NEW YORK (AP) — Law enforcement officials in New York are making security preparations for the possibility that former President Donald Trump could be indicted in the coming weeks and appear in a Manhattan courtroom in an investigation into secret money paid to women who involved sexual encounters. . with him, four law enforcement officials said on Friday.
There has been no public announcement of any timeframe for the grand jury’s undercover work, including any potential vote on whether to indict the former president.
The law enforcement officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said authorities were preparing for an indictment.
They described the conversations as preliminary and considering the safety, planning and practicalities of a potential court appearance for a former president.
Trump’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, told The Associated Press that if Trump is indicted, “we will go through normal procedures.”
The Manhattan attorney’s office had no comment. A message was left for court administrators.
The grand jury heard from witnesses, including Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, who say he orchestrated payments in 2016 to two women to silence them about sexual encounters they claimed they had with Trump with a decade earlier.
Trump denies the meetings took place, maintains he did nothing wrong and dismissed the investigation as a “witch hunt” by a Democratic prosecutor bent on sabotaging the Republican’s 2024 presidential campaign.
“Democrats have investigated and attacked President Trump since before he was elected — and failed every time,” campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said Thursday in a statement about the investigation.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office is reportedly looking into whether state laws were broken related to the payments or how the Trump Corporation compensated Cohen for his work to keep the women’s allegations under wraps.
Daniels and at least two former Trump aides — former political adviser Kellyanne Conway and former press secretary Hope Hicks — are among the witnesses who have met with prosecutors in recent weeks.
Cohen said that, at Trump’s direction, he arranged payments totaling $280,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. According to Cohen, the payments were to buy their silence about Trump, who was then in the midst of a presidential campaign.
Cohen and federal prosecutors said the company paid him $420,000 to reimburse him for a $130,000 payment to Daniels and to cover bonuses and other alleged expenses. The Company has internally classified these payments as legal fees.
The $150,000 payment to McDougal was made by the then-publisher of the supermarket tabloid National Enquirer, which prevented his story from getting out.
Federal prosecutors agreed not to prosecute the Enquirer’s parent company in exchange for its cooperation in a campaign finance investigation that led to charges against Cohen in 2018. Prosecutors said the payments to Daniels and McDougal were gifts ineligible and unregistered for the Trump campaign.
Cohen pleaded guilty, served prison time and was disbarred. Federal prosecutors have never charged Trump with a crime.
Long reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed.
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