A grand jury is hearing evidence against Donald Trump in Stormy Daniels hush-money case

A grand jury is hearing evidence against Donald Trump in Stormy Daniels hush-money case
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  • Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg established a grand jury for another Trump investigation.

  • The special grand jury is hearing evidence over whether Trump broke laws with his 2016 hush-money payment.

  • Michael Cohen was previously convicted for the scheme in federal court.

The Manhattan District Attorney's office will begin presenting evidence to a grand jury Monday in connection with Donald Trump's possible role in paying a hush-money settlement to Stormy Daniels in 2016, the New York Times reported.

The move signals that District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg is coming close to making a decision on whether Trump should be charged with campaign finance crimes related to the scheme.

David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer, walked into the lower Manhattan courthouse where the grand jury is sitting on Monday, according to the Times. Pecker helped facilitate the hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, to keep her silent ahead of the 2016 election about an affair she says she had with Trump. Prosecutors are also seeking to interview Dylan Howard, the tabloid's editor at the time.

Trump's former fixer and personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to campaign finance charges related to the scheme in 2018. But the federal prosecutors in Manhattan who brought the case never filed charges against Trump, who was the sitting president at the time. Trump was referred to as "Individual-1" in charging documents, and Cohen said he made the payment to Daniels at his direction.

The case is being heard by a special grand jury, according to the Times, which sits for six months rather than the standard single month.

Prosecutors at the Manhattan district attorney's office have mulled for years about bringing charges against Trump, who has denied wrongdoing and described investigations against him as witch hunts.

Bragg's predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., allowed members of his team to bring evidence to a grand jury over potential tax and bank fraud charges. Bragg pulled the plug on the project when he took office at the beginning of 2022, leading to two of the office's top prosecutors, Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz, to resign. Pomerantz is preparing a book about what he sees as Bragg's mistakes, due to be released next month.

The Manhattan district attorney's office did, however, successfully bring charges against the Trump Organization and its ex-chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, for financial fraud. Weisselberg pleaded guilty and is currently spending his sentence at the Riker's Island jail complex. Trump's company was found guilty at trial last year and fined $1.6 million.

While Cohen implicated Trump in the hush-money scheme, bringing charges against the former president in state court poses several challenges. According to the Times, to bring felony charges against Trump, prosecutors would need to prove he falsified records for the payment to conceal a second crime. That second crime, according to the Times, would be a violation of a New York state election law. The legal theory that would result in felony charges has little precedent, the Times reported.

Read the original article on Business Insider