Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen testifies before Manhattan grand jury
Written by ABC AUDIO on March 14, 2023
(NEW YORK) — Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen testified for about three hours Monday before a grand jury in New York that is hearing evidence of former President Donald Trump’s alleged role in a hush payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, declined to comment on the substance of the testimony but said Cohen will return Wednesday to finish answering questions.
“This is about accountability, the facts and the truth,” Davis said.
Cohen said he feels fine and noted that he has been living with the case for the last five years.
Cohen paid $130,000 to Daniels in the closing days of the 2016 campaign to keep her quiet about an affair she claimed to have had with Trump. The former president has denied the affair and his attorneys have framed the funds as an extortion payment.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office has been investigating whether Trump falsified business records when the Trump Organization allegedly reimbursed Cohen for the payment then recorded the reimbursement as a legal expense.
In recent weeks former Trump advisers Hope Hicks, Kellyanne Conway and several other witnesses have testified in the probe.
Cohen served prison time after he pleaded guilty to federal charges that included campaign finance violations related to the hush payment. Charging documents said Cohen acted at the behest of “Individual 1,” who he has identified as Trump.
The district attorney’s office recently informed Trump of his right to testify before the grand jury, sources previously told ABC News. New York law requires so-called “cross notice” so potential defendants are afforded a chance to tell the grand jury their side of the story, but the invitation is typically only extended if prosecutors are planning to move forward with an indictment.
Trump attorney Joe Tacopina told George Stephanopoulos Monday on ABC’s Good Morning America that the former president has “no plans” to participate in the probe.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has previously won the tax fraud convictions against Trump’s company and its former finance chief, Allen Weisselberg, but Trump himself has never been charged with a crime. The Trump Organization said it would appeal the conviction.
Trump has dismissed the Stormy Daniels investigation as a witch hunt and has insisted he did “absolutely nothing wrong.” His spokesman has called the possibility of an indictment in New York “simply insane.”
Trump is also awaiting charging decisions from two other entities. The district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, is investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in the state, and a special counsel appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland is investigating Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol and his handling of classified material.
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