Manhattan DA zeroes in on Stormy Daniels hush money in Trump case: Report


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New York City Mayor Eric Adams, right, is joined by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Manhattan DA zeroes in on Stormy Daniels hush money in Trump case: Report

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Prosecutors at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office are reportedly shifting gears to the “hush money” payments to porn star Stormy Daniels as they seek to rejuvenate their inquiry involving former President Donald Trump.

Having appeared reluctant to pursue a criminal case against Trump’s business practices over recent months, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has recently become more sanguine about the hush-money saga, which had been the original focus of the office’s sprawling inquiry, the New York Times reported.


“I have a good feeling this time that individual #1 might finally be held accountable,” Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen said on Twitter.

Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 to stay quiet about an affair she had with Trump in the twilight days of the 2016 campaign and was later reimbursed by Trump and his company, according to the report. Federal prosecutors then locked on to Cohen and reached a guilty plea with him over campaign finance violations pertaining to the Daniels payment.

Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance, opened an investigation into Trump and focused on whether the Trump Organization falsely categorized the reimbursement to Cohen as a legal expense, according to the New York Times.

To win a misdemeanor case, prosecutors would need to show Trump’s company falsified documents to mask a crime, and Vance reportedly became doubtful they could do that on a state level.

The strongest potential crime was the federal campaign finance violation to which Cohen pleaded guilty, and a judge might insist the secondary crime for the case should also be a state crime to make the falsification a felony, the New York Times reported.

Vance subsequently scored Trump’s tax returns after a long-winded court battle and pivoted toward indictments relating to Trump’s business practices. He had his prosecutors showcase evidence to a grand jury, in preparation for a criminal pursuit, according to the New York Times.

After Bragg took over earlier this year, he became apprehensive about a criminal case on Trump’s business practices, fearing his office would lose the case, according to former prosecutors in the Manhattan DA’s office. Those former prosecutors left in protest of Bragg not being more aggressive against Trump.

Bragg was reportedly particularly hesitant that prosecutors could prove Trump or his business empire acted intentionally and ended the presentations to the grand jury, according to the report.

It is not clear how Bragg’s associates believe they can overcome the hurdles Vance grappled with on the hush-money focus.


Recently, New York Attorney General Letitia James unveiled a sweeping $250 million civil fraud case against the Trump business empire and announced that she made criminal referrals to the IRS and the Southern District of New York. Trump has vehemently denied wrongdoing and decried the move as a “witch hunt.”

Additionally, former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg gave testimony last week in a criminal tax fraud trial involving the Trump Organization. He pleaded guilty to tax charges for taking $1.7 million in compensation off the books. Trump has not been implicated in that case.

Last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the appointment of a special counsel to weigh criminal charges against Trump for the Justice Department’s Jan. 6 and Mar-a-Lago document investigations. Trump commenced his 2024 presidential campaign last week.

The Washington Examiner reached out to the Trump Organization and Manhattan DA’s office for comment.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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