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Trump invited to appear before grand jury in secret money investigation


Donald Trump has been told he can testify before a grand jury in Manhattan as part of an investigation into hidden money paid to an adult film star who said he slept with the former president, according to two of his lawyers.

Trump has not been subpoenaed and is not required to appear in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office investigation, defense attorneys told NBC News on Thursday. Trump’s lawyers did not say whether he would testify.

The New York Times reported on Thursday that Trump had been told he could appear before the grand jury next week, and cited sources as saying the prosecutor’s office had told Trump’s lawyers he could face charges. criminal charges.

A spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office declined to comment to NBC News.

In a statement Thursday, a Trump spokesperson blasted the office, calling any potential indictments a political attack.

“The Manhattan District Attorney’s threat to indict President Trump is simply insane. For the past five years, the DA’s office has been on a witch hunt, investigating every aspect of President Trump’s life, and they’ve come up empty-handed at every turn — and now this,” the racket said. “The fact that after their intensive investigation that the DA is even considering a new political attack is clear exoneration from President Trump on all counts.”

Chuck Rosenberg, a legal analyst with NBC News, said in an interview that the summons indicates the investigation is nearing completion and prosecutors are “seriously considering charges.”

“If the Manhattan prosecutor would just close the case, that’s easy to do without inviting Mr. Trump to testify,” said Rosenberg, a former federal prosecutor.

NBC News reported in January that New York prosecutors convened a grand jury in their investigation into hidden money paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, pleaded guilty in federal court in 2018 to making the illegal payment to Daniels for the “primary purpose of influencing” the 2016 presidential election, saying he did it done on Trump’s orders.

The years-long probe into Trump over the payout spanned the terms of two district attorneys, with Alvin Bragg taking over as head of the office and investigation in 2021.

In December, a jury in a separate investigation by Bragg’s office found the Trump Organization guilty of all charges in a 15-year tax evasion scheme that prosecutors say was orchestrated by the company’s top executives. .

Allen Weisselberg, a star witness in the prosecution case and a former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, was sentenced in January to five months in prison for his role in the scheme. Trump has not been charged in the case.

Last year, Trump was called to testify as part of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ civil investigation into the Trump Organization’s business practices. During the four-hour deposition, Trump repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. A source with knowledge of that deposition said Trump took the Fifth more than 440 times.

Vaughn Hillyard contributed.

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.