Report: House Democrats plan on starting inquiry into Trump's role in hush-money payments

This fall, the House Judiciary Committee plans on holding hearings into President Trump's alleged role in silencing two women who said they had affairs with him, people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post.

Right before the 2016 presidential election, Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, set up hush-money payments in order to keep adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal quiet about their alleged extramarital affairs with Trump. Cohen told federal prosecutors he worked with American Media Inc. CEO David Pecker, publisher of the National Enquirer, to pay McDougal $150,000 in order to buy her story and then never publish it. Cohen also arranged a $130,000 payout to Daniels. Cohen testified that he did all of this in "coordination" with Trump and at his direction.

Cohen is now serving time in prison after pleading guilty to campaign finance charges in relation to the payments. Federal prosecutors in New York called Trump "Individual-1" in their summary of Cohen's crimes, but the investigation was closed over the summer, with no additional charges filed.

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"It's inconceivable Michael Cohen acted alone ... what happened?" Duncan Levin, a former prosecutor for the Justice Department and Manhattan District Attorney's Office, told the Post. "When you have one of the most important, sensitive investigations into the president and his family and his company, and then when you unexpectedly drop it, it is going to raise a lot of questions."

House Democrats could start their inquiry as soon as October, people with knowledge of the matter told the Post, and are expected to bring attention to Trump's statements on the subject, which are at odds with each other. They will also call witnesses, and Pecker might be on the list. Trump's attorneys have said he did nothing wrong; in other House investigations, the administration has refused to hand over requested information and is challenging multiple subpoenas in court.

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