Prosecutor’s Error About Trump’s Affair Corrected

 June 10, 2024

The prosecutor in Donald Trump's criminal hush-money trial made a significant error by stating that Trump had an affair with Karen McDougal while Melania Trump was pregnant, MSN reported on Sunday. 

Despite the misstatement, Trump was convicted on 34 counts of falsifying business records related to hush-money payments.

Incorrect Claim by Prosecutor

The incorrect detail emerged during a hearing on April 15, before jury selection, when Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass made the claim. Steinglass asserted that the affair between Trump and McDougal was ongoing during Melania Trump’s pregnancy.

This assertion was presented to support the argument that Trump silenced women to benefit his 2016 campaign. However, two sources with knowledge of the affair confirmed that the timeline was incorrect.

Instead, the affair began in June 2006, several months after the birth of Barron Trump in March 2006, and ended in April 2007. Despite this, the claim was initially used to emphasize the potential damage such stories could do to Trump’s public image and campaign.

Misstatement Clarified by Sources

Steinglass’s claim surprised many, including representatives for McDougal. "We were just as surprised as you when Josh Steinglass stated that Melania was pregnant at the time," said Carol Heller, a representative for McDougal, in an interview with Business Insider.

The clarification from insider sources made it clear that the affair commenced after Melania had given birth to Barron. Heller further emphasized that Steinglass had misspoken and that Judge Merchan had relied on this incorrect information during the hearing.

Decision Not to Testify

Prosecutors chose not to call McDougal to testify, which meant the timeline discrepancy did not get further scrutiny in court. This decision potentially simplified the prosecution's case but left some details unresolved.

Nonetheless, Trump faced and was ultimately charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records related to a separate hush-money payment involving Stormy Daniels.

Background on McDougal Affair

The affair between Trump and McDougal involved a $150,000 hush-money payment, an arrangement typically referred to as "catch and kill," aimed at suppressing negative stories about Trump. McDougal, a former Playboy model, had claimed to have had a romantic and sexual relationship with Trump.

Both parties have offered varying accounts of their relationship. Trump’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, described the affair as "unproven," whereas McDougal maintains the relationship was genuine and meaningful.

Trump's Remarks on McDougal

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, testified that Trump had acknowledged McDougal’s attractiveness, saying, "She's really beautiful." McDougal herself has reflected on her past lifestyle and the genuine feelings involved in their affair.

"There was a real relationship there. There was real—there were feelings between the two of us," McDougal said, describing the intensity and authenticity of their connection.

Impact on Trial Outcome

Despite the prosecutorial correction, the overall impact of the initial misstatement was minor. The court’s focus on the larger pattern of misconduct likely absorbed any discrepancies regarding the timeline of the McDougal affair.

This resulted in the jury convicting Trump on all 34 counts presented against him. The convictions were based on the adjustments and falsifications made in business records pertinent to hush-money payments.

Ending the Legal Battle

As the details of Trump’s legal battles unfolded, many were left reflecting on the scandal’s implications. The trial underscored the extent to which legal teams and political figures attempt to control narratives surrounding their conduct.

Moreover, it highlighted how misstatements, even those corrected, can momentarily shift public and judicial perception. This complex interplay of facts and testimonies draws attention to the intricate dance between legal strategies and public relations.

In conclusion, Trump’s criminal hush-money trial brought significant attention to the legal repercussions of political scandals. Despite errors in testimony, the core allegations of falsifying records carried the case to its ultimate conclusion—Trump's conviction on all 34 counts of falsifying business records.

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