BREAKING: Bragg's prosecution claims Trump engaged in 'conspiracy' 'election fraud' in fraudulent business docs case

"It was election fraud, pure and simple," Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo said.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

Opening statements began on Monday morning in Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s falsified business records case against Donald Trump. Bragg has charged Trump with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo delivered the opening statement for the prosecution, opening by stating, "This case is about criminal conspiracy," according to ABC News.

Colangelo argued that "The defendant, Donald Trump, orchestrated a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election."

He said Trump allegedly plotted with then-Trump attorney Michael Cohen, and Daniel Pecker, who ran the company that owned The National Enquirer "to influence the presidential election by concealing negative information about former President Trump."

"The defendant said in his business records that he was paying Cohen for legal services pursuant to a retainer agreement. But those were lies," Colangelo said. "The defendant was paying him back for an illegal payment to Stormy Daniels on the eve of the election."

"It starts with that August 2015 meeting in Trump Tower," Colangelo told the jury, alleging a three-prong conspiracy. 

He alleged that after a meeting between Trump, Cohen, and Pecker, it was determined that the National Enquirer would run "headline after headline that extolled the defendant's virtues," according to ABC News.

"Pecker had the ultimate say over publication decisions," he said, claiming that Trump had edited, killed, and suggested the cover of the magazine. 

The second part of this alleged conspiracy, Colangelo said, was that the National Enquirer would run negative stories attacking Trump’s opponents in the 2016 Republican primary.

The third part and the "core of the conspiracy" was that negative stories about Trump would be killed, which evolved into the catch-and-kill scheme at the center of Bragg’s case, Colangelo alleged.

"The National Enquirer ran these stories as part of the conspiracy launched after the Trump Tower meeting."

Colangelo alleged that Trump began paying back Cohen after winning the 2016 election. "After the election, the defendant then reimbursed Cohen for that payment through a series of monthly checks all of which were processed through the defendant’s company, the Trump Organization."

The prosecution claimed that Michael "Cohen’s job really was to take care of problems for the defendant," adding that "he was Trump’s fixer," and saying that Cohen conspired with Daniel Pecker, who ran the company that owned The National Enquirer, to influence the results of the election, and that Pecker would act as the eyes and ears for Trump to gather information that was harmful and report it to Cohen.

One of these alleged catch and kills involved a former Trump Tower doorman, who claimed to have information about Trump having a child out of wedlock. Colangelo claimed that Pecker contacted Cohen, who contacted Trump and was told by him to take care of it. A $30,000 agreement was negotiated to buy the story, according to NBC News

Colangelo claimed that Pecker was acting as a co-conspirator, not a publisher.

Another catch and kill came with regard to former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal, Colangelo alleged.

"The defendant desperately did not want this information about Karen McDougal to become public because he was concerned about the election," he said.

Regarding Stormy Daniels, Colangelo said she came forward before the election regarding an alleged affair she had with Trump. He said that Cohen discussed the allegations with Trump, who didn’t want the story to come out. 

Cohen, Colangelo claimed, came up with a deal to buy her story with a nondisclosure agreement added for $130,000. He claimed that they agreed Cohen would create a shell company to transfer the money and that Trump would reimburse him. On October 27, 2016, Cohen wired $130,000 to Daniels’ lawyers, he said.

He said that Trump agreed to pay Cohen back in 12 monthly installments over 2017 in the amount of $35,000 each, and that Cohen would send invoices to make the payments appear as if they were for legal services, Colangelo alleged.

"That was a double lie," Colangelo said. "There was no retainer agreement."

"Cohen made that payment at Donald Trump's direction and for his benefit and he did it with the special goal of influencing the election," he said.

"This was not spin or communications strategy. This was a planned, coordinated long-running conspiracy to influence the 2016 election to help DT get elected through illegal expenditures to silence people who had something bad about his behavior. It was election fraud, pure and simple," Colangelo said.

Colangelo also read out part of the transcript of the Access Hollywood tape to jurors, reading out the "Grab them by the p*ssy" line.

Colangelo claimed the release of the tape in October 2016 had an "immediate and explosive" impact on Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

"Seeing and hearing a candidate in his own words, in his own voice, with his own body language ... has a much greater impact on voters than words on paper," Colangelo said. "The campaign went on immediate damage control mode to blunt the impact of the tape."

Colangelo also claimed that the campaign was concerned that Trump could lose the Republican nomination, saying, "The Republican National Committee even considered whether it was too late to replace their own nominee."

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