Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in New York are preparing for the possibility that ex-President Donald Trump will be criminally charged as early as next week in connection with a hush-money payment to a porn star, WNBC reported Friday.
Discussions between the agencies included potential security arrangements around the state Criminal Court in lower Manhattan, where a grand jury has been hearing testimony related to the 2016 payoff to Stormy Daniels, according to the report, which cited five senior officials.
If he is indicted, Trump, a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, would become the first former president ever to face criminal charges.
Many legal observers expect him to be indicted, based on the fact that a grand jury was impaneled in the first place and because prosecutors recently offered Trump the opportunity to testify.
The law enforcement agencies involved in security talks about that possibility include the New York Police Department, the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, and New York State Court Officers, WNBC reported.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which is conducting the criminal investigation into Trump, also is involved in the preparations, the report said.
The report on the discussions came two days after Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen wrapped up two days of testimony to the grand jury. Daniels also spoke to prosecutors via Zoom.
Cohen previously has admitted paying Daniels $130,000 at Trump’s behest on the eve of the 2016 presidential election to buy her silence about her claim that she had sex with Trump on one occasion years earlier.
Trump has denied having sex with Daniels, but his company reimbursed Cohen for the payoff.
In recent days, Trump has lashed out at Cohen, Daniels and prosecutors.
“President Donald J. Trump is completely innocent, he did nothing wrong, and even the biggest, most Radical Left Democrats are making that clear,” Trump’s campaign said in a statement Thursday night.
The criminal probe is focused on the Trump Organization’s classification of the payment to Cohen as a legal expense.
Such an alleged misstatement of a business expense normally is considered to be a misdemeanor under New York law, but it can be elevated to a felony if it is done to hide an underlying crime.
Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to a federal campaign finance charge related to the payment to Daniels. He also admitted guilt to several other felonies.
He was sentenced to three years in prison, but was released two years early due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Trump Organization was convicted in December in an unrelated criminal tax fraud case brought by the Manhattan DA’s office.
Trump personally faces three other criminal probes beyond the one related to Daniels.
A federal special counsel is overseeing the Department of Justice’s investigation of Trump for his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which he lost to President Joe Biden.
The special counsel, Jack Smith, also is investigating Trump for the removal of hundreds of government documents, many of them marked classified, from the White House when he left office. He is also probing possible obstruction of justice related to efforts by federal officials to recover them.
A state prosecutor in Georgia separately is investigating Trump for his attempt to get state officials to undo his 2020 election loss to Biden in that state.
A grand jury impaneled in that case recommended that a number of people be charged with a range of crimes. But the identities of those individuals and the nature of those charges have not been made public.