Former President Donald Trump has confirmed he is not preparing to appear as a witness in the grand jury investigation into a $130,000 hush payment made to pornstar Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election, his lawyer Joe Tacopina confirmed.
In an interview with ABC News Monday, Tacopina said: “We have no plans on participating in that proceeding” and noted that there has been “no deadline set.”
The criminal investigation into the payments from Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney who pleaded guilty to felony charges related to the payment, has spanned five years.
The New York Times reported that Cohen is scheduled to testify this week – which implies prosecutors may be ready to indict Trump for his role in the payment.
The report suggested that, given the numerous witnesses interviewed in front of the grand jury and the offer made to Donald Trump to testify, it was highly unlikely prosecutors would not seek an indictment.
Representatives of Stormy Daniels contacted the National Enquirer regarding her story during the election season, though the magazine was not interested in acquiring exclusive rights. Its publisher, however, mediated a deal between Daniels and Cohen instead.
The problem for Trump lies in how his company reimbursed Cohen for his payment–listing the expense as a legal fee with an accompanying retainer agreement that didn’t exist. This could bring a misdemeanor criminal charge over falsifying business records against him. In addition, The New York Times reported last week that if prosecutors can show Trump’s “intent to defraud” included the intent to commit or hide another crime, this would boost the misdemeanor to a felony due to checks he signed personally while president.
Prosecutors allege that the hush payment of $130,000 was an illegal contribution to Trump’s campaign, saying the money was used to suppress a tale in order to bolster his chances at the White House.