Grand Jury to Reconvene in Stormy Daniels Hush Money Case

March 22, 2023

The Grand Jury was set to reconvene Wednesday afternoon in the Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into former President Trump’s role in a hush money payment to adult film actress known as Stormy Daniels.

Trump’s prediction over the weekend that he would “be arrested on Tuesday” did not happen.

However, there have been signs that the grand jury could be coming to the end of its work as Robert Costello, an attorney with close ties to Trump aides, testified on Monday. 

Costello 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 Monday 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 beefed up security, 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 grand jury is reconvening one day after CNN reported that an attorney for Daniels turned over to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office communications between herself and the attorney representing Trump in the case, Joseph Tacopina. The exchanges reportedly date back to 2018, when Daniels was seeking representation in the case, and could potentially sideline Tacopina from defending Trump—though Tacopina denies ever meeting or speaking with Daniels. 

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office, meanwhile, has not indicated one way or another whether an indictment was imminent. 

It’s also not clear what charges 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 is under criminal investigation not just in New York, but also in Georgia and by 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 credit: Glenn Francis 

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