Trump hush money trial: A timeline of key events in the case


NEW YORK (AP) — The events at the center of former President Donald Trump’s hush money case date back almost two decades, with new dates coming to light as the trial plays out in a Manhattan courtroom. Here are the key moments in the case, as described in trial testimony and court documents:

January 2005: Trump marries his current wife, Melania.

September 2005: Trump is recorded bragging to “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush about grabbing women’s genitals without asking for permission. The footage isn’t aired and doesn’t become public until October 2016.


Former President Donald Trump and attorney Susan Necheles attend his trial at the Manhattan Criminal court, Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in New York. (Win McNamee/Pool Photo via AP)
Former President Donald Trump and attorney Susan Necheles attend his trial at the Manhattan Criminal court, Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in New York. (Win McNamee/Pool Photo via AP)

June 2006: Former Playboy model Karen McDougal says this is when she first met Trump, after “The Apprentice” filmed at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. McDougal has alleged they went on to have a 10-month affair that ended in 2007, a claim Trump denies.

July 2006: Porn actor Stormy Daniels and Trump meet at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. Daniels alleges that they have a sexual encounter, Trump denies the claim.

May 2011: Daniels shares her claim about the encounter in an interview with In Touch magazine, but the story is not published at the time. In October, Trump fixer Michael Cohen sends an email to the publication’s general counsel saying Trump would aggressively pursue legal action if the story was printed. It does not run until 2018.

June 16, 2015: Trump announces that he will seek the Republican nomination for president.

August 2015: Trump and Cohen meet at Trump Tower with David Pecker, then CEO of National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc, also known as AMI. According to Pecker’s testimony, he says at the meeting he will act as the “eyes and ears” of the campaign, notifying Cohen of claims being made about Trump so that the rights can be purchased and the stories quashed

October 2015: Pecker learns that a former Trump Tower doorman, Dino Sajudin, is trying to sell a story that Trump had fathered a child with an employee.

Nov. 15, 2015: The National Enquirer pays Sajudin $30,000 for the rights to the rumor. The tabloid concludes that the story was not true. The woman and Trump have denied the allegations.

July 19, 2016: Trump officially becomes the Republican presidential nominee at the party’s convention.

Aug. 5, 2016: AMI buys McDougal’s story about the affair she claims she had with Trump in 2006 and 2007. The company pays her $150,000, agrees to feature her on two magazine covers and to publish 100 magazine articles authored by her.

Sept. 6, 2016: Cohen records himself briefing Trump on the plan to buy McDougal’s story from AMI. Cohen says on the tape that he’s already spoken with the Trump Organization’s finance chief, Allen Weisselberg, on “how to set the whole thing up.”

Sept. 30, 2016: Cohen signs an agreement to buy the nondisclosure part of McDougal’s contract for $125,000 through a company called Resolution Consultants LLC.

Early October 2016: Pecker tells Cohen the deal for him to buy McDougal’s nondisclosure is off. Cohen never pays the $125,000. “I said to him that the agreement, the assignment deal is off. I am not going forward,” Pecker testified.

Oct. 7, 2016: The Washington Post publishes the 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape.

Oct. 8, 2016: Daniels’ representative tells the National Enquirer she’s willing to make on the record statements confirming a sexual encounter with Trump. Pecker and Howard connect Cohen with her lawyer, Keith Davidson. Over the next few days, Cohen negotiates a $130,000 deal to acquire the rights to Daniels’ story and keep her quiet.

Oct. 27, 2016: Cohen wires payment to Davidson’s law firm using a shell corporation, Essential Consultants LLC. The next day, Daniels signs a confidential settlement and nondisclosure agreement. The agreement uses the pseudonyms Peggy Peterson for Daniels and David Dennison for Trump.

Nov. 4, 2016: The Wall Street Journal publishes a story revealing McDougal’s deal with the Enquirer’s parent company, AMI. The story also mentions Daniels and says she had been in talks with a TV network to tell her story but cut off negotiations. Trump campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks denies Trump had a relationship with either woman and says of the McDougal deal: “We have no knowledge of any of this.”

Nov. 9, 2016: Trump is elected president.

Jan. 20, 2017: Trump is sworn in as president.

January 2017: Cohen seeks reimbursement from the Trump Organization for his $130,000 payment to Daniels as well as an additional $50,000 for unrelated campaign “tech services.” Cohen provides company executives with a copy of a bank statement reflecting the wire transfer to Davidson.

Testifying in court, former Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney recalled meeting with the company’s longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, who comes up with a plan to pay Cohen the money he’s owed, adding in a $60,000 bonus and extra funds to cover taxes he’ll owe by declaring the money as income, a total of $420,000.

Jan. 27, 2017: Cohen’s last day as a full-time Trump Organization employee, according to McConney’s testimony. Cohen begins holding himself out as Trump’s “personal attorney.”

Feb. 14, 2017: Cohen emails an invoice to McConney seeking payment “pursuant to the retainer agreement” for services rendered for January and February 2017. The invoice requested payment in the amount of $35,000 for each of those two months — the first two monthly installments of his repayment plan.

Weisselberg approves the payments and McConney sends the invoice to an accounts payable supervisor with the instructions: “Post to legal expenses. Put ‘retainer for the months of January and February 2017’ in the description.”

Jan. 10, 2018: Daniels issues a statement saying allegations she had a “sexual and/or romantic affair” with Trump are “absolutely false” and rumors that she received hush money from Trump are “completely false.”

Jan. 12, 2018: The Wall Street Journal publicly reveals Cohen’s payment to Daniels.

Jan. 30, 2018: Daniels issues another statement again denying that she had a sexual encounter with Trump.

Feb. 13, 2018: Cohen tells The New York Times that he paid Daniels out of his own pocket.

April 5, 2018: Aboard Air Force One, an Associated Press reporter asks Trump: “Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?” Trump responds, “No.”

April 9, 2018: Federal agents in New York raid Cohen’s office and a hotel room, seizing records on topics including the payment made to Daniels. Trump says: “So I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys — a good man.”

April 26, 2018: In a phone interview with “Fox & Friends,” Trump acknowledges that Cohen represented him in the “crazy Stormy Daniels deal.”

May 2, 2018: Rudy Giuliani, representing Trump as one of his lawyers, tells Fox News that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 paid to Daniels.

May 3, 2018: Trump tweets that Cohen received a monthly retainer — “not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign” — to enter into an NDA, which are “very common among celebrities and people of wealth.”

July 24, 2018: Cohen’s lawyer releases the September 2016 tape of Cohen talking to Trump about the payments.

Aug. 21, 2018: Cohen pleads guilty in Manhattan federal court to campaign-finance violations and other charges that included arranging the hush money payments. At the hearing, he claims Trump directed him to arrange the payment. Trump is never charged with any crime related to the federal investigation. Cohen is later sentenced to three years in prison.

Aug. 22, 2018: Trump tweets: “If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!”

September 2018: AMI enters into a non-prosecution agreement with Manhattan federal prosecutors in connection with its McDougal deal, according to court documents.

Aug. 1, 2019: The Trump Organization is served a grand jury subpoena from then-Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office calling for records and communications relating to the payments to Daniels and McDougal.

Nov. 3, 2020: Trump faces Joe Biden in the presidential election, ultimately losing to the Democrat.