The Manhattan grand jury examining evidence about former President Donald Trump’s role in a silent money scheme may not take action until the second half of April.
This is due to a pre-planned break beginning next week that coincides with Easter, Passover and Ramadan, two people familiar with the investigation told NPR.
Earlier this month, prosecutors invited the former president to testify before the grand jury, an offer his attorneys declined. But it prompted observers, including Trump himself, to say an indictment was imminent. Ever since Trump issued a statement about what he called, without evidence, an impending “arrest”, cameras have been placed outside the court building in Lower Manhattan. At least two witnesses testified.
The deliberations of the Grand Jury are secret. Prosecutors are prohibited from talking about it and jurors can request more evidence, witnesses or time for deliberations, so uncertainty usually surrounds the end of grand jury investigations.
Trump denied any wrongdoing
Witnesses, however, are allowed to discuss their testimony, and as a result, insight into Manhattan prosecutor Alvin Bragg’s investigation has emerged: He’s investigating whether Donald Trump committed a crime in New York when he reimbursed his former attorney, Michael Cohen, for making a silent payment to adult film actor, Stormy Daniels, in the final days of Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Cohen pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in federal court in 2018 when he said he made the payments “at the direction” of Donald Trump. Records show that Trump personally reimbursed Cohen for the payment, which his company incorrectly referred to as a “warrant” for legal fees. In New York, it could be a Class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
The district attorney’s office is not commenting, but a Trump attorney, Alina Habba, who is working on a separate civil case brought by the New York attorney general, released a statement saying, “It’s not normal to take a three-week break when you’re facing a statute of limitations.”
Prosecutors said the statute of limitations did not apply in this case because Trump had resided out of state since 2017 and because of COVID-19.
The pre-planned break means prosecutors in other jurisdictions, including Special Counsel Jack Smith in Washington, D.C., and Fulton County Prosecutor Fani Willis in Georgia, could be the first prosecutors in the nation to criminally indict a former president.