Who are the key players in Donald Trump's indictment?

From Stormy Daniels to Alvin Bragg, these are the figures central to the former president's hush-money investigation

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Read the latest news on Donald Trump's arraignment

Former US president Donald Trump is facing his most perilous legal challenge to date after he was charged with 34 felonies by New York prosecutors.

The charges stem from alleged hush money Mr Trump authorised to be given to two women, including adult film star Stormy Daniels, during his 2016 presidential campaign.

The inquiry was led by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who has since come under scrutiny by Trump loyalists in Congress.

A New York grand jury heard from witnesses during a months-long investigation that eventually resulted in the charges that were unveiled on Tuesday.

Here, The National takes a look at the central figures in the criminal charges:

Donald Trump

Mr Trump pleaded not guilty in a historic arraignment, after repeatedly denying any wrongdoing.

"The only crime that I've committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it," he said in remarks in Florida hours after his New York court appearance. "It's an insult to our country."

The former president has previously described the investigation as a political “witch hunt”.

Mr Trump was one of the Republican front-runners in 2016 when he allegedly authorised a $130,000 payment to Daniels so she would not disclose their affair.

“I did absolutely nothing wrong. I never had an affair with Stormy Daniels, nor would I have wanted to have an affair with Stormy Daniels,” Mr Trump wrote on Truth Social on March 9.

Stormy Daniels

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, told CBS in 2018 that she and Mr Trump met at a celebrity golf tournament in 2006.

Daniels told 60 Minutes she had met the then-Apprentice host at his hotel suite, where they had a sexual encounter. Mr Trump was 60 at the time. Daniels was 27.

She told 60 Minutes they met one more time at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles to discuss her possible appearance on the TV programme Celebrity Apprentice.

When it became clear that Mr Trump would win the Republican nomination in 2016, a lawyer for Daniels told The National Enquirer that she was willing to share her story with the public.

Before the 2016 election, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 in a lump-sum payment.

In exchange, Daniels would sign a non-disclosure agreement in which she would not reveal her alleged sexual encounter with Mr Trump.

Daniels said she felt pressured to sign the NDA and sought to nullify it in 2018.

She was not named in court documents, though an "adult film actress" was mentioned.

Michael Cohen

Michael Cohen was Mr Trump's lawyer from 2006 to 2018 and was widely known as the former president's “fixer”.

In 2018, he was sentenced to three years in prison over what the presiding judge called a “smorgasbord” of fraudulent crimes, including hush-money payments to women claiming to have had affairs with Mr Trump.

Cohen was not directly named in court documents but "Lawyer A" was defined as "a lawyer who then worked for the Trump Organization as Special Counsel to Defendant," or Mr Trump.

Karen McDougal

Former Playboy model Karen McDougal gained national attention when she alleged she had a sexual relationship with Mr Trump for at least 10 months. He has denied the relationship.

She told the details to American Media's National Enquirer, which reportedly paid her $150,000 in 2016 to “catch and kill” her story during Mr Trump's presidential campaign.

She was not named in the indictment, but is thought to be one of the two women mentioned in the charges.

The doorman

The intriguing tale of a former Trump Tower doorman who had heard a rumour that Mr Trump fathered a love child in the 1980s was also mentioned in court documents.

American Media paid the doorman $30,000 to obtain exclusive rights to claims that there was a "child that the defendant [Mr Trump] had allegedly fathered out of wedlock".

The company later found the story was not true, but was directed by Mr Trump's team not to release the doorman from the exclusivity agreement until after the presidential election, court documents showed.

Alvin Bragg

Alvin Bragg is Manhattan's District Attorney whose job is to prosecute all criminal cases in that borough of New York.

The Democrat was elected in 2022 after serving as a federal prosecutor, an assistant attorney general for the state of New York and a civil rights lawyer.

The district attorney is a key political figure, overseeing cases that often involve defendants with immense wealth, fame and influence.

Mr Bragg inherited the Trump case and convened a grand jury after successfully convicting Mr Trump’s family company for tax fraud.

Three Republicans in the House of Representatives wrote to the Manhattan District, accusing the court and Mr Bragg of a “politically motivated prosecution”.

The former president has called Mr Bragg, who is black, a "racist in reverse" and an "animal".

Judge Juan Merchan

Juan Merchan is the judge presiding in the case and a veteran of the New York court system, with more than 15 years on the bench.

He is no stranger to cases involving Mr Trump and his associates, having overseen the criminal tax fraud case against his company.

Mr Merchan also sentenced Allen Weisselberg, Mr Trump’s close aide and former chief financial officer of two Trump organisations, to prison.

He also oversaw a fraud case that involved former Trump adviser Steve Bannon.

Members of the legal community have described the judge as “tough” but “compassionate”.

Joe Tacopina

Joe Tacopina is Mr Trump’s lawyer and the founder and managing partner of New York’s Tacopina, Seigel & DeOreo law firm. Mr Tacopina began his career as a prosecutor in Brooklyn before crossing over to become a defence lawyer.

He was initially hired by the Trump team in January to defend him against a civil lawsuit brought by writer E Jean Carroll, who said Mr Trump raped her in the mid-1990s.

Although he said Mr Trump was “shocked” by the indictment, he said his client was “ready to fight”.

He is currently facing questions of conflict of interest for reportedly working with Daniels briefly.

Clark Brewster

“No man is above the law,” Clark Brewster, Daniels's lawyer, said after Mr Trump's indictment.

The Oklahoman lawyer has served as Daniels' attorney after she cut ties with celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti, who was eventually disbarred for embezzlement and fraud.

Mr Brewster helped to co-ordinate Daniels' co-operation with investigators and prosecutors in New York.

Robert Costello

Robert Costello was one of the last people to testify before the grand jury, for his role as a legal adviser to Cohen. He was vocal about the credibility of Cohen as a witness in the hush-money payments.

“If they want to go after Donald Trump and they have solid evidence then so be it,” Mr Costello told MSNBC in March. “But Michael Cohen is far from solid evidence.”

Mr Costello is a New York lawyer who has represented Trump allies Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani.

David Pecker

Formerly the National Enquirer publisher as chief executive of American Media, David Pecker was reportedly one of the last people to testify before the grand jury.

The company shared that, under his leadership, there was a “catch and kill” tactic to buy the exclusive Daniels story and suppress it in the media, among other stories mentioned in the court documents.

He also reportedly had a part in connecting Cohen with Daniels, for the hush-money payment.

Allen Weisselberg

Allen Weisselberg is the Trump Organisation's former chief financial officer. He pleaded guilty for conspiring with the company as part of tax fraud over the course of 15 years.

He was responsible for managing the company's financial records, and may have had a role in covering up how the hush-money payment was given to the three individuals.

He is imprisoned over Trump Organisation conspiracy charges.

Updated: April 05, 2023, 6:46 PM