Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg’s office has reportedly signaled to President Donald Trump’s legal team that he could face criminal charges for his alleged role in hush money payments to pornstar Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election.
The New York Times reported that Trump has been offered the chance to testify before the grand jury that has been hearing evidence in the case.
“The Manhattan District Attorney’s threat to indict President Trump is simply insane,” a spokesman for Trump said in a statement. “It’s an embarrassment to the Democrat prosecutors, and it’s an embarrassment to New York City.”
The report noted that the offer for Trump to testify “almost always indicates an indictment is close” and that it would be “unusual” for any district attorney to give a potential defendant that notification “without ultimately seeking charges against” them.
The criminal investigation into Trump’s alleged $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels, who says that she had an affair with Trump, has lasted five years. The case involves a payment that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who pled guilty to felony charges related to the payment, made to Daniels during the election.
Daniels’ representatives contacted the National Enquirer about her story during the campaign, but the publication was not interested in buying the exclusive rights to it. The publication’s publisher brokered a deal between Cohen and Daniels.
The problem for Trump centers around how his company paid Cohen for the hush payment. The expense was listed as a legal expense and the company cited a retainer agreement with Cohen. The retainer agreement did not exist and the reimbursement was not related to any legal services from Cohen, thus setting up a potential misdemeanor criminal charge of falsifying business records.
The report said that prosecutors can elevate the misdemeanor to a felony if they can prove that Trump’s “‘intent to defraud’ included an intent to commit or conceal a second crime.”
Prosecutors argue that the second crime is that the $130,000 hush payment was an improper donation to the Trump campaign because the money was used to stop a story for the purpose of benefiting his campaign.
If Trump were to be convicted in the case, he would face a maximum of four years behind bars, although prison time is not mandatory.
Trump later issued a lengthy statement saying that he did “absolutely nothing wrong” and that he never had an affair with Stormy Daniels, who he called “Horseface” in the statement, and that he never wanted to.
Trump claimed that the investigation was a “political Witch-Hunt” and that the only thing that he was guilty of was “beating all Republicans and Democrats badly in the Presidential race.”
“It is appalling that the Democrats would play this card and only means that they are certain that they cannot win at the voter booth, so they have to go to a tool that has never been used in such a way in our country, weaponized law enforcement,” he claimed.