trump…. at least some of these communications concerned the need to prevent Clifford from going public, particularly in the wake of the Access Hollywood story” (CNBC). 

August 1, 2019: Manhattan DA Cyrus R. Vance Jr. subpoenaed the Trump Organization for documents related to the Clifford hush money payments.(The New York Times).

May 21, 2020: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Cohen was released from federal prison to serve the remainder of his sentence at home (AP News). 

July 9, 2020: Federal marshals took Cohen back into custody after he “refused the conditions of his home confinement.” Probation officers had reportedly asked Cohen to agree to a set of conditions including “no engagement of any kind with the media, including print, TV, film, books, or any other form of media/news” for the remainder of his home confinement. Cohen reportedly refused and was brought to a federal detention facility (The New York Times). 

July 23, 2020: A federal judge ordered Cohen’s return to home confinement after finding that his re-imprisonment amounted to a retaliatory act undertaken by the government. During the hearing, the judge stated “I cannot believe fairly that it was not in purpose … to stop his exercise of First Amendment rights.” Cohen had planned to publish a tell-all book about Trump during his confinement (USA Today).   

July 31, 2020: The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling dismissing Clifford’s 2018 libel lawsuit against Trump (POLITICO). 

April 13, 2021: The Federal Election Commission found “reason to believe that the violation of the [Federal Elections Campaign] Act by AMI and Pecker” in connection with the payments to McDougal and Clifford “was knowing and willful,” based primarily on factual admissions AMI made in its non-disclosure agreement with the Department of Justice (FEC Factual and Legal Analysis, p. 16) (see also May 17, 2021 entry).

April 26, 2021: The FEC voted to dismiss a 2018 and a 2019 complaint against Cohen for his role in the Clifford payments. The commissioners found that since “the public record is complete with respect to the conduct at issue in these complaints, and Mr. Cohen has been punished by the government of the United States for the conduct at issue in these matters…pursuing these matters further was not the best use of agency resources” (FEC Statement of Reasons).

May 6, 2021: In a split decision that fell along partisan lines, the FEC voted against investigating charges that Trump and his Committee had violated campaign finance laws in the process of making the 2016 Clifford payment and subsequent Cohen reimbursements. The dissenting commissioners noted: “We voted to support OGC’s recommendations to find reason to believe that Trump and the Committee knowingly and willfully accepted an excessive contribution from Cohen and a prohibited corporate or excessive contribution from the Trump Organization, that the Committee knowingly and willfully filed false disclosure reports, and that the Trump Organization knowingly and willfully made a corporate or excessive contribution through its reimbursements to Cohen. There is ample evidence in the record to support the finding that Trump and the Committee knew of, and nonetheless accepted, the illegal contributions at issue here”; “the Commission’s Office of the General Counsel (‘OGC’) recommended finding reason to believe that Cohen and the Trump Organization made, and Trump and Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. (the ‘Committee’) accepted and failed to report, illegal contributions.” (FEC Statement of Reasons). 

May 17, 2021: The FEC reached a settlement with AMI after the commission concluded that the company (allegedly at the direction of Trump and Cohen) had “knowingly and willfully” violated campaign finance laws through its payments to McDougal. AMI acknowledged the violations and agreed to pay a $187,500 fine, but did not admit to “knowingly and willfully” committing them (The Wall Street Journal; The New York Times) (see also April 13, 2021 entry). 

November 12, 2021: In Cohen’s civil suit against the Trump Organization, a Manhattan state court ruled that the company was not required to reimburse Cohen for the millions of dollars in legal fees that Cohen sought. In a statement to CNN, the Trump Organization called the decision an “incredible victory” (Forbes). 

November 22, 2021: Cohen’s three-year prison sentence, which had largely been served in home confinement, ended. (AP News). 

December 17, 2021: Cohen filed a civil rights lawsuit against Trump and several other DOJ officials, seeking damages for alleged First, Fourth, and Eighth Amendment violations related to his re-confinement in federal prison the prior year (Law&Crime). 

November 14, 2022: A Trump-appointed judge dismissed Cohen’s civil rights lawsuit (Law&Crime; Cohen v. U.S. et al. decision). 

November 15, 2022: In a 5-0 decision, a New York state appeals court revived Cohen’s previous lawsuit seeking legal fee reimbursements from the Trump Organization. The court found that the presiding judge had incorrectly dismissed the case, opening a path for Cohen to sue the Trump Organization again (Reuters; Cohen v. Trump Organization LLC). 

November 21, 2022: Reports emerged that Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg planned to revive his office’s criminal investigation into the Clifford hush-money payment. Bragg’s predecessor had examined the payment as possible grounds for a criminal indictment years before, but his office later reportedly decided that the surrounding legal theories were too risky to pursue the matter further (The New York Times).  

