Law Enforcement Agencies Are Prepping for Possible Trump Indictment as Soon as Next Week: Sources
Local, state, and federal law enforcement and security agencies are preparing for the possibility that former President Donald J. Trump could be indicted as early as next week, according to five senior officials familiar with the discussions.
Law enforcement agencies are conducting preliminary security assessments, the officials say, and are discussing potential security plans for in and around the Manhattan Criminal Court at 100 Centre Street in case Trump is charged in connection with an alleged hush money payment to Stormy Daniels and travels to New York to face any charges.
The officials stress that the interagency conversations and planning are precautionary in nature because no charges have been filed.
The agencies involved include the NYPD, New York State Court Officers, the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, officials say.
NBC News has reached out to all those agencies for comment, and all have declined to comment.
Thursday’s news that the Manhattan district attorney invited Trump to testify before a grand jury next week suggested prosecutors were serious about bringing charges in a probe that looked like yesterday’s news just a few months ago. News 4’s Chief Investigative Reporter Jonathan Dienst reports.
Prosecutors have been investigating since Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen admitted in 2018 that he paid Daniels $130,000 before the 2016 presidential election to silence her claims about an alleged sexual encounter the two had years earlier.
Trump, who is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and has indicated he’ll do so even if criminally charged, has denied having sex with Daniels. But Cohen was reimbursed for the payment to the adult film actress. Manhattan prosecutors have been looking into whether any state laws may have been broken in connection with those payments or how Trump’s company compensated Cohen for keeping Daniels’ allegations quiet.
The $130,000 payment was made in 2016, as Trump’s first presidential campaign was in its final weeks and Daniels was negotiating to go on television to air her claims of a sexual encounter with him a decade earlier. Cohen made the payment and arranged another payout to a different woman — at Trump’s direction, he says.
Trump and his lawyers have said he was extorted into paying the money to Daniels and should be considered the victim in the investigation. Daniels and the lawyers who helped arrange the payment have denied extorting anyone.
Friday’s developments come two days after Daniels’ attorneys said she met with prosecutors regarding the case and said she would testify. Cohen spent hours testifying before the grand jury over two days earlier this week. He emerged Wednesday from his second day of testimony saying he would continue to cooperate with prosecutors and provide them any information “that they need.”
The former president’s current lawyer said Trump was invited to testify before the grand jury but has no plans to do so.
His lawyer also said that Trump will follow the normal procedure in surrendering to face criminal charges if indicted by a Manhattan grand jury.
“Will follow normal procedures if it gets to that point,” Joseph Tacopina told CNBC late Friday when asked what Trump would do if that possibility becomes reality.
Federal prosecutors in 2018 charged Cohen with campaign finance crimes related to payments to Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, arguing that the payouts amounted to impermissible gifts to Trump’s election effort.
Falsifying business records can be a misdemeanor under state law, or a felony if the fudging of paperwork is done in connection with a more serious crime.
Cohen pleaded guilty, served prison time and was disbarred. Federal prosecutors never charged Trump with any crime.