New York prosecutors have offered Donald Trump the chance to testify before a grand jury – signaling an investigation into the former president’s stashed money allegedly paid a porn star could soon find himself in a criminal case.
New York grand jury investigation allegedly involves $130,000 payment made just before 2016 presidential election to adult film actress known as Stormy Daniels, The New York Times reported THURSDAY.
Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, said she had an affair with Trump years before he became president.
The Times reported that such offers to testify “almost always indicate that an indictment is near.” He cited people familiar with the proceedings led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat who took office in January. His office did not respond to a request for comment.
If an indictment were to be filed, it would be the first time a former US president has been charged with a crime.
“Some Kind of Unfair”
Trump’s attorney, Joseph Tacopina, confirmed that the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office invited the former president to testify.
“To me, it’s much ado about nothing,” Tacopina told the Associated Press news agency, adding that he didn’t think prosecutors had engaged “one way or another.” on the decision to indict Trump. He said there was no legal basis for a case.
“This is just another example of them weaponizing the justice system against him. And that’s somehow unfair.
Trump, who has already declared another White House bid, faces multiple state and federal criminal investigations into possible wrongdoing before, during and after his first term. He has not yet been charged for any of them.
Trump went wild on his Truth Social page on Thursday, calling the New York investigation a “political witch hunt, trying to bring down the Republican Party’s leading contender, by far.”
“I never had an affair with Stormy Daniels, and I wouldn’t have wanted to have an affair with Stormy Daniels,” he said. “I did absolutely nothing wrong.”
Trump’s legal troubles
Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr, also a Democrat, launched an investigation into Trump’s finances in 2019, which culminated in a years-long legal battle over the billionaire’s tax documents.
In Georgia, a prosecutor is investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to reverse his 2020 election defeat in the southern state. The Atlanta district attorney said decisions were “imminent.”
The former president is also under federal investigation into his handling of classified documents as well as his possible participation during the January 6, 2021 assault on the United States Capitol. This investigation was assigned to an independent special counsel shortly after Trump officially announced his new candidacy for the White House.
The silent payment, made two weeks before the November 2016 election, was reportedly intended to prevent Daniels from publicly disclosing her affair with Trump.
It was produced by a close Trump aide, the lawyer Michael Cohenwho said he was later reimbursed.
The payment to Cohen, if not properly accounted for, could result in a misdemeanor charge in New York, but it could qualify as a felony if the false accounting were to cover up a second crime, such as a campaign finance violation. , said the Times. .
Trump said on Truth Social in the “Daniels case,” that he “relyed on a lawyer to solve this extortion…which happened a long time ago.”
It was not immediately clear if he admitted the payment had been made.
Several figures close to Trump have been spotted in recent days entering Bragg’s office for meetings with prosecutors, including his former political adviser Kellyanne Conway and former spokesperson Hope Hicks.
Tacopina said there was no crime.
“There is no precedent for this. There is no established case law on this campaign finance gimmick. It’s ridiculous. And there is no underlying crime,” he said.