Former President Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen believes an indictment against Trump in connection with hush-money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels is “imminent,” he said Thursday, a day after testing before the Manhattan grand jury in a case that is among a string of law enforcement probes against Trump.
When asked by CNN’s Don Lemon on Thursday if he believes an indictment against Trump is “imminent,” Cohen said “I do,” adding “let’s all hope it’s sooner rather than later.”
Cohen, who has met with Manhattan prosecutors 20 times to discuss its investigation into Trump, sat with Lemon on Thursday for his first on-camera interview since testing on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Cohen also pushed back against Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina’s claims that Cohen lacks credibility due to his own criminal record, calling him a “fool,” while predicting Trump will eventually “cut off” Tacopina, who Cohen said has “failed” to successfully further Trump’s narrative surrounding the case.
“Democracy is more important than anything else, and I know it sounds hokey, but my goal is to ensure that the truth comes out and that truth to power is told,” Cohen said.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has been probing Trump since 2019 in connection with a $130,000 payment Cohen made to Daniels during the 2016 campaign in exchange for her silence about an alleged affair she had with Trump in 2006, a year after he married Melania Trump. Cohen was later reimbursed for the payments by the Trump Organization in what federal prosecutors said was a fraudulent contract for retainer services. Cohen pleaded guilty to five federal charges in connection with the payments, which federal prosecutors said constituted unlawful campaign contributions designed to influence the results of the 2016 presidential election. During his guilty plea, he said he made the payments at Trump’s direction.
Daniels was also tested before the grand jury on Wednesday, her lawyer tweeted. The testimonies come as judges appear to be wrapping up their work. The jury requested last week to meet with Trump (who declined the invitation), indicating an indictment may be near.
Trump has denied all wrongdoing and denied having an affair with Daniels, and his lawyers have claimed he was “extorted” by her. Trump’s lawyers have also accused Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office of conducting a “politically motivated investigation,” Tacopina said in a letter to the New York Department of Investigation requesting a probe into Bragg’s office.
What We Don’t Know
Even if Trump does become the first former president to be indicted, the case could be tossed before a conviction, legal experts have said, noting that prosecutors must prove Trump orchestrated the payments and played a role in falsifying business records. Falsification is also normally a misdemeanor, and in order to secure a felony conviction, prosecutors must tie it to another crime like violating campaign finance laws, a legal theory some experts say is untested. Cohen’s credibility could also harm the case—he has openly feuded with Trump for years and served prison time for his role in the Daniels payments, tax evasion and lying to Congress about a failed deal for a Trump hotel in Moscow.
What To Watch For
Trump faces at least three other law enforcement probes into his business practices and conducts after losing the 2020 presidential election to President Joe Biden. The Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney’s office is investigating his role in attempting to overturn the election results in the state. Justice Department investigators reportedly believe they have gathered enough evidence to charge Trump with obstruction in their investigation surrounding the classified documents he took to Mar-A-Lago after leaving office, and the DOJ is probing his role in the leadup to the January 6 Capitol riots . The third case, by the New York Attorney General’s office, centers around a civil suit the AG filed against Trump and his children claiming they fraudulently inflated the value of the Trump Organization’s assets to secure more favorable loans.
Trump Expected To Be Criminally Charged In New York, Report Says (Forbes)
Trump Has ‘No Plans’ To Meet With Manhattan Grand Jury Probing Stormy Daniels Payments (Forbes)
Trump Denies Affair With Stormy Daniels—As He Could Reportedly Face Criminal Charges In Hush-Money Scheme (Forbes)