A Manhattan grand jury considering evidence of former President Donald Trump’s role in the hush money scheme won’t take action until late April.
That’s because of a pre-scheduled break starting next week that coincides with Easter, Passover and Ramadan, two people familiar with the investigation tell NPR.
Earlier this month prosecutors subpoenaed the former president to testify before a grand jury, which his lawyers declined. But it prompted observers, including Trump, to say an impeachment was imminent. Cameras have been set up outside the courthouse in lower Manhattan since Trump issued a statement about what he called an imminent “arrest” without evidence. At least two witnesses have testified.
Grand jury proceedings are secret. Prosecutors are prohibited from talking about them, and jurors may ask for additional evidence, witnesses or time for deliberations, so uncertainty typically surrounds the outcome of grand jury trials.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing
However, witnesses are allowed to discuss their testimony, and as a result, a summary of Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s investigation has emerged: He is investigating whether Donald Trump committed a crime when he paid off his former lawyer Michael Cohen in New York. A hush money for coming-of-age movie star Stormy Daniels in the waning days of Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Cohen pleaded guilty and was sentenced in federal court in 2018 to three years in prison, saying he made the payments “at the direction” of Donald Trump. The records show Trump personally paid Cohen, whose firm it falsely called a “retainer,” for legal fees. In New York, it can be a Class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.
Trump has denied wrongdoing.
The district attorney’s office did not comment, but Alina Hubba, a Trump lawyer working on a separate civil case brought by the New York attorney general, released a statement saying, “Taking a three-week break is not normal. When you’re against the statute of limitations.”
Prosecutors have said the statute of limitations does not apply to the case because Trump has lived out of state since 2017 and because of COVID-19.
The planned adjournment meant that prosecutors in other jurisdictions, including special counsel Jack Smith in Washington, D.C., and Fulton County District Attorney Fannie Willis in Georgia, could be the first prosecutors in the country to bring criminal charges against the former president.