David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey and Rosalind S.Helderman, The Washington Post
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s wall of secrecy – the work of a lifetime – is starting to crack.
His longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty last week to breaking campaign-finance laws, and said he’d arranged hush money payments to two women at Trump’s direction. Both a tabloid executive – who had served Trump by snuffing out damaging tales before they went public – and Trump’s chief financial officer gave testimony in the case.
All three had been part of the small circle of family, longtime aides and trusted associates who have long played crucial roles in Trump’s strategy to shield the details of his personal life and business dealings from prying outsiders.
But, as their cooperation with prosecutors shows, a growing number of legal challenges – including the Russia investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller III and a raft of lawsuits and state-level probes in New York – are eroding that barrier.
The result has been a moment where Trump seems politically wounded, as friends turn and embarrassing revelations about his alleged affairs and his charity trickle out, uncontained. In coming months, certain cases could force Trump’s company to open its books about foreign government customers, or compel the president to testify about his relationships with women.
“The myth of Trump is now unraveling,” said Barbara Res, a Trump Organization executive from 1978 to 1996. “He’s becoming more obvious and people are starting to know what he’s like, and what he’s doing.”