Manhattan Grand Jury Appears to be Wrapping Trump Investigation

March 21, 2023

The Manhattan Grand Jury investigating former President Trump’s role in hush money payments made to the adult film star known as Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 Presidential election reportedly appeared to be completing its work Monday.

Robert Costello, an attorney with close ties to Trump aides, testified before the grand jury on Monday.

The grand jury meets on Mondays and Wednesdays. However, Costello appeared to be the final opportunity for the defense to steer the grand jury away from an indictment. He had been invited by prosecutors to appear before the jury to present information he claimed would undercut the credibility of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who has stated he made $130,000 in hush money payments to Daniels on Trump’s behalf. 

The payment was a campaign contribution violation during the 2016 election cycle, since it was made in service of the Trump campaign and $130,000 exceeded the federal limit.

Costello had provided legal services to Cohen several years ago after Cohen was targeted by federal investigators. Following his testimony Monday, Costello told reporters that Cohen—who has served prison time after pleading guilty to federal crimes—is not trustworthy. 

Cohen then went on MSNBC and responded, saying that it’s Costello who “lacks any sense of veracity.”

On Saturday former President Trump posted on his Truth Social site in all caps that he “WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK. PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”

Following Trump’s declaration the Capitol Police in Washington—which took the brunt of the deadly violence amid the January 6, 2021 insurrection—and law enforcement in New York City took steps to prepare, should Trump be indicted and arraigned in a Manhattan courtroom. 

Further, the U.S. Secret Service has been coordinating with the NYPD to discuss logistics, including court security as well as how Trump would potentially surrender for booking and processing. 

White collar defendants in New York are usually allowed to negotiate a surrender. 

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office, which has been investigating the hush money payments, has not indicated one way or another whether an indictment was imminent. 

It’s also not clear what charges Manhattan prosecutors might be exploring, but legal experts have surmised that one potential crime could be the way the payments to Cohen were structured and falsely classified internally as being for a legal retainer. New York has a law against falsifying business records, but it’s a misdemeanor—unless the falsifying of records is done in conjunction with a more serious felony.

The criminal indictment of a former U.S. President would be an unprecedented act in U.S. history. If Manhattan’s D.A. office were to indict, it could potentially open the door for other prosecutors as Trump–who is running for reelection in 2024–is under criminal investigation not just in New York, but also in Georgia and the federal government for his role in attempts to overturn the 2020 election and his mishandling of classified documents after he left the White House.

PHOTO: Courthouse in Manhattan

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