DAVENPORT, Iowa – March 13: Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he lands at Quad Cities International Airport en route to Iowa on Monday, March 13, 2023, in Moline, Illinois.
Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in New York are bracing for the possibility that former President Donald Trump could be criminally charged as early as next week in connection with the payment of hush money to a porn star, WNBC reported Friday.
Discussions between the agencies included potential security measures around the state criminal courthouse in Lower Manhattan, where a grand jury is hearing testimony related to the 2016 payoff to Stormy Daniels, according to the report, which cited five senior officials.
If indicted, Trump, the Republican presidential nominee in 2024, would become the first former president to face criminal charges.
Many legal observers expect him to be indicted based on the fact that a grand jury was empaneled in the first place and because prosecutors recently offered Trump the opportunity to testify.
Law enforcement agencies involved in security talks about the possibility include the New York Police Department, the US Secret Service, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and New York State coroners, WNBC reported.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office, which is handling Trump’s criminal investigation, was also involved in the preparations, the report said.
The report of the discussions came two days after Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, wrapped up two days of grand jury testimony. Daniels also spoke with prosecutors via Zoom.
Cohen previously admitted that he paid Daniels $130,000 at Trump’s behest in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election to buy her silence about her claim that she had sex with Trump once years ago.
Trump denied having sex with Daniels, but his company reimbursed Cohen.
In recent days, Trump has attacked Cohen, Daniels and prosecutors.
“President Donald J. Trump is completely innocent, he has done nothing wrong, and even the biggest, most radical left Democrats are making that clear,” the Trump campaign said in a statement Thursday night.
The criminal investigation centers on the Trump Organization’s classification of Cohen’s payment as a legal expense.
Such an alleged misrepresentation of a business expense is generally considered a felony under New York law, but may be elevated to a felony if made to conceal an underlying crime.
Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to a federal campaign finance charge related to the payment to Daniels. He also pleaded guilty to several other crimes.
He was sentenced to three years in prison, but was released two years early because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Trump Organization was indicted in December in an unrelated tax fraud case brought by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
Trump personally faces three other criminal investigations in addition to the one involving Daniels.
A federal special prosecutor is overseeing the Justice Department’s investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which he lost to President Joe Biden.
Special counsel Jack Smith is also investigating Trump for removing hundreds of government documents, many of them classified, from the White House when he left office. It is also investigating possible obstruction of justice related to federal officials’ efforts to return them.
A state attorney in Georgia is separately investigating Trump for trying to get state officials to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden in that state.
A grand jury empaneled in this case recommended that a number of people be charged with a number of crimes. But the identities of those individuals and the nature of those allegations have not been made public.