January 30, 2023: Bragg convened a grand jury in Manhattan to hear evidence related to the Clifford hush money payment (The Washington Post). 

January 30, 2023: Pecker reportedly met with prosecutors from Bragg’s office (CNN; New York Times)

February 2, 2023: Jeffrey McConney, the Trump Organization’s controller, reportedly appeared before the Manhattan grand jury hearing evidence related to the hush money payment (CNN). 

Some time after the grand jury was impaneled and before March 1, 2023: Howard, Davidson, and Debrah Tarasoff, the Trump Organization’s accounts payable supervisor, testified before the grand jury (New York Times; ABC News). 

March 1, 2023: Kellyanne Conway reportedly met with prosecutors from Bragg’s office, likely to discuss the ongoing hush money investigation (MSNBC). 

March 6, 2023: Hicks reportedly met with prosecutors from Bragg’s office (MSNBC). 

March 9, 2023: Bragg invited Trump to testify before the grand jury, according to one of Trump’s lawyers (AP).

March 13, 2023: Cohen reportedly testified before the grand jury (The Washington Post).

March 15, 2023: An attorney for Clifford stated that Clifford had met with Manhattan prosecutors and agreed to “make herself available as a witness, or for further inquiry if needed” (CBS)

March 18, 2023: In a Truth Social thread, Trump claimed that he would be arrested the following Tuesday, March 21, 2023. In a tweet, GOP House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy separately announced that “he would direct House committees to investigate” Bragg and his office. McCarthy stated that Bragg’s potential prosecution of Trump is “an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues political vengeance against President Trump,” and that he planned to direct “relevant committees to immediately investigate if federal funds are being used to subvert our democracy by interfering in elections with politically motivated prosecutions.” Following these posts, Bragg wrote in an internal email to his staff that his office would “not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York” (Truth Social; see also Truth Social; POLITICO; CNN).

March 19, 2023: Trump commented on the Manhattan investigation in another series of Truth Social posts, claiming that Bragg was funded by billionaire George Soros and that he had no evidence of criminal wrongdoing on Trump’s part (See, for example, Truth Social and Truth Social).

March 20, 2023: Costello appeared before the Manhattan grand jury as a witness on behalf of Trump. Throughout the day, Trump continued to post about the investigation on Truth Social (PBS; Truth Social; see also Truth Social)

March 20, 2023: Congressional Representatives Jim Jordan, James Comer, and Bryan Steil (chairmen of the House Judiciary, Oversight, and Administration committees, respectively) sent a letter requesting that Bragg testify before Congress, calling the Trump investigation an “unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority” and a “politically motivated prosecution.” When asked about the letter, McCarthy stated that the congressmen were “just ‘asking questions.’” A spokesperson for Bragg responded to the letter the same day, stating, “We will not be intimidated by attempts to undermine the justice process, nor will we let baseless accusations deter us from fairly applying the law” (Jordan, Steil & Comer Letter #1; CNN).

March 23, 2023: Bragg’s office released a formal response to Jordan, Comer, and Steil’s request. Leslie Dubeck, general counsel for the DA’s office, told the chairmen that “they lacked a ‘legitimate basis for congressional inquiry’” but also said, “request[ed] an opportunity to meet and confer with committee staff to better understand what information the DA’s Office can provide that relates to a legitimate legislative interest and can be shared consistent with the District Attorney’s constitutional obligations.” (Manhattan DA Letter; CNN). 

  • The same day, ​Trump posted an image of himself “holding a baseball bat alongside a picture of Bragg’s head” on Truth Social. The post was later deleted. In two other Truth Social posts, Trump called Bragg a “SOROS BACKED ANIMAL [sic]” and levied what appeared to be criticism of those calling for peaceful protest: “OUR COUNTRY IS BEING DESTROYED, AS THEY TELL US TO BE PEACEFUL!” (The Washington Post; The New York Times; Truth Social; Truth Social).

March 24, 2023: Trump explicitly referenced the possibility of violence surrounding his possible arrest, posting on Truth Social that the “potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our Country” (Truth Social).

March 25, 2023: Jordan, Comer, and Steil sent a second letter to Bragg, saying that the potential criminal indictment of Trump “implicate[d] substantial federal interests.” That evening, Bragg tweeted a response to the chairmen, stating “We evaluate cases in our jurisdiction based on the facts, the law, and the evidence. It is not appropriate for Congress to interfere with pending local investigations. This unprecedented inquiry by federal elected officials into an ongoing matter serves only to hinder, disrupt and undermine the legitimate work of our dedicated prosecutors. As always, we will continue to follow the facts and be guided by the rule of law in everything we do” (Jordan, Steil & Comer Letter #2; CNN; Twitter).

