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Trump at Risk of Criminal Charges In Stormy Daniels Case

The Manhattan district attorney’s office signaled to Donald Trump’s lawyers that he could face criminal charges for his role in the payment of hush money to a porn star, the strongest indication yet that prosecutors are nearing an indictment of the former president, the New York Times reports. The prosecutors offered Trump the chance to testify next week before the grand jury that has been hearing evidence. Such offers almost always indicate an indictment is close; it would be unusual for District Attorney Alvin Bragg to notify a potential defendant without ultimately seeking charges against him. In New York, potential defendants have the right to answer questions in the grand jury before they are indicted, but they rarely testify, and Trump is likely to decline the offer. His lawyers could also meet privately with the prosecutors in hopes of fending off charges. Any case would mark the first indictment of a former U.S. president, and could upend the 2024 presidential race in which Trump remains a leading contender.

Trump has faced an array of criminal investigations and special counsel inquiries but has never been charged with a crime, underscoring the gravity of Bragg’s inquiry. Bragg could become the first prosecutor to charge Trump, but he might not be the last. In Georgia, the Fulton County District Attorney is investigating whether Trump interfered in the 2020 election, and at the federal level, a special counsel is scrutinizing Trump’s effort to overturn the election results, as well as his handling of classified documents. The Manhattan inquiry, which has spanned nearly five years, centers on a $130,000 payment to the porn star, Stormy Daniels, who said she had an affair with Trump. The payment was made in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer, who was later reimbursed by Trump from the White House. Cohen, who has long said that Trump directed him to pay Daniels to keep her quiet, is expected to testify in front of the grand jury but has not yet done so. Bragg’s prosecutors have not finished the grand jury presentation and he could decide against seeking an indictment. Trump has said that the prosecutors are engaged in a “witch hunt” against him that began before he became president, and has called Bragg, a Democrat who is Black, a politically motivated “racist.” “The Manhattan District Attorney’s threat to indict President Trump is simply insane,” a spokesman for the former president said in a statement, adding: “It’s an embarrassment to the Democrat prosecutors, and it’s an embarrassment to New York City.”

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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