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Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Gaylord National Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, U.S., March 4, 2023.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters
Prosecutors in New York City have indicated to attorneys for President Donald Trump that he could be criminally charged in connection with a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels on his behalf before the 2016 presidential election, a new report said Thursday.
The New York Times reported that Trump was offered the opportunity by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to testify next week to the grand jury that has been collecting evidence and hearing testimony for the criminal probe.
“Such offers almost always indicate an indictment is close,” The Times article noted.
The newspaper said its reporters had spoken to four people with knowledge of the situation.
Two defense attorneys for Trump defense attorneys confirmed to NBC News that Trump has been told through his lawyers he can appear before the grand jury.
The Trump attorneys said such an offer is standard, and that he was not issued a subpoena compelling his appearance.
Those attorneys disputed The Times’ claims that criminal charges could be forthcoming.
Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen in 2018 admitted to paying Daniel $130,000 shortly before the 2016 election to keep her quiet about her claims to a one-time sexual tryst with Trump years earlier.
Trump, who is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has denied having sex with Daniels. But he reimbursed Cohen for the payment to the adult film actress.
A spokesperson for Trump told NBC News: “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 at every turn – and now this,” the spokesperson said.
“The fact that after their intensive investigation the DA is even considering a new political attack is a clear exoneration of President Trump in all areas. President Trump was the victim of extortion then, just as he is now. It’s an embarrassment to the Democrat prosecutors, and it’s an embarrassment to New York City.”
In addition to the probe by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, Trump is under criminal investigation in Atlanta for interference in the 2020 presidential election, when he tried to get state officials to overturn the victory in Georgia by President Joe Biden.
Trump also is under criminal investigation by the Department of Justice for efforts to reverse his loss in the Electoral College to Biden that year, and for pressuring then-Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to accept the certifications of Biden electors from swing states that gave Biden his margin of victory.