March 25, 2023: Dubeck sent Pomerantz a letter instructing him, “as a former employee and attorney of the DA’s Office, to not provide any information or materials relating to your work in the DA’s Office in response to [the Committee’s] request” (Dubeck Letter to Pomerantz; Politico). 

March 27, 2023: Pecker reportedly testified before the Manhattan grand jury for the second time (The New York Times). 

March 27, 2023: In a letter to Jordan and the Judiciary Committee, Pomerantz informed them that he would not comply with their request that he testify voluntarily, explaining that he had previously received instructions from the DA’s office “to not provide any information of materials in response to [the Committee’s] request” (Pomerantz Letter to Judiciary Committee; Politico). 

March 30, 2023: The Manhattan grand jury voted to indict Trump on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree under New York Penal Law §175.10 (Manhattan DA Indictment). 

March 31, 2023: Bragg’s office sent a response to the second letter (March 25th letter) to Jordan, Comer, and Steil informing them that the office filed charges against Donald Trump after the grand jury indictment and that “Congress has no warrant for interferin with individual criminal investigations-much less investigations conducted by a separate Sovereign.” Dubeck also detailed how Bragg’s office spends its limited federal funding and wrote to the Chairs that “[w]e trust you will make a good-faith effort to reac a negotiated resolution before taking the unprecedented and unconstitutional step of serving a subpoena on a district attorney for information related to an ongoing state criminal prosecution” (Bragg Second Letter to Congress).

April 4, 2023: Trump surrendered to New York law enforcement in Manhattan and was arraigned in a criminal court hearing there. During the arraignment hearing, Trump pleaded not guilty to all 34 felony counts of falsifying business records charged in the DA’s indictment. Judge Juan Merchan warned both Trump and the DA’s office during the hearing not to make any public statements that could “incite violence, create civil unrest or jeopardize the safety or well-being of any individuals” and to “not engage in words or conduct which jeopardizes the rule of law, particularly as it applies to these proceedings in this courtroom.” The indictment and accompanying statement of facts were unsealed that afternoon (Arraignment hearing transcript; CNN).

April 4, 2023: Trump returned to Florida after the arraignment. Later that evening, he hosted a gathering at Mar-a-Lago, during which he gave a speech and stated: “I never thought anything like this could happen in America, never thought it could happen. The only crime that I have committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it…It’s an insult to our country.” In his remarks he also referred to Judge Merchan as a “Trump-hating judge” and to Bragg as a “criminal” (CNN; New York Post)

April 6, 2023: Jordan subpoenaed Pomerantz in an effort to compel Pomerantz’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee after he “turned down a request to voluntarily cooperate with” the congressional investigation of Bragg’s office. In the subpoena, Jordan ordered Pomerantz to sit for a deposition before the Committee on April 20 at 10:00 am (CBS News).

April 11, 2023: Bragg sued Jordan seeking a temporary restraining order to block the subpoena for Pomerantz’s testimony as well as any future subpoenas issued to him or other members of the DA’s office. The lawsuit alleged that the congressional investigation of Bragg’s office was a “brazen and unconstitutional attack” and a “transparent campaign to intimidate and attack” Bragg. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York. That afternoon, U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vsykocil denied Bragg’s request for a temporary restraining order. She ordered that Bragg serve the complaint on Jordan by 9:00 pm that evening, and that Jordan file a response to Bragg’s complaint by April 17. Judge Vskocil also scheduled a hearing on Bragg’s complaint for 2:00 pm on April 19 (Bragg v. Jordan; Judge Vyskocil’s April 11, 2023 Order; The New York Times).

April 12, 2023: Trump sued Cohen in federal court in the Southern District of Florida requesting $500 million dollars in damages for Cohen’s alleged “breaches of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, conversion, and breaches of contract.” Trump’s lawyer also requested a jury trial on the matter (Trump v. Cohen; Politico; NBC News). 

April 17, 2023: Representative Jim Jordan filed an opposition to Manhattan District Attorney Bragg’s lawsuit against him, the House Judiciary Committee, and Mark Pomerantz. Jordan writes in the document, “the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause gives him, the committee, and Pomerantz immunity from the lawsuit, and thus Bragg’s motion should be denied.” (Jim Jordan Files Opposition to Manhattan DA Suit). In the opposition, Jordan also claims that Trump’s investigation “could be politically motivated” and that the committee is considering legislation that “would prohibit the use of federal forfeiture funds to investigate a current or former President” as well as legislation “that would expressly allow current and former Presidents and Vice Presidents to remove any criminal actions against them from state to federal court.” (House points to Jan. 6 committee in defending GOP’s right to subpoena ex-Bragg aide – POLITICO

April 17, 2023: Mark Pomerantz submitted a response and a declaration supporting the Alvin Bragg complaint and joined Bragg in asking the judge to block the subpoena for his testimony, saying he was “not involved in the decision to seek an indictment” of Trump since he resigned more than a year before the indictment was returned (Mark Pomerantz: Federal judge denies request to block House GOP subpoena of ex-prosecutor | CNN Politics). 

