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 undercover money paid to women who allegedly had sex. four law enforcement officers testified with him on Friday.
There has been no public announcement of any timeline for the secret grand jury’s work, including any potential vote on whether to indict the former president.
Law enforcement officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said authorities were only preparing for possible indictments. They described the talks as preliminary and are considering the security, planning and practicalities of a potential court appearance for the former president.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office and Trump’s attorney, Joseph Tacopina, had no comment. A message was left for court administrators.
The grand jury heard from witnesses, including former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who says he arranged payments to two women in 2016 to keep them quiet about sexual encounters they said they had with Trump a decade ago.
Trump denies the meeting took place, says he did nothing wrong and has labeled the investigation a “witch hunt” by a Democratic prosecutor bent on sabotaging the 2024 Republican presidential campaign.
“Democrats have been investigating and attacking President Trump since before he was elected — and they’ve failed every time,” campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said Thursday in a statement about the investigation.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office is apparently looking into whether any state law was broken in connection with the payments or how the Trump company compensated Cohen for his work to hush up the women’s allegations.
Daniels and at least two former Trump aides — former political adviser Kellyanne Conway and former spokeswoman Hope Hicks — are among the witnesses who have met with prosecutors in recent weeks.
Cohen said he arranged payments totaling $280,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal at Trump’s behest. According to Cohen, the payments were to buy their silence about Trump, who was then in the midst of his first presidential campaign.
Cohen and federal prosecutors said the company paid him $420,000 to reimburse him for $130,000 in payments 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, the National Enquirer, which prevented her story from going public.
Federal prosecutors agreed not to prosecute the Enquirer’s corporate parent in exchange for its cooperation in the campaign finance investigation that led to charges against Cohen in 2018. Prosecutors said the payments to Daniels and McDougal constituted illegal, unrecorded gifts to Trump’s campaign efforts.
Cohen pleaded guilty, served prison time and was disbarred. Federal prosecutors have never charged Trump with any crime.
Long reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed.