New York law enforcement officials are preparing security for the possibility that former President Donald Trump could be indicted in the coming weeks and appear in a Manhattan courtroom in an investigation examining the amount of money. gag paid to women who allegedly had sex with him, four law enforcement officials said Friday.
There has been no public announcement of any timeframe for the secret grand jury work, including any potential vote on whether to indict the former president.
Law enforcement officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said authorities were just preparing in the event of an indictment. They described the conversations as preliminary and were looking at the security, planning and practicality of a former president’s potential court appearance.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and Trump’s attorney, Joseph Tacopina, were unavailable for comment. A message was left for the court administrators.
The grand jury heard from witnesses including former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who said he arranged payments in 2016 to two women to silence them about sexual encounters. education they say they had with Trump a decade earlier.
Trump denies the meetings happened, says he did nothing wrong and sees the investigation as a “witch hunt” by a Democratic prosecutor looking to sabotage the 2024 presidential campaign. of the Republican Party.
“Democrats have been investigating and attacking President Trump since before he was elected – and they have failed each time,” campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement on Thursday. investigation.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Alvin Bragg appears to be examining whether any state laws were violated regarding the payments or how Trump’s company compensated Cohen for his work to keep silence the accusations of women.
Daniels and at least two former Trump aides – one-time political adviser Kellyanne Conway and former spokeswoman Hope Hicks – are among the witnesses who have met with prosecutors in recent weeks.
Cohen has said that at Trump’s direction, he arranged payments totaling $280,000 to porn actor Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. According to Cohen, the payments were to buy their silence about Trump, who was then busy with his first presidential campaign.
Cohen and federal prosecutors say the company paid him $420,000 to reimburse him for a $130,000 payment to Daniels and to cover bonuses and alleged expenses. other. The Company has classified such internal payments as legal expenses.
The US$150,000 payment to McDougal was made by the then-publisher of the supermarket tabloid National Enquirer, keeping her story from coming to light.
Federal prosecutors agreed not to prosecute the Enquirer’s parent company in exchange for their cooperation in the campaign finance investigation that led to the charges against Cohen in 2018. Prosecutors say knew payments to Daniels and McDougal were unacceptable, uncredited gifts to Trump’s election effort.
Cohen pleaded guilty, served a prison sentence, and was stripped of his rights. Federal prosecutors have never charged Trump with any crime.
Long report from Washington. Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed.