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Michael Cohen appears before the Trump grand jury for the second time


NEW YORK (AP) — The New York grand jury investigating Donald Trump heard more testimony Wednesday from Michael Cohen, who in 2016 paid a porn star to avoid going public about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump a decade before he was elected president.

Cohen arrived at the Manhattan building around 12:45 a.m. where the grand jury is meeting to give its second day of testimony.

“I feel great,” he told reporters as he entered the building, adding that he had no idea when the grand jury might be asked by prosecutors to make a decision on an indictment. Cohen said he did not expect to be back for a third day of testimony.

In the closing weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign, Cohen said he made a $130,000 payment on Trump’s behalf to the porn actress Stormy Danielswho was negotiating to tell her story on television at the time.

Daniels says she had an unwanted sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. Trump says it never happened. The former president’s attorney said he was invited to testify before the grand jury, but has no plans to do so.

Federal prosecutors charged Cohen in 2018 with campaign finance crimes related to the payment, and a similar $150,000 payout he helped arrange to Playboy model Karen McDougal, arguing that they amounted to impermissible gifts to Trump’s election efforts. Trump also denied having an affair with McDougal.

However, Trump has never been indicted by federal prosecutors. Prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether state laws were broken in connection with the payments or how Cohen was paid by the Trump Organization for his work to cover up the alleged affairs.

Cohen and federal prosecutors said the company paid him $420,000 to reimburse him for the payment to Daniels and to cover bonuses and other alleged expenses. The company classified those payments internally as legal fees.

Falsifying business records may be a felony under state law, or a misdemeanor if the falsifying of paperwork is done in connection with a more serious crime.

Trump and his lawyers have said he was extorted to pay the money to Daniels and should be considered the victim in the investigation. Daniels and the lawyers who helped arrange the payment have denied extorting anyone.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.