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Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg says "thorough investigation" led to Trump indictment

Bragg takes questions after charging Trump
Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg speaks to reporters after charging Trump with 34 counts 13:07

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg told reporters Tuesday after the arraignment of former President Donald Trump that a "thorough investigation" led to his office's decision to charge Trump with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

"This is the business capital of the world," Bragg said about New York City. "We regularly do cases involving false business statements. The bedrock of the basis for business integrity and a well-functioning business marketplace is accurate record-keeping." 

 Trump pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The charges were announced after Bragg conducted a grand jury investigation related to a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels made by Trump's former attorney and "fixer" Michael Cohen in the days before the 2016 presidential election. Trump has denied a sexual encounter with Daniels. Bragg's office announced last week that a grand jury had indicted the former president.

At his news conference Tuesday, Bragg alleged that Trump "repeatedly made false statements on New York business records" and "caused others to make false statements."

"Why did Donald Trump repeatedly make these false statements?" Bragg said. "The evidence will show he did so to cover up crimes relating to the 2016 election."

Bragg accused Trump of "paying Mr. Cohen for fictitious legal services in 2017 to cover up actual crime committed the prior year." To pay Cohen back, "they planned to mischaracterize the repayments to Mr. Cohen as income to the New York State tax authorities," Bragg said. 

In addition to the payment made to Daniels, the indictment also details an alleged "catch and kill" scheme by Trump, Cohen and American Media, Inc. (AMI), which "agreed to identify and suppress negative stories about him."

Both Cohen and AMI have "admitted to committing illegal conduct in connection with the scheme," according to court documents. In August 2018, AMI, the owner and publisher of magazines and supermarket tabloids including the National Enquirer, "admitted in a non-prosecution agreement that it made a payment to a source of a story to ensure that the source 'did not publicize damaging allegations' about the Defendant 'before the 2016 presidential election and thereby influence that election,'" according to a statement of facts filed by prosecutors along with the indictment.

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