Trump Lashes Out as Manhattan DA Convenes Grand Jury in Hush Money Case
Former president Donald Trump lashed out online over news that a Manhattan prosecutor has convened a grand jury as part of an investigation into a hush-money scheme involving an adult film star, disparaging the district attorney and insisting that the statute of limitations for a potential crime had passed.
News broke Monday that the grand jury had recently convened and begun calling witnesses in a probe into Trump’s role in a scheme to pay off porn actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign in a bid to keep her from publicly speaking about what she said was an The extramarital affair she had with Trump.
The probe stems from years-ago revelations that Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, paid Daniels $130,000 as part of a deal he negotiated with her in October 2016. Cohen was then reimbursed by Trump’s company to cover his taxes. He pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations in 2018 and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Trump on Tuesday derided the investigation as a part of the “greatest witch hunt of all time” and appeared to reference Cohen in posts on his social media platform, Truth Social.
“With respect to the ‘Stormy’ nonsense, it is VERY OLD & happened a long time ago, long past the very publicly known & accepted deadline of the Statute of Limitations,” Trump said. “I placed full reliance on the JUDGEMENT & ADVICE OF COUNCIL, who I had every reason to believe had a license to practice law, was competent, & was able to provide appropriately solid legal services.”
Trump also said he “never had an affair” and targeted Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney leading the probe.
“If the District Attorney of Manhattan would spend half as much time trying to solve the Murder and Violent Crime epidemic that is taking place in our once great City, as he does in perpetuating the greatest Witch Hunt of all time, at the behest of the Department of Injustice (DC), New York would be a much safer place to live, and perhaps people would stop leaving in RECORD NUMBERS!” Trump said.
Cohen said during a plea hearing that the payments were made at the direction of and in coordination with “a candidate for federal office.” The Justice Department, however, said at the time that it would not indict a sitting president.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office opened a broad investigation into several of Trump’s business dealings. Last year, the Trump Organization’s longtime finance chief Allen Weisselberg pleaded guilty to tax fraud and the Trump Organization in December was found guilty of fraud and other financial charges over a long running scheme that saw executives cook the books and avoid taxes on lavish business perks.
Trump could face charges of falsifying business records in connection with the Stormy Daniels scheme. The charge is the lowest-level felony in New York. The New York Times first reported news that the grand jury had convened.
The investigation is just one of several Trump is facing as he launches his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election.
A prosecutor in Georgia said earlier this month that charging decisions were “imminent” in an investigation into efforts by Trump and his allies to interfere with the 2020 election in the state.
The Justice Department is also investigating the former president for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection, as well as his handling of classified information after he left office, and potential obstruction of the probe.