Trump invited to appear before grand jury in hush-money probe
Donald Trump has been told he can testify before a grand jury as part of an investigation into hush money paid to an adult film star during the 2016 campaign.
Donald Trump has been told he can testify before a grand jury in New York City next week as part of an investigation into hush money paid to an adult film star who said she had slept with the former president, according to two of his attorneys.
Trump was not subpoenaed and is not being forced to appear in the Manhattan district attorney's office's probe, the defense attorneys said Thursday. They did not indicate whether he would testify.
The New York Times reported Thursday that Trump was told he could appear before the grand jury next week and cited sources saying the DA's office had signaled to Trump's lawyers that he could face criminal charges. Trump's attorneys told NBC News that he was not told charges would be forthcoming.
A spokesperson for the DA's office declined to comment.
Trump, who in November launched his 2024 presidential bid, said in a lengthy statement on his Truth Social site Thursday night that he "did absolutely nothing wrong."
A spokesperson for Trump earlier blasted the district attorney's office, casting any potential indictment as 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 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."
Chuck Rosenberg, an NBC News legal analyst, said in an interview that the invitation to appear indicates that the investigation is near its end and that prosecutors are “seriously considering charges.”
“If the Manhattan district attorney was simply shutting the case down, that’s easy to do without inviting Mr. Trump to testify,” said Rosenberg, a former federal prosecutor.
NBC News reported in January that prosecutors in New York had convened a grand jury in their investigation into hush money paid to the adult film actor Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump has denied having sex with Daniels. In a 2018 tweet, he said the money transfer was to “stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair.” He also has said the money was a “private contract.”
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, pleaded guilty in federal court in 2018 to making the illegal payment to Daniels for the “principal purpose of influencing” the 2016 presidential election, saying he did so on Trump's orders.
Cohen, who has met with Manhattan prosecutors repeatedly, said last month that he had surrendered his phone to Bragg’s office as evidence related to the hush money payment.
The yearslong investigation into Trump over the payment has spanned the terms of two district attorneys; Alvin Bragg took the helm of the office and the probe 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 fraud scheme that prosecutors said was orchestrated by the company's top executives. Trump was not charged.
Last year, Trump was called to testify in New York Attorney General Letitia James' civil probe 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 the deposition said Trump took the Fifth more than 440 times.
The hush-money probe is not the only investigation where Trump is a key figure.
Special counsel Jack Smith is overseeing the Justice Department’s investigation of the Jan. 6 riot and the criminal probe of Trump’s possible mishandling of classified documents.
In Georgia, a special grand jury looked at whether Trump and his allies tried to interfere in the state's 2020 election results. The foreperson said last month that the jury recommended indicting more than a dozen people, whose names have not been made public.
“There are certainly names that you will recognize, yes. There are names also you might not recognize,” the foreperson said.