Manhattan DA presenting evidence to grand jury about Trump's role in Stormy Daniels' hush money payments
Published in Political News
NEW YORK — The Manhattan district attorney is presenting evidence to a special grand jury about former President Donald Trump’s connections to hush money payments made to former porn star Stormy Daniels.
The latest development in District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s prolonged probe into Trump has been confirmed to the Daily News by a source familiar with the investigation.
It comes weeks after Trump’s former fixer and lawyer Michael Cohen met with Bragg’s investigators for the first time. Cohen went to federal prison for giving Daniels the money before the 2016 presidential election to keep quiet about allegations she had sex with Trump.
Cohen’s meeting renewed speculation Trump could still face criminal charges in New York after the DA’s investigation went quiet following another grand jury’s expiration and a set of resignations by high-level prosecutors, which fueled rumors the probe was dead in the water.
The hush money payments have long been public knowledge. Cohen served three years in federal custody after pleading guilty in 2018 to breaking campaign finance laws when he bought Daniels’ silence about an alleged affair with Trump in 2006 for $130,000.
Cohen admitted he also paid former Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000 to stay quiet about alleged liaisons with Trump in 2006 and 2007, which he said was coordinated with the National Enquirer. The New York Times reported Monday that the tabloid’s former publisher David Pecker was seen entering the Manhattan DA’s offices.
The DA’s focus on the payments is the closest sign yet Trump might still face charges stemming from the probe now running on three years. Cohen admitted in his federal case that he made the payments “in coordination with, and at the direction of” Trump, who he said reimbursed him for $420,000 doled out by his family real estate business and at least one payment straight out of his checking account.
Among prosecutors’ areas of interest are how those reimbursements were classified in the Trump Organization’s books and whether they met the threshold of falsifying business records. In his federal case, Cohen said they were designated as legal bills.
To charge Trump with a felony for falsely booking the hush payment as a business expense, prosecutors must find a backup crime. Trump making the payment days before an election for a politically motivated reason could count as one, a source familiar with the investigation told The News.
Cohen met more than a dozen times with prosecutors who worked under Bragg’s predecessor Cyrus Vance. Cohen told The News his phone stopped ringing when the new administration moved in.
©2023 New York Daily News. Visit nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.