Grand Jury Expected to Resume Work in Trump Hush Money Probe

March 23, 2023

The Manhattan grand jury investigating former President Trump’s role in a hush money payment to the adult film actress known as Stormy Daniels was expected to resume working Thursday after an unexpected day off Wednesday.

Reports surfaced around noon Wednesday that the grand jury had been told that that day’s meeting was canceled but to be on standby for Thursday.

The Wednesday meeting was postponed following testimony Monday before the grand jury by Robert Costello, an attorney with close ties to Trump aides. He had been invited by prosecutors in District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office 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.”

Regardless, Costello’s testimony was viewed as a sign that the grand jury’s work is wrapping up. Former President Trump had posted on his Truth Social site on Saturday that he would “be arrested” on Tuesday—a prediction that never came to pass. 

Meanwhile, 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 began beefing up security on Monday in anticipation of a possible Trump indictment and arraignment. 

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, however, has not indicated one way or another whether an indictment is imminent. 

It’s also not clear what charges prosecutors might be exploring. For falsifying business records to be a felony, not a misdemeanor, Bragg’s office must show that Trump’s “intent to defraud” included an intent to commit or conceal a second crime.

Cohen has reportedly testified that he paid Daniels the $130,000 in hush money out of his own funds, then was reimbursed by Trump in a way that was misclassified as a legal expense.

That could be a violation of election law under the theory that the payout served as a donation to Trump’s 2016 campaign, because it silenced Daniels and shut down a potential sex scandal in the final stretch of the election season.

If an indictment does not come Thursday, the matter will stretch into next week, since the jurors don’t meet on Friday. And even if the grand jury does make a decision Thursday, it’s possible it may not be made public right away, as the jury does its work behind closed doors.

Read more exclusive news from Political IQ.

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