The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has asked for a meeting with law enforcement ahead of a possible indictment of former President Donald Trump next week. US news reports said that Trump could be indicted as soon as the coming week by a Manhattan grand jury and appear in a courtroom in relation to a probe, which is examining the money paid to women who alleged sexual encounters with the former president.
Four law enforcement officials on Friday said there has been no public announcement of any timeframe for the grand jury’s secret work. There is also no potential vote on whether to indict the former president, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
The law enforcement officials told AP that the authorities are just preparing in case of an indictment. They described the conversations as preliminary and are considering security, planning, and the practicalities of a potential court appearance by a former president.
The grand jury has been hearing from witnesses including former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who says he orchestrated payments in 2016 to two women to silence them about sexual encounters they said they had with Trump a decade earlier.
Trump has denied the encounters. He said he did nothing wrong and has cast the investigation as a “witch hunt” by a Democratic prosecutor bent on sabotaging the Republican’s 2024 presidential campaign.
“This is a huge development.” Final preparations being made to arrest Donald Trump next week. Trump will “be fingerprinted and processed like every other defendant”. The Secret Service will make the decision whether to handcuff the former president or not. (Video: Fox News) pic.twitter.com/u36MW0680U
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) March 17, 2023
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office has apparently been examining whether any state laws were broken in connection with the payments or the way Trump’s company compensated Cohen for his work to keep the women’s allegations quiet.
Reacting to the development, Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung said district attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation is a “witch hunt” and accused him of being in the pocket of President Joe Biden and “radical Democrats.”
“President Donald J. Trump is completely innocent, he did nothing wrong, and even the biggest, most Radical Left Democrats are making that clear,” Cheung told Fox News.
Cheung told Fox News that the Democrats are attacking the President ahead of the polls because President Trump is leading in the polls by a large margin.
“Everyone knows it’s a sham. In fact, the Department of Justice stocked the DA’s office with top people from DC to help ‘Get Trump’ at a local level. Americans will not tolerate Radical Left Democrats turning our justice system into an injustice system to influence a presidential election, which is all they want to do,” he further said.
Trump’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, did not comment on the development.
What Cohen said
Trump’s lawyer Cohen said at Trump’s direction, he arranged payments totalling $2,80,000 to porn actor Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. According to Cohen, the payouts were to buy their silence about Trump, who was then in the thick of his first presidential campaign.
Cohen and federal prosecutors said the company paid him $4,20,000 to reimburse him for the $1,30,000 payment to Daniels and to cover bonuses and other supposed expenses. The company classified those payments internally as legal expenses.
Federal prosecutors in 2018 charged Cohen with campaign finance crimes, saying the payments to Daniels and McDougal amounted to impermissible, unrecorded gifts to Trump’s election effort.
Cohen pleaded guilty, served prison time and was disbarred. Federal prosecutors never charged Trump with any crime.