Manhattan DA to Present Trump Hush Money Case to Grand Jury

January 30, 2023

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office will begin presenting evidence to a grand jury in former President Trump’s role in paying hush money to an adult film actress, sources told The New York Times on Monday.

A grand jury had recently been impaneled and witness testimony would soon begin—a clear signal that D.A. Alvin Bragg is nearing a decision on whether to charge Trump, according to the Times. 

On January 17, Trump’s ex-attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen met with investigators from Bragg’s office.

Cohen had pleaded guilty in federal court in 2018 for arranging a nondisclosure agreement for which he paid the adult film star known as “Stormy Daniels” $130,000, a campaign contribution violation during the 2016 election cycle, since the payment was made in service of the campaign and exceeded the federal limit. 

Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis declined to discuss the details of their meeting afterward but did tell reporters, “I was impressed with the seriousness of their investigation and the professionalism of the prosecutors in the room.”

On Monday, the Times reported that a potential witness was seen with his lawyer entering the building in Lower Manhattan where the grand jury is sitting. The witness, David Pecker, is the former publisher of The National Enquirer, the tabloid that helped broker the deal with Daniels.

Prosecutors have also sought to interview the Enquirer’s former editor, Dylan Howard, and two employees at Trump’s company, Jeffrey McConney and Deborah Tarasoff, according to the Times’ sources. None of these potential witnesses has yet testified before the grand jury, however. 

Further, prosecutors have also begun contacting officials from Trump’s 2016 campaign, according to a Times’ source. Prosecutors have also subpoenaed phone records and other documents. 

The Daniels case was the first for which the office of the Manhattan D.A. began investigating Trump and his company, the Trump Organization. It was launched under Bragg’s predecessor Cyrus Vance Jr., and it ultimately became a sweeping probe of Trump’s finances that included a successful Supreme Court battle for his tax returns.

Cohen’s meeting with the Manhattan D.A. came four days after the Trump Organization was fined  $1.6 million—the maximum legal amount—after being convicted on 17 counts of tax fraud, which it plans to appeal.

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