Manhattan DA presenting evidence in Trump-Stormy Daniels investigation to grand jury
The Manhattan district attorney is presenting evidence to a grand jury that former President Donald Trump may have committed crimes in connection with hush money payments to an adult film actress in 2016, according to a person familiar with the investigation.
The move lays the groundwork for possible criminal charges against Trump, who has said he did nothing wrong.
The investigation stems from the revelation early in Trump's presidency that his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, had made a deal in October 2016 with adult film star Stormy Daniels, who said she had an extramarital affair with Trump. Daniels received $130,000, and in exchange, she agreed not to discuss her story with reporters.
Cohen pleaded guilty to federal charges of violating campaign finance law in 2018 and went to prison.
As Cohen put it during a plea hearing, the payments were made "in coordination with, and at the direction of, a candidate for federal office." He said paid the money and arranged to be reimbursed $420,000 by Trump's company to cover his taxes. The company recorded the payments to Cohen as legal fees, which could constitute a crime in New York.
Trump was not charged in connection with the payments. The Justice Department had determined that it would not indict a sitting president. The Manhattan District Attorney's Office opened its own investigation, which ultimately focused on tax fraud. Last year, longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg pleaded guilty and Trump's company was convicted of scheming to pay its employees with untaxed benefits such as luxury cars and apartments.
Now the Manhattan DA's Office has summoned witnesses to testify about the hush-money payments before a newly empaneled grand jury, according to the source.
Trump could face a charge of falsifying business records, the lowest-level felony in New York.
The grand jury could vote on an indictment in a matter of months. If jurors do indict, that means Trump, who is again running for president, would have to show up in criminal court in Manhattan to enter a plea in the case.
For his part, the former president said in a social media post that this is "a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time" and added, "NEVER HAD AN AFFAIR."