Former President Donald Trump has “no plans” to testify in the grand jury investigation into his involvement in the $130,000 hush payment made to former pornstar Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election, according to his lawyer.
“We have no plans on participating in that proceeding,” Trump attorney Joe Tacopina told ABC News on Monday. “Decision needs to be made still. There’s been no deadline set, so we’ll wait and see.”
The criminal investigation into Trump’s payment to Daniels, who says that she had an affair with the former president, has lasted five years. The case involves a payment that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who pled guilty to felony charges related to the payment, made to Daniels during the presidential race.
The New York Times reported that Cohen is set to testify this week, describing the move as a “sign that prosecutors are poised to indict the former president for his role in paying hush money.”
The report said that it would be highly unlikely at this point for prosecutors to not seek an indictment given the amount of relevant witnesses questioned in front of the grand jury and the offer for Trump to testify.
Daniels’ representatives contacted the National Enquirer about her story during the campaign, but the publication was not interested in buying the exclusive rights to it. The publication’s publisher brokered a deal between Cohen and Daniels.
The potential problem for Trump centers around how his company paid Cohen for the hush payment. The expense was listed as a legal expense and the company cited a retainer agreement with Cohen. The retainer agreement did not exist and the reimbursement was not related to any legal services from Cohen, thus setting up a potential misdemeanor criminal charge of falsifying business records. The report said that Trump personally signed several of the checks to Cohen while he was serving as president.
The New York Times reported last week that prosecutors can elevate the misdemeanor to a felony if they can prove that Trump’s “’intent to defraud’ included an intent to commit or conceal a second crime.”
Prosecutors argue that the second crime is that the $130,000 hush payment was an improper donation to the Trump campaign because the money was used to stop a story for the purpose of benefiting his presidential run.