A years-long investigation into a hush money scheme involving former President Donald Trump and adult film star Stormy Daniels may be drawing to a close.
Trump announced on social media Saturday that he expects to be arrested in connection with the case as early as Tuesday, though a spokesman for the former president said his team has not received updates from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, which is investigating. leads. .
CNN’s John Miller reported Friday that law enforcement agencies in New York have held meetings on how to prepare for security in the event that Trump is indicted. The Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to comment Saturday on Trump’s posts.
An indictment against Trump would be historic as it marks the first time a former US president and major presidential candidate has faced criminal charges.
Here’s what you need to know about the hush money investigation.
Prosecutors in District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office recently asked Trump to appear before the grand jury investigating the case.
The request represented the clearest indication yet that investigators were approaching a decision on whether to take the unprecedented step to indict a former president, as potential defendants in New York are required by law to be notified. and be invited to appear before a grand jury that weighs the charges.
The Manhattan DA’s investigation first began under Bragg’s predecessor, Cy Vance, when Trump was still in the White House. It relates to a $130,000 payment that Trump’s then-personal attorney Michael Cohen made to Daniels in late October 2016, days before the 2016 presidential election, to keep her from going public about an alleged affair with Trump a decade earlier. Trump has denied the affair.
At issue in the investigation is the payment to Daniels and the repayment of the Trump Organization to Cohen.
According to court filings in Cohen’s own federal prosecutor, Trump Org. executives authorized payments to him totaling $420,000 to cover his original payment of $130,000 and tax liabilities and rewarded him with a bonus.
The Manhattan district attorney’s investigation has hung over Trump since his presidency and is just one of many investigations the former president faces in his third bid for the White House.
Hush money payments are not illegal. Prosecutors are considering whether to charge Trump with falsifying the Trump Organization’s corporate records for how it mirrored the repayment of the payment to Cohen, who said he advanced the money to Daniels. Falsifying company records is a felony in New York.
Prosecutors are also considering whether to charge Trump with first-degree falsification of corporate records for falsifying a record with intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal another crime, which in this case constitutes a violation of campaign finance laws. That is a class E misdemeanor and carries a penalty of a minimum of one year and a maximum of four years. To prove the case, prosecutors would have to show that Trump intended to commit a crime.
The Trump Organization listed the fees as legal fees in its internal books. Trump has previously denied knowing anything about the payment.
If the district attorney’s office goes ahead with indictments, it would be a rare moment in history: Trump would be the first former US president ever to be indicted and also the first major presidential candidate to be indicted and run for office .
The former president has said he “wouldn’t even think about leaving the 2024 race” if charged.
A decision to press charges would not be without risk or guarantee a conviction. For example, Trump’s lawyers could challenge whether campaign finance laws would apply as a crime to make the case a misdemeanor.
In a lengthy response to his Truth Social account earlier this month, Trump said in part, “I did absolutely nothing wrong. I never had an affair with Stormy Daniels.”
On Saturday, a spokesman said Trump was “rightly emphasizing his innocence” by calling on supporters to protest if he is indicted.
A Trump attorney said earlier this month that any prosecution related to hush money payments to an adult movie star would be “completely unprecedented” and accused the Manhattan district attorney of targeting the former president for “political reasons and personal animosity.”
Trump attorney Joe Tacopina said in a statement shared with CNN that the campaign finance laws in this case, which is related to seven-year-old allegations, are “murky” and that the underlying legal theories of a possible case are “untested.”
“This prosecutor and former district attorney has spent years searching every aspect of President Trump’s personal life and business affairs looking for a crime and must stop. This is just not what our justice system is about,” Tacopina said.
Cohen, Trump’s one-time fixer, played a central role in the hush money episode and is involved in the investigation.
He has admitted to paying Daniels $130,000 to keep her from going public with the alleged affair with Trump just before the 2016 election. He also helped arrange a $150,000 payment from the publisher of the National Enquirer to Karen McDougal to quash her story of a 10-month affair with Trump. Trump also denies an affair with McDougal.
Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to eight counts, including two counts of campaign finance violations for orchestrating or making payments during the 2016 campaign.
Cohen met with the Manhattan district attorney’s office on Friday and will also appear on Monday.
Speaking to reporters walking into court on Friday, Cohen said he has not yet testified before a grand jury.
“I have to applaud District Attorney Bragg for giving Donald the opportunity to come in and tell his story,” he said. “Knowing Donald as well as I do, I understand he’s not telling the truth. It’s one thing to turn around and lie about your Untruth Social and it’s quite another to turn around and lie in front of a grand jury. So I don’t think he will come.”
For her part, Daniels, aka Stephanie Clifford, said in 2021 that she had not yet testified in the investigation, but that she would like “nothing more than” to be interviewed by prosecutors investigating the Trump Organization.
Daniels said at the time that her attorney has been in contact with Manhattan and New York State detectives and that she has spoken with them about other issues. She said if asked to speak to investigators or a grand jury, she would “tell everything I know.”
She wrote a tell-all book in 2018 detailing the alleged affair in graphic detail, with her then-lawyer saying the book was meant to prove her story of having sex with Trump is true.
Bragg’s research has continued in recent months as this latest development approaches.
Trump’s lawyer recently met with the district attorney’s office, a source told CNN. According to another source familiar with the case, his legal team is concerned about Bragg’s intentions due to the recently increased activity at the grand jury.
Former Trump White House aides Hope Hicks and Kellyanne Conway recently appeared before the grand jury. And CNN reported last month that Trump Organization comptroller Jeffrey McConney would appear before the grand jury, according to people familiar with the matter.
McConney is one of the top finance officers at the Trump Organization and is responsible for its books and records.
Trump’s lawyers would likely have a chance to convince the district attorney’s team that an indictment is not warranted.
This story has been updated with additional information.