Prosecutors in New York have convened a grand jury in their investigation into hush money paid to an adult film star who said she’d slept with Donald Trump, three sources familiar with the situation confirmed.
The seating of a grand jury, first reported Monday by The New York Times, marks a significant new phase of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s probe into the $130,000 payment to actor Stormy Daniels during Trump’s 2016 campaign.
A spokesperson for Bragg declined to comment Monday.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, met with prosecutors in recent weeks and could be asked to appear before the grand jury.
Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court in 2018 to making the illegal payment to Daniels for the “principal purpose of influencing” the 2016 presidential election and said he did so at Trump’s behest.
Cohen, who was sentenced to three years in prison for that and other crimes, maintained in an MSNBC interview Monday that the payment “was done at the direction of and for the benefit of Donald J. Trump.”
An attorney for Trump declined to comment Monday night.
Trump has denied ever having slept with Daniels, but he acknowledged that he repaid Cohen the $130,000.
In 2018, Trump tweeted that the money was “not from the campaign” and that the deal had been “a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA.”
“The agreement was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair … despite already having signed a detailed letter admitting that there was no affair,” Trump said on Twitter.
Trump’s company was sentenced this month on tax fraud charges brought by the district attorney’s office. Bragg said at the time that the sentencing “closes this important chapter of our ongoing investigation into the former president and his businesses,” adding, “We now move on to the next chapter.”