New York prosecutors signal Trump may face criminal charges from Stormy Daniels scandal

Former President Donald Trump was recently offered the chance to appear before a Manhattan grand jury about the hush money scandal with porn star Stormy Daniels — a sign that criminal charges may follow.

Prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney’s office communicated the offer for Trump to testify next week if he so chooses, a legal source told Fox News. The office, led by DA Alvin Bragg, has been investigating the hush money scandal — which took place in 2016 — for the past five years.

The source cautioned that it did not necessarily guarantee an indictment was coming, or when it may happen. The source explained how potential defendants in New York have the right to testify before the grand jury ahead of such an indictment, but that those defendants rarely do so. This would mark the first time a former American president was criminally indicted.

Trump attorney Susan Necheles responded to Fox News on Friday: "For five years, the Manhattan district attorney’s office has investigated every facet of former President Trump‘s life. Unable to find criminality in any aspect of his finances, the Manhattan district attorney now threatens to indict former President Trump for payments made to Stormy Daniels seven years ago. For the DA’s office to charge former President Trump, a victim of extortion, with a crime because his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, a convicted liar, paid the extortionist would be unprecedented and outrageous selective prosecution."


Donald Trump at a rally
Former President Donald Trump may be criminally charged by New York prosecutors after his lawyers were informed that he is welcome to appear before a grand jury next week.

The New York Times reported the news Thursday.


Hush money is not criminal, but prosecutors may argue that the $130,000 payment to Daniels was an improper donation to the Trump campaign, as Daniels' NDA helped his candidacy.

According to the Times, the case against Trump hinges on an "untested and therefore risky legal theory involving a complex interplay of laws."

Towards the end of the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen sent $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels to prevent her from disclosing her 2006 affair with Trump. Trump reimbursed Cohen through installments.

Daniels' representatives had reached out to the National Enquirer to offer exclusive rights to the story. The publisher, a Trump ally, instead connected Daniels' team with Cohen to arrange a deal.


Stormy Daniels and Avenatti
Adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels and attorney Michael Avenatti attend the 2019 Adult Video News Awards at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Jan. 26, 2019.

During Cohen's criminal investigation, prosecutors argued that Trump's company falsely filed the Stormy Daniels payments as legal expenses. Because the reimbursement was done under the table, this could count as falsifying business records.

Falsifying business records is a misdemeanor offense. It could be elevated to a felony charge if Trump had intent to defraud or conceal.

The New York investigation takes place as Trump is also under scrutiny by the Fulton County District Attorney in Georgia for allegedly interfering in the 2020 election. A federal special counsel is also investigating Trump's handling of classified documents and his relationship to the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

Michael Cohen outside NY court
Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer, leaves his apartment to report to prison in Manhattan, New York, on May 6, 2019.

Whether Trump could be sent to prison is unknown at this stage. The former president could face four years in prison if convicted, but there is no mandatory sentence.