Grand jury in hush money case against Trump resumes deliberations
New York, Mar 27 (EFE).- The grand jury tasked with examining the charges against former President Donald Trump – regarding the Manhattan District Attorney’s probe into his alleged 2016 payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence about their supposed affair – resumed its deliberations on Monday without any indication as to when or how they will vote on the matter.
The grand jury in past weeks has been meeting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and has examined the evidence of the alleged hush money payment to Daniels presented by prosecutors since mid-January regarding the ex-president, who has declared himself to be a candidate in the Republican 2024 presidential primaries and claims the potential case against him is politically motivated.
However, the 23 members of the panel did not meet on either Wednesday or Thursday last week and the last time they studied the case was on Monday, March 20, when they heard the testimony of Robert Costello, who was the legal advisor to Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who was convicted of making the hush money payment to Daniels, he has said, on behalf of Trump himself.
According to The New York Times, the grand jury still could hear the statement of at least one more witness before they are asked to vote on whether or not to recommend that charges be brought against Trump.
This case, the most immediate of the several that Trump is facing, has lasted almost five years and focuses on a payment of $130,000 to Daniels – presumably in exchange for her silence about the sexual liaison she and Trump had in 2006 – that Trump made through Cohen during the 2016 election campaign which resulted in the magnate winning the presidency.
Cohen admitted having paid the money to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, just one day before the November 2016 balloting.
Trump, who denies ever having had sexual relations with Daniels, then reimbursed Cohen for the payment, although the Trump Organization said that those funds were for “legal expenses.”
That is why federal prosecutors have called the payment an illegal campaign expenditure linked to the election that sent Trump to the White House.
This grand jury must determine whether probable cause exists for charging Trump with a crime, and if the ex-president is so charged he will become the first US former president ever to face such a court battle.
So far, officials have maintained their silence about any news regarding the grand jury, the proceedings of which are being held outside public view.
Nevertheless, since Trump predicted on Saturday, March 18, on his Truth Social social network that he would be arrested three days later – something that did not happen – the area has been jammed with journalists working for national and international news organizations.
Since that day, small groups of Trumpists and anti-Trumpists have been showing up outside the courthouse to demonstrate, albeit without creating any greater commotion than that created by the journalists themselves.
Meanwhile, the former president, who is believed to be at his Palm Beach, Florida estate of Mar-a-Lago, continues to insist on his innocence.
Trump claimed at a campaign rally in Waco, Texas, on the weekend that the grand jury has “nothing” on him, presenting himself as a victim and lambasting prosecutors, the district attorney and what he called the “deep state” for pursuing a “witch hunt” against him.
“When this election is over, I will be the president of the United States,” Trump declared to the rallygoers. “You will be vindicated and proud, and the thugs and criminals who are corrupting our justice system will be defeated, discredited and totally disgraced.”
“I am your warrior. I am your justice. And I took a lot of heat for this one, but I only mean it in the proper way – for those who have been wronged and betrayed – I am your retribution,” he added.
Last week, the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is overseeing this case, received hundreds of threats, including an envelope containing white powder – later determined to be benign – and a letter promising to assassinate him.