Trump was involved in "nearly every step" of the coordinated efforts to keep the women quiet, in an apparent effort to help his presidential campaign, The Journal found. In August, the president's former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to federal crimes for orchestrating the payments, which he said he did at Trump's direction. The US attorney's office in Manhattan has gathered evidence of Trump's participation in the transactions. Trump "was involved in or briefed on almost every step of the agreements", says the story, which is based on interviews with three dozen people, along with court documents and other records.
"He told federal prosecutors he conferred with Mr. Trump in the weeks before the 2016 election about paying Stephanie Clifford, the former adult-film star known professionally as Stormy Daniels, to keep quiet about her allegations of a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump", the WSJ reports.
The newspaper said that the USA attorney's office in Manhattan has evidence of Trump's role in the hush money payments, which he has repeatedly denied knowing about.
The report also claims Trump enlisted the help of media executive David Pecker, who owns the tabloid National Enquirer, to "buy the silence of women if they tried to publicize sexual encounters with Mr. Trump".
The Journal cited Richard Hasen, a campaign finance law expert, who said Trump's involvement wouldn't necessarily mean he broke campaign finance laws.
Trump was involved in or briefed on almost every step of the payments that were made to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and porn star Stephanie Clifford, who goes by the stage name Stormy Daniels, to keep quiet about their alleged affairs with Trump, the Journal said. Pecker offered to pay $150,000 to Macdougal, a former beauty queen with whom Trump had an affair, for the exclusive rights to her story (which never ran). Trump has continuously denied the affairs, but admitted to reimbursing his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, for the $130,000 hush payment to Daniels.
The report contradicted denials by Trump and could implicate him in violations of election laws.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider. Avenatti further called for Trump's "immediate indictment".
"I hope he's indicted", Avenatti said.