April 17, 2023: Twenty-one individuals, including four former Republican Members of Congress filed an amicus brief supporting Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg Jr. ‘s motion for “injunctive relief to quash a subpoena in the case he filed against House Judiciary Chair Rep. Jim Jordan” (Democracy 21). The brief states that “Congress has no authority to interfere with an ongoing criminal prosecution, particularly one brought by a state prosecutor. That calculus does not change just because the defendant whom a grand jury indicted happens to be a former President of the United States. Nor does it change when Members of Congress attempt to characterize their unlawful interference as ‘oversight.’” The authors also wrote that the subpoena issued by Jordan, “Threatens attorney work product privilege; Threatens the law enforcement privilege; Threatens grand jury secrecy; and Threatens the public interest and deliberative process privileges.” (Democracy 21)

April 19, 2023: Federal Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil ruled that Republican House members have a constitutional right to subpoena and question former prosecutor Mark F. Pomerantz. The Manhattan DA office responded by saying, “We respectfully disagree with the District Court’s decision,” and requested that the subpoena be paused while the ruling was appealed. The request was denied. DA Bragg’s lawyers argued that because Pomerantz has already appeared on 60 Minutes and written a book about his time working on the Trump investigation, questioning him would be about interfering with the investigation over gaining information from Pomerantz. Rep. Jordan’s lawyers asserted that the subpoena is about inspecting the use of federal funds for local investigations and the prospect of future legislation. (The New York Times)

April 19, 2023: DA Bragg and former prosecutor Mark F. Pomerantz both appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals after Judge Vyskocil’s ruling, and were granted a temporary stay of Pomerantz’s questioning. (The New York Times)

April 25, 2023: The Manhattan DA office filed a request with Judge Juan M. Merchan to restrict Trump’s access to materials from his criminal case, and his ability to post the evidence online. (The New York Times)

April 27, 2023: Trump’s attorneys filed a request for a bill of particulars. A bill of particulars is a written itemization of the claims and/or alleged facts brought against a defendant, which a defendant will usually request when the charges or claims are unclear. The idea is that the defendant needs proper notice of the charges so that they can prepare an adequate defense. Here, Trump’s request inquired into the legal basis for felony charges of falsification of business records. (The Washington Post; NBC News)

May 4, 2023: Trump requested removal to the federal Southern District of New York. His request was based on 28 U.S.C. §1442 (a)(1), which requires removal in state criminal cases against federal officers when the alleged criminal conduct occurred while the defendant was a federal officer and under the “color of his office.” Because the state crimes which Trump allegedly committed are superseded by federal election laws with some of the same elements, Trump argued that the federal preemption doctrine applied here. Under that doctrine, Trump argued, only federal prosecutors could bring charges against him for that alleged conduct. Trump also stated in the filing that criminal charges against a former President of the United States were “unprecedented in our nation’s history,” further compelling the judge to remove the case to the Southern District of New York. 

May 8, 2023: Judge Merchan ruled, as part of a protective order, that Trump may not post any discovery materials  on “any news or social media platforms, including, but not limited, to Truth Social, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, Snapchat, or YouTube, without prior approval from the Court” (CNN).

May 16, 2023: Bragg rejected Trump’s request for a bill of particulars, arguing that he already has enough relevant information. “The 15-page, 34-count indictment and 13-page statement of facts fully inform defendant of the nature of the charges against him,” said assistant district attorney Becky Mangold. Nevertheless, Bragg released a list of statutes that may serve as Trump’s underlying crime to justify the felony enhancement.

May 23, 2023: In a hearing, Judge Merchan established the ground rules for the protective order (see May 8, 2023), and explained, “It’s certainly not a gag order,” as Trump is allowed to publicly discuss the case. The judge set the commencement of the trial for March 25, 2024.

IMAGE (L to R): Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives during a rally at the Waco Regional Airport on March 25, 2023 in Waco, Texas (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images); Former Trump Attorney Michael Cohen arrives at the district attorney’s office to complete his testimony before a grand jury on March 15, 2023 in New York. (Photo by YUKI IWAMURA/AFP via Getty Images); David J. Pecker, CEO of Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, applauds during a press conference (BOB STRONG/AFP via Getty Images);  Adult film actress Stormy Daniels (Stephanie Clifford) speaks to the media as she exits the United States District Court Southern District of New York for a hearing related to Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal attorney and confidante, April 16, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)