The Manhattan grand jury’s probe wrapped up its proceedings Monday afternoon with no vote in the case of former President Donald Trump.
The confidential grand jury reconvened Monday in New York City after the proceedings regarding Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation into the former president were canceled twice last week.
According to Fox News, the grand jury heard from one witness, David Pecker, Monday afternoon. Pecker served as president of National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media, Inc., and previously testified before the grand jury as part of the case.
D.A. Bragg has been investigating the alleged $130,000 hush-money payment that Michael Cohen, then Trump’s attorney, made to former stripper and adult film actress Stormy Daniels. The payment was made in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election in exchange for silence about an alleged sexual encounter between Daniels and Trump in 2006, according to court records.
Cohen said Trump directed the payments. Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 through his own company, which was later reimbursed by President Trump’s company, which recorded the payments as “legal expenses.”
Former President Trump has frequently denied any wrongdoing regarding the payments made to Daniels; however, he has repeatedly said the payments were “not a campaign violation” but instead a “simple private transaction.”
According to federal prosecutors who filed criminal charges against Trump’s former lawyer in 2018, the Trump Organization “grossed out” Cohen’s reimbursement for Daniels’ payment for “tax purposes.”
U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York’s federal prosecutors opted out of charging Trump concerning the payment in 2019, despite Cohen implicating the former president as part of his plea deal. In 2021, the Federal Election Commission also threw out its investigation into the matter.
The grand jury is scheduled to reconvene Wednesday; however, whether they will meet related to the Trump administration is unknown. Trump suggested over the weekend that the case against him had already been dropped.
“I think they’ve already dropped the case,” said Trump to reporters onboard his plane after he appeared at his first 2024 campaign event in Waco, Texas.
“It’s a fake case,” said Trump. “Some fake cases, they have absolutely nothing.”
When asked for a comment about the former president’s claim the case has been dismissed, Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said, “This has been dropped because everyone knows this was a partisan witch-hunt by a radical, leftist D.A. that sought to weaponize the Justice system to influence an election politically.”
D.A. Bragg slams GOP House members’ calls for his testimony
In the meantime, D.A. Bragg has criticized Republicans in the House who have been calling for him to testify on Capitol Hill about the investigation.
“We evaluate cases in our jurisdiction based on the facts, the law, and the evidence. It is not appropriate for Congress to interfere with pending local investigations,” said the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in a statement.
The D.A.’s office maintained that Bragg stands by his previous pledge to state publicly at the end of the investigation whether we conclude our work without bringing charges or move forward with an indictment.”
Bragg became district attorney in January 2022 and discontinued pursuing charges against former President Trump. He suspended the probe “indefinitely,” according to a top prosecutor who resigned from the office in protest.
Prosecutors Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz, who had been in charge of the investigation under former D.A. Cyrus Vance, resigned after Bragg started raising doubts about pursuing a case against the former president.
The Manhattan D.A.’s office investigation into former President Trump began in 2019 by Cyrus Vance, then attorney general. The probe was focused on possible insurance, tax, and bank fraud. Initially, it involved financial dealings of Trump’s Manhattan properties, including Trump Tower, his flagship Fifth Avenue building, and the appraisal of his 213-acre estate Seven Springs in Westchester.
Last year, the investigation led to tax fraud charges against the Trump Organization and Allen Weissenlberg, the Trump Organization’s finance chief.
Grand jury votes and deliberations are secret proceedings, and an indictment usually remains under seal until an arraignment.