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Tracing the Trail of Hush-Money Deals That Led to Trump’s Prosecution

Donald J. Trump and two confidants hatched a plan in August 2015 to boost his upstart presidential campaign, prosecutors say. They carried it out, and Mr. Trump won the election.

Nearly nine years later, Mr. Trump will face the same men, Michael Cohen and David Pecker. But unlike at that long-ago meeting, he won’t be seated at the desk in his 26th-floor Trump Tower office: He will be at the defendant’s table in a Lower Manhattan courtroom.

With his criminal trial set to begin in earnest on Monday, Mr. Trump’s former allies are each expected to take a turn on the witness stand, giving testimony that could help make him the first president convicted of a felony.

Mr. Trump is charged in a 34-count indictment with falsifying business records to cover up a $130,000 hush-money payment to a former porn star in order to influence the 2016 election. Mr. Cohen paid the woman, Stormy Daniels, less than two weeks before the election to keep silent about her claim that she had sex with Mr. Trump a decade before.

Lawyers defending Mr. Trump, who denies he had sex with her, will likely argue that his employees were responsible for the paper trail that falsely described the reimbursement of the hush money as legal fees for Mr. Cohen.

But prosecutors for Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, will try to show that the payment was part of a larger effort to suppress negative news about Mr. Trump to sway the election. That scheme, they will contend, resulted in not just the hush-money payment at the center of the trial, but two others